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« on: September 01, 2009, 11:26:57 AM »

I was brought up as a Roman Catholic in the pre–conciliar Catholic Church but rejected the religion of my father in my teens as I was fed up with all the rules.  I returned to Catholicism in my early twenties only to find that the Second Vatican Council and its aftermath had rendered the Roman Catholic Church with which I’d been familiar pretty much unrecognizable.  I then had some association with the SSPX but after several years I threw my hand in and settled for deism.  Some two decades later I became an Evangelical Christian but as the worship slowly diminished and the entertainment gradually increased I became uneasy and unsettled and started looking cautiously at Orthodox Christianity with the attendant vague thought that I might perhaps eventually return to Roman Catholicism.  I struggled with some issues but I eventually decided upon Orthodoxy and became an Orthodox catechumen in the Orthodox Church of America just over four months ago.  I think the Divine Liturgy and Great Vespers are beautiful.  I’m here on this forum in the hope of learning more about Orthodox Christianity.

Peace,
Mick
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« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2009, 11:56:07 AM »

I was brought up as a Roman Catholic in the pre–conciliar Catholic Church but rejected the religion of my father in my teens as I was fed up with all the rules.  I returned to Catholicism in my early twenties only to find that the Second Vatican Council and its aftermath had rendered the Roman Catholic Church with which I’d been familiar pretty much unrecognizable.  I then had some association with the SSPX but after several years I threw my hand in and settled for deism.  Some two decades later I became an Evangelical Christian but as the worship slowly diminished and the entertainment gradually increased I became uneasy and unsettled and started looking cautiously at Orthodox Christianity with the attendant vague thought that I might perhaps eventually return to Roman Catholicism.  I struggled with some issues but I eventually decided upon Orthodoxy and became an Orthodox catechumen in the Orthodox Church of America just over four months ago.  I think the Divine Liturgy and Great Vespers are beautiful.  I’m here on this forum in the hope of learning more about Orthodox Christianity.

Peace,
Mick

Welcome.

Feel free to post any specific questions you might have.
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« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2009, 11:58:04 AM »

Welcome to the forum, Mick.  Many of us have been in similar situations to yourself so please feel free to ask any questions you like.  We're not necessarily experts but, hopefully, our experiences can be of some aid to you in your journey.
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« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2009, 11:59:32 AM »

Have you already been given a book list? Would you like some reading suggestions?
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« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2009, 12:54:03 PM »

We're so glad to have you here!  Thanks for sharing a bit of your history with us.  Feel free to post any questions, and we'll try our best to stay civil!
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« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2009, 12:54:26 PM »

Welcome!   Smiley
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« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2009, 01:47:05 PM »

Dear Mick,

Welcome to the Convert Issues Forum. Our purpose is to provide a a place on the OC.Net where inquirers, catechumen, and newly converted may ask their questions about the Orthodox Faith in a safe and supportive forum without retribution or recrimination. Many of those posting in this area are looking for answers and using this forum to understand what are the basic teachings and practices of the Orthodox churches. We will try to provide direct and simple answers with sources if possible to help you in your studying the Orthodox Faith.

We encourage you to contact a local Orthodox Priest as he will be a great resource in your study of the Church. Welcome again the Convert Issues Forum.

In Christ,
Thomas
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« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2009, 02:08:14 PM »

Welcome.

Feel free to post any specific questions you might have.

I’m at the beginner’s stage.  Everything in Orthodoxy seems to me to be delightfully new and it’s very encouraging to learn that all the things I’m discovering are in fact delightfully old.  I have only a couple of hundred questions at present and I guess many of them will seem like baby questions but that’s because I’ve been focused upon investigating the truth claims of Orthodoxy and comparing and contrasting them to the claims made by the Roman Catholic Church and the claims made by Evangelical Christians.  I’m satisfied that I’m now on the right track and I’m eager to get a good grasp of the details.  I'll post my questions gradually.  Thank you so much for your response.

Cordially,
Mick
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« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2009, 02:10:36 PM »

Welcome to the forum, Mick.  Many of us have been in similar situations to yourself so please feel free to ask any questions you like.  We're not necessarily experts but, hopefully, our experiences can be of some aid to you in your journey.

Thanks ever so much.

