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Author Topic: A difference between being a potential convert Catholic vs Orthodox  (Read 14222 times) Average Rating: 0
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Carole
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« on: November 13, 2008, 10:29:02 AM »

I'm not sure if this should be put here but I will let the wiser heads (moderators) decide.

I converted to Catholicism and I am now seriously considering converting to Orthodoxy.  In the course of considering and studying I've read a lot.  Books, articles and message forums and I've noticed something "odd."  Okay, maybe it isn't really odd - but that word works for now.

When reading Catholic sources in preparing to become Catholic I noticed that the conversations were intelligent but usually pretty succinct.  As a question - get an answer.  Usually with the caveat to reference the Catechism of the Catholic Church or the Code of Canon Law.  Yes there was discussion and sometimes discussions would take off on a more philosophical or theological tangent.  But most often (to the convert at least) the discussion was pretty straight forward.  Yes, a Catholic can do this.  No, a Catholic cannot do that.  There were those issues that were too complex to discuss on a message board and the advice was to speak to a priest (usually marriage issues).  But for the most part, even in defending Catholic doctrine the answers seemed (at least to me) to be more pointed and concise (again, not the right word but the best I can come up with for now).

When reading Orthodox (and Eastern Catholic) sources in investigating Orthodoxy the books and the conversations seem to be more intellectual in nature and far more complex.  They are not so much a "Yes" or "No" answer but rather a very complex reasoning and referencing of a wider variety of sources. 

I'm a natural born worrier and I will worry about things and over think things - in a very simplistic manner.  I tend not to be particularly scholarly and history is one of my worst subjects as it is both difficult for me to remember places/names/dates and I am not usually greatly interested in it as a whole.  I also tend to become easily lost and confused when reading old writings of Saints (and people who are far more intelligent than I).  While I am not stupid I do not consider myself to be highly intellectual either.

I've noticed that I've usually been able to follow conversations on Catholic message boards with greater ease than those on Orthodox message boards, even when the topics are essentially the same (though from a different view point, obviously).

Is the more intellectual/scholarly bent on Orthodox message boards vs. the more right v. wrong approach on non-Orthodox message boards a product of the differences between the Churches?  The Orthodox being more influenced by the intellectual/philosophical Greek scholars and the Catholic being more influence by the legalistic Romans?

Or am I just imagining that there is a difference?
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« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2008, 10:44:45 AM »

I'm not sure if this should be put here but I will let the wiser heads (moderators) decide.

I converted to Catholicism and I am now seriously considering converting to Orthodoxy.  In the course of considering and studying I've read a lot.  Books, articles and message forums and I've noticed something "odd."  Okay, maybe it isn't really odd - but that word works for now.

When reading Catholic sources in preparing to become Catholic I noticed that the conversations were intelligent but usually pretty succinct.  As a question - get an answer.  Usually with the caveat to reference the Catechism of the Catholic Church or the Code of Canon Law.  Yes there was discussion and sometimes discussions would take off on a more philosophical or theological tangent.  But most often (to the convert at least) the discussion was pretty straight forward.  Yes, a Catholic can do this.  No, a Catholic cannot do that.  There were those issues that were too complex to discuss on a message board and the advice was to speak to a priest (usually marriage issues).  But for the most part, even in defending Catholic doctrine the answers seemed (at least to me) to be more pointed and concise (again, not the right word but the best I can come up with for now).

When reading Orthodox (and Eastern Catholic) sources in investigating Orthodoxy the books and the conversations seem to be more intellectual in nature and far more complex.  They are not so much a "Yes" or "No" answer but rather a very complex reasoning and referencing of a wider variety of sources. 

I'm a natural born worrier and I will worry about things and over think things - in a very simplistic manner.  I tend not to be particularly scholarly and history is one of my worst subjects as it is both difficult for me to remember places/names/dates and I am not usually greatly interested in it as a whole.  I also tend to become easily lost and confused when reading old writings of Saints (and people who are far more intelligent than I).  While I am not stupid I do not consider myself to be highly intellectual either.

I've noticed that I've usually been able to follow conversations on Catholic message boards with greater ease than those on Orthodox message boards, even when the topics are essentially the same (though from a different view point, obviously).

Is the more intellectual/scholarly bent on Orthodox message boards vs. the more right v. wrong approach on non-Orthodox message boards a product of the differences between the Churches?  The Orthodox being more influenced by the intellectual/philosophical Greek scholars and the Catholic being more influence by the legalistic Romans?

