"Orthodoxy and me"
by Rod Dreher
I apologize for this very long post, but it's time to clear something up: yes, I am now a communicant of the Orthodox Church, and have been (along with my family) for a couple of months.
I did not intend to make this public until the end of this month, to honor a personal and professional obligation that, the violation of which stood to hurt some innocent people. This is why I've taken care since the day I entered Orthodoxy not to claim I am Catholic in writings here, and not to rise to the bait of certain people in the comboxes who have demanded that I declare myself. Though I've wanted to get this out there, and not to deceive readers, I had an obligation to keep this to myself until month's end, for an important reason I can't really discuss. But now I am forced to reveal all early. Why? Because a certain malicious reader, a perfect stranger and petty little Catholic Prufrock named Jonathan Carpenter, who is unhealthily preoccupied with me nearly to the point of cyberstalking, troubled himself to write a letter to a priest at my parish asking about my ecclesial affiliation -- and when he received his answer, undertook to publicize it.
So, here we are. I apologize to readers who feel deceived or betrayed.
That was not my intent; my intent was to honor a prior obligation, whose terms were soon to end anyway. I only now have to give you the long explanation two weeks early. What follows will be lengthy, but it will be all I intend to say about this matter. I know that the comboxes will be filled with discussion, much of it spiteful and vitriolic, and that there's nothing I can do about that, except refuse to join it. But here is how I ended up where I am today.
[. . .]
See, this is why you won't see me ballyhoo my conversion to Orthodoxy as I did with my conversion to Catholicism. Partly it's because I still consider myself to be among the spiritually walking wounded. I need to build myself up in Christ, and in ordinary Christian piety. I believe that God rescued me from a pit partly of my own making by showing me Orthodoxy, and through the witness of the people of St. Seraphim's parish. I have to laugh when well-meaning people say, "Well, Rod's still looking for the perfect church, I wonder what's going to become of him when he figures out that the Orthodox Church is screwed up too." Shoot, the Orthodox Church in America is neck-deep in a financial scandal at its pinnacle! Don't they think I see that? I am perfectly aware that sexual sin and the temptation to cover it up or deny it exists in every human institution. I do not imagine that I have escaped that in Orthodoxy. I am incapable of being the kind of gung-ho Orthodox as I was a gung-ho Catholic. I've learned my lesson. What I do have in Orthodoxy, though, is a second chance to get it right. To receive the Sacraments as an aid to theosis, and to learn to love the little platoon around me, building up the community and my own family. Had I started out this way as a Catholic, maybe it wouldn't have come to this. But I did, and here I am, and God is merciful.
I don't want in any way for this to come across as an apology for entering Orthodoxy. I am not ashamed of it, and indeed I am grateful for God having provided for me and my family, lost and drifting as we were. Still, I think my feelings must be like that of an exile who had to leave his native land, and who is grateful for his new country but who will never be able to forget whence he came -- nor does he want to. I grieve having disappointed friends, and no doubt many of you, who have been so kind to me over the years with your prayers and encouragement. I can't expect you Catholics to endorse my move, but I hope at least you will pray for me and my family, and with me for the ultimate unity of Orthodoxy and Catholicism (by the way, I took as my patron saint in Orthodoxy Benedict of Nursia, who as a pre-schism saint is also revered by the Orthodox; I also chose him in part to honor Pope Benedict, whom I cherish). I hope also that my own example will encourage others -- Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant -- to look seriously into their hearts, and detach themselves from both idolizing the Church in the place of Christ -- this is partly what led to the Scandal, and partly what led me to put myself in a position where the Scandal destroyed my Catholicism. And I hope my example helps people to deal swiftly with anger before it masters them.
As far as tradition goes, I have moved with my family to a church that I believe stands a much better chance of maintaining the historic Christian deposit of faith over time. To be more blunt, I have moved to a church that in my judgment within which I and my family and my descendants will be better able to withstand modernity. Basically, though -- and this is as blunt as I can be -- I'm in a church where I can trust the spiritual headship of the clergy, and where most people want to know more about the faith, and how we can conform our lives to it, rather than wanting to run away from it or hide it so nobody has to be offended.
In the end, we all depend on the mercy of God to deliver us from our faults and errors. I have no intention of talking about this conversion further, either on the comboxes or this blog. (Nor, by the way, do I intend to avoid critical comments about any church; I am an opinion journalist.) I owe it to my family, and to my God, to avoid the nasty combox polemics that will inevitably follow this revelation. I can't keep any of you from saying whatever you will -- and no doubt, the Jonathan Carpenters of the world will have their day. I'm a public person, so I have to put up with that. Still, those of you more charitably inclined, please just pray for me and my family, that we always live in truth, and do the right thing, and be found pleasing to God, the Father of us all.
posted by Crunchy Con @ 10:27 AM
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