Thursday, December 20, 2007

Why am I not Orthodox?

On his blog Conversi Ad Dominum, Fr Fenton asks the question "Why are you not Orthodox?"

I've given my reasons before, but I will do so again in the simplest possible manner. I should split this into two sections: A. Why, when I left the Lutheran Church, did I not become Orthodox? B. Why, now that I am Catholic, do I not become Orthodox?

A.1. I am a westerner, not an easterner. I belong to the Latin tradition, not the Greek. When you have run away from home, you need to go back to your home, not back to someone elses!

A.2. I wanted to be Catholic. I couldn't think of any watertight definition of "Catholic" that did not include communion with the Bishop of Rome.

B.1. The Orthodox Churches simply do not exhibit that universal character which is evident in the Catholic Church. Until I read the comments on Fr Fenton's blog, I had never heard of the word "phyletism". But that sums it up. I don't want to belong to a nationalistic Church.

B.2. I value communion with the Bishop of Rome even more now than I did before. While I have every respect for the Orthodox tradition, I believe this communion to be imperitative for me (and everyone else if they realise it!).

11 Comments:

At Thursday, December 20, 2007 3:10:00 pm , Anonymous Lucian said...

As You probably might have intuited by now, our "nationalism" is rooted in the fact that when we've been presented with the faith, the men that brought it to us have done everything possible to make it as "homey" to us as they were able to. We've been practically brainwashed into thinking that Orthodoxy is such a Romanian-Russian-Bulagrian-Serbian-Greek-Syriac-Coptic-Ethiopian thingy, that it would be preposterous to think that one can call himself a Romanian-Russian-Bulagrian-Serbian-Greek-Syriac-Coptic-Ethiopian and NOT be Orthodox!

So, our "Nationalism" is rooted in our complete Catholicity, which goes all the way back to the Seventy translating the Septuagint so that the Diaspora and the Nations might not be bereft of the Truth; then the Apostles' ideea of exporting Judaism TO the 70 Nations outside Israel, rather than importing them (i.e., the Nations) INTO Judaism; then the further translation into Old Italic, the Vetus Itala (because Greek was lingua franca in Macedonian times ... but they were short-lived, and now it was the Romans that ruled the world, and thus a NEW translation into the NEW lingua franca was needed); then the EVEN FURTHER translation into Slavonic at the turn of the first millenium; OR the fact that, when translating his Codex Argenteus while on the territory of what is today's Romania, the Gothic Arian Bishop Wulphilla used Latin terms, borrowed from the indigenous proto-Romanian population settled in those parts; OR that when Sts. Cyril and Methodius invented the Glagolitic Alphabet for the writing of Armenian and Georgian language, they used the floral motives and embelishments found at their windows, to make the script look more "homey" to its future users...

As Romanians, we even think that Zamolxe was nothing more than a fore-shadowing of Christ, and his mysteries the preparation for us accepting the Ressurection preached in the Gsopel and confessed in the Creed. --> I guess You can thank that to the Christological reading not only of the Old Testament, but of the core beliefs of every other religion also: You know, those "paganizing" little Fathers who interpreted the Bible "allegorically".

Compare this to 1,000 yrs of *Latin* Liturgy ringing in the ears of *Germanic* tribes. --> Not that it's "bad", but ... which of the two situations described above do You think that is the true "Catholic" way of doing things?

In conclusion, I think that the question was stupid, to begin with.


