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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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:
Continue reading “How Orthodox Anglicans Can be Orthodox”
It happens that St. Augustine of Canterbury’s feast day was spread over this entire Pentecost weekend. On Saturday, Anglicans and Orthodox celebrated his feast. On Sunday, Rome celebrated. And yesterday (according to my St. James calendar hanging on my wall at work) his feast was celebrated on Traditional Western calendars (not sure who that includes).
Why is this worthy of remark? Well, when I journal I like to note the saint(s) whose feast(s) is(are) celebrated that day. On Saturday, the day before our chrismations, I spent some time journalling. And as I was looking in the calendar, and saw it was St. Augustine of Canterbury, it struck me: he is sort of the founding saint of the English Church, sent by Rome to organize the mission to the people of today’s British Isles.
It was, to me, a sign that St. Augustine was “sending me on” as it were to the Orthodox Church of which he is part. Almost as though, he were saying, “Yes, you stopped for a bit at Anglicanism’s doorstep, and there were benefits to that. But you are headed right where you need to go: into the fulness.”
[Note: About a year ago, I sent the following out to some family and friends. It reflects on my sojourn within the Episcopal Church. The story has been told frequently on my blog and home page. But since I have been critical of the powerful elite in the Episcopal Church–and really, such persons claiming Christianity but denigrating and abusing it as they do deserve criticism–I wanted to again reiterate that it’s not Anglicanism nor every Episcopal Church parish that I rail against. The following was edited in two places–the bracketed note in the first sentence and one misspelling. Otherwise it remains exactly as I first wrote it. And I still fully own the thoughts expressed.]
Ten years ago [at the time I then wrote this entry] in 1992, 4 October was a Sunday, and in the Western Christian calendar, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. It was also the day I worshipped for the first time in a formal liturgy. The liturgy was the Rite I service of the Episcopal Church’s 1979 Book of Common Prayer. The church was Trinity Episcopal Church in Lawrence, Kansas. To this day, I can recall the contemplative silence that greeted me as I entered the nave. A small handful of parishioners knelt in prayer in the minutes before the service began. I took a seat in the back, bulletins in hand, prayerbook at the ready.
Continue reading “Ten Years Later: A Personal Reflection”