4.29.2009

Open House

Tuesdays


our new place

Gordon Head


1625 Dougall


7pm

bring a beverage or a snack if you are hungry or thirsty, or nothing if you can't. but come and hang out.

This will start the second week of may.

4.24.2009

Obnoxious Orthodox

This explains better than I can what I have been trying to say, I just came across it thanks to Matushka Donna linking to it in the comments.


It's by Frederica Matthewes Green.

Why Converts to Orthodoxy are Obnoxious
Posted Wednesday, November 19, 2008 in Orthodoxy
[Beliefnet; November 19, 2008]

In 1993, over 15 years ago, I was chrismated and joined the Eastern Orthodox Church, but only lately has it dawned on me that I must have strained friendships over the years, due to my vocal enthusiasm for my adopted church. I can’t be the only one to have done this. Converts to Orthodoxy usually precede their decision with voluminous reading and research, so their friends must endure agitated lectures on church history, ancient heresies, and what words mean in Greek. Those friends benefit, no doubt, from this opportunity to practice patience and long-suffering. But why is our kind so characteristically obnoxious?

The first, most obvious explanation is that some people simply are obnoxious to start with. But that can’t be the case with me, so let’s press on.

A second theory is that converts of any sort have a tendency to exuberance that is wearying to outsiders. That’s surely a factor, but I think there’s something else going on, more specific to Orthodox converts.

Here’s a clue to a third possibility. I can remember that, after I’d been Orthodox a few years, developing an increasing sense of tension or frustration. At the beginning, I thought I knew what I was getting into. My husband had been an Episcopal priest for 16 years, and we had gradually moved from evangelical-style “low church” to the more liturgically-fancy “high church.” Orthodoxy looked taking that escalator up one more floor. Plenty of ceremony and beauty, but without the mainline churches’ affection for keeping up-to-date.

It took me a few years to sense that there was a whole other something going on. It took awhile because I grasped it through hearing the hymns of the church year, week in and week out. Everyone associates Orthodox worship with sensory richness, but it’s also rich in theological content. The basic framework of services like the Divine Liturgy or Vespers doesn’t change much, but every day of the liturgical year provides prayers for saints and feasts that can be added to that framework.

And these prayers are jam-packed. For example, on the Feast of the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council, the chanter launches into this:

Of the Father before the morning star Thou wast begotten from the womb without mother before all ages, even though Arius did believe Thee to be created, not God, classing Thee in ignorance and impudence with creatures…

That’s just a fraction of a thorough march through what happened at the first Council of Nicaea, and why it was important (including Arius’ unpleasant death from digestive indisposition: “his bowels were torn by a divine hook…in a repulsive manner his soul came out”). Hymns like these offer quite a theological education to anyone who comes to services, and if you didn’t catch it all, there’s a good chance they’re going to sing it two more times.

It takes awhile to get it, because it’s gotten by a process of immersion, by soaking in a context of worship. It’s not something you can figure out by studying the Church Fathers. Each of them had his idiosyncracies, and they regularly disagree. But they all came together in worship, and were shaped by the same hymns and prayers, the appointed Scripture readings, preaching, and the “picture bible” of iconography. Rich worship taught the faith to literate and illiterate, peasant and emperor, and it’s essentially the same as our worship today.

After being dunked in this sea of hymnography for a few years I began to recognize an underlying unity among all the elements of Orthodoxy—the worship, the fasting, the exhortations to humility, the companionship of the saints, all of it. There is an organic quality here, and the thing itself is inexpressibly alive. It was like seeing a face emerge from a random pattern of dots, and then wink at you. It was electrifying. And during those years of discovery, my mind was constantly cranking away as I labored to absorb new ideas and excise stubborn old ones. This absorbed my attention so much that I was apt to expound my current level of comprehension to anyone who stood still in my vicinity. Perhaps this unanticipated experience of encountering something unknown and marvelously organic accounts for the distinctive lapel-grabbing impulse among converts to Orthodoxy.

Even more obnoxious, though, must be the tendency to reject hospitality. I kept finding myself in conversations with nice people who wanted to assure me that this very thing I was so excited about in Orthodoxy is something they have in their church as well. And I would try hard, no doubt to the point of rudeness, to convince them this was not so. (Of course, for every person insisting that there were no differences, there was another person asking me to explain the differences. If only you could get them to form two lines.)