Or am I just imagining that there is a difference?
No, there is a difference, and there is something to the philosophical/legal distinction (for one thing, the terms borrowed for theology come from Greek philosophy and Latin law).  Since I converted to Orthodoxy via the Encyclopedia Britannica at the University of Chicago, I'm perhaps the wrong person to answer your question.  But I note the first think that struck me from the EB on Orthodoxy (btw: I had just gone to a Latin High School): Orthodoxy holds that the natural religion for man is agnosticism, because the infinite God cannot be comprehended by the abilities finite human mind.  But Orthodoxy doesn't lead to agnosticism, because God has revealed himself. 
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« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2008, 11:04:27 AM »


I'm a natural born worrier and I will worry about things and over think things - in a very simplistic manner. 

My (in a very simplistic manner) guess is that you would feel Orthodoxy your home. One of the best explanation of Orthodoxy is that we are at permanent war against The Only Real Enemy - The Evil, embodied in the Master of All Evil and his manifestation in the World - The Sin.

To fight that war, each one of us ought to find one's own weaponry, and fight it as good as one can. Therefore, there are no universal recepies - each one has to discover one's own personality, one's own character. You have to fight as yourself, not like anyone else. Of course, to seek help in union with God, through the Saints of all ages, since a fight without it would be lost in advance.

That's why it might look like there are no simple answers in orthodoxy, because all rules apply personally. But it's just an impression.
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« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2008, 11:12:12 AM »

Thank you both.  In reading through old posts here I find myself thinking, "Am I smart enough to be Orthodox?"  LOL  I realize that sounds rather silly but some of the conversations are so complex that I get lost after the first two or three posts.  My knowledge of Greek (ancient or otherwise) is non-existent and my Hebrew is as well.  My familiarity with the Early Church Fathers is superficial (at best).  So I read these discussions and I think that I'll never be able to understand Orthodoxy enough to really "be" Orthodox. 

Which, I am certain, is just one more manifestation of my tendencies to worry about things.
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« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2008, 11:30:33 AM »

Carole, Do you have or have read a basic catechism? If not, here is one online http://www.orthodoxeurope.org/page/10/1.aspx   May I add a personal opinion, since Vatican II the Roman Catholic Church seems to have taken on many novel forms. Whatever theological disagreements that existed between Orthodoxy sometimes seem to pale. While most novus ordo mass I have attended have been good, the idea that clown and guitar masses have been conducted is disconcerting. There are orders of Trappist monks who conduct  technique of prayer called centering prayer which includes elements of Buddhism & Hinduism (which I do not consider evil but dangerously incompatible with Christianity). Surely in missionary climates there are innately Christian beliefs that are compatible in recognizance of God & can be incorporated in certain societies (like the profound concept of the Great Spirit in Native American belief). I also do not believe Roman Catholics or Protestants should be cajoled into becoming Orthodox or question the salvation of many (or assume my own). Nonetheless, the apostolic preaching has remained intact in Orthodoxy in respect to the Gospel. Fundamentals (not always a bad word) like the blessed Trinity, the Holy Eucharist, the 10 commandments, the Beatitudes, love God with all heart, soul, & mind & neighbor as ourself, the creed, holy scripture within the mind of the living church, prayer, fasting, alms giving,veneration of the Theotokos, veneration in the holy icons, etc. compose the organic whole of the holy church & not left to negligence, compartmentalization, or (sometimes heretical) denial. My 2 cents.
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« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2008, 11:40:31 AM »

So I read these discussions and I think that I'll never be able to understand Orthodoxy enough to really "be" Orthodox. 

Which, I am certain, is just one more manifestation of my tendencies to worry about things.

Actually, it is impossible not to understand Orthodoxy enough to be Orthodox, because knowledge / intelligence is only one of the gifts we were gifted by God, while the Cross each one of us carries on one's shoulders is just fitting to our entire personality. Some of us are good in learning, some in prayer, some in singing, painting, some are just good...but we are all sinners, and are equal - EQUAL - in front of God.

About worrying about things...I guess you wouldn't find many in Orthodoxy to discourage you in doing that...except all we can do is to place our Hope in Holy Spirit.

BTW, reading is good, but to explore Orthodoxy I think it's better to visit a church, attend a liturgy and speak with the priest, and perhaps with some friendly parishioners.
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« Reply #6 on: November 13, 2008, 03:05:26 PM »

I'm also a persistent worrier; I know how to leave things in God's hands and allow the grace of the Holy Spirit to guide my life in all good and bad things.   Wink

Orthodoxlurker makes very good points.  One does not have to be an intellectual to be an Orthodox Christian.  One has to experience the true feeling of worshipping God where many converts to Orthodoxy from all kinds of denominations described the truest sense of worship as taking place in an Orthodox Church and nowhere else.   Smiley
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« Reply #7 on: November 13, 2008, 03:12:58 PM »

Thank you both.  In reading through old posts here I find myself thinking, "Am I smart enough to be Orthodox?"  LOL  I realize that sounds rather silly but some of the conversations are so complex that I get lost after the first two or three posts.  My knowledge of Greek (ancient or otherwise) is non-existent and my Hebrew is as well.  My familiarity with the Early Church Fathers is superficial (at best).  So I read these discussions and I think that I'll never be able to understand Orthodoxy enough to really "be" Orthodox. 

