Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Of Icons and Shibboleths

That last post got me wondering....

Dr. Peter Toon insists the veneration of icons is a major pastoral problem clergy must work hard to counteract, since "Idolatry lurks dangerously near this." As Orthodox point out, in practice we've never met anyone who actually believes he is worshipping the piece of wood-and-tempura depicting our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ. Somehow, even the newest catechumen seems to absorb the difference between dulia and latreia often dismissed as semantics. If blasphemy is a major temptation, it appears to be one never encountered in fact.

Protestants cannot comprehend that Orthodox venerate icons, we do not worship them. By the same token, Byzantine Orthodox cannot understand that Roman Catholics with a devotion to the Sacred Heart -- and those Western Orthodox who practice it, such as Fr. Edward Hughes -- are not worshipping the pulmonary artery (or should that be "Pulmonary Artery"?) of the Second Person of the Godhead. Despite all alleged dangers and errors "pastoral care" is supposed to forestall, in practice one simply never encounters them.

The greater question is not, "Why are they all so wrong about what we do?" but "Why do we so easily believe these (and other, worse) calumnies about those different than we are?" Is it because we're ignorant of them or their practices firsthand, because we fear the other, or because we prefer believing the worst about everyone different from us? I fear the last may have more of a grip on all of us than we'd recognize.

May God uproot whatever vice causes unnecessary misconceptions.


One of These Things is Not Like the Other....

This blog has noted how, contrary to the claims of our detractors, the Western Rite Orthodoxy is not Protestant and Protestants have no time for Western Rite Orthodoxy. Suddenly, Dr. Peter Toon has written not one, not two, not three, nor four, but five articles rejecting the Seventh Ecumenical Council as incompatible with Anglicanism. A sixth mentions it tangentially.

To be fair, one of these appears to be a recycled post we commented on earlier.

Typical of Dr. Toon's recent anathematizing is this post, stating that to "embrace the doctrinal definition of the Seventh Council is not possible or permissible [to real Anglicans]...because it cannot be proved from Scripture by any straightforward type of exegesis and interpretation." Besides, "to venerate icons can so easily get near to breaking the first table of the Law, the Ten Commandments as one of the Homilies in The Book of Homilies demonstrates." Not to mention "once you allow the veneration of icons you have also practically opened the door to not only the asking of the saints to pray for us but also to actually praying to the saints themselves." He concludes, with evident joy, that a Vengeful Deity "judges tradition that contradicts the plain teaching of the Holy Bible."

Dear Dr. Toon does, however, make one interesting point: AMiA -- the African-based, priestess-tolerating, charismatigelical Anglican Mission in America -- requires its clergy to profess the following:
I do believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God and to contain all things necessary to salvation. I further affirm the Catholic creeds, the dogmatic definitions of the general councils of the undivided Church, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal, 1662, the 39 Articles of Religion of the Church of England in their literal and grammatical sense, and the Lambeth Quadrilateral of 1888, since the same are conformable to the Scriptures, and I consequently hold myself bound to teach nothing contrary thereto, therefore I do solemnly engage to conform to the doctrines, discipline, and worship of the Anglican Mission in America.
Article 22 of the 39 Articles states, "The Romish Doctrine concerning...Worshipping and Adoration, as well of Images as of Relics, and also Invocation of Saints, is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God." How one reconciles the intended "literal and grammatical sense" of this with the Seventh Ecumenical Council is beyond me, though certain figures have tried.

In practice, both camps have been represented in actual practice. However, now that Queen and country no longer demand these opposed factions -- opposed religions, really -- sweat it out in a constant battle for dominance or toleration, they've decided there is precious little to hold them together. Thus, it should come as little surprise to Anglo-Catholics there are those who wish to shove them out, particularly when the original doctrinal statements and Books of Homilies (certainly the second of them) never supported them in the first place.

And it should come as little surprise some have found a Church Whose doctrines they always believed in their hearts all along, free from persecution by Protestants.

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Monday, July 24, 2006

The Da Vinci Code's Logical Conclusion

First we had The Da Vinci Code. I heard this a week or two ago and wondered when the story would break: now Simon & Schuster is about to publish a book by a woman claiming to be a descendant of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Kathleen McGowan, a 43-year-old mother of three, has written a "partly autobiographical novel" staking her claim. The press notes, "She has offered no proof of her heritage but said she had traced it to an ancient French lineage that claimed to trace its roots to the pair." The enormous publisher says it believes her story. (Roll eyes.) "Digby Halsby [I did not invent this name - BJ], of Simon & Schuster's UK division, said Ms McGowan had been working on the book since 1989 and thus predated Dan Brown's efforts. " Which would make it seven years after the publication of Holy Blood, Holy Grail, the pseudohistory behind Dan Brown's novel, which I discussed here. Again, from my memory, it has no footnote for any of its "Jesus" theories, few at all. one in the McGowan family mentioned to her growing up that she was related to That Man who founded all the buildings with the steeples and onion domes??

And they say we religious people have a ridiculous amount of faith?