Illumined Heart Interview

The interview with Michael and I is up at AFR and available for download.  I think it went well, despite my occasional inarticulateness. Let me know what you think.


5 thoughts on “Illumined Heart Interview

  1. When did you do this??? And why were Courtney and Kelly not there? Other than that, yes, Michael was more articulate; but, that is to be expected–he is the poet. =)

    I think you both stated what you wanted to well enough; I do not think that the answers are satisfying because I do not think they can be. Putting all background aside, people listening to this want an easy answer to why people are becoming Orthodox. It is a question more and more people are asking; yet, the answer sought is like a person’s 5-minute testimony tied in with the 5 spiritual laws. I will not be surprised if most people write off what you said as an anomaly. That is, “they converted because their heads were full of old writings and their friends convinced them” or “they don’t care about finding the truth for themselves, they are lazy and just want to be told what to do.” The Evangelical (and I say this as a pentecostal) world wants a quick answer. So often the response to “attendance problems” is to find what people want and then offer it to them. Your answer does not give what they can offer to keep converts. In that sense, your answers will not satisfy many–though, knowing you two, I do not think that was your point. 😉

    On a side note…you did vastly understate the difficulties transitioning–not that I saw it myself or anything…just saying… =)Good job anyways, cool to hear you two.

  2. Chelsea,

    I don’t know why Kelly and Courtney weren’t there, or why Michael and I were given this opportunity to speak for the hundreds of Evangelical College grads that are converting to Orthodoxy.

    I think we hit many of the major points, but I don’t feel that they were covered in any way that can be called complete. It was meant as an interview, not as an argument for becoming Orthodox – so I felt it was enough to say something to extent as “I saw the need for the Church to be a Truth-telling thing, and I saw that in the Orthodox Church.” That’s what the real adventure is all about… the other crucial issues of Sacraments, doctrinal unity, spiritual healing, the filique, Divine Simplicity, and even Bibliology are best seen in our lives in light of our Adventure into Authority.

    As far as people writing us off as an anomaly, they are probably not the kind of people that will snoop around an Orthodox radio station. Not to say that no Protestants are looking for something like this, there are more and more arenas of Protestantism that wondering why these people went and did such a radical thing as convert; I’ve been asked to explain why several dozen times, both to Protestants and Orthodox.

    I seem to find that the minute I start talking about my submission to the Church people pull out a laundry list of assumptions (see my last couple blogs). Part of what Michael said very well was that it wasn’t about finding something that met our articulable felt needs, but about finding something that transcended that and reached to our needs. Of course that it anecdotal, and therefore cannot be argued with; but it is a common and resounding theme I have heard at every Orthodox parish I visit. Converts are a significant part of the parishes in America, and as much as I would like to feel proud or exotic, my story is anything but rare.

    I think I agree with you in that, if I were an Protestant listening to the show I think I would be tempted to ignore our anecdotal statements since it offers little that furthers dialog. But there’s other stuff in there that does further dialog, as there is on this blog, but in order to begin such a dialog earnestly the assumptions about our “old-fashionry”, “high-church preferences”, and “works-salvation mindedness” need to be set aside. Besides, seeing the Church as the True Hospital, the Body of Christ, with the Medicine of Immortality, in other words – seeing