Thursday, October 26, 2017

So, You Want to Convert to Orthodoxy? Part I

The Bear thinks he ought to publish a brochure, like you find in your doctor's office. "So, You're Going to Die?" (stolen from The Simpsons.)

However, conversion from Catholicism to Orthodoxy is too big a topic for a brochure, or even for one of the Bear's articles. (Although if you want to be Orthodox, a long attention span helps.) So he is going to divide this up and try to give both a positive and a negative based on his own personal experience as a convert to Orthodoxy / revert to Catholicism.

At the outset, the Bear will say not a day goes by that he doesn't smack himself up the side of his fuzzy head and go (like the old V8 commercial) "I could still be Orthodox!" The Bear continues to admire Orthodoxy and does not mean to be overly critical, and certainly not to criticize Orthodox people, who are, after all, born that way for the most part.

However, the Bear believes most converts are not aware of the actual "convert experience" before they, like one of the Bear's goats, crawl under the fence for greener pastures. Grass - fence: you know the saying. So, in the typical irreverent Bearish style, these are some things you might wish to think about.

So, You Want to Convert to Orthodoxy?

The Barque of Peter careens around the waters of the bay, the sun catching thirty-foot high rooster tails in beautiful rainbows. At the helm, a grinning Pope Francis wears a cap like the Skipper from Gilligan's Island at a jaunty angle. Meanwhile, you're behind, in the wake, down to one ski, facing ramp after ramp, hanging on for dear life.

That's when you notice a stately vessel of ancient and ornate design. It rests serenely at anchor. Naturally, you're tempted to let go of the bar and swim for dear life.

Rest assured, Catholic, these feelings are natural. Orthodoxy has much to offer and may seem like the best of Catholicism without loopy churchmen and a 60's council that smells a bit like joss sticks, weed and hippie funk today. If Orthodoxy is afflicted with anything, it's Ancientism, not Modernism.

But is Orthodoxy really right for you?

Here are some things you might wish to consider in making this important personal choice.

Orthodoxy and Nationalism

Patriarch and Putin
What you think Orthodoxy is, Catholic friend, and what Orthodox think Orthodoxy is are two different things.

For example, the Russian Patriarch blesses ICBMs whose capability is to flash-incinerate you and your family in a million-plus degree fireball. Orthodoxy cannot be separated from ethnicity and/or nationalism. To bring it home in a way you can really understand, imagine the following.

Imagine Billy Graham as the head of the official "American Church." Americans all pretty much belong to this American Church because it's part of Americanism, but don't pay all that much attention to it in their lives. The U.S. Navy's aircraft carriers are named things like, "USS Jerry Falwell" and "USS Beth Moore." It is well known that during the McCarthy era, American Church pastors reported un-American sentiments to the authorities and some of your neighbors just never showed one morning. The Elder of the American Church (Billy Graham) toes the administration line, as do nearly all of the American Church pastors.

Now a Russian wants to join your American Church. You're like, "Well, okay, I guess, but you're Russian, so I don't really get it." The Russian convert will be unofficially expected to become a baseball fan and, if she sticks around, the secret of the perfect apple pie crust will be imparted.

The Russian may secretly think this American role-playing is a bit silly, but will go along to fit in. Every Independence Day, your local church will host "American Days" and sell apple pies, hotdogs and entertain immigrants with square dancing.

Is Americanism a religion? Yes. Maybe it's a great religion. Is it also an expression of ethnicity and/or nationalism? Yes. Should that make a difference to you? That depends on a lot of things, but it is something most converts don't even think about. Your Mileage May Vary. But, in general, most white bread Americans just aren't into being white bread Americans per se. It would seem weird, if not sinister.

Not so your Orthodox friends, Catholic, not so.

It is really not even correct to speak of "Orthodoxy." There is no "pure" test tube Orthodoxy that does not come in some nationalistic wrapper. Major cities have more than one bishop, one for each jurisdiction (Russian, different sort of Russian, Greek, Bulgarian, etc., which is a heresy all its own.)

