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Author Topic: Why do scholarly converts never hear about Orthodoxy?  (Read 3878 times) Average Rating: 0
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ialmisry
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« Reply #90 on: April 21, 2013, 10:12:08 AM »

I didn't "go East." I was East.

That sounds like something you should tell your fellow Orthodox, since many of them believe that one can't really be Eastern unless one is Orthodox.
I'm not worried about cultural prejudices in the matter.  I'm concerned more with getting all my fellow Orthodox acknowledge the fact that one can really be Orthodox without being Eastern.  WRO and all that.
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« Reply #91 on: April 21, 2013, 02:14:00 PM »

There have been a number of Lutheran scholars who have converted to Catholicism in the past two decades or so (most famously Richard John Neuhaus, Robert Wilken, and Reinhard Hütter, but a list of others may be found here: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/tim-drake/the-lutheran-landslide). One could speculate about why they chose Catholicism (maybe, in part, they came to see early Lutheranism as a reform movement within Catholicism?), but as a group they've been fairly reticient. I wonder if younger scholars aren't reluctant to publish confessional-style articles, for fear that their objectivity as historians/theologians will be called into question.

For the irenic among us, I ran across this hommage to Jaroslav Pelikan and his conversion to Orthodoxy by his student and friend, Robert Wilken (http://danutm.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/wilken-robert-l-jaroslav-pelikan-and-the-road-to-orthodoxy.pdf). In my mind, Wilken is a first-rate patristics scholar; not as prolific as Pelikan, but I've found his work just as helpful. Wilken converted from Lutheranism to Catholicism, Pelikan to Orthodoxy. A tidbit from the piece:

'On that last day I saw him alive, he raised the possibility of writing a book together if he had time. He wanted me as a Westerner to write on the Eastern church fathers, and he as an Easterner to write on the Western church fathers. This did not make much sense to me, because as former Lutherans we were both westerners. I said a more interesting book would be why he as a Lutheran became Orthodox and why I as a Lutheran became Roman Catholic. He agreed, but alas, he died six weeks later.'
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« Reply #92 on: April 21, 2013, 02:21:52 PM »

Mein Weg zur Orthodoxie - Prof. Dr. Karl Christian Felmy (9.12.2012)

Unfortunately I couldn't find much about him in English. Anyway, he's a Lutheran scholar who converted to Orthodoxy.

Here are some of his books.
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« Reply #93 on: April 21, 2013, 02:28:02 PM »

I didn't "go East." I was East.

That sounds like something you should tell your fellow Orthodox, since many of them believe that one can't really be Eastern unless one is Orthodox.

We do not think one has to be Orthodox to be easterner.

Well, you'll notice that I said "many" Orthodox think that, not "most".

I didn't "go East." I was East.

That sounds like something you should tell your fellow Orthodox, since many of them believe that one can't really be Eastern unless one is Orthodox.
I'm not worried about cultural prejudices in the matter.  I'm concerned more with getting all my fellow Orthodox acknowledge the fact that one can really be Orthodox without being Eastern.  WRO and all that.

Come to think of it, I would like to see that too. Smiley
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« Reply #94 on: April 21, 2013, 03:17:41 PM »

One suggestion.  When mentioning examples, perhaps it would be better if you please copy the core argument from the pages as I did...I think it makes it easier to see...Just a suggestion, no need to follow it if you don't feel like it.

Cheers!
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« Reply #95 on: April 21, 2013, 04:18:03 PM »

It's difficult to find contemporary theologians who are trying to do theology in service to the church who offer an outright defense for becoming Catholic instead of Orthodox. I think this is because such a defense would work against the stated purpose of the Catholic church, which is to restore full communion (however dim the prospects in the near future), rather than proselytize individual Orthodox.  Thus, according to Balamand, while the rights of individual converts are respected, 'Pastoral activity in the Catholic Church, Latin as well as Oriental, no longer aims at having the faithful of one Church pass over to the other; that is to say, it no longer aims at proselytizing among the Orthodox. It aims at answering the spiritual needs of its own faithful and it has no desire for expansion at the expense of the Orthodox Church.' (Balamand)

Given this situation, it would be surprising to find converts to Catholicism offering anything but the most mild criticisms of Orthodoxy, and then only with the greatest respect, so as not to exacerbate divisions.

