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Author Topic: Interview with Frederica Matthews Greene  (Read 34410 times) Average Rating: 0
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TinaG
I am not a pessimist - I'm just grimly realistic!
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« on: July 10, 2007, 02:28:38 PM »

I just found this great interview on Orthodox News website (the rather strident, one sided mouthpiece of the unhappy folks at Orthodox Christian Unity).  It was originally published in the July edition of a Protestant magazine I've never heard of called Precipice.  I'm posting the whole interview below since you have to log into the website.

http://orthodoxnews.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Features.one&content_id=16209&CFID=41112741&CFTOKEN=43424077

The Emerging Church and Orthodoxy - Precipice Magazine
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July 9, 2007

1.) Can you offer some insight about how the Orthodox Church understands evangelism? Do you feel that, overall, that it is considered a priority when compared with Protestant Evangelicalism?
The Orthodox Church has a beautiful history of evangelism — but, unfortunately, it is largely history. A factor we tend to forget, which has made the path of Eastern Christianity so different from that of the West, is that for the most part they have not been free. Many Orthodox lands have been under Muslim rule for over a millennium, virtually since Islam began. (Was it Chesterton who said, don’t ridicule the Balkans for being so bellicose; if they hadn’t fought Islam to a standstill, we’d be fighting the same battles in Paris.) Russia and the Slavic countries, on the other hand, just emerged from nearly a century of Communism—20 million Orthodox died for their faith, including hundreds of thousands of pastors.

Orthodox who immigrated to the US think of themselves as outsiders for a long time. You see a bit of this in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” where the child Toula compares herself unfavorably with the slim, blonde girls in her school. Orthodox for the most part are not European, their languages don’t use the Roman alphabet, and they eat very different foods, so they are inclined to cling to each other. (The branch of Orthodoxy my family joined is Arabic, which must bear an extra degree of ethnic prejudice.) Setting out to evangelize their neighbors just wouldn’t occur to them.

(An aside on that: all Orthodox Churches teach the same faith, and apart from spats here and there, are in communion with each other; even the ancient split between Chalcedonian and non-Chalcedonian churches has been bridged. So we could say that today’s Greek, Indian, Ukrainian, Ethiopian, Russian, etc Orthodox are akin to the Italian, French, German Catholic churches a century ago. The work is underway to make a united American Orthodox Church of the array currently still identified by immigrant background. But there is this difference from 19th Roman Catholic churches, however: in Orthodoxy there has never been an expectation that the churches need a single earthly ruler, ie, a pope. Orthodoxy is organized at the level of “people, tribe, tongue, and nation,” and that is felt to be just about right. Unity comes from common belief instead of external organization—an endoskeleton rather than an exoskeleton. Rome and western Europe were part of this arrangement until roughly a thousand years ago, when papal claims to rulership could no longer be ignored.)

There is an American organization to support missions at home and abroad, the Orthodox Christian Mission Center http://www.ocmc.org/ , as well as a relief organization, the International Orthodox Christian Charities http://www.iocc.org/ . Both great organizations, but certainly not as developed as Protestant and Catholic missionary & relief efforts.

The historic pattern or style of evangelism is interesting, however, compared with the West. While Rome decided to do everything in Latin, in order to guarantee uniformity, in the East the emphasis was on making the faith understandable. So the Scriptures and liturgies were always translated into the vernacular, and where there was no written language, missionaries would devise one. In the 4th century, St Mesrops Mashtots developed a language for the Armenians, and (I love this) he based it on the decorations he saw on their homes and around their windows; he wanted to give them an alphabet that they would find beautiful. In the 9th century, Ss Cyril and Methodius developed an alphabet for the Slavs, and in the 19th century, Russian missionaries who crossed the Bering Strait to evangelize the peoples of Alaska ended up devising alphabets for 6 different dialects. Orthodox missionizing prefers to retain and honor elements of native culture as far as possible, which in Alaska, eg, included retaining totem poles. The book “Orthodox Alaska” http://www.amazon.com/Orthodox-Alaska-Theology-Michael-Oleska/dp/0881410926 by Fr. Michael Oleksa does a good job of using the Alaska mission as a template to explore what Orthodox evangelism is like.

2.) I have found that many Evangelicals are surprised to hear that the Holy Spirit is so central to the experience within the Orthodox Church. I think this is because they equate a “spirit-filled” church with a charismatic, Pentecostal context. Can you describe the Orthodox understanding of what the moving of the Holy Spirit amongst the community looks like?
It’s funny, but I’ve noticed that people who come into Orthodoxy from a Pentecostal or charismatic background can be the ones who have the easiest transition. Orthodoxy is, after all, a premodern church—so it includes a natural expectation that there are miracles, healings, angels, and so forth. When you start expecting those things, they start to happen. A few years ago we had a family visiting that included a 3 yr old girl. During coffee hour she saw my husband (the pastor) and told her mom, “There’s the man who was singing with the angels!”

We also have an ancient liturgy that gathers the community to pray over the oil that will be used to anoint for healing during the coming year. My husband told me one year that he knew of three people who had arisen from deathbeds after being anointed with this oil.

The worship, of course, is not “free” like it might be in a charismatic church. The thing that struck me abt the liturgy when I started attending was how *intimate* it is. There is a real theme of humility, tenderness, and intimacy that you don’t get in Western formal worship. In fact, it is not “formal” in that sense. There’s much less fussiness than we had in our Episcopal “high church” worship. The worship is gorgeously beautiful, but not stuffy; the kind of beautiful, joyous combination you aim at for Christmas dinner or a wedding reception. And a service like the one for the anointing oil puts in the priest’s mouth prayers that are almost embarrassing, as he stresses to the congregation that he is a sinner, that his thoughts are sinful and unworthy, that the power does not come from him but from God alone.

Orthodoxy also expects that there are evil spirits. I was talking with an Emerging Church leader a couple of weeks ago, and he indicated that this would be a “deal breaker” for him. He said that Jesus performed exorcisms on people who today we would diagnose as having bipolar disorder, for example.

Orthodoxy is not so interested in exorcisms and demonic possession, however — while that no doubt still exists, it’s extremely rare. But there are all those other references to the devil or evil spirits in Scripture, eg, “I saw Satan fall like a lightning bolt from heaven,” or Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness—there were no witnesses to that, so we know about it only because Jesus decided to tell his disciples the story. He must have wanted to equip his disciples for such attacks. St. Paul and St. Peter also stress the presence of evil spirits and how to guard against them, and those passages aren’t about exorcisms or poltergeist tricks. It’s a shame to toss all that good advice overboard, when virtually every generation of Christians before us has taken it soberly and seriously.

So, yes, demonic apparitions and tricks are very rare. The most common way evil spirits work is by insinuating thoughts, which may entice but might just as well cause despair, self-hatred, fear. Hebrews 2 says that the evil one has always controlled the human race through fear of death. Being alert to disabling thoughts, and knowing how to repel them, is a large part of Orthodox spirituality. Even if you stumble at the thought of evil spirits, everyone believes in the existence of unwanted, debilitating thoughts. The content of Orthodoxy is a “science” of spiritual growth, a set of spiritual disciplines that heal the “tree” from the roots, so it can bear good fruit. The whole aim of Orthodoxy is to saturate the entire person with the presence of Christ, so that we are literally Christ-bearers. The word for this is “theosis” — like a cloth soaks up dye by osmosis, we soak up Christ by theosis.

BTW, a good book that gives an “inside view” of what this spirituality is like in practice, with all it’s “spirit-filled” elements, is “Mountain of Silence” by Kyriacos Markides. http://www.amazon.com/Mountain-Silence-Search-Orthodox-Spirituality/dp/0385500920 I should warn that the author is coming from a very idiosyncratic place; he is a sociology professor who has come to fervent belief in miracles, evil spirits, theosis, and he is profoundly in awe of the wisdom of the Orthodox Church. What he doesn’t get so much is Jesus. In his subsequent book he makes it even more clear that he thinks we need a version of Orthodox spirituality that acknowledges that it is divisive to insist on the necessity of Jesus Christ, and recognizes the universality of the path to enlightenment. Strange, isn’t it? Lots of people say, “I like Jesus but I have no use for the church” — he’s the opposite. Anyway, what makes this book so valuable is not the words of the author, but the transcripts of taped conversations he had with a very experienced, though pretty young, abbot. The book has become very popular among Orthodox because of the way this abbot explains Orthodox spirituality and practice; there really is no other book that is as accessible to contemporary non-Orthodox readers. So I recommend it, but read Fr Maximos closely while taking the connecting authorial material with a grain of salt.

3.) In At the Corner of East and Now you mention that while Protestants tend to see Orthodox and Catholics as closely related brethren, Orthodox tend to see Protestants and Catholics this way. Can you explain the difference in understanding?
It’s funny, but I remember when my editor was going over that chapter, he wrote in the margin that I needed to give some examples of what Protestants and Catholics disagree about; as a Jewish man, he didn’t know what they were.

It took me a very long time to grasp how Orthodoxy is different. As I said above, there is really no book that encapsulates it. I learned, I guess, the old-fashioned way, the way people have assimilated this faith from the beginning, by going to worship and listening. The words of teh services are very rich and full of teaching. The feast in early June of the Council of Nicea, for example—the hymns recount it all thoroughly, explain what Arius taught, why he was wrong, what teh council decided, etc. Since worship has been in the vernacular through history, even illiterate peasants could get a thorough theological education, just by going to church and listening.

Gradually, gradually, over several years, I began to grasp how it differed from both Catholic and Protestant traditions. First, there is an expectation that every Christian (every person, actually) is called to this transformation in Christ. It’s not just for “mystics” — in fact, there is no word for “mysticism” in Orthodoxy. There is just the normal Christian life. We don’t have pietistic (some would say narcissistic) “spirituality”, because the essential test of growth in Christ is humility and active love for others.

Another difference from Western Christianity is that this transformation includes the body as well as the soul. There isn’t the duallism that keeps troubling the West. This is why, in the early church, they gathered the bloody remains of martyrs and placed them under the altar (in Revelation, John hears the voice of the martyrs crying out from beneath the altar). The body of a Christian, not just his mind or soul, literally participates in Christ (“partakers of the divine nature” says St Peter), which is also evident from their belief that the Eucharist is really Christ’s Body and Blood. Post-Communion prayers speak frankly of the physical Eucharist passing “through me, to all my joints, my kidneys, my heart” — un-squeamish about that. Perhaps Platonism/duallism didn’t take root in Eastern Christianity bec early Christians were so often in debate against “philosophers,” who were recognized as pagans. We still use many ancient hymns that celebrate the victory of Christians over “philosophers.” (also re duallism, St. Augustine had virtually no role in Orthodoxy, and his explication of Original Sin doesn’t fit Orthodox understanding of the Fall’s effects.)

A big factor is that Western theology was based on the Scriptures in Latin translation, and as radically as the Reformers broke with Catholicism, they still unknowingly built on the same Latin-language thought-world. (St. Augustine could not read Greek well, and was led astray by a mistranslation in Romans 5:12). An example is the NT Greek word “energeia,” energy, which appears all through St Paul, eg, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for God is energizing in you, both to will and to energize for his good pleasure.” But there was no Latin equivalent, so when Jerome made his translation he used “opus,” work. A sculptor creates a statue and that is his opus, but it is separate from him; he’s not “energizing” within it. So you see that this creates a very different sense of whether and how God is present—the reverberations go on and on.

