:: Thursday, August 28, 2003 ::
Bad Days & Divisive Rivalries
:: Wednesday, August 27, 2003 ::
Today was just one of those days. As I was scooping the last ice-cream at dinner and wondering if anything else could go more wrong, the wet “plop” of the ice cream landing on the ground reminded me that no, nothing else could now go wrong.
For the last three days, I have been planning to go to this little Russian monastery/chapel. I had contacted the hieromonk there, and he told me it was in communion with SCOBA. A friend from Northern California had told me about this place after I had complained about the Arab church I went to last Sunday. I had been planning to go this morning to Liturgy for the Dormition; I had a bus schedule planned, but an Orthodox friend said she could give me a ride.
She is very Orthodox, so she wrote to her spiritual father asking his blessing before going to this church today. As she was getting her keys to get into the car, she noticed that he had written back, [Edited on 8.29.03 at 4:22PM at the request of some of the people involved] saying not to go for 'political'-sounding reasons, and bringing questions of legitimate ordination and communion to mind. To my friend’s great credit, despite her promise and my pleading, she refused to go or to take me. So, I didn’t get to go to Liturgy. Moreover, she is of the opinion that I shouldn’t go to this church at all. I am wondering if this is petty infighting between groups, or something more serious. I have written to both priests, asking for explanations. I edited the letters many times, but I still can’t figure it out: Is there a nice way to ask a priest “is your ordination genuine”? I sent the letters for my friend to read over, just to make sure I don’t insult anyone (too badly).
So, pretty much, this means I don’t have a church. Moreover, it means I see evidence of the same pathetic ‘sibling’ rivalry that the Orthodox claim does not exist in their communion; one of the biggest draws to the Orthodox Church from Protestantism is its supposed ‘unity.’ I am strongly considering going back to the Anglican Church I went to for most of last year. Although they are not (practical) communion with anyone else, (although they are technically ECUSA), at least they admit it. I have spent about 2.5+ hours on the Internet today trying to find any Orthodox Churches within bus distance to La Mirada, to no avail. If you have any suggestions email me, please! But, I have the feeling my “Summer of Orthodoxy” must end as school is now beginning. This little church was where I was really hoping to attend; but it would be hard to go against my friend’s (and her spiritual father, whom I know) wishes. I mean, she is the only Orthodox undergrad, and we keep each other accountable on so many things…I won’t go if I can’t get the approval, or at least an explanation, from her spiritual father.
OK, so my day wasn’t all bad. My class went really well; Boethius is tough, but Wesley can crack him. And lucky for me, I didn’t have to clean the ice-cream off the ground.
Pray for me, a sinner.
Glory to God!
:: 9:37 PM on
Thursday, August 28, 2003
OK, OK. I stopped being that lazy and got my webpage FTP'd this morning. It is no where near as complete as I would like for it to be, but it will have to do for now. It is http://www.geocities.com/ebedjah/, or click here.
Glory to God!
:: 2:39 PM on
Wednesday, August 27, 2003
Going to a Protestant Socratic School
:: Tuesday, August 26, 2003 ::
…is interesting. While 100% (or very close to it) of our freshman enter as very Evangelical Protestants, less than half will graduate that way. I remember last year, as I started going to Blessed Sacrament, how weird I thought I must be; after working so hard to get to go to Bible College, I start to go to an Anglican Church, then an Orthodox Church. I thought I was really odd, but then I looked around; by the end of last year in It is funny; as we cross ourselves while we pray before dinner, the freshman look over at us, and we can almost hear them saying, “Wow, look at those sophomore heretics! That’ll never happen to me!” Funny only because I said the same thing this time last year.
Within my own Wesley (now a group of 18), we are having our own exploration to High Church. We have two at Orthodox (myself included, since I go to church at an Orthodox Church), one High Lutheran, and three Anglican (two regulars, and one new one). And now I am afraid one of my other friends is going RC on us; yesterday, at dinner, Phillip announced that he believes in transubstantiation. At first I thought he was joking, but he is very serious. He is a baptized Anglican (OK, technically Episcopal, but really Anglican), but this summer he was reading some writings on transubstantiation, and now believes it. Weird. So, my once-very Protestant group is slowing becoming more High Church. Blame it on the reading. You can’t read the stuff we do and not see a richer truth shouting at you from its pages.
