Watching the Clock

Orthodox-Candle-Lighting1This is a guest post by regular reader orthojaxy.  She is a former Latter-day Saint who recently was baptized into the Orthodox faith.

I love listening to the sermons that my priest gives at our Greek Orthodox parish. This week he told us that he does not wear a watch once Orthros begins; he does not keep track of time. Divine Liturgy follows directly after Orthros. My parish begins Orthros at 9 a.m. and Divine Liturgy usually begins around 10 a.m. Could it start a little after 10? Could it start before 10? The answer to both is yes, and neither time would be late or early. Many parishes don’t even give a time for Divine Liturgy. They only provide the time for Orthros. That is because once the first service begins, we are in heavenly time. Worldly time is lost, and it is all about the divine experience.

There are no breaks between services. No stops and starts. It is just one continual flow of time and worship. I didn’t know that during my first visit to an Orthodox Church. I remember sitting in the dark candle lit Orthros service. It was beautiful. It was amazingly wonderful to watch when Orthros became the Divine Liturgy. The room suddenly became well-lit and the priest sang, “Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages.” When our priest mentioned that he never wears a watch during service, I realized that I never look at my watch during service. Orthodox services aren’t kept to a schedule. They end when everything that is supposed to be done is done and when everything that should be said, is said. Continue reading

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A Thomist Brain and an Orthodox Heart

dore the resurrectionOne thing about me that might not be obvious to readers of this blog (or perhaps it is devastatingly obvious) is that I’m an incessant thinker.  To a fault.

But first, some background:  today I looked through a bunch of Wikipedia pages about mysterious things I thought about as a child.  UFO abduction stories, the Oak Island “Money Pit,” the lost Roanoke colony, ancient trans-Atlantic human contact, ghosts, parapsychology, Atlantis, etc.  I was an inquisitive child but also saw lots of magic in the world, and loved reading ghost stories and mysteries that made me think there was “something more out there.”  So today it surprised me when I read down the list of these “In Search Of…” mysteries and realized I don’t believe any of them. Continue reading

21st Century Orthodoxy

From my studies in social psychology, I have come across the view (supported by evidence in social psychology, sociology, and social observation) that having religious competition fosters higher rates of religious attendance overall.

There are a few theories for why this is, but my view, based on psychology and some sociologists (like Finke and Stark), is that the religious landscape in America as a sort of free market – where churches tailor their positions in order to capture a larger “market share,” and the competition between different churches causes people to use religious self-identification as a way of expressing their individuality.  In an individualistic society, this competition causes more people to go to church, and more people to actively engage with their religion.

By contrast, in countries with state churches, or near-universal religious homogeneity, overall rates of church attendance are lower.  Many Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic countries are this way.

For a long time, Orthodoxy has been quite tied up with governments and empires, and has taken such a strong root in some lands that it has been taken for granted.

I am interested to see where Orthodoxy goes next.  I think an older model, where Orthodoxy is taken for granted, and becomes synonymous with either governmental oppression or bureaucracy (rightfully or not), or a sort of cultural blanket over a homogeneous society, is unsustainable.  I’m not sure that is the idea model for Christianity anyway.  It seems to me that Jesus’ message was intended to be an underground message; a message for the few who “salt” or “leaven” society – but people do not eat salt or leaven exclusively.