In Orthodoxy, salvation is a free gift, entirely by grace (grace is an aspect of God’s “energy,” rather than a separate created thing). We are saved by being rescued from the power of death and the evil one, like the Hebrews rescued from Pharaoh—not by Jesus making a payment to the Father. That theory didn’t develop till the 11th century, after the East-West split. Substitutionary atonement strikes native Orthodox as strange and somewhat repellent. Though, as I said, they emphatically believe in salvation by grace, so you see how it cuts across Western categories.

Those are just some of the examples of where Protestants and Catholics ahve a theological “family resemblance” that Orthodox don’t share. It gets even more complicated when the terms have just a shade of different meaning. I’ve been Orthodox 14 years and I’m still learning. Sometimes I think I’ll try to write the book that would sum all this up, and sometimes I think it can’t be done; you can’t get it any other way than by living it, soaking in it.

4.) Can you name a couple of the most common misunderstandings / misrepresentations you come across- in terms of North American conceptions of the Orthodox Church?
Probably the major misunderstanding is to visualize the early church as united under the rule of Rome. In that view, the Orthodox broke off to become a smaller, headless, inconsequential group—identical to Rome in every way, except frozen in the past. But a moment’s reflection show the early church wasn’t like that. All of the 7 “Ecumenical Councils” were held in the East. The great majority of early Christian documents—the Desert Fathers, the Church Fathers—are written in Greek (including the New Testament). Constantine the Great was ruler over the Roman Empire, after all, and though he moved his capital to Byzantium (which he renamed Constantinople), it continued to be the Roman Empire for another thousand years. In Turkey today, Christians are still known as “Rum.”

Of course in the West, the version of the story where Rome is the center of everything is the only version people hear. It was frustrating during the “DaVinci Code” furor to hear this reflexive elision, that there were Christians in Jerusalem, and then everything vanishes except in Europe, and then we’re talking about a painter who lived 1500 years later. The entire Eastern side of the story, where Christianity goes into Africa and Asia and flourishes, is ignored. Also, much of what the Reformers reacted against in medieval Rome is not part of Orthodoxy. In my new book, “The Lost Gospel of Mary,” http://www.amazon.com/Lost-Gospel-Mary-Mother-Ancient/dp/1557255369 , I try to discover through ancient texts how the Virgin Mary was originally seen, and as I say in the Intro, “the early middle-eastern church was not the medieval European church.”

As one Orthodox priest says, when he went back and checked his Church History notes from Lutheran seminary, they covered the centuries btwn the Apostles and the Reformation in 3 pages. I guess if I could just persuade people that they don’t know what Orthodoxy is, I’d consider it a good start.

5.) Eastern Orthodoxy is a fast-growing religious movement in North America. Why do you think this is the case?
Orthodoxy is fastest-growing in terms of percentage growth, but not in terms of numbers, I believe. The growth is undeniably due to conversions. In the jurisdiction (not denomination) that I belong to, the Archdiocese of Antioch (middle-eastern background, headquarters in Damascus on the “street called Straight”), the clergy are now 78% converts. This influx of educated, enthusiastic converts, lay as well as clergy, are bringing revival to the church. Historically, the church represented home-away-from-home for new immigrants, where they could speak the familiar language and eat familiar foods. I can sure understand that, when I picture living as an immigrant in Asia; the church attended by other Americans would be such a haven. But there is the danger that the church, obliged to fill so many roles, becomes a cultural emblem rather than truly a church. Praise God, I don’t see revised, “updated,” fashionable theology in Orthodox churches, but I sure do seem nominalism. When I travel and speak in Orthodox churches, longtime church members often tell me, “You converts are teaching us about our own faith, things we never knew.” So there is renewal in Orthodoxy, though not at the numbers “fastest-growing” might suggest.

6.) Can you explain why a postmodern generation might be attracted to Orthodoxy in ways that their parents and grand-parents might not have been?
Something generational is happening with Evangelicalism, and I suppose we don’t yet know quite what it is. There is persistent restlessness—I keep getting books from writers who are trying to define the problem and solve it, and everyone has a different theory. So I think one of the reasons postmodern folks are more open, to Orthodoxy as well as other alternatives, is that current Protestantism is less satisfactory than it used to be.

Orthodoxy itself is appealing, I think, initially because it is visibly beautiful, and because it is rooted in something other than a Baby Boomer’s bright idea. As an explorer draws nearer, he finds that it is more guileless and unstudied, less “organizational”, than Roman Catholicism (Orthodox projects can be *very* disorganized, compared with Western standards. There’s a saying, “I don’t believe in organized religion, I’m Orthodox.”) Eventually he sees that the center holding it together is a way of life in Christ, a “Way” to nourish the presence of Christ inside as it grows and overflows.

At that point of exploration, everything reverses — the icons, chant, prayers and so forth are no longer seen as appealing accessories, but as elements, outgrowths, of an organic life, the life of Christ’s people continuing without interruption from the earliest days.

The problem is that the person, a pastor or worship leader, who gathers some of these elements and places them in their own Protestant context, discovers that they immediately begin to fade. The reasons these worship elements have power in the first place is because they are rooted in an organic, continuing life. They have authority because they are part of that larger, communal, life. But when a person chooses and removes them, like cutting roses in a garden, they begin to die. The authority is no longer the living community, but the “chooser”, the expert or worship leader who made the selection. He can’t help but interpose himself, standing between the ancient community and the attendees at the worship he designs.

I hasten to say that of course not everyone is going to pack their bags and become Orthodox. Nor do Orthodox believe that you have to do that in order to be saved, not at all. I’m just recognizing an inevitability. You can’t choose some elements of Orthodoxy without being a chooser. It’s like recognizing that you can buy spices on your trip to Nepal, and try to cook the same dish when you get home, but it’s not going to be the same. We are so plagued with the life-style, thought-style of being consumers. The expert chooses and removes worship elements, and each worshipper who comes in the door browses through what he offers and does the same thing. Profound community doesn’t quite gel, not the way it does when you immerse in a continuous timeless faith. It remains a gathering of separate people who have chosen to be there, and who choose what they like and dislike.

No wonder there is such loneliness. When I give speeches, I see the most audience reaction (chiefly, a kind of freezing-up and going silent) when I say the word “loneliness.” But on the other hand, overcoming that by plunging into an ancient community will necessarily mean surrendering a lot of freedom, and surrendering your right to chart your own course, accountable to no one. I don’t want to trivialize the difficulty of that choice, and again I’m not saying it’s necessary to salvation. But it has been a blessing to me. I increasingly think that no one *can* chart their own spiritual course. You will inevitably go in circles, guided solely by the things you *already* think, the myriad unseen prejudices you already hold. I have become convinced that Orthodoxy continues the consensus of the original church, so it feels like a safe place to me.

oh, another thing — back to what I said above about miracles, healing, evil spirits — speaking of postmodernism. Pomos are famously wide-open to spiritual things, but I expect them to draw the line well before *that* point. It will be an element of Orthodoxy that they find hard to take. The so-called “supernatural” (it’s not “super”, of course, but just God’s energeia active in creation) is likely to make a postmodernist feel, more than anything else, embarrassed. Educated, sophisticated people just can’t believe that. They may turn out to be more modernist than post-, on that point. There is more peer pressure flowing around nearly every decision we make than we recognize.

7.) In your review of Mel Gibson’s the Passion of the Christ, you identify concerns about the portrayal of Mary Magdalene; understandably suggesting that the portrayal was not rooted in a biblical history. I wonder- what do you do with Orthodox understandings that differ with the consensus of biblical scholarship on a certain issue?
Here’s an example of something that I’ve only recently begun to grasp about Orthodoxy. It’s that the early church was singularly uninterested in the historical basis of the Old Testament. All they wanted to know was how it spoke of Jesus—“you search the scriptures, and them they are that speak of me,” as Jesus said. They essentially went over the OT with a metal detector, looking for foreshadowing of Christ, and they went over it inch by inch, not the way you do when you’re reading for story. An example is, Gabriel’s word to Mary that the Holy Spirit would “overshadow” her is seen to be foretold in Habbakuk 3:3, the Holy One coming forth from a “dark and shadowed mountain”. I think you’d have to read Habbakuk a whole lot of times before that occured to you. Perhaps it helped that they were hearing it read out loud in worship, chanting it; maybe that made similar words pop out.

So the Orthodox understanding is often likely to be different than the consensus of biblical historical-critical scholarship. There is an expectation, as we’ve noted above, that miracles can happen and that angels and spirits exist, so such passages aren’t automatically re-interpreted (though some passages are understood as mystery rather than history, eg, the 6 days of creation). In general, Scripture holds a very high place of authority—the highest written authority, and as the retired dean of St. Vladimir’s Seminary says, Orthodox tradition is defined as the Scriptures rightly interpreted. Scholarly critiques would take a far back seat to that.

8.) What do you personally find the most challenging about Orthodoxy?
I keep finding that I have so much further to go. Well, to step back, the most challenging thing about Orthodoxy is that it dumps you right out at the place where it’s you and Jesus and nowhere to hide. You have to deal with him. No excuses, no lies — lies come from the evil one. As I continue to use the “workout routine” of the spiritual disciplines, I continue to discover that I am still lying to myself about so many things, I am still afraid, I am still lonely, and stubbornly choosing lonely freedom over loved humility. It’s an endless struggle. I have been practicing the Jesus Prayer for 12 years, and I am still so far from “pray constantly.” It’s not a matter of feeling guilty, but more like recognizing that you are still flabby and out of shape and not ready to run the race. Orthodoxy keeps emphasizing God’s compassion—taht’s another thing I noticed early on, that it keeps stressing that God forgives us freely and welcomes us like the father of the Prodigal Son. But I keep holding back. That’s the most challenging thing.

9.) Do you feel the freedom to disagree (agreeably) with certain issues of doctrine within the Orthodox Church? How might you handle this differently now, compared with when you moved in Protestant circles?
I guess as a Protestant, and a graduate of Episcopal seminary, I felt an “appropriate” (ha) pride in my own intellectual vigor. There is a vibrant tradition in Western theology, perhaps from the time of St. Thomas Aquinas, of theological debate. The problem, as one seminary prof explained to me, is that eventually all the possible new ideas have been thought of, so a person who wants to make his name has to advance a theory that is outlandish if not impossible. Anyway, as a Protestant, I not only felt free to disagree, I felt invited to disagree, and taht not disagreeing would be intellectually lazy. It’s a funny thing, hard to express.

In Orthodoxy there’s a different history. It’s more collaborative. It’s as if the expectation is, we all want to grow in Christ—that’s the only goal, there’s no goal of theological exploration for its own sake. So anything anyone expresses is intended to be a contribution to that goal. At its best, when Orthodoxy is functioning well, the good stuff gets picked up and included, and the not-so-good (it’s all well-intentioned; there is no intention of “making a name for myself”) might percolate a while before being discarded. Someone told me early on that, no matter where you dip into Orthodox history, no matter what nation or century, the writings sound teh same; the writing style is the same. Strange but true. So there is this impulse to collaborate, pull together, to work on this one thing that unites us—rather than an impulse to pull away from the herd and be original and independently brilliant.

