Western Rite Critic

A Balance to Contagious Enthusiasm

Holy Toledo, Batman! What a beautiful Explanation!


Responding to: “BTW, I have never had any Western Rite detractor actually *tell* me what phrases or portions of St. Gregory’s or St. Tikhon’s liturgies are actually expressing vile heterodox dogmas. It is usually just a vague complaint that it “isn’t Orthodox” followed by no clear reason why that is so.”

“First, it doesn’t really matter whether any Orthodox believer can give anyone a clear reason for anything. Orthodoxy isn’t about clear reasons; it’s about a revelation that’s beyond reasons. Historically, particular clear reasons had been formulated over long periods of time in answer to particular alien attacks on revelation. When I receive the heavenly Spirit on Sundays, the furthest thing from my mind are clear reasons. As a reminder, academic-style theology is a RECENT transpiration in Orthodoxy, and its similarity to Latinist rationalizing is not without controversy.

Second, I sympathize with your position, but the problem with the Western Rite is that it’s coming out of a heretical West. Heresy has infected the West for centuries and it takes long periods of hindsight to distinguish between heretical stuff and stuff that simply reflects innocuously different cultural forms. That none of the “detractors” makes that determination at this point in time isn’t an argument against those folks. Rather, your expectation that they should be able to make such a determination is simply an outgrowth of your impatience with the unhurried way in which Orthodoxy deals with such matters.

I hope that I don’t seem harsh, because I really do sympathize with your position. The outreach function of the Western Rite addresses a real need: Eastern stuff is foreign to the Western mind and requires the changing of a weltanschauung acquired over a lifetime. This is a huge issue.

You’re absolutely correct about the necessity for a convert’s belief in Orthodoxy as the repository of revealed Truth. When I talk to enquirers and catechumens, I spell out the matter as a dichotomy: Truth v. utility. If one is looking for a church on every corner or being able to live amongst lots of fellow believers or being able to choose among lots of similarly-believing potential spouses or some other utilitarian or ethnic convenience, Orthodoxy ain’t the place to be. Believing in Truth entails a kind of martyrdom, and many Westerners aren’t equipped for it.

I’ve always hated the “Western Rite as reverse Uniat” argument. To me, such an argument implicitly questions the sincerity of Western Riters’ belief in Orthodoxy. The real issue is whether the Western Rite conveys a REALITY, not whether its adherents are sincere Orthodox.” – [source]

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January 31, 2008 Posted by | -- Phyletism, Western Rite Liturgics, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Conversion or Affiliation?


“You see, I think part of the problem lies in the fact that certain Orthodox converts are evangelized using a faulty technique. We want them to join our Church because they are dissatisfied with their church’s liturgy or ceremonial or devotions. I call it the “look-how-prettty-our-icons-are” method of evangelism. It is cheap and it makes amateur liturgical connoisseurs of an orientalist stripe. It doesn’t make real converts. I insist that the only legitimate reason to convert to the Orthodox Christian faith is if you come to believe that the Orthodox Church is THE Church founded by Jesus Christ. If you come to that conclusion it shouldn’t matter if the liturgy you go to on Sundays is St. John Chrysostom’s in Slavonic or St. James’ in Syriac- you will know that the reason you are there has to do with more than just liturgy. ” –

It’s interesting that the author of the series to which the above writer is responding, would go on to write this: “I like being “mechanically religious” a lot more than I like living for God, but I know which of the two is the correct way to do things.”

The question becomes, of course, whether or not the converts currently filling out the Western rite, really see it as a conversion of the kind described above, or merely a better affiliation. THAT question determines a lot.

January 30, 2008 Posted by | -- Catechesis & Conversion, -- Evangelism, Western Rite Quotes | , , , | Leave a comment

