Messiness in the Modern World

Salvation can be messy.

I believe this with all my heart and so I state it at the outset of this article. As such, it marks me as a heretic in Modernity. I not only believe that salvation is messy – I believe that messiness is pretty much inherent to salvation. And along with that, I believe that our aversion to messiness (in all things) is a peculiar affliction of the modern world and a vexation of the spirit.

Let me explain.

I hold no ill thoughts towards those who appreciate cleanness and neatness. I even recognize that there are arguments to be put forward in their support. But the universe tends towards messiness – in physics it is known as entropy – things tend towards increasing amounts of disorder. Human civilization has always offered a push back to the world’s entropy. We build roads and then begin the tedious work of maintaining them while all of the forces of nature conspire to return their invented cleanliness to a more natural, disordered state. Every home-owner knows the never-ending work of holding back the forces of entropy, for he or she has invested a tidy-sum into a structure that is destined to fall down.

Our lives are no different. For though there is some inner drive at work within us that wants to order things and make sense of them, the randomness of the day works in the opposite direction. I have often thought that movies (and novels) fail to rightly represent this aspect of our existence. These narratives always show the wonder of a beginning and an end. The story moves from one point in the text to another and finds its crisis, climax and denouement. A good movie leaves us with a feeling of resolve. But life is not like that. Just before the incredible job interview that would have opened a new chapter in life and provided the capstone for a personal story, the real-world protagonist has a heart-attack and dies. And that’s just it. The film breaks and the images flutter on the screen and render the entire work of art that is a life-time little more than meaningless tatters. And this happens every day. Many people do not die at the “end” of their lives. Their narratives are interrupted messes that frequently leave loose ends and deep, unresolved problems.

But Modernity despises this aspect of our existence. The Modern world is the triumph of human intellect and will. It is the subjection of nature to the force of order. Entropy be damned! The myth of progress is the imposition of an orderly narrative onto the canvas of the world, an insistence that things must come together in a more sensible, useful and productive manner. Our lives will be better if only we master the messiness. The myth of success only works if the world agrees to be predictable and manageable, yielding itself to our efforts to make it behave.

But it will not – ever. The world was not created for such behavior. Even in the Garden of Eden, man had to “dress it and keep it.” There were weeds in the Garden of Eden! Someone will doubtless suggest that our “dominion” over the fish, birds, and every creeping thing, etc.” is a commandment to bring order into the messiness. I respond that this is like “herding cats.” Fish and creeping things become orderly at our command, only when they’re dead and we can lay them neatly in rows. And even then, the entropy of corruption will reduce their rows to dust.

These are just observations on how things work. But the problem that I want us to see is how Modernity works – and particularly how it works within us. We have internalized the myth of progress and utility. We not only believe that the world and the things around us can be better, but that it is our God-given task to make them so. We push this same cultural mandate into the Scriptures as well. We imagine the parable of the good stewards (those who invested their talents of money and made a profit) to be stories of how God praised and rewarded them for their productivity and usefulness. We fail to wonder what actually constitutes faithful stewardship in the Kingdom of God.

More than this, we are tormented by the abiding and increasing messiness of our lives and world. The cultural myth runs deep in our psyche. We experience guilt and shame in the face of entropy, knowing that we could have done better and should have done more. For some, such thoughts are the very stuff of insanity. They have more than occasionally been the stuff of great evil.

The darkest moments of the modern world have come as a result of various plans to “improve” things. The Modern state found its first great champion in the efficiencies of 19th century Prussia (later Germany). Rationality was elevated to new heights, not just on the philosophical level, but across the board. The result was an efficient state, an effective army, and a policy of improvement for the world that created two world wars, genocide and a legacy of darkness that has yet to be dissipated. Other visions of a better world sought to remove the irrationality of religion and any number of other “messy” human pursuits. And although it is popular among the new atheists to blame religion for human conflict, religion is purely amateur when compared to the ruthless efficiencies of the rationalized state.

The sad drama of contemporary Christianity is marked by the “improvements” of “productivity” and “effectiveness.” “Better” Church has given us increasingly silly and ill-invented forms of the Christian faith. Old mainline denominations are shuttering their buildings with increasing frequency as their once efficient forms fail to keep pace with the rapid morphing of the contemporary scene.

