Attack and desecration...

Anti-war protestors interrupt an Easter Mass at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago by yelling and spilling stage blood on the nave and worshippers. Catholic churches have experienced any number of such assaults by activists of various kinds and as you watch the video note that the Cathedral, perhaps from past experience, had hired private security guards anticipating just such a possibility.

There are a growing number of people who feel it's their right to protest larger social issues or individual items of church policy or doctrine by using worship services as stages for their grievances. Interestingly this seems to be a phenomena, at least in this country, directed almost entirely at Christian churches. I've not heard of a story where a group of protestors, for example, stand up and interrupt Muslim prayers to make a point. Perhaps it feels "edgy" to invade a parish and desecrate the service (especially knowing the congregants aren't likely to fight back) or maybe these are just folks who see themselves as above the rights of others because of of their perception of the righteousness of their cause. Certainly there is a double standard at work. Imagine the outrage if a group of observant Christians stood up in the middle of a service of the Metropolitan Community Church and protested in the same way as the Rainbow Sash folks do every year in your local Catholic parish!

Regardless, we Orthodox should not expect that we'll be immune from these attacks and desecrations. We live in an amoral time when the basic common sense rules of decency don't seem to apply from Congress to classrooms so why should a parish be immune? The truth is that one day our own vision of faith and its implications for people's lives and the greater society, hidden for decades under our ethnic cloak, will become known and we will be a target as well.

Expect it but don't be afraid. Attacks like these indicate the desperateness of the attackers. Having failed to convince people, and sometimes themselves, by rational argument they seek ever more dramatic measures to make their point. Why would a mature, self confident, gay person feel the need to wear a rainbow colored sash and disrupt a worship service? Why would people supposedly arguing for peace feel the need to harrass the very people they are trying to convince? In that uncertainty action replaces introspection and inflicting onself on others becomes a form of validation when the normal channels are insufficient.

It may also be that God is allowing a little fire to come our way to burn away the flabbiness and help us to be who we were meant to be. Having been given all the priviledges of American law and society it is safe to say that we American Christians, certainly we Orthodox, have accomplished only a tiny fragment of what we should have with all our blessings. We, and I, remain self absorbed and in many ways identical to the larger materialistic culture around us. Perhaps we need some pressure, certainly I know I do, to help us put aside lesser things and direct our lives to things higher. In an off beat way these sad, desperate folks interrupting services may be a kind of prophet, their own actions and character warning us of things to come and calling us back to that which matters.

What do you think?


H and S said...

Hi, found your blog! Looks really interesting. I'm wondering where you got the fabulous photograph at the top.

Fr John said...

I can't remember, somewhere on the web after searching for "orthodox church" in google images. I actually cropped it a bit to make it fit because it's a small part of a larger picture. I need to find it, as well, to give credit to the photographer.

As to the blog, its mostly my musings on things. I live in Minnesota and travel to Wisconsin to serve a small but growing parish in LaCrosse. Along the way I have time to ponder and and i write about it. I also travel about the web a bit and so you'll find miscellaneous stuff as well.

Drop by as you can and thank you for visiting.