Aidan Nichols, OP, is a convert to Catholicism from Anglicanism. In his talk 'A Catholic View of Orthodoxy' (Nichols article), he speaks very highly of Orthodoxy for three sections, and offers some criticisms in the fourth. These may provide some clue as to why he became Catholic. I won't quote the negative section out of context, as I think it wouldn't be in the spirit of the article.
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« Reply #96 on: April 21, 2013, 04:59:53 PM »

I probably overstated the Catholic church's position above on the importance of ecumenical dialogue in relation to individual conversions vis a vis the Orthodox, and now I can't seem to modify the post. But I do think the point still stands: theologians who work in service to the Church are unlikely to publish anything that might be seen as triumphalistic to the Orthodox.
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« Reply #97 on: April 21, 2013, 05:07:23 PM »

An example for a Lutheran theologian having converted to Orthodoxy in Germany would be Karl Christian (Vassily) Felmy, professor emeritus of theology and former Lutheran minister. He has since been ordained an Orthodox deacon.
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« Reply #98 on: April 21, 2013, 07:38:10 PM »

Well, where does modern science come from? Not Mount Athos- it comes from Western philosophers who were very much steeped in "Augustinian" Christianity and all its attendant maladies.

That's a popular misconception.
Western science is in fact based on overcoming theoretical philosophy and referring to experimental empiricism instead.

What's the misconception? Are you denying that Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton, etc. were part of the "Franco-Latin" Christian tradition? Whether their new methods were in continuation or in rupture with that tradition, they were still coming out of it.

Furthermore, experimental empiricism was in fact a fairly logical outgrowth of the Aristotelian metaphysics that dominated Latin Christianity. The current scientific methodology, however revolutionary it seemed in the face of the ossified Aristotelian doctrines of the middle ages, was really a reworking/ revision of Aristotelian principles in many ways.

And it is still very far away from Orthodox principles of natural contemplation (see Sts. Maximus, Gregory of Sinai, Nikitas Stithatos, etc.)
yes, because SS. Maximus, Gregory of Sinai etc. were not interested in the physical structure of nature, anymore than empirical science is interested in its noetic structure.
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« Reply #99 on: April 22, 2013, 12:07:56 AM »

Quote
Archbishop Peter was born as Paul L'Huillier on December 3, 1926, in Paris, France. He embraced the Orthodox faith in 1945 while enrolled at the St. Denys Institute in Paris. L'Huillier also did graduate work at the University of Paris...Abp. Peter's linguistic fluency (in four languages), his formal degree in the Orthodox canonical traditions, his familiarity with varieties of ethnic and national Orthodox customs, made him one of the more academically involved Orthodox hierarchs worldwide. He also chaired the OCA's External Affairs Department for many years.
http://orthodoxwiki.org/Peter_(L%27Huillier)_of_New_York
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« Reply #100 on: April 22, 2013, 09:10:06 AM »

Are not all these scholarly converts either from an eastern heritage and/or byz cath at the time of their conversions?

It would be more impressive for an Italian scholar to change his mind.
Why more so than an Englishman, e.g. the former Timothy Ware, who had no Eastern background and was a W.A.S.P. from way back.

Just a side note: in my own case, my Eastern heritage had nothing to do my conversion, having been a Lutheran in the Middle East.

Because an English Protestant may still harbor anti-Catholic prejudice either overtly or culturally.
often claimed, but I rarely seen proven.  Not many Orthodox around who fit the "Chick pamphlet with incense and icons" bill.  And Met. Kallistos certainly doesn't-unless you have evidence to the contrary.

but if you can come up with an example, do inform us.

One might say that our English Protestant would swim the Tiber because he might still harbor some sense of Western superiority (Lord knows that is not in short supply in  Rome) either overtly or culturally.

