This will sound totally heretical, but I am increasingly of the notion that religion is in large part a matter of cultural identity. All the various religions are merely different culture's ways of trying to understand or interpret the divine or the unknowable. I've noticed over the years that so many converts to various religions often end up drifting gradually back to their own cultural religious roots.
Whatever you eventually decide, Alveus, I wish you and your family the best and peace in the home!
Thank you for your well-wishing. I do sincerely appreciate it.
However, I think that the only reason I've experienced life and healing in the last year and a half is because I'd found something that I believed was not only "true", but historical and actual, with authority to claim over me and my life.
I have already been under the impression that you're coming to, and it ruined my life. I had no resolve or love within me because I viewed "religion" as primarily a cultural construction; a human product. I was loving a God that was forged in a human image. I was bowing to that which was conceived of by men. Orthodoxy claimed to be something else (not that the others didn't), but it had the history to back up the claims.
But before moving seriously into Orthodoxy I realized that no matter what, I couldn't escape faith in Christ. I am a Christian in my blood and in my soul. Years of running told me that. I will never be an occultist, mathematician
, atheist, transcendentalist or agnostic. They all make sense to me, but they are poison to my heart. Jesus Christ is the very core of my being, the One who animates my life and gives it meaning. I couldn't run from Him, so I had to find a context in which to grow toward Him. I didn't even "choose" Orthodoxy on paper first, I stumbled into it in a totally natural way (through a family connection).
I don't want a cultural construction. I don't want a human projection onto the divine. I want the Truth, even if it kills me. In my heart i know that that Truth is Jesus Christ. Whether or not that is solely the product of cultural conditioning or upbringing exclusively is impossible to say. What I do know is that I cannot reject it and be true to myself.
All that being said, as far as historical Christianity goes, Orthodoxy and Catholicism are the only viable options to me. Oriental Orthodoxies (Coptic, Armenian, etc.) and the Assyrian Church of the East are all wonderful traditions with a claim to being the apostolic faith, but they're just not real options for me, because the cultural barriers are even greater than with "Eastern" Orthodoxy.
Back to this thread, I just feel as though Catholicism hasn't gotten my full consideration, and maybe I should give it some attention. But then again, I see "choosing" the truth out of a set of options to be a dangerous thing, as it makes me the ultimate deciding factor in the whole thing.
I was to be led; not to lead.
I don't thoroughly understanding the Christological controversies. I don't "get" Nestorianism or Arianism. Not really. I don't fully understand the implications of the filioque or the lack of them. I have a cursory understanding of these issues filtered through an Orthodox lens. But the notion that I need to completely understand these issues to have faith in Christ seems totally ridiculous to me, which makes me sympathize with the simplicity of my Protestant (Southern Baptist) half. I don't like having a lot of "options" to choose from at the buffet of Christianity.
My exposure to all of these different Christianities even makes me sympathetic to the Emergent movement. Many are totally off base, but I appreciate the attempt to reevaluate Evangelical/Protestant positions and synthesize them with more ancient ones, trying to come up with a middle ground that is reverent and relevant; conscious of tradition but not consumed with it. But then I come back to the problem with conceptual idolatry and "creating religion", which is essentially what the Emergent movement is.
But then, is this creative process really a bad thing? Don't the Orthodox speak of cooperation with God? Rather than conceptually creating God, couldn't we be co-laboring; working with Him?
I know I keep getting off topic. I'm just venting.