fragments of an attempted writing.

2 on religion: one naughty, one nice.

Every once in a while the old gloves slip off a wee bit- for camaraderie's sake. Poor Venny gets the usual muck ruck after what could barely be called a pot shot.  One part of the debate on that thread was the question of the degree to which Evangelical and Protestant anti-Catholicism has influenced Orthodox anti-Catholicism.  I also may have made some comparisons between certain Orthodox and Evangelical apologetical styles.

Which caused me to laugh out loud after a friend (who read the above linked to thread) told me I must read this post and I did so.  It embodies every caricature of the pious religion blogger - he starts blogging after his wife leaves him, he goes on the sort of vacations you'd expect a middle aged yuppie gay couple from a nice Minneapolis neighborhood to go on, the obligatory 20something taste in movies, and when it comes time to explain where he got his take on Western scholasticism and Western thought in general (in other words, the archenemy, of course), we get this gem:


After I graduated college in 1998 I immediately got married and decided to move to North Carolina, where I would attend an Evangelical Seminary and get a Philosophy of Religion degree, being taught by some of the biggest names in the Evangelical world at the time with a specialty in apologetics. I was there for three years and fully immersed in the life of the school, but in the end not allowed to get my degree because it was required I sign a Statement of Faith which was a bit too Calvinistic for my tastes.

It was about a year into my education in North Carolina that I really got deep into studying writers like Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Wesley, and every major Western thinker and philospher into the 20th century up to Derrida. I was also taking classes on Christian doctrine that was taught from a scholastic perspective, as my teacher was big fan and follower of Aquinas, and I wondered how strange it all sounded compared to what I had read in Orthodox Patristic texts. As much as I tried to reconcile the two, I just couldn't, and I was left dazed and confused, on the border of possibly abandoning certain key Orthodox doctrines because the arguments of Aquinas just sounded clearer and better to me in some ways. We spent a lot of time talking about the nature of God, and found it strange how little I was taught about this in my classes at Hellenic College. But deep down I always knew there was something wrong, especially with the doctrine of God as 
Actus Purus and the concept of Divine Simplicity and the vision of the Divine Essence.

This from one of the most popular of Orthodox bloggers (if Cliff is the online staretz then John Sanidopoulos is the online elder), not to mention one of those quite keen on stressing East/West differences along the FM-G & Clark Carlton lines.  A blogger who learned from "some of the biggest names in the Evangelical world at the time with a specialty in apologetics."  And he's a cradle no less. I don't mean to suggest that he is not now more informed by his inner Orthodoxy of the heart inner uncreated lightsaber than he is by the no doubt stellar education in Western thought and scholasticism he got from his Evangelical apologetics profs.  I only mean to suggest I found this very funny.   I got chastised the other day for “putting people” like this “in a box.”  Yeah, it’s me, I’m the one putting them in the box.  Dammit, you could put a 20 ton bank vault around that box and these online elders would find a way to get back into it.  But hell, elders can levitate so....

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On an entirely different note:






The above was made for me by a consecrated virgin who lives in South St. Paul - a lady who used to work with me at the bookstore.  It's a Franciscan Crown rosary, meaning it has seven decades instead of the usual five.  These pictures don't do it justice.  The seeds are kentucky coffeetree seeds which fall in the maker's yard.  The Pater seeds are all appropriately bigger than the Ave seeds.  This is the most beautiful rosary I've ever seen let alone owned.

28 comments:

  1. Although, like everybody remotely interested in religious stuff, I myself went through a more pious phase once upon a time, I thank God, that didn't happen online. For years now, I haven't cared. I never cared about any of the differences between catholics and orthodox, I mostly ignore all advice the holy mother church generously offers, theology books bore me to death, haven't confessed or communed in a blue moon. But back home that's standard. I still pay my dues to the church, back home, which amount to less than 10 bucks a year. Hope that's edifying.
    CNI

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  2. "inner uncreated lightsaber" - HA!

    I just had to repeat it.

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  3. On the other hand, I should take a hint from this guy and start calling my blog a "ministry" and requesting donations.

