[Beliefnet, July 13, 2000[
Is it right to proselytize?
Already it’s a loaded question. “Proselytism” has about as many appealing connotations as “root canal.” It’s more pointed than “evangelism,” which means exposition of the Gospel to any and everyone, particularly those of no faith at all. Proselytizing implies undermining an existing faith in order to clear ground for a new one.
Entries in Orthodoxy (121)
[Beliefnet, July 13, 2000[
[Touchstone, April 2000]
My young nephew Thomas had been attending an Orthodox church with his dad for several months, and must have been impressed by an exclamation the priest makes at the turning point of the service. When the scripture readings and sermon are concluded, the priest says, "The doors! The doors! In wisdom, let us attend!"
Updated on Saturday, March 23, 2002 by Frederica
[Beliefnet, March 20, 2000]
On Sunday night I am going to have to apologize to someone. I am going to have to apologize to about a hundred people, in fact--one at a time, face to face. I'm looking forward to it.
For Orthodox Christians, Lent begins differently than it does for Protestants and Catholics. The observance of Ash Wednesday is dramatic and beautiful, but is not in the Eastern tradition. For us, Lent comes in gradually over a period of weeks, like a cello line subtly weaving itself into our lives.
A little church on Sunday morning is a negligible thing. It may be the meekest, and least conspicuous, thing in America. Someone zipping between Baltimore's airport and beltway might pass this one, a little stone church drowsing like a hen at the corner of Maple and Camp Meade Road. At dawn all is silent, except for the click every thirty seconds as the oblivious traffic light rotates through its cycle. The building's bell tower out of proportion, too large and squat and short to match. Other than that, there's nothing much to catch the eye.
In a few hours heaven will strike earth like lightning on this spot. The worshipers in this little building will be swept into a divine worship that proceeds eternally, grand with seraphim and incense and God enthroned, "high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple" (Isaiah 6:1). The foundations of that temple shake with the voice of angels calling "Holy" to each other, and we will be there, lifting fallible voices in the refrain, an outpost of eternity.
If this is true, it is the most astonishing thing that will happen in our city today.
[NPR, "All Things Considered, June 7, 1999]
As a convert to Orthodox Christianity, I' ve been undecided about Kosovo. While most Orthodox take a pro-Serb position, I don't feel compelled to follow; when I converted I joined a faith, not an ethnic group. Throughout history members of my Church have done both good and evil, and Serbia's Orthodox identity does not alone prove their cause is just.
On the other hand, I'm reflexively anti-war, and have been since my college days during Viet Nam. Perhaps war can be a justifiable last resort, but this situation doesn' t reach that standard.
[Utne Reader, August 1998]
One of the best pieces of spiritual advice I ever received was one I fortunately gained early, while still in college. It was that I should give up the project of assembling my own private faith out of the greatest hits of the ages. I encountered this idea while reading Ramakrishna, the nineteenth century Hindu mystic. He taught that it was important to respect the integrity of each great path, and said that, for example, when he wanted to explore Christianity he would take down his images of the Great Mother and substitute images of Jesus and Mary.
[Orthodox Christian Mission Center, Summer 1998]
How can we transfigure the world?
The world presents itself to us damaged, restless, wronged and wronging, bent of heart and broken of spirit. We present ourselves, come to be its healers, and we are bent and broken as well. How can we transfigure the world? An old Western prayer of confession says, "There is no health in us."
[NPR, "All Things Considered," June 24, 1998]
An hour before worship my husband and some guys from church arrive to set up, going down the alleylike passage to the side door, past cigarette butts and soda cans. It isn’t a church building, and it isn’t ours, except on Sunday morning; the rest of the week it’s a day care center for adults with psychiatric disabilities. Since we’re Orthodox Christians, creating a worship space takes some work.
[NPR, "All Things Considered," June 8, 1998]
In this ranch house in an older suburb, the carpet in the dining room is vintage orange shag. But no dining table stands on it tonight; we moved out the table and moved in a giant Rubbermaid horse trough--the hundred-gallon size. The baptismal service is in full swing. As incense rises and the choir sings, my husband, the priest, floats blessed oil on top of the warm water. Then it' s time for Mitchell to step in.
Some churches sprinkle for baptism, or pour water from a silver cup. But the Eastern Orthodox Church prefers full immersion, dunking the entire person underwater.
[NPR, "All Things Considered," April 14, 1998]
Holy Week is 501 pages long. My husband's Greek-English prayerbook begins with Palm Sunday evening, but the week actually starts the day before, Lazarus Saturday, when we commemorate the raising of Jesus's friend as a foreshadowing of Pascha. Some churches anticipate Lazarus Saturday with a service Friday evening. That's the Orthodox way: can we add a few more icing roses to the top of this cake?