Western Rite Critic

A Balance to Contagious Enthusiasm

What do Critics Really Think?


Many of the enthusiasts for current Western Rite initiatives have been saying for some time that the primary concerns of those questioning the wisdom of such initiatives were simple prejudice or unfamiliarity. In short, they have, in their rhetoric, reduced all criticism to self-refuting categories. They have not listened.

Poll results:

The results of our poll clearly show that the primary areas of concern are neither small minded nor nitpicking, but are areas of sociological substance and regarding the state of Orthodox spiritual psychology.

While we don’t pretend this is a sufficiently scientific poll, with requisite controls, sufficient sample size and demographics, etc, we do think it represents the most vocal who have concerns. The most significant concerns were Western/European Phyletism and an essentially Protestant mentality. There were also significant concerns, representing roughly 25% of respondents, about liturgics and devotional pieties not merely being “post-schism” but being in fact heterodox or “post-Orthodox”, as the discussion by respondents throughout this forum will show. None of the concerns, in fact, were merely trivial. Respondents who felt their concerns were not fully represented by the poll, cited expediency as the central concern (what one respondent termed “The Offer”). By expediency is meant the exchange of whole, vast, comprehensive areas of Orthopraxis and the Orthodox Phronema for an influx of conversions.

We therefore offer these results as indication that the vocal critics of much of what passes for “Western Rite” and Western Rite initiatives have substantive concerns that cannot be so easily dismissed, and have faithfully indicated poignant, reasonable, and pointed concern for the salvation of persons in both Western Rite and Eastern Rite, for the spiritual psychology of our religious bodies, and for the pan-Orthodox (read ecumenical) articulations of our Faith. To mischaracterize or dismiss these concerns as either pedestrian or irrelevant would be headstrong, prideful, and ill-advised. We offer this for your consideration.

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May 19, 2008 Posted by | -- Phyletism, Western Rite Questions | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Questions and Answers: AWRV


Q&AThis is a selection of questions and answers from “The Protomartyr” published in The Spotlight, a newsletter of the Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate in New Zealand:

QUESTION: Must the sermon follow the recessional hymn on normal Sundays?
ANSWER: . Not at all. The sermon is to be delivered after the Gospel, if the “Turner Missal” is used (old Tridentine style), or after the Creed if the Anglican style Liturgy is used. There is no provision for it being delivered at the end of The Liturgy.

QUESTION: Is the use of a confessional permitted for the sacrament of Penance?
ANSWER: If you like. Some of us prefer to hear confessions at the altar rail, or in front of an icon of Christ as is done in most Orthodox churches. We feel that it is important that our people make their confessions in our parish in the same way they would if they were attending any Orthodox church. In Orthodoxy, confessions do not follow the same legalistic pattern as is followed by Roman Catholics or Anglicans.

QUESTION: would our stautues have to be replaced with icons? Would we have to use icons at all?
ANSWER; No, You may keep your statues if you like, as long as they are not of post-schism “saints” or of events depicting things not accepted by Orthodoxy. (The “Immaculate Conception, for instance.)

QUESTION: Must blessed bread be distributed following Mass in a western-rite parish?
ANSWER: No! if you don’t want to. It is a very symbolic and useful custom, however, and something which may be distributed to all present, even if thcy are not orthodox. Sacraments, including Holy Communion, may not be administered to non-orthodox. (This, of course, does not include the initiatory sacraments of Baptism and Chrismation which bring one into the Orthodox Church.)

QUESTION: How would the architectural setting of the church be affected?
ANSWER: If your church is a traditional western catholic church, it would not be affected at all. The Mass may not be said facing the people, however, so if that is your practice and your church is set up for it, you might have to make an architectural change.

