Saturday, July 22, 2006

A Thirst for Spooky Religion

Huw has a good post on the widespread Orthodox thirst for "spooky religion." So many of people, and not a few Orthodox converts, are searching for "The Most Unique Orthodoxy Ever" -- something otherworldly, exotic, cryptic, ethereal, irrationally exuberant, a spiritual high, etc. Hence, the oft-repeated litany of differences between the poetic, mystical East and the staid, logical, moralizing West. This is, in fact, a form of spiritual sickness. Instead of negating the world we've been given or seeking an irrational ecstasy mystery religion, we are called to love the world God created, because it reflects His glory. Indeed, true Orthodoxy states whatever "spooky" elements we've experienced are misleading -- apophatic theology seeing God primarily in negative terms.

I recently read an Orthodox writer who emphasized: our spiritual feelings are not proof of our relationship with God. They merely react to it. Those who judge their relationship with God by their feelings will soon become shipwrecked in heresy. I wonder how much of this thirst for "spooky religion" is emotion-driven? (Not that we WRO are exempt from these outbreaks by any means.)

BTW, I've been meaning to say something about those Ochlophobist blogs, too. You must read these posts: Parts One, Two, Three, and Four.


Blogger James the Thickheaded said...

Never read the Ochlophobist before. Not sure I will again :) since I'm not finding much helpful there. I mean for all the indictment, the decision to stay put doing nothing (or so it sounds) tends to make the accusation of nominalism against virtually all other christians boomerang, doesn't it? Also makes me wonder whether the precise order of conversion and "change" makes a difference in terms of one's outlook and denominational "choice" ? Is it me, or does it seem our Ochlodude seems converted but not changed?

12:04 PM  
Blogger Ben Johnson said...

I enjoyed the posts. He seems to be saying Orthodoxy is not perfect in human application; however, it is the True Church, so God will not abandon Her. I know of no Episcopalian who honestly believes TEC/ECUSA is the True Church founded by Christ at Pentecost. So, a move is in order for one and not the other.

As for the Ochlophobist's heart, God knows; I'll let Him judge.

God bless,

1:16 PM  
Blogger Aristibule said...

Ochlophobist is basically saying the same things we wrote about some time back on our own blogs. Those who pretend Orthodoxy is humanly perfect forget what days we live in (and what it is we actually hold as dogma!) I only fault him for using one example that isn't quite a good example (he could use it as an example if he discussed another matter - some convert's tendency to go wild doing all the things that 'weren't allowed' as Protestants/Catholics/Pietists.)

I offer this quote from an Orthodox Hieromonk:

"The Church has been contaminated from the beginning. St Gregory's statement 1600 years ago about the state of the Orthodox Hierarchy was only "repeated" by St Symeon, 950 years ago, and is joined by many voices since. In this nothing has changed. ... I am sometimes very critical of convert Orthodoxy, which often resembles The Society of Creative Anachronism cross bred with a New Age-Charismatic hybrid. Nothing is black and white, not even Orthodoxy. What is real is our collective purifying struggle IN HIM. The IT that we find first, is the struggle, He empowers, in the pathos of Living in His Body, and in the synergistic wisdom of the Holy Spirit, which "reason cannot hold together for us." HIS presence in the Church makes it a place of purifying struggle -if all were perfection, the struggle would be complete."

8:05 AM  
Blogger The Ochlophobist said...

It seems that I did not stress that point strong enough, Mr. Johnson. Though I have never been the type to prefer that my bitter pill be sugar coated. I will be posting sometime during the month of August on this issue of the True Church, and my love for it. Be assured of my firm conviction that God most diligently seeks after those things human which are the most broken.

I must concur with Mr. Johnson that only God knows my heart. I am not able to answer the question James asks with regard to my status as converted and/or changed. I do not know the state of my own heart, nor do I know the state of any other's. I live my life. I try to pray a few psalms. At the end of a hard day I have a stiff drink. I write, sometimes unflinchingly, about the things I love. I will, on a certain great Day, be asked to give an account of my life, or perhaps the account will be given to me. My sincere belief is that, should I be justly damned, it will not be because of my rhetorical style, or the tone of my writing. A man might be damned for content, but not for style and tone.

It interesting to note that the accusations of nominalism made against virtually all other Christians do (or will) boomerang back to Orthodox. Most accusations of nominalism are cheap and easy, and it is appropriate to call the bluff. That said, I did do something, however small and unsuccessful that project may have been.

6:46 PM  
Blogger Ben Johnson said...

Ochlophobist, it's a pleasure to have you here. The intent of your posts was clear to me; my only point was "conversion" vs. "change" issues seem out of place in discussing you or your blog. Certainly nothing set off red lights.

I recently spoke to someone discerning whether to enter Orthodoxy or not, and illusions are the last thing anyone should harbor. I couldn't agree with you more 1) that there are real problems in Orthodoxy; and 2) since Orthodoxy is the true Church, it won't undermine our faith.

Thank you for your excellent posts. I hope you'll visit again.

9:40 PM  

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