While the liturgy may be the same, your experience of a Greek Orthodox church and a Russian Orthodox church (and also depending on what flavor of Russian) will be different. To give just one example, Greeks scandalize Russians by having organ music. Russians scandalize Greeks by - well, Bear doesn't know, but you can bet it's something.

There's an old joke that goes like this. A Russian was shipwrecked on a deserted island. Ten years later, he was rescued by an English ship. They noticed he had built two churches. Naturally, they asked him why two, and this is what he said, after spitting toward one of them:

"This is church I go to. That is church I don't."

The Antiochians are known as the most convert-friendly and make an effort to start missions and churches made up mostly of converts. They also do not have nuclear missiles. A Russian church might seem a bit more of an ethnic club and encourage more role-playing. The best advice is the most obvious. Try before you buy and give it time. (Just don't try to take communion, which is not permitted for non-Orthodox.)

Play your cards right, though, and you can learn to make the greatest cabbage rolls ever.

Beards

Typical Orthodox Beard
Is the Bear being funny? No. At least in the Russian Orthodox Churches, men will sprout facial hair. It is a known side effect. Orthodoxy is a virile, confident religion, and is the one instance where it is more likely that the husband is dragging the wife into conversion.

One of the problems with the Catholic Church today is the overall sense of feminization. We got women totally out of control, prancing around in who knows what quasi-liturgical vestments when they're not actually dancing or sidling up to the ambo to give "guest editorials" in lieu of the homily.

We have created a problem even St. Paul never had to worry about: "The Eucharistic Ministrix of Communion Cleavage Crisis."

Bear knows never again to mention any sort of head covering (which he thinks is a good idea for more than one reason). You know where St. Paul talks about women covering their heads? That's the one page normally sensible Red Death tore out of his Bible. She sent Bear to the ER for  forty-two stiches the last and only time he brought it up. Catholic women get very upset about this. Tell her anything. Tell her her dress makes her butt look big. But never suggest so much as the skimpiest chapel cap or your lawfully wedded will come unglued.

You may see heads covered more in a Russian Orthodox Church where women wear the stylish pashmina, but there are some things most women just won't do.

If Orthodoxy causes an increase in testosterone in males, Catholicism is so estrogen-soaked that Catholic men develop man boobs. But say goodbye to unsightly man boobs forever the instant you trade damp-handed, mincing Father Dave and the Altarettes for bearded and unabashedly patriarchal Father Sergei with nine kids, who splits a cord of wood in the back yard every week because the parish council is too cheap to buy central heating for the one-room shack they provide him and his ten kids. (It was nine, but that was a while ago).

Orthodoxy does tries to keep its women in check. All the strict fasts and constant "fast food" cooking without ordinary ingredients like meat, cheese, butter, eggs, vegetables, grains, oil or water, weaken them into compliance. There are only so many things you can do with shellfish, which Orthodox classify as "rocks." Chasing their virile Orthodox husband's stair step "Russian octuplets" will also take a lot out of them, so protesting taboos associated with their periods of "impurity" just won't seem that important.

So, if you're a Catholic man who envies Orthodox manliness, convert, grow your beard and be a man among men. But there are no guarantees. Even Orthodoxy has its out-of-control women dancing around behind the iconostasis just to prove they can without getting struck by lightning. Such behavior is recognized as an aberration, at least, and overall culture is decidedly less feminine.

29 comments:

  1. Wonderful article and hilarious. Most of my increasingly long adult life has been spent with the Ukrainian Catholics, not many steps from Orthodoxy. Noticeable testosterone, but not much on beards. But mercifully Catholic, and happily not Orthodox.

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  2. Owl would like to add that while one might be looking for Orthodoxy one might find Protestantism dressed up as Orthodoxy. The Greek Orthodox Church in America for example tends to land a lot of converts from the liturgical and confessional wings of Protestantism.