Which, I am certain, is just one more manifestation of my tendencies to worry about things.

Christ told us to be like children (but not to be childish).  He didn't tell us to be like the theologians.  He had a lot of problems with them.

I remember when I paid a visit to the Unitarians.  They said that the average seminarian has more theological knowledge than the Fathers of the Council of Nicea.  I agreed, and told them that's why the Fathers got it right.

Can you learn how to do the sign of the Cross and its meanings? Then you can  be Orthodox.

Dostoevsky used to say he wished that he had the faith of the babushki (grandmothers), but he was too much an intellectual.  That's not exactly a blessing.  Nestorius, Arius, and Origen found that out the hard way.

May I ask, why do you think you want to become Orthodox?

Also, if you haven't already read them, read the Desert Fathers.  Coptic Orthodox theology might be your perfect fit.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2008, 03:15:02 PM by ialmisry » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2008, 03:13:41 PM »


Actually, it is impossible not to understand Orthodoxy enough to be Orthodox, because knowledge / intelligence is only one of the gifts we were gifted by God, while the Cross each one of us carries on one's shoulders is just fitting to our entire personality. Some of us are good in learning, some in prayer, some in singing, painting, some are just good...but we are all sinners, and are equal - EQUAL - in front of God.

About worrying about things...I guess you wouldn't find many in Orthodoxy to discourage you in doing that...except all we can do is to place our Hope in Holy Spirit.

BTW, reading is good, but to explore Orthodoxy I think it's better to visit a church, attend a liturgy and speak with the priest, and perhaps with some friendly parishioners.

Thank you for that encouragement.

We have attended an Orthodox parish in the past (and will be beginning to do so again this coming Sunday).  We will also be speaking with the priest (again).  And - we have found that we actually know some of the parishioners - we just didn't know that we knew them.  Or rather we didn't know that
they were members of the parish.  So I think we've got that aspect covered.   Grin


I'm also a persistent worrier; I know how to leave things in God's hands and allow the grace of the Holy Spirit to guide my life in all good and bad things.   Wink

Orthodoxlurker makes very good points.  One does not have to be an intellectual to be an Orthodox Christian.  One has to experience the true feeling of worshipping God where many converts to Orthodoxy from all kinds of denominations described the truest sense of worship as taking place in an Orthodox Church and nowhere else.   Smiley

Thanks!  I am learning to leave things in God's hands.  I haven't mastered it yet - but I am much better now than I was even a couple of years ago.

I am glad to hear that one need not be an intellectual to be an Orthodox Christian.  I'd be in big trouble if that weren't the case.  It just seems that either intellectuals are drawn to being Orthodox Christians or intellectual Orthodox Christians are drawn to message boards. Cheesy  In either case I end up feeling dazed and confused by some of the conversations. 
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« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2008, 03:31:17 PM »

Orthodoxy holds that the natural religion for man is agnosticism, because the infinite God cannot be comprehended by the abilities finite human mind.  But Orthodoxy doesn't lead to agnosticism, because God has revealed himself. 

A timely (for me) observation.  Thanks!   Smiley
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« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2008, 03:40:05 PM »

I am glad to hear that one need not be an intellectual to be an Orthodox Christian.  I'd be in big trouble if that weren't the case.  It just seems that either intellectuals are drawn to being Orthodox Christians or intellectual Orthodox Christians are drawn to message boards. Cheesy  In either case I end up feeling dazed and confused by some of the conversations. 

Keep things simple.  The Orthodox faith is a simple faith.  The Orthodox faith doesn't exist on a message board, Myspace, Facebook, YouTube or any other medium.  The faith exists in the heart and in worshipping the True God per the Nicene Creed.

There are many similiarities between Catholicism and Orthodoxy; However, there are also differences which require intellectual understanding.  It's your call.   Wink
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« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2008, 04:40:38 PM »

Don't be confused by the fact that many "intellectualish" converts choose Orthodoxy. That's actually not because Orthodox are intellectual, than because Orthodox managed not to add to it, or to remove from it. And for that, we have much more to thank to "babushkas" - grandmothers, than to intellectuals
I need to disagree with my Almisry brother for the first time I read him. There is no need for you to read Coptic, or any other theology. Just go to services for a while, and you'll learn to sing our theology, because our theology is actually sung at liturgies. You'd do just fine after a couple of years, just like many generations of illiterate Orthodox.
During that time you'd also learn your war, and how to wage it relaxed and confident, shoulder to shoulder with Orthodox of all times, placing your Hope with Holy Spirit.
Orthodoxy is simple. We know, and, free from errors, our entire theology is consistent with that - GOD HASN'T CREATED EVIL!
You'd see how that fundamental premise makes the combat in Sweet Orthodoxy comfortable.
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« Reply #12 on: November 13, 2008, 05:16:22 PM »

One thing about the Roman Catholic Church is that they are good at boiling things down. However this often seems to end up in rather mechanical recipes. "If you read the bible for thirty minutes, you receive one plenary indulgence"  etc.