Neither East nor West


“So it is with Orthodox Christians. I have no idea why an Anglican or Roman Catholic would have me believe that when the Church became involved in the Palamite controversy, it was simply arguing “semantics” and describing things in an “Eastern way”. That’s a bunch of B.S. St. Gregory and the Fathers before him and after him are describing reality when they speak of what happens during prayer and during mystical experience. It is experiential and universal. That is why Slavic monks who are descendants of Vikings and live in a country with extensive Western European influence describe the same thing. That is why Romanian monks who speak a Romance language (like Spanish or Italian) and live in country bordering Hungary and looking like this also describe the Uncreated Light. The whole “Eastern” label is really old and lame. Buddhism is Eastern. Shinto is Eastern. Islam is Eastern. Greek is not Eastern. If you study Western philosophy, you read Plato. You don’t read Lao Tzu. The uncreated light is neither Eastern nor Western. It is a description of reality and it is human. If the most authentic, most pure, and least spiritually dangerous and deceptive form of ascetic practice and life of prayer was preserved in the Eastern Roman Empire because that is where the Holy Catholic Church survived… well is that so weird? And expecting this to be normative for all honest Orthodox Christians is not culturally biased or an attempt to Byzantinize anything. It is simply being consistent and honest.” [source]

Of course, this line of reasoning can be utilized quite differently than the author intended.

January 29, 2008 Posted by | -- What is Western?, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , | 5 Comments

Roman Catholic points out WRO Weakness


A great critique of WRO thinking from [this source]

“I have written apologias on my own blog for Roman Catholicism, and to tell the truth, it just feels that your advocacy of a Western rite in Orthodoxy can go not much further than the level of abstraction. To have attachments to Western externals while denying the theological patrimony of the Western Church would make me say, “Thanks, but no thanks”. These externals were the result of a coherent world view that were expressions of “heretical” concepts in your eyes. Case in point: Marian devotion in Hispanic culture. Most of the Virgins that are venerated are Inmaculadas, that is, representations of the Immaculate Conception as the vision of the Woman in the Apocalypse. The most famous of these is the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico City. (That is where you get the tradition of celebrating Mass in blue vestments: it is only permitted for the Mass of a Virgin who is also an Inmaculada.) The historical greeting in many circumstances in the Spanish speaking world has been, “Ave Maria Purisisma! Sin pecado concebida!” – Arturo Vasquez

So the question becomes obvious. Can one really adopt the 16th century Anglican prayer book, the 20th century Roman Catholic fasting rules, and a mishmash of vestments, calendar items and formats, postures, and gestures, prayers and species, hymns and pieties… a buffet menu of mostly post-schism Western history, and not adopt the attitudes and psychology (or preserve that psychology, for converts) of those periods and the whole of their history? Or if you repudiate that psychology, why keep the forms and claim they are your Western heritage.

In fact, we are faced with the very real question of whether the Western rite represents a genuine Western Orthodoxy at all, or rather a poor substitute, which is actually shortchanging a genuine Western Orthodox mind, while giving false support to one that remains essentially heterodox. At best, might it not currently represent the very piecemeal museum-collection that one so often finds in self-made groups like the CEC.

January 28, 2008 Posted by | -- Anglican, Western Rite Liturgics, Western Rite Questions | , , , , , | 20 Comments

Franchises & Startups Available


One WR enthusiast blog is running this ad:

We’re running this one:

We think this addresses the essential issues. True, it’s not constructive criticism, but that doesn’t seem to phase them anyway, so we might as well have a sense of humor. 🙂

January 28, 2008 Posted by | -- Evangelism, Western Rite Weirdness | , , , , | Leave a comment

Thought you said the clothes make the man?


It is not uncommon to hear WRV priests citing as an “authority” the Ukase of Met. Sergius in 1936. It’s interesting that protocol 10 of that Ukase states that “At their ordination they are to be vested in dress of Western form.” Albeit, the 1958 edict of Met. Anthony said nothing about it either way, but if you’re going to cite something as an authority, do you get to pick and choose? Not that we have any issues with the wonderful Eastern vestments used in the recent round of WRV ordinations, but don’t they? I mean, you know, how can they be at home in… you know… another culture’s clothes?

Anyway, we think it’s time you had a real dose of Western culture. Why not? The clothes are cooler, the music’s more romantic, and the history is more accurate. From the days when might made rite:

January 28, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite Weirdness | , , , , | 1 Comment

WR: The New Hybrid


Les Enfants TerribleAbstract: Enfants Terribles: The Challenge of Sectarian Converts to Ethnic Orthodox Churches in the United States
by Phillip Charles Lucas

