He was, once, an episcopal priest and missionary to Peru. His journey to his present status as an Orthodox priest in Florida has been long and filled with obstacles. I have a similar history from Methodism to becoming an Anglican priest, and can attest to what it means to being a convert. The insights he provides are useful to understanding some of the things which happen in the present day church.
You may want to also check out Pithless Thoughts blog.
Well, yet again with another Pithless Thoughts comic. This one made me chuckle because of the Episcopal Assembly currently going on. I am a convert; I admit it. And, I understand the convert tendency to be looking not simply for the Church of the Apostles but also for total doctrinal agreement by all involved and complete accord on all issues of practice. But, that has never been the reality of the Orthodox Church. In fact, it has never been the reality of the Church even during the “golden” Age of the Apostles. One need only read Saint Paul’s debates over circumcision and worship practices to see how strong some of the debates were. One need only read Saint Peter’s comment on how hard Saint Paul’s writings were to understand and how the “unstable” so easily distorted them to see that same series of debates going on.
The same is true of the first several centuries of the Church. There is a reason why Seven Ecumenical Councils were necessary. There were controversies over the date of Easter. There were controversies over leavened vs unleavened bread. There were jurisdictional disputes and disputes over how heretics and apostates were to be readmitted to the Church. You get the idea.
The new convert tends to minimize that and to maximize the agreements. But, worse, most converts have done a lot of reading. In their search for the New Testament Church, they have done significantly more reading than most people in the Church. Many have steeped themselves in the monastic writings, forgetting the warning that is given by many of the writers, that the disciplines mentioned therein should not be undertaken outside the monastery and never without the guidance of a spiritual father. Add to that the fact that they have had to logically work through competing arguments, and you have a very dangerous person indeed. Throw a blog in, and one can get a person who is totally self-convinced that s/he is fully capable of taking on all dissenters, and of defending the True™ faith. In fact, several converts have been known to take on both cradle priests and their own hierarchs, arguing that they do not truly know the faith.
But, when one reads what has been released so far from the Episcopal Assembly, one can tell that we are still in the same position as the Church of the Seven Councils has always been. We agree on the Faith of the Fathers, but we certainly do not agree on how that faith is to be applied in practice to the current situation in the USA. It will probably take several more years to work out some consistency of practice across the jurisdictions. In fact, the idea is that the Episcopal Assembly will help lead us to a type of jurisdictional unity. But, if you are thinking that this sounds messy, you are completely correct. Welcome to the Church. She is not yet a perfect Lady, but she is the Bride of Christ.
Since I am a blogger that argues strongly in the areas of theology and politics and morality and cultures and worldview, etc., the comic above reminds me to make sure to check and recheck my motivations and conclusions and to ensure that I am presenting a balanced viewpoint. And that means a balanced viewpoint according to our hierarchs, not according to my personal reading alone. Having said that, there are many areas in which even our hierarchs do not fully agree. So, the comic reminds me to phrase some of my conclusions in a conditional manner that allows room for legitimate disagreement within the faith.