POINT A:
Consider THIS: Herr Schuetz is a Lutheran, caught up in an ongoing, 500-yrs-long Catholic-vs-Protestant paraadigm [AD 1,500-2,000]... then, one faithful day, he founds out about Orthodoxy, which is 500 yrs older [from AD 1,000]. After converting, he discovers Monophysism, which, needless to say, is even more 500 yrs older than the East-West divide [dating about AD 500]. Then, after being received into their ranks, he runs accross net-sites of Jewish counter-missionaries, asking all these weird questions about our Messiah ... and then it dawns on him: Judaism is EVEN more older than Christianity itself. So, after his bris, Herr Schuetz begins to develop a passions for maths, not uncommon among his new-found kind [see the movie "Pi", by Darren Aronofsky ... or just read a few pages from the talmud or the ZOhar, if ya don't believe me] ... and then he realises that, if it took 1,500 yrs (from Moses to Jesus) for Mozaism to be corrupted, then it must've taken the exact same amount of time for Christianity to be corrupted as well ... for 1,500 yrs. (from Christ `till Luther). --> and we're back at POINT A again ... and there you have it: we're caught in an infinite loop ... and since Pagan Eastern and Oriental religions are very good at helping people escape such eternal loops (like, say, re-incarnation) Herr Schuetz goes to the Buddha.

-----
Just leave the poor little guy alone, will ya, guys?

 
At Thursday, December 20, 2007 8:51:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Compare this to 1,000 yrs of *Latin* Liturgy ringing in the ears of *Germanic* tribes. --> Not that it's "bad", but ... which of the two situations described above do You think that is the true "Catholic" way of doing things?

Do you want my honest answer, Lucian? :-)

Well, here's a scholarly answer. Although Latin was the language of the Romans, it ceased to be a political language when the Western Roman Empire fell--a good 1000 years before Roman imperialism in the East. In the east, Greek, which was admittedly the language of the first Christians, was also the language of empire, and so little or no distinction was made between the empire and the faith.

But in the West, Latin and Latin culture lost its empirical overtones, and became wholy and solely (or is that holy and souly?) an ecclesiastical language. Thus, it could be adopted by the newly Christianised pagan tribes without fear that they were submitting to the overlordship of a foreign power. It was simply the language of the Catholic Church.

The East and the Protestants like to insist on calling us "Roman Catholics". We reject this description of our Church. We also abjure any false and vain attempt to enshrine in our ecclesiology ideas of "national" Churches, such as "The Australian Catholic Church" or the "Chinese Catholic Church". The Gospel knows no nation other than the kingdom of heaven. It is only because it does not bind itself to any one culture that it is able to be universal and eternal.

If you don't mind, I think I will simply ignore the final section of your comment (Point A onwards) as I wish to preserve my sanity.

 
At Thursday, December 20, 2007 11:03:00 pm , Anonymous Lucian said...

OK. But why was it so hard for them to translate the texts into their own languages, as the Greeks so shamelessly, repeatedly and systemaytically have done? There was clearly a need for that (1 Corinthians 14:19).

 
At Friday, December 21, 2007 1:41:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

Compare this to 1,000 yrs of *Latin* Liturgy ringing in the ears of *Germanic* tribes.

Ah yes, all the way back to my Germanic ancestors, all the way back to Charlemagne (or Karl der Grosse, as I prefer -- too many people think he was French!)

But in the West, Latin and Latin culture lost its empirical overtones, and became wholy and solely (or is that holy and souly?) an ecclesiastical language. Thus, it could be adopted by the newly Christianised pagan tribes without fear that they were submitting to the overlordship of a foreign power. It was simply the language of the Catholic Church.

Excellent distinction, David. Greek was indeed the language of both Church and Empire.

 
At Friday, December 21, 2007 1:56:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

The East and the Protestants like to insist on calling us "Roman Catholics". We reject this description of our Church. We also abjure any false and vain attempt to enshrine in our ecclesiology ideas of "national" Churches, such as "The Australian Catholic Church" or the "Chinese Catholic Church". The Gospel knows no nation other than the kingdom of heaven. It is only because it does not bind itself to any one culture that it is able to be universal and eternal.

I never hesitate to correct anyone (gently, I hope) who calls the Church "The American Catholic Church" rather than the "Catholic Church in America."