And it is here that I will point out one of the great virtues of Orthodox Christianity: it is irretrievably messy. It operates with a set of canons that have remained unreformed through the centuries. Some are so old that the date of their origin is lost in speculation. Its messiness is visible to all the world – particularly in such problems as the over-lapping jurisdictions that seem to serve as a constant embarrassment. It is a situation that others point to with derision. It is being addressed at the present time, though it remains to be seen whether the problem will be corrected in the lifetime of anyone now living. I am not confident.

The Orthodox life is simply messy (when it is properly lived). For it is not a way of life given to us in order to tidy up the planet. It is a way of messiness, or a way to live with messiness. Christ trampled down messiness by messiness (to paraphrase). Death is chaos, for those who have understanding. And we need fear chaos no more than we fear death because of what Christ has done and is doing.

The world around us is simply messy, chaotic and marked by the workings of entropy everywhere. And though we “dress it and keep it” we must not curse it or despise its “weediness.” And we should recognize and resist the abiding temptation of our times to fix everything. Rather than create jobs and insist on a living wage, we declare a “war on poverty,” much like our forebears fought the “War to End All Wars.”

Parenthetically, a pet peeve of mine has to do with a certain form of liturgy, primarily seen in the various revivals of the traditional Mass in the West. There is a precision to be seen there, almost military in nature, that is among the most unnatural of human behaviors. Things are too refined, too careful, too synchronized. Liturgy is not a martial art. Such a performance creates a false icon of heaven – or so it seems to me. I prefer the messy ceremony of the East, even the occasional klutzy fumblings of priests and servers. I worry about those who are intolerant of such things – whether inside or outside of the Church. For they are destined to be tortured by the world as it exists, and apparently the world as it is intended to exist.

“All things work together for good,” is probably the boldest proclamation of messiness that I know. Many are quick, even nervous to note that the sentence goes on to say, “For those who love God and are called according to His purposes.” That is certainly true. And His purpose doesn’t seem to be about making the world a more tidy place, only in making us to be like His glorious self.

About Fr. Stephen Freeman

Fr. Stephen is a retired Archpriest of the Orthodox Church in America, Pastor Emeritus of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present: Christianity in a One-Storey Universe, and Face to Face: Knowing God Beyond Our Shame, as well as the Glory to God podcast series on Ancient Faith Radio.



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39 responses to “Messiness in the Modern World”

  1. Alexandra Avatar
    Alexandra

    This is a welcome reminder for my perfectionism, thank you. There have to be bounds not just so the messiness can be contained, but so the messiness can have a place.
    In some traditional forms of agriculture, the hedgerow served such a function. It defines and protects the fields but is itself full of sometimes dozens of species of plants and animals and insects that have no place in the field. In turn, these narrow colonies of wilderness provide balance for the field, prevent stagnation, erosion, and all the other attendant evils of monoculture.
    Often the presence of mess in my own house creates a sense of great shame – I am behind! My children are running amok! Perhaps I’m lazy! I can’t find anything! But sometimes we just need to go outside where the kids’ messiness can be in harmony with their surroundings. It’s amazing how quickly they become calm when the mess is in harmony.

  2. Susan Cushman Avatar

    This is so interesting, Father. It makes me think of my (unofficial, undiagnosed) tendency towards OCD behaviors. And my control issues, which I can see are one of the ways I push against the messiness, the chaos. I remember observing on numerous visits to Holy Dormition Monastery in Rives Junction, Michigan, how the nuns kept the grounds. Of course they pulled weeds, but they let the grass and wild plants take on a more natural course than the manicured landscapes in the suburbs. It was definitely messy, but in a beautiful, natural way. Thanks so much for this!

  3. Hal Freeman Avatar
    Hal Freeman

    Great and much needed reminder! Entropy happens.

  4. Janine Avatar
    Janine

    Father Stephen,
    Once upon a time I would occasionally attend services at the Episcopal Church a couple of blocks from me. One day one of the altar servers told me her secret: she would put something a little bit out of order on the altar table. That way the priest could correct that and be done. (Yes, he needed to fuss.) For many years this altar server had been a nurse in a home for the mentally ill. I thought that was quite smart.

    I love this: “All things work together for good,” is probably the boldest proclamation of messiness that I know.