There are some things Orthodoxy is united on, and when it comes to those I either agree, or hope to understand better. I can’t think of anything that is a serious problem for me. Before we became Orthodox we believed in women’s ordination, and I still have no problem with women being ordained in other churches, but I recognize tht they aren’t in Orthodoxy. I don’t understand fully. Apparently it has never been controversial, in all 2000 years, which alone tells you something, so there’s no explication. However, Orthodox women saints have been preachers and teachers and theologian, they’ve acted as pastoral counsellors to both men and women, they’ve gone into new nations and single-handedly evangelized the people. I’ve given Sunday-morning sermons from Orthodox pulpits all over the country. So Orthodox women do as lay people a lot of things that might require ordinaiton in a Protestant church. I wrote an essay on this in Beliefnet.com last January: http://www.frederica.com/writings/womens-ordination.html

But not everything in Orthodoxy has that kind of unanimity. EG, there was a time when the church was completely pacifist, and then, after Constantine’s conversion, war was permitted (we don’t believe in Just War, however. War is always tragedy and sin, but sometimes it’s just going to happen.) I tend to be a pacifist, but I recognize that I can’t prove this viewpoint consistently in the Church. So I’m on the board of teh Orthodox Peace Fellowship http://www.incommunion.org/ and this view is represented there. This is not really the same thing as “disagreeing” but it is navigating an unsettled point. It’s strangely enough another one of those paradigm shifts in the east — the noble responsibility to disagree, the honoring of the rebel, is a (relatively recent?) Western idea that doesn’t occur in the East, because we see ourselves as partners in each other’s process of transformation. Collaboration rather than disagreement.

10.) How might an Orthodox see salvation in a different light than a Protestant Evangelical?
I think I covered a bit of this above—I guess I’d say first that in one sense the view is the same, that is, the moment you believe in Christ you are “saved.” If you died that moment, you would end up in heaven. But most of us don’t die taht moment. We have all this time left over, days and years, in which we must choose moment by moment either to be surrendered to Christ or to withdraw. In Orthodoxy we are always being reminded of the example of Judas, who had every advantage of being in Christ’s presence, Christ even washed his feet, yet he withdrew and fell. If he’d repented again he would have been saved, but he remained locked in his rejection. So we have a strong teaching that it is possible to “lose salvation,” in the sense that you can fall away and reject it later on. This doesnt’ happen suddenly but gradually, as your commitment weakens, one little tempting thought after another. So there is strong emphasis on clinging to the Lord and admitting your weakness, being humble and not proud abt spiritual strength.

There are two senses of “salvation,” then. One is the right-this-instant sense, and another biblical figure that Orthodox regularly recall is the Good Thief (also known as the “Wise Thief”), who was saved apart from any effort of his own by God’s grace, just by calling out to Christ in humility. But another sense would be that day by day you are “growing in” salvation. By God’s grace, on the last day you will endure to the end, and be one of teh saved at his right hand. An Orthodox reply to “Are you saved?” is “I have been saved, I am being saved, I hope to be saved.”

Originally published by Precipice Magazine, July 2007.
 
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« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2007, 05:18:47 PM »

(An aside on that: all Orthodox Churches teach the same faith, and apart from spats here and there, are in communion with each other; even the ancient split between Chalcedonian and non-Chalcedonian churches has been bridged. So we could say that today’s Greek, Indian, Ukrainian, Ethiopian, Russian, etc Orthodox are akin to the Italian, French, German Catholic churches a century ago. 

I must have slept through that part of catechism class.  I wasn't aware that the non-chals and Orthodox are now reconciled in the one true faith.  Where is she coming from on this?  Or is she only speaking of the agreements between His Beatitude +IGNATIOS IV of Antioch and the non-chals in Syria?  Hardly representative of the Orthodox world!

I may be in the minority here but this is where Matthews-Greene loses credibility with me.  I know she is one of the luminaries that pops up all the time on Ancient FAith RAdio and has numerous columns and such, but she is way too oversimplistic and misunderstands a lot of Orthodox history (however I'm no expert myself).  I sometimes cringe as to what she says.  MHO.
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« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2007, 05:40:29 PM »

I concur with that assessment. Much of what she claims is very assailable.
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« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2007, 05:52:24 PM »

I must have slept through that part of catechism class.  I wasn't aware that the non-chals and Orthodox are now reconciled in the one true faith.  Where is she coming from on this?  Or is she only speaking of the agreements between His Beatitude +IGNATIOS IV of Antioch and the non-chals in Syria?  Hardly representative of the Orthodox world!
Have you spent much time yet reading threads on the Oriental Orthodox Discussion board?  You might find it to your benefit to do so.
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« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2007, 12:14:08 AM »

Ask, and you shall receive an answer.
Ask not nicely, and you shall receive a blunt answer.

There are people whose fingers on the keyboard are hungry to answer the vexing OO question of the day.  Wink

God bless.  Smiley
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« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2007, 12:43:15 AM »

Have you spent much time yet reading threads on the Oriental Orthodox Discussion board?  You might find it to your benefit to do so.

 I was thinking the same thing. While I do see validity in what Scamandrius says re: FM-G, in that she can sometimes be too over-arching, I noted she used the word 'bridged' which doesn't necessarily mean 'reconciled' IMO. There is an Indian family that attends my church who are very active and involved. I noticed (after a year of observing) that he crosses himself using only one finger, I asked him the difference between the Malankar church and the EO. He explained quite a bit basically saying the differences are semantic. IMO, we do have much much more in common with them than we do with the Latins and I would much rather see a complete reconciliation and unification with them before the Latins. The Holy Fathers' latest comments re: us seems to demenstrate that I may be on to something. Of course, we should ALL be praying that ALL Christians one day are ONE.
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« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2007, 08:33:55 AM »

What struck me was not her knowledge of Orthodoxy (After all, who am I to judge that? I was a catechumen yesterday) but her desire to know it. I liked especially her response to #8. A very Orthodox attitude. Many here who nitpick about this or that isn't like the EO or the OO or the RC would do well to see a very Christian attitude from a woman who is first a Christian, then belongs to a particular jurisdiction.
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« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2007, 09:58:13 AM »

FM-G certainly speaks more eloquently than I ever could, but I think where she may rub people wrong is her seeming ability to stand in both a protestant and Orthodox world at the same time, with a pinkie touching the feminist viewpoint as well.  She writes on both secular and Orthodox subjects and has very strong opinions, so maybe there's the idea of who made her the mouthpiece of contemporary Orthodoxy.  If you remember, Frankie Schaffer in his heyday was criticized for being either a radical Orthodox convert or over the top in his protestant bashing. 

Does anyone know anything about the Precipice magazine and what kind of circulation it has? 

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« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2007, 10:05:00 AM »

Soy Tonta!  If I'd only done a search Precipice webzine would just pop right up in front of me.  Looks like they've also done a review of her book "At the Corner of East and Now".



http://www.precipicemagazine.com/frederica_mathewes-green_interview.html

http://www.precipicemagazine.com/ancient-future-journey.html
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« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2007, 09:47:41 PM »

I was thinking the same thing. While I do see validity in what Scamandrius says re: FM-G, in that she can sometimes be too over-arching, I noted she used the word 'bridged' which doesn't necessarily mean 'reconciled' IMO. There is an Indian family that attends my church who are very active and involved. I noticed (after a year of observing) that he crosses himself using only one finger, I asked him the difference between the Malankar church and the EO. He explained quite a bit basically saying the differences are semantic. IMO, we do have much much more in common with them than we do with the Latins and I would much rather see a complete reconciliation and unification with them before the Latins. The Holy Fathers' latest comments re: us seems to demenstrate that I may be on to something. Of course, we should ALL be praying that ALL Christians one day are ONE.

Point taken.  However, when reading her quote, I couldn't help but notice she immediately talks about teh common confession and communion of the various Orthodox jurisdictions and immediately talks about the "bridge" between EO and OO.  I probably jumped the gun, but it didn't quite sit well with me.  However, it is a fact that His Beatitude, Patriarch +IGNATIOS IV has given sanction to intercommuning the OOs.  This practice, of course, has not been sanctioned by any other Orthodox hierarchs as no Patriarch has any authority to abrogate the canons of his own accord.  Whether or not the differences between the EO and OO are purely semantic (and I am afraid that I do not know Aramaic or Coptic or Arabic or any of the other languages of the OO to make comparisons with the Greek texts), intercommunion needs to be decided by a pan-orthodox council and and anathemas need to be lifted.  Individual hierarchcs cannot make decisions on their own.  Nonetheless, I agree that the EO needs to pursue restored communion with the OO before the RCs.  However, the EO is in desparate need to put its own house in order, particulary with regards to the status of the Ecumenical Patriarch vs. the Moscow Patriarchate, a consistent policy regarding reception of converts in agreement with the canons, resolving the calendar controversy, etc.   Lots to do, lots to pray for.  Lord, have mercy (x40).
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« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2007, 10:57:31 PM »

Point taken.  However, when reading her quote, I couldn't help but notice she immediately talks about teh common confession and communion of the various Orthodox jurisdictions and immediately talks about the "bridge" between EO and OO.  I probably jumped the gun, but it didn't quite sit well with me.  However, it is a fact that His Beatitude, Patriarch +IGNATIOS IV has given sanction to intercommuning the OOs.  This practice, of course, has not been sanctioned by any other Orthodox hierarchs as no Patriarch has any authority to abrogate the canons of his own accord.  Whether or not the differences between the EO and OO are purely semantic (and I am afraid that I do not know Aramaic or Coptic or Arabic or any of the other languages of the OO to make comparisons with the Greek texts), intercommunion needs to be decided by a pan-orthodox council and and anathemas need to be lifted.  Individual hierarchcs cannot make decisions on their own.  Nonetheless, I agree that the EO needs to pursue restored communion with the OO before the RCs.  However, the EO is in desparate need to put its own house in order, particulary with regards to the status of the Ecumenical Patriarch vs. the Moscow Patriarchate, a consistent policy regarding reception of converts in agreement with the canons, resolving the calendar controversy, etc.   Lots to do, lots to pray for.  Lord, have mercy (x40).

There is a lot of wisdom in this.  I think this goes the same for OO's as well.

So Amen, and like you I also say Lord have mercy (x 41)
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« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2007, 11:45:28 PM »

Point taken.  However, when reading her quote, I couldn't help but notice she immediately talks about teh common confession and communion of the various Orthodox jurisdictions and immediately talks about the "bridge" between EO and OO.  I probably jumped the gun, but it didn't quite sit well with me.  However, it is a fact that His Beatitude, Patriarch +IGNATIOS IV has given sanction to intercommuning the OOs.  This practice, of course, has not been sanctioned by any other Orthodox hierarchs as no Patriarch has any authority to abrogate the canons of his own accord.  Whether or not the differences between the EO and OO are purely semantic (and I am afraid that I do not know Aramaic or Coptic or Arabic or any of the other languages of the OO to make comparisons with the Greek texts), intercommunion needs to be decided by a pan-orthodox council and and anathemas need to be lifted.  Individual hierarchcs cannot make decisions on their own.  Nonetheless, I agree that the EO needs to pursue restored communion with the OO before the RCs.  However, the EO is in desparate need to put its own house in order, particulary with regards to the status of the Ecumenical Patriarch vs. the Moscow Patriarchate, a consistent policy regarding reception of converts in agreement with the canons, resolving the calendar controversy, etc.   Lots to do, lots to pray for.  Lord, have mercy (x40).