QUESTION: Why did you choose the Antiochian Archdiocese rather than one of the other jurisdictlons?
ANSWER: Because it is the best jurisdiction! In addition, it is the only cannonical Orthodox jurisdiction which has a western rite and actively supports and encourages it. There are many other reasons, including the fact that Orthodox churches from the Middle East are less influenced spiritually and pietistically by national or ethnic customs since they were never the “Established Religion” in the country of their original background. Many practices which non-Orthodox believe to be of the essence in Orthodoxy, and which they find somewhat hard to take, are actually nothing more than Russian ethnic
customs which have become important to those of Russian background and appear to those outside as “part of the Faith”. Such things are not as obvious or paramount in the Orthodox from the Middle East.

QUESTION: Is it permissable for women to serve on the vestry or board of trustees in an Orthodox parish?
ANSWER: But of course! We have four women on our vestry, and there are at least two women on the Archdiocesan Board of Trustees. We hear that some jurisdictions won’t allow women to serve in that capacity, but we like women! Women cou1d never even be considered for the priesthood or other ministerial offices anywhere in Orthodoxy, however, for that would be impossible for theological reasons.

QUESTION: Are western-rite parishes expected to “easternize” later on?
ANSWER: Positively not! As a matter of fact, they are not allowed to do so. Thc western-rite parishes operate under the Western-Rite Vicariate of our Archdiocese, and as such constitute a most important missionary outreach for Orthodoxy. We would certainly not have many W-R congregations if they were expected to “easternize”.

March 4, 2008 Posted by | -- Phyletism, Western Rite -- Tridentine Mass, Western Rite Liturgics, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , | 16 Comments

When You Receive no Answers


silenceNot giving an answer is actually something that Christ does all the time. In the Gospel, the woman came after him pleading – my daughter has a demon and we are miserable – Son of David – Messiah – Christ – heal her and save us. What did Christ do? He did not answer her.

What did you we do when someone doesn’t answer us?

The woman asked the Saints: Apostles of the Son of David, entreat him for me. Pray to Christ for me. What did the Saints do? They entreated Christ for her, as they always always will. “Lord, send her away.” which is to say not ‘throw her out’ but rather “Grant her request, and so make her go away, because she is crying after us incessantly.” Read it yourself. That’s what it says. And what did Christ do? He said no. “It is not proper to take away the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”

Would any of us do that, if your dogs were whining around the dinner table? Would we grab our children’s plates and give them to the animals? Continue reading

February 24, 2008 Posted by | -- Catechesis & Conversion, -- Phyletism, Western Rite Issues | , , , , | Leave a comment

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 | , , , , | 8 Comments

Children of The False Promise


dispensationchart.jpgIn the 1980s, with the ascendancy of Dallas Theological Seminary, and the influx of evangelicals en masse into political culture, we saw the rapid growth of dispensationalism not only as a religious underpinning of nearly all protestantism in the US, but also an underpinning of neoconservatism, reaganism, and modern political life. In short, it systematized the culture according to a religious philosophy, specifically a heresy that has become a cultural heresy.

domeontherock.jpgThe dispensationalist believes the heresy that there is another people of promise, other than the Church, who has access to a unique soteriology – namely, Israel. This correlates very neatly with the almost mindless support of Israel politically in the US since 1949 (and is the primary cause of the US’s hostile relationship with the Muslim world since that time).

In 1982, DTS (as a case study) flourished with their new theological Masters program, as the ideological and institutional center, of this movement in culture and religion. Even most evangelicals hadn’t heard of Ryrie or even Scofield before that. And in that same year, Israel invaded Lebanon, with US support. Hal Lindsey lit the bookshelves, TV, and radio, on precisely these subjects – Israel and “prophesy”. Just one year before (1981) is the beginning of the L-curve of “rapture” literature in the US – beginning with Chuck Smith (Edgar Whisenant would follow), and is also the year Reagan took office and the beginning of Reaganism and a new brand of neoconservatism to go with the politicized neo-evangelicalism. So what does this have to do with Western Rite? . . . Continue reading

February 3, 2008 Posted by | -- Eschatology, -- Phyletism, Western Rite Issues | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Two households, both alike in dignity…


