Western Rite Critic

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May 7, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite Weirdness | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

When Proof Texts Go Wild

It’s always easy to justify one’s personal agenda for the Church and Orthodox religion by creative placement of texts. Recently, for instance, we read a passage from [this blog] which makes a case for emotionalism in Orthodox pieties (something rare and generally foreign to our experience). It does this by presenting a lengthy description of events in Constantinople in the 4th century as of Great Thursday. In fact, they are in the main a description of Great and Holy Friday, the most solemn and sorrowful day of Holy Week, and a day of total fast. Whereas the text to which the quotation links makes this clear, the article citing it does not, putting only a header concerning Thursday above the quotation. It then boldfaces the portion about the “emotion shown and the mourning” before the cross on Great Friday which, of course, one can only expect.

This example is just one of many, but it illustrates the problem of scouring history for proof texts in an effort to recreate and reconstruct an Orthodox experience presumably now lacking in the attitude of contemporary Orthodox. This dialectic, misused, can actually be quite harmful, and is solely a matter for conscientious converts and ambitious academics (meaning, in both cases, theoreticians) who wish to rescue the Church from its failings by restoring to it a history they barely comprehend, deprived in fact from its full context. This is history as a tool rather than hagiology as a means of theosis. We really aren’t meaning to pick on the blog owner above. He asks for and receives quite enough flack. But since his is perhaps the ‘loudest’ example of the evangelical hermeneutic at work in the “Western Rite” theatre, his posts are typically replete with helpful examples of the matters that concern a sober mind about what is getting called “Western Rite”.

Again, to try to create a blanket justification of concepts or experiences detached from their context (by proof texts in the wild, or by any other hermeneutic) is a dangerous process to set loose upon a Faith. Its harmful effects have already been experienced in the history of the Roman Catholic and Anglican religions, which have become bywords for this error, and we find it a dubious undertaking for clergy of any religion in the name of winning an argument or scoring support for a private agenda. Besides, if that agenda is indefensible otherwise, then it should be rejected as lacking the very historical continuity it presumes to demonstrate.

Not all critical examination of contemporary Orthodox community life or investigation of historical precedent is a bad idea. Indeed, we benefit from it frequently. But it must be done in a mature and circumspect manner, with some sense of how the Church uses history in the first place, how it ‘places’ its thought within history, and how it’s Faith differs from the manufacture or “rediscovery” of concepts, as in Protestantism and archaism. The Church is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Our essential ecclesiology, our fundamental hermeneutical tradition, and our basic mysteriology must guide our consciences in our treatment of the Church’s history, Her texts, and Her sacred experience.

April 28, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite Questions, Western Rite Weirdness | , , , | 3 Comments

I want to be Left Behind!

Taken Behind - Don't be taken. It really sucks.“For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left. – Matthew 24:37-41 (NASB)

“And as it was in the time of Noah, so will it also be in the time of the Son of Man. Men were eating and drinking, taking wives and giving wives, up to the very day on which Noah entered the Ark, and the Deluge came and destroyed them all. The same was true in the time of Lot: they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building; but on the day that Lot left Sodom, God rained fire and brimstone from the sky and destroyed them all. Exactly so will it be on the day that the veil is lifted from the Son of Man. On that day, if a man is on the roof and his property indoors, let him not go down to fetch it; and, in the same way, he who is in the field, let him not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Any man who makes it his object to keep his own life safe, will lose it; but whoever loses his life will preserve it. On that night, I tell you, there will be two men in one bed: one will be taken away and the other left behind. There will be two women turning the mill together: one will be taken away and the other left behind.” “Where, Master?” they inquired. “Where the dead body is,” He replied, “there also will the vultures flock together.” – Luke 17:26-37 (Weymouth)

St. John Chrysostom: “Then again He sets another sign, by all which things He makes it evident, that He is not ignorant of the day. And what is the sign? “Then shall two be in the field; one shall be taken, and one left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill, one shall be taken, and one left. Watch therefore, for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. And all these things are both proofs that He knew, and calculated to turn them from their inquiry. So for this cause He spake also of the days of Noe, for this cause He said too, “Two shall be on the bed,” signifying this, that He should come upon them thus unexpectedly, when they were thus without thought, and “two women grinding at the mill,” which also of itself is not the employment of them that are taking thought.”

March 5, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite Weirdness | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What will You Be doing This Lent?

March 2, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite -- Stations of the Cross, Western Rite Weirdness | , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

We told you this would happen.