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  4. Perhaps this is lacking in the desired level of fraternal cynicism, but Mystagogy does actually provide a 'service'. John generally posts high-quality content, including translations of articles that just aren't found elsewhere in English.

    There are many lame blogs out there. There are many lame Orthodox blogs. Mystagogy isn't one of them.

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  5. That rosary is indeed beautiful.

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  6. The mystagogy blogger in question lost all credibility with me when I read his profile. I simply cannot reconcile Christianity and Marilyn Manson no matter how drunk I get!

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  7. So because I sometimes talk about Church and God on my blog I will be asking for 10%, you know a tithe... and I am sure that because of my upward spirit and the wonders "Sweet Baby Jesus" has done through my blog it is a ministry that should be inbraced (and there for founded to the point I no longer have to work) by all Orthodox jurisdiction in America......

    The Rosary is beautiful Owen, so very glad you finally got it.

    The "guy" you start off talking about, well after I have some beer in my gut we can finish that conversation.

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  8. Conversion and "Come to Jesus" stories are the best. It's like Christian porn. The ooh's and the ahh's are heard everywhere. I have two conversion stories. One for one Christian sect and another for Orthodoxy. The interesting thing is that when I recount them in my head, they resemble each other in form, but the content shifts from altar calls to communion, speaking in tongues to the Jesus prayer. All conversion works the same. All polemicists are the same. How about that for putting them in a box. And like you Owen, I find this very funny.

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  9. Have you ever read Leon Bloy? If you haven't, you should track down 'Pilgrim of the Absolute." You remind me of a much less holy type of Bloy. I imagine you would love his work.

    Eric

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  10. if Cliff is the online staretz then John Sanidopoulos is the online elder


    ...and this guy's the Orthodox buffoon...

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  11. The discussion thread impressed me with its wonderfully elliptical dance. I particularly liked the "logic" minuet by Mr. Robinson. Having read a bit, just a bit, of theology, philosophy, patristics and "mystical" tracts, it seems to me that "logic" has very little to do with the dance.

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  12. It embodies every caricature of the pious religion blogger - he starts blogging after his wife leaves him


    Hmmm.. I guess then this wouldn't be the right time (or place) to draw any attention to my own 'situation', seeing that I'm a (quote-unquote) "pious religion blogger" myself..

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  13. No one gives a shit about your blog, Lucian.

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  14. El otro pelón28 June, 2011 11:05

    "No one gives a shit about your blog, Lucian."

    Church!

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  15. So you're saying that anonymity is a blessing? :)

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  16. "He then had all the students sit in a circle and asked each of us one by one if there was anyone in the world we hated. Everyone thought this exercise was stupid, and everyone said one by one that of course there were people they hated. Almost everyone said they hated murderers and rapists and bullies, etc. As I listened to them, I only thought how stupid they were being for saying such a thing, even though I felt the same way not too long before. Then my turn came and John asked me if there was anyone I hated, and the only thing that could come out of my mouth was "no". It was the only logical answer to my ten year old mind."

    Amazing. Already at the tender young age of 10 this man has practically perfected the faux-pious passive-aggressive self-righteousness so common to a certain type of convert. I could not think of a better example of this attitude than despising your fellow classmates as ignoramuses for not possessing the forgiveness of a St. Seraphim. And there's no indication that he's changed much since then, either!

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  17. There's an old joke about a rabbi who in the midst of a service threw himself on the ground exclaiming, "O G-d, I am nothing before thee!" Later, the cantor threw himself down exclaiming the same. Finally, a man of ill repute in the community was overcome with the same penitence before G-d. The rabbi nudged the cantor and motioned, whispering, 'Look who thinks they're nothing before G-d...".

    Pride, pride in religion, and pride in humility, are common to humanity. We're a mess.

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  18. Iosifson,

    were you talking about me?


    Arturo,

    I know you're insecure, just try not to show it so much... :-)

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  19. Dang, this is a cynical bunch.
    But Lucian, I'm afraid that if you really are to blame for that blog it is just bat-shit crazy.
    No offense....
    -Daniel

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  20. ...if you really are to blame for that blog...

    Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!... :-)


    it is just bat-shit crazy.

    Something tells me you probably don't like this blog very much either... :-)

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  21. No, that is not so bad, though every bit as self-absorbed as yours....

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  22. every bit as self-absorbed as yours


    You're hurting my feelings here, Dany...

    I mean, couldn't you at least have the courtesy to say that 'it comes as a close second' to being as self-absorbed as mine?

    (Well -on the bright side- at least you didn't say that it was 'even more' self-absorbed than mine... 'cuz that would've been truly THE unforgivable sin...)

    I am a beautiful and unique snowflake, Dany: how dare you compare me to anyone else? :-)

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  23. What the fuck Lucian?
    Now I'll translate this into Romanian :
    Ce dracu' Luciene?
    CNI

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  24. Yes, Lucian, you are certainly a unique snowflake, with a capital "Flake"...
    :^)

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  25. Are you from ASCOR or Petru Voda , Lucian? Those were pretty good at showing humility back when I had to briefly deal with them?
    CNI

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  26. To my knowledge, meekness/humility is not the same as recognizing/being aware of one's own sins, which are obvious to oneself. (One might at best say that the latter includes the former, but that's all). Meekness/humility is when one is holy, yet meek/humble. And to confound self-criticism with meekness/humility is a demonic delusion/spiritual deception. This is best seen when the self-critic is truly/directly/sincerely reproached by a person different than himself, and feels anger/rage/frustration/etc. The man who is truly meek/humble, and not deluded by the devil, does not feel such. Just like children are aware of being boys and girls, yet lack any real understanding of what that truly means, and feel nothing for each other, so does the truly meek/humble person feel nothing when insulted, although mentally/theoretically knowing that the man saying bad (but not necessarily untrue) things about him is trying to insult him. Yet he's simply unable (without doing any mental effort) to feel anything negative towards that person. As simple as that. One might call it an altered state of conscience, if this term would not have been used to denote something else. The knee-jerk reaction of feeling/returning evil for evil is simply gone, and the soul is not a puppet in the hands of the devil anymore: the strings of passions (pride/vainglory) have been cut off by an invisible knife, and the soul is free in a very simple and direct manner (without using any mental maneuvers whatsoever to avoid the states of hurting and sorrow).

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  27. Someone sent me a link to your post and asked me to respond, so I'll just oblige by clarifying one point.

    You can play the idiotic cynic as much as you wish and try to fit me into your mind numbing caricature's, but I only stated in the post you quoted from when I began my "exclusive" studies of western philosophy and theology, which actually begin a year before I attended the Evangelical seminary. Yes, I attended an Evangelical seminary for three years, but this only kick started my studies and had absolutely no influence on me as far my personal studies are concerned. I was always very aware that I was getting an Evangelical perspective on matters while I was there and knew the differences. I also have taken about another 20-25 courses after this at a Reformed seminary, an Episcopal seminary, a Jesuit seminary, and the majority at another Catholic seminary. I have also taken multiple courses at Harvard, Boston College and Boston University. At the Catholic seminary I pretty much focused on studies in scholasticism, such as a class focused only on Aquinas, though I took church history courses and a few theology courses as well. I am well aware of all the differences, and even though I don't know your position on anything, I can tell that its probably not something worth reading or following here.

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  28. Careful John, your inner stillness is starting to quiver a bit.

    You stated in the post "After I graduated college in 1998 I immediately got married and decided to move to North Carolina, where I would attend an Evangelical Seminary and get a Philosophy of Religion degree, being taught by some of the biggest names in the Evangelical world at the time with a specialty in apologetics.... It was about a year into my education in North Carolina that I really got deep into studying writers like Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Wesley, and every major Western thinker and philospher into the 20th century up to Derrida." Let's not change that tune now - it was perfect as it was.

    What was the "other" Catholic seminary you studied at?

    Nothing you have written on your blog concerning scholasticism gives me the slightest indication that you have ever studied scholasticism. To suggest that having had a class solely on Aquinas constitutes studying scholasticism only encourages me in this regard.

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