Wednesday, May 13, 2015

American Christianity in collapse, and more

  • Rod Dreher: The Pew Center is out with a comprehensive study of religion in America, and the news is bad for Christians. The losses are chiefly coming at the expense of Catholicism and Mainline Protestantism, which are hemorrhaging; Evangelicals declined only slightly, and that as a proportion of the overall population (their numbers have actually increased). We are staring at the face of a European-style collapse within a couple of generations. If you think the children being born now to religiously observant Millennial parents are, on the whole, going to be more pious than their parents’ generation, you are whistling past the graveyard. Once this decline gets going, it’s very hard to stop. The role model is acting Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sterniuk), not Patriarch Sviatoslav's appeasement of the mainstream by parroting the lingo of the French Revolution, of the liberal mainstream, nor Fr. Gabriel Kostel'nyk's Soviet sellout. So no, Dreher's schismatic religion is not a lifesaver.
  • byzcath is anti-Catholic, like the Anglican Catholic Church has become. Seems like false advertising. Quoting myself, if I may. Online Eastern Catholicism in a nutshell: snotty converts on their way to Orthodoxy, fetishizing this wonderful rite. They look down on traditionalist Roman Riters just like Catholic liberals do, and if you don't buy that and their anti-Westernism, no matter how Eastern you make yourself, you're not in the club. (Liberal Orthodox liking the Novus Ordo are just another form of anti-Westernism: trying to screw over the Catholic Church by cheering for its internal enemies.)
  • "Too ethnic, right?" I'm sure a lot of people outside the Christian East assume it's too exclusively ethnic, which is why some converts leave. Not exactly. Real Orthodox fetishize their ethnicity like converts do the rite (which says the same thing as Catholicism but if it's not Byzantine, it's crap), but I never found Slavs exclusionary. Meet them halfway and they're very nice. But ethnocentrism is a feature, not a bug, in those churches. The church is best as the Church Local, but only when she is part of the Church Universal. Lose that, and you get a denomination that naturally loses people after three generations in a Western country. To be fair, the Greek Catholics lose people in America for the same reason. I think they have no future here. That's not our plan in the Catholic Church; it's a natural cultural thing, not religious.
  • Amtrak derailment in Port Richmond, Philadelphia last night. At least five dead. Scary. My commuter train isn't as fast but I trust it with my life, on the same rails. By the way, I understand Amtrak is a federally subsidized waste of money.
  • On "Mad Men," I think all the major characters are wrapped up. Let's leave Peggy looking enigmatically cool too (like Don the end of the previous episode), strutting into McCann with her shades, cig, smile, and dirty picture "in your face." Pete's gone from toad to prince. That only leaves Roger, who's relatively not that interesting, not that he's not a great character. Matthew Weiner is a master storyteller; he has us on the edge of our seats.
  • Happy 90th birthday, Yogi Berra. Not quite koans or malapropisms, his famous sayings are full of feeling; we understand them even though they don't literally make sense.


  1. "which says the same thing as Catholicism but if it's not Byzantine, it's crap"

    The attitude that you allude to here is due to the fact that there are serious concerns about whether it is possible to have an authentically Orthodox Western Rite at the moment. If the Orthodox Church desires to worship in accordance with her doctrinal beliefs and stances vis-a-vis the post-Schism Western Church, it is at least problematic and questionable to adopt the Roman Catholic Liturgy as it stood in 1950 (sans non-Orthodox saints) (not to mention, the problematic nature of adopting a redacted version of the Anglican Liturgy of the 19th century).

    Furthermore, to resurrect at this time the pre-Schism Western Liturgy runs the risk of turning the worship of God into a plaything for questionable ecclesiastical leaders and liturgical theories (as the history of the Western Rite movement in Orthodoxy has readily attested). For this reasons, at least for the foreseeable future, it is much safer and saner to maintain the stable and organic Byzantine liturgical tradition throughout Orthodoxy (IMO).

    1. Of course I agree on the futility of trying to manufacture a pre-schism Western rite; the few Western Rite Orthodox don't. Anyway, the Orthodox think their cultures, their rite, ARE the church. That's part of their problem. The main reason WRO fails is at heart the real Orthodox, the ethnics born into it, don't want it.

