An Answer Seeking an Articulation

For me, 2005 was a watershed year in much of my thinking both in terms of philosophy and theology. In 2005 I solidified my understanding of why it was that I was attracted to and felt it utterly important to promote so-called “ancient philosophy” (in part through a couple of books by Pierre Hadot, as well as in clarifying my thinking on the “problem” of free will). It was also in 2005 that I finally came to understand that the theology of the ancient (indeed New Testament) Church was not simply a collection of doctrine or a set of principles, but an embodied way of life.

It was also in 2005 that Perry Robinson sent me a copy of his essay “Anglicans in Exile,” which helped me address the criticism that I was choosing to become Orthodox on the basis of mere preference. Some of that criticism would have at the time appeared to have been justified. After all, hadn’t I gone from the Stone-Campbell/Restoration Movement Churches to the Episcopal Church/Anglican tradition and was (then) looking at moving to Orthodoxy? Wasn’t this simply changing churches again? For me the answer was always no. I was not then becoming, and I am not now, Orthodox simply because I liked it better than all the alternatives, or because it has far more points of attraction to me than anything else. If that were my only attraction to Orthodoxy–the liturgy, the “ancient-ness,” the “this-isn’t-lowest-common-denominator” religion, or whatever–then as soon as I was more strongly attracted to something else (even to nothing), I would simply migrate away from Orthodoxy. Once the gravitational attraction was less than that necessary to keep me in orbit, I would just float away to be captured by something else.

My move to Anglicanism (in the Episcopal Church) was not a move from attraction to Anglicanism per se. Which is why I later moved out of Anglicanism. I was searching for something far deeper. But it was hard, in 2005, to articulate positive reasons for moving to Orthodoxy aside from I preferred it. I wasn’t a consumer shopping about for my latest sustained impulse. I was, at the risk of coming off as melodramatic, a drowning man looking for his salvation.

Perry’s article, now posted on his blog, helped me to articulate substantive and positive reasons for becoming Orthodox that went beyond mere preference and helped me to defend against what appeared externally to be church-shopping.

I commend the article to you, but caution that it will not be for the faint of heart nor for those who haven’t some background in broad historical and theological matters.

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One thought on “An Answer Seeking an Articulation

  1. In a strange way, I think I experienced something similar. I had rejected “Christianity” (in quotes because it was only what I thought Christianity was). In college, I encountered ancient philosophy, and Hadot’s “Philosophy as a Way of Life” and saw much to value in Stoicism, Skepticism, and even Epicureanism. For many years, I read Marcus Aurelius’ “Meditations” the way I had read my bible as a kid. Then, I got to be friends with one of my classics professors, and one night on his back porch over a Guiness, he told me that philosophy was, indeed, a way of life, but that Christianity was the True Philosophy, the Real school of thought. That opened me up to thinking about union with the divine (theosis, anyone?), and, ultimately, made me realize that it really was Orthodoxy or bust. It took some time for that to sink in, and I had some hand-ups over it, but eventually it did.

    Coincidentally, I came to that realization in 2005 also, though it wasn’t until the spring of 2006 that I was officially received as a catechumen.

    Thanks for you blog, Benedict-Seraphim. I always enjoy your posts.

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