[This article] considers two case studies of collective conversions to Eastern Orthodoxy to illustrate the most pressing challenges faced by ethnic Orthodox congregations who attempt to assimilate sectarian groups into their midst. I argue that these challenges include: 1) the different understandings of ecclesiology held by former Protestant sectarians and by “cradle” Orthodox believers; 2) the pan-Orthodox aspirations of sectarian converts versus the factionalism found in ethnically-based American Orthodox jurisdictions; 3) the differing pastoral styles of former sectarian ministers and Orthodox priests; 4) the tendency of sectarian converts to embrace a very strict reading of Orthodoxy and to adopt a critical and reformist attitude in relations with cradle Orthodox communities; and 5) the covert and overt racism that sometimes exists in ethnic Orthodox parishes. I suggest that the increasing numbers of non-ethnic converts to ethnic Orthodox parishes may result in increased pressure to break down ethnic barriers between Orthodox communities and to form a unified American Orthodox Church. These conversions may also lead to the growth of hybrid Orthodox churches such as the Charismatic Episcopal Church.

This is prescient. However, it seems the new hybrid is actually the Western Rite itself!

January 26, 2008 Posted by | -- Catechesis & Conversion, -- Phyletism, Western Rite -- Pan-Orthodoxy, Western Rite Seminal Material | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Totemism and the Monks of Aix-le-Chapelle


Easter Island Totem StatuesIt’s already been said that the American Orthodox Church is Eastern; She was founded by Eastern saints, sent by Eastern Churches, and the liturgies were translated into the local language, just as had done St. Cyril to the Slavs. But when there really was a Western Church, we were not East and West but One. Culture was not worshipped and exalted to a point that it became the source of division. We’ve been down this path already. The first time the Eastern and Western monks were really not at home with each others’ rites, was in Jerusalem, when monks who had visited the court of Charlemagne brought home the filioque innovation. And as the depth of the heresy came to be debated, culture meanwhile came to be exalted, and spun out on its own. It isn’t hard to contend that the WRV is, in pattern, form, and substance a template from that first tragic beginning of schism. No one has yet called it a Western Rite Schism, but give it time; the imported ideology that surrounds it, from traditions that have fragmentation as their sine qua non, is liable to see that day.

In fact, the very sign of schism not as a formality, but as a matter of general policy (i.e. Protestantism and its federations of groups all in informal schism with one another) is when God is totemized into a cultural expression of ourselves. Durkheim described the process of totemism, whereby we externalize our own cultural expressions, until gradually in the expressionism of whatever iconography we use (statues, totem poles, romanesque painting…) we get a God who is a collection of our own cultural values. Protestant minister and sociologist Tony Campolo uses the examples of a black church, in which they took down the Irish Sunday school teacher’s picture of Jesus and put up a new picture, in which Jesus was a black man. Not far away was a Chinese Catholic Church and in the stained glass windows, Jesus was Chinese! Campolo points out that what we had done to kick this off was thinking Jesus was a westerner like us, a white man. He contends that we too are guilty of the process of totemism elaborated in a more sophisticated way by social anthropologists like Durkheim. We reproduce God, says Campolo as the Apostle warns, in our own image, not content to fashion ourselves in His image. His conclusion? We must repent – we cannot know God as God is, unless we repent. One cannot miss the mocking similarity between much of what is being done in the name of WR ‘missionary work’ and the process of totemism, and it begs the original question that the eminent writers who have been quoted all over this site have been asking, along w. Campolo: What is it that we are really calling people to convert to?

January 25, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite Questions | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Model for a real WR.


Saint Sava - icon of catholicityCan there be a Western rite? Of course. One of the things the enthusiasts do is polarize the debate (create factions instead of discussion) by labelling all their opponents anti-WR. Many of us can sing Gregorian with the best of them, have the books, and even use Western liturgical prayers in our private devotions, knowing them very well and how to say them properly. Many of us keep, discreetly, a number of Western pieties that are very old, from when there was one Church. Who said anything about being anti-WR? What we are against, in many cases, is the confusion of a rite with a religion, something the WR enthusiasts state frequently that they’re not doing, but evidence in so many other disturbing ways. What then, the question comes from the moderate mind, can we do? Perhaps the best answer for an Orthodox attitude about what the Church might look like, re-imagined, harmoniously neither Eastern nor Western comes from a place we recently “bombed back to the stone age” to quote the hawks.