    Great Bear's experience is with the nationalistic side of Orthodoxy, which is indeed very much the case. Owl is very fond of the Russian Orthodox, though it is good to remember that Kasper's theology comes to use by way of liberal Russian Orthodoxy!

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    1. Antiochians brought in an entire large group of Evangelicals who were given the bum's rush by the Ecumenical Patriarch and others. Bear's experience with Greeks is very limited. We attended at a Greek Orthodox Church in St. Augustine, Florida. The Priest said, "You're Russian aren't you. Just slurp it from the spoon." Communion is given only by the priest, and by the spoonful - a little bread soaked in wine as to form. You kind assume a baby-bird pose with a Russian Church, while Bear supposes Greeks just slurp it from the spoon like cereal. Either way, if you have a pathological fear of other people's bodily fluids, you might want to deal with that before hand (sometimes you'll see parents take very young babies up first). Bear ever noticed any more colds or flu, though, and that with four children. "Holy Communion makes you well, not sick!" the Russian priest promised.

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  3. You are likely to find Orthodox Church IN America (granted autocephaly by the Moscow Patriarch & considered a dubious jurisdiction by some), a few Patriarch churches directly belonging to Moscow, and Russian Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) although at least at one point there was talk of rejoining ROCOR with the Patriarch. ROCOR was pretty much the White Russians (Generals and contessas who lost the Russian Civil War).

    One of the topics Bear will be covering is "strictness." Russians are probably the most hard core, although he would entertain the experiences of others in different jurisdictions. To balance that out (if it is a negative, and can be) he'll probably offer Orthodoxy as a way of Life as a positive.

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  4. To under score the Nationalism aspect of Orthodoxy, Owl presents this truly moving Akathist. Do read it all and do not laugh for it is truly most serious and pious.

    http://www.serfes.org/royal/akathist.htm

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    1. The Tsar and his family are passion bearers, not quite martyrs. A large Church was erected upon the site o their death in Ekanterinberg. It was an important psychological move for the New Russia to renounce the regicide of the Bolsheviks. There is no question of the devoutness of the family, and surely their confinement and murder is one of the sadder tales of history.

      The Bear is not tempted to laugh, although perhaps the artistic merits might be debated. In fact, he possesses, somewhere, an icon of Tsar Nicholas. He never wanted to be Tsar, and really wasn't cut out for it.

      Bear trusts Russians who venerate Tsar Nicholas and his beautiful family more than Bolshevik Russians.

      Having said that, yes, this plays among some segment of the Russian Orthodox Church, but is virtually meaningless to non-Russians. He and the Tsarina personally handed out "Soldiers Crosses" to troops at the railway station headed for the front. (Bear has a nice gold one around somewhere that needs a chain.)

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    2. There is also the persistent strain in Russian thought that it is "The Third Rome," destine to play an important part in saving the world. (Rome and Byzantium being the first two.)

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    3. Owl would love to see the Tzar's cross.

      Owl greatly admires those Catholic/Orthodox princes of this world who guarded their nations in the name of God.

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  5. Bear, I hate to carp, as I've only once (I think) commented on your very enjoyable blog. But you haven't addressed any real meat- Papal primacy vs 'first among equals' position of the Bishop of Rome, ex cathedra infallibility per Vatican I, ramifications of original sin, doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, purgatory, etc. This post is a mirror image of Frederick Matthews-Green's writings, and I'm afraid that's not a compliment.
    By way of disclosure: I attended an OCA Romanian Episcopate church for a year while simultaneously attending RCIA and assisting at Sunday Mass. I was received into the Roman Catholic Church in 2008. And yes, I still question whether I did "the right thing." I'm a married woman (veiled or hatted-ha!) whose husband made the call after we agonized over this together, and I chose not to divide my family.
    I hope you will have something more substantive to say re/Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy.

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    1. The "Part I" should have been a dead giveaway. I don't think it is like Fredericka Matthews-Green in tone or substance. If they are both share similarities by having been written by converts, that might explain it. Did she write about the downside of Orthodox nationalism? Don't remember.