As for you, I'd (objectively) still wonder if having a historical connection would add some amount influence and/or pride to going east.
I didn't "go East." I was East.  But if I was West, what makes you think it should?

Objectively, I just followed the historical connection to the Truth.  No doubts to nag that way.

In my opinion, in order to display a scholarly convert who converted purely for being convinced of the Truth, it would be more impressive to find someone who converted out of a strongly cultural Catholic heritage.
Ah yes, the best motive: to "impress" someone.

What about Archbishop Nathaniel Pop?  He converted out of a "strongly cultural Catholic heritage." Or does the Romanian "sui juris" church not count?

You beat me to it, and I would add a few more including the  priests who led countless thousands to Orthodoxy - the one time rector of the Greek Catholic seminary and Diocesan Chancellor  in Presov, Slovakia who came to America St. Alexis Toth and the Greek Catholic pastor of what was the largest Greek Catholic parish of its day St.John the Baptist in Bridgeport,Ct - Fr., later Bishop,Orestes Chornock.
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« Reply #101 on: April 22, 2013, 09:21:44 AM »



Graduated at the Catholic University of Liblin in Catholic theology. He's currently my rector.
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« Reply #102 on: April 22, 2013, 12:23:31 PM »

Well, where does modern science come from? Not Mount Athos- it comes from Western philosophers who were very much steeped in "Augustinian" Christianity and all its attendant maladies.

That's a popular misconception.
Western science is in fact based on overcoming theoretical philosophy and referring to experimental empiricism instead.

What's the misconception? Are you denying that Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton, etc. were part of the "Franco-Latin" Christian tradition? Whether their new methods were in continuation or in rupture with that tradition, they were still coming out of it.

Furthermore, experimental empiricism was in fact a fairly logical outgrowth of the Aristotelian metaphysics that dominated Latin Christianity. The current scientific methodology, however revolutionary it seemed in the face of the ossified Aristotelian doctrines of the middle ages, was really a reworking/ revision of Aristotelian principles in many ways.

And it is still very far away from Orthodox principles of natural contemplation (see Sts. Maximus, Gregory of Sinai, Nikitas Stithatos, etc.)
yes, because SS. Maximus, Gregory of Sinai etc. were not interested in the physical structure of nature

Not exactly. See, for instance, the opening section of St. Gregory Palamas' 150 Chapters.

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« Reply #103 on: April 22, 2013, 08:20:00 PM »

Have in mind that I believe that Orthodox Christianity is "the Way" the only true succession of Apostolic teachings...Here I am presenting "both side" with hope to seeing reasons of the mentioned individuals can provide an answer to the OP. Bolding is done by me.

Here is one example of chosing Roman Catholicism:
Cardinal John Henry Newman
http://credo.stormloader.com/Ecumenic/newmaneo.htm

In his remarkable volume "Newman to Converts: An Existential Ecclesiology", Real View Books, 2001, Fr. Stanley Jaki has provided key excerpts from Newman’s voluminous private correspondence where one finds the Oratorian, answering the queries of many troubled Anglicans. (Pages from this volume follow unless otherwise indicated). Some sought to find justification for their Branch Theory of the Church by an appeal to the not insignificant numbers of Greek and Russian Orthodox Christians or were tempted to join the separated Eastern Orthodox communion as the "true Church".

Now there's some nice unbiased fact-reporting. :roll eyes to indicate sarcasm:

(Of course, I'm probably not "supposed" to complain about it ... loyalty to Likoudis because he's a fellow Catholic or whatever ... but what are you gonna do?  Cool)
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« Reply #104 on: May 05, 2013, 10:37:53 PM »

I listen to "The Journey Home" on EWTN. It's a wonderful program hosted by Marcus Grodi where he interviews converts to Catholicism.

This isn't the first time I've heard a non-Catholic say they like that show -- indeed I've many times had said experience -- and yet it never fails to amaze me.