“In particular I want to look at liturgical life. In the extremely primitive condition of the early Church, it was logical that there should be a number of different local liturgical uses. It is likewise sensible to assume that this was not the ideal condition. The early Church is not the pure prototype we must always seek to emulate as so many Christians nowadays seem to think. Instead it was the seed from which the lofty tree of the fully developed Church would one day sprout. So I’m not an advocate of having 300 different liturgies just because the “early church” had them. Some Orthodox are so in love with liturgical archeology that they want a Mozarabic liturgy for Hispanics, a Syriac liturgy (or two) for middle-easterners, a “Celtic” liturgy for those Americans who are a quarter Irish, etc. This is unnecessary and more than a bit silly, I think. Once again, all the little local liturgies are pretty, but I don’t think they reflect the ideal condition of what the Church was meant to eventually develop into. Instead, we would be better off thinking of the Church’s liturgies developing into two distinct “families”. So even though I don’t believe in having a zillion local liturgies so that all the converts can feel proud of their ethnicity when they go play their medieval reenactment games in Church on Sunday, I would be foolish to deny the existence of two distinct liturgical mentalities that existed within the Church by the end of the first millennium.” [source]

Rejoinder: To the two families theorum: So, what does one tell the Irish? That they had a Celtic rite for hundreds of years, but that now they should accept a Norman one? How do you determine, in fact, that an Anglican rite is somehow more appropriate to Mexico than a Byzantine one? Perhaps the best response to this, taken out of context of course, is that of St. Sava of Serbia in the 13th century:

At first we were confused. The East thought that we were West while the West considered us to be East. Some of us misunderstood our place in the 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 Ireneus 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.”

This isn’t West Side Story or Romeo & Juliet. The world is bigger than a stage, and if you respond with the kind of localism that denies the Eastern heritage of the US, for instance, including all of her Saints and the rites they brought with them, and in fact separates from them liturgically for the sake of a false localism, then you can’t speak of families, or stop that process elsewhere.

February 2, 2008 Posted by | -- Phyletism, -- What is Western?, Western Rite Liturgics, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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]

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

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

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

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

The Cultural Argument and Archaeology


“Many Westerners have joined our Church and adopted our Eastern modes of worship. Others have asked why they must become Eastern to become Orthodox. Their French and German and English ancestors were Orthodox before the Popes took them out of the Church in the eleventh century, but they were Western Orthodox. Our scholars and theologians have examined this claim, and found it just and reasonable.” – Excerpt from the Report of Metropolitan Anthony (Bashir) to the 1958 Archdiocesan Convention

Question: What is “Eastern” about our rites, just because they were born in the East and Easterns use them. We have generations of Orthodox all over the world who do, as well. Is Christ then Eastern? Are most of the Apostles? We are not far off to be concerned with the talk now of resurrecting gothic mediaeval “iconography”, which is heterodox in so many ways. Why is it, precisely, that converts perceive the rites themselves as Eastern, or is it rather that they prefer a more ethnically homogenous and merely liturgically familiar environment. That’s phyletism – just with a whitebread flavour. Is it really a just and reasonable argument that ones “ancestors” from the 9-centuries ago did something? That’s the same argument that every ethnic group uses in the US to claim entitlement, except this is nine centuries later. And why the rite, but not the whole thing? The Celts would put exile people to the wilderness for adultery; shall we recover their liturgics but leave their piety behind?

January 17, 2008 Posted by | -- Phyletism, -- What is Western?, Western Rite Questions | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Western Rite as Phyletism


The following comments by Father Michael Johnson have very serious implications in an age of US “American” imperialism, escalated attention to immigration, and when the culture of the West is viewed as monolithic and a kind of super-ethnicity or over-culture, a universal cultural-ethnic ghetto:

“A knowledgeable Orthodox Christian, if asked about the Church’s greatest need in western Europe and the Americas today, would probably respond with a single word: unity. In this regard, the Byzantine liturgical tradition has been of inestimable value in h olding the Church together. On the other hand, ethnicity has probably been the greatest force for disunity. Ethnic heritage, of course, does not have to be a divisive factor. One can be proud of one’s heritage while celebrating the fact that one is part of a Church that is truly multiethnic (as opposed to “non-ethnic”, as the alternative is sometimes wrongly presented.)

