I have more or less followed the long thread of comments on the recent posting I did on Western Orthodoxy. My feelings are mixed. On one side I am grateful for exchanges of information and opinions, which gives a blog life and “democracy”. On the other side, especially when emotion shows through, as much as it can with the internet, it is quite depressing. My reaction on some mornings, when I have my usual “internet breakfast”, is that what some are really saying is that no one should become Orthodox, as mired as it is in the same kind of logic and dialectics as contemporary Roman Catholicism: showing intolerance for certain forms of liturgical attachment in the name of unity, integrity of one’s evangelical approach or authenticity of conversion.
Personally, I don’t buy it and I have become immune. It is all the same sad that those who are alienated from their Churches of origin have nowhere else to go without a massive break in their religious experience and a “reboot”. Perhaps a reboot is necessary in some cases, but putting it into perspective, if immigrants into a country were asked the same thing, there would be an outcry from human rights protesters! It has to be said that no Church is obliged to receive “immigrants”, but they should at least say so.
As I see it, it doesn’t matter that the Antiochian Church doesn’t allow the Western Rite in England. Then alienated Anglicans and Roman Catholics won’t become Orthodox (unless they’re prepared for a “reboot” and the Byzantine package). It’s as simple as that. They can either question their commitment to Christianity or find a Church body that will welcome them “as they are” in a “hermeneutic of continuity”. If no such ecclesial community exists, they could hardly be blamed for staying away from church! I am sure God has other ways of looking after his wandering children!
I just ask my good commenters to be careful what they say, lest they should convey the message that they are fiddling while Rome burns or that they do not themselves believe in what they profess, or that Christianity itself is a “mental disease” as the atheists would say. My feeling, as I have my “internet breakfast” is often that this kind of thing should not exist in this day and age.
As I explained to one enquirer, I don’t want to moderate more than necessary. I do so in clear cases when “troll” behaviour is manifest: extreme rudeness, anonymity, predatory behaviour and emotional provocation. In other cases, I consider them as “moderating influences” on the opposing points of view and those tempted to use this blog for proselytising. I therefore don’t moderate them, but I do ask for prudence in not allowing anger and other emotions to get through.
I suggest writing difficult or intellectually / emotionally challenging comments off-line, on your word processor for example, and then copy and paste the text into the comment box.