Western Rite Critic

A Balance to Contagious Enthusiasm

Daydream Believers

no-waiting.jpg“Should the Church be “less ethnic?” In some places, yes. But how do you solve that? Do you simply go in and say, “I’m a convert and Irish. Your dependence on Russian (or Greek or Arabic, etc.) offends me and inhibits the faith. Stop it!” Our Church has come so far in the past forty years. It is light years ahead of the Church in 1957. But someone who has been Orthodox since 1994 cannot appreciate that or have the patience to grow at a slower pace. They have seen what Orthodoxy can be, and wonder why others don’t. The fact is that this is the Church and these are the people we have been given. God has asked us to work to save all of them, not just the ones who have “seen” the fulness of the Faith and been converted. To fall into that type of thinking is as bad as all those who want to save the Church for “our people,” whatever flavor of people that may be. Please remember that “American” is just as ethnic as “Russian!”

It would be infinitely more difficult for these converts to flood the existing churches and begin the transformation process patiently from within. It is much easier to establish a “mission” a couple of miles from existing parishes and composed of the “right” kind of believer, which will leech parishioners away and ultimately cripple the existing parishes. But which is actually more “missionary,” to simply start a new parish where one already exists or to work for the repentance and growth of existing parishes?

The last problem with it is that we forget that it is God who established the Church, God who strengthens the Church, God who guides the Church, God who saves the Church. A true convert is one who repents of his sins and returns to God. To that length, the whole Church is to be composed of “converts.”

– [Cradle Born Thoughts], Fr. John Dresko


February 6, 2008 - Posted by | -- Catechesis & Conversion, -- Phyletism, Western Rite Quotes | , , , ,


  1. I may be of no help here. Forgive my unworthiness. I was attempting to address what I saw as the subtext of your questions.

    On the issue of dialogues with other religious groups, I disagree. I could take as my text the Eastern Patriarchs’ correspondence w. the Non-Jurors. “Trouble us no more.” And I also take the letters of all the abbots and monks of Mt. Athos to various Patriarchs. As far as I’m concerned, when he monks rise up en masse, I’ll stand w. them. Apart from them, we have no Faith. They are our superheroes. May they ever prevail on our behalves.

    But again, I may not be the best person to discuss this with. These issues are old, already well-discussed, and have moved into fairly well definable camps of thought, w. their own bodies of literature. What could I say that hasn’t already been said. Perhaps someone else here prefers to add something new.

    Comment by tuD | February 6, 2008 | Reply

  2. tuD: I am merely responding to your posting of “Daydream Believers” which raised a couple of pertinent questions (mind you questions NOT pronouncements). If my inquiry is considered meddling, progressive, heterodox, modernist, Protestant, or whatever other adjectives you wish to use; then please forgive my ignorance and intrusion as no such impiety was intended.

    Comment by parchemente | February 6, 2008 | Reply

  3. Maybe someone else will have your answers. I was saying that once I have communicated that the faith is not a philosophy to be analyzed by the curious, that’s pretty much all I have to say.

    Orthodoxy doesn’t consider all questions as meriting a response. My old Bishop used to say, for instance, “Don’t answer the merely curious.”

    Russia, incidentally IS the birthplace of OUR orthodoxy. North America is the spiritual child of Russia. She gave us most of our Saints. And even the AOA was formed by them splitting off from the Russian Church and appealing to Antioch to start a separate jurisdiction. As far as I’m concerned, every cornfed whitebread Midwestern Orthodox from the heartland is just as Russian as the next guy, if he holds the faith we’ve been delivered.

    It’s frankly a modernist, secularist philosophy of culture that reduces these things to questions of culture. In Orthodoxy, we honor our spiritual parents by never just wholesale (and certainly never quickly), modifying the way they taught us to do things. Piety is not contained in academics or in religious philosophy creating a theoretical Church of the right type, mix, culture, or qualifications.

    Rather, true piety is in the organic pious behavior of real people, in a thriving Church, who have real spiritual children. For example, it is pious to keep the pious customs of your spiritual father (he who led you to the Faith) even if you go and live among others who do not keep them. This is out of preserving the very attitude for which you owe your very life and existence. For shame, those patricides who revile that which they learned from those who gave them the holy light. How unlike sons. How dishonoring of their father and mother. How unChristian. So if those who led us, led us with bows and standing in prayer, who do we think we are to cast it off as merely “Russian”. Faith of our Fathers.

