Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Ochlophobist revisited
More on überfrommity
Contemporary Eastern Christianity hates definitions, considers their use to be inherently Western, and associates them with scholasticism and dialectic. Truth be told, this is one aspect of contemporary Orthodoxy that drives me bonkers.
Nineteenth-century Russian Orthodoxy is looked down upon in those circles as it incorporated much of the best of the Schoolmen. Much more Roman Catholic than the Novus Ordo shops, which buy from the house of Rahner.
Friends, there is nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing more typical in American religion than to seek to find or create or re-create the "true New Testament Church."
The happy hunting-ground of sectarianism as Mgr Ronald Knox put it.
There is no religion in the United States today that is more European than Orthodoxy.
Except perhaps Orthodox Judaism.

I knew there was a reason I like it.

It’s an antidote to the phenom just mentioned.
Roman Catholicism is now an American fast-food religion, at least in common practice.
Oh, good, somebody else noticed. It’s not just the aliens and goblins beaming thoughts into my head.

As I wrote to somebody recently:

There are no big signs of Orthodoxy joining the mainline merger into mush; in fact there’s a huge counter-current that would like the Orthodox to quit the World and National Councils of Churches and stop all ecumenical contact, the other extreme! Just the usual history of nationalist and calendrical (Julian vs Gregorian) schisms of splinter groups (rather like the Russian Old Believers in the 1600s over minor liturgical tweaks) and some positive change like the imminent end of the Russian Orthodox/Russian Orthodox Church Abroad split now that there is no Soviet Union.


How many second- and third-generation ethnics really go in for the ethos of mainstream society, compartmentalising church for family and ethnic stuff? (I’ve had older ethnics tell me to my face they’re not pro-life! Then again...) Americans know of or remember George Stephanopoulos, Paul ‘Senator Death’ Sarbanes, Olympia Snowe, Tom ‘I Married an Ethnic Greek — Ho-Pah!’ Hanks, the beautiful but thoroughly modern Tina Fey and Jennifer Aniston (Anastassakis, whom I doubt has seen an iconostasis any time lately — she didn’t marry Brad Pitt in front of one). Their name is legion.

Add to that the mainstream Orthodox acceptance of artificial contraception*, just like the Church of England 50 years ago, very cautiously, conservatively and plausibly for now, and the future doesn’t look so bright.

They’ve got their 20-year-old convert boomlet of ex-Anglicans and Newman-like ex-evangelicals but we’ll see if that lasts beyond a generation and offsets the huge losses as the ethnic kids leave or don’t have very many kids of their own.

More on the ‘icons’n’condoms’ disconnect
Apparently the Russian Church is Catholic on this as it should be

*Update: Just got word that this page of mine is being debated about online in Finland! Here is the link to the discussion if you happen to read Suomi (I don’t!). Summary from one of the participants who speaks English: ‘Well, the Orthodox debated wrote there are no rules, whereas the Roman Catholics emphasized their opinions.’ Hang on! No rules? Their opinions? Very scary, kids.

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