‘At first we were confused. The East thought that we were West while the West considered us to be the East,’ Some of us misunderstood our place in this clash of currents, so they cried that we belong to neither side, and others that we belong exclusively to one side or the other. But I tell you, Irinej, we are doomed by fate to be the East in the West, and the West in the East, to acknowledge only heavenly Jerusalem beyond us and here on earth — no-one. – St Sava (Nemanjic, 1175-1235), the founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church, writing in an epistle

A recent work of Balkan historiography is entitled, Elli Skopetea’s I Dysi tis Anatolis, which can be translated as “The West of the East” or “The East’s West.”

You see? We dream false dreams now. We dream of being Eastern Orthodox or Western Orthodox, and get so excited to go here or go there to find the Church. But this writer dreams of a Church that is neither Eastern nor Western in that way, but catholic. An East of the West, A West of the East. When it is that, it will have our full support. Not synthesis, but fullness. We present to you Saint Sava, icon of catholicity.

January 25, 2008 Posted by | -- What is Western?, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The WR in 10-20 years.


Many of you liked the timeline. Think about this: It won’t be long now, maybe 10-20 years, that you’ll hear questions like: “You used to be Episcopalian, and you’re from Omaha, so why aren’t you Western Rite?” If you try to ask what your former religion and your ethnicity have to do with it, you’ll hear that this is the way Westerners are supposed to worship. In other words, we’ll be reaching a time when if you’re born in the West, you’ll be thought odd and morbidly fascinated with esoterica if you prefer the fullness of churches that sing the Eastern liturgies to the crypto-Anglicanism of the WRV.

Likewise: you’ll hear, as someone gasps at icons whose saints have vaguely “Eastern” names: “What are those Saints doing there? Isn’t this a Western Rite parish? Why can’t we have all Western saints?” Doubt it? It’s already being discussed on the web, in exactly those words. And it amounts to asking what to do about the “Eastern question” or the Eastern “problem”. It only takes one academic who needs an original term paper to use the word “problem”. Feels like the 1930s.

You’ll hear things like, “Well, we have St. Nicholas, and he’s Eastern, but I grew up with Christmas, and we do it in a Romanesque style, so it’s ok. But we limit that; we don’t want a bunch of Eastern icons everywhere.” Yes, Eastern will just about become a swear word. You’ll quote a saint, and someone will say, “Well, of course that’s an Eastern saint, whereas I’m Western Orthodox.”

What we’re making is not the fullness of an Orthodoxy re-imagining that glorious cross-fertilization of ancient times, when Eastern fathers like St. Photius venerated with great reverence the pious St. Augustine in the West, asking “Who dares speak against him?”, and yet those Eastern Fathers like St. Photius, St. Maximus, and St. Mark of Ephesus also saved the Church, when St. Augustine’s speculations would have made us all into worshippers of imaginary concepts, as indeed the West became when it went whoring after the imaginary god and into schism.

But in our heyday, East and West were not the Americanists we see finding justification now, in an ecceliastical parliament of xenophobes, busy ethnically-cleansing the Church of all that smacks of the East, rather than letting a gradual and actual conversion occur. Much of what is being done is not creating a home in Orthodoxy for WR converts, so much as creating a separate religious confession. Not so much Western Orthodox, but something actually neither Western nor Orthodox. Hegel gave us this. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis. The WR, in many ways, is the religion of synthesis, rather than the fullness of cross-fertilization of the whole Church.

It’s becoming a camp, not of converts but of concepts. It should be called the rite of St. Augustine, except it would be so irreverent to that saintly man, and Rite of Augustinists just isn’t catchy. Maybe the Rite of Pat Buchanan’s Immigration Policies. Didn’t he want to build a wall too? Yes, it won’t take long before you’ll hear the ultimate expression of liturgical correctness: “He’s not a real Western Orthodox. He’s Western on the outside, but Byzantine in the middle.” Americanism as a liturgical expression that becomes an ecclesiological politics. This is going to be just great.

January 25, 2008 Posted by | -- Phyletism, -- What is Western?, Western Rite Questions | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Credit where it’s due


Liturgy of Saint? Thomas CranmerIt’s time we fessed up and stopped plagiarizing. If you’re going to be Anglican Rite Orthodox, put the words “Liturgy of Thomas Cranmer.” on the cover. In fact, a glorification might be in order. Liturgy of St. Thomas (Cranmer). We have excellent editions of both the old one and the Edwardian Rite, and it’s painful to see their work basically ripped off without proper credit, or stamping Eastern Saints names on it (like St. Tikhon). How un-Western of us. Why the need to appeal to an Eastern Saint for your rite, if it’s a Western rite?