  5. David E. Rockett Avatar
    David E. Rockett

    Wonderful reminder…of the messy chaos flowing from the Fall & that “the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God”
    Messiness often seems an understatement when we not the tragic Mess of Ukraine/Russia, Gaza/Palestine & Isralie/Zionism…[much the result of Utopian meddling of the US/Nato…to “progress”.
    Nevertheless to push of civilization from disordered loves and life presses on…with the good news of gospel-sacramentalism & Divine Liturgy at the center:
    –infant diaper explosions…yield to toddlers potty training & clean bottoms. [it happens!]
    –gardens are weeded and animals herds are better husband
    –even teenagers are often civilized from chaos to rightly-ordered loves, marriages and parenthood!
    –surgeons and pilots follow their checklists…
    It happens in the context of disorder messiness…determined to resist the ever-present legion-appeals of love by the Holy Trinity…
    “For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the [messy] blood of His cross.”

  6. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    Ah, entropy. Aging is its classic expression as our body gradually breaks down as we journey toward physical disintegration. At the same time, if we allow Him, Our Lord is constantly filling us with Life, Joy and Love.

    Hamlet said it best; “To be or not to be…” Yet his quest for a particular order ultimately leads to a stage littered with bodies. His opposition to the “sea of troubles” did not end them.

    It is Satan who tricks us into desiring rigid order and perfection.

    Brings me back to Mt 4:17: “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

    …at hand! Indeed closer than hands and feet. The way of the Cross.

  7. Leah K Avatar
    Leah K

    Father, would you please further explain your comment, “The Orthodox life is simply messy (when it is properly lived).” Thank you.

  8. Matthew Avatar
    Matthew

    I will do my best to live the commands of Christ in a messy world … no matter how bad things look; no matter how fruitless it all seems; no matter how much entropy pervades the universe.

  9. Drewster2000 Avatar
    Drewster2000

    Fr. Stephen,

    I would be interested in your reflection on entropy vs. atrophy. In the face of unfettered chaos, why is it that some things explode with life while other things seem to be drained of it?

    P.S. I can tell you really like that picture! (wink)

  10. Fr. Stephen Avatar

    Leah,
    I could have said that it is “organic” instead of saying “messy.” But we tend to think of organic things as “messy,” versus nice, clean, mechanical things. The Orthodox life is not rigid – it has room for spontaneity and wonder. It requires a certain amount of freedom. It is best defined and conditioned through love – which is probably the most adaptable thing in our lives.

  11. Fr. Stephen Avatar

    Drewster,
    The picture is of the trailer where my parents lived after their retirement and until they entered a senior facility (health reasons). It is slowly being swallowed by nature…

    I would have to ponder the entropy/atrophy question. This entire planet seems to explode with life (even if it’s life in a form we don’t like). I have always equated with God’s command for the earth to “bring forth life”

  12. Ook Avatar
    Ook

    Oh, why couldn’t you have written this 50 years ago?
    Then I could have told my mother: “Father says I don’t have to clean my room!”

  13. Molly Irene Avatar

    Thank you for this.

    I have two young children with another on the way, and teach art to over 600 children. Everything is so terribly messy all the time!

    Liturgy is especially challenging, and we often end up not going. It’s so very long, and I’m a bit haunted by some experiences with families who judged each other by the orderliness of one another’s children.

  14. Fr. Stephen Avatar

    Ook,
    She would have trumped me with the commandment, “Obey your parents.” We could have comforted her with knowledge that even if you were messy…you’d be ok…

  15. Fr. Stephen Avatar

    Molly,
    So sorry about the experiences of impatient or judging families. Children are a great joy to God – even when they’re noisy. All of my report cards in school scolded me for talking too much (I really couldn’t help it…ADHD being what it is…only they had no such diagnosis back then). Somehow, regardless of a lot of checkered experiences, I came out of my childhood and teens simply assured in my deepest heart that God loves us (me included). I’ve pondered many times how they came to be so – and I can only assume it was a work of grace.

    Liturgy can be a checkered experience (even for an old priest). But I think of the negative things as being “of human beings” and never of God. We are all like children – some of us play pretty, and others, “act ugly” – to use a Southern expression.

    May He have mercy on us all.