    2. I don't think Orthodoxy affirms that eastern Orthodox cultures and liturgical rites are the only expression of the Church, in principle. Rather, as a result of the historic changes in the West, many Orthodox can only find the full expression of unchanged, patristic worship and life in those Orthodox countries/cultures and liturgical rites, which remained in communion with the majority of the original patriarchates of the first millennium Church. In short, the Orthodox preference for certain cultures and liturgies is borne out of the tragedy of western innovation not ethnocentric pride, which would violate the catholicity of the Church.

    3. Given how byzantinized the Western Rite Orthodox are, for example, it's clear the Orthodox think Byzantium is IT. Real Orthodox parishes, not convert boutiques, are very much tribal affairs. Regarding "patristic worship," either both of us have it (and I'll throw in the Lesser Eastern Churches too even though historically they think we're both graceless Western heretics) or neither. The Byzantine Divine Liturgy might have an older "shape" than ours but much of it, including its anaphoras, isn't really old. It's as medieval as my traditional Mass.

      The accusation of "Western innovation" really means "you're not in my empire so f*ck you."

      Once heard the metropolitan of the Russian Church Abroad give an anti-Western, anti-Catholic sermon that was really Russian boosterism desperately trying to keep the kiddies from leaving the fold when they grow up. We saved most of his parishioners' lives after World War II and that's how he thanked us. It's a free country, but if I had my druthers, Monsignor (what we traditionally call bishops without jurisdiction, so that's what we called Orthodox bishops) would have been stripped naked, given a Soviet flag to wrap his sorry self in, and put on a plane back to Eastern Europe, a one-way trip.

    4. I would still maintain that the pro-Byzantine position you mention has more to do with the fact that in Orthodoxy only the Byzantine liturgy is an organic continuation of patristic worship. Any other liturgical tradition is either a western modern innovation or a fantasy recreation of extinct western liturgies. In such circumstances, one naturally supports and champions the “Byzantine rite” for the practical and prudent reason of efficiently imparting the ancient Christian liturgy to the modern world.

      In response to your liturgical observation, I admit that I have a hard time accepting that one Church, which preserves ancient worship as its sole form of liturgical worship, and another Church, which makes traditional worship one option of many, both equally preserve the worship of the ancient Church. If something is an option, it isn't really preserved. If options translate into preservation, the Anglican Communion has preserved ancient liturgical forms since Anglicanism tolerates traditional liturgical celebrations. No, optional traditional liturgy is not the same as preservation, just as optional orthodoxy does not reflect the truth of Christ.

      Regarding western innovations, I don't know about the ROCA metropolitan's intention, but I was referring to "western innovation" as the West's theological, liturgical, and canonical changes from the Faith and Life of the ancient Church. Do you deny that many changes have been introduced into the Western Church?

    5. You like Byzantium so you buy arguments that at least functionally it IS the church. We have the teachings. That wins out over fetishizing a rite. Anglicanism doesn't have the teachings.

    6. But blogger, Byzantium actually was on a quest to destroy all of the ancient Eastern traditions of the Church as well. This was one of the reasons for the split between Byzantium and the Eastern Churches (the Copts, Syriac etc.); Byzantium is not only against the West, it hates the east just as strongly. The schism between the New rite and the Old rite in Byzantium also shows that your supposed preservation of a patristic rite is mostly fantasy as well. What the Latin rite is not Patristic? The Coptic rite is not Patristic? The Syriac rite is not Patristic? Your song-and-dance is not really historical valid, it is indeed much more along the lines of ethno/culutural myth.

  2. Regarding byzcath and other online foræ: with the exception of the Fedora Lounge, I rarely if ever participate on these anymore. Same with mailing lists.

    Never had experience with Eastern Catholics, so can't comment much on them.

    I share your frustration with the convertodox. Became Orthodox through a convert parish (former HOOM). Nice people, wonderful priest. Biggest issue with them is I couldn't buy the "semi-monasticism" they espoused. Was made to feel I wasn't fully Orthodox if I didn't subscribe. Understandable to an extent as that is the background these folks came from. Still, I don't like having it shoved down my throat, even if indirectly.

