(Journalled March 26, 2017)
I've been reading and talking to people about Eastern Orthodoxy lately.
I'm feeling a bit nervous about it, as it brings up so many memories of teachings I heard in my childhood about the "dangers" of churches that use "icons" and look back to "tradition" and "the church Fathers" and depend too much on intellectual (deep study) and so on and so forth (and rites and rituals and mysticism and the spiritual disciplines)--all those arguments I heard over and over against Roman Catholicism when I was young (I don't ever remember hearing anything about Eastern Orthodoxy one way or another, though).
But at the same time, I long for some ritual...and deep thinking...and the long history of the church...and community (that goes deeper that breakfast together and some discussion once a week on Sunday mornings). I love liturgy and written/group prayers that have long, deep roots and branches that pull together all believers through time and place.
There was a time when I thought "house church" was the answer...and I still think aspects of it are valuable...but oh, I miss group prayer and songs/praise and liturgy, and yes, even some "authority" as in spiritual leaders/ fathers/ parents who are examples and mentors.
But I'm wondering ... What about the "confession" part (Well, maybe we Protestants need more focus on that, anyway, eh)? And veneration of Mary.
(And in the Roman Catholic Church the whole purgatory thing? ... And great wrongs of the past like the Crusades and Inquisitions and wealth of religious Christian institutions ... and cover-ups of things like clergy paedophilia... and cozy relationships between state and church...and oppression of huge groups of people...and forcing of cultural customs in the name of the church with little or no recognition of "free will" or the value of other cultures and traditions...)
But maybe a lot of that stuff isn't Christianity anyway. Maybe it's institutionalised religion in cahoots with the state's power and financial and political machinery? How do we separate the two, though? How do we truly live in this world yet not be of this world and its kingdoms and power and religious structures...under the overarching power of the "prince of this world" ... or is he even the prince of this world anymore if he was conquered at the cross by the blood of Jesus? ....but it sure looks like he is plenty active (and without a doubt, alive)...but the again, how much of it is just US, weak, flawed humanity?
Oh, dear God, please show me Your way. And help me trust You...even with all my doubts and confusion (and yes, sometimes anger...and disbelief...)