That brings up another point. Western Rite people are going around reversing the meaning of scripture, prophesy, and tradition for this, with novel new apologetics. We all know that Christ will come from East to West, that our tradition accords great meaning to the origin, to what comes “out of the East”. Did you know the new ‘word’ is that, “Well, it’s coming to the West!” Gee, a reversal of our pieties just for a quickie apologetic, and there’s not even a punch line. For shame. Oh well. They’ll probably start wearing their rings on the left hand and crossing themselves backwards too, in the name of whatever anti-Pope came up with that one. Next thing you’ll be hearing is that the WR is closer to the temple worship of old, and then it won’t be long. You guessed it: you’ll hear that Jesus was Western Rite!

January 24, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite Questions | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Second Norman Invasion


Book of Kells Celtic Orthodox Icon“The Western Rite Vicariate of the Antiochian Archdiocese has determined that the appropriate form of iconography for Western Rite Churches is the Romanesque Art of the Medieval Western Church. Just as there are specific canons or required characteristics for Byzantine iconography, so there are set characteristics for the Western Rite iconography based on the Romanesque style. Thus, it can be seen that both Eastern Rite and Western Rite icons are never to be mere decoration, never just attractive pictures. They are always deliberately “surreal” reflecting the mystical world they represent. Some of the characteristics of Western iconography based on Romanesque models include a certain simplicity of line and color with bright colors predominating.” [St. Columba Orthodox Church]

‘Romanesque art refers to the art of Western Europe from approximately 1000 AD to the rise of the Gothic style, which rose in the 13th century or later, depending on region. “Byzantine influences,” by way of Italy, found echoes in Romanesque art from the late eleventh century onward. Romanesque architecture is the term that is used to describe the architecture of Europe which emerged in the late 10th century and evolved into the Gothic style during the 12th century. The Romanesque style in England is more traditionally referred to as Norman architecture.’ [wiki]

January 24, 2008 Posted by | -- What is Western?, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Um… it’s bowels, not heart.


http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/general/monasteryicons.aspx“We do have the Feast of the Sacred Heart in the Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate, and it’s based entirely upon the excellent liturgical texts from the Breviary and the Missal, not upon the excesses of the popular devotion (popular devotion can be crazy, whether its Orthodox or Catholic).” – Lux Occidentalis

‘From the time of the apostles there has always been in the Church something like devotion to the love of God, but there is nothing to indicate that, during the first ten centuries of Christianity, any worship was rendered to the wounded Heart of Jesus. It is in the eleventh and twelfth centuries that the first indications of devotion to the Sacred Heart are found. It was in the fervent atmosphere of the Benedictine or Cistercian monasteries, in the world of Anselmian or Bernardine thought, that the devotion arose, although it is impossible to say positively what were its first texts or who were its first devotees. From the 16th centuray the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was everywhere in evidence, largely due to the Franciscan devotion to the Five Wounds and to the habit formed by the Jesuits of placing the image on their title-page of their books and the walls of their churches. Nevertheless, the devotion remained an individual, or at least a private, devotion. Jean Eudes (1602-1680) made it public, gave it an Office, and established a feast for it. Père Eudes was the apostle of the Heart of Mary; but in his devotion to the Immaculate Heart there was a share for the Heart of Jesus. The most significant source for the devotion to the Sacred Heart in the form it is known today was Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690), who claimed to have received visions of Jesus Christ. There is nothing to indicate that she had known the devotion prior to the revelations, or at least that she had paid any attention to it.’ [source] [discussion] [Monastery Icons]

It’s more gore, along with the stations of the cross. Better Al Gore than this gore. Besides, we touch our bowels when we cross ourselves, not the heart. But that could get even worse.

As for “Windows to Heaven”, instead of the declaration, “He who is”, the icon comes with lucky charms. To be fair, this icon hasn’t popped up in any WR environment that we know of, even if the other spooky icons are ubiquitous in Roman Catholic curio shops masquerading as Orthodox iconography – but it did come up in a discussion on the web, and so it works here to lend illustration to the point.

January 24, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite -- Sacred Heart, Western Rite -- Stations of the Cross, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

He gets it Rite.