This may have been useful in the Dark Ages when people needed simple formulations to get them going. Even though the RCC fancies themselves as more suitable to the modern age than we Orthodox are ( they keep coming up with new innovative idea's). Our mystical traditions and bent may be a bit harder for people to grasp at first.

The good news is that you really don't need to "understand" mystical formulations and practices, you only need to do them. First you do, then you understand. Orthodoxy is transfomrative. With the RCC legalistic/mechanical approach, you need to understand how things "work".     
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« Reply #13 on: November 13, 2008, 06:28:11 PM »

Don't be confused by the fact that many "intellectualish" converts choose Orthodoxy. That's actually not because Orthodox are intellectual, than because Orthodox managed not to add to it, or to remove from it. And for that, we have much more to thank to "babushkas" - grandmothers, than to intellectuals
I need to disagree with my Almisry brother for the first time I read him. There is no need for you to read Coptic, or any other theology. Just go to services for a while, and you'll learn to sing our theology, because our theology is actually sung at liturgies. You'd do just fine after a couple of years, just like many generations of illiterate Orthodox.

I'm sorry if I was misleading.  I took your advice to her (already posted) to go to Divine Liturgy as a given, and already stated.  I also take reading the Bible  and daily prayer as givens.

I just mention Coptic theology (which actually is found incorporated in EO theology in translation) because it is very down to earth, as exemplified by the Desert Fathers.  If you feel you have to read some theology, that would be my recommendation for its simple but profound wisdom-and its putting intellectuals in their place:
Quote
One day Abba Arsenius consulted an old Egyptian monk about his own thoughts Someone noticed this and said to him, 'Abba Arsenius, how is it that you with such a good Latin and Greek education, ask this peasant about your thoughts?' He replied, 'I have indeed been taught Latin and Greek, but I do not know even the alphabet of this peasant.'

Abba Abraham told of a man of Scetis who was a scribe and did not eat bread. A brother came to beg him to copy a book. The old man whose spirit was engaged in contemplation, wrote, omitting some phrases and with no punctuation. The brother, taking the book and wishing to punctuate it, noticed that words were missing. So he said to the old man, 'Abba, there are some phrases missing.' The old man said to him, 'Go, and practise first that which is written, then come back and I will write the rest.'

Amma Theodora [yes, Mother Theodora] said that neither asceticism, nor vigils nor any kind of suffering are able to save, only true humility can do that. There was an anchorite who was able to banish the demons; and he asked them, 'What makes you go away?' 'Is it fasting?' They replied, 'We do not eat or drink.' 'Is it vigils?' They replied, 'We do not sleep.' 'Is it separation from the world?' 'We live in the deserts.' 'What power sends you away then?' They said, 'Nothing can overcome us, but only humility.' 'Do you see how humility is victorious over the demons?'


Abba Cyrus of Alexandria was asked about the temptation of fornication, and he replied, 'If you do not think about it, you have no hope, for if you are not thinking about it, you are doing it. I mean, he who does not fight against the sin and resist it in his spirit will commit the sin physically. It is very true that he who is fornicating in fact is not worried about thinking about it.

Abba Poemen said, 'The beginning of evil is heedlessness.'

Abba Isidore the priest said, 'If you fast regularly, do not be inflated with pride, but if you think highly of yourself because of it, then you had better eat meat. It is better for a man to eat meat than to be inflated with pride and to glorify himself.'


It is better to eat meat and drink wine than to eat the flesh of one's brethren through slander.

A man may seem to be silent, but if his heart is condemning others, he is babbling ceaselessly. But there may be another who talks from morning till night and yet he is truly silent, that is, he says nothing that is not profitable.

Abba Xanthias said, 'The thief was on the cross and he was justified by a single word; and Judas who was counted in the number of the apostles lost all his labour in one single night and descended from heaven to hell. Therefore, let no-one boast of his good works, for all those who trust in themselves fall.'

A brother went to Abba Matoes and said to him, 'How is it that the monks of Scetis did more than the Scriptures required in loving their enemies more than themselves?' Abba Matoes said to him, 'As for me I have not yet managed to love those who love me as I love myself.'

The same Abba Theophilus, the archbishop, came to Scetis one day. The brethren who were assembled said to Abba Pambo, 'Say something to the Archbishop, so that he may be edified.' The old man said to them, 'If he is not edified by my silence, he will not be edified by my speech.'