I had forgotten that, although I go to a Protestant school, I am still understood in my group of seekers. We all have that convert’s zeal (although we are not sure what all we believe, we believe it strongly); most of us aren’t officially converted to anything (although we do have a share of catechumens), but we tend to act like it. We all have those nagging questions; the priests at our respective churches must get very tired of us! I had forgotten that there are 17 other people like me, raised Protestant, but searching for a richer truth. They are also pilgrims into this new world of High Church, and hopefully by the end of this year together, we can have more answers than questions.
[Edited at 7:58PM on 8.27] OK, so just a few hours after posting the above, one of my friends, Jon, calls me over to his dorm room. He is NOT Orthodox, but spent the other weekend at a ROCOR monastery (he is as into religion as I am). So, he made himself a chocktis of 100 knots. As he was praying it, Phillip (transubstantiationalist) asked if he was going to become Orthodox. Jon swears he won't. But then again, so do I, and look where it's gotten me!
Glory to God!
:: 1:17 PM on [+] ::
Blather about Life in Southern California
:: Monday, August 25, 2003 ::
Well, I have finally moved into my dorm room. My roommate and I completely re-did the room yesterday (actually, we got two strong guys to move all the heavy stuff). It is small, but that is no big deal. The biggest problem is the heat. There is no A/C in here, and it has been 105+ for the last three days. We have fans going all the time, but it doesn’t help. We do have a window, but it does not let much in but sun.
Outside of the heat, I had forgotten how much most college students sleep. I like to sleep a lot; I go to bed before 10PM. My roommate goes to bed around 2. This is not a problem (we knew it when we agreed to room together), it is just that most of my friends want to start parties at around 10. Like tonight, there is a party at one of our tutor’s houses that starts around 10PM. Oh, well. I like sleep more than parties. You can get so much more done if you get up at 6AM then if you stay up until 12PM. So, I will be a stick-in-the-mud, and sleep rather than party.
I have finished Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy and Vol II of the Philokalia. So, I am starting Anselm this afternoon. I have to read a lot of him, so I should start soon. Otherwise, class doesn’t start until Thursday, but I already have a lot of homework (that’s the way Socratic schools work!)
After going to an Antiochian church on Sunday (with my best friend), I decided that it was weird. I mean, I am not too used to Russian stuff, but her very Arab church was scary. During the reading of the Gospel, I thought the deacon’s accent was so thick I couldn’t understand him; I was wrong: he was reading in Arabic. So, a friend suggested this little Russian monastery (with one monk) in Huntington Beach. I’ll go over there tomorrow, and see what it is like. I hear it is small (there are about 12 people who attend), but that it is good. And, it’s a lot closer than Riverside from here, so hopefully I can take the bus.
Well, happy names day to anyone named Maximos. Glory to Christ. Glory forever!
Glory to God!
:: 6:55 PM on
Tuesday, August 26, 2003
So, there is this guy Karl who has a cool blog called St Stephen’s Musings . He has an interview thing set-up; you ask him to interview you, and he will ask you 5 questions. Good plan. I will do the same thing; the rules are at the end.
:: Thursday, August 21, 2003 ::
1) You are leaving for college soon. Do you still plan on being a math major? Tell us a little bit about your school and what made you decide to go there.
I go to Biola University (Bible Institute Of Los Angeles), and Torrey Honors Institute. I really wanted to go to a Christian university, but my parents weren’t too into me “wasting” my time at a non-intellectual school. Then, I heard about Torrey; it is a Socratic (“Great Books”) program for nerds like me. We read everything, including the Fathers and parts of the Philokalia; many Torrey grads end up “High Church” for this very reason. I love the school I go to; I would say it is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Torrey was not just my first choice college, but rather my dream college.
2) You once wrote, “I really think that if I ever understand this massive idea called Church, it will be through any interactions I have with monastics.” Can you elaborate on this intuition?
There is something about the “other-wordliness” of monastics that I find refreshing. They seem to live out a truer faith than anything that can be preached from a pulpit. Coming from a very Protestant background, where there are no holy “things,” meeting holy people is shocking and has a magnetic draw. I have some cousins who are Catholic monks, but they seem so different. With a religion that I cannot understand, grasp, or logically postulate, seeing it fully lived in the monastic life puts pieces of my intellectual study together in a real, living way. I wish I could explain it better, even to myself, but there is just something about it I find fascinating.