Per Christum web siteFrom an excellent discussion at per Christum, with many more implications than are yet being observed:

“In the North American Antiochian Archdiocese, the answer is that is should look like the Tridentine, Counter Reformation, Roman Catholicism. Indeed, the liturgical standards for the AWRO are publicly and expressly those of the of the Anglican Missal & Ritual Notes or the 1962 Latin Missal (translated to English) and Fortesque’s Ceremonial.

Personally, I find this bizarre, to say the least, because Tridentine Catholic Doctrine (whether Anglo- or Roman) and the Liturgics that embody it (which the AWRO does to the nth) has little or nothing in common with the Western Orthodoxy of the First Millennium. To the contrary, Tridentine Counter-Reformation Catholicism (and its later aping by Victorian Anglo-Catholics) represents the fully developed embodiment of everything sectarian (that is herterodox) and wrong about Western Christianity since the Great Schism!!

In other words, regardless of pragmatic concerns, AWRO is in kind if not degree as egregious as slapping an icon on the wall of your local Universalist Unitarian church and relabeling it “Orthodox.” And, this simply won’t do. As we say in the South, you can put lipstick and a dress on a sow and call her Peggy Sue, but she still ain’t nothin’ but a big fat pig. Indeed, at a minimum, the revival of WRO must actually involve the use of liturgical practices at least based on pre-schism, Western Orthodox doctrine, spirituality and piety. In this regard, I do believe that ROCOR’s version of WRO is much more closer to be authentic.”

January 24, 2008 Posted by | -- Anglican, Western Rite -- Tridentine Mass, Western Rite Liturgics, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

A Cause for Bigotry


“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” — St. Paul

The institutionalization of divisions between us comes not so much from acts of the Church as from Orthodox publishing and media. The term “cradles” in contrast with “converts” is one example, fitting well in the glossary with “ethnics” and “non-ethnics” (by which everyone means ‘Americans’, the cultural hegemony of the age and exporters of Walmart, even if they can’t bring themselves to say it). And we don’t hear Christ anymore who, consistently, showed us that we all need to convert. The apostles were cradle-Orthodox, lest we forget. Everyone converts. Everyone is born anew into Christ. Some just do it earlier than others. And as for ethnics/non-ethnics (or Jew vs. Greek – same thing), it’s just another example, on the one hand, of the equation of ‘American’ with a political-cultural-religious concept that is clearly demonic. And on the other hand, it shows we don’t believe our own gospel. We don’t; you know it, and any independent observer can see it.

The enthusiasts for much that’s being done in the name of “Western Rite”, will claim that any criticism, any questions that don’t roll over for straw men, appeals to authority, and sometimes outright lies, are also creating a division. It’s like blaming the central park jogger, really, for being dressed in too short a skirt. What the WR gang has done, though, is initiate a fundamental assault on Orthodox ecclesiology, and then claim that if we don’t evolve with it, we’re divisive. The factious man is the one who attacks the holy doctrines of our faith in the first place. Continue reading

January 22, 2008 Posted by | -- Catechesis & Conversion, -- Phyletism, Western Rite Questions | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Beautiful Western Pieties


A neat Western Orthodox piety: it is a pious custom to cleanse the palate with wine or water immediately after communion, and then to fast from all other food or drink for an hour, out of honor, because we have received the True Food that fulfills all food, and the true Drink that quenches all thirst.

Another pious custom: to remove watches when going to liturgy, because the liturgy is the cosmic liturgy in which the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ is made present, so that time in the liturgy is not the same kind of time as in the world. Heaven and Earth are joined and the Church is Heaven on Earth in which God walks around. Continue reading

January 19, 2008 Posted by | -- Phyletism, Western Rite Pieties | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Three Unholy Forms of Authority


  • In pentecostalism, one gives up sovereignty of will, and intellect to the glossolalia of the emotions. A “word of prophesy” with no sound basis, can suddenly command the thinking and actions of followers. A leader too, may be accorded a “mantle” of apostleship, so that nothing can be reasonably challenged. After all, “touch not God’s annointed”.
  • In the evangelical “discipleship and submission movement” (also called “shepherding”), one gives up sovereignty of will and intellect to a strong leader. Think of it as evangelico-fascism. The talk is ever of “obedience”, and the most useful in these movements are the helper and the true believer. They justify and enable the subjugation of everyone else.
  • It’s no accident that it sounds like a Protestant version of Jesuitical thinking. The same notion that the word of a hierarch “makes something so” is very much in keeping with the priest, in the mass, causing by his words the transmutation and, in confession, absolving sins on his own “authority” and that of the Church. Continue reading

January 19, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite Pieties | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Brief History of Rites


Diet Rite: For those prefer an abbreviated rite without all those lengthy prayers and repetitions like the Russians do. Alternately, this refers to an attitude about any rite that sees it purely as a matter for glue and scissors.