    Got frustrated and left a few times to traditional Roman Catholicism (Diocesan then Independent) and once to the Anglican Catholic Church. Returned to Orthodoxy a few years then left again for traditional Catholicism (SSPX and a brief stint in sedevacantism), Realised I didn't belong there as I could not from a historic point of view (I'm a historian) accept the Papal claims. I left as it wasn't honest nor fair to the Catholics.

    I don't hate the west or Roman Catholicism. It was the RCC that taught me the faith (through my parents and the sisters at the parish school). My childhood parish had changed little since Vatican II. We had school Mass twice a week and once a month we were taken to the church for Father to hear our confessions. We had prayers several times a day in the classrooms, and the lives of the saints of the day were read aloud each morning. Crucifixes and a statue of Our Lady of Grace were in each classroom. The Baltimore Catechism and all the old books were still in use in the school and in the school library. This was in the 1980s.

    I wanted to be a priest and a great aunt made me a full set of vestments (I had an altar set up in my bedroom).

    To the point: my reason for being Orthodox has nothing to do with being a self hating westerner or Roman Catholic. It is because I can not accept the papal claims, thus I am not considered to be a member of of the RCC (catechism 101). (To be continued...)

  3. (continued...)

    To be blunt schism STINKS!

    I would love to have remained in the RCC as that is the world I knew and was and am most comfortable in. I miss High Mass on Sunday, the weekly solemn Benediction, and occasionally popping in to say an Ave at the diocesan cathedral's "Blessed Sacrament Chapel".

    That said, I have an obligation to go where I perceive the truth the be, despite the hardships. Being Catholic I am sure you understand as I know from catechism that is the same from your end.

    As a result of my love for the RCC and west, I use the western rite prayers and fasting rule at home (with Father's blessing). Nothing has changed. I use the same prayers, have my rosary, holy cards, statuary, crucifixes. Still privately commemorate some post schism RCC saint I love. Even have been know to on occasion slip in to a low Mass or other ritual function at Santo Rosario. I still use many of the old catholic books and catechisms. Much like Archimandrite Anastassy.

    I have no love for noisy trumpet blowing, know it all convertodox. Nor do I like the "Ethnic Uber Alles" approach some cradle Orthodox have, treating the church as an ethnic club or watering hole.

    I attend Mass (Liturgy) on Sunday, Vespers on Saturday (sometimes stay for the whole vigil), and mid week Vespers and pitch in on Thursday. That is my involvement with the Orthodox.

    Regarding the liberal Orthodox... they are just as bad as liberal Catholics. I say "No sale" on that. Liberals are a scourge to the church. As for the public square... I too am not buying Mr Dreher's Benedict Option.

    Also don't buy the SSPX's anti-Americanism, nor their views concerning religious liberty. I agree Vatican II changed policy, not doctrine. The popes were right at the time condemning it due to the situation in Europe resulting from the French revolution (laicite... freedom from religion, unlike freedom of religion in the American Revolution)... two totally separate creatures so to say. When Christendom existed (Catholic confessional states) the older RC views on religious liberty worked. Now that Christendom is gone, those ideals no longer could hold. The church had to change policy, and could being it was a disciplinary law not a divine law.

    There is also the legal maxim: "equals don't bind equals" Meaning a future pope could over turn a decree of his predecessor. Thus why despite the severe sounding language, Quo Primum was only binding until such time as a future pope wished to change or revoke it. The language was typical legal boilerplate of the time to emphisise the seriousness of the contents, not to infuse it with infallibility.

    In closing, I love much of the west, I love America, I love the church both Orthodox and Roman Catholic. I hope and pray the schism may one day be healed and simply another page in the history books.

    1. Don't overthink it, friend. That'll just keep you outside the church, where you're miserable. Which church says the principles I believe in are more important than a rite or culture, while of course having rites and strong cultures, and which one makes an idol out of a rite and/or culture? Byzantium's great but God's bigger than Byzantium.

    2. You say "I'm an historian" as though it's a slam dunk. As you must know, numerous Catholic scholars with impeccable credentials are also historians. Yet they accept the papal claims. Which means it must be possible for learned historians to be persuaded of the evidence in favor of papal jurisdictional primacy. It has been known to happen! The historian's craft does not preclude it. Quite the contrary. ISTM that it is Orthodoxy that rather inclines toward anti-scholarly fideism.