      If it was not clear before, yes, I do intent to cover other material in a balanced fashion. I began where many converts begin: seeing Orthodoxy as like Catholicism but just more like it used to be.

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    2. FMG wrote about how Eastern Orthodoxy's tougher fasting regulations and 2-hour liturgies appeal to men rather than women, and how visitors ought not be put off by beards and other non-Western customs. So, yes, the themes were similar and I perceive the tone to be, also. How long were you an EO, if I may ask?
      There are women interested in doctrinal differences, though we may be few.
      The OCA Romanian Episcopate parish in my area has converts as well as Romanian-Americans, and honestly never struck me as any stranger or cooler to outsiders than my local Catholic parish. As a Norh Carolina native raised lukewarm Methodist, I learned quickly that "fellowship" isn't a Catholic or Orthodox 'value' in the Southern Protestant sense. That wasn't what I was looking for anyway. But my point is that nationalism was not evident in the OCA parish. I still read widely on these matters, and I understand the historical argument that nationalism underpins Eastern Orthodoxy. The argument is just overstated, in my opinion. And if you want to see nationalism, Americanism is still an integral part of the Protestant main lines and especially Evangelical independent churches.
      A digression, but there it is.

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    3. Two posts and I still don't understand where you're coming from or what you're trying to say. You're very welcome to continue to judge not only what I have written, but what I intend to write (after "Part I"). Were you ever Orthodox? I was Russian Orthodox for several years (don't know the first thing about Romanian Orthodox), my kids were mainly raised in the Orthodox Church, and I was a tonsured reader. I was on the board and a delegate to the tumultuous meeting in Toledo with Bishop Job after the huge ongoing scandals with the Metropolitan.

      To whatever extent my "themes and tone" seemed to be copied from a book you once read, no, just my own themes in a tone no different than I always write this blog in, and I seriously doubt Fredericka Matthews-Greene would recognize as similar to hers.

      I would be curious to see what your real complaint is in one or two simple, declarative sentences, though.

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    4. Lurker #59's comment below is interesting and on-point, I believe. My "issue" is simply that the one huge overriding question (no, not the Filioque!) for a confused person like me is 'the scope of the Pope.' There are reams of books, and some blogs dedicated to this question, I know. Orthodox ecclesiology vs Catholic ecclesiology is the 800 lb gorilla, though the question necessarily arises from theological divergences as well as political/historical ones.
      Who has interpreted "Thou art Peter, and..." rightly?
      No, I was never Orthodox. Cancelled my Chrismation the night before it was to be done. And I'm not trying to be contentious here. I freely admit to being unsettled and too lazy, or dispirited, to make another years'-long study of my main question.

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    5. SAF -- Melkite Archbishop Elias Zoghby wrote a book called 'We are all Schismatics' that addresses your concerns from the point of view that everybody got it wrong/right. Owl doesn't agree with the view point of the book but seeing things through a different lenses than just Catholic/Orthodox polemics might help round off the edges.

      Let me give two points to consider:

      1. The Orthodox view of the Papacy, which there is not one singular view, is not primarily heretical but schismatic. The view AND how it is practiced is a wound against the Mark of Unity, not against the other four Marks of the Church. Especially when one might consider how an Eastern Catholic might view the Pope of Rome, the distance between Orthodox and Catholic in terms of doxology is less of a distance than praxis.

      2. With the Papacy are dealing with a concept that are greater than the sum of its parts. This isn't mathmatics where you can describe a mathematical reality in precise language. It also is not science where we can observe and make hypothesis and then test them. Asking the question "who is right" is looking at the situation from the wrong end of things.

      Consider the Glib Glob. Two people describe to you two different understandings of a Glib Glob and you are tasked with figuring out who is correct, even though you have never seen a Glib Glob before. How do you do so? If you are really good with logic, you can ferret out the answer without ever seeing a Glib Glob yourself. The easier way is to go and find a Glib Glob and then compare that to the descriptions that were presented to you.