Well, we’ve warned before that if they keep messing with the cork in the dike, they’re liable to unleash the flood. Here it comes. A new site of criticism of some of what passes for Western Rite has been born at westernritefraud.freehostia.com

The Horde of the Uncanonical? Or just superheroes on a day's work?Apparently, in the witch hunt to expose all opponents, critics, or persistent questioners, that site’s new founder had been repeatedly accused of running this site and slandered accordingly, and decided finally to start one of his own.

Hey! Credit where credit is due, eh? This site is run by little green men. Or the government. We don’t know which government, but hey – it’s probably the one with an agency so secret that it doesn’t even know it’s an agency. It probably thinks its a postal service or something. Or it could be run by a cadre of conspirators out to destroy everything good and lovely (or at least duplicitous and easy). Or maybe every “uncanonical” and “vagante” group, bishop, and jurisdiction have teamed up in a kind of League of Justice to expose the darkness that is this city. It’s the Night of the Vagante.

Do you want it? It's a flood.Well, there’s no actual proof that the accused isn’t everywhere. He might be behind you right now, dear reader. He might be Santa Claus and have access to a really really fast sleigh and be responsible for all the presents in the world. Or….

Maybe the enthusiasts just equated suspicion with reality one too many times, and yup… there are actually more than a handful of people in the world that think a lot of the activities styled as “Western rite” are a bad idea, and we’re finding each other, and finding a voice. And now – they’ve gone and goaded us into making more web sites. If we could shake our collective heads over the internet, we would. You’ll just have to try and imagine it.

Hey… do you hear that? What’s that sound? It sounds like… rushing water….

February 19, 2008 Posted by | -- 9th Commandment, Western Rite Weirdness | , , , , , , | 11 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

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.

Continue reading

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

K is for Calendar?

K is for CalendarIf a goal of the WRV is really to to help people express the Faith in Western forms, does this mean we really need to revert to a substitution of K’s for C’s as in Kalendar? [see westernorthodox.com/kalendar] Should it then be Katholic? Antiokian? Kristianity? Kommunion? Why just the calendar, in this case? Is this like putting the Russian k in ikon, or is it just getting hokey?

January 17, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite Weirdness | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

RC discussion of WRO is just more Intriguing!

Is it really possible that Roman Catholics are having the most interesting discussions on the Western Rite in Orthodoxy? Perhaps it’s because what we have, so frequently, is not really discussion. We’re not detached enough. Fervent enthusiasts, quiet dissenters, and the occasional lone voice that quickly gets stereotyped as an Gregoriaphobe. [Here is an excellent discussion] and well worth reading. The 23 comments or so are enlightening. Sometimes it’s just useful to step outside of our debate (what little real debate we have) and listen to people who have nothing at stake tell us what we’re saying.

January 16, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite Weirdness | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Roman Catholic Questions

Among Roman Catholics, but an interesting discussion [here]. Brings up all kinds of interesting issues in theory. Married bishops comes to mind.

January 4, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite Weirdness | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

France. Treasury of Good Things?

“Well! Behold a great event! It is a marvellous thing for us to learn of the revival of Orthodoxy in the West. But I am not surprised that this movement comes from France, this France which has already given us so many beautiful and sweet things.” – Pat. Athenagoras (of unhappy memory)

January 2, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite Weirdness | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Do we really think that and will give us ?

Hold down the alt-key and press liturgy.

December 17, 2007 Posted by | Western Rite Liturgics, Western Rite Weirdness | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Writing Over

overwritingLooking at this article on the discovery of Archimedes’ treatise, “the Method”, the following sentence stood out: “In the 12th century, the text of a prayer book was written over the original Greek text.” They’re not kidding, and it’s not a metaphor. This was done frequently in the middle ages when paper was scarce. One grabbed a book from the library and wrote over it. Could be applicable to a lot of things.

December 15, 2007 Posted by | Western Rite Liturgics, Western Rite Weirdness | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Another Interesting Discussion

This is an… [odd source]… but we really don’t do ad hominem here, so we’re including it anyway.

It is, an interesting discussion – much more so than we’re finding on the WR enthusiast sites.

December 11, 2007 Posted by | Western Rite Weirdness | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Western Uni-Yacht

Western Rite Uni-Yacht

Just kidding. But we also considered [this one because it’s small] [this one because it’s all about paper] [this one for obvious reasons] and [this one, because of what it’s like getting onboard] – oh, and [this one, because it’s going too fast]

December 10, 2007 Posted by | Western Rite Weirdness | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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