      BTW my husband has his doctorate in Byzantine history, from Harvard. He is not the world's most convinced Catholic by a long stretch. He just thinks it's the only game in town. And he has said that he could never take Orthodoxy seriously because of the divorce / remarriage thing.

    3. Diane, as they say in Maine, ayyyup. Anti-scholarly fideism or sophistry (sophomoric) as either ethnic boosterism or excuses for non-ethnics who've fetishized the rite.

      William Tighe is a history professor at Muhlenberg College who was a Roman Catholic by birth and is a Ukrainian Catholic by choice and canonical change.

    4. "You say 'I'm an historian' as though it's a slam dunk. As you must know, numerous Catholic scholars with impeccable credentials are also historians. Yet they accept the papal claims."

      I ask this in true curiosity, not apologetically - how many of these historians believe and attempt to prove the dogmas of Vatican I without appealing to "development of doctrine"? Can examples of papal infallibility being exercised or appealed to in the first millennium really be located? Can an universal understanding and acceptance of the Pope of Rome's authority to change canonical and liturgical legislation at whim really be demonstrated in the early Church?

    5. Diane, I was not intending to imply because I am a historian that the Orthodox view of the papal claims was a slam dunk. I am certainly open to other views on them, if not I wouldn't have posted on John's blog. And sure, there have been many historians RC and otherwise who recognise or have come to recognise the papal claims.

      The anti-scholasticism of Orthodoxy has always bothered me as well. I have always held RC moral theology as the gold standard, so NO to divorce/remarriage and contraception.

      Blogger raises a serious point as well, and what I would have to see before I could accept the papal claims. Thus, I have been trying to find an example of papal infallibility before the schism. The closest I have found thus far is "Peter has spoken through Leo" at the 4th Ecumenical Council. I can't bring myself to see this as an application of papal infallibility.

      FYI - My historic area of specialty is The Depression and WWII.

    6. "The closest I have found thus far is "Peter has spoken through Leo" at the 4th Ecumenical Council."

      The Synaxarion recounts that St. Leo of Rome, before composing the letter to St. Flavian that would be read at the Council of Chalcedon, placed his handwritten contribution to the council on the tomb of the Apostle Peter and prayed for the saint to correct any of its deficiencies. As the tradition maintains, St. Peter corrected the letter, and thus the reason for the (quite literal) acclamation, "Peter has spoken through Leo" at the council (The Synaxarion: The Lives of the Saints of the Orthodox Church, Volume 3, pp. 549-551).

    7. Exactly. Which is why I have difficulty seeing in it an exercise of papal infallibility.

    8. There is no Roman tradition analogous to that in the Synaxarion; indeed, Leo's own conception of the nature, source, and scope of papal authority, the authority, that is, unique to the Bishop of Rome, as summed up in the phrase "indignus heres beati Petri," with both "indignus" and "heres" being understood as in Roman inheritance law, is rather more exalted and extensive than what was promulgated in 1870 concerning papal infallibility, primacy, and universal jurisdiction, although it seems to me that it fully encompasses the matter of these later formulations. See two articles by Walter Ullmann: (1) "Leo I and the Theme of Papal Primacy," *Journal of Theological Studies,* n.s., XI (1960), pp. 25-51, and, in the same volume of the same journal, (2) "The Significance of the 'Epistola Clementis' in the Pseudo-Clementines," pp. 295-317.

      One can hardly overlook Leo's veto (for that is the term he uses) of Canon 28 of Chalcedon, and the explicit acquiescence to it, after extensive correspondence, of both Patriarch Anatolius of C'ple and the Eastern Emperor Marcian. When Canon 28 "reappeared" is not certain; it is absent from a number of early canonical collections. I have read (I think in something written by Henry Chadwick) that it was repromulgated on his own authority by the Emperor Zeno as part of, or part of the preparation for, his Henotikon of 481; and it was reenacted by the Council in Trullo of 691 or 692, whose authority Rome never acknowledged (but which it seems to have agreed to cease to censure at the time of the visit of Pope Constantine to C'ple in 711. I so wish that somebody would write a history of Canon 28 and its vicissitudes over the ensuing decades and centuries.

