Western Rite Critic

A Balance to Contagious Enthusiasm

Lent: Lion and Lamb


Some years ago, in a discussion, an academic was exalting some acquired ‘knowledge’ and accusing an opponent of ignorance and various passions. The man’s response was to say “I have no knowledge of God, and I am guilty of all passions. Indeed, start from that.’ The answer came back “Thou thyself hath said it”. It was clear then that this person knew many academic facts, but almost nothing of how Orthodox people properly interact with one another. Evidently, in all the training, that was missed. They were speaking a different language.

Someone who has not lived in other worlds – other nations, cultures, etc. for extended periods of time, tends to find it hard to think outside the box. Take the ritualized humility of many of the great Asian cultures, wherein someone calls you on the phone and invites you eagerly to his house for a meal but apologizes repeatedly that there is not much food in the house. A western reaction might be to offer to stop and buy some groceries, or to bring a course or two. But of course, this is exactly the wrong reaction, and could be insulting if pressed. The person has plenty of food in the house, or he wouldn’t have invited you. The reason for his words is not readily apparent to Western ears, and it will seem silly, dishonest, or at least confusing. It has to be understood by living in it.

In the case of Orthodoxy, sadly, when it is not very noticeable even among our own people, how much harder it is to learn our way. And even if one does, it might alienate you further from even other Orthodox who aren’t used to it or misunderstand it. The result is that everything gets reduced to the level of the culture and its standard and norms, rather than elevated to life in the Kingdom.

As we go into Lent, and we cease to kill animals for food, preparing for the fullness of the kingdom, whereby lion will lie down with lamb, and little children will lead them. … as we prepare for the end of death, and our deepest remembrance of death, perhaps its more fitting to devour animals than to devour one another.

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February 15, 2008 - Posted by | Western Rite Issues | , , , ,

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