  16. Ook Avatar
    Ook

    “Obey your parents”? Drat! Foiled again!
    I actually tried the entropy argument on her (what’s the point of cleaning if you just have to do it again a week later?) and that didn’t work either…

  17. Parascheva Avatar
    Parascheva

    Molly

    I think this is very much a problem with Orthodoxy which finds itself in a non-Orthodox country. In Orthodox Eastern Europe the Liturgy is very messy. The lack of pews mean everyone is moving about, there are children everywhere, the infirm and families with babies can receive Communion at any time during the Liturgy, and there are people venerating relics and icons at all times. People zone in and out of the Liturgy as they want, many spending some time outside in the sun. There is usually a priest available for confession during the Liturgy and a deacon to receive the petitions. People rock up and join the chanters for the singing, and there is very little precision but a lot of enthusiasm. Also, here in the Balkans, people prostrate (outside of Pascha) when they feel like it, it is common to see people on the floor, there are no set times for this, it just happens. There is zero formality, but amazing reverence. I come from a traditional Catholic background where everything was as highly orchestrated as a ‘ballet blanc’ like Swan Lake; beautiful yes, but oh I have found myself and my Lord in the scruffy beauty of Orthodoxy!

  18. Fr. Stephen Avatar

    Parascheva,
    Thank you for this wonderful description! “Scruffy beauty” of Orthodoxy, indeed. One of the nicknames for my nearby-city neighbor (Knoxville, TN) is “Scruffy City.”

  19. Dee of St Herman Avatar
    Dee of St Herman

    Parascheva,
    Your lovely comment made me smile. It is so wonderful to be in communion in the scruffy beauty of Orthodoxy! (I’m unintentionally often scruffy myself! Lord have mercy!)

  20. DC Avatar
    DC

    Someone on a gardening FB page the other lamented that she had done everything she knew to get her new garden going, yet, weeds were growing and grass had pushed up through the carefully placed weed cloth. Obviously, she is not at the point to understand that gardening, like life, is like playing Whack-a-mole. Something is always pushing itself forward for our attention… My house is not quite a shambles, but the garden looks great, which will feed us into the winter. My 34 year marriage isn’t falling apart, but there are a few rips along the edges. I’ve been in a “perfect” home, it was scary. Like, what’s lurking behind the scenes that doesn’t show? We can try our best, but showing up just in time to replace a sick music director and stumbling about a bit is better than not having the service at all.

  21. Russell Mangiapane Avatar
    Russell Mangiapane

    It is difficult to sing “ Christ is risen from the dead trampling down messiness by messiness…”

  22. Brandon Avatar
    Brandon

    Father – thank you. Your articles and comments on messiness here and in the past Bring a lot of peace to an ocd/adhd mind, redirecting it to the heart in truth. Thank you.

  23. Priest Nicholas Finley Avatar
    Priest Nicholas Finley

    From the time I began serving my current parish (where God has benevolently and compassionately continued to bless me to serve for over 13 years to the present), I was extremely desirous to bless the homes of my parishioners. To date, I’ve not been able to obtain the invitation of many to come to their homes around the Feast of Theophany to do so. I maintain the hope that one day I’ll be granted admittance. Lord, have mercy! It may not be every case the same, but I’m aware that one or more of these situations is maintained as an improbability “because the house is messy, father.” I’ve attempted to ameliorate this concern by suggesting that there’s a special blessing for this. On occasion one or more of these has asked, “really? What is that?” I say: “Lord, please bless this mess!” Sometimes I get a smile. I’m a sucker for dad jokes *shrug*. A few thoughts : 1- God blesses us even in our messiness not in order that we would continue to be messy, but even more especially because His love with which He loves us is so intense He is pleased to approach us even in our squalor; 2- my messiness, your messiness, anyone’s messiness is not more powerful that God’s mercy, compassion, and love which empowers us to live; 3 – the order we seek as a path to salvation is along the narrow path covered with thorns and rocky precipices and the like – God perhaps even allows these so we can show Him how much we love Him, even as He has walked the way of the Cross to show us how much He loves us! Glory to God!

  24. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    Go to AccuWeather.com and look at the incredible pictures of storms firing up on the plains. They put everything we do in the proper place. The awe and majesty AND the destructive power. The intra-relationships inherent in creation are quite beautifully messy.

