A Generous Orthodoxy
A Generous Orthodoxy
By way of introduction, my name is Rick Henry. I live in the US in the state of Ohio. I have been Greek Orthodox for 1.5 years now (after being an 'inquirer' for about three years). Prior to that I was involved with American Fundamentalism and then Evangelicalism. Even though my neighbors have started calling me Henryopolus or Papadapahenryopolus, I have no Greek ancestry. Actually, I may be making a move to a local OCA church, so possibly my neighbors may have to come up with a Russian sounding name for me sometime soon. But, ultimately, I will share with you that as far as I am concerned, even though one cannot point to an American Orthodoxy in terms of a tangible structure, I feel that to the same degree that I am Eastern Orthodox, I am American Orthodox.
This is the second online discussion group that I have attempted to be a part of--the first one is where I met John Charmley and Peter Farrington. And, it was due to their patient 'perseverance' and balanced approach on that site that attracted me to this one. In fact as some may already know, on that site, it becomes apparent very quickly that it is *not* characterized by, as Fr. Gregory has said elsewhere:
" . . . a spirit of genuine openness, willingness to listen and preparedness to acknowledge error."
Or, much less, as Father continues, a place that demostrates:
" . . . an enthusiasm for asking (genuine) questions, and for offering (genuine) explanations, rather than for scoring debating points or ?proving? the other wrong. "
and, in spite experiencing "intolerance, ignorance and a lack of charity," while I am sure this will make both Peter and John blush, they have continued in many ways just as the Apostles Peter and John did while enduring some less than charitable situations. In situations that could easily be considered to be representative of an uncharitable Orthodoxy, whereby I would think most others would provide a justification for leaving and then fly without hesitation, there has been a steadfastness and a strong witness provided that would not have been present otherwise. There have been no beatings or scourgings, or banishments to deserted islands involved that I am aware of, but I would say that there has been a degree of suffering nonetheless.
And, I know from firsthand experience, based on private messages that I received from some community members, who were too afraid to post publicly, that because of this type of approach peoples minds were opened, and for the first time in some cases . . . people began to think. A common refrain that I heard from these was, "because of some of these posts, I have been challenged to think about things that I have never thought about before."
And, this new thread that I am initiating today is not about Peter or John, or even these people on the other site who have experienced an awakening of sorts as it relates to their theory and experience of knowing. In fact, I refuse to take part in online discussions that are about the participants themselves, instead of the intended topic. However, this thread is all about what has been called indirectly and directly by some "A Generous Orthodoxy."
Because, found within a Generous Orthodoxy is a very beautiful place. Hopefully as this thread itself will prove to be, a place that subscribes to such things as a Theology of Love, a Theology of Hope, and last but not least a Theology of Freedom wherein an historic Orthodox supra-polarity is to be found. A supra-polarity that recognizes the uselessness of traditional change and conflict principles, as it seeks to move beyond traditional polarities. And, while there is 'a desire to understand, and to be understood,' this mutual embrace is a by product of a common salvation which is realized by those whose ontology models their epistemology. And, as has been pointed out to me very recently, regardless of whether one is already standing on this christocentric common ground, or whether one is on a path towards this place, there is always an element of 'becoming' involved with one's 'being.' And, it is at this very point[!] where there needs to be an emphasis and much room allowed for the thinking behind a Generous Orthodoxy.
This is not a short conversation. And, sometimes it is hard to find a proper starting point to jump in; but, as we begin today, God willing, to explore the shape and dimension of a Generous Orthodoxy as opposed to a selfish orthodoxy, and as we possibly begin today to consider what may be called a Theology of Freedom as opposed to a Theology of Anxiety for those who are Orthodox now, and those who would be Orthodox, may God bless the dialogue in this thread so that it might be both a model and a vehicle of title itself.
There is suffering; but, may Love abide.