Well, was it so? It depends on where you put the emphasis. Most people like to be polite and get along, so they highlight what we hold in common. But every church must have its distinctives, or we’d all be in the same church. At the time I was so occupied with comprehending this strange thing called Orthodoxy that I emphasized the differences, and was impatient with kindly big-tent suggestions.

As I realized what the big difference is, I grew more insistent, I’m afraid. It’s that Orthodoxy still passes on the early church’s knowledge of how to tune in to the presence of Christ. They saw this as a perception skill, something anyone could (with diligent practice) hone; it has nothing to do with emotion. Not that every churchgoer is following that path, not that the church administration is perfect, but that the path still existed—that’s what amazed me.

I felt like Marco Polo. I had been to the east and discovered something wondrous that I assumed all Christians crave. But I slowly came to see that I can’t communicate it. I think people just don’t believe me, and I hardly provide a good personal example. It must sound like vague, fluffy religious talk (though in my experience it is anything but). Maybe you have to soak in it for years, till the evidence becomes overwhelming.

The last reason Orthodox converts are obnoxious resembles the reason adolescents are obnoxious. Young teens go through a few years when they are trying to understand their own unique identity, and trying to establish it in the face of—well, it would be one thing if they had to establish it in the face of hostility, because, even though that would be hard, it would be bracing and clarifying. Instead, an adolescent has to figure out and establish his adult persona in the face of affection. Granny and Pops and Uncle Pete love the little guy, and they’re going to be kindly and patient with him because he’s going through a phase.

But the “little guy” is not going through a phase. He senses that it’s something much more profound than that, ashe is turning into a different person, the adult he is destined to be. Affectionate attempts to obscure this quest feel suffocating. He has no good option for dealing with that affection, so he’s either sullen or angry. There are no doubt some ways that he is the same person he will always be, and there are ways Orthodoxy and every other church has significant points in common, not least that we love the same Lord. But the impulse is to exaggerate the differences when you fear being hugged to death.

This is not just an explanation but an apology, and even an appreciation for the perseverance of friendship in the face of truly annoying behavior. My ideas haven’t changed, and I’m always glad for a good discussion, but maybe I’m past the need to belabor them. Yeah, I think I’ve gotten it out of my system. I hope so.

Pasivirta Three

Hi Folks,

we three P's are looking for a ride from Abbotsford on sunday morning to church.
Gabe F. is driving us to the ferry after, so no worries about that side of things.

looking forward to seeing you all! we won't be at vespers, there's a wedding in Abbotsford that compels us.

Christ is Risen!

kabuki kabs, church, moving.

I love it. and I used to not love it. I used to think I was called to be a 'church critic' so that I could help point out faults so that the church could be healthier.

The guy I met who belongs to a church that engages in what they call 'prophecy' eased my old wounds surrounding that language due to his willingness to engage with a) my pain and cynicism and b) my questions. He didn't tell me my worldview was wrong, that I shouldn't ask questions, that I should just trust the church leaders. those things were told to me at one point by a church leader, needless to say I trusted leaders less after that.

I know that orthodoxy is not for everyone, but I really didn't see that until recently, and I really am repentant in the sense that I think differently and wish I had not hurt anyone with my rantings about orthodoxy being the best for everyone. If you are seeking truth, inside and outside yourself, good for you. how can I judge any further, or even that far at all?

All I really want to do is pour a drink at open house, pull up a full crab trap, and be a choir teacher. maybe go biking once in a while.


++++++++++++++++++++++++




Yesterday, I rode the pedicab for the first time ever. It was pretty sweet. I didn't make much money, but I don't really care for the first day. I broke even, I had to pay for the cab for the day, and I paid for it. which was my goal. there aren't a lot of tourists around yet, so its not a surprise not to make much money. we'll see. next week should be busier, hopefully more cruise ships come in.

The organization I work with is a bit shady, they make up rules on the fly, its pretty political, and I think pretty subtly cutthroat, so I am going to follow the rules of road, pay my dues, and ignore the rest of it. and if it seems to not be working, at least I will be fit and I can always find another second job to pay for summer school.

+++++++++

we moved. our new place is alright. our neighbours have three children, and they are loud between 7 and 8 am. It makes me wish children didn't exist. but then I wake up and don't hate anymore. also, we live close to Mt. Doug, which is cool.


we'll have a housewarming party soon.

4.17.2009

upload

as I have a tiny space of online time this week, I am uploading a pre-written post.