      In the case of the Papacy, one goes and looks to see how this thing historically functioned. Don't look for the definition, but look at how it functioned, what it did and didn't do. How did it think of itself, how did others think of it.

      When you do this, you will see that your question will shift from "who interpreted 'thought art Peter' rightly" to questions of who has the authority to interpret and what exactly is this interpretative authority.

      But Owl, when Owl was looking at Orthodoxy found that the Papacy, though often a first point of discussion really masked a lot of the underlying issues. For example, both sides of the Justification/Sanctification fight between Catholics and Protestants is a distinctly Western Issue and the Orthodox find fault with both and were finding fault with Catholics over that centuries before Protestantism came to be.

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  6. I think I'm now too old to make such changes, and if it comes to it, will retreat to the woods with my bible and beads. There is such a thing as too late, not to mention too tired.
    Maybe that explains my wish to wear the chapel veil. The worst thing I can say about it is it is super hard to start wearing it. I recommend you wear it right off the bat, because it just is hard to start. People are going to notice if I start, if I always wore it, they wouldn't have. I see it as a good thing. We are all corrupted by feminism to varying degrees, blast it all.

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    1. Bible and Beads is not a bad program. Is it me, or have Catholics rediscovered the Bible since Pope Francis? Although modern Catholic scholarship is a long way from old concepts of inerrancy and inspiration, Scripture remains something sure we can cling to, without, however, making it the only source of revelation as do the Protestants.

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    2. True enough. Maybe he has helped in that one area, since Catholics have had to get back to basics, the edifice is crumbling.
      My word, another parallel, the Chief's Special is the one I own. Maybe I should make that bible, beads, and bullets.

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    3. You can temporarily go to another parish during the weekdays and there you will have "always worn" the chapel veil. Then when you are comfortable enough, it can make an appearance at your normal parish.

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  7. The Western Individual is hard pressed to truly understand and appreciate this "ethnic nationalism" that appears in Orthodoxy. It is both a visage of the reality pre WWI and hearkens back to something deeper -- the people of God as truly people with a Godly politics and culture drawn out of the world now baptized in the name of Christ. It is precisely everything that the West has fought against since the Great War and why the West is dying from the suicide of the intellectuals. The West is dying because it hates itself for itself is that Christian "nationalism" -- that baptized culture and politics of Greco-Roman and the Romanized pagans. It is against the "American Spirit" and the Spirit of modernism that attempts to end that which separate the nations of the world by purging itself finally of that culture which uniquely calls the nations of this world beyond this world and thus stands separate, divisive, and in judgement of the nations who remain in darkness. The West is born of this and owes all that it has to this, and so the West seeks to destroy itself and its own Christian ethnic nationalism.

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    1. Bear agrees 100%. The nationalism is odd only because it is not OUR nationalism. I have been saying for some time that the Church is in trouble at least in part because the West, into which the Church sank her roots, is dead, which goes back to the treason of the intellectuals of Benda, which treason was applying their intellect to practical programs and thus becoming partisans.

      We are seeing how well the Church can thrive disconnected from a West that no longer exists. It would seem not very well. If Church teachings seem oddly disconnected from both tradition and reality, and no one finds any compelling reason to distinguish it from, say, Lutherans, it is because there is no confident West to provide interlocking support - West & Church, together. Christendom, if you will.

      To take Russia, while they are talking the talk, it remains unclear if they are walking the walk. The statistics from Russia paint a dismal picture of an Orthodox country where Christianity does not have much impact on the lives of its people. (Russia is "extinct" with a below 1.80 TFR and abortion and alcoholism are rampant. This is to be expected if it has become just another "Russian thing" like nested dolls, and not transformed the culture.

      Whatever Putin believes, I don't think he is the reincarnation of Tsar Nicholas II, or dreams of "The Third Rome." It is a nice romantic notion that Russia could revive a truly Christian society and somehow have a transformative effect on the world at large for good, but sadly, I do not see that happening. I think it is part of the New Russian narrative, is useful to Putin, but doesn't have legs.

