With Fr. Theodosius' kind invitation, I have logged onto this site as a new blogger.
Before running off to an appointment, let me briefly introduce myself ...
My Orthodox name is Jeremiah, and while my "real" name no doubt shows here, I'll stick to Jeremiah. I chose that name because of my many-years-long identification with the biblical prophet, primarily through his intensely personal "asides" (laments). He knew it was tough speaking God's truth to power, and that is something I could feel in my bones -- although in my case "power," in those years, still was unconsciously identified with the powers of my own psych-socialization process (OK, Mom and Dad, to be specific). That's a battle of disentanglement that still goes on for me, even at my age (63) ... and as near as I can tell, it goes on for most of us too.
Be that as it may, I'm a Protestant clergyman in early retirement, and am using these years to give serious thought and prayer to converting to Orthodoxy -- in my case, the Orthodox Church of America. There is a long personal story behind that pending choice, and the particular congregation involved, that isn't worth going into at this point. Suffice it to say I was directed by a priest to explore Orthodoxy at this particular church's Saturday Vigil, at a time when I worked nearby and the church was on my way home. Everything, including a friendship with the priest, grew out of that.
It was a book that got me started -- Christ the Eternal Tao by Hiermonk Damascene (Valaam Books). I couldn't believe what I was reading (I really couldn't), and Google'd a friendly-sounding Orthodox website where I could ask if this was bona fide Orthodoxy or, as with too many Protestant and Catholic books (as I "felt," meaning I certainly could have been mistaken, then and now), someone tired of his/her own tradition and trying to make it sound "cool" and not-so-covertly Eastern or something else. By "Eastern" I mean Hindu, Buddhist,Taoist, etc.
Ten years later, I am more convinced than ever that not only was/is this book genuinely Orthodox, but that my entire life has been a slow, patient, usually-but-not-always subtle weaving that has "woven" me through the years to this place (the Orthodox church where I worship) and moment (18 months of catechesis, tentatively set to end with chrismation on Pascha 2011 unless I drop out before then).
There are things about Orthodoxy that make me uncomfortable. Some will change in time, as the Spirit works on me from within ... some will not. At this point I do not foresee ordination of any kind for me, but rather a "church home," a "family of faith on the same journey" and so I'm not worried about having to force myself into beliefs I don't really hold. I did that for entirely too long, and at entirely too great a personal cost -- lying hurts, lying does soul damage -- as a Protestant pastor.
Never will I do that again, I have promised myself, never again. W. H. Auden omitted what to me is one of his greatest poems -- September 1, 1939 -- from all future editions of his collected works because (as I understand it) a single line which he didn't really believe, but that the "technology" of the poetry (metre, preceding rhyme, etc.) somehow "wanted" and "produced." It wasn't, in other words, from Auden's heart. He himself didn't believe it. So one of his (to me) greatest works went right back out the window. I still love the work, even though I suppose, at the end of the day, I'm not terribly in personal synch with that one line either. My out-of-synchness doesn't bother me much -- I wish the poem were left in. But my admiration for Auden's personal integrity soared after that. What a price he paid for truth-telling.
After 63 years of paying a different kind of price, and a much harsher one it seeems to me, it's time to take the example of an Auden more to heart.
So I'm here as an explorer, a "seeker" of sorts (but Protestant mega-churches have succeeded in wrecking that word for me, as they have so many other words Christian and spiritual). With Fr.Theodosius' initial blessing (the wording of his initial invitation), I may or may not always be Orthodox PC ("piously correct," a lousy attempt at an acronym, OK, I admit it) ... but please, if I am not, do please hear great compassion and concern in things I may say not to offend anyone. My only purpose here is to wrestle with myself, outloud (because I seem to get more truth out that way, when I write and just let it "flow"). And what I say in one blog that seems to bother someone, may have changed by the next blog. I try hard not to lapse into that kind of unsteady current, that quirky ebb and flow right at the tide's edge where nothing really represents the deep currents coming to shore ... and I'm more successful at it as the years go by ... but then again, sometimes what I think is "spirit" voicing itself turns out to be soul'ish flotsam and jetsam.
And with that ... I dunno, I'll think of something to post again soon!
Thank you, friends, for having me here.
yours in Christ,