Under the lordship of Christ we can certainly retain all the ethnic customs we hold dear (I know that very well being European born and having lived on three continents before I was ten years old) but I am Catholic first and foremost. Too many Christians in America are American first.

 
At Friday, December 21, 2007 2:58:00 am , Blogger Fr John W Fenton said...

Mr Schütz,

Just a few quick thoughts.

1. It's a small point: Latin was also the language of academics, law and medicine after the fall of the Roman empire in the West. This point, however, doesn't diminish the greater point you are making.

2. It seems that the non-phyletistic (great word!), monolithic unity of the Western Patriarchate is not as apparent (a) in the existence of Uniate overlapping eparchies; and (b) in the recent establishment of national conferences of bishops. Furthermore, your argument would be greatly enhanced if Latin was still the universal language of the Mass. But methinks the use of the vernacular will, in time (if it hasn't already), lead to the effective establishment of "national churches."

fwiw

 
At Friday, December 21, 2007 3:51:00 am , Anonymous Lucian said...

too many people think he was French

The Franks were Latinized Germanic tribes.

And as for "phyletism", it's wrong to attribute to a Bishop of one origin the power over a population whose tongue he doesn't speak.

As for Catholics being first and foremost Cathlics, and only then of members of a certain nation and tongue, tell this to the Hungarized population of German ancestry in Romania! The very first thing that the Hungarian Bishops did when being apointed over the Catholic population in Transilvania (out of which a considerable percentage was German) was to serve everything in the Hungarian tongue: both religiously and politically. The result of their "Catholic" approach was the denationalization (or ethnic uprooting) of a significant part of the Transilvanian Germans.

 
At Friday, December 21, 2007 4:45:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

The Franks were Latinized Germanic tribes.

Yup. I know beautiful "Frankreich" well, being of German birth. Hence my affection for Charlemagne. Bit of a history there. There is still a strong Germanic influence in the Latin Rite of the Church.

Lucian, you misunderstood the second part of my post. I am an American Citizen by naturalization but a good part of my heart with always be European. My point was that my identity as a Catholic Christian, ergo my identity in Christ, will always supersede any of my ethnic roots.

My mother, being of East Prussian birth, knows only too well the plight of the Germanic peoples of the East after the War.

 
At Saturday, January 12, 2008 9:04:00 pm , Blogger A Simple Sinner said...

"It seems that the non-phyletistic (great word!), monolithic unity of the Western Patriarchate is not as apparent (a) in the existence of Uniate overlapping eparchies; and (b) in the recent establishment of national conferences of bishops."

The delicious irony of a Western Rite Orthodox using the term "uniate" (which, comboxes excluded, is no more used in polite company these days than "colored" "negro" or "boy/girl" [as in "we found a decent girl to do the housework]) is not lost on me.

I am reminded of the old joke about the Lone Ranger - finding himself surrounded by "injuns" he cries out "Tonto, Tonto, we are surrounded by Indians!" to which Tonto replies "What do you mean 'we' white man?"

That as the case may, call, write or email the various and sundry Eastern Catholic hierarchs and ask them what they teach on birth control.

 
At Sunday, January 13, 2008 1:13:00 am , Blogger Fr John W Fenton said...

I apologize for being using an impolite term. I honestly did not realize it was such, and shall refrain in the future.

I am admittedly dense on how the last paragraph corresponds to the (b) in my initial comment. If it doesn't, then I'm dense on how it corresponds to what I wrote.

 
At Tuesday, July 15, 2008 12:42:00 pm , Blogger Acecliffy said...

I find it both interesting and revealing that the reasons given for converting to Roman Catholicism (or Latin Catholicism as I usually call it) were political and organizational, rather than theological. I think this is very pertinent, since Roman Catholicism is advantageous for the illusion of unity to the world.

As for theology and consistency with the faith of the early Church, give me Eastern Orthodoxy (or the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church as I/they call themselves) over the innovations and heresies of the Latin Church any day! :)

 

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