How does the “western rite” fit into this need to bring the Church together as a truly multi-ethnic community, united by faith and worship? Unfortunately, the “western rite” can be viewed as a kind of “super-ethnicity” which is just the opposite of what t he Church needs today. Narrow as their ethnic view might have been, and as much as they may have insisted unwaveringly on the use of their own language, Orthodox Christians have always shown a willingness to use a common form of worship – until now. For all intents and purposes, the use of the “western rite” takes ethnicity one step further. Not only do these converts insist on using (an archaic) form of their own language, but they also insist on using an exclusive liturgical rite that is common to no one but themselves.”

The Priest. A Newsletter for the Clergy of the Diocese of San Francisco. Issue No. 5, May 1996

January 12, 2008 Posted by | -- Phyletism, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Four Quotes


Justifying the rite can easily obscure the mentality of some of those who use the rite to create a homogenized ghetto of non-ethnics, in resistance to the supposed monolithicworld of ethnics out there. In reality, often enough, its just a ghetto of middle-class American values, and the other issues are symbolic.

This is not a reprint but an abbreviated excerpt of four quotations (addressed to WR Orthodox) from an article here (1/8/2007):
[we tried to link to it, but his links don’t work]

1. The reality is that most Western Orthodox Christians (that is, Orthodox Christians living in the West and possessing a Western culture) are Byzantine Rite and see no contradiction between their rite and their culture. Most of them have never heard of you.

2. When you use sarcastic phrases like the oh-so-mystical East, you give yourself away as being as much of an East-hater as you believe your brothers in the Byzantine parts of the Orthodox Church are West-haters. Many of you used to be Episcopalians besieged by utter heretics. It’s okay, though—you’re now among the Orthodox. You’re no longer besieged. You can take the battlements down and lower your weapons. Yes, there are folks in the Orthodox Church who do not understand you or even suspect the validity of your Orthodoxy. You won’t help them to accept you fully by sarcasm or a fortress mentality, however.

3. You were received into this Church and not into the pre-Schism Western Church. That means that you can’t pretend that people like St. Gregory Palamas aren’t relevant to you. For one thing, there is no East-West dividing line for what is needful in the Church, and for another, those to whom you rightly look for inspiration in the ancient West absolutely had zero problem with adopting the “Eastern” language and theology of their time (where, quite frankly, most of the serious doctrinal work was being done, due to heresy). They even adopted liturgical customs! It’s not a question of what’s appropriate to “the East” or “the West,” but what is Orthodox. Anything else is really a form of phyletism.

4. You do not have more in common with either the Roman Catholic or Anglican communions than you do with the Byzantine Rite Orthodox. Thinking or speaking as though you do is really just a schism waiting to happen.

January 8, 2008 Posted by | -- Phyletism, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nothing Ethnic About Eastern Rite


Excellent Response to the Ethnicity Argument and the Cultural Argument:

“If we wish to help western persons joining Orthodoxy, the best way is to offer them the possibility of attending the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom in the English language. There is nothing “oriental” or “ethnic” about this Liturgy. True, it was written in Greek and not in Latin; but then Plato and Sophocles wrote in Greek, yet we recognize them as part of our shared European culture. The same is true of St. John Chrysostom. We English can feel thoroughly at home in his Liturgy – as I know from my own experience.” – Bishop Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia, The Priest. A Newsletter for the Clergy of the Diocese of San Francisco. Issue No. 5, May 1996 [emphasis added]

January 4, 2008 Posted by | -- Phyletism, -- What is Western?, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Psychological Negativism


Fr. Alexander (Schmemann) responding to an article of Dr. Andrew Sopko: But where, in my opinion, he is wrong is in ascribing the responsibility for the forthcoming failure of the Orthodox Western rite to the Orthodox of the Byzantine rite, to their multisecular “psychological negativism” towards the West in general and the Western liturgy in particular, negativism rooted in their “ignorance of the West and its ways.” It is this sweeping indictment that I wish to challenge here, not for any “apologetical” reasons, but because it obscures, I am sure, the real issues and places the entire debate on the Western rite in a wrong perspective. [ full commentary here ]

December 31, 2007 Posted by | -- Phyletism, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quick Fix to Correct the Rite?


