My favorite humorist, Jack Handey, writes: "I bet the sparrow looks at the parrot and thinks, yes, you can talk, but LISTEN TO YOURSELF!" Listen to yourself. Good advice; probably should come right after Socrates's "Know yourself" in importance, advice which some people never take to heart.
People who write for a living (or as a hobby for that matter) should at least "listen to themselves". But they don't always. More often they parrot things that sound good to them.
I received an email from a reader with this link and this excerpt from an exceedingly long and rambling post:
Anyway, Orthodoxy is not just what you do on Sunday. It cannot be, and still be Orthodoxy. That is the point.
After eight years of living this life, I find the resilience it builds into you to be astonishing. And because Orthodox spirituality compels you always to search your conscience and to repent, I find that it has forced me to do some pretty painful, at times, growing in the spirit. It is possible, of course, to be self-satisfied as an Orthodox Christian, but to do so requires you to fight hard against the spiritual currents within the Church — which, I underscore, is less an institution and more of a Way.
Orthodoxy is weird. Incredibly weird by American standards. This is a strength, I find. If you’re Orthodox, you’re never going to really fit in to American Christian practice. You will always know who you are.
On the other hand, Orthodoxy is institutionally weak in this country. There are very few of us, and our churches are, for now, few and far between. Not all Orthodox churches are, well, orthodox. It is, sadly, too easy to find Orthodox parishes that are grim, closed-off ethnic clubs. It is too easy to find Orthodox parishes that are basically Mainline Protestantism with food festivals. No church is perfect, and never will be. My hope, though, is that in the time of exile, many American Christians will be drawn to the steady, faithful witness of Orthodox Christianity, and unite themselves to it, and strengthen the Orthodox Church.
That’s my positive case for why Orthodoxy is the best home for small-o orthodox Christians in American exile. What’s yours for your church? Remember the rules bounding this discussion.
The post mentions Roman Catholicism a lot, of course. How could it not? Even when Mr. Dreher is not bashing the church over hoaxes like Tuam, etc. he is dining out on being a "Catholic" writer, copping ideas from Catholic saints like "little way", planning a festival for an actual Catholic writer, Walker Percy and most recently, writing a book about Dante's Divine Comedy (nota—Dante was Catholic). I don't think I ever have seen evidence that he devotes as much time to Orthodox subjects in any detail, other than to say it's weird and otherworldly and really conservative as he does in this post, or when he gets embroiled in Church politics and cults of personality like he did awhile back.
I'm not interested in the whole "best home for small-o orthodox Christians in American exile" discussion any more than a "best home for small-o orthodox Christians in French exile" would. Let alone the "rules bounding this discussion". Isn't this entire life supposed to be an exile for the Christian by Christ's own words? "The foxes have holes..." remember that? Or read St. Paul's second letter to the Corinthians if you thought Christ was just being pessimistic.
I think that the best home for me in exile is the Roman Catholic church. This is because I believe the Catholic church is the one true church founded by Christ. It's my faith. But there are wheat and tares and they are in the Church together at this point. The Apocalypse of St. John starts off with condemnation of churches started by first generation Christians. So I would be horribly misguided to imagine that I would find the church in any age without major issues going one of one kind or another, or to one degree or another. And being called "vomit" or a "synagogue of Satan" qualifies as a high degree, I'd guess.
Aside from the implicit Catholic-bashing, what I glanced at in this post strikes me as a bit embarrassing in the same way as Miley Cyrus's antics (which, I might point out I also merely glanced at.) It's generally said that she is embarrassing because she obviously thinks she was the first human being to discover sex. In the same way, Dreher sounds like he thinks that he is the first to discover Christianity and how being a serious Christian is counter-cultural. But I'm pretty sure that there were a bunch of people who preceded us who discovered that in a much deeper way. This was due to the fact that the flames started at their feet. Agonizing seconds probably past by like hours before they died of smoke inhalation or severe shock to their nervous system. You can imagine that the burning martyr was truly longing for the homeland as one living in exile. You can be pretty sure he or she was not feeling like this. Exile? You decide.
My final observation is a question. What is the difference between this:
Not all Orthodox churches are, well, orthodox. It is, sadly, too easy to find Orthodox parishes that are grim, closed-off ethnic clubs. It is too easy to find Orthodox parishes that are basically Mainline Protestantism with food festivals.
Catholicism has the Magisterium and the Catechism, which are doctrinal rocks, but in my experience, so many American Catholics don’t submit their consciences to them.
Answer: nothing. So what is the point really?