Archive for October 24th, 2007

A Smaller World – A Larger World

October 24, 2007


I posted an addition to my blogroll today, an Orthodox Blog in Macedonia (former Yugoslav Republic), Digital Areopagus. I added this link both because it seems a good site, and to return the favor of being added as a link to his site. The internet has a way of making our world both smaller and larger.

Digital Areopagus found its way to this site through the postings of Fr. Dorin Piciorus on his Romanian site, Teologia Pentru Azi. Father Dorin has been a very good friend of Glory to God for All Things, and has offered words of kindness on his blog that go far beyond anything I deserve.

The sum of such contacts for me is both a smaller and a larger world. Orthodoxy, though characterized as an “Eastern” Church, is, in fact, a global Church (there is even an Orthodox Chapel in Antartica). Though here in the West, Orthodoxy is frequently accompanied with an ethnic adjective (Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Romanian Orthodox, etc.), in truth there is only one Orthodoxy which rightly respects the cultures in which it dwells and incarnates the gospel in those very places. The “ethnic” aspects of Orthodoxy in America are sometimes bewildering to those on the outside – but some of that is because many of us imagine America to be “American” (meaning, mostly Anglo) when in fact this land is filled with many cultures and one culture (e pluribus unum). 

I never realized how “ethnic” my own background and experience as an Anglican was until I became Orthodox. My congregation today contains Anglos (like me), Greeks, Russians, Macedonians, Romanians, Japanese, Chinese, Filipinos, British – and the Anglos aren’t really that simple – they are a mix of English, Scots, Irish, German, French and you-name-it. We have cradle Orthodox and convert and stories that make each a fascinating world in itself.

My world becomes smaller when nations that are far away are personalized through contact with particular persons – with other Blogs – in internet language. To know as I write, that my words will be read not just in America, but elsewhere across the globe, occasionally even in translation, makes my world ever so much larger when I write, and yet ever so much smaller. It makes me know that to be Orthodox does not mean to be American, or Greek, or Russian, or Romanian or Macedonian, or Serbian, but to be human. But it is also to remember that to be human always comes with a very specific, personal, even ethnic flavor.

It is like the Gospel itself. God who could not be contained has become contained in the man Christ Jesus, who may be described, even cirumscribed in icons. But He who is depicted in icons is also “He Who Is,” the One who is beyond the ability to describe or circumscribe.

So, too, the faith is beyond our ability to contain. We are contained by it. And yet we only know and experience it in its particular forms, whether in America, Greece, Russia, England, China – wherever it has become incarnate. Thus we contain the mystery and the mystery contains us.

Glory to God for All Things!