Monday, January 24, 2005

No Fun on a "Day Off"

Three-day weekends are supposed to be fun. This sucks.

So I'm getting ready for school today and I feel what can only be politely referred to as "severe gastrointestinal distress" the likes of which I haven't felt since my time in Ecuador in '95. We'll just leave it at that. Anyways, it's severe enough to leave my kids at the hands of a sub today and sit around with a gallon of Gatorade to try and keep myself hydrated.

Finished reading Thirsting For God in a Land of Shallow Wells by Matthew Gallatin. It's written from the point of view of a convert to Orthodoxy from Calvery Chapel-type charismatic protestantism. I bought it for my wife, ironically, as I had heard it would be a helpful voice in "crossing the wilderness" of lowered emotionalism that moving from "Celebrate Jesus" to "Only Begotten Son and Word of God" can cause. She's reading it now.

Guess I found right. He does a good job at defending Orthodox beliefs against the "What th-?!" types of questions posed by many a confused friend from the Evangelical days. What I found repeatedly frustrating was his simplistic view of the Evangelical experience with God. He seems to be the kind of person who will, in romantic fashion, sing the praises of whatever confession he's in at the time, leaving the other confession to obviously lack something.

Don't get me wrong; I'm very well-convinced of the numerous advantages I think the Church has over my "Bapticostal" upbringing, say that the Protestant experience is always limited to knowing about God through the Scriptures instead of experiencing Him directly? That wasn't my experience at ALL. Guess I'm just one of those guys who likes the "best offense is a good defense" up your side and the light it shines out will cast light on the ugly parts (and I stress the word parts) of where you come from.

I'm not about burning bridges; just crossing them.

Ugh. Gatorade time again.


Anonymous said...

"Don't get me wrong; I'm very well-convinced of the numerous advantages I think the Church has over my 'Bapticostal' upbringing, say that the Protestant experience is always limited to knowing about God through the Scriptures instead of experiencing Him directly? That wasn't my experience at ALL."

Querido Pedro,

¡Un buen blog!

(God, I hope I didn't botch that up!)

Never having read Gallatin's book, I thought I'd ask you this question. The way you say he describes Protestantism as knowing about God through the Word rather than direct experience, I suppose, could be taken in a few different ways. While I would obviously disagree that Protestants don't experience God (I've met enough to know that, however wrong their beliefs, they have the passion for following Christ that we Orthodox oftentimes lack), I wonder if what Gallatin was not getting at was the fact that Protestants, as they are, could not possibly experience God as directly as we do through the Sacraments. When we celebrate this or that Sacrament, we experience God in an indescribable way, whether we are conscious of it or not at the time. Do you think he had this in mind, or instead was he just kicking dirt on his former denomination?

David Bryan said...

Thanks for commenting,

I think he was doing what you described; there was the comparison between our Eucharistic encounter and the more lacking encounter within Protestantism. But I think there was just some misrepresentation in the book, or (better said) some overgeneralization of Protestant confessions.

Anonymous said...

Dear Pedro,

This is Phil (Mor), btw. I am the author of the comment above, but somehow forgot to sign my name.

What was Gallatin before he joined the Church?

I'm not sure sometimes what to make of the "convert phenomenon". It is possible, of course, that Gallatin was overgeneralising or misrepresenting his former confession/Protestantism in general. Some converts are wont to do that. But sometimes I wonder if it is possible that other converts read something into such presentations that isn't there, and come out in support of their own former denomination as "not so bad", although admittedly not the fulness of the faith, because *they* were associated with it.

For instance, I've had the "distinct honour" in the almost three years of OCNet's existence of being called/considered a monophysite heretic by converts to EOxy from both Protestantism and Roman Catholicism, but each of those persons seemed to cut their own former denominations quite a bit of slack, saying that this or that doctrine/practice was misunderstood, misrepresented, "not as bad as you think", etc. Never mind if I/we tried to make the same claims about my/our Church! :-P

I am not saying that you are doing this, Pedro. I just wonder if, among some converts, it might be an underlying tendency to defend one's former faith a little more stridently (and not do so for others), in spite of their own admissions that its confession is not Orthodox, because it was at one time *theirs*, just as it sometimes seems to be an underlying tendency of other converts to bash their former church. What do you think?

May God bless you through the prayers of Mor Ephrem and Mor Isaac the Syrians, whose feast day it is today.

David Bryan said...

Hey, Phil!

Mmm...yeah, you make a good point.

I'd maybe tweak your analysis a little...I think that the reason folks are probably so quick to lash out and/or restrain themselves depending on the confession is whether or not they personally KNOW anybody in said confession.

Like, for me, has been good, 'cause I knew ONE coptic Orthodox in passing before joining the forum. Now I've gotten a chance to chat in depth with several very well-spoken Non-Chalcedonians and, while I still don't see the confession as being as Orthodox as it could be, is not something to which I would rush to apply any sort of harsh label, since I know the sincerety of several of its confessors.

So, less about where they WERE personally, and more about who they KNEW personally. Gallatin also comments on his many dear friends who are still Protestants of all stripes, though...

As far as my beef with the book...maybe his experience was just different from mine. I do remember facing the whole "knowing ABOUT Christ istead of really KNOWING Him as a person" dilemma as an Evangelical, but it wasn't the only thing we could do, as prayer--communion with God as PERSON through conversation--was also stressed, at least in my confession. Not that that's an adequate substitute for Eucharist, but it's enough to let SBs say it's proof they're not JUST about knowing ABOUT Him.

David Bryan said...

AND...a couple other things...

1) You got the Spanish right, good buddy!

2) Is it YOUR namesday in the Malankara Church? Like, are they on the same as the EO? If so, ¡muchos años!

Anonymous said...

Dear Pedro,

It was my "online" name day yesterday; we commemorate St. Isaac the Ninevite on 28 January, as well as St. Ephrem (who has one other commemoration). Thanks!