Serapion speaks

Want to share something posted on your blog, or the fact that you have a blog? Here's one for the bloggers.
Post Reply
User avatar
serapion
I'll make yer head spin!
I'll make yer head spin!
Posts: 2387
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2007 6:00 pm
Location: New Yorker from Connecticut, now exiled to the Republic of Texas
Contact:

Serapion speaks

Post by serapion » Sun Aug 03, 2014 3:41 pm

Far from being a prolific author, this is the first post to my blog in 6 years.
I welcome your comments.

http://serapionspeaks.blogspot.com/2014 ... odoxy.html
I am a pipe smoker, the very embodiment of mellow.
I let nothing chap my ass.

User avatar
Thunktank
Terminal Lance. Perpetual Sea Lawyer. Unicorn Aficionado
Terminal Lance.  Perpetual Sea Lawyer. Unicorn Aficionado
Posts: 21369
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2008 6:00 pm
Location: Texas Bound

Re: Serapion speaks

Post by Thunktank » Sun Aug 03, 2014 4:30 pm

"I strikes me that the author examines Orthodoxy's shortcomings from deep within his Western and Reformed tradition rather than looking at it on its own terms. While this is unfortunate, it is also not surprising. For me, looking at Orthodoxy has challenged my assumptions and my way of looking at the world. It is a different mindset."

Any substantial "conversion" experience will require a challenge to one's assumptions. Especially if the differences are drastic enough to require an entirely new basis such as Reformed Calvinism to Orthodoxy. I've been highly exposed to both. A very different foundation of belief between them. To further complicate matters, issues of culture and emotional attachments may challenge things even more on the personal level, which is something I dealt with in part, but because I never developed an intense love for Calvinism or it's culture it was easier for me to break away and adopt other theologies that met other expectations that I had. I would posit that in many cases, acquiring a new mindset that better understands the faith of others almost requires a disloyalty to one's current faith group if there's a real or perceived conflict between them, because it requires the delving into the depths and even into the hearts of those from other side. One must almost wear, by putting on this new faith in order to know and better understand it via experience which people by an large require because that is how we are hardwired to behave and learn. When this happens a person will find the new faith agreeable with them or not for any number of reasons. Perhaps it will be as simple as the relationships they had with others before or after the new contact from the different faith group.

Of course reasons are the primary importance in determining what is true for someone or not. In this case Mr. Kinneer has attachments to his Reformed Orthodox Presbyterian faith and assumes his loyalties there. He has his reasons and they are probably very personal. I understand the importance people feel toward loyalty but it can make it more difficult to delve deeply into the basis of others. He appears to learn about Orthodoxy to a degree yet maintains a belief that Reformed Calvinism is right and the differences of Orthodoxy are therefore worthy of speculation and even defense against. After all, he wrote of his concerns over why some of his fellows left the Reformed for Orthodoxy. The same would be true if the tables were turned. The perception of absolute "Truth" are muddied by the personalities who try to know it. It takes faith to accept another type of belief but fundamentally people have personal reasons for accepting faith or not.
Image

User avatar
serapion
I'll make yer head spin!
I'll make yer head spin!
Posts: 2387
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2007 6:00 pm
Location: New Yorker from Connecticut, now exiled to the Republic of Texas
Contact:

Re: Serapion speaks

Post by serapion » Sun Aug 03, 2014 5:00 pm

Indeed! The "personal stuff" often drives us in one direction or another in spite of what we might do if we were capable of being completely "impartial", which of course we are not. I remain a member of my Anglican church largely because it feels "disloyal" not to be and I love the people dearly. They have been great friends to me for my entire "exile" in Texas. Yet I long ago decided that Anglicanism was for me a spiritual dead end.

Thanks for giving it a read, Thunk!
I am a pipe smoker, the very embodiment of mellow.
I let nothing chap my ass.

User avatar
Thunktank
Terminal Lance. Perpetual Sea Lawyer. Unicorn Aficionado
Terminal Lance.  Perpetual Sea Lawyer. Unicorn Aficionado
Posts: 21369
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2008 6:00 pm
Location: Texas Bound

Re: Serapion speaks

Post by Thunktank » Sun Aug 03, 2014 5:42 pm

serapion wrote:Indeed! The "personal stuff" often drives us in one direction or another in spite of what we might do if we were capable of being completely "impartial", which of course we are not. I remain a member of my Anglican church largely because it feels "disloyal" not to be and I love the people dearly. They have been great friends to me for my entire "exile" in Texas. Yet I long ago decided that Anglicanism was for me a spiritual dead end.

