What do converts want...

Rod Dreher reflects on a lecture by Terry Mattigly on the topics of converts to the Orthodox Church.

If you're a convert to Orthodoxy what do you want? For me I had hoped that coming into Orthodoxy I would find a community whose life carried the same depth, passion, and vigor of its theology. But having been in a number of faith communities I knew, somewhere, that much was probably going to be the same, some people passionate about their faith, some lukewarm, and some just along for the ride. Theologically Orthodoxy is a shining city on a hill but practically we're often just a little house with a flickering light at the bottom of a valley.

Was I disappointed? Not too much because I've been a Pastor before and I'm well aware of the gap between what should be and what actually is, even in myself. I would rather work to return a sense of passion and purpose in Orthodoxy, and myself, then be in the biggest "purpose driven church" in the world. Events, people, movements, they all ebb and flow but you can't replace truth and Orthodoxy has truth in spades.

Now it should be noted that a sense of passion, purpose, and mission is part of the "truth" of Orthodoxy, at least it should be and there are many Priests who would probably wish the people they serve were as "up" for proclaiming and living their faith as they are for a good discussion about falafel. But context is everything and many of the places where people are "up" have issues where they are sometimes in direct conflict with revealed truth and its much easier to restore passion from a basis of truth then to get passionate people steered towards orthodoxy. I've been in more then a few churches where people have been totally hyped but in that frenzy have come up with some pretty strange ideas and I'd much rather try to put some air on the coals of a tired Orthodox church then try to handle that kind of raging fire.

This, I presume, is what it means to have a mature faith. Certainly I would have liked to see Orthodoxy be more of a "movement" and less of a collection of parishes, but at the same time you love something as it is and hope that you, by your presence, can help bring out its best. Whether Orthodoxy will be better for me so is still up in the air but I'll give it my best.

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