3) How did you come to choose the trombone as your “musical instrument of choice”?
:) Funny that you ask. We didn’t have a TV when I was really little, but sometimes I would get to see Star Trek at a friend’s house. When I was 4, I decided I wanted to play the trombone, just like Cmdr Will Riker. So, when I was 9, I asked if I could start playing. My parents thought I was crazy, but I still play 10 years later, and have really grown to love it.
4) You’ve mentioned starting another website. Have you done this? Do you plan to continue blogging while in school?
I have the entire HTML and Java-scrip of another website sitting on my hard drive; I am waiting for the time and band-width to FTP it to somewhere (probably geocities or yahoo). I will certainly continue blogging while at school, as well as reading the 10 or so blogs I keep up with each day.
5) Keeping in mind Luke 24:13-35, what are your thoughts on the following
statement (from Matthew Gallatin’s “Thirsting for God in a Land of Shallow
Wells)?: “For a Protestant, spiritual experience is a result of spiritual understanding. Conversely, for an Orthodox Christian, spiritual understanding is a result of spiritual experience.”
Very true! I have studied Protestant theology, and the common approach is a very mathematical understanding of it. In Protestantism, it is very possible to be a theologian and not a Christian. To an Orthodox, this is a conundrum; one who prays is a theologian, and vice-versa (to paraphrase some saint). There is a distinction between head and heart that is very clear-cut in Protestantism; Orthodoxy views the whole person as a whole person, rather than the sum of his parts.
I have found it frustratingly impossible this summer to construct a view of Orthodoxy by breaking it down to the sum of its part, tackling one part at a time, then re-building it. I cannot seem to “get” Orthodoxy in this sense. This is probably why I like monasticism; experiencing Orthodoxy by watching, I actually have a chance of learning it.
1. If you want to participate, leave a comment below saying "interview me."
2. I will respond by asking you five questions - each person's will be different.
3. You will update your journal/blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview others in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.
6. I will answer reasonable follow up questions if you leave a comment.
Glory to God!
:: 11:25 PM on
Monday, August 25, 2003
Why I Can’t Become a Catechumen
A few people have asked me why I say I won’t, or more specifically, can’t become a catechumen. So…
I have a bad time with religions; unfortunately, however, I am absolutely fascinated with them. I would leave them totally, but I also can’t seem to get away from God; I have really tried everything I know how to do, but I cannot escape Him. Sometimes this is good, but most of the time, it is hard. I would leave religion completely, but I cannot. I tried, and I failed so miserably at it that I decided it was not worth trying again. So, here I am, helplessly passionate about theology, yet being so sensitive to it as that I cannot commit to any one view.
That would be why I won’t become a catechumen. Now, why I can’t become a catechumen. A little bit of practicality first: I live for 8 months in LA, and 4 months in Santa Rosa each year. This means no home church, no home parish, none of that nice stuff that people who are new to a religion so desperately need. Where would I do my catechesis? Under which priest? From being around this summer, I can see catechumency is not something that travels well; it seems like it should be started in one place, and finished there. I feel very much as though I don’t really have a home parish; I am kind of a traveler who meets people, then leaves them a few months later. This is one of the reasons I wanted to ask Fr Sergious to be my spiritual father (although I am not really Orthodox); it would give me some grounding. (Of course, I was up there today, and lost all courage, and didn’t get to asking him…grrrr…I think I will write a letter!)
That’s the practical reason that I can’t become a catechumen. The more “real” reason is that if I do, I will fail. I do not have the humility, nor do I know a way of attaining it, to submit to the Church. I still want to fight it; yes, I am tired of the fight, but I still think I am right, and I won’t give up. It takes humility to be Orthodox; I admire all of you who can do this. But I still can’t accept the idea of believing in a set package of knowledge without having explored it all. I know I do this often, with things like science, but with science, I can change my view if I later disagree. With Church, you cannot change your view. I cannot make a lifetime commitment to one Church without understanding it; and I can’t seem to understand it. Also, although I rarely think this far ahead, becoming a catechumen means one day becoming Orthodox. Yikes! The idea still seems so foreign and scary…
So, since I do not have the “required” humility, and I cannot understand it, not to mention my bad history of religion and my being a college student, I cannot become a catechumen. Forgive me, a sinner.