Abba Isaiah  said 'When God wishes to take pity on a soul and it rebels, not bearing anything and doing its own will, he then allows it to suffer that which it does not want, in order that it may seek him again.'

It was said of Abba John the Dwarf, that one day he said to his elder brother, 'I should like to be free of all care, like the angels, who do not work, but ceaselessly offer worship to God.' So he took off his cloak and went away into the desert. After a week he came back to his brother. When he knocked on the door, he heard his brother say, before he opened it 'Who are you?' He said, 'I am John, your brother.' But he replied, 'John has become an angel, and henceforth he is no longer among men.' Then the other begged him saying. 'It is I.' However, his brother did not let him in, but left him there in distress until morning. Then, opening the door, he said to him, 'You are a man and you must once again work in order to eat.' Then John made a prostration before him, saying, 'Forgive me.'

Some of the monks who are called Euchites went to Enaton to see Abba Lucius. the Old man asked them, 'What is your manual work?' They said , 'We do not touch manual work but as the Apostle says, we pray without ceasing.' The old man asked them if they did not eat and they replied they did. So he said to them "'When you are eating, who prays for you then?' Again he asked them if they did not sleep and they replied they did. and he said to them, 'When you are asleep, who prays for you then?' They could not find any answer to give him. He said to them, 'Forgive me, but you do not act as you speak. I will show you how, while doing my manual work, I pray without interruption. I sit down with God, soaking my reeds and plaiting my ropes, and I say "God, have mercy on me, according to your great goodness and according to the multitude of your mercies, save me from my sins." ' So he asked them if this were not prayer and they replied it was. Then he said to them, 'So when I have spend the whole day working and praying, making thirteen pieces of money more or less, I put two pieces of money outside the door and I pay for my food with the rest of the money. He who takes the two pieces of money prays for me when I am eating and when I am sleeping; so , by the grace of God, I fulfil the precept to pray without ceasing.'


http://en.orthodoxwiki.org/Sayings_of_the_Desert_Fathers
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« Reply #14 on: November 13, 2008, 06:50:53 PM »


I'm sorry if I was misleading.  I took your advice to her (already posted) to go to Divine Liturgy as a given, and already stated.  I also take reading the Bible  and daily prayer as givens.

I just mention Coptic theology (which actually is found incorporated in EO theology in translation) because it is very down to earth, as exemplified by the Desert Fathers.  If you feel you have to read some theology, that would be my recommendation for its simple but profound wisdom-and its putting intellectuals in their place:

Brate,

I don't think you were misleading; I think yours was a good advice. But perhaps even better advice is to relax and - not to read at all, except, of course a prayer booklet. Or just to remember some prayers and say them by hart. Just like many generations of illiterate Orthodox who managed it better than many intellectuals.
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« Reply #15 on: November 13, 2008, 08:26:34 PM »

When reading Orthodox (and Eastern Catholic) sources in investigating Orthodoxy the books and the conversations seem to be more intellectual in nature and far more complex.  They are not so much a "Yes" or "No" answer but rather a very complex reasoning and referencing of a wider variety of sources. 

This is a pretty accurate observation, particularly the fact that Orthodox often do not seem to give "Yes" or "No" answers.
There are some place where Orthodox does, concretely answer "Yes" or "No", for example:
Q. "Is Christ actually Present in the Eucharist?"
A. "Yes!"
Q. "Will the dead rise again?"
A. "Yes"
This tends to happen more in the area of dogmatic theology. Where Orthodoxy tends to not give a definitive "yes" or "no" answer is in the area of moral theology. Instead, when faced with moral questions, Orthodoxy will instruct it's Faithful to "Stand well! Stand with fear!" ("στώμεν καλώς! Στώμεν μετά φόβου!"). You will hear the Deacon intone this instruction in the Divine Liturgy. We must "stand well and with fear" when addressing moral issues, and consider all the spiritual implications of our choices. A very clear example of this is my own Archbishop's statement on the issue of Abortion which you will find here: http://www.greekorthodox.org.au/general/livinganorthodoxlife/modernissuesandthechurchsview/abortion . Here is a quote to exemplify what I mean:
Quote
Our Church, as in all similar moral issues, does not respond with a blind answer of "yes" or "no". The first thing it says is "Stand well!" This means: "Be careful!" And when in this way one realises that one is dealing with a question of life or death - not only of physical death, but also spiritual - then one is in a position to weigh up in the fear of God both the opinion of responsible science and the advice of the spiritual confessor.
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« Reply #16 on: November 13, 2008, 08:59:38 PM »