I'm a lifelong Catholic, and I've basically never liked The Journey Home -- and I'm including the times of my life when I was more conservative, more traditionalist, less ecumenical, or a much bigger fan of EWTN in general, than I am now.

I never liked it either and I really wonder how many cradle Catholics do.  It seems to me like a lot of a hot air blowing and "me me me" stories.  I understand that for converts it can be an invaluable source of, "I'm not so alone," but it reeks of triumphalism to me.
Lots of followers of the Vatican from the cradle like triumphalism. (Lots of cradle Orthodox do as well).

The triumphalism I'm talking about is the convert's own apparent triumphalism (as in, "I found the true church!") and not the regular variety, if you follow me. 

I think a lot of cradles do actually eat that stuff up, although I'm not entirely sure why.

I've listened to more than a handful of episodes, and I am beginning to see the criticisms that the above posters have made about the program. I still like it, though.

The show does tend to represent a very conservative mainstream Roman Catholicism, with which I, naturally, do not identify. However, I can appreciate the sincere conversion stories of the guests because I'm also a convert (from a non-Christian faith) and it's interesting to hear about the hurdles that people go through (usually "There's Something About Mary," since most guests are former protestants).

 I suppose one could accuse certain guests (and maybe the show as a whole) as being "triumphalist," but I don't really see that as my place. I cannot question the sincerity of someone who is courageously stepping forward and telling their faith journey to the world. If I were in the same room as some of these guests, I might try to gently remind them that we all owe our lives to God, that we have not "earned" anything, and I'm sure they would agree. I guess I was able to notice this attitude early on and regard it as a "natural" reaction to entering into "the fullness of Faith." Listening to similar programs on Ancient Faith Radio, I can certainly confirm that this attitude is not exclusive to Roman Catholic converts.

It's true that cradle Catholics like the show; that's because they're excited to see newcomers bring new life into their precious Church. I don't think they're consciously looking for dumb converts to confirm their own convictions; it really is inspiring to see someone go through a journey and "make the choice" to live the life that you had the privilege of knowing since birth. At my baptism this weekend, I heard this sort of thing from many cradle Orthodox, and I was very grateful to be God's instrument in perhaps strengthening their faith.

Now, one thing I definitely don't like about the show is how completely dismissive of Orthodoxy it is. Obviously I can't expect a mainstream Roman Catholic radio program to paint a realistic portrait of Orthodoxy, but some of the comments I've heard from both the guests and the host have been truly appalling. Basically, we Orthodox are seen as nothing more than a loose grouping of congregational ethnic churches with no internal agreement. We probably also smell bad.

There was an Eastern Catholic guest early on, and I was amazed that no one seemed to know about the Non-Latin Rites. Naturally, Orthodoxy was just glazed over during that episode.  Angry
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« Reply #105 on: May 06, 2013, 03:26:16 PM »

I've listened to more than a handful of episodes, and I am beginning to see the criticisms that the above posters have made about the program. I still like it, though.

Well, who's to say, I could be way off here. To me, Grodi generally (on those ocassions when I watch, which are usually not by choice) comes across as pretty full of himself, but that's just one person's subjective take on it.

Basically, we Orthodox are seen as nothing more than a loose grouping of congregational ethnic churches with no internal agreement.

What you mean you're not?  Shocked
 laugh No, but seriously I recent heard someone saying just that (and repeating it over and over  Roll Eyes).

There was an Eastern Catholic guest early on, and I was amazed that no one seemed to know about the Non-Latin Rites.

Unfortunate, but not terribly surprizing. After all, Eastern Catholics make up less than 2% of Catholics overall, and less than 1% of US Catholics.
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« Reply #106 on: May 06, 2013, 08:40:55 PM »

Well, who's to say, I could be way off here. To me, Grodi generally (on those ocassions when I watch, which are usually not by choice) comes across as pretty full of himself, but that's just one person's subjective take on it.
I think Grodi, from time to time, succumbs to the same "triumphalism" to which we're all at risk. I think more often he notices that the dialogue is heading in an unhealthy direction and makes a stand. "We're not here to demean our protestant brothers and sisters." I guess one could interpret his caveats as mere lip service to keep non-Catholic listeners, but I believe that he's being sincere in those moments of clarity.

