Thursday, May 13, 2010

My Big Fat Greek Wedding

When I was around 22 and living and working in Nannyfield, my employers (Terry-and-Karin-the-Great--they really were awesome) were kind of concerned about the fact that I had never had a boyfriend. Terry-the-Great knew this guy from work that he wanted to set me up with. Said Guy was somewhat older than I (at that point, such a feat--being older than me--was not difficult to manage), and Terry thought he was a little weird, but that we'd be good together because we were both "religious." The Guy invited me to go with him to a Star Trek convention or something once, but I declined, and never met him in person. Sometimes I wonder what would've happened if we had met. Frankly, I don't think I became proper girlfriend material until I met the Milk Guy, and now I don't care anymore (maybe that's the difference), so probably nothing would've happened, but these are still things you think about sometimes.

Like, when you're studying about the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Long before the Star Trek invite, The Guy invited me to go with him to a celebration of the anniversary of "his church." He sent me, via TtG, a whole lot of literature about it--the Eastern Orthodox church. I'm not sure if this celebration was of the anniversary of the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic split, which I would think would be a little tricky to pin down, since there was tension between them for quite a while before they actually divided, or of his own branch in New York City. The latter is more likely, I think. I just learned that US Eastern Orthodox churches do not have patriarchates in this country, but are linked to other ones in the Old Country. (Which old country? It depends, probably.)

I remember reading everything This Guy sent me, and wondering if it would constitute being unequally yoked if I ended up with an Eastern Orthodox guy. (Everybody that has been reading this blog for the last two years is free to guffaw loudly at this point.)

So, today, going over my notes about Eastern Orthodoxy, I thought about this again, and you know what? There are actually things I like about the Eastern Orthodox church--at least in theory. Apparently during the time of Constantine at least, the Eastern church believed that there should be a sort of seamless union between church and state, and so Constantine was allowed to perform some of the duties at religious functions, and the average Joe was so interested in theology that Constantinople was full of people debating the nature of Christ and stuff. Given what small talk has devolved to, I kind of like that picture. I like the understanding of the Church--that it reflects the Trinity (unity in diversity), is the Body of Christ (an extension of the Incarnation) and is itself the continued Pentecost (implying centrality of the Holy Spirit). I like the concept that the Church exists both visibly and invisibly and is both human and divine. I am definitely a fan of the understanding that doctrinal assertions act as a fence to keep heresy out, but don't (and shouldn't) fully explain or exhaust the mysteries of our faith. I also like that at least ostensibly, the line between clergy and laity is more blurred than in Western churches.

Here's what I think I'd have a hard time with, though. I don't like the concept (found also in the Roman Catholic church and plenty of others) that salvation is impossible outside the church. It kind of reminds me of that baptism scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which is supposed to be funny, but always makes me uncomfortable, because clearly this guy is "converting" for a person and not because he met a Person. But in this tradition, his entering the church and having undergone baptism (which supposedly brings the new birth itself), would be what saves him. I like what it says in the story about his love for the girl. That's all very noble and everything. But I don't like stories of forced or false conversions. Also what is the point of Chrismation (which is kind of a cool word if you think of it like "clay-mation"--does it mean animated by Christ?)? It's confirmation . . . of the children of believing parents. Why would you baptise a baby and then confirm a kid. When does anyone get to decide if they believe or care or not? I guess you don't, because you need to stay in the church, so you can stay saved. I'm a little uneasy about the idea of God the Father as the fountainhead from which the Son and the Spirit proceed, because it makes Him seem superior to them, and I really disagree that sin is a result of death instead of the other way around.

So yeah. While I think it would be fun to stumble across more people debating theology in random conversation (kind of like the third conversation I ever had with the Item, when, over the counter at Starbucks, he told me his background was Catholic but he was first alienated from the church over the doctrine of transubstantiation because it wouldn't allow his non-Catholic father to partake of the Eucharist), and while I like allowing the mysteries to be mysteries, in most other respects, I don't think I'd make a very good Eastern Orthodox. Good thing I never met That Guy.

P.S. I got all that info? from my professor's lecture outline. He is Dr. Garth M. Rosell. I would like to give him the credit, and not be guilty of plagiarism. Thank you.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

Somewhere along the way I got introduced to this blog:

Some of my favorite on-line interactions have happened between myself and the Orthodox writer, Romanos. About 1/3 of the time I find him to be eerily, scarily similiar to me; my long lost twin; about 1/3 of the time I utterly disagree with him, and about 1/3 of the time I'm so far from understanding him I don't even know how I feel about his views.