Many fathers saw the "image of God" in the intellect, in our ability to reason and think things through. There's nothing wrong with doing that, after all God gave us the wisdom to be able to think about the various issues in a very complex way. On the other hand, it is not said that a theologian is one who thinks, but rather it is said that a theologian is one who prays. I do think that there is a tendency on the part of some to go overboard because we are eggheads, and we want to figure things out. But figuring things out isn't just an intellectual pursuit, it's a spiritual pursuit, and I think that is forgotten sometimes among all of our disputations. I could be wrong, though, I might just be thinking of myself here.
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« Reply #17 on: November 13, 2008, 09:01:56 PM »

Many fathers saw the "image of God" in the intellect, in our ability to reason and think things through. There's nothing wrong with doing that, after all God gave us the wisdom to be able to think about the various issues in a very complex way. On the other hand, it is not said that a theologian is one who thinks, but rather it is said that a theologian is one who prays. I do think that there is a tendency on the part of some to go overboard because we are eggheads, and we want to figure things out. But figuring things out isn't just an intellectual pursuit, it's a spiritual pursuit, and I think that is forgotten sometimes among all of our disputations. I could be wrong, though, I might just be thinking of myself here.
No.  I confess.
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« Reply #18 on: November 13, 2008, 09:24:19 PM »

No.  I confess.

You're ready to confess?  NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition!!

Oh, wait, wrong thread.

*cough*  Anyway, I like following the intellectual pursuits as well, and find that it often does seem to bring me closer to God.  However, I don't think that would apply to everyone.  Different ways for different people.  And I just love trying to sort out these many questions of the ages.
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« Reply #19 on: November 13, 2008, 09:29:11 PM »

No.  I confess.

You're ready to confess?  NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition!!
That's when they get you.
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« Reply #20 on: November 13, 2008, 09:30:00 PM »

LOL

Better get the thread back on track before we're accused of hijacking.  Wink
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« Reply #21 on: November 13, 2008, 10:17:15 PM »

Is the more intellectual/scholarly bent on Orthodox message boards vs. the more right v. wrong approach on non-Orthodox message boards a product of the differences between the Churches?  The Orthodox being more influenced by the intellectual/philosophical Greek scholars and the Catholic being more influence by the legalistic Romans?

Dear Carole,

Don't let yourself be thrown by all the clever-clogs who hang out on Forums and e-mail lists and love to discuss and debate. They might represent 0.00001% of the Orthodox population  Grin

I lived in Yugoslavia in the late 70s and 80s and there are 5 million Orthodox grandmothers there who have never had more than the most elementary education. But they lived an Orthodoxy which was just as profound, and maybe more profound, than the theologians in the seminaries.

I remember an amusing anecdote connected with the late Metropolitan Anthony Bloom of London.  He really shocked a well-bred Englishwoman by suggesting she become like a cow!!   "There's too much to know, too much to learn, I'll never be Orthodox!" she lamented.   "Be like a cow," said the Metropolitan, "eat up everything you can and give out good milk."

And then there are the words of the 19th century Saint Philaret Metropolitan of Moscow.  He says what Metropolitan Anthony was saying with his image of the cow but in a much more refined way:

"None of the mysteries of the most secret wisdom of God ought to appear alien or altogether transcendent to us, but in all humility we must apply our spirit to the contemplation of divine things'. To put it in another way, we must live the dogma expressing a revealed truth, which appears to us as an unfathomable mystery, in such a fashion that instead of assimilating the mystery to our mode of understanding, we should, on the contrary, look for a profound change, an inner transformation of spirit, enabling us to experience it mystically."

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« Reply #22 on: November 14, 2008, 09:44:22 AM »

Carole,

Many inquirors and later new converts expect things to be black and white in orthodoxy, it is not.  We are on a journey to being like God that journey is called theosis.  None of us are at the same level but the goal of the Orthodox Church is the same to be in continuous communion with Our Triune God in Heaven for all eternity. Some seek that path through reading and intellectual processes other seek it by prayer and action but both are on the Same road.  One writes and discusses in debates in seeking Theosis and seeks to influence others by their writings; the Other is quiet and prayerful and seeks to influence others by their actions and prayers. Perhaps the intellectual  way is not your way and prayer, fasting, and alms is your way?

Thomas
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« Reply #23 on: November 14, 2008, 10:05:55 AM »

May I ask, why do you think you want to become Orthodox?

Ialmisry,

I hope you don't think that I was ignoring your question.  I was, rather, trying to figure out how best to answer it.  Sadly when explaining why I feel that Orthodoxy is the Church in which I belong there's a lot of "I feel" and "I believe" statements that sound as though I am basing this decision on a fickle emotionalism.

I suppose that the most straightforward answer is that I do not believe or accept that there is adequate historical or theological basis for the claims of papal infallibility and universal jurisdiction.   According to the First Vatican Council - I am anathema.  Which is, of course, not my reasoning.  But it does clearly illustrate that if I cannot (will not ?) accept these dogmatic teachings I should consider where I belong.  Refusing to accept the universal jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome also leaves me in a position where I must also then question the dogma and doctrine promulgated by popes claiming this universal jurisdiction.