Appreciatively,
Mick
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« Reply #9 on: September 01, 2009, 02:24:05 PM »

Have you already been given a book list? Would you like some reading suggestions?

Yes, I would very much like some suggestions about what to read (online and offline) and as I’m a learner perhaps also advice concerning what to be cautious about since my understanding is that there is no such thing as an Imprimatur in Orthodoxy.  Thank you for being so helpful.

Gratefully,
Mick
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« Reply #10 on: September 01, 2009, 02:30:58 PM »

We're so glad to have you here!  Thanks for sharing a bit of your history with us.  Feel free to post any questions, and we'll try our best to stay civil!

Many thanks for being so pleasant.  This seems like a convivial community (I lurked for a little while before joining).  I'm much encouraged and I will post my questions in due course.

Contentedly,
Mick
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« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2009, 02:37:39 PM »

Welcome!   Smiley

Thank you very much. Smiley

Sincerely,
Mick
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« Reply #12 on: September 01, 2009, 02:57:39 PM »

Have you already been given a book list? Would you like some reading suggestions?

Yes, I would very much like some suggestions about what to read (online and offline) and as I’m a learner perhaps also advice concerning what to be cautious about since my understanding is that there is no such thing as an Imprimatur in Orthodoxy.  Thank you for being so helpful.

Gratefully,
Mick

Coming right out of the gate the following short list of books will be very helpful:

1. The Orthodox Church, by Bishop Kalistos Ware

2. The four volume set of the basics of Orthodoxy by Fr. Thomas Hopko:The Orthodox Faith , Spirituality, Bible and Church history, Worship.

3. Orthodox Dogmatic Theology , by Michael Pomazansky
« Last Edit: September 01, 2009, 03:26:00 PM by Marc1152 » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: September 01, 2009, 03:14:50 PM »

Dear Mick,

Welcome to the Convert Issues Forum. Our purpose is to provide a a place on the OC.Net where inquirers, catechumen, and newly converted may ask their questions about the Orthodox Faith in a safe and supportive forum without retribution or recrimination. Many of those posting in this area are looking for answers and using this forum to understand what are the basic teachings and practices of the Orthodox churches. We will try to provide direct and simple answers with sources if possible to help you in your studying the Orthodox Faith.

We encourage you to contact a local Orthodox Priest as he will be a great resource in your study of the Church. Welcome again the Convert Issues Forum.

In Christ,
Thomas
Convert Forum Moderator 


Hi Thomas,

I’m in touch with a local Orthodox priest and he’s helping me along splendidly.  I’m grateful for your welcome and for your lucid explanation.

Thankfully,
Mick
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« Reply #14 on: September 01, 2009, 03:28:16 PM »

Coming right out of the gate the following short list of books will be very helpful:

1. The Orthodox Church, by Bishop Kalistos Ware

2. The four volume set of the basics of Orthodoxy by Fr. Thomas Hopko:The Orthodox Faith , Spirituality, Bible and Church history

3. Orthodox Dogmatic Theology , by Michael Pomazansky

How kind of you to take the time to point me toward these books.  Thank you very much.

Congenially,
Mick
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« Reply #15 on: September 01, 2009, 04:23:19 PM »

Have you already been given a book list? Would you like some reading suggestions?

Yes, I would very much like some suggestions about what to read (online and offline) and as I’m a learner perhaps also advice concerning what to be cautious about since my understanding is that there is no such thing as an Imprimatur in Orthodoxy.  Thank you for being so helpful.

Gratefully,
Mick

Coming right out of the gate the following short list of books will be very helpful:

1. The Orthodox Church, by Bishop Kalistos Ware

2. The four volume set of the basics of Orthodoxy by Fr. Thomas Hopko:The Orthodox Faith , Spirituality, Bible and Church history, Worship.

3. Orthodox Dogmatic Theology , by Michael Pomazansky
I would also add "The Orthodox Way," by Bp. Kallistos, and if you are coming from an evangelical background, Clark Carlton's series, "The Way," "The Truth," etc. (Carlton's works didn't resonate with me personally but former evangelicals that I know loved them.)
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« Reply #16 on: September 01, 2009, 04:29:26 PM »

I would also add "The Orthodox Way," by Bp. Kallistos, and if you are coming from an evangelical background, Clark Carlton's series, "The Way," "The Truth," etc. (Carlton's works didn't resonate with me personally but former evangelicals that I know loved them.)