If I were to charge anyone as being full of themselves (and in doing so, bring judgement on myself), it would be some of the guests on his show. I struggled a lot with determining whether Rome or Orthodoxy is "The Church," until I eventually realized that if people much smarter and holier than me couldn't solve the problem, I certainly wasn't. Ultimately, I went with the Church to which I felt God was leading me. Sometimes I get the sense that the guest thinks he's achieved absolute epistemological certainty, that anyone who researches as much as they did will naturally come to the conclusion that Rome is the one and only option. And then when some calls in to ask what they thought about Orthodoxy, they rely on some vague outdated stereotype to make it a non-issue. I guess that's what prompted this thread.

What you mean you're not?  Shocked
 laugh No, but seriously I recent heard someone saying just that (and repeating it over and over  Roll Eyes).

I've never met anyone in person who believes that, pretty much because everyone I've met hasn't heard of Orthodoxy. The few Catholic priests I've spoken to were very ecumenical and encouraged me to enter the Church that felt right for me (I think once they saw I was serious about apostolic succession, they knew I was in the right "zone").

Unfortunate, but not terribly surprizing. After all, Eastern Catholics make up less than 2% of Catholics overall, and less than 1% of US Catholics.

I feel for you guys. This weekend I learned that even some Orthodox haven't heard about our Eastern Catholic brothers and sisters. I tried looking for literature on Eastern Catholics, and there's practically nothing out there.

As Supreme Ultimate Cool Guy of the World, I command that all Eastern Christians to put aside their silly papal squabbles and name-calling for just a moment and form like Voltron into an unstoppable Western-bias-crushing-Eastern-knowledge-spreading robot with lasers.
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« Reply #107 on: May 07, 2013, 07:51:03 AM »


As Supreme Ultimate Cool Guy of the World, I command that all Eastern Christians to put aside their silly papal squabbles and name-calling for just a moment and form like Voltron into an unstoppable Western-bias-crushing-Eastern-knowledge-spreading robot with lasers.
POM nomination for mentioning Voltron.
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« Reply #108 on: May 07, 2013, 04:48:29 PM »

Unfortunate, but not terribly surprizing. After all, Eastern Catholics make up less than 2% of Catholics overall, and less than 1% of US Catholics.

I feel for you guys.

You mean you feel for Catholics generally, or just the 2% who are Eastern?
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« Reply #109 on: May 07, 2013, 04:55:17 PM »

I tried looking for literature on Eastern Catholics, and there's practically nothing out there.

American Eastern Catholics by Fred J. Saato
The Byzantine Rite: A Short History by Robert Taft SJ
Eastern Catholics in the United States of America by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
The Eastern Catholic Churches: An Introduction to Their Worship and Spirituality by Joan L. Roccasalvo
The Eastern Catholic Churches - A Brief Survey by Ronald Roberson CSP
The Other Catholics: Obedient and Faithful by Joseph Bonchonsky

Not sure how many are currently in print, but there are your pointers. Smiley
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« Reply #110 on: May 07, 2013, 05:54:48 PM »

As Supreme Ultimate Cool Guy of the World, I command that all Eastern Christians to put aside their silly papal squabbles and name-calling for just a moment and form like Voltron into an unstoppable Western-bias-crushing-Eastern-knowledge-spreading robot with lasers.
POM nomination for mentioning Voltron.
But just try telling that to the Irish.
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« Reply #111 on: May 07, 2013, 07:39:32 PM »

Unfortunate, but not terribly surprizing. After all, Eastern Catholics make up less than 2% of Catholics overall, and less than 1% of US Catholics.

I feel for you guys.

You mean you feel for Catholics generally, or just the 2% who are Eastern?

Well, I meant just Eastern Catholics, but it's not like I don't care about Western Catholics. They just don't really need that much publicity anymore.

Thanks for the book recs, Arachne.
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