Today, he who hung the earth upon the waters is hung upon a tree. It is Holy Friday for us crazy calendar orthodox.
Blessed Feast!




Following is an explanation of the man I met recently and how he gave me hope, but I think it is still incomplete.

Blog Post

I met a man the other day who helped me be even more grateful for my past in the charismatic side of the protestant church.
I grew up going to a non denominational church, I didn’t even know denominations existed until my late teens. I thought catholics weren’t Christians, and greek orthodox? I had sort of heard of its existence, but never put it in the category of church.
Anyways. I started attending a vineyard church by myself, without my parents, that is, when I was sixteen, with my closest oldest friend Tim Stewart at the church where his Dad was the pastor. I loved it. The people were real, they were honest, the worship was laid back and fun, but also honest. Graham Ord led worship and I babysat his kids. It was glorious. I remember a Sunday morning, me and about four other guys were all dancing up at the front, we ended up doing a sort of can-can line to a song called “walk in the light” it was awesome. We were all shout-singing and dancing together because God was so great and we were so happy to be together with God. I loved dancing in church. I think if I could trust a church like that again, I would enjoy dancing like that again.
I don’t know what changed it, if it was me, or the church.
I started attending TWU when I was 19, just after I had finished a year of being on the planning committee for the evening service at the church. I had even preached one evening. A 19 year old, uneducated (in any sense of the word) boy, standing in front of a congregation of Christians, explaining and interpreting the bible. Hoo boy. I am sure that God can use anyone and that I probably said something somewhere in there that was inspiring or helpful to someone, but goodness. I like when the preacher is educated at the very least in theology, if not the nature of interpretation. Anyways. That is an aside. I didn’t have any clue about anything back then, and I know more now, but I also know that there is so much more to know now, so I still now next to nothing.
So I went to this vineyard church and then I started TWU. I took a few intro to biblical studies classes in my first few years, but I was also involved in Street Evangelism. I grew so much during those years, thinking constantly about what it meant to be a true Christian.
Did I have to live on the street and give all I had to the poor to show them that I really understood what it was like to live their life? No. even if I tried, I wouldn’t understand in that way, and so many people were willing to work with the street people, that I should be thankful for the gift of education and put it to good use. Not everyone gets to go to university, let alone TWU. A good friend’s dad told me that in a random but not so random talk on the phone. One of those moments I don’t like to admit that felt and still feels ‘providential’. You’ll see why I am so against this particular nebulous part of Christendom in a bit. Which is also why I love orthodoxy so much. Of course, it will be an imperfect story, but it’s a story.
So I was at TWU, learning about things. About interpretation, and about the bible, and about ministry. I was directly involved with poor people on the street, every Friday night. We would spend two hours with the folks on the downtown east side. I volunteered in high school as well, with the soup wagons for the street kids on Granville. I guess Uni had me in the tougher part of town. But it wasn’t dangerous if you walked strongly. Posture says so much. We gave out hot chocolate as an excuse to start conversations with people and I guess we were supposed to share the good news of Christianity with them. Which is good news. And we did. I remember talking to a guy we’ll call J, and he was the lookout for the dealers at oppenheimer park. He would whistle when the cops came by and the dealers would scatter. Anyways. The conversation went like this between him and the girl I was walking around with. “So…how’s it going?” “oh, crappy, my daughter lives in north van, and I can’t get over there to get my sailboat because my leg is all infected” (his leg had open sores due to cancer or one of the other 5 or so terminal illnesses he later listed off as having, it was hard to not stare and also hard to look at)
Girl then says “that’s too bad, have you heard of Jesus Christ?” J replies “yeah, my mom used to pray the rosary at the foot of my bed, I wanted to kill her for it”
And he lived the kind of life where language like that didn’t seem like hyperbole. Anyways. That was a huge rabbit trail, except it somehow belongs.
Back to church. I was learning that life is more complicated than I thought. Evangelism isn’t so cut and dry, and maybe just using words to tell people about Jesus wasn’t going to be enough. This, I am discovering as I am writing, was the beginning of my need to reconcile form and content.
At church, the prayer of Jabez was making people crazy for bad theology and lots of money. The church began to recite a givers confession. So many problems with that theology. First, it makes the primary identity of the person ‘a giver’. Second, the only creed being recited is about how “I am giving you money, God, so I trust that you will give some back”. Third, on the envelope, they had a little paragraph that had a bible verse on it, and another sentence that was not from the bible, but a made up phrase about God giving us money. It was all in the same font and format as the bible verse.
The form implied that the content was all from the same place, the bible. I was pretty upset. But then, they were bringing speakers in to talk at the church about topics like “the third heaven. Pat Cocking, a prophet who changed her name legally a few times due to direct instructions from God came and taught that when St. Paul talks about ‘The Third Heaven’ that it is something akin to Christian Transcendental Meditation, though she wasn’t using that language. If she had, I would have (at this point in my life) been a little less likely to call her a charlatan. The Third Heaven is understood by most interpreters to mean the place where God dwells. The first heaven being the air we breathe, and the second one is the stars ( I think ) She told us we could go there by mental excercises.
Now I know that spiritual discipline and gifts from God can amount to amazing things that are rarely seen or heard, but I had a hard time with her and I didn’t know why.
Later, a person came from the arctic circle who had been a part of a revival of some sort. A blowing sound that couldn’t be explained was recorded at a prayer meeting on an audio system. This was interpreted as the Holy Spirit. I sound doubtful because I am. The lady came to our church, preached a contentless sermon and then started shouting prayers and trying to push people over so they would have a spiritual experience. I was so mad. It still makes me mad. The language they use all the time is something about ‘Entering the Prophetic’ but I think what they were doing was psychological and emotional manipulation, but even they didn’t know it. I know it is an intensely arrogant thing to make a judgment like that, but I have spoken to the leadership of the church about it, and their response convinced me. When I confronted them about the health and wealth doctrine, they told me that my interpretive framework was incorrect.
All this leads to the protestant man I met recently who is a conflict management expert who consults with different churches in the lower mainland to help them resolve conflicts. The church I went to when I was a teenager split and then died. Why did it split? Because God spoke to two different parties and gave two different directions for the church and neither group was willing to capitulate.
So. I am thankful for my current church family because there is a decided lack of God Speaking directly to church leaders for the sake of direction. The church calendar decides what the sermon will be, what color the vestments will be, and which saints will be commemorated. Prophetic-oriented churches bother me. But honestly, that is my problem, and it is not anymore.
When I rail about my past, I try to be clear that I love where I came from. My Finnish Pentecostal Church Camp, my Brethren Bible Fly Fishing Camp, I love my dispensationalist roots. I love that I know the bible like I do.
If ever I talk about orthodoxy being the fullness of the church, I mean that in a purely historical sense, in that it hasn’t changed (Doctrinally) since the 7 ecumenical councils. Practice has changed (slowly) but its identity hasn’t really.
All that said, I don’t think that orthodoxy is the only way to God, I don’t think it is for everyone. I surely used to think so, but I know that a lot of people find deep connections to God outside of the walls of the Orthodox Church. And I am glad for that.