Thank you.

Appreciatively,
Mick
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« Reply #17 on: September 01, 2009, 04:36:50 PM »

Dear Mick,

Welcome to the Convert Issues Forum. Our purpose is to provide a a place on the OC.Net where inquirers, catechumen, and newly converted may ask their questions about the Orthodox Faith in a safe and supportive forum without retribution or recrimination. Many of those posting in this area are looking for answers and using this forum to understand what are the basic teachings and practices of the Orthodox churches. We will try to provide direct and simple answers with sources if possible to help you in your studying the Orthodox Faith.

We encourage you to contact a local Orthodox Priest as he will be a great resource in your study of the Church. Welcome again the Convert Issues Forum.

In Christ,
Thomas
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Hi Thomas,

I’m in touch with a local Orthodox priest and he’s helping me along splendidly.  I’m grateful for your welcome and for your lucid explanation.

Thankfully,
Mick

Grace and Peace,

Father Michael Pomazansky's Orthodox Dogmatic Theology is wonderful, I recommend it highly.
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« Reply #18 on: September 01, 2009, 06:42:45 PM »

Grace and Peace,

Father Michael Pomazansky's Orthodox Dogmatic Theology is wonderful, I recommend it highly.

Thanks.  I read the reviews on amazon after Marc1152 declared that it would be helpful.  What is it in particular about this book that impresses you so?

Curiously,
Mick
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« Reply #19 on: September 01, 2009, 07:06:19 PM »

Welcome to the forum Mick! I think you'll find many of us have spent time in various faith groups and can relate to your story in many ways.

God bless you on your journey home to Orthodoxy!

In XC,

Maureen
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« Reply #20 on: September 01, 2009, 07:24:14 PM »

Welcome to the forum Mick! I think you'll find many of us have spent time in various faith groups and can relate to your story in many ways.

God bless you on your journey home to Orthodoxy!

In XC,

Maureen

Thanks, Maureen, for your thoughtful and encouraging words.  I’m glad to be here. Smiley

Cheerfully,
Mick
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« Reply #21 on: September 01, 2009, 08:43:44 PM »

Grace and Peace,

Father Michael Pomazansky's Orthodox Dogmatic Theology is wonderful, I recommend it highly.

Thanks.  I read the reviews on amazon after Marc1152 declared that it would be helpful.  What is it in particular about this book that impresses you so?

Curiously,
Mick

Grace and Peace,

From my own background in Latin (i.e. Roman) Theology Father Pomazansky manages to expresses the Dogmatic Theology of the Eastern Church and of the Early Church Fathers in a very approachable and very Biblical manner. It is refreshing for one whom seeks answers.
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« Reply #22 on: September 01, 2009, 09:51:43 PM »


Coming right out of the gate the following short list of books will be very helpful:

1. The Orthodox Church, by Bishop Kalistos Ware

2. The four volume set of the basics of Orthodoxy by Fr. Thomas Hopko:The Orthodox Faith , Spirituality, Bible and Church history, Worship.

3. Orthodox Dogmatic Theology , by Michael Pomazansky

The four volume set is also known as the "rainbow series" and can be viewed entirely on the OCA's website at:
http://www.oca.org/OCorthfaith.asp?SID=2
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« Reply #23 on: September 01, 2009, 10:08:35 PM »

Welcome to OC.net!

I pray that the Spirit of God blesses you mightily along your spiritual journey.

 Smiley
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« Reply #24 on: September 01, 2009, 11:12:33 PM »

I would also add "The Orthodox Way," by Bp. Kallistos

I also recommend this. I wish people would recommend it as much as they recommend The Orthodox Church.
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« Reply #25 on: September 02, 2009, 12:51:57 AM »

for a basic primer in orthodox spirituality an excellent beginning book is:  The Way Of A Pilgrim.  I recommend this version: 

 http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0385468148/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=0060630175&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=18820MS8Y1NK6K4QWC13
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« Reply #26 on: September 02, 2009, 01:03:24 AM »