  4. Hi, John! I think you might find this interesting:

    1. Smart. I've written in this blog that Rod Dreher risks burning out like Franky Schaeffer. Interestingly to me, he has never hung out with real Orthodox, as in ethnics born into it. Unlike some other Orthodox convert bloggers (rare; for example, almost all Perceptio does is still complain about the Roman Catholic Church), he's plenty enthusiastic about Byzantium (while remaining open about much of the West; he can't seem to turn his back on us) but his parish church now largely seems his own creation. (I respect the convert's sincere enthusiasm about the rite, minus his church's anti-Westernism; it is a wonderful rite, "entirely Catholic" as Fr. Serge [Keleher] said.) "Let's play high church while eating kale or something" as some of Dreher's detractors say.

  5. BTW, I notice that Dreher doesn't mention that American Orthodoxy is also in disarray: The Greeks are losing members by the busload; the other jurisdictions have always been minuscule, and their convert boomlet is now definitely over. But you won't hear that from Mr. "Let's-Cherry-Pick-the-Data-to-Support-Our-Agenda" Objective Journalist(TM).

    1. True. When has he ever admitted that those churches lose their people by the third generation in America? Then again he has never hung out with real Orthodox so either he doesn't know or he forgets about it. Or maybe he's just being hypocritical as you suggest.

  6. My apologies if I gave the impression that I over think things or overly focus on rite (in this case being Western Rite) as opposed to doctrine. Not my intent at all. Generally, I don't "think" about it. I just naturally do things, go to Mass, say my prayers, etc. Then I continued on as always. In the case of my rather lengthy previous post, I over emphasised intentionally to illustrate a point. That being not all Orthodox, more specifically convertodox are self hating westerners or anti-Roman Catholics as you seem to imply. There are some like myself who did so out of sincere honesty and principle not as a stab at the RCC. As for culture over doctrine, I don't nor did I ever fly or trumpet the yellow double eagle standard of Byzantium. In fact, while the Byzantine Rite is beautiful, I am not comfortable in it. I am there as it is the only Orthodox option. State and culture worship is not my thing.

    To be honest, I would return to the RCC in a heart beat if I could find a way to accept the Papal claims.

    1. As John has observed, the real papal claims (as opposed to the caricature) are surprisingly modest. It is certainly arguable that the average Orthodox bishop (let alone monastic staretz) arrogates to himself far more authority over the individual human soul than the pope does.

      Prayers and hugs!


    2. "As John has observed, the real papal claims (as opposed to the caricature) are surprisingly modest."

      Certainly, you cannot be serious. The power of the Pope as the Supreme Legislator of the Church enables him to radically change liturgical and canonical tradition at his choice. I know of no Orthodox cleric of any rank, who would dare claim such authority.

    3. Hear, hear, Diane! Traditional Frog mentioned convert parishes playing at being monks and nuns (there's a good Russian word for that: prelest, spiritually dangerous stuff that seems pious); I've been told such priests try to control your life far more than any Pope or Catholic parish priest does. (Parish priests at real Orthodox churches, the ethnic clubs, don't act like that.) As I like to say, we're a big tent, not a cult. "Here comes everybody." Yet the Pope has held the line against contraception; modern Orthodoxy hasn't.

    4. "Yet the Pope has held the line against contraception; modern Orthodoxy hasn't."

      There has been no official Orthodox change on contraception. General consensus cannot bind a Church that teaches through Holy Tradition that is preserved in canonical, liturgical, and dogmatic forms of expression. To argue otherwise is a serious epistemological error, which misrepresents the nature of Orthodox (and Catholic) Christianity.

      Also, what happened to holding the ancient official line against administering sacraments to non-members of the Church? For some people, this is just as troubling as the (unofficial) Orthodox laxity on birth control.

    5. John, Think I should clarify. My priest was never into the semi-monastic shin-ding. Nor did he ever act or presume to be a staretz. Far from it. He is a very quiet, soft spoken man. He was actually the odd man out in the parish.