I had a great visit with my sister and brother in law. They are expecting a baby in the fall, and I am proud of how my brother in law is thinking very maturely. They go to a church that is similar to the ones I just described, but I see God in their eyes and their hearts. Just like Tim and Bethany. I couldn’t go regularly to church with them, and they with us, but they have a deep commitment and love for God that is evident in their speech and their actions. They are spending their lives on water for poor people.

I love my church, but I love all of the church in its confusion and division. We can’t all be the pinkie finger, or the blood vessels, or the hair. We all have our roles and we all find our home in a place we can call home, and that is good. The man I met the other day gave me so much hope for those who are happy in a church that engages in prophetic activities, whatever that means. I used to have no time for that, and think that anyone who prayed like that was____misguided? But this guy had a good head on his shoulders and kind of put me in my place. It was good.

By the way, I think poverty in North America is a joke compared to poverty overseas. Mostly (aside from mental illness) we enable poverty here. That doesn’t mean we ignore the poor. We are having some homeless folks come to our church for Paschal Vespers apparently.

4.10.2009

New Album, Holy week, Unction




I can't wait for this new DMB album.

There's a lot to say, but its still quiet time.

A blessed holy week to the few who still stop by here. be back in a week.

and a snippet...
I met a great evangelical the other day, it gave me hope and healed a few old wounds, and there are parts of evangelicalism that I think orthodoxy could/should greatly benefit from. I wouldn't have said these things even a few months ago. I will try to explain what I mean.

I was at Unction today with Brs. Moses and Samuel and some FROTH. It's an acronym, sort of. It was great, I don't know arabic, but I don't care. I love the Coptic church in Surrey, and I miss some of my old friends from St. H.

Turn out the lights, Holy Week is here.