There are also minor considerations of feeling (I hate discussing this part because I know that I will usually have at least one person tell me that it isn't "about feelings and emotions") that my spiritual growth is both challenged (to grow more) and fostered better by the Orthodox divine liturgy, icons, fasting.  At least so far as I am familiar with these things at this time.  Yes, there is a level of "I feel" involved - but it really boils down to not being able to accept papal infallibility and universal jurisdiction on either historical or theological grounds.
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« Reply #24 on: November 14, 2008, 10:15:41 AM »

Carole,

Many inquirors and later new converts expect things to be black and white in orthodoxy, it is not.  We are on a journey to being like God that journey is called theosis.  None of us are at the same level but the goal of the Orthodox Church is the same to be in continuous communion with Our Triune God in Heaven for all eternity. Some seek that path through reading and intellectual processes other seek it by prayer and action but both are on the Same road.  One writes and discusses in debates in seeking Theosis and seeks to influence others by their writings; the Other is quiet and prayerful and seeks to influence others by their actions and prayers. Perhaps the intellectual  way is not your way and prayer, fasting, and alms is your way?

Thomas

Thomas,

I have little doubt that the intellectual way is not my way.  However, I do have to find a certain level of understanding so that I can convert and say (and mean in every aspect this time) that I assent to the teachings of the Orthodox Church and that I accept the teaching authority of the Orthodox Church before I make that very large step.  To that end I have been doing a lot of reading, which is how I have come to this observation.  Cheesy
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« Reply #25 on: November 14, 2008, 12:03:39 PM »

May I ask, why do you think you want to become Orthodox?

Ialmisry,

I hope you don't think that I was ignoring your question.  
Not at all.  For one thing, I work with the assumption that most people have a life off the net.

Quote
I was, rather, trying to figure out how best to answer it.
LOL.  Thinking before speaking.  That can get you into trouble.   Tongue

Quote
Sadly when explaining why I feel that Orthodoxy is the Church in which I belong there's a lot of "I feel" and "I believe" statements that sound as though I am basing this decision on a fickle emotionalism.
I take it as a good sign that you are aware of the danger of emotionalism, and are trying to avoid it.

Quote
I suppose that the most straightforward answer is that I do not believe or accept that there is adequate historical or theological basis for the claims of papal infallibility and universal jurisdiction.   According to the First Vatican Council - I am anathema.  Which is, of course, not my reasoning.  But it does clearly illustrate that if I cannot (will not ?) accept these dogmatic teachings I should consider where I belong.  Refusing to accept the universal jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome also leaves me in a position where I must also then question the dogma and doctrine promulgated by popes claiming this universal jurisdiction.
My priest says that if you truly believe that you must obey the ex cathedra pronouncements of the bishop of Rome, then you must attach yourself to the Vatican.  Becoming Orthodox, it will be one of the few things you have to renounce.

Quote
There are also minor considerations of feeling (I hate discussing this part because I know that I will usually have at least one person tell me that it isn't "about feelings and emotions") that my spiritual growth is both challenged (to grow more) and fostered better by the Orthodox divine liturgy, icons, fasting.  At least so far as I am familiar with these things at this time.  Yes, there is a level of "I feel" involved - but it really boils down to not being able to accept papal infallibility and universal jurisdiction on either historical or theological grounds.
As the "sense of the faithful," the gut feeling that something is right on, or something is wrong, is a part of the Faith.  It is the stuff of martyrs.  Those peasants who hid the icons and would rather die than give them to the iconoclastic emperors might not have had the eloquence of St. John in defending the Holy Icons, but I am sure the Damascene would bow to their piety.
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« Reply #26 on: November 14, 2008, 12:11:10 PM »

Carole,

Many inquirors and later new converts expect things to be black and white in orthodoxy, it is not.  We are on a journey to being like God that journey is called theosis.  None of us are at the same level but the goal of the Orthodox Church is the same to be in continuous communion with Our Triune God in Heaven for all eternity. Some seek that path through reading and intellectual processes other seek it by prayer and action but both are on the Same road.  One writes and discusses in debates in seeking Theosis and seeks to influence others by their writings; the Other is quiet and prayerful and seeks to influence others by their actions and prayers. Perhaps the intellectual  way is not your way and prayer, fasting, and alms is your way?

