Western Rite Critic

A Balance to Contagious Enthusiasm

Refugee vs. Runaway


runaways.jpg“The problem here is that some people do not convert to a belief so much as they convert away from another. There is a certain sort of Catholic who, by becoming Orthodox, has joined the church that did not go through what is often called “the chaos” following Vatican II. They are sometimes disappointed when they meet bishops who are not as authoritarian as they think bishops should be, and they are especially upset at any notion that Orthodox liturgy might undergo any change of any sort in any way. There is a certain sort of Episcopalian who in joining Orthodoxy joins the church that does not ordain women, and the idea that the subject might be discussed leaves them furious, as if the thought alone meant a betrayal of Orthodoxy.” – A Typology of Converts – Fr. John Garvey

“My approach to this has been to tell any potential convert to take some time, to hang around the church for a year or so, seeing what it is like to be Orthodox, and finally to make sure it is Orthodoxy they are coming to, and not something else they are fleeing from. Baron von Hugel told an Anglican niece who wanted to become Catholic that she should learn the strengths of Anglicanism, and not become Catholic until it would be clearly a sin for her to remain in her own tradition, until it was completely necessary for her to convert. This seems about right. People who move from one tradition to another for negative reasons bring all those negative reasons with them.” – Ibid.

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February 8, 2008 Posted by | -- Catechesis & Conversion, 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

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

   

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