 Hear! Hear! Amin to that!
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« Reply #12 on: July 26, 2007, 03:18:12 PM »

Point taken.  However, when reading her quote, I couldn't help but notice she immediately talks about teh common confession and communion of the various Orthodox jurisdictions and immediately talks about the "bridge" between EO and OO.  I probably jumped the gun, but it didn't quite sit well with me.  However, it is a fact that His Beatitude, Patriarch +IGNATIOS IV has given sanction to intercommuning the OOs.  This practice, of course, has not been sanctioned by any other Orthodox hierarchs as no Patriarch has any authority to abrogate the canons of his own accord.  Whether or not the differences between the EO and OO are purely semantic (and I am afraid that I do not know Aramaic or Coptic or Arabic or any of the other languages of the OO to make comparisons with the Greek texts), intercommunion needs to be decided by a pan-orthodox council and and anathemas need to be lifted.  Individual hierarchcs cannot make decisions on their own.  Nonetheless, I agree that the EO needs to pursue restored communion with the OO before the RCs.  However, the EO is in desparate need to put its own house in order, particulary with regards to the status of the Ecumenical Patriarch vs. the Moscow Patriarchate, a consistent policy regarding reception of converts in agreement with the canons, resolving the calendar controversy, etc.   Lots to do, lots to pray for.  Lord, have mercy (x40).


Too true!
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« Reply #13 on: August 27, 2007, 01:17:17 AM »

I must have slept through that part of catechism class.  I wasn't aware that the non-chals and Orthodox are now reconciled in the one true faith.  Where is she coming from on this?  Or is she only speaking of the agreements between His Beatitude +IGNATIOS IV of Antioch and the non-chals in Syria?  Hardly representative of the Orthodox world!

I may be in the minority here but this is where Matthews-Greene loses credibility with me.  I know she is one of the luminaries that pops up all the time on Ancient FAith RAdio and has numerous columns and such, but she is way too oversimplistic and misunderstands a lot of Orthodox history (however I'm no expert myself).  I sometimes cringe as to what she says.  MHO.

Keep in mind her aduience. She is being interviewed by a Protestant magazine. A lot of progress has been made between Chalcedonian and non-Chacedonian Orthodox in recent years - she is expressing that. Does she really need to go into gory detail on the remaining differences?

Some of you make me tired.

She is the best Orthodox evangelist we have to the protestants and to the public radio crowd.

Does no one understand that popularizers sometimes paint with a broad brush?

I think some of you must really be retarded! (Moderator: is this an ad hominem? Well slap me now for it and give me my warning!!)

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« Reply #14 on: August 27, 2007, 01:51:35 AM »

Well, I think the issue lies in that bring Orthodoxy to a Protestant, she is forced to generalize to get the point across. In some cases, it could be argued, she overgeneralizes.

I found at least one statement I raised an eyebrow at (no it wasn't the EO/OO issue). I felt that at that time, she overgeneralized.

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« Reply #15 on: August 27, 2007, 03:54:43 AM »

Keep in mind her aduience. She is being interviewed by a Protestant magazine. A lot of progress has been made between Chalcedonian and non-Chacedonian Orthodox in recent years - she is expressing that. Does she really need to go into gory detail on the remaining differences?

Some of you make me tired.

She is the best Orthodox evangelist we have to the protestants and to the public radio crowd.

Does no one understand that popularizers sometimes paint with a broad brush?
Yes, we do, but this is why she ESPECIALLY needs to be careful what she says as not to be over-arching as some have said.  Being precise with what she says is of paramount importance and not be brushed over.
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« Reply #16 on: August 27, 2007, 04:30:16 AM »

I've found these articles, but I don't want to turn the discussion form the OP. So I started a new thread:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,12614.0.html
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« Reply #17 on: August 27, 2007, 05:20:28 AM »

I think some of you must really be retarded! (Moderator: is this an ad hominem? Well slap me now for it and give me my warning!!)
On a personal note (not as a moderator) could I ask that people refrain from using the word "retarded" as an insult.
I have a dear cousin who is severely developmentally delayed. Yet she is the most loving person I know and I wish I was half as close to God as she is.
She would never insult anyone like that.
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« Reply #18 on: August 27, 2007, 01:23:51 PM »


She is the best Orthodox evangelist we have to the protestants and to the public radio crowd.

She is the most visible and most catered to, but hardly the best in explicating and explaining the faith.  She's been given this hallowed position that if you want to learn about Orthodoxy, seek out FM-G.  It'd be better to seek out a priest!  And don't tell me that there are none available!
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« Reply #19 on: August 27, 2007, 02:05:41 PM »

She is the most visible and most catered to, but hardly the best in explicating and explaining the faith.  She's been given this hallowed position that if you want to learn about Orthodoxy, seek out FM-G.  It'd be better to seek out a priest!  And don't tell me that there are none available!

Thank you!  Well said.
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« Reply #20 on: August 27, 2007, 02:20:11 PM »

It'd be better to seek out a priest!  And don't tell me that there are none available!

Not just priests, but the many articles and publications that they and others have written.  I wish there was some sort of online DB of articles written by priests in their local monthly publications, sermons they've preached, etc. - that way one could look up a subject in this vast collection, find the best article or 3, and then send them along to inquirers.

Not just priests, mind you, but also Church workers (male and female), and the "best and the brightest".
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« Reply #21 on: August 27, 2007, 03:39:09 PM »

Not just priests, but the many articles and publications that they and others have written.  I wish there was some sort of online DB of articles written by priests in their local monthly publications, sermons they've preached, etc. - that way one could look up a subject in this vast collection, find the best article or 3, and then send them along to inquirers.

Not just priests, mind you, but also Church workers (male and female), and the "best and the brightest".

Well I'd be happy to arrange that on OCnet but who is going to help me find the material? Smiley

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« Reply #22 on: August 27, 2007, 03:56:30 PM »

I'll help, if you secure permissions for re-use.
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« Reply #23 on: August 27, 2007, 08:44:46 PM »

I found her answer to #3 (to wit, "In At the Corner of East and Now you mention that while Protestants tend to see Orthodox and Catholics as closely related brethren, Orthodox tend to see Protestants and Catholics this way. Can you explain the difference in understanding?")  very interesting, although I note there was no mention of how Catholic see it. But perhaps this is due to the fact that Catholics don't all agree among themselves: some of us see Catholics and Orthodox as close together, and Protestants as far off; but others consider Orthodox and Protestants to be close to each other but far away from Catholicism.

She is the most visible and most catered to, but hardly the best in explicating and explaining the faith.  She's been given this hallowed position that if you want to learn about Orthodoxy, seek out FM-G. 

That's reminds me a little of Scott Hahn's role within Catholicism.

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« Reply #24 on: August 27, 2007, 09:54:50 PM »

Ozgeorge
Sorry for the use of an offensive term - not meant that way at all, but rather in the popular usage of dull, dim-witted, unimaginative, mono-chromatic in one's thinking.

I get very frustrated with us Orthodox sometimes. Every other group, it seems, heralds its popularizers: RC Sproul for the Calvinists, Scott Hahn for the JPII Roman Catholics, Brian McLaren for the Emergent Church movement, John Ortberg for the Willow Creek crowd, etc.
 
They ALL over-simplify and generalize. That's WHY they are popularizers. Their own people note that they generalize and over-simplify sometimes but they are great at communicating to a broad audience and moving people to study the writers who are NOT popularizers and don't genrealize and over-simplify. You have to start somewhere.

Popularizing, simplifying (sometimes even overly so) and generalizing is okay. There is nothing wrong with that, nothing at all (so I will differ here with Elisha also). Someone has to point out the outlines of the forest without making a catalogue of  every tree, and every leaf on every tree.

Average Joe Protestant (who she was speaking to) is not going to find a priest to talk to. He or she is going to look for a book at Borders or Barnes & Noble. FM-G happens to be an engaging writer who will hold their attention and perk their interest so that they WILL seek out a priest or a deeper book. That's how it worked for me, anyway.

If I offended people I am sorry, but I was offended by the posts following the OP. Tina G posts what it appeared to me to be an interview that she found edifying and wanted to share it and immediately the response was: I missed that in catechism class, she's weak on this, she's too general on that, blah, blah, blah.

Give Tina and FM-G a break!


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« Reply #25 on: August 27, 2007, 09:59:40 PM »

PS
She's been given this "hallowed position" because she is an outstanding writer, and therefore is asked to produce a lot of articles, sells alot of books, gets interviewed and people recognize her name.

The free market made her such.
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« Reply #26 on: August 27, 2007, 10:09:54 PM »

PS
She's been given this "hallowed position" because she is an outstanding writer, and therefore is asked to produce a lot of articles, sells alot of books, gets interviewed and people recognize her name.

The free market made her such.


I agree here. And she is willing to take on the task.
You know, her husband is an Orthodox priest. I would find it hard to believe that all she writes is not in some way, at least partially even, vetted somewhat.
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« Reply #27 on: August 27, 2007, 10:50:56 PM »

One more thing and I'll shut up!

No one knows we exist, let alone find and talk to a priest. Unless you grew up next door to an Othodox family. No, I take that back. I DID grow up next to an Orthodox family and all I knew about their religion is that they were Greek Catholic, not Roman Catholic. They said they were Catholics who didn't recognize the pope.

This was the 60's mind you and maybe it was just easier for them to explain it that way (the family's last name was not Greek or eastern European, so they weren't having to deal with ethnicity as well as religion). Both of my maternal Grandmothers were 100% German and this family's name sounded German to me so they were just one more flavor in a suburban neighborhood that included Italians (alot of them), Lithuanians, English, Germans, Irish, etc..

But talk about generalizing and over-simplifying what their religion was!

It was only after I became Orthodox that I figured out they were too. We also had a lady that cleaned for us after my mom went to work full time. She was awesome and I used to have coffee and donuts with her at the kitchen table while she smoked a couple cigs, then I would drive her home in the afternoon. She always said she was Greek Catholic but her church recognized the pope. Again, I only recently figured it out that she was Byzantine Catholic.

My point is that all the years that I was a protestant, this tiny bit of information from people I knew decently well, never registered to really know anything about their religion, other than it was a form of Catholicism practiced in Greece (?? Didn't sound right, but they all said they were Greek Catholic!) and that some recognized the pope and some didn't.

It's very easy to grow up even in fifties/sixties church-going America and not know anything about Orthodoxy, let alone in the secularized society of the 70's and beyond.

FM-G at least makes us known.

That is a good thing and should be appreciated.
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« Reply #28 on: August 27, 2007, 11:17:06 PM »


They ALL over-simplify and generalize. That's WHY they are popularizers. Their own people note that they generalize and over-simplify sometimes but they are great at communicating to a broad audience and moving people to study the writers who are NOT popularizers and don't genrealize and over-simplify. You have to start somewhere.

Popularizing, simplifying (sometimes even overly so) and generalizing is okay. There is nothing wrong with that, nothing at all (so I will differ here with Elisha also). Someone has to point out the outlines of the forest without making a catalogue of  every tree, and every leaf on every tree.

Average Joe Protestant (who she was speaking to) is not going to find a priest to talk to. He or she is going to look for a book at Borders or Barnes & Noble. FM-G happens to be an engaging writer who will hold their attention and perk their interest so that they WILL seek out a priest or a deeper book. That's how it worked for me, anyway.

