[Note: This is a response to a comment from my Orthodox brother, Gabe, on my “How to Not be Very Orthodox” video. I thought I’d make a post for it so the discussion might continue here–if anyone wishes to do so.]
Well, brother, one of the dangers of satire is that the point will be missed for the form.
My criticism–which I had hoped to have been clear–was not on whether or not there were legitimate criticisms of the items mentioned, but, rather, that in a large swath of the overall criticisms there was a rather large failure: to focus on externals.
Even Fr Seraphim–who, you rightly point out, would insist on the highest quality of publication output–was quite willing to encourage convert efforts at publishing, including efforts which would appeal to Protestants, just so long as those things retained the savor of Orthodoxy. Indeed, Fr Ambrose (ne Fr Alexey) was brought quite to task for writing a favorable article on the Shroud of Turin–especially because he used “Roman Catholic” terminology. And while Fr Seraphim did regret some of the terminology, he did not criticize the effort or the article. The same sort of thing happened when Fr Ambrose printed an article on evolution–after all, what did that have to do with Orthodoxy? But Fr Seraphim rightly knew that this was an important cultural and spiritual matter, and did not balk at all at such an article.
In other words, much, though not all, of the criticisms focus on easy (and easily distorted) external matters. Very little is focusing on the more difficult internal matters, what Blessed Seraphim would call the “savor of Orthodoxy.”
If we look at externals, yes, of course, we could say that Fr Ambrose’s newspaper is much different in form than, say, Again magazine. But can we really say that it does not have the savor of Orthodoxy?
Furthermore, Fr Seraphim himself would agree that American Orthodoxy has to seek its own incarnated form. For decades it has been kept in its ethnic forms–and nothing wrong with that–but because of it, it hasn’t had a chance to permeate the American culture. We are only now beginning to see some of the efforts at that–and there are light years to go.
So what if a bunch of crazy evangelism minded former Protestants are leading the way and using Moody Bible and pop evangelical forms to infiltrate the culture? Are we so fearful of the paper thin weakness of our Orthodox Faith that we think the forms will overwhelm its divine substance?
I, for one, am not.
Yes, we should be constantly mindful, but I have no fear that the Orthodox Faith we hold will correct the forms with which it is being communicated. After all, the conversion of a nation has to start somewhere. I somehow don’t think the Rus’ were instantly conformed to Orthodox forms upon the nation’s conversion. Yet, somehow, they became Orthodox and Orthodoxy molded the forms of their culture and not the other way ’round.