1. The Orthodox Church, by Bishop Kallistos Ware (Timothy Ware)

The new edition of this book that is currently in print is a bit too liberal on several issues, and since you are on an introductory level I would encourage the purchase of an earlier edition, even though it will likely be used:

http://www.amazon.com/Orthodox-Church-Pelican-Timothy-Ware/dp/0140205926/ref=pd_ecc_rvi_cart_1

It is a fantastic introduction to the history of the Church.  For theology, I would actually read his "Orthodox Way."
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« Reply #27 on: September 02, 2009, 02:01:35 AM »

1. The Orthodox Church, by Bishop Kallistos Ware (Timothy Ware)

The new edition of this book that is currently in print is a bit too liberal on several issues, and since you are on an introductory level I would encourage the purchase of an earlier edition, even though it will likely be used:

http://www.amazon.com/Orthodox-Church-Pelican-Timothy-Ware/dp/0140205926/ref=pd_ecc_rvi_cart_1

It is a fantastic introduction to the history of the Church.  For theology, I would actually read his "Orthodox Way."


Do you know offhand which issues he is more liberal on that are different in the earlier version?
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« Reply #28 on: September 02, 2009, 02:07:42 AM »

I'd also highly recommend "The Spiritual Life and How to Be Attuned to It" along with "The Path to Salvation" both by St. Theophan the Recluse.

The Orthodox like their books, in case u haven't noticed!  laugh
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« Reply #29 on: September 02, 2009, 08:31:55 AM »

Grace and Peace,

From my own background in Latin (i.e. Roman) Theology Father Pomazansky manages to expresses the Dogmatic Theology of the Eastern Church and of the Early Church Fathers in a very approachable and very Biblical manner. It is refreshing for one whom seeks answers.

Thanks.

Cordially,
Mick
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« Reply #30 on: September 02, 2009, 08:52:21 AM »

The four volume set is also known as the "rainbow series" and can be viewed entirely on the OCA's website at:
http://www.oca.org/OCorthfaith.asp?SID=2

That's most helpful.  Thanks a lot.

Gratefully,
Mick
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« Reply #31 on: September 02, 2009, 08:54:53 AM »

Welcome to OC.net!

I pray that the Spirit of God blesses you mightily along your spiritual journey.

 Smiley

You are very gracious.  Thank you.  Smiley

Appreciatively,
Mick
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« Reply #32 on: September 02, 2009, 09:53:35 AM »

I would also add "The Orthodox Way," by Bp. Kallistos

I also recommend this.

Thank you.

I wish people would recommend it as much as they recommend The Orthodox Church.

Why?

Curiously,
Mick
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« Reply #33 on: September 02, 2009, 09:59:22 AM »

for a basic primer in orthodox spirituality an excellent beginning book is:  The Way Of A Pilgrim.  I recommend this version: 

 http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0385468148/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=0060630175&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=18820MS8Y1NK6K4QWC13

Thanks for taking the time to recommend this book to me.

Gratefully,
Mick
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« Reply #34 on: September 02, 2009, 10:31:39 AM »

1. The Orthodox Church, by Bishop Kallistos Ware (Timothy Ware)

The new edition of this book that is currently in print is a bit too liberal on several issues, and since you are on an introductory level I would encourage the purchase of an earlier edition, even though it will likely be used:

http://www.amazon.com/Orthodox-Church-Pelican-Timothy-Ware/dp/0140205926/ref=pd_ecc_rvi_cart_1

It is a fantastic introduction to the history of the Church.  For theology, I would actually read his "Orthodox Way."

Thanks for your enthusiastic response.

As no Imprimatur can be found in Orthodox publications and as Timothy Ware is an Orthodox bishop two questions come to my mind and I'm wondering if you – or somebody else – might be kind enough to address them.

1. In Orthodoxy, is liberality on "issues" generally perceived as necessarily being a negative thing?

2. If it is and the status of "liberal" is undesirable and the status of "too liberal" is unacceptable who defines the standard to be used to make such judgments and by what authority?

Respectfully,
Mick
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« Reply #35 on: September 02, 2009, 10:39:57 AM »

I'd also highly recommend "The Spiritual Life and How to Be Attuned to It" along with "The Path to Salvation" both by St. Theophan the Recluse.

Thank you.  I'll add them to my list.