      The problem then wasn't Father, but other laymen. Once at a pitch in after Vespers I was asked to remove a bottle of Coke I had from the table. When I asked why, I was informed "It was too worldly. The logo promotes consumerism". Another was when I mentioned a TV show. That resulted in a "Drag your TV out in the backyard and shoot" type lectures. Found out most people at the church either didn't have a TV or used it for videos only. The worst was last summer when I ran across a lady from my church at the store. It was 90° and humid so I was wearing shorts and a golf shirt. I am also very heat sensitive due to medications I have to take. Anyway, this lady gives me an earful about how a Christian gentleman should never wear shorts, particularly in public. This is the rubbish I am speaking of.

      Now I am not a fan of shorts and up until a few years ago never wore them. Only started out of necessity because of the heat sensitivity. Certainly would not wear them to church.

      While I love the people of my parish, I also feel a certain sense of cultishness there. It is my parish of choice only due to closeness (six blocks, so I can walk) and my father confessor (not spiritual father) is there.

    6. TF, as the godmother of a gal who spent many years in a cult-like community, I think I've developed a sort of spidey sense about Cult-Like Communities. And it's tingling now. I think it was the Coke thing that set it off, but the shorts thing really got it going. ;)

    7. I second that.

      From what I can tell, the priest is a fine fellow, one of those principled churchmen who sounds like Blogger; 150 years ago they would have been old high-church or Tractarian Anglicans, same message (all the rationalizations an Oxbridge education can cough up for not being under Rome) without the exotic trappings (Eastern version of folk Catholicism).

      But like Hare Krishna is a Western cult-like community with Hindu trappings, so it is with at least some convert Orthodox.

      A crash-and-burn I've seen many times online: first, in real Orthodoxy, in the old country, it's folk Catholicism but the king gets what he wants (a not as heretical Henry VIII); in America, certainly in the Slavic ex-Catholic parishes and even with Greek-Americans, it's Yankee Congregationalism with different trappings — the priest and/or parish council is the king. (Since America is democratic.) Most of Orthodoxy's rules are custom, not doctrine, AND unworkable so there's economy. An ad-hoc thing doing what they want, not Blogger's pristine, patristic church fantasy. So often converts looking for consistency pass through mild Orthodoxy for the stronger stuff, very legalistic while hating the West for alleged legalism, heading for ROCOR/ROCA and beyond, outside of canonical Orthodoxy to Old Calendarism (not to be confused with Russian churchmen who use the Old Calendar) and worse, then they burn out, ending up losing their faith. Online I've liked some folks better as humble agnostic burnouts than during their überfromm Orthodox phase. God works in mysterious ways.

    8. John, you hit the nail on the head concerning my priest. As for the parish, I would stop short of calling it a cult, as being the priest is the "odd man out" there is no leader. Cult like... Definitely. I think the monasticism is organic to the parish as it was founded by the HOOM (independent monastic order) who as you know 'doxed in the 90s. Thus, they see the monasticism/semi-monasticism as the Orthodox ideal or way. All other is worldly and in some ways inferior. At least that is the impression I get.

      I have no beef with monasticism or even living a semi-monastic life. What they fail to realise is while it is for some, it is not for all (most people). I admire monasticism and take benefit from it, but don't feel called to it. Asceticism? Fine, as a Christian we are all called to a certain amount, but as laymen not subject to monastic rules or typica. What I don't like is having shoved down my throat and always feeling like I am inferior if I don't comply.

      I have seen this in both Orthodox (usually convertodox) and traditional Catholic circles as well. People dressing like the "Little House" set, saying modern styles are evil (usually T-shirts, shorts, jeans, etc), the most bizarre was a gentleman that dressed as if he were in King Louis' court, complete with powdered wig and tricorn hat. Or a family being shunned by others in their trad chapel because they let their young daughter wear shorts and a sleeveless top on a hot summer day. Why? Because it didn't meet "Marylike" standards (the later related to me by a trad friend).