BrotherAidan,

Your comments, to me, seem to imply that the average Protestant is not just ignorant, but stupid and requires that the Orthodox faith be simplified for their minds to understand.  Protestants are not stupid; many are simply misguided and so many of them, once the Truth is made obvious, forsake their upbringing and desire to be received into the Holy Orthodox Church.  Such was the case with myself.  The oversimplification and use of so many recurrent metaphors is not only employed by FM-G in her works, but also in Fr. Coniaris' series on the Orthodox Church or even Clark Carlton's series.  In  FM-G, Carlton and Fr.Coniaris, there is nothing un-Orthodox in their works, but who would not honestly prefer +KALLISTOS Ware or Constantine Cavarnos or Seraphim Rose in explicating the faith?  I do not find these men overly burdensome or too intellectual for people from other tradtions.  Recommending Lossky or Meyendorff or Florovsky to a seeker certainly would be too much and self-defeating.  But the best guide of all is the Divine Liturgy.

The free market made her such.

As a staunch capitalist I cannot nor should not want to contend this.  However, the free market does not give authority; it just means you're winning for the timebeing.

On a sideote, I do agree with Aristokles that her work, since she is the wife of a priest, has to have more than just a modicum of his input.
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« Reply #29 on: August 27, 2007, 11:25:57 PM »

I don't think at all that protestants are ignorant or un-intelligent. I have a number of college friends who are protestant seminary professors.

Let me make an analogy. Some people might think fusion or smooth jazz is lame and commercial and facile. Yet alot of Coltrane and Mingus fans started out there.

I know what you are saying, well listen to Diana Krall or Michael Buble then get into instrumental jazz.

But it doesn't alway work that way.

You could say the the same for Reformed theology - don't start with Sproul, read JI Packer, then go on to BB Warfield and the Hodges.

But people like Sproul, he sells alot of books, speaks at alot of conferences etc.

The same with FM-G and Fr. Coniaris for Orthodoxy.

[to use another music analogy, the same could be said about the plethora of cute-ish girl classical soloists whose records are mostly the classical pieces someone is likely to have heard somewhere - if it gets someone to later buy and listen to Stravinsky or Dvorak, then that's great. And if they stop with classic-lite, then they are still better for it]

Better to have had Orthodoxy's outline shown to you than to have passed by that forest because you were too pre-occupied by reacting to the Catholics (Reformed) or Evangelicals (Emergent) or traditional protestant services (Willow Creek) - and here, I am the one popularizing, generalizing and over-simplifying, if only to make a point - protestants aren't stupid, they just are totally pre-occupied with western church theology, issues and worship. They often miss us when we are right in front of them!

So I say, "here, here" for FM-G, Fr, C and other popularizers in Orthodoxy.

PS I went from FM-G to  +KALLISTOS (and also to my current priest) BECAUSE of FM-G.
I went in 30 days from being virtually totally ignorant of Orthodoxy and not knowing it existed, or only vaguely, to attending a liturgy, vespers and seeking out Ware and other writers!
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« Reply #30 on: August 28, 2007, 12:02:23 AM »

I don't think at all that protestants are ignorant or un-intelligent. I have a number of college friends who are protestant seminary professors.
Ignorant and stupid?  Nah!  I don't think so.

Quote
Better to have had Orthodoxy's outline shown to you than to have passed by that forest because you were too pre-occupied by reacting to the Catholics (Reformed) or Evangelicals (Emergent) or traditional protestant services (Willow Creek) - and here, I am the one popularizing, generalizing and over-simplifying, if only to make a point - protestants aren't stupid, they just are totally pre-occupied with western church theology, issues and worship. They often miss us when we are right in front of them!
Preoccupied to the point of blindness.  Absolutely!  Ignorant of Orthodoxy specifically?  Definitely, because we're virtually invisible to Protestants.

I may never have been one to gravitate to F M-G myself when I was Protestant--I was actually drawn in by Fr. Peter Gilquist, instead--but I can see that her ability to speak to Protestants where they are is a wonderful gift that we need to support.  Many Protestants don't need a dissertation to convince them of the truth of Orthodoxy; they just need someone to challenge their views of faith and spur them to investigate Orthodoxy deeper.
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« Reply #31 on: August 28, 2007, 12:36:14 AM »

No one knows we exist, let alone find and talk to a priest. Unless you grew up next door to an Othodox family. No, I take that back. I DID grow up next to an Orthodox family and all I knew about their religion is that they were Greek Catholic, not Roman Catholic. They said they were Catholics who didn't recognize the pope.

This was the 60's mind you and maybe it was just easier for them to explain it that way.


Isn't it still easier for all of us to describe that way?? I know I will say it that way. I could go on for an hour or a few days on how we differ from the Roman Catholics.....but that would probably go over the head of most outsiders. Not because they are not intelligent enough, they just don't care. They don't see why it's important.

Priests look the same, services look the same, for the most part strange foreign language, sign of the cross, icons........the miles of difference just aren't apparent to the casual observer.
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« Reply #32 on: August 28, 2007, 12:54:14 AM »

BrotherAidan,

Your comments, to me, seem to imply that the average Protestant is not just ignorant, but stupid and requires that the Orthodox faith be simplified for their minds to understand.  Protestants are not stupid; many are simply misguided and so many of them, once the Truth is made obvious, forsake their upbringing and desire to be received into the Holy Orthodox Church.  Such was the case with myself.  The oversimplification and use of so many recurrent metaphors is not only employed by FM-G in her works, but also in Fr. Coniaris' series on the Orthodox Church or even Clark Carlton's series.  In  FM-G, Carlton and Fr.Coniaris, there is nothing un-Orthodox in their works, but who would not honestly prefer +KALLISTOS Ware or Constantine Cavarnos or Seraphim Rose in explicating the faith?  I do not find these men overly burdensome or too intellectual for people from other tradtions.  Recommending Lossky or Meyendorff or Florovsky to a seeker certainly would be too much and self-defeating.  But the best guide of all is the Divine Liturgy.

I would not recommend Fr. Seraphim Rose's books to an inquirer. His work is controversial and can be very confusing to someone who knows nothing about Orthodoxy.

We have had FMG come and speak to us at our retreats. She is a great translator of Orthodox beliefs to those who know nothing about Orthodoxy. Her father confessor was the recently reposed Reverend Father Gheorghe Calciu-Dumitreasa. It was quite clear the man has had a major impact on shaping her faith. She interjected many of his thoughts in to her presentation. I find her demeanor to be very humble and loving. She is an excellent evangelizer.

here is a link to article she wrote on the repose of her spiritual father   

http://www.frederica.com/writings/repose-of-fr-george-calciu.html 
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« Reply #33 on: August 28, 2007, 12:58:29 AM »

I would not recommend Fr. Seraphim Rose's books to an inquirer.
I wouldn't, either.

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His work is controversial and can be very confusing to someone who knows nothing about Orthodoxy.
I agree.
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« Reply #34 on: August 28, 2007, 01:03:43 AM »

To one not well versed in theology I'd probably recommend His Excellency first and foremost...but I would certainly recommend Frederica Matthews Greene before Constantine Cavarnos or Seraphim Rose.
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« Reply #35 on: August 28, 2007, 01:13:40 AM »

To one not well versed in theology I'd probably recommend His Excellency first and foremost...but I would certainly recommend Frederica Matthews Greene before Constantine Cavarnos or Seraphim Rose.
Regarding Dr. Cavarnos, I've read some of his stuff.  Quite representative of a traditionalist brand of Orthodoxy, which in itself makes him not a very good read for inquirers.  Besides that, he strikes me as one who would appeal only to the most scholarly of persons.

Okay, who is His Excellency?  I hope you're not talking about yourself. Wink
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« Reply #36 on: August 28, 2007, 01:28:13 AM »

For evangelizing, you definitely need someone who can straggle the popular vs. scholarly divide and do it in a compelling way. I think in this sense, the evangelist's task is very similar to that of the historian who wants to write a serious contribution to the field that also finds a wider readership. If I were not a Catholic already, Bishop Fulton Sheen would have had me hook, line and sinker. Scott Hahn? I like some of his stuff, but I find him annoying for some reason. Then there's Karl Keating and Bob Sungenis. Eh.

I really think you may be right---clergy just seem like better evangelists, especially on a person-to-person level. John Paul II was really my chief evangelist, with major support from a couple local priests.

I haven't read much of Frederica, except for stuff she's written in First Things. But then I'm not exploring Orthodoxy as a potential convert. Her stuff does not revolve around about how EO are "not Catholics," does it? Anti-Romanism is not a legitimate identity.
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« Reply #37 on: August 28, 2007, 01:34:03 AM »


Okay, who is His Excellency?  I hope you're not talking about yourself. Wink

Can't be, or GiC would have had to have said, My Excellency.  Cheesy

GiC, unless you have taken to referring to yourself in the third person!  Huh
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« Reply #38 on: August 28, 2007, 01:43:43 AM »

Okay, who is His Excellency?  I hope you're not talking about yourself. Wink

Of course not, We would never use such a lowly title when refering to our Divine Imperial Majesty. Grin Wink

But seriously, I was refering to His Excellency, the Most Reverend Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia.
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« Reply #39 on: August 28, 2007, 01:47:16 AM »

Of course not, We would never use such a lowly title when refering to our Divine Imperial Majesty. Grin Wink

But seriously, I was refering to His Excellency, the Most Reverend Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia.
Metropolitan?  When did Bishop Kallistos get promoted?
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« Reply #40 on: August 28, 2007, 01:49:07 AM »

Metropolitan?  When did Bishop Kallistos get promoted?

I believe it was last March.
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« Reply #41 on: August 28, 2007, 02:08:13 AM »

I wouldn't, either.
I agree.

Ok, well if we really wanted to get into when books are suitable, I think it comes down to a case by case basis at the discretion of the priest.

I read Fr. Seraphim fairly early in my catechumenate.
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« Reply #42 on: August 28, 2007, 11:06:25 AM »

This may be a bit of a tanget, but I think when Protestants look at Orthodoxy, there is sometimes a "nice guy who finishes last" phenomenon. I'm not sure how common it is, but it is definitely true in Scott Hahn's case, cf Rome Sweet Home.

When he was a Protestant, one of Hahn's primary purposes in life was refuting Catholic arguments. (The term "anti-Catholic" is sometimes tossed around a little freely, but I think in Hahn's case it is 100% appropriate to say that he was anti-Catholic.) On the other hand, it seems that he rarely bothered with refuting Orthodox arguments (if he even knew what they were).

After his conversion to Catholicism? In Rome Sweet Home (written by Scott and Kimberly Hahn), 1 page is devoted to explaining why Orthodoxy is wrong; the other 180 pages are devoted to explaining why Protestantism is wrong. (I guess you could also talk about the "more someone converts, the more they stay the same" phenomenon.)

During his conversion? Well, actually Hahn did, in fact, look into Orthodoxy, but read what leads up to it (pages 60-61 of Rome Sweet Home):

Quote
I continued reading all kinds of books about Catholic theology. One evening I stopped in the dining room en route to my study and said, "Kimberly, I have to be honest. I'm reading a lot of Catholic books these days and I think God might be calling me into the Catholic Church."

To which Kimberly quickly replied, "Can't we become Episcopalians?" Apparently there was something more dreaded than becoming Episcopalian -- anything but Catholic.