    I will go to my grave honoring the one who led me. I will keep the pieties I learned from him – if for no other reason, than that I learned them from him. And in keeping w. the Orthodox tradition, I will never reduce or replace anything, but will only add to those pieties, fullness upon fullness, ultrabaroque, until the iconostasis of the soul rises to the roof.

    I will not help someone create, out of theory, out of progressivist meddling, an “Americanized” Orthodoxy. The very way the question is framed is heterodox and alien to our Faith. And if all other Orthodox around me wish to do it, then they’ll do it w/o my help. These are not things we have to go along with. God preserve us.

    Comment by tuD | February 6, 2008 | Reply

  4. I wholehearted agree with you and Fr. Dresko in regards to that point, “namely, that people who are converting, or haven’t yet converted, or who have just converted, seem to write inordinate amounts of material on what is what, what should/shouldn’t be.” However this does not change the fact that we are in America and Russian or Greek or Arabic will remain ethnic; furthermore, the questions still remain “Perhaps the existence of WR is the failure to realize this?” and “What exactly does a truly orthodox expression of American (Western) Orthodoxy look like? Russia after all is not the birth place of Orthodoxy”

    Comment by parchemente | February 6, 2008 | Reply

  5. But I think you may be illustrating the Father’s point – namely, that people who are converting, or haven’t yet converted, or who have just converted, seem to write inordinate amounts of material on what is what, what should/shouldn’t be. The canons forbid this. The new convert is not to teach or to speak on behalf of Orthodoxy. Both to protect others from the distortions that he will provide, and to protect his own mind from the delusion that he understands.

    Comment by tuD | February 6, 2008 | Reply

  6. “There are all sorts of reasons that people are not Orthodox. There are all sorts of reasons that people cannot be Orthodox. Sometimes the example of Orthodoxy that is presented to them is not a very good example. God knows those reasons. But no one can tell me that because someone is not Orthodox, they are going straight to hell (should Mother Teresa fear for her salvation?). And for sure, no one can tell me that someone who is not “Orthodox” enough for some people is going to hell. God will judge everyone including the Orthodox.

    …But if we Orthodox are to truly begin to convert the world, we have to first love those in the world, no matter who they are. Perhaps newly-converted Orthodox need to recognize in their zeal for Orthodoxy that some people have to overcome a lifetime of thinking a certain way. That is not easy. And perhaps cradle-born Orthodox need to be a little less apathetic and careless with the Faith for which many people died in order to pass it down to us. When we “both” want to convert the world to the Church for the right reasons, God will bless and prosper those efforts.”

    Fr. Dresko in Cradle Born Thoughts

    Comment by parchemente | February 6, 2008 | Reply

  7. Fr. Dresko in the article quoted, continues:
    “The Church is not a sect. Finally, both newly-Chrismated converts and cradle-born Orthodox who continue to convert by their repentance must avoid turning the Church into a sect. There is a distinct and painfully shrill volume to much of the writing about Orthodoxy today. Lofty language condemning the “heretics” of this world (which in the vocabulary of this type of speaker means anyone who doesn’t see the Faith exactly as I do) is commonplace in much of today’s Orthodox writing and reflection.

    It almost seems as if these speakers confuse loving, respectful, pastoral outreach to those who are not members of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church with “aiding and comforting the enemy.” To be sure, the bland, watery, politically correct “openness” which accepts everyone as exactly the same with no distinction of belief is unacceptable to an Orthodox Christian. But those who say we should not even engage in dialogue with other groups because we deny our Orthodoxy are just plain wrong.”

    Comment by parchemente | February 6, 2008 | Reply

  8. “Please remember that ‘American’ is just as ethnic as ‘Russian!'” This sounds nice, but one can’t forget that we are in America, not Russia! Perhaps the existence of WR is the failure to realize this? What exactly does a truly orthodox expression of American (Western) Orthodoxy look like? Russia after all is not the birth place of Orthodoxy.

    Comment by parchemente | February 6, 2008 | Reply

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