Tuesday, June 8

Now you're in trouble

You see...I've been thinking.

If you're not frightened yet, that's probably because you're not as familiar enough with me. Perhaps I should explain. Last evening, I spent a wonderful dinner and conversation with our parish priest, a man of great enthusiasm, intellect and subtlety. Like a zen master, he will toss a pebble into the pond of your mind and sit back, waiting for the ripples to spread. Amoung our discussions yesterday, we talked about the lack of any sort of formal catechism in the ECC and how it is, in a very real way, an impossible task to create such a document.

The 'E' in ECC stands for Ecumenical, but it might as well stand for Eclectic. In our own parish, we run the gamut from conservatives who would easily rejoin the RC Church if it weren't for their personal beef with Rome (be it divorce, contraception or the disposition of priests, to name a few) to recovering hippies who see no natural division between Eastern philosophy and Western Christianity. But, without a written manifesto of beliefs which we all can agree upon, how are we to know what to believe?

The early church (and by early, I mean within the first 200 years or so) went through similar times, with disparate churches having wildly differing ideas as to the nature of the Good News, vastly divergent cultural and philosophical backgrounds and only oral retellings of the gospel message to guide them. And then there's this yahoo named Paul, who tried to get them all on the same page. Reading the Pauline letters you can hear a voice, hoarse from yelling, coming through the translations "Christianity - you're doing it wrong!" That thought process seems to carry down through the history of the Church (and it includes nearly every faith). There is always some errant, mortal man standing in authority hollering at us "You're doing it wrong!".

But, are we? Isn't the Holy Spirit supposed to give us internal guidance on what is right and what is wrong? Do we really need someone standing on a dais with a reproving look and wagging finger when they can never truly know the contents of our hearts? The power of Orthodoxy is strong, but the word itself 'orthodox' and it's evil twin 'heterodox' are "right/correct-belief" and "other-belief", as if there is but a single Path. If all of us are different by nature and different by nurture, why should our beliefs be one-size-fits-all? If each of us is different and we are all reflections of the Creator, then the Creator must be accessible by multiple avenues. In short, the cannot be a single Orthodox.

Each of us, in our own manner, believe. Each of us, as we can, tries to do good and eschew evil. The how of it, both in believing and in doing, is our between us and the Divine.

"work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for Her good pleasure." (Philippians 2:12-13)

We are to rely upon our own study and meditations to forge our own relationship, rather than be dependent upon someone else to tell us how to live or worship. Mayhap that is the key. The parishioners don't work for the parish nor a prelate nor pope. The church-goers don't need the Church. They work for Her good pleasure and work with each other to encourage and build up, to comfort and to help others - in short, to feed the sheep.

All the other stuff is distraction and dross.

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