Glory to God!
:: 11:49 PM on
Thursday, August 21, 2003
End of Summer Reflections on Orthodoxy
:: Saturday, August 16, 2003 ::
I leave for school in less than 36 hours. As I have been saying goodbye to people, I have been thinking: What do I believe now? For a short time, I forgot to pay attention to the daily change that happens in the spiritual life of this sinner. Although it is nice to sit here and banter about theology, I do have to make some basic decisions about next year. Will I act Orthodox, or Protestant? Should I tell my friends that I am looking into Orthodoxy? Am I even looking into Orthodoxy? I know I have changed much, but have I grown at all this summer? At the beginning of the summer, I was ready to survive catechumency; now, I can’t even become a catechumen. Summer is gone now; what do I have to show for all my labor?
This summer, I have spent most (if not all) of my time thinking about religion, specifically Orthodoxy and Protestantism. About 2 weeks into the summer, Fr Lawrence asked me for the first time if I wanted to be a catechumen. Although I refused, I did blog that I would think about it. If only I had foreseen the rest of the summer! I have thought almost non-stop about Orthodoxy since I first met Fr Josiah at St Andrew’s in Riverside. But, despite my thought into it, I go to a Protestant school. Although I may have struggled hard to learn and explore this strange Eastern paradigm this summer, as I go back to school, I will loose most of what I have gained. I will fall back into the habits I have known for so long: specifically, Protestantism. Good? Bad? I don’t know. Despite my many hours of study, I still feel as though I have not grasped the essential teachings of Orthodoxy; it is frustrating, especially since I now leave my intense study of it, and return to an intense study of Protestantism. I gave Orthodoxy all I had this summer, and I have failed in it. I halfway feel as though I have wasted my time striving for something so foreign to me that I will never fully understand it. I am worse off in terms of becoming Orthodox, or “getting” Orthodoxy than I was in April.
Where should I go to church, and why? (At least the question is not “if;” I am too in love with church of any type to not go) Am I Protestant? Probably not. Orthodox? Definitely not. Confused? Most certainly! I await with uneager trepidation the questions that will inevitably come my way at school: “So, where do you go to church? Why?” How can I explain it? Keep telling people I am a Protestant at an Orthodox Church? Orthodox don’t like that much; they ask why I’m not a catechumen. Protestants immediately try to “save” me from Orthodoxy with a gush of apologetics. Even the basics will be difficult. Crossing myself when I pray? Blessing my food before I eat? Ikons in my room? This won’t happen at a Protestant university!
It’s not all bad, though. Today, I was at Holy Assumption Monastery (Calistoga) saying goodbye to Fr Sergious; he said goodbye with the words, “Remember us!” Yes, that is what I need to do. Remember this, remember them, remember what I have learned. I am dog-tired of the struggle to understand this all, and want to give up and go back to what I know. But, if I can remember…
Glory to God!
:: 11:19 PM on [+] ::
Monasticism and Humility
Big clue to this Orthodoxy thing: Submission to authority. This is the difference between Protestantism and Orthodoxy. In the Protestant Church, there is no authority to which I must submit. If I don’t like Your church (interpretation of the Bible/choice of music/&c), I can go start My church where it is done differently. The interpretation of the Bible is so up to the individual, there is no need to submit My will to any man. This, in turn, makes it hard for me to learn to submit my will to God.
Yesterday, I was watching the two monks interact with their abbot. Although they were not aware of it (I don’t think), I was carefully scrutinizing their behavior, especially around their abbot. Be this judgmental or not, it was very enlightening. The easiest way to describe their interplay is in terms of a slave/master relationship. In ways too subtle to describe, they showed through physical actions that Fr Jonah was the boss; even around other priests, it was clear they viewed themselves as servants. As Kyle and I cornered Bro Elijah as he was leaving, he quickly excused himself, “I can’t keep my abbot waiting.” (Ironically enough, we then started to talking with he and his abbot for the next two hours, delaying them greatly in their return trip.) That monk knew his place, and through his actions, I can see he lives in true submission and humility.
