It seems ironic to report that I am safely in Florida, following so closely on a post concerning Science Fiction and the Orthodox Church. Florida, of course, has been the launching site for most American space research. I also find it interesting that my article on Science Fiction and the Church, which touched tangentially on the issue of cremation, stirred more response over that question than the actually questions engendered by Orthodoxy and Science Fiction.
It says to me that most of the questions that impose themselves on our faith – at a particular level – are far more practical than the speculations brought about by thinking about culture and Science Fiction. We still want to know how to bury our dead and why we should bury them in one way and not another.
As a priest it reminds me that the questions which surround my ministry are not nearly so much concerned with the theoretical as with the practical. And this is as it should be. God is not a theoretical God but the God who meets us in the most personal and uncomfortable places. Were it not so, our abstractions would rule and shortly we would become and imaginary religion and the Church of Jesus Christ.
The great battles of our lives will be fought on just such small battlegrounds. The more abstracted matters we can discuss over coffee and everyone can feel free to offer an opinion. No opinion matters because nothing is at stake.
But the great battles, as noted, will be on very small grounds. How do we bury? How do we pray? How do we fast? How do we marry? How do we sing? and so forth.
These are not small questions – but questions which test our faith, our humility, our love, our obedience – in short, all of the things that are truly saving in the life of an Orthodox Christian. And thus our faith is perceived as hard or difficult by others. It is only hard and difficult because it asks us to be real. And this is the greatest test of all. God have mercy.