Pro-Orthodox, not Anti-Pope

Tom over at Una Sancta writes an incredibly polemical piece on why Protestants become Orthodox rather than Roman Catholic:

One problem that arises when a Western Protestant chooses Orthodoxy is the intentional NOT choosing Catholicism. Thus, the convert to Orthodoxy feels the need to revisit old conflicts and take sides, even though he is in all likelhood woefully underinformed.

There is the horribly uncharitable charge that Protestant converts to Orthodoxy are “woefully underinformed.” Apparently Tom doesn’t know our parish priest, whose knowledge of Church history and patristics is vast and deep. And then there are the gentlemen over at Engergetic Procession. And, heck, if I may, there’s myself (though, while I consider myself adequately informed, I do not count myself up to the level of knowledge of Fr. Pat or the EP guys).

But aside from the backhanded slap, Tom begs the question of choice. Of course, when one chooses one option, one is by default not choosing other options. But it does not logically follow that the motivation for not choosing is thereby negative. That is to say, Tom assumes–but does not prove–that Protestant converts to Orthodoxy necessarily (as opposed to coincidentally) choose Orthodoxy as a means of rejecting the papacy.  But there is no logical force to this charge.  I may choose Orthodoxy for all sorts of reasons that have very little to do with the papacy.  In fact, my motivations for becoming Orthodox have had almost nothing to do with the papacy.

I did, indeed, consider the papacy–before ever I knew what Orthodoxy was–and almost became Roman Catholic from the force of John Paul the Great’s persona alone.  I am an Orthodox who believes John Paul will likely be recognized by the Roman Church as a saint, and believe that that is a legitimate claim.  One can also look through my blog archives here and see with what great joy I greeted the election of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI.

No, while it is true I do not accept the Roman Catholic claims about the papacy–or, at least, I do not accept the ones not shared by Orthodoxy–I am far from anti-pope.  I have done enough study on the matter to find myself wholly unpersuaded by the Roman Catholic arguments regarding their distinctive claims about the pope.  I do, however, accept the Orthodox ones, which see the Roman see as primus inter pares, as one of the patriarchal sees, as a locus of appeal in ecclesiastical matters, and so forth.  But I do not see the Church Fathers, let alone the Scriptures, as teaching what Roman Catholic papal apologists often teach.

One could hardly find a more non-anti-papal Orthodox than myself.

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The Apostles’ Fast

In addition to the regular fasting and abstinences on nearly all Wednesdays and Fridays, Orthodox observe four major fasting periods: Great and Holy Lent, the weeks leading up to Easter or Pascha; the Dormition Fast, the two weeks from 1 through 14 August preceding the Feast of our Lady’s Falling Asleep; the Nativity Fast, the weeks from 15 November through 24 December; and, this fast just concluded yesterday, the Apostles’ Fast, a period of varying length (this year it was about four weeks) from the Monday eight days after Pentecost through 28 June, preceding the Feast of the Apostles Sts. Peter and Paul on 29 June (see the post immediately below).

I’m a baby Orthodox, so my abstinence for this fasting period was absolutely as minimal as one can get. My sort of abstinence other Orthodox do on a non-fasting day. And that’s the beauty of Orthodoxy: there’s one rule for everyone (monastics, clergy, laity), but that rule is adapted to the needs and circumstances of each person, as oikonomia, by one’s priest or spiritual father. He knows well (better even than we do ourselves most times) what will be most conducive to our spiritual growth. And boy if that bare modicum of dietary abstinence hasn’t proven at times quite overpowering for me.

But that’s the point. It’s not that great ascetical feats are demanded of Orthodox for spiritual growth, but rather that all things, as Fr Seraphim Rose said, can be used for one’s salvation. And, even more fundamentally, it is hardly at all about the diet anyway. As Isaiah the Prophet says in chapter 58: It’s about the heart and the spirit.

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Mr. Mom Weekend IV: Post III–Of Airplanes and Thunderstorms

I had meant to share more about my just-concluded Mr. Mom Weekend IV over the past four days, but the days were very, very busy.  Church and naps and groceries on Sunday; work and dishes and babysitters on Monday; canceled flights and pending hotel charges and much phone calls on Tuesday; personal leave and more airline hassles and more phone calls and late night flights yesterday–all of it just left Mr. Mom with little energy to put together much in the way of Mr. Mom Weekend thoughts. 