[This ties back to a passage about 10 pages earlier: "One evening, after hours of study, I stopped in the living room and announced to Kimberly that I didn't think we were going to remain Presbyterians. I was so convinced from Scripture of the need to give higher priority to the sacraments and liturgy than the Presbyterian tradition gave them that I suggested we consider the Episcopal tradition." followed by Kimberly's negative reaction.]

Quote
I went to a Byzantine Catholic seminary just to attend their vesper liturgy. It wasn't Mass; it was just prayer, with all the prostrations, incense and icons, the smells and the bells. When it was over, a seminarian asked me, "What do you think?" I simply muttered, "Now I know why God gave me a body: to worship the Lord with his people in liturgy."

I drove back home, searching and asking God for help. I still hoped to find on fatal flaw that would keep me from "swimming the Tiber", as we say, or from "pope-ing".

So I started looking into Orthodoxy. ...

Reading between the lines a little, I think Hahn had a very clear idea of what he was looking for in Orthodoxy: he was hoping to find a "happy medium" between Protestantism and Catholicism (you might say, another Episcopal Church but better). Is it any wonder that Orthodoxy wasn't what he was looking for?

(On another tangent, this is also one reason that it frustrates me that Scott Hahn is the king of Pop-Catholicism -- although not the King of Pop, obviously. Wink )

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« Reply #43 on: August 28, 2007, 11:16:41 AM »

To one not well versed in theology I'd probably recommend His Excellency first and foremost...but I would certainly recommend Frederica Matthews Greene before Constantine Cavarnos or Seraphim Rose.

You just can't handle real scholars like Cavarnos Wink
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« Reply #44 on: August 28, 2007, 11:19:19 AM »

Regarding Dr. Cavarnos, I've read some of his stuff.  Quite representative of a traditionalist brand of Orthodoxy, which in itself makes him not a very good read for inquirers. 

Right, if you want to keep them from becoming traditionalist Orthodox, it is imperative you keep them away from our authors lest they be lost in to our abyss, because, after all, we are like the Borg--resistance is futile, if we catch them while they are still young and impressionable bwahahahahaa. Wink
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« Reply #45 on: August 28, 2007, 02:04:07 PM »

Regarding Dr. Cavarnos, I've read some of his stuff.  Quite representative of a traditionalist brand of Orthodoxy, which in itself makes him not a very good read for inquirers. 

So inquirers only want a watered down, non-traditional Orthodoxy?  I think it is important that inquirers are given the full range of information from various persons, both more traditional and less.  He is a much better author, though, than FM-G.

As far as Fr. Seraphim goes, what specifically do people find controversial about him?  Moderators, if this needs to go into another thread, I'll trust your judgment.
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« Reply #46 on: August 28, 2007, 02:24:56 PM »

Fr. Seraphim Rose focused too much on the theologumena of the toll houses. His literal and questionable interpretation of them would confuse the average non-Orthodox person who would have no reference point to understand. Too many people have elevated what he taught to the level of sacred dogma. Look, I visited Platina in the early 80s while both Fr. Seraphim and Fr. Herman were both there. Fr. Herman spouted many bizarro ideas and many strange people visited their skete. There was an unhealthy, cultic mind-set present at the place. Fr. Herman had a real problem with the authority of the bishops. He basically encouraged us to rebel against our bishops. Fr. Seraphim never reputed what Fr. Herman had to say. Fr. Seraphim's books are not a good place to start for most newbies.

As I said before, FMG is a good translator for those who know nothing about Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #47 on: August 28, 2007, 02:56:53 PM »

So inquirers only want a watered down, non-traditional Orthodoxy?  I think it is important that inquirers are given the full range of information from various persons, both more traditional and less.  He is a much better author, though, than FM-G.

As far as Fr. Seraphim goes, what specifically do people find controversial about him?  Moderators, if this needs to go into another thread, I'll trust your judgment.
Do you mean to imply that only traditionalist Orthodoxy is truly traditional (i.e., faithful to Tradition)?  Contrary to how many traditionalists paint us mainstream Orthodox as modernists unfaithful to Tradition, we consider faithfulness to Tradition very important--we just understand Tradition differently, as more the Holy Spirit's guiding presence within the Church than just a body of faith and praxis to be preserved.  To make such a hard distinction between traditional and "watered down, non-traditional" Orthodoxy, as you seem to do, is to some extent an artificial dichotomy, IMO.
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« Reply #48 on: August 28, 2007, 03:08:05 PM »

Do you mean to imply that only traditionalist Orthodoxy is truly traditional (i.e., faithful to Tradition)?  Contrary to how many traditionalists paint us mainstream Orthodox as modernists unfaithful to Tradition, we consider faithfulness to Tradition very important--we just understand Tradition differently, as more the Holy Spirit's guiding presence within the Church than just a body of faith and praxis to be preserved.  To make such a hard distinction between traditional and "watered down, non-traditional" Orthodoxy, as you seem to do, is to some extent an artificial dichotomy, IMO. 

Actually, I think he's just saying he doesn't think that FM-G is a good theologian.  That she produces baby formula, when (in the minds of some) the inquirers should be given steak.
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« Reply #49 on: August 28, 2007, 03:40:44 PM »

Fr. Seraphim Rose focused too much on the theologumena of the toll houses.

I wish you folks would come up with a different name. Every time I see that, I can't help but think of chocolate chip cookies.

But then, if THAT'S the EO purgatory, I'm 'doxing!  Wink
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« Reply #50 on: August 28, 2007, 03:54:46 PM »


Reading between the lines a little, I think Hahn had a very clear idea of what he was looking for in Orthodoxy: he was hoping to find a "happy medium" between Protestantism and Catholicism (you might say, another Episcopal Church but better). Is it any wonder that Orthodoxy wasn't what he was looking for?

You're right---going EO from Protestantism/Evangelicalism is not simply going North (where Catholicism is) but going Northeast.

I could not make the journey to Orthodoxy myself because in my journey out of the Southwest I felt called to end up due North, and it seemed to me that Catholicism staked out that position more fully than Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #51 on: August 28, 2007, 03:54:51 PM »

Do you mean to imply that only traditionalist Orthodoxy is truly traditional (i.e., faithful to Tradition)?  Contrary to how many traditionalists paint us mainstream Orthodox as modernists unfaithful to Tradition, we consider faithfulness to Tradition very important--we just understand Tradition differently, as more the Holy Spirit's guiding presence within the Church than just a body of faith and praxis to be preserved.  To make such a hard distinction between traditional and "watered down, non-traditional" Orthodoxy, as you seem to do, is to some extent an artificial dichotomy, IMO.

And now you are (unintentionally, I am sure) misrepresenting the traditionalist position. It's not all about rules and regulations; in fact, it is precisely because we believe that the Holy Spirit has a guiding presence in the Church over the centuries that we cannot change what you might think are so-called small-t traditions.
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« Reply #52 on: August 28, 2007, 03:56:19 PM »

When I was Catholic, I found FMG annoying and overly simplistic. Reading her books turned me off from her version of Orthodoxy and caused some people I know to never consider Orthodoxy. Just my two cents from a former Catholic perspective.
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« Reply #53 on: August 28, 2007, 04:26:31 PM »

I wish you folks would come up with a different name. Every time I see that, I can't help but think of chocolate chip cookies.

But then, if THAT'S the EO purgatory, I'm 'doxing!  Wink

Hee, hee....I wish it was all about cookies too... Wink
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« Reply #54 on: August 28, 2007, 04:32:33 PM »

Actually, I think he's just saying he doesn't think that FM-G is a good theologian.  That she produces baby formula, when (in the minds of some) the inquirers should be given steak.

Yeah...let's give them steak so they choke on it and get sick.... Roll Eyes
Constantine Cavarnos is too academic for the average inquirer. Most folks know next to nothing about Orthodoxy when they step through the doors of our parishes. We need a variety of literature to meet the needs of everyone....not just the needs of the intellectuals and professors who come for a visit.
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« Reply #55 on: August 28, 2007, 04:39:18 PM »

Yeah...let's give them steak so they choke on it and get sick.... Roll Eyes
Constantine Cavarnos is too academic for the average inquirer. Most folks know next to nothing about Orthodoxy when they step through the doors of our parishes. We need a variety of literature to meet the needs of everyone....not just the needs of the intellectuals and professors who come for a visit.

I tend to agree with you but I found Clark Carlton much more fair towards Catholics than FMG. As a Catholic, I really disagreed with her and didn't find her helpful, and I was not alone. Others might have a different take on her though. I think it's important to create inquierer literature that is not polemical; polemics has its place but shouldn't be ubiquitous.
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« Reply #56 on: August 28, 2007, 04:47:14 PM »

"much more fair"....is that proper grammar ?

Tsk tsk...now where is Sister Mary Catherine who will gently pinch a ear lobe to correct you...

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« Reply #57 on: August 28, 2007, 04:48:09 PM »

I tend to agree with you but I found Clark Carlton much more fair towards Catholics than FMG. As a Catholic, I really disagreed with her and didn't find her helpful, and I was not alone. Others might have a different take on her though. I think it's important to create inquierer literature that is not polemical; polemics has its place but shouldn't be ubiquitous.

Well, she is not for everyone but many people in my parish found her books very helpful in their journey toward the faith.
She is not a shallow person. When you hear her speak you can sense the prayer behind her presentation. I think she keeps it at a very basic level so everyone will understand and wish to learn more.
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« Reply #58 on: August 28, 2007, 05:36:52 PM »

I tend to agree with you but I found Clark Carlton much more fair towards Catholics than FMG. As a Catholic, I really disagreed with her and didn't find her helpful, and I was not alone.

I got that vibe too from what little I've read of her. I don't think she's very useful for most knowledgable Catholics, who are well trained at sniffing out digs at Catholicism.

I think Bishop Ware, on the other hand, is a wonderful source for inquirers.
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« Reply #59 on: August 28, 2007, 06:20:00 PM »

Yeah...let's give them steak so they choke on it and get sick.... Roll Eyes
Constantine Cavarnos is too academic for the average inquirer. Most folks know next to nothing about Orthodoxy when they step through the doors of our parishes. We need a variety of literature to meet the needs of everyone....not just the needs of the intellectuals and professors who come for a visit.

Oh, you'll get no disagreement from me about it - I think people need to read Metropolitan KALLISTOS or Fr Coniaris before hopping (voluntarily) into heavier stuff.  Inquirers don't need "Orthodoxy lite", but they do need a good "Orthodoxy 101".

Of course, I also think people need to wait a period of time before going to seminary (which some others disagree with, to disastrous results).
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« Reply #60 on: August 28, 2007, 07:01:28 PM »

And now you are (unintentionally, I am sure) misrepresenting the traditionalist position. It's not all about rules and regulations; in fact, it is precisely because we believe that the Holy Spirit has a guiding presence in the Church over the centuries that we cannot change what you might think are so-called small-t traditions.

Please note that I said many traditionalists.
Contrary to how many traditionalists paint us mainstream Orthodox as modernists unfaithful to Tradition, ...
I was careful to use such specific wording so as to avoid any accusation that I was misrepresenting the general traditionalist position.  I recognize that there is actually a broad spectrum of what passes as traditionalism, so I wanted to address the specific thread of traditionalism that I saw Scamandrius probably representing.  If I misrepresented anything or anyone, it was the specific position of the specific poster Scamandrius.  If I did this, then I apologize to Scamandrius for misunderstanding and misjudging his pov.
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« Reply #61 on: August 28, 2007, 08:11:57 PM »

Well, she is not for everyone but many people in my parish found her books very helpful in their journey toward the faith.
She is not a shallow person. When you hear her speak you can sense the prayer behind her presentation. I think she keeps it at a very basic level so everyone will understand and wish to learn more.