Thanks for giving it a read, Thunk!
Certain forms of Anglicanism can be relatively compatible with Orthodoxy to a certain degree. Even where they are "different" they often in fact are similar. I remember telling Anglicans from my prior church that I was thinking of converting to Orthodoxy. Somehow they would often simultaneously sing the praises of the Orthodox faith while wondering why on earth an anglophile like them would ever consider such a move themselves. Not unlike the Greeks, Russians or just about any other Orthodox ethnic group with secret caesaropapism leanings who love their own culture with great esteem. Ultimately, those cultural ties are important to our human experience!

OTOH, it's not good for your health to remain living within a system (in your case, your Anglican Church) that you believe will lead you into a "spiritual dead end." This is where a lot of depression, anxiety and other ailments come from for lots of people. People need to be part of something that supports their values or they suffer. It hardly matters what those values are, it matters much more if they are happy with them or not. It matters if their "reasons" are in line with their walk. Perhaps your friendships where you are are reasons enough to spare you grave unhappiness? You don't have to answer that. I'm simply trying to make a point you may or may not find useful. It's just a concern I have for you given what you posted. Especially as it pertains to what you wrote in your blog on this topic. You appear largely vested in Orthodox praxis at this point. You will have an appointment with reckoning over this sooner than later I think.
Image

User avatar
mont974x4
It's gotten old now
It's gotten old now
Posts: 7983
Joined: Sun Dec 15, 2013 6:00 pm
Location: Montana

Re: Serapion speaks

Post by mont974x4 » Sun Aug 03, 2014 5:46 pm

People are spiritual beings. We were made for worship and each of us have been, well, are on, our own faith journey. Society as a whole and our specific cultures play a huge roll in that. It builds predisposed ideas into us. Lucky is the man who has the opportunity to observe and explore other cultures, and especially the faith aspects of those cultures.


We must give up the misnomer that faith is blind, uniformed, or ignorant. Some people are happy to be so, but the honest man will strive to outgrow it.
It sounded better when the voices in my head were saying it.

Ire attracter-at-large and general misanthrope.

User avatar
CW Spook
yarn hank-winder
yarn hank-winder
Posts: 1315
Joined: Sat Jul 05, 2014 1:31 pm
Location: Between the corn and soybean fields.
Contact:

Re: Serapion speaks

Post by CW Spook » Sun Aug 03, 2014 7:47 pm

Thank you for the most excellent blog. I, too, am something of a 'closet Orthodox'. Three years ago, I purchased a Russian motorcycle and in the process acquired a few native Russian friends, one of whom posed the question to me, "Are you Orthodox?" I answered, "No, a Protestant.", to which he jokingly replied; "Ah, yes. America. Full of Protestants and Capitalists!" We kidded back and forth, but his question prompted me to begin to delve into Orthodoxy, to which I have found myself more and more drawn. As an ex-Methodist, ex-Presbyterian, now non-denominational evangelical elder, I've begun to find contemporary worship less fulfilling and definitely missing something. The Orthodox emphasis on theosis, as opposed to instant salvation resounds well with me, and I too, am drawn to the beauty of the Orthodox liturgy...to the point that my favorite internet radio stations are Ancient Faith Radio and Orthodox Christian Network. I'm 40 miles from the nearest Orthodox church of any sort, and over 100 from the nearest ROCOR church which would be my choice if I were to convert, so in the meantime, I'll continue to help feed our congregation spiritual milk, while looking for meat when and where I can. I'd recommend "Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy: Exploring Belief Systems through the Lens of the Ancient Christian Faith" by Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick to anyone looking for a good explanation of the points of convergence and divergence between Protestantism and Orthodoxy.
"The king hath knowledge of all they intend, by interception they dream not of..." - King Henry V: Act 2
--In God we trust. All others we monitor.--

User avatar
Thunktank
Terminal Lance. Perpetual Sea Lawyer. Unicorn Aficionado
Terminal Lance.  Perpetual Sea Lawyer. Unicorn Aficionado
Posts: 21369
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2008 6:00 pm
Location: Texas Bound