      I am all in favour or modesty and propriety, but must we take things to extremes? I think most of these so called extreme traditionalists would be in for a shock and disappointment if they went back in time to Catholicism of the 30s through 50s. They would consider most Catholics then too liberal. I know for a fact Catholicism wasn't the huge monolith trads seem to think it was then. Most Catholics were devout, attended Mass weekly save for illness, ate fish on Fridays, confessed more often, and didn't question the Church's teachings for the most part. They were likely more modest (society as a whole was), but not rigorous. Devout, but not uberfromm, puritanical, or faux monastics. Those drawn to that joined the Franciscan Third Order or became Benedictine Oblates.

      I have no issue with folks who like to dress in styles of the past*. Some are drawn to that and find it meaningful. I just don't like having it shoved at me as if it is gospel truth. I feel a person can kneel and pray the Rosary just as devoutly in shorts as they can in a three piece suit.

      Yes, I agree we Americans have lost a sense of modesty and propriety. Shorts and T-Shirts at Mass or the symphony for example is just tacky and disrespectful, but there is no going back to how it was. Modesty may return but it won't be that of the Golden Era. My take is that if it happens it will be primarily more modest versions of existing styles, so for those who finds jeans, T-Shirts, and shorts appalling... Sorry.

      As for crash and burn, well I have crashed several times in Orthodoxy. I am close to crash point again. I pray it does not happen.

      *I love they styles of the 30s through the 50s, and often will wear vintage or semi-vintage, especially outside of Summer. Has nothing to do with religion though.

    9. "Most of Orthodoxy's rules are custom, not doctrine, AND unworkable so there's economy. An ad-hoc thing doing what they want, not Blogger's pristine, patristic church fantasy."

      You cannot deny that the canonical tradition of the Orthodox Church is the canonical tradition of the ancient, patristic Church. One can label this as outdated customs and treat it as part of an ecclesiastical fantasy, but it cannot be denied that Orthodoxy has preserved the canonical legislation of ancient Christianity, while the rest of Christianity has replaced this tradition with modern formulations. This is very significant for those who value tradition over modernism and believe that the true Church of Christ should be a continuation of the ancient Church in all aspects of its life.

    10. TF, as someone who actually grew up in the'50s(born in 1951 in a working-class Irish Catholic Boston milieu), all I can say is hear, hear. You have nailed it.

  7. God bless Rod Dreher and Frank Schaeffer, but making a living or lifestyle out of one's personal ecclesiastical choices is poison to the soul and turns religion into a fashion tag. I have yet to see any good come from such obsession in any Church.

    1. "Making a living or lifestyle out of one's personal ecclesiastical choices is poison to the soul and turns religion into a fashion tag." I hear you. But there's the problem with it being a "personal ecclesiastical choice" vs. it being the truth, all-encompassing like Catholics used to have in America or Orthodox in Greece, for example. Not a choice; just the way the universe works, something you're born into. Or else one becomes just an exotic denominational Protestant. As converts, are we a bit hypocritical taking that line? Sure. But one can always choose the truth.

  8. Traditional Frog,

    This is extraordinarily well-stated:

    "I agree Vatican II changed policy, not doctrine. The popes were right at the time condemning it due to the situation in Europe resulting from the French revolution (laicite... freedom from religion, unlike freedom of religion in the American Revolution)... two totally separate creatures so to say. When Christendom existed (Catholic confessional states) the older RC views on religious liberty worked. Now that Christendom is gone, those ideals no longer could hold. The church had to change policy, and could being it was a disciplinary law not a divine law."

    As far as the papal claims are concerned, why don't you try to set yourself a course of reading such things as T. G. Jalland's *The Church and the Papacy* (1944), Gregory Dix's *Jurisdiction in the Early Church* (written 1938; pub. 1975), Ludwig Hertling's *Communio* (1962; Eng. trans. 1973), and Rahner and Ratzinger, *The Episcopate and the Primacy* (1962). The first two of these were Anglo-Catholics, Jalland somewhat pro-papal, Dix a full-fledged Anglo-Papalist; and perhaps something more specialised such as Walter Ullmann's "Leo I and the Theme of Papal Primacy," *Journal of Theological Studies, XI (1950). I'm a historian, too, and could go on (and on ...) at greater length, but this is enough for now.

  9. Professor Tighe, thank you for the compliment and the book suggestions.


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