I have a thought...

about one aspect of the current challenges facing the Antiochian Archdiocese related to the decision to essentially eliminate Diocesan Bishops and I've been pondering it for some time.

There has been much analysis of canons and history and possible motives for all of this but very little, practically nothing, about what might be playing behind the scenes. By this I'm thinking about St. Paul's statement that we "wrestle not against flesh and blood" but rather against "principalities and spiritual powers".

I'm not particularly crazy about what passes for "charismatic" these days. I remember being the only person in a room not jabbering or singing away in tongues and wondering what was wrong with either me or everyone else, but there is a sensibility there that, properly applied, could shed light on all of this. First there is the sense that there are two teams on the field, including adversaries who would desire to harass and destroy everything of God. The second is that Christians have the ability and authority to engage in the larger spiritual struggle.

In reading the many posts on the topic of the Holy Synod's decision I have found some wise ones full of valuable information but also a lot of expressions of hurt, anger, name calling, and division. There is certainly disagreement and concern about what has transpired but this has also brought up old hurts, fears, and unsettled things as well. These things are real and I think they're going to have to be faced but the anger with which they are expressed seems to indicate that there is more here then meets the eye.

Now I'm not saying that the people who have expressed their struggle, their hurt, and their challenges are agents of Satan or that the Holy Synod, in making this decision is diabolical in its intent. But events like this, real events and the struggles they call to mind, can be used by our adversaries to keep us off focus, to turn us against each other not just on principle but also on emotion, and to lay the groundwork for years of broken relationships all of which would do great harm to our Archdiocese and in some senses the larger Church just at the time when there needs to be a consistent and coherent Orthodox witness in our decaying society.

I remember an episode in the old Star Trek series in which the Enterprise (the ship they traveled on) is inhabited by an alien entity that feeds off from the emotions and destruction of war. This entity brings two cultures together with a history of war and then watches and gains strength as they do battle, even preventing the beings involved from dying just so the hatred and fear it needed to survive would continue. The being only goes away when both sides see that they are doomed to an endless war to feed it and at least temporarily set aside their hatred.

I know this is kind of an odd example but I think one of the things that if, in this time of challenge and struggle, we give in to unholy anger we risk not only not solving our issues but also feeding an adversary who draws nourishment, if you will, when the Church is angry, impotent, and divided. The differences the decision of the Holy Synod has exposed are real, but its the anger that has the potential to do the most damage. If this becomes about turning on each other then only Satan will win.

That would be a terrible thing because right now, perhaps more than ever, the world needs everything that Orthodoxy has and is. But if all we can think about is how to score points against other Christians things can only get worse.

1 comment:

s-p said...

A wise post and a Star Trek reference too boot. But there's a lot of truth to it. Unfortunately we always think OUR anger is righteous, and OUR hurts are due to "persecution for righteousness sake", when more often it is out of fear (which perfect love casts out), and narcissism and being control freaks. Good words, Father.