Fr. Alexander Schmemann: Assuming the wrong idea of a fundamental Eastern versus Western liturgical dualism, Dr. Sopko is inescapably led to a wrong answer to the question, essential from the Orthodox point of view, of what makes a Western rite Orthodox? For him, as indeed for many proponents of the Western rite, all it takes is a few deletions and a few additions, e.g., “striking the filioque” and “strengthening of the epiclesis.” This answer implies, on the one hand, that there exists a unified and homogeneous reality identifiable as the Western rite, and, on the other hand, that, except for two or three “heretical” ingredients or omissions, this rite is ipso facto Orthodox. Both presuppositions are wrong.

Indeed, one does not have to be an “authority on the West” in order to know that the liturgical development in the West was shaped to a degree unknown in the East, by the various theologies, the succession of which, as well as the clashes of which with one another, constitute the Western religious history. Scholasticism, Reformation, Counter-Reformation, etc., all have resulted in sometimes radical liturgical metamorphoses, all have had a decisive impact on worship. Therefore one should speak today not of the Western rite, but of Western rites, deeply, if not radically differing from one another, yet all reflecting, in one way or another, the Western theological tragedy and fragmentation. This does not mean that all these rites are “heretical” and are simply to be condemned. It only means that from an Orthodox point of view, their evaluation in terms merely of “deletions” and “additions” is, to say the least, inadequate and cannot resolve the tensions mentioned above. And even if in the past this method had a semblance of justification, the acute liturgical crisis that encompasses today virtually all Western confessions, makes it obsolete and irrelevant. For the irony of our present situation is that while some Western Christians come to Orthodoxy in order to salvage the rite they cherish (Book of Common Prayer, Tridentine Mass, etc.) from liturgical reforms they abhor, some of these reforms, at least in abstracto, are closer to the structures and the spirit of the early Western Rite and thus to the Orthodox liturgical tradition, than the later rites — those precisely that the Orthodox Church is supposed to “sanction” and to “adopt.”

All this will probably appear as another example of Eastern “arrogance” and emotional anti-Westernism. I count on Dr. Sopko to help me dispel this unfortunate impression. In having honored me by attending my lectures, he certainly knows how critical I am of our own liturgical situation, how many defects and deviations I wish to see corrected in our liturgical life. It is true, however, that this criticism itself is rooted primarily in my deep conviction that the Eastern liturgical tradition is alone today in having preserved, in spite of all historical “deficiencies,” the fullness of the Church’s lex orandi and constitutes therefore the criterion for all liturgical “evaluations.” Yet the true cleavage today is not between the “East” and the “West.” It is between those who seek in the liturgy the essential food of their Christian life and those for whom it is a matter of “attachment” or “allergy.” The Orthodox Church is full of people “allergic” to this or to that. Some are allergic to English and some to Church Slavonic. In some, liturgy is identified with Hellenism and for some others with Russia. And all these tensions which probably are also inevitable cannot and will not be solved except by an ever deepened interest — not in “liturgies” per se, not in “rites,” but in the Orthodox faith these rites reveal and communicate. Whatever the future of the Western rite, it depends, I am sure, on the thirst and hunger for the fullness of the Orthodox faith and on nothing else. Dogmatically, ecclesiologically — and I said this some twenty years ago on these very pages — Orthodoxy has no objection to the Western Rite as such. To have such an objection would mean the loss by the Orthodox Church of her claims to universality. The question therefore is not whether a rite is Eastern or Western. Neither Easternism or Westernism are important in themselves. The only question is whether a rite adequately embodies, manifests and communicates the eternal and unchanging Truth, — is Orthodox in the deepest sense of this word. – [ full article ] (St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly Vol. 24, No. 4/1980, pp. 266-269)

December 28, 2007 Posted by | -- Anglican, -- Phyletism, Western Rite -- Tridentine Mass, Western Rite Liturgics, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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