Sunday, September 2, 2007

Tradition as an Anchor

Fascinating article at The New Republic about Evangelicals who are turning toward the Orthodox Church (mostly toward the Middle Eastern versions of it, more than the Greek or Russian).

And how does this fit onto a blog that deals mostly with Jewish matters?
1. So it doesn't - so what?
2. An issue not addressed in the article: while Catholicism and parts of Protestantism are facing up to their traditions of Jew hatred, the Orthodox are not. Which raises the question if these people are more Orthodox or more American and enlightened?
3. Beyond all that, however, I found the article so fascinating because it seems the explanations many of the converts are giving themselves for their decision have to do with a feeling of rootedness, of being part of something that is simultaneously ancient and deeply intellectually satisfying, unlike much of the transient culture around them.

Sentiments any Jew who taps into Jewish tradition can identify with immediately.

1 comment:

Lydia McGrew said...

"Which raises the question if these people are more Orthodox or more American and enlightened?"

Do you mean the converts from evangelicalism to Orthodoxy?

I know several--either in physical person or in cyberspace. They're a mixed bunch. Some of them retain virtually all of their evangelical American cultural assumptions, so that I'm pretty sure they would be shocked if they ran into antisemitism in their church or among the more ethnic members thereof. Some, on the other hand, are what are known over here as "paleoconservatives." Paleocons, many of whom actually are Roman Catholic, have a very strong leaning towards anti-Israel sentiment, which unfortunately sometimes strays over into antisemitism.

I had read that article, directed there from another blog, a little while ago. It was really well-done. Just straightforward history, and it included several things I didn't know (like about the mass conversion in the late 80's).

The context in which I happened to read it, however, was strange: I had just been involved in a long and mildly acrimonious (if that's possible) debate on my own group blog about evangelicals trying to evangelize the Russian Orthodox in Russia, with the people on the other side arguing strenuously that it is legitimate for evangelical evangelism in Russia to be outlawed by the government, as it's contrary to the Russian culture. It was very strongly implied that evangelicals are more or less ignoramuses for thinking Russian Orthodox need to be evangelized, anyway, that this is a type of "sheep-stealing," and that Orthodox Christians are far more civilized in their attitude towards evangelicals!

Then I read this article, and it includes _explicitly_ the statement that the Antiochan Orthodox in the U.S. have a whole bureau or something, headed by a former evangelical, dedicated to evangelizing evangelicals to Orthodoxy in the United States, where Orthodoxy certainly is culturally different.

Somebody call the cops! It's sheep-stealing by the furriners! :-)