      And, remember, while Tsar Nicholas II was personally devout, he was a lousy autocrat challenged by historical forces he did not understand and another casualty of WWI.

      (There was quite a few western boots on the ground during the Revolution. One of the differences in my alternate history world in which most of the second book takes place is that the Tsar and his family were saved, and there was never a Soviet Union. It is a strange mix of WWI and WWII geopolitics where there is a correlation between there and here, but specifics are some exact, and some quite different.)

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    2. https://youtu.be/zNAyzbxDMxc This fell into Owl's nest last night. Owl is intrigued, finds it quite apropos, and is shocked at the production value.

      Ages before Owl, but not before owls, Eternal Rome, the West of her time, also committed suicide. They went in a 100 years time from the shock of Eusebius' 'Oration in Praise of Constantine' to the whole political order swept away.

      Society fragmented into a thousand shards of suddenly stranded far off provinces. Consider it the equivalent of the US getting hit with a well placed EMP nuke. Instead of everything going to pieces, the Church sunk herself into the society and gathered everything around her, hunkered in and waited for 300 years for Peppin. Owl considers that Great Bear may have met his son as you are contemporaries.

      This time around, it looks like the West is going to take the Church with her. The West is nothing without the Church, and there is a real sense that the Church is so symbiotic with the West that they are nearly one and the same.

      As for Putin, well Trump, Putin, Francis are all political strong men. The history of men is filled with songs and legends of such men who arise in dark days to either hold the line or bring darkness still. What will their songs be, Owl wonders? Owl sees two breathing on the dying embers of Christendom, the other, well, is playing with a different sort of fire.

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  8. I spent some time checking out different Orthodox churches and found the ethnic/nationalist element to be rather off-putting, like I as a typical mongrel American didn't really belong. But what was worse was the OCA parish that was entirely converts-they were enthusiastic and friendly, but they hadn't mastered the script, and that sense of generational continuity was not there.

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  9. Rod Dreher is the author of the Benedict Option which is being used in a lot of conservative Catholic parishes as a teaching tool. Dreher was recently on EWTNs World Over touting his book which btw has been condemned by a Vatican spokesperson (can't remember which one.).

    Dreher converted to Orthodoxy back in 2003? in the wake of the pedo scandals that he was covering as a newspaper reporter. He was originally an adult convert to Catholicism.

    Orthodoxy has a valid Eucharist and far less faggotry. I will continue to investigate it. Attending a Vespers this Sat nite.

    Seattle kim

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  10. Orthodox priests look like wizards.

    Seattle kim

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  11. The hats!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJV9zDmgGls&sns=em

    Seattle kim

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  12. I think I have a pretty educated readership who is already aware of the Orthodox issues with the Pope and have heard of the Filioque controversy. I will be talking about theology. But anyone can do that. What I can contribute is a witness.

    And nobody ever converted from Catholicism to Orthodoxy over the filioque. The contrast between an effeminate Catholic Church and the in your face manliness of the Orthodox Church - yes. The Divine Lirurgy, yes.

    And it takes an insider witness to take the public signs of nationalism like blessing weapons and naming nuclear subs after saints and bring it down to how comfortable you might feel during coffee hour, or how interested you are in Russian role-playing.

    As a witness, I can only speak to my experience. I was in a small parish of ethnic Russians who were part of the coal-mining boom in southern Illinois back in the 20s, 30s and on up through the 60s. My family on both sides were coal miners, so I was to some extent part of the broader history of shared tragedies.

    It is interesting that in rural southern Illinois, there were a half dozen Russian Othodox churches ditting the landscape. One remains active. One is sealed up like a museum, used once or twice a year. Another is a ghost, its iconostasis slowly decaying with the rest of its faded glory.