(Oh, sure, you’re saying.  You can blog on Anglicans, dialectics and such, but not on your Mr. Mom Weekend.  Well, I say, you play to your strengths.  The life of the mind is easier to write about than real life.  How’s that for reinforcing an academic stereotype?)

In any case, sit back and enjoy the gory details on trying to get Anna home.

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More on the Dialectic of Opposition: Some Practical Comments Regarding Scripture and Tradition

First of all, I failed to make clear in my earlier post linking to the dialectic of opposition comments at All Saints Forum, my indebtedness to Perry Robinson and Joseph Farrell’s book, Free Choice in Saint Maximus the Confessor, for highlighting this dynamic for me. It’s definitely not an original thought on my part. And for that matter, our deacon showed me a book he’s reading by Louis Buyer on Protestantism in which Buyer notes a similar dynamic in Luther. So, this critique is everywhere out there.

But perhaps it may be helpful to examine one of these oppositions to demonstrate how they fall apart. The easiest way to do that would likely be to attack all the Protestant solas, but that may not be helpful to other Protestants that reject some of them. That said, one obvious candidate would be the Bible/Tradition split that many Protestants utilize and can be exhibited by one “mrsfalstaff” in yesterday’s orthodox Anglican post.

The notion is that Scripture and Tradition are related, but problematically so. There is apparently an inherent internal dynamic to Tradition that tends to lead it away from Scripture, and therefore, though frequently Tradition and Scripture coincide and are mutually supporting, it is always the case that Tradition must be judged by Scripture, and where it is found wanting, Scripture must always hold supreme authority. Or to say it another way, in this particular view, true Tradition is simply a restating of Scripture in particular contexts.

Of course the essential defeat of this opposition is that we would have no Scripture apart from Tradition. Rather than Scripture giving us the Tradition and judging it, it is Tradition that gives us the Scripture and it is by the Tradition that we properly understand Scripture. Indeed, Scripture is not different from Tradition but is precisely the same in its core essence. There can be no contradiction nor problem between Scripture and Tradition because both are essentially the same thing, and both of them are manifestations of the Life God gives us in Christ.

Continue reading “More on the Dialectic of Opposition: Some Practical Comments Regarding Scripture and Tradition”

How Orthodox Anglicans Can be Orthodox

Anglicans Online in their weekly commentary, make some, at least superficially, “surprising” admissions about the term “orthodox”:

It’s become common for Anglicans who are not comfortable with the contemporary church to refer to themselves as ‘orthodox’. That venerable word when applied to Christians has several meanings in the dictionary, but the generally accepted meaning of that word seems to be ‘Of or relating to any of the churches or rites of the Eastern Orthodox Church’.

Well, okay, not so surprising after all. AO, a “liberal” outfit, is actually thumbing their nose at the “conservative” or “traditional” Anglicans who want to use the term “orthodox” to distinguish themselves from heretics and revisionists in Anglicanism, like . . . well, sort of like AO.

So now AO pulls the trigger:

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Mr. Mom Weekend IV: Post II–Li’l Angels, Angelina Ballerina, and Mommy Calls

Our babysitter asked us, on Tuesday night upon our return home and after the girls had gone to bed: “Did aliens abduct your children and replace them?” Apparently both girls had been well-behaved and good-mannered for the couple of hours we were out.

That was a presage of things to come for Mr. Mom Weekend IV. The girls really have been a delight these past two and a half days. That said, for whatever reason, this morning has been a little rougher than has been the case up till now. But even that is pretty mild compared to some of my times with them.

Amazingly, Sofie has not really asked for a lot of TV time this go ’round. There have been times when she is just all over me, asking again and again if she can watch her “little girl movies” (as opposed to mommy and daddy’s “big people news” or “big people shows”–like Anna’s and my “Law & Order” shows). But this weekend it has been pretty rare. Lately, when Sofie has wanted to watch TV, she’s been pretty diverse: PBS, various of our Disney movies we have at home, and so on. But this time she’s stuck to one theme: Angelina Ballerina. Which, of course, has led to the requisite dress up and dancing.