    Only those who live in cities can maintain the fantasy of “order”

  25. Fr. Stephen Avatar

    Fr. Nicholas,
    Well…you could do a print-off of this article (or do it electronically, etc.) and send it out to the congregation prior to Theophany…then ask for the blessing sign-ups. 🙂

  26. Priest Nicholas Finley Avatar
    Priest Nicholas Finley

    Fr. Stephen, I love that idea! I believe I shall! Thank you! 🙂

  27. christa Avatar
    christa

    I laughed and smiled and shouted YES! a number of times (at least two hands worth!) Thank you! Now “let go of caring what others may think” I say to myself. How freeing life can be in God!

  28. Alonzo Avatar
    Alonzo

    I always enjoys your post Fr. Freeman and the comments that follow.

    Life is messy. My wife and I have 4 kids that are aged 7, 6, 2, and 8 months. Everything is a beautiful mess! We’re not orthodox but worship in our home with 4 families with young kids too. I would love to go to the orthodox church 30 minutes away in Vancouver, WA or 45 minutes away in Portland but it would be exhausting for my wife and I, juggling kids through the service and the drive with a crying baby.

    However, I really believe the orthodox church is the most biblical, historical and truest way to practice Christianity. I recently got a orthodox study bible which has been great. I listen to ancient faith radio often, read Becoming Orthodox by Peter Gilquist and The Orthodox Church by Timoth Ware. I agree with it all and want to become orthodox, but that would make life very messy and its messy enough. I feel like I won’t be satisfied until I join an orthodox church. It just doesn’t feel like the right time for our family. My wife is not as interested in orthodoxy either and likes house church. How do I proceed forward in this time? Any advice or thoughts is appreciated!

    Alonzo Odem

  29. shannon Avatar
    shannon

    Fr. Stephen:
    I liked this article, and I too could have used it years ago, even before I found Orthodoxy. Like other commenters, I too am a ‘fixer’, and a bit OCD in the physical realm.
    Perhaps out of brevity, you negate but do not offer an alternative interpretation here: “Someone will doubtless suggest that our “dominion” over the fish, birds, and every creeping thing, etc.” is a commandment to bring order into the messiness. I respond that this is like “herding cats.” ” What, then, did God mean?

    Re: messiness vs. the “modern temptation”, I suspect the proper route is somewhere in the middle. All of physical life is a struggle against entropy. Most duties within of each of our jobs constitute that very struggle. Anything OTHER than that struggle is practically defined as “leisure”. You cannot be suggesting we abandon that struggle. At the far ends of the spectrum from messiness to fastidiousness are laziness (with material disorder), and the control-freak Prussian. Scripture, especially Proverbs, is rich in warnings against laziness, which could possibly be defined as “a surrender out of convenience TO entropy”.
    Yet I see very well your caution re: the other extreme.
    As an aside, I used to drive by a house with a very cluttered, junk and weed-filled front yard. Out near the road was a sign which read, “Pray for America”. I would laugh to myself and think, “you better start with your own front yard, and let America wait”. The old Protestant in me so often does want to sweep under the bed before opening the Bible on the nightstand. Knowing when to be a Mary or a Martha sometimes takes more discernment than I possess. Your post helps. Some.

  30. Aaron Lechtenberger Avatar
    Aaron Lechtenberger

    Father Steven,

    I struggle a lot what you’re saying, because the consequences of “getting it wrong” in life are eternal. We can burn in hell for eternity. Our prayers can be given out of a dead heart and our cries may go unanswered. I can’t put the things you say here together with what I read from Saint Theophan the Recluse in “Unseen Warfare” nor with how Father Seraphim Rose talks about the reality of hell. Nor can I put what you say with the Church’s long and firm opposition to sexual immorality. If “messiness” was part of it all along, why oppose the evil in our hearts?

    The only thing I can offer is that we are talking about two very different forms of “messiness”. The messiness that you talk about must be primarily aesthetic, and the true orderliness is within the love of the human heart towards God, which cannot afford to be messy or lukewarm.

  31. Fr. Stephen Avatar

    Aaron,
    The messiness I am describing should not be confused with not trying or being slack (lukewarm). It simply describes the state of the world around us (and a frequently unavoidable aspect of our lives). It is quite possible, however, to mistake our neurotic fears for true piety. It is more than possible to read writings of the Fathers and others and focus on the “scary” parts – which mostly reflects our own inner fears rather than the true heart of the saints. BTW, St. Theophan did not write Unseen Warfare (it was originally a Catholic writing translated and published by the Orthodox).