The Orthodox like their books, in case u haven't noticed!  laugh

Indeed.  Generally, it's women rather than men who read books.  Is that same pattern reflected in Orthodoxy?

Curiously,
Mick
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« Reply #36 on: September 02, 2009, 10:44:56 AM »

I would also add "The Orthodox Way," by Bp. Kallistos

I also recommend this.

Thank you.

I wish people would recommend it as much as they recommend The Orthodox Church.

Why?

Curiously,
Mick

I think it's a great book and does a good job of introducing the reader to an Orthodox worldview and spirituality. The Orthodox Church is good for historical matters, but I found the second half of the book, which focuses on explaining what Orthodox believe, to be very dry.
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« Reply #37 on: September 02, 2009, 10:52:43 AM »

1. In Orthodoxy, is liberality on "issues" generally perceived as necessarily being a negative thing?

Since those terms are not defined, it's impossible to say. If by "liberality" you mean not beholden to tradition (one of its definitions), then that is most certainly a negative thing from an Orthodox point of view. In the specific context above, I believe Alveus Lacuna was referring to the fact that His Excellency Metropolitan Kallistos has softened his approach to such things as the filioque, the immaculate conception, etc. in newer editions of his book.

2. If it is and the status of "liberal" is undesirable and the status of "too liberal" is unacceptable who defines the standard to be used to make such judgments and by what authority?

In your case, being a member of the OCA, interpretive matters of doctrine and practice are determined by your local priest, in consultation with your diocesan hierarch and his Synod, with the Synod being the final authority. Obviously, all these parties are beholden to Holy Tradition, especially the Seven Ecumenical Councils, but they have the canonical duty to apply this Tradition to specific matters brought before them.
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« Reply #38 on: September 02, 2009, 11:05:36 AM »

1. In Orthodoxy, is liberality on "issues" generally perceived as necessarily being a negative thing?

Since those terms are not defined, it's impossible to say. If by "liberality" you mean not beholden to tradition (one of its definitions), then that is most certainly a negative thing from an Orthodox point of view. In the specific context above, I believe Alveus Lacuna was referring to the fact that His Excellency Metropolitan Kallistos has softened his approach to such things as the filioque, the immaculate conception, etc. in newer editions of his book.

2. If it is and the status of "liberal" is undesirable and the status of "too liberal" is unacceptable who defines the standard to be used to make such judgments and by what authority?

In your case, being a member of the OCA, interpretive matters of doctrine and practice are determined by your local priest, in consultation with your diocesan hierarch and his Synod, with the Synod being the final authority. Obviously, all these parties are beholden to Holy Tradition, especially the Seven Ecumenical Councils, but they have the canonical duty to apply this Tradition to specific matters brought before them.

Your explanations are concise, comprehensive and clear.  Many thanks.

Cordially,
Mick
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« Reply #39 on: September 02, 2009, 11:10:56 AM »

I would also add "The Orthodox Way," by Bp. Kallistos

I also recommend this.

Thank you.

I wish people would recommend it as much as they recommend The Orthodox Church.

Why?

Curiously,
Mick

I think it's a great book and does a good job of introducing the reader to an Orthodox worldview and spirituality. The Orthodox Church is good for historical matters, but I found the second half of the book, which focuses on explaining what Orthodox believe, to be very dry.

Thanks.  I shall read both books.

Respectfully,
Mick
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« Reply #40 on: September 02, 2009, 12:02:01 PM »

I was brought up as a Roman Catholic in the pre–conciliar Catholic Church but rejected the religion of my father in my teens as I was fed up with all the rules.  I returned to Catholicism in my early twenties only to find that the Second Vatican Council and its aftermath had rendered the Roman Catholic Church with which I’d been familiar pretty much unrecognizable.  I then had some association with the SSPX but after several years I threw my hand in and settled for deism.  Some two decades later I became an Evangelical Christian but as the worship slowly diminished and the entertainment gradually increased I became uneasy and unsettled and started looking cautiously at Orthodox Christianity with the attendant vague thought that I might perhaps eventually return to Roman Catholicism.  I struggled with some issues but I eventually decided upon Orthodoxy and became an Orthodox catechumen in the Orthodox Church of America just over four months ago.  I think the Divine Liturgy and Great Vespers are beautiful.  I’m here on this forum in the hope of learning more about Orthodox Christianity.