Re: Serapion speaks

Post by Thunktank » Sun Aug 03, 2014 11:40 pm

Serapion wrote:I appreciate his concluding statement "Let us have the maturity to keep the faith as we know it and to learn from others where we need to learn." I heartily agree. I have spent many years studying Protestant and especially Calvinist theology, as well as dealing on a practical level with Christians of many stripes. It was initially out of curiousity that I began to look into Orthodoxy. I continue to be fascinated by fact that the Orthodox see so many things in a completely different way than does Western Chrstianity. Even the very idea of "theology" is different. As a Calvinist, I was taught that right belief about doctrine was essential to saving faith. It was sufficient to assent to a body of propositional truths about God stated in a systematic theology. By contrast, the Orthodox do not call someone a theologian unless and until they have personally experienced the living God directly and have an ongoing relationship with Him that is evident in their daily living.
Serapion, how do you explain that an Orthodox "theologian" is worthy of the name? How do you think the Orthodox can determine subjective experience vs objective truth and witness about God from such theologians? Is it even verifiable? These questions are not designed to quiz you, they are simply me asking you how you are comfortable with the Orthodox belief about what a "theologian" is. Because yes, it's different than the typical replies we get from the western Christian confessions.
Image

User avatar
serapion
I'll make yer head spin!
I'll make yer head spin!
Posts: 2387
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2007 6:00 pm
Location: New Yorker from Connecticut, now exiled to the Republic of Texas
Contact:

Re: Serapion speaks

Post by serapion » Mon Aug 04, 2014 9:03 am

Thunktank wrote:
Serapion wrote:I appreciate his concluding statement "Let us have the maturity to keep the faith as we know it and to learn from others where we need to learn." I heartily agree. I have spent many years studying Protestant and especially Calvinist theology, as well as dealing on a practical level with Christians of many stripes. It was initially out of curiousity that I began to look into Orthodoxy. I continue to be fascinated by fact that the Orthodox see so many things in a completely different way than does Western Chrstianity. Even the very idea of "theology" is different. As a Calvinist, I was taught that right belief about doctrine was essential to saving faith. It was sufficient to assent to a body of propositional truths about God stated in a systematic theology. By contrast, the Orthodox do not call someone a theologian unless and until they have personally experienced the living God directly and have an ongoing relationship with Him that is evident in their daily living.
Serapion, how do you explain that an Orthodox "theologian" is worthy of the name? How do you think the Orthodox can determine subjective experience vs objective truth and witness about God from such theologians? Is it even verifiable? These questions are not designed to quiz you, they are simply me asking you how you are comfortable with the Orthodox belief about what a "theologian" is. Because yes, it's different than the typical replies we get from the western Christian confessions.

I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Christopher Veniamin who is on the faculty of St. Tikhon’s Seminary in Pennsylvania. I suppose you could call him a teacher of theology, rather than a theologian. Yet, while you could say that his presentation was scholarly, I have never heard a scholarly presentation that had as much of the presence of God as his did.

As I understand it, the decision to call someone a theologian is made like the decision to call someone a saint. First of all, they are typically no longer among the living. Next, their lives must attest to their humility and depth of relationship with God through ascetic struggle, this by the testimony of those who knew them. Finally they must have evidently experienced the uncreated light and grace of God in a tangible way. I am told there are only a few saints that are termed "theologian", one is St John the Evangelist and another is St Symeon the New Theologian. I don't know about others.

This is just my take on it from what I've read and seen, not any kind of dogma. To me the point is that in Orthodoxy, we insist that you can only speak of what you know by experience, in this case God. Third hand knowledge from a book doesn't cut it.
I am a pipe smoker, the very embodiment of mellow.
I let nothing chap my ass.

User avatar
serapion
I'll make yer head spin!
I'll make yer head spin!
Posts: 2387
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2007 6:00 pm
Location: New Yorker from Connecticut, now exiled to the Republic of Texas
Contact:

Re: Serapion speaks

Post by serapion » Sun Apr 10, 2016 9:39 pm

My latest blog post about St John of the Ladder, who was commemorated today among the Orthodox.

I wrote this mostly for my kids, but maybe you'll find it interesting.

http://serapionspeaks.blogspot.com/2016 ... adder.html
I am a pipe smoker, the very embodiment of mellow.
I let nothing chap my ass.

Post Reply