Delaina, of course, in her role as Re-Pete, simply copies big sister.

Speaking of Delaina, I finally did complete her icon book. I had completed Sofie’s on Thursday, and gotten Delaina’s icons all trimmed down and ready to glue, but then sort of petered out. I didn’t even do anything with them yesterday. But today I went ahead and completed Delaina’s book, so now both of them are ready to go. Except for the first icon (which is their respective saint) and for their inscribed names on the inside covers, both books are identical, even down to the neon green cover. Of course, despite our best parental intentions, the exact identical nature of these two books will not forestall any fights or assertions of “mine! mine!” We’ve tried this with stuffed animals–it doesn’t work. There is always something different about the exact same thing, such that it somehow identifies itself as “theirs,” even though “theirs” is precisely what they happen to be holding in their hands. I happen to think it’s the quality of “it’s in my sibling’s possession, therefore it’s mine” that makes identical items wholly dissimilar.

But hopefully, though the icon books are exactly enough alike, they’ll be able to “own” their particular saint and maybe we’ll not have quite the possessive snatching of things that we can sometimes have.

On a final note, the girls have done fairly well without momma at home. Yesterday morning, Delaina woke up, climbed into bed with me and asked, “Where’s momma?” I reminded her that Mommy went on a plane on a trip, and she seemed fine with that. But of course, Anna has called several times already–most of it having to do with trying to update travel accounts for a free night hotel stay, financial issues, and stories of travel irritations–but almost every time has talked to the girls. I think that’s helped.

All told, though, this has been a great Mr. Mom weekend.

Church Fathers in Greek Online

At the aforementioned site is another page devoted to writings, in Greek, of certain Fathers of the Church. Represented are: St. Symeon the New Theologian, St. Gregory the Theologian, St. Macarius the Great, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Maximos the Confessor, St. Basil, St. Athanasius, the Desert Fathers, St. Dionysius the Areopagite and Origen.

Plato’s Complete Works Online

The Hellenophilic site has a webpage devoted to Plato, from which you can access Plato’s Complete Works. They also have a bilingual anthology of portions of Plato’s works which is not only available online but is downloadable. One of the downloads is the entire Greek Timaeus (along with the LXX Genesis and patristic commentary, St. Gregory of Nyssa’s “The Making of Man”). According to the webpage of downloads, the complete works of Plato in Greek are forthcoming.

Mr. Mom Weekend IV: Post I–Naps and Icon Books

Well, mid-day naps have been underway for a half-hour. Poor Sofie. She rarely takes a nap, but being awakened an hour before her normal start of the day made her very very sleepy. We had a relatively early lunch at about 11:30. At one point, I was turned away from them as I fixed my plate while they had been eating from theirs, and when I turned back ’round, Sofie, poor thing, was leaned over to one side, head down, hair fallen over her face, having fallen asleep sitting up. That was the “it’s-nap-time” sign. Delaina wasn’t quite so bad off, but she fell asleep pretty much immediately once she lay down.

Well, the icon book is well underway. All told there will probably be about twenty icons in their books (more if I can trim down to size, without ruining them, some of the ones that printed larger than is helpful). I’ve started with each of the family members’ saints–with each girl’s saint on the first page (so they can immediately and visually recognize “their” book, though I’ve also inscribed their names in the front cover), followed by momma’s saint, her sister’s saint, daddy’s saints–our family’s saint, and Sts Nicholas (of course!) and Herman (patron of the Americas). Next will come an icon or two of the Mother of God, followed by, in roughly chronological/narrative sequence, icons related to Mary and Christ, from their respective births, to Christ’s Ascension, Pentecost, and the Dormition.

At first I was going to tape them in, which would protect the face of the icon, but that quickly became cumbersome and difficult. So I dug through momma’s crafting toolbox and found a glue stick. Woo hoo! I was in business.

I should get the icon books done this evening after the girls go to bed, at the latest. And then they will be ready to take to worship as well as to have around home.