While her "over-simplifying" may irk some, I guess it doesn't irk me as much.  It is the misinformation like the relationship with OOs that does (as others have said).  Since her husband is a priest, she doesn't have any excuse and shouldn't let this happen.  Cleaning up some of these small things I think could go a long way (as in satisfy or just not piss off everyone).

All of this apologizing for her reminds me of one of my favorite "This Modern World" comics, where everyone who is accused of something just retorts, "but...but...at least I'm not as bad as Saddam Hussein!".
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« Reply #62 on: August 28, 2007, 08:24:08 PM »

Please note that I said many traditionalists.I was careful to use such specific wording so as to avoid any accusation that I was misrepresenting the general traditionalist position.  I recognize that there is actually a broad spectrum of what passes as traditionalism, so I wanted to address the specific thread of traditionalism that I saw Scamandrius probably representing.  If I misrepresented anything or anyone, it was the specific position of the specific poster Scamandrius.  If I did this, then I apologize to Scamandrius for misunderstanding and misjudging his pov.

Thanks for clarifying that. I could be wrong, but I am not sure that many or even any traditionalist would agree with your assessment; perhaps it could be said that among many advocating a traditionalist position, what emerges is an obsession with rules and regulations in practice or something of that nature.

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« Reply #63 on: August 28, 2007, 09:11:44 PM »

When I was Catholic, I found FMG annoying and overly simplistic. Reading her books turned me off from her version of Orthodoxy and caused some people I know to never consider Orthodoxy. Just my two cents from a former Catholic perspective.

She is not writing to Catholicsl her audience is protestants - burned out evangelicals, post-churched mainliners, and semi-agnostic secularists with a cultural veneer of religion.

You picked up the wrong writer at that point in your journey
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« Reply #64 on: August 28, 2007, 09:18:28 PM »

She is not writing to Catholicsl her audience is protestants - burned out evangelicals, post-churched mainliners, and semi-agnostic secularists with a cultural veneer of religion.

You picked up the wrong writer at that point in your journey

Her comments about Catholics were inaccurate and made her look like the typical anti-Catholic. It doesn't matter so much who her audience is, her comments were inaccurate and she should know that many different kinds of people would pick up her book. In fact, that her audience is primarily Protestant furthers my point I think because my complaint is she was helping to push further the anti-Catholic spirit among many Protestants that come over to Orthodoxy; a spirit which in turn turns many Roman Catholics off from Orthodoxy. I am not pro-Pope by any stretch but there is a difference between principled disagreement and Protestantesque stereotypes of Catholicism, and an Orthodox person directly catering to this sentiment to get them to go Orthodox.

It had nothing to do with me picking it up at the wrong time--I still find what she wrote just as inaccurate as it was back then. I remember her comments about her friend that attended the Melkite parish in Facing East. That was one thing that bugged me specifically.
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« Reply #65 on: August 28, 2007, 10:54:18 PM »

Thanks for clarifying that. I could be wrong, but I am not sure that many or even any traditionalist would agree with your assessment; perhaps it could be said that among many advocating a traditionalist position, what emerges is an obsession with rules and regulations in practice or something of that nature.
Just like many of us "modernists" so-called bristle when we are called modernist and anti-traditional, because we just don't see ourselves that way.  Granted, some of us really do advocate modernism and change for the mere sake of change--we know of one regular here who does this unabashedly--but most of us pseudo-modernists have just as deep and profound a love for Tradition as you.
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« Reply #66 on: August 29, 2007, 09:58:11 AM »

Just like many of us "modernists" so-called bristle when we are called modernist and anti-traditional, because we just don't see ourselves that way.  Granted, some of us really do advocate modernism and change for the mere sake of change--we know of one regular here who does this unabashedly--but most of us pseudo-modernists have just as deep and profound a love for Tradition as you.

Right, which is why in discussions with my coreligionists I often issue the call to treat people fairly and not as a category.  There are certain times when even I will engage in polemics and perhaps have painted a broad stroke but I generally try to limit such instances as I know how it feels to have it applied to me.
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« Reply #67 on: August 29, 2007, 10:06:10 AM »

Quote
It is the misinformation like the relationship with OOs that does (as others have said).  Since her husband is a priest, she doesn't have any excuse and shouldn't let this happen

Or maybe she is following the same information that her husband has.  Isn't he in a jurisdiction that communes OO laity? 
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« Reply #68 on: August 29, 2007, 11:36:20 AM »

Or maybe she is following the same information that her husband has.  Isn't he in a jurisdiction that communes OO laity? 

Possibly.  I'm not sure of current practice in the AOA in the US. 
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« Reply #69 on: August 29, 2007, 12:00:08 PM »

Right, which is why in discussions with my coreligionists I often issue the call to treat people fairly and not as a category.  There are certain times when even I will engage in polemics and perhaps have painted a broad stroke but I generally try to limit such instances as I know how it feels to have it applied to me.

I agree with Peter. The first time I was called a 'modernist' was when I visited Platina.  It did not generate any warm, fuzzy feelings in my heart. It is divisive to use these types of descriptions.

Anyway, in the Antiochian Archdiocese we have mixture of folks (some are more traditional than others). I like the variety and the balance it provides.
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« Reply #70 on: August 29, 2007, 12:13:09 PM »

I agree with Peter. The first time I was called a 'modernist' was when I visited Platina.  It did not generate any warm, fuzzy feelings in my heart. It is divisive to use these types of descriptions.

I object to labeling people inaccurately, but if someone is a modernist, I would not hesitate to label them as such, because my concerns would not be with warm fuzzy feelings or being divisive; true modernism is a heresy and has destructive spiritual consequences, and anyone holding such an opinion should be corrected, and if they persist, rebuked. Sometimes, being divisive is a virtue, although our modern American ears do not wish to hear this.

Applying the label indiscriminately, however, cheapens the gravity of the situation and when applied to people who do not consider themselves to be what the label is and do not confess it, can be a rude, hurtful, and counter-productive experience for all, however.

Quote
Anyway, in the Antiochian Archdiocese we have mixture of folks (some are more traditional than others). I like the variety and the balance it provides.

I find the cleavage in modern American jurisdictions over "traditional" vs "less traditional" concerning as it could lead to further schisms down the road.
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« Reply #71 on: August 29, 2007, 01:27:49 PM »

I object to labeling people inaccurately, but if someone is a modernist, I would not hesitate to label them as such, because my concerns would not be with warm fuzzy feelings or being divisive; true modernism is a heresy and has destructive spiritual consequences, and anyone holding such an opinion should be corrected, and if they persist, rebuked. Sometimes, being divisive is a virtue, although our modern American ears do not wish to hear this.

Applying the label indiscriminately, however, cheapens the gravity of the situation and when applied to people who do not consider themselves to be what the label is and do not confess it, can be a rude, hurtful, and counter-productive experience for all, however.

I find the cleavage in modern American jurisdictions over "traditional" vs "less traditional" concerning as it could lead to further schisms down the road.

I use a different standard of measurement when meeting Orthodox clergy and laity. If someone is hospitable, kind-hearted, long-suffering, humble and devout then I really don't care about the superficials. My father-confessor (he is from Syria) looks like a 'modernist' (no beard, haircut, western suit) but he is a strict faster, he visits the sick, his hospitality is over the top, his humility is deep. Another priest (convert) who I love dearly has a long beard, wears the traditional frocks of a married Greek priest including the hat, and he has the same qualities as the above mentioned priest.  Even though they each come from different cultures and dress differently they were able to move beyond  the superficials because they recognized Christ in one another. I follow their example.
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« Reply #72 on: August 29, 2007, 01:43:43 PM »

I use a different standard of measurement when meeting Orthodox clergy and laity. If someone is hospitable, kind-hearted, long-suffering, humble and devout then I really don't care about the superficials. My father-confessor (he is from Syria) looks like a 'modernist' (no beard, haircut, western suit) but he is a strict faster, he visits the sick, his hospitality is over the top, his humility is deep. Another priest (convert) who I love dearly has a long beard, wears the traditional frocks of a married Greek priest including the hat, and he has the same qualities as the above mentioned priest.  Even though they each come from different cultures and dress differently they were able to move beyond  the superficials because they recognized Christ in one another. I follow their example.

I was not limiting my observations to clothing styles, nor did I express a "standard of measurement"--I do not apply some litmus test to people I meet, nor do I react negatively to those who disagree with me.  The majority of my friends are New Calendarist clergy.  I think it needs to be said though that  I know plenty of Roman Catholic clergy who fast, are kind-hearted, long-suffering, humble, and devout.  But that doesn't change the fact that they are not Orthodox.  Things like modernism may seem "superficial" but over time, they lead to cleavages.  Adherence to traditions are extremely important in maintaining a group cohesiveness.  While I was not limiting myself to externals, as modernist theological and ethical constructs are more concerning to me, I do believe that externals are part of the "total package deal" and by not allowing externals to become a part of personal preference, we free ourselves from focusing on them and allow ourselves to focus on the Church's mission.
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« Reply #73 on: August 29, 2007, 02:30:59 PM »

Sorry, Anastasios, but every time you write "cleavage", I think of well-endowed woman wearing a low cut top or dress.   Cheesy
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« Reply #74 on: August 29, 2007, 02:34:01 PM »

Sorry, Anastasios, but every time you write "cleavage", I think of well-endowed woman wearing a low cut top or dress.   Cheesy

I apologize for being a source of temptation for you  Wink
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« Reply #75 on: August 29, 2007, 04:59:41 PM »

The word cleavage is a detour of thought for most men...

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« Reply #76 on: August 29, 2007, 05:52:13 PM »

The word cleavage is a detour of thought for most men...
james


Based on that observation it must be awfully difficult for most of you men to get through a very basic conversation without detours.  Guess there are a lot of words that are verboten.  I try this with my hyper 5 yo.  I look him straight in the eyes and if his mind or eyes wander, I tap my forehead and keep telling him to pay attention and look at me.
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« Reply #77 on: August 29, 2007, 07:03:39 PM »

Based on that observation it must be awfully difficult for most of you men to get through a very basic conversation without detours.  Guess there are a lot of words that are verboten.  I try this with my hyper 5 yo.  I look him straight in the eyes and if his mind or eyes wander, I tap my forehead and keep telling him to pay attention and look at me.

My boys are older so mentioning certain food items seems to cut through the distraction.
Even if I quietly say,"chocolate chip cookies,"
everyone (including my husband) comes running and I then have their full attention.  Cheesy
I have to admit men, whether young or old, are not complicated creatures.
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« Reply #78 on: August 29, 2007, 07:07:49 PM »

Did someone say chocolate chip cookies?
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« Reply #79 on: August 29, 2007, 07:15:37 PM »

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm


Cookies.
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« Reply #80 on: August 29, 2007, 07:54:11 PM »

Mmmm....Cookies....Hey, wait, I had something to say:

Her comments about Catholics were inaccurate and made her look like the typical anti-Catholic. It doesn't matter so much who her audience is, her comments were inaccurate and she should know that many different kinds of people would pick up her book. In fact, that her audience is primarily Protestant furthers my point I think because my complaint is she was helping to push further the anti-Catholic spirit among many Protestants that come over to Orthodoxy; a spirit which in turn turns many Roman Catholics off from Orthodoxy. I am not pro-Pope by any stretch but there is a difference between principled disagreement and Protestantesque stereotypes of Catholicism, and an Orthodox person directly catering to this sentiment to get them to go Orthodox.