Humility is something Protestants don’t need to learn. Because there is no giant Church of Protestantism, there is no need to submit to it. We can do as we like; we have the Bible, and it is the whole truth. We then interpret it each man to his own. No submission. We get to have our will; we interpret this as the right to think. One of the fears of many Protestants (including this one) is that upon joining the Church, we cannot have our own opinions and ideas; rather, we are like robots of something so much bigger than us that we cannot affect.
It was beautiful watching these monks with their abbot. Just the subtle things, the small things that can’t be described in words, spoke so loudly and clearly of learned humility. I have heard it said that the purpose of an abbot is to teach his monks humility. Fr Jonah has taught Bros Christopher and Elijah well.
Since meditating on their interactions, and my limited knowledge of Orthodox monasticism in general, I have come to some non-profound, but personally useful conclusions about Orthodoxy. If I am ever to “get” Orthodoxy, it will probably be through monastic interactions. Yes, priests and parishes are cool, but there is something so different about the monks; their humility and genuineness is palpable. They fascinate me; I have some “cousins” (relatives in my huge Mexican family) who are Catholic monastics; they are not at all like these men. I really think that if I ever understand this massive idea called Church, it will be through any interactions I have with monastics. It is irrational to say this (I have only been to two monasteries, one male, one female), but it is like I have found a missing piece on my attempt to discover Orthodoxy.
I am going to really try to get back up to see Fr Sergius at least one more time in the next week before I leave, but the chances of actually getting there are impossibly slim. He is an abbot; he is humble, and is a good teacher. I have some questions; questions to which I think I am really seeking answers, not debate. I really hope to get up there.
As a random side note, my parents will come to church with me tomorrow. It will be their first time to an Orthodox church. We are all very nervous. It will be hard. Please, pray for them! Forgive me, a sinner.
Glory to God!
:: 10:05 PM on
Saturday, August 16, 2003
:: Saturday, August 09, 2003 ::
Ahh, what a feast day, and a holiday from work.
I went up to Holy Dormition monastery in Calistoga. Igumen Sergius is the abbot there, and since it was the feast of the monastery, it was a great feast indeed. Divine Liturgy in the morning, then party all afternoon.
I met a few new people, and put some names with some faces. Maximos, a Protestant seminary graduate gone very Orthodox, and I argued for a while (fun stuff), and a young man, Kyle, with no exposure to religion joined us. It was all in good fun, then a few monks of Igumen Jonah (Pt Reyes) joined us. One of them, Bro Elijah, had never really met a Protestant. He was very monkish, having never used the internet, and clearly being very cloistered. As we were talking, I told him that Protestants don’t believe in saints. He didn’t believe me; he thought this may be weird, but at least we believed in St Ignatius, right? No, no saints at all. He laughed, thinking I was joking. His reaction was really funny. When he realized I wasn’t joking, he didn’t know what to say. So, he crossed himself and told me to pray to St Ignatius, still looking at me as though I had two heads. So, I felt kind of bad about that one, since he was really shocked. But otherwise, Maximos, Kyle and I spoke with Fr Jonah, and Bros Christopher and Elijah for about 2 hours before we finally let them go. Good times.
As we were spending the day there, it often ended up Maximos, Kyle, and I together talking and hanging. We are a good eccleastical trio. Kyle is philosophically minded, but has had literally no exposure to religion of any type. His questions are so simple and pure; when the Fr Jonah said John Calvin was in the same place as Judas, Kyle asked who and where Judas was. None of the monastics would just say “Hell,” so the question never got answered, but it showed Kyle’s real inquisitiveness into religion; he was at the monastery almost every day this summer. Maximos was as Protestant as I am, going to Bible college and graduating from seminary. Then he became Orthodox, and did the monk thing for a while. He still uses Protestant phraseology, but has a very Orthodox mindset; he shows lots of throw-backs to his Protestant days, as Orthodox as his theology is. And there’s me, a Proto-dox, or Ortho-tant; a mutt by anyone’s standard, completely confused about religion. We are a great group to stand around and talk religion. Especially if you throw a guy in a black dress into the mix. Ah, the fun of feast days.
Glory to God!