Peace,
Mick

Welcome! If you're interested in theology, I'd recommend Vladimir Lossky's Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church.

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« Reply #41 on: September 02, 2009, 01:01:06 PM »

Welcome!

Thank you very much.

If you're interested in theology, I'd recommend Vladimir Lossky's Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church.

Coincidentally, I was just looking in the Book Club forum and came to a thread titled, “Recommended Reading for Those New to Orthodoxy,” wherein one poster declared, “I found Lossky incredibly thick and boring.”  Perhaps it’s a different Lossky?

Cordially,
Mick
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« Reply #42 on: September 02, 2009, 02:15:54 PM »

Welcome!

Thank you very much.

If you're interested in theology, I'd recommend Vladimir Lossky's Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church.

Coincidentally, I was just looking in the Book Club forum and came to a thread titled, “Recommended Reading for Those New to Orthodoxy,” wherein one poster declared, “I found Lossky incredibly thick and boring.”  Perhaps it’s a different Lossky?

Cordially,
Mick

No, probably not. Lossky is pretty academic -- being an academic, I have a fairly high tolerance for academic writing. But if you're interested in theology, and not watered down or pop theology, but in detail, Lossky is your man.

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« Reply #43 on: September 02, 2009, 02:57:51 PM »

Question: if you left the RCC because of Vatican II, how did you make it in the Evangelical Church?
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« Reply #44 on: September 02, 2009, 04:06:43 PM »

Question: if you left the RCC because of Vatican II, how did you make it in the Evangelical Church?

Fair question.  Here’s a summary.

I’m an Englishman – a Londoner, born and bred (I’m a 1949 model).  My mother and father were both Catholics.  I’m the eldest of five children and we were all brought up in the Catholic faith.  My dad was an informed and knowledgeable Catholic who knew what he believed and why he believed it.

I rejected the faith of my father in my early teens.  I stopped attending Mass around 1962.  In 1966 I joined the British Army.  I returned to Civvy Street in 1971, made up with my dad, and decided to go back to Catholicism.  And so one Sunday morning I went to Mass with my old Roman Missal in my hand.

Very soon after the Mass began I realized it wasn’t like any Mass I’d ever attended.  My Missal, which contained the rite of Mass as it once had been, was of no use at all.  I was amazed at what I saw and heard!  Not only was the priest saying the Mass in English but he was also facing the congregation with his back to the altar and conducting all his business on a wooden table.  In addition, all the words of the prayers were different.  I left that church at the end of Mass feeling very dazed and very shaken.  I even checked the sign outside thinking I might perhaps have walked into a Protestant church by mistake.  But, no, it was definitely a Catholic church.  What had happened?  What did it mean?  The whole thing was baffling.

What had happened, of course, was the Second Vatican Council.  I hadn’t set foot inside a Catholic church for about 8 years so I was, in a sense, living in the past.  I’d therefore been confronted with the accumulated changes.  It was as if I’d experienced a blitzkrieg, which meant that I couldn’t fail to see a vivid contrast between the “before” and the “after.”  Those Catholics who’d been fed the changes piecemeal could never have seen what I’d seen.

I did my best to adapt but found it impossible.  My dad went to his grave in 1979 and the last years of his life were very sad from a spiritual standpoint as he struggled to accept within the Catholic Church what had been formally condemned prior to Vatican 2.  I attempted to rediscover the One True Church via the SSPX just after Father Black took over from Father Morgan (I believe Father Morgan ran off with some woman) and although I was very impressed with, and much influenced by, Michael Davies, I couldn’t sustain the effort and around 1982 (or thereabouts) I walked away in disgust from religion of any kind.

I came to live in the States in 1990 (I married an American) and my conversion to Evangelical Christianity ten years later was quite remarkable in that there was enough about the whole thing to convince me that God was calling me away from the pointlessness of a life with no spiritual content.  I had found myself surrounded by Evangelicals from the time I moved stateside (to the Bible Belt) and I became particularly disgusted toward the end of the 1990s when the prevailing topic for them was President Clinton’s private life.  The anti–Clinton diatribes seemed to me to be multitude.  Initially, as I read and heard the mean–spirited insults, I felt only irritated.  But as the tirades persisted I began to develop a deep dislike for Evangelicals.  I decided that they were very unpleasant and unkind people whose hearts were as cold as any stone.  They didn’t have one good word to say about anybody.  They certainly didn’t have any respect for the President of the United States.  If he were as evil as they kept insisting then how come they weren’t praying for him instead of besmirching his name in public?  What awful people!