    God is a good God and loves mankind. He wills our salvation – and ever works through all things to bring about our healing. May He grant you grace.

  32. Aaron Lechtenberger Avatar
    Aaron Lechtenberger

    Father Steven,

    Thank you for taking the time to read and write a response, may God bless you.

    Aaron

  33. Dee of St Herman Avatar
    Dee of St Herman

    Father,
    Thank you for clarifying the writing “Unseen Warfare” as not having been written by St Theophan. I’ve seen too often (let’s just say more often than comfortable for me) a perspective about life in Christ more closely resembling what is seen in Western Christianity. I’m also grateful for your book (Face to Face), which helps to delineate important distinctions.

    Please forgive me. I’m a convert to Orthodoxy. There is much that is good about so many converts to Orthodoxy in the US and there is a lot that I also worry about. Although such worry so unnecessary, I know. I truly believe that the Orthodox Church is Christ’s Bride and He will take care of her.

  34. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    Dee,
    Given your posts here over the years, I do not think you have a problem. The folks who have problems that I have seen tend to be unwilling to let go of their ideas and/or persistent sins. They want to form the Church rather than allowing the Holy Spirit to guide and change their body, mind and soul.
    There are many potential roadblocks some societal, some personal.

    I have found the only antidote to be Mt. 4:17: Repent! For the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!

  35. Fr. Stephen Avatar

    Aaron,
    Forgive me if I seemed dismissive in any way. I found myself struggling to find the right way to respond to your comment. The fear of hell and divine punishment, though certainly found within the Tradition, is, in my pastoral experience, a poor foundation for the spiritual life. It was said within the Desert Fathers that it was possible to respond to God in one of three ways. Either as a slave (out of fear of punishment), as a servant (out of hope for gain), or as a son (out of love). They indicated that the approach rooted in love was the most to be preferred.

    There is a long history of abuse in various strains of Christianity of the fear of punishment. It’s not that it has no value – but it has the clear ability to distort the fundamental message of the gospel that God is love. My own concern for tolerating a certain amount and kind of “messiness” in the world – and even in our own lives – is a word that seeks to protect us from far greater sins and tendencies – such as the need to control others, or to have a false understanding of just how much power we actually have. It is a concern for the serious dangers of delusion in the spiritual life.

    This is something that, on an individual level, is best dealt with in confession. One person might be lukewarm and in need of being stirred to greater efforts, while another might need to see that their fastidiousness is itself a sin. It varies.

    Nonetheless, in modern culture, where there is a false teaching regarding progress and the ability of human beings to “make the world a better place,” there are many who have never considered “messiness” in a positive light. My article is intended to shed some light in a corner overshadowed by our modern false ideas.

  36. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    The first critique of the Idea of Progress (the book’s title) I ran across long before I encountered The Church was written by classical historian, J. B. Bury in 1920. It was assigned to me by my American history professor in 1969. A more recent secular critique is written by Tom Wessels.

    Even 19th century Am. Historian Henry Adams questioned the solvency and correctness of the Idea.

    Nevertheless the recognition in the Church that “progress” is a false and even heretical idea goes far deeper in ways that are more personal and transformative reality (as opposed to just an idea)

    Still the “idea” has become pernicious in our time. Every form of faith I have encountered seriously on my way to the Church has practiced designed for transformation — not Progress…

    They are radically different in form and context. It may be a key challenge to we in the Church to understand and witness to the difference. Transformation is way messier

  37. Luke Nieuwsma Avatar
    Luke Nieuwsma

    Fr, I really appreciate your comment about the Western Rite approach. I’ve personally felt that WR is much more head than heart, and it leaves me feeling rather cold, whereas the Eastern Rite with all its simultaneous unordered order seems somehow to make heaven much more accessible. Even though I was raised with western-style liturgics in the Reformed/Anglican traditions.
    In Him,
    Luke

  38. Fr. Stephen Avatar

    Luke,
    It’s important to underscore the fact that there is a Western Rite within Orthodoxy, and that it is fully in communion with the Church. It is also the case that the Western Rite’s basis is still a liturgical usage that is largely post-Reformation – and has been trimmed somewhat of what would have been Medieval practice. I’m not an expert in such things. Ultimately, what matters to me is what is “in the Cup.” If it’s in communion with us – then I have no qualms – I have thoughts, but not qualms.

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