It had nothing to do with me picking it up at the wrong time--I still find what she wrote just as inaccurate as it was back then. I remember her comments about her friend that attended the Melkite parish in Facing East. That was one thing that bugged me specifically.

I think I know what you mean by this anti-Catholic spirit among Protestant converts.  I've seen plenty of it on the Internet.  After a while, you start to think this is the Orthodox way.  It was easy for me to fall into it because of my fundamentalist upbringing.  Dear Dad is very anti-Catholic.  Of course, I've also read accounts of anti-Catholicism among cradle Orthodox and monastics.  But when I talk to my priest, he sees the Schism as a great tragedy, and ecumenism as our way of going after our (what we consider to be) erring brother and trying to bring him back.  I start to feel that there's nothing wrong with the EP trying to build bridges with Pope Benedict.  I read articles about convertitis, and start looking at the things Catholics and the Orhodox have in common.  Heck, I've even been watching a lot of EWTN lately.  Cheesy
 
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« Reply #81 on: August 29, 2007, 10:08:11 PM »

Did someone say chocolate chip cookies?

Yeah, the EO kind!
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« Reply #82 on: August 29, 2007, 10:26:46 PM »

I object to labeling people inaccurately, but if someone is a modernist, I would not hesitate to label them as such, because my concerns would not be with warm fuzzy feelings or being divisive; true modernism is a heresy and has destructive spiritual consequences, and anyone holding such an opinion should be corrected, and if they persist, rebuked. Sometimes, being divisive is a virtue, although our modern American ears do not wish to hear this.

Applying the label indiscriminately, however, cheapens the gravity of the situation and when applied to people who do not consider themselves to be what the label is and do not confess it, can be a rude, hurtful, and counter-productive experience for all, however.

Well said. And if I may chime in, I think that the label "divisive" can be be mis-applied just as easily as the label "modernist" can.

God bless,
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« Reply #83 on: August 29, 2007, 10:28:58 PM »

I remember her comments about her friend that attended the Melkite parish in Facing East. That was one thing that bugged me specifically.

Well now you've got me curious.
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« Reply #84 on: August 29, 2007, 11:39:23 PM »

Yeah, the EO kind!

At least I am not the only one to think of pastry when toll houses are discussed.   Cheesy
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« Reply #85 on: August 30, 2007, 01:45:04 AM »

Yeah, the EO kind!

Lubeltri,

I had such severe nightmares about toll house devils that I can no longer bake cookies using the Nestle Toll House brand Shocked
I have since switched brands to Guittard (a local Bay Area Co.) that makes the finest chocolate in the world. Additionally, the owner of Guittard is on the forefront to fight the evil demons who are trying to change the definition of chocolate in American food products. Angry Nestle, Hershey, and all the other major chocolate makers have sold their soul to devil and will be making us endure the toll house of phoney chocolate if we let them win this battle.

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« Reply #86 on: August 30, 2007, 01:51:13 AM »

Lubeltri,

I had such severe nightmares about toll house devils that I can no longer bake cookies using the Nestle Toll House brand Shocked
I have since switched brands to Guittard (a local Bay Area Co.) that makes the finest chocolate in the world. Additionally, the owner of Guittard is on the forefront to fight the evil demons who are trying to change the definition of chocolate in American food products. Angry Nestles, Hersheys, and all the other major chocolate makers have sold their soul to devil and will be making us endure the toll house of phoney chocolate if we let them win this battle.


Hey!  You can even eat dark chocolate during a fast, though one might question the spirit of doing so.

I digress.  "We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming."
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« Reply #87 on: August 30, 2007, 02:29:08 AM »

...
I have since switched brands to Guittard (a local Bay Area Co.) that makes the finest chocolate in the world.
...

While I like to support local companies too, I think you need to make a better case that Guittard makes a better product than the following companies to start with:

Godiva
Lindt & Sprüngli
Ritter Sport
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« Reply #88 on: August 30, 2007, 02:38:27 AM »

"We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming."
IOW, please get back on topic.  Thank you.
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« Reply #89 on: August 30, 2007, 09:42:55 AM »

I think I know what you mean by this anti-Catholic spirit among Protestant converts.
Addison Hart wrote a Touchstone article about that (and the reverse, i.e. converts to Catholicism who are anti-Orthodox): Convert Provocateurs

-Peter.

P.S. That same Touchstone issue also had book reviews of Clark Carlton, Michael Whelton, and Stephen K. Ray which may be of interest: Paths & Polemics
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« Reply #90 on: August 30, 2007, 09:47:09 AM »

I am sure some would accuse me of being "anti-Catholic" since I hold strong views towards the errors of Catholicism, but as an extension of what I wrote above about being fair, to me, anti-Catholicism is repeating the kind of Jack Chick tracts level material, arguing that celibate priesthood makes people molest kids (when the statistics show otherwise), etc.  Actually arguing against Catholic doctrine is not anti-Catholic in an unfair sense (even though some allege it is) but deliberately misrepresenting or furthering questionable or shaky arguments is what is truly anti-Catholic, and I find this spirit in some Protestant converts to Orthodoxy. Of course, I find the reverse among Catholics as well in some cases. We should all strive to be fair in our approaches to one another. I have a good friend who is Tridentine Roman Catholic and obviously we both think the other is schismatic, but we enjoy our friendship and learn a lot from one another.
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« Reply #91 on: August 30, 2007, 12:43:04 PM »

Addison Hart wrote a Touchstone article about that (and the reverse, i.e. converts to Catholicism who are anti-Orthodox): Convert Provocateurs

Well, it's kind of ironic. I quit reading Frederica's stuff after Facing East because I got tired of all the over-differentiation. It has always seemed to me that on many of the levels that she talked about the differences between where she came from and were she had ended up, I didn't see differences. It still seems to me that when you look at the triad of Anglican, Roman, and Eastern worship (and attendant artistic considerations) it seems to me that there are a lot of ways in which the Anglicans and the East are alike and Rome is the odd one out. She also (to put it bluntly) showed a tendency to burble; I don't know whether that has faded, but back then I found it hard to take.

Back when Al Kimel still had a blog (and before he was repriested) he would occaisionally put out a "you've got to get out of there" post directed at the Episcopalians reading the blog. And he would inevitably opine that either Rome or Constantinople was an acceptable destination. What inevitably would happen is that someone Orthodox (and generally a convert) would jump in and chide him for suggesting that Rome was in any way acceptable. I don't know whether it was some lingering Anglican taint that prompted him, but he always seemed surprised that it happened. It didn't surprise me at all, because I'd been seeing it for years intra-Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #92 on: August 30, 2007, 01:01:06 PM »

Addison Hart wrote a Touchstone article about that (and the reverse, i.e. converts to Catholicism who are anti-Orthodox): Convert Provocateurs

That very article is one of the two or three on "convertitis" which threw me for a loop some time ago.  It showed me why I should stop the anti-Catholicism immediately and start looking for common ground instead of reasons to fight.  I especially like this paragraph:

Quote
The convert from Evangelicalism has usually thought long and hard before deciding in favor of Rome or Orthodoxy. He has probably read a good deal, discussed doctrinal concerns with priests and pastors and fellow travelers, weighed theological differences, and experimented with the various devotional and liturgical aspects of the prospective Church. Serious Evangelicals are inclined to investigate such matters rather thoroughly, and they don’t move precipitously. Converts from Evangelicalism also know what it is to be misunderstood by their Evangelical friends, to have relationships severed, even their salvation questioned and character distrusted by former friends if they opt for Catholicism or Orthodoxy. And, lastly, such a convert in search of the “more authentic” must choose between these two great claimants for the honor of being regarded as the original Church.

That sounds very much like me, not moving "precipitously," being misunderstood, trying to decide between Orthodoxy and Catholicism.  I told my priest last week that it's hard for someone like me to figure out which one to go with.


P.S. That same Touchstone issue also had book reviews of Clark Carlton, Michael Whelton, and Stephen K. Ray which may be of interest: Paths & Polemics

I'll have to print that one out and read it.
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« Reply #93 on: August 30, 2007, 05:15:20 PM »

It's kind of funny that you should bring that up, Keble.

After posting the Touchstone link, I occurred to me that I myself hadn't read the article in awhile, and was probably due for a re-read. What I noticed this time is that at a couple points, Fr. Hart seems to assume agreement with the Catholic idea that the Catholic and Orthodox Churches are "sister churches" -- a phrase which you Orthodox generally reserve for your fellow Orthodox (EO & OO).

For instance, out of the four examples he gives,

Quote
Two. A Catholic publishing company, specializing in apologetics, proudly advertises a book about the claims of the papacy by stating in a blurb that this book is responsible for having led to the “conversion” of a large number of Orthodox priests to Catholicism.

He here implies (among other things) that the term "conversion" mustn't be used to describe Orthodox becoming Catholic. (I agree, however, with him that the publishing company sounds unjustifiably polemical.) More telling, I think, is his next couple sentences:

Quote
Three. An Evangelical convert to Orthodoxy, the son of a famous Protestant thinker and writer, publishes his interview with another famous former Evangelical in the tabloid-style paper that he edits. Though the two are old friends, the one interviewed has become a Catholic. In the course of the interview, the Orthodox editor unsubtly tries to press the Catholic towards acknowledging that perhaps he should go “beyond” the Catholic Church and into Orthodoxy.

I mean, aren't Orthodox supposed to encourage Catholics to "go beyond the Catholic Church and into Orthodoxy" (from the Orthodox point of view, I mean)? Granted of course that there are good and bad ways of doing that; but it seans to me that Fr. Hart is really assuming here that when Catholics say "the Catholic and Orthodox Churches are sisters" that everyone else has to agree.

(Despite the foregoing caveat, I do really like Fr. Hart's article overall.)

But to get back to what you said:

Back when Al Kimel still had a blog (and before he was repriested) he would occaisionally put out a "you've got to get out of there" post directed at the Episcopalians reading the blog. And he would inevitably opine that either Rome or Constantinople was an acceptable destination. What inevitably would happen is that someone Orthodox (and generally a convert) would jump in and chide him for suggesting that Rome was in any way acceptable. I don't know whether it was some lingering Anglican taint that prompted him, but he always seemed surprised that it happened. It didn't surprise me at all, because I'd been seeing it for years intra-Orthodoxy.

I remember some of that. (This was the "Pontificator" blog, no?) Anyway, perhaps this is similar, i.e. perhaps Fr. Kimel was assuming that Catholic and Orthodox are "sister churches" and assuming that everyone else thought so too, and thus was a little shocked to find Orthodox who didn't think so.

God bless,
Peter.
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« Reply #94 on: August 31, 2007, 11:09:49 PM »

Yeah, the EO kind!

Isn't that twice now on this thread that chocolate chip and/of toll house cookies have come up?
Sorry, I am at least a day and numerous posts behind
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