    Yet I was asked, "Why do you want to convert? You're not Russian!" I am not saying people were unfriendly, but it WAS something I had not counted on and neither I nor Red Death were ever 100% comfortable with.

    Perhaps my experience was unusual. An OCA parish with only converts - I can see how they might "know the words but not the music." However, at least for the Russian Churches, I suspect it is more typical than not.

    By balancing the positive experience with the negative, I hope to validate potential converts' interest (and express my own admiration) even as I warn them about things they might want to consider.

    As for "faggotry," sadly you are liable to find that anywhere. The OCA was a scandal wracked mess (I lost touch and can't comment today) but the focus was more on finances. There were also scandals involving homosexuality. Not on the scale of the Catholic Church, but I have always thought Rod Dreher's disgust over the homosexual abuse crisis was a questionable reason to convert, and wondered what he thought when the OCA imploded.

    Bear was at ground zero for that one, being a sometime legal correspondent with a website owner who was bringing the horrors to light. Bear was at the meeting with Bishop Job that essentially voted "no confidence" in the OCA head.

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  13. Going to an OCA Vespers Sat nite.

    Sounds like you're very conflicted Mr. Bear.

    Seattle kim

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  14. Very conflicted. Very ambivalent. Which should raise the question, why am I Catholic when there's an Antiochian church just up the road, or, my old Russian church 20 minutes away?

    There are doctrinal differences, but I'm not so excited about Purgatory or the Filioque the Immaculate Conception that I would base a decision on that. I'm not the cerebral. The role of the Pope as understood in the West does look like more of a bug than a feature.

    It comes down to being a Bear of the West, where God put me. Yeah, Bear knows he's on the losing side in the short term. The Eagles (and not the Romanov Eagles, either) are not coming. The West is finished, and the Bear cannot imagine the Church without the West. It's finished whether you get cut to pieces in some dumb New Age looking Catholic church or an Orthodox Church with every surface covered with icons.

    The Bear will stay and fight to the end, not for the Pope and not for his country, but for the idea of a West betrayed by intellectuals. Aragorn could not give his rousing "Men of the West" speech before the gates of Mordor today. The shadow always takes a new shape, just like Gandalf said. All Sauron had to do was wait until there was no more West and change his name to Soros.

    Now the book ends with Boromir swarmed by Orcs and Denathor setting fire to himself and his posterity. The End. Everybody meets the end how they choose. Bears tend to go out on their hind legs, roaring with their vitals pierced by large caliber bullets.

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    1. Why is Owl Catholic? Because if one looks to history, Catholicism really is the only option. That those present places that call themselves Catholic often don't look like the historical Church is indeed a problem.

      However, if Owl flew into an Orthodox parish, what Owl would see is a parish that looks an awful lot like an Orthodox parish of yore, but also NOT like a parish of the historical Church.

      Owl was once Protestant and part of the journey was noticing that the drive to return to Confessional Protestantism (very big with Anglicans and the Reformed) doesn't land one back in a community that looks like the historical Church, just a community that looks and thinks a lot like 16th century Protestantism, with some very major differences.

      Owl gets it...people are seeking an authentic experience because your average western Catholic parish is typically serving up steaming synthetic pap. However authentic the Orthodox parish is, it still is an Orthodox parish. Owl thanks the Orthodox for being Orthodox but Owl desires Catholicism.

      When Owl converted to the Church, Owl had to choose between the East and the West. Like Great Bear, Owl is an Owl of the West not the East, even if Owl would rather be at an Eastern Rite parish (if there was one within a reasonable distance which there is not.)

      In this time where we know that we will not see the rising of the sun, that we will die in the desert after wandering for 40 years, Owl reminds those of Tolkien's poem Journey's End which hearkens back to that ancient poem The Wanderer.

      Here in the twilight of the West, we prepare our own graves. The dead burring the dead. Shall we have hope? Or shall it too be snatched from us? Do not let the light of hope, which shall exist when all things have been lost, and it shall not be snuffed out by The Mercy^tm.

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