That's a powerful post, Fr. Gregory.
You point us to something which may well be uncomfortable to many Orthodox or would-be Orthodox. When my Catholic best friend and I talked about Orthodoxy, he said to me that he could understand why I didn't want to join him crossing the Tiber: 'because you think the Church has changed too much; you'd be a Tridentine Rite man if you'd been a cradle Catholic.' The implication was that it was the unchanging, and to that extent 'exotic' element which attracted me to Orthodoxy.
As it happens he was right about what would have been the case had I been born a Catholic, but wrong about my motives. I had been profoundly repelled by the contacts I had had with Eastern Orthodoxy precisely because the people who had talked to me had been of the 'orthodoxy as a museum' school. I was neither Greek nor did I live in the fifth century AD. I was steeped enough in Patristics to know that our understanding of the Faith has developed, and even if they dismissed the idea as 'Catholic' and an 'innovation', I knew otherwise as an historian.
And perhaps that is the beginning of some sort of answer to your question, Fr. Gregory.
The Church is the body of Christ; it is what assures us that we do not read the Gospel wrongly; it is the canon of what is orthodox. There never was an heretic who could not quote scripture to 'prove' his point; there never was one who could base himself on the fullness of the Scriptures read within the tradition of which they are part. But that does mean the Church is a means towards an end; not an end in itself. It is Christ' Church, not an ethnic social club in which we can practise rites which comfort us.
I love the Liturgy of St. James. Whilst I have been unable to drive (which is most of the last nine months) I have occasionally gone with my friend to the Catholic chapel he attends. He warned me I'd 'hate' the New Order Mass; he was wrong. Whilst I know enough about liturgy to be able to join him in picking holes in it, I actually found it quite effective spiritually. Talking to other Catholics afterwards and on other occasions, I came across the comment that it was a good thing because it allowed them access to the Eucharist without having to spend the whole morning at Church.
Perhaps that ancient Coptic liturgy is something to look at?
Quote:So: let me throw out a challenge. How can Orthodoxy be adapted (without any essential change to the Faith) for modern people, especially young people, in the modern world? What would Orthodox 2010 look like? And if no such adaption can be made, what is the future of Orthodoxy?
I hope others will help us here - even though we are treading into the idea of 'change' which is what some come to Orthodoxy to avoid.
But you remind us that things do change, always have. You identify the crux of this: the essentials remain, but the externals change. Indeed, one might argue the BOC itself is a vehicle of that change since it brings Orthodoxy to us in a form we can receive.
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)