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Since my family’s Baptism and Chrismation into Holy Orthodoxy in 2006, we have been involved in a number of parishes; OCA, Greek and Antiochian. Since we are converts ourselves, we feel most comfortable where there are a lot of other converts, especially those coming from an Evangelical Christian background.
However, this can sometimes lead to a niggling suspicious feeling that I as a convert am just “playing Orthodox” I have a bad self-congratulatory attitude about being in the “true Church” which feeds my ego at both ends; first, for having been an Evangelical Protestant and so understanding the concept of regeneration and enjoying a facility with the Bible, and second, for being Orthodox and knowing about the Saints and the disciplines and all the panoply of historic Christianity.
The Ochlophobist has a friend, Samn!, that left the following comment on his blog amidst all the flotsam and jetsam concerning the current malcriadez in the Antiochian Archdiocese:
+Philip and his clerical friends are quite anomalous even in their generation of Arab Orthodox because they for whatever reason missed out on the revival that came from the Orthodox Youth Movement and were already in America by the time the Lebanese monasteries like Dayr el-Harf really started bearing fruit. And so, like Jewish actors acquiring waspy surnames, they went out of their way to trade in Orthodox ways for the ways of the perceived American elites of the early sixties, Episcopalians. (I’m glad I’m not the only one who has seen this)
And so, when converts came, they were unable to transmit the heritage of the Church of Antioch to them, but rather allowed a trial-and-error approach to figuring out what a lived Orthodoxy is. The anti-monasticism and the America-firstism that have been signature traits of much of the Archdiocese’s leadership… have served to hinder spiritual bonds and bonds of affection and communication with the mother church. In the aftermath of this current crisis, those are the things that need to be cultivated, regardless of the Archdiocese’s ultimate autonomy, both for the sake of having a healthy and fruitful relationship with Damascus and for the authentic transmission of Antioch’s ancient heritage of lived Orthodoxy to all those who come to her thirsting for it.
And, just in case you are thirsting to know more about Antioch’s ancient heritage of lived Orthodoxy, Samn! offers his own Arab Orthodoxy blog, and it is first-rate.
Please visit and encourage.
And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.
“We do not content ourselves with a pluralist marketplace of gods. Polyarchy and utter, brawling anarchy are one and the same. Division is strife, and hastens to dissolution…One is the might of my Trinity, One the knowledge, One the glory, One the power. so again, the Unity cannot dissolve, being greatly honored in the one harmony of Divinity.”
St. Gregory of Nazianzus
The organic body sang together; dialects of the world sprang in Byzantium; back they rang to sing in Byzantium; the streets repeat the sound of the Throne
I’m sorry that this post has languished for as long as it has. At one point I wanted to make the ever-so-obvious point that the problem of the One and the Many has its reflection in the political sphere, and that an over-emphasis on the One leads to Tyranny, such as that which would obtain were the Islamic Universal Caliphate ever to be instantiated, and that an over-emphasis on the Many leads inevitably to Anarchy.
Over against this I wanted to deposit the idea of the Chalcedonian Commonwealth, of which the most consistent example were the Christian Empires of New Rome and Moscow, with their deeply ingrained idea of synergy, the working together of the Church and the State according to the Chalcedonian formula, although that synergy was honored far more in the breach than in the ideal in Byzantine and Russian societies. Nevertheless, I believe that something akin to a Christendom, a commonwealth of Orthodox Christian nations, would most closely incarnate the life of the Trinity in the political sphere.
It appears from a reading of history that this state of affairs was beginning to coalesce in the West at the beginning of the fated eleventh century. The Western Empire, as it was thought of at that time, had moved from Carolingian hands into the Saxon Ottonian dynasty, who with the help of a series of sympathetic popes culimnating in Sylvester II, was moving towards just this sort of Byzantine model of symphony. The untimely death of the half-Greek Otto III lead to the severing of the two powers, and the development of the monarchial Papacy and the reaction of the development of the secular power as autonomous, and operating in an autonomous sphere.
Orthodoxy requires a fall-of-the-West story. At one time I considered this a defect in the Orthodox narrative. Papal Catholicism, after all, does not appear to require a fall-of-the-East story to complete its narrative, but its narrative does not have, to me, the compelling nature of the Orthodox narrative. The post-schism history of the Christian West makes better sense in the context of a gradual Dying-Of The-Light, a thousand-year summer twilight in which the memory of the Kingdom of God is replaced by the Kingdom of Man, first in its ecclesiastical, then it its secular, and finally in its radical form.
Empire is the exterior of Church. Church is the interior of Empire.