I used to contribute letters to the local newspaper and I took great pleasure in declaring my objection to the Evangelical stance but one day not long after one of my letters was published in the newspaper (in which I’d set out to defend and endorse the First Amendment) I received in the mail a letter from an Evangelical thanking me for what I'd written in my letter to the editor and inviting to come visit her church.  I wasn’t exactly keen to go but to refuse the invitation seemed discourteous so I went.  Of course, in my mind, I’d built up a very negative caricature of what Evangelicals were like and it was a bit traumatic to find that it didn’t hold up.  I'd been looking forward to going home and telling my wife what obnoxious appalling people they really were but in the event I had to tell her that they were very pleasant and quite likeable (the latter trait being particularly annoying).  Well, after that, I discovered that I couldn’t be quite so smug and pugilistic in my letters to the editor and I ended up going back to that church with some vague notion of finding out where they’d hidden the bigots.  And some six months later I joined that church and became an enthusiastic and committed Evangelical.

In doing so, I firmed up my view that the Catholic Church wasn’t the One True Church after all.  Indeed, given the Novus Ordo Missae with its obvious concessions to Protestantism, there appeared to be a strong case for concluding that the Protestants had been right all the time.  And as Protestantism was a movement and not a Church it seemed reasonable to conclude that there was no such thing as the One True Church.

However, after some five years as an Evangelical the Sunday morning worship at the Evangelical Church I was attending turned into a theater performance and I was forced out.  It was at that time that I first began to consider Holy Orthodoxy.  I’d met an Orthodox Christian through my work some three years earlier – he was the father of a woman I’d been working with and she thought we could be friends.  Not long after I was introduced to him he developed cancer and was given a year to live.  I’d visit him and we’d talk about lots of things including religion and that’s how I gained a small insight into Orthodoxy.  At the end, just before the hospice moved in, he liked to lay quietly on his bed and listen to me read the Bible to him.  He preferred the King James Version describing the language as “majestic.”

Well, with some slight knowledge of Orthodoxy and with much dissatisfaction at what was happening inside the American Evangelical world, I began to wrestle with where I ought to be spiritually.  It took me some time.  I did consider going back to Catholicism because I was struggling with the administrative discord present in Orthodoxy and even more so with the Orthodox understanding of salvation.  But I’m over all those struggles now and can look back on them with circumspection.

With my Evangelical presuppositions, I've made sense of my journey like this.  Whereas the Catholic Church has produced the Reformation and all its attendant cacophony the Orthodox Church has not.  Whereas the Catholic Church needed to update its approach and its worship the Orthodox Church doesn’t change and the Divine Liturgy is ethereal.  In subtle ways the Divine Liturgy reminds me of the reverence and mystery that was intrinsic to the Tridentine rite of Mass and which was so dear to my dad.  God is spirit and His worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.  At last I’m now able to worship in that way.  So I’m content.  As far as I can tell I’ve reached the end of my spiritual journey.  In turning to Holy Orthodoxy I’ve been able to revive my hope and belief in the One True Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church and I see no reason why I should not now work my way through the catechumenate and go on to be received into the Church and then live out the rest of my days embracing and upholding the ancient faith thereby giving glory to God in all things.

Peace,
Mick
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« Reply #45 on: September 02, 2009, 04:11:23 PM »

Welcome!

Thank you very much.

If you're interested in theology, I'd recommend Vladimir Lossky's Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church.

Coincidentally, I was just looking in the Book Club forum and came to a thread titled, “Recommended Reading for Those New to Orthodoxy,” wherein one poster declared, “I found Lossky incredibly thick and boring.”  Perhaps it’s a different Lossky?

Cordially,
Mick

No, probably not. Lossky is pretty academic -- being an academic, I have a fairly high tolerance for academic writing. But if you're interested in theology, and not watered down or pop theology, but in detail, Lossky is your man.



OK, thanks for your help.

Appreciatively,
Mick
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