Thomas

Thomas,

I have little doubt that the intellectual way is not my way.  However, I do have to find a certain level of understanding so that I can convert and say (and mean in every aspect this time) that I assent to the teachings of the Orthodox Church and that I accept the teaching authority of the Orthodox Church before I make that very large step.  To that end I have been doing a lot of reading, which is how I have come to this observation.  Cheesy


When I was in process, I was trying to read up on every point, examine every dogma, etc. until I realized that trying to get the whole of Orthodoxy was like trying to drink the ocean.  I had to take the leap of Faith. It also helped that an agnostic friend of mine pointed out that I had, unbenounced to me, slipped off the edge already.

Bulgakov's "Orthodox Church" (a good book, btw, and still recommended by them same Church that condemned Bulgakov's heresy of Sophism, complete and a fairly easy read) stated that beyond the Bible and the definitions of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, the rest of Orthodoxy is basically nothing more than expounding on these.  As a Lutheran I already believed the Bible and had come to accept the Orthodox canon and the Councils, I decided to go for the bare minimum.  The rest came naturally while in the Life of the Church.

So yes, think about why you are doing this, and make sure you can answer in the affirmative, but no, don't wait until it all makes sense.  It won't until you've been in the Church for a while.  Some won't until the Kingdom.
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« Reply #27 on: November 14, 2008, 12:58:47 PM »

Carole,

I can only speak as a catechumen, not quite an Orthodox Christian, but I can say that in my own experience there has been a lot of "feeling" driving my conversion to Holy Orthodoxy.  I think these should be seriously examined, but there is a real way in which we experience something of Orthodoxy beyond our emotional and rational faculties, which doesn't always contradict these faculties, but trumps them in our souls.  I am repulsed by the spiritual "feeling" I get from trying to empathically experience the Roman Catholic faith.  I believe that the call of the All-Holy Spirit is deeper than our mind, flesh, and passionate impulses.  I realize that what I have just said may seem insubstantial or useless to some, but this is my attempt to experience and examine not just rational arguments for each side's beliefs, but their inner spirituality.  This doesn't mean I don't use my reason; I am in disagreement with the Roman Catholic faith on a comprehensive scale.

Is this the type of "I feel" and "I believe" you are experiencing?

I think there are two more obvious reasons that there may seem to be more intellectual conversations among the Orthodox than among Roman Catholics.  First, I think more Roman Catholic beliefs are defined in public by their church than in Orthodoxy.  This is not to misrepresent them - they do have much room for private experience in their theological mysteries, as they define them, but they have more ecumenical councils, more canons, and they make more positions on more issues that approach being "official".  In Orthodoxy, we also believe that there is a standard of faith which must be accepted by everyone, that of the ecumenical councils.  However, I believe that there is more freedom to hold divergent viewpoints on all things that are not dogmatic, and since there is less dogma, there is more diversity.  The dogmas are solely for the simple faithful like us to be guided in true spirituality and true theology - theosis in prayer.

The second reason, I believe, is not due to the Orthodox being more intellectual and more intelligent than Roman Catholics, but it is due to the fact that here in the West, we already understand and have a familiarity with Roman Catholicism directly, and indirectly through the underlying philosophy that even Protestantism shares with Roman Catholicism.  The Orthodox faith, therefore, must constantly be juxtaposed and explained against these other traditions in order to show contrast and express the faith.  One reason for this, in my experience, has been that Protestants and Catholics are fond of using Orthodox ideas or traditions without necessarily using the true spiritual content of them.  An obvious example would be all the Orthodox icons that adorn about a zillion Catholic and Protestant books, books which expound viewpoints that are anything but Orthodox.

Anyway, one doesn't need to be an intellectual to follow our Lord, as some have pointed out, because it just matters how we use our intellect.  Intellectual people may be likened to the rich - it is difficult to enter the Kingdom because of vanity, but just like the rich, one can use one's gifts to save oneself and others.

I hope this makes sense to you, and that you continue to be drawn to the spiritual path that our Lord Jesus has laid for us.
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« Reply #28 on: November 14, 2008, 01:24:35 PM »

For the discussion concerning differences in Orthodox and Catholic approaches to the Christian faith, please see this thread.  Pravoslavbob
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« Reply #29 on: November 15, 2008, 10:11:16 PM »

When I was converting from Catholicism I had a very hard time reading any Orthodox literature. My experience with Catholicism was very wrapped up in arguments and the finer points of theology. I knew a *lot* of stuff by the time I finished RCIA and finally became Catholic.  With Orthodoxy it was opposite for me. Actually that may be one of the reasons I have trouble participating too much on this forum. My road to Orthodoxy was all about how my life was changing.

It's hard to explain, but going to church and liturgy and fasting and generally being apart of Orthodoxy were the same things that showed me that it was the right thing. Of course I had some gripes with Catholicism or I would have stayed where I was, so don't misunderstand me. Perhaps my thorough grounding in the intellectual side of things helped me. But I think really it was about living it. I've really changed my focus. I personally think that is a good thing. Your mileage may vary.

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