:: 11:25 AM on [+] ::
:: Thursday, August 07, 2003 ::
I have been into religion and theology since I was really young. So, last week I was talking with my mom and the idea of re-baptism came up. I was saying why I think we should only be baptized once as a Christian, not into each denomination. She said she disagreed, “Well, you know, both you and your brother were probably baptized twice as infants.” How come people don’t tell me about these kind of things? So, it turns out I was baptized in the Episcopal Church in which my parents were married. Ironic, since theirs is the only Eucharist which I have ever received; in a way then, it was not wrong for me to do so, although I didn’t know I had been baptized when I received it. The other baptism we are not so sure about; my Mexican grandmother was a very strong Catholic who disagreed with her son raising his children as Protestants. We think she probably took my brother and I when we were little and had us baptized as Catholics, but we don’t know…So, if I am ever baptized Orthodox, I think I will have been baptized into every major Christian denomination…I would be a worse mutt than I am now…funny.
Forgive me, a sinner.
Glory to God!
:: 12:34 PM on
Saturday, August 09, 2003
Cut To The Quick
:: Saturday, August 02, 2003 ::
So many good [ego-centric] things to post about…so little time. I am working 60+ hour weeks for the next two weeks, and have little to no time…
Last night, after work, I was at an Orthodox Coffee Shop, Not of This World, since I know all the teens who work there on Wednesday night. Being that I greatly fear any men wearing black dresses (viz. priests, deacons, &c), I generally try to avoid talking with them, usually successfully. Last night, however, as it was about to close, I got cornered by the priest. I have learned not to show any emotions when I debate/discuss (so people re-articulate their points to where it is painful, thinking I don’t get it), and I ended up taking quite a thrashing before finally running away to nurse my wounds.
All evening I had been getting contradictory views on the nature of grace, so I ended up asking Fr David. Because I do not understand the Orthodox mindset, I try to fit what I hear into my Protestant view for my own comprehension, often finding myself disagreeing with something only because I know the arguments. For the first time in a long time, I was called on this in a deep way. I fancied myself as one who is seeking truth through religion; I was told (in a slightly loving way) that I was actually not seeking truth, but only seeking questions (and often with that, contention). Fr David saw that I was not serious about finding a religion, but merely searching for one, disrespecting each one I found with my faux piety. He told me to stop asking questions and to listen to the answers. I still claim that if Truth is so great, I will know Him when I find Him, and will be unable to logically refute Him; the Orthodox say that I will always have the choice about the acceptance of Truth (But then, how do I know if I found Him if I can still reject Him?).
When I started giving my usual ideas about the saints and the Church being the inventions of men, and that Sola Scriptura was the best way, Fr David asked me why I was then searching into Orthodoxy. I said I find it fascinating, but that my search was purely intellectual because I held what I truly believe in my heart. He reminded me that if I was still searching for religion, then I could not be content with what I believed.
This is obviously, painfully, and shockingly true. I had never thought of it before; if I am searching (no matter how genuinely or not), then I am not satisfied with what I have. This means that I will have to change; or, I will become content with what I have. Either prospect is scary. He said that I was afraid of finding the truth, of getting answers to my questions, because if I found the answers, and the truth, then I would have to devote my whole life to it. I was rather offended at this one; I go to Bible College, and very much dedicate my life to theology and religion. But, therein lies the problem – theology and religion are not God.
I debate and discuss things with a straight face, so he had no idea how deeply his words were affecting me (shown by the fact that he continued to emphasize points that I understood all too clearly). The last thing he said (before I rather rudely stood up and left; I couldn’t take any more) was that to protect the heart, it is possible to search with the head. I don’t know how poignant he was trying to be with this comment, but it was very scorching. I admit it; I use my head to guard my heart. The heart is too vulnerable to let it get involved in religion; the head is tough enough (at least mine is) to take the abuse which religion forces upon it; the heart gets too mutilated.
Forgive me, a sinner.
Glory to God!
:: 9:55 PM on
Thursday, August 07, 2003
I Owe an Apology
:: Friday, August 01, 2003 ::
I owe an apology. Actually, I owe lots of them; I do a lot of stupid things. But, I owe an apology to someone who will never read this blog.