Stride Rite: For those who prefer pews and kneelers to the tradition that the Church pray standing, but who still say they’re going back to their Western heritage (i.e. just not that far back). Besides, it makes the comfortable Orthodox look bad.

Rite Aid: The practice of putting Eastern liturgical snippets in Anglican prayerbooks, whether as Sunday inserts or with some tape or glue. Beware Anglicans, groups of disgruntled Episcopalians may be going to work on your BCP’s this Saturday night. You could wake up and find yourself (just like the books) . . . Suddenly Orthodox!

Continue reading

January 19, 2008 Posted by | -- Anglican, -- Phyletism, Western Rite -- Tridentine Mass, Western Rite Liturgics, Western Rite Weirdness | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Timeline in the Future


tempus actum praegressus est

2038 The largest and fastest growing (for an estimated 25-30 years) group of Orthodox in the US has been using a Western Rite and refers to itself as Western Orthodox. It is essentially a revised Anglicanism with the filioque stripped out and a few technical changes. The Western Orthodox Church becomes normative for converts to Orthodoxy, and even for children of immigrants, as the older generation dies off. A process of dual-rite and then, in some-cases wholly Western rite services becomes the norm for many historic Orthodox Churches in America. This is never entirely the case, as in fact a new fascination for the perceived byzantine and ethnic content of the old rites is popular in some circles. A trend of condemning such “ethnic-fetishism” prevails.

2039 A US law is passed at the behest of powerful Church leaders, exempting from corporate audit discretionary funds of any amount which are in the direct or general control of a hierarch of any Church which can show existence pre-dating the US Constitution. Critics cry that religious groups are given special favor not available to corporations, and the Act is later modified somewhat, with interesting concessions granted to corporate entities that qualify for a new “super-corporate” status.

2040-2043 A pan-Orthodox American council is convened, out of which a single American Orthodox Church is declared. In 2042, the Metropolitain of the former Orthodox Church in America, who some say was placing too many conditions on union, is forcibly removed from office and placed in a mental institution. Critics are placed under a ban of silence, threatened with deprivation of the mysteries. A suit is filed in US Federal Court in 2043, but the Met. Mark of All America and Canada dies while under care, effectively silencing the argument. Some suggest the death was mysterious, but an official investigative commission is appointed, composed of federal and ecclesiastical representatives, and its official report finds that the Metropolitan’s deteriorating mental condition was due to a physical defect, and no foul play was found. The results of the 2043 sobor essentially eclipse concern about this and it is quickly, in most circles, forgotten.

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January 19, 2008 Posted by | -- Eschatology, Western Rite -- Pan-Orthodoxy, Western Rite Weirdness | , , , , | 1 Comment

The threefold anathema on real discussion


So often the proponents of the WR rely on an out and out dismissal of concerns and an appeal to authority, without genuine consideration or discussion. All new discussion is considered out of vogue. All old discussion is swept into the categories of prejudice, fear of change, or misunderstanding. You know, though, this is really part of the way the culture approaches conflict. The theory is that all conflict is a result of:

  • misunderstanding: they disagree, because they don’t get it, they don’t understand that…
  • madness: they’ve obviously got some “deeper” issues, some personal problems with it
  • malice: they’re full of hate and are just trying to sabotage and cause us problems

With this theory, there can be no real, substantive conflict over genuine and honest differences of thought that merit a reasoned discussion. Painting opponents into the three categories indicates it is a culture not of discussion, or even of honest dialogue, but of propaganda. The sad thing is that it means in “American” cultural dialogue and the religious dialogue that draws on its assumptions, a reasoned, thoughtful discussion of concerns, which must credit the other side with intelligence and sincerity, cannot occur. If that is what the Western Rite depends upon, then it actually underscores our reasons for concern.

January 18, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite Questions | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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