5/11/09

There's more fuel to the

fire at a www site entitled theantiochian.com, a site apparently designed to counter what it sees in the content of ocanews.org regarding the decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch changing the status of our Diocesan Bishops to auxiliaries.

Like many www sites, including at times www.ocanews.org, it has its share of venom and name calling. That's probably the worst thing about having an internet "discussion", the anonymity that allows people to take pot shots at each other. Please note, though, that no one is truly anonymous on the www. If I had the time and inclination, and I do not, I could track the address of every person who visits me here and so, by the way, can every site on the www from the ones selling books to those selling flesh. Be careful where you visit because somebody knows even if you're all alone with your computer at 3 in the morning. Anyway, the new site is revelatory in that it exposes the cultural gap that's adding fuel to this fire.

On one side of the gap are people who essentially saying "Metropolitan PHILIP is a great man who has done much for us and so he is be respected with loyalty for all that he has accomplished." On the other are people who say "We have canons and rules in the Church which are binding on us all." As I stand back and look I see these strains emerging and wonder if there is a way out. The first seems to be very "old country" for lack of a better term, people living as Christians in a hostile sea and a culture where strong leaders are expected as essential to the survival of the group. The second is very American, the sense of no person being above the law and decisions being made in compliance not with personality but with larger principles.

This is, I think, reflective of what has been happening in the Church throughout history. At times the very fabric of the Church has been shaped by individuals of great charisma, in the best sense of the word, and holiness, people who's personal attributes have affected the larger group. We still have, for example, the Paschal Homily of St. John Chrysostom as the single required sermon of Pascha (Easter) centuries after his death. Yet at times there has also been the appeal to consensus and the rule of Tradition. No one person made up the Creed and then forced it on everyone else and there have been times when the people themselves have risen up and said "No!" to their Bishops when they perceived the decision was outside of the Tradition.

These two interwoven strains have always been a part of the Church and will probably never go away. In the current situation these strains, the appeal to a person and charisma and the appeal to the larger canon and tradition, are active, present, and "in play" in all of this. Perhaps knowing this will help us find our way home.

One can hope, anyways.

2 comments:

rightwingprof said...

And, father, there are those of us in between, who are mystified by the actions of +Philip because they run counter to what he has been doing for forty years and just can't make sense of what this last scandal is about (and I might add that every "clarifying" statement muddies the waters more).

It's no longer my battle. Where I live now, the local parish is OCA. I have always had issues with +Philip, although you won't find me on ocanews trashing him. I'm a little too old-fashioned for that, and I don't think that "respect" is some kind of outdated concept. So I keep my issues with the Metropolitan to myself mostly, or when I discuss them, as I have with my priest, do so respectfully (that is possible, you know). I don't think I will visit this site, not because I don't want to see one opinion or another, but because the nastiness bothers me a great deal.

Fr John said...

I'm pretty much where you are myself. I am mystified by the decision but also intensely dislike the words that have flown back and forth in some of the online discussions. We can and should be better about all of this.