Yesterday, I met a holy man, a hieromonk. I didn’t seem to realize this. I had forgotten that I had driven up to meet him because I had heard how holy he was. I had forgotten that with the amount of his life that he had spent in dedication to God, he would be incomprehensibly beyond me in faith. I forgot.
When I met him, I respected him, but didn’t really know him. As I spent a few hours looking around the gardens, eating lunch, feeding the fish, and talking, I got to know him a little better. He seemed absolutely crazy; insane. Although I haven’t met great numbers of monks, I know a few, and he seemed odd. Usually when someone says “crazy” today, he means this in a joking, smiling way. I am not joking or smiling when I say I thought Fr Sergious was crazy.
Yesterday evening, I was hanging out with some Orthodox friends of mine at a café. I was telling them about Fr Sergious, and how he seemed really weird; pretty holy, but weird. The friends I was telling are all Palestinian, Jerusalem Patriarchy, and so didn’t know this isolated OCA monk to whom I was referring. Looking for support for my claim, I asked Daniel, who owns the café. “Daniel, you know Fr Sergious, right? Isn’t he weird?” Daniel very seriously and profoundly answered, “Well, he has to do something to protect himself.” I don’t know if Daniel was trying to be profound, but it set me to thinking.
I was judging someone; not just anyone, but someone who is very holy. Why was I judging him? Because he was literally incomprehensible to me. I was disrespecting him, and I shouldn’t have been. He was humble; I saw it as stupidity and flippancy. He was praying; I asked him why he was talking to himself (Really! How stupid could I be? Even I should have known better!). I forgot who I was, where I was, and with whom I was.
So, I owe him an apology. Forgive me, Fr Sergious. Will I actually ask in person? Probably not; I am too shy. But my own stupidity and pride still manage to shock me…Yes, I actually asked him who he was talking to when he was praying Forgive me, a sinner!
Glory to God!
:: 6:47 PM on
Saturday, August 02, 2003
On Tuesday night, at catechism, I put a few things together about Orthodoxy that I previously had never pieced together. Although it is not a really hard thing for a good Orthodox to figure out, I was very happy with my Protestant self. My epiphany? Well, because of the Orthodox semi-Pelegian (no offense) view of Original Sin, they don’t have each individual born guilty of Adam’s sin. This means that they can get around the idea of the Immaculate Conception (RC doctrine) by saying that Mary didn’t sin, and therefore was pure. Now the only problem comes in trying to figure out why she praised “God my Savior” Well, one down sure helps. It was great to finally put something (although small and insignificant) together.
Orthodoxy likes the saints and the fathers, as is obvious from walking into a church. IMHO, this leads to extra-scriptural tradition in the Church. Go with me on a logic trip: I am St. Me, and am a father of the Church. I study the Scriptures, and so write about what I have discovered. I write exactly about the Scriptures (66 canonical books of the Bible), adding nothing. I repose, and in the year 2003, someone finds my writings. You are St. You, and also are a father of the Church. You study the Scriptures, a write what you have discovered, adding some extra-Scriptural wisdom. You repose, and in 2003, someone finds your writings. “Look, these are the writings of St. Me, one of the fathers of the church. But look, it just says exactly what Scripture says…not too worth reading, since we have Scripture itself. But look here! We have St. You, who added his own wisdom to the Scriptures. We must make his writings famous, and glorify him!”
Maybe I am being overly critical, but for a saint to become known, he must have added “more” to scripture. It seems that if Orthodox don’t like the “more” John Calvin added to Scripture, why would they like the “more” that St Seraphim of Sarov (just b/c its his saint’s day today) added to it? It seems as though when you introduce the hermeneutic of any man into the Scriptures, then you will be influenced by him. It is possible to say that this man is writing as an arm of the Church (if you are Orthodox), but some of these saints are ascetics, writing alone by themselves in the middle of the desert. You can say that the Holy Spirit was guiding them, but that is a claim all churches make…
So many questions! Well, in brief, I had a very blessed day meeting a hieromonk, Igumen Sergious. I had heard all sorts of weird things about him, and saw him for about 15 minutes last week, but I actually got to speak with him today. Very Athonite, very monkish, very non-American, very very holy. I think that if I ever became Orthodox, I’d ask him to be my Spiritual Father. :)
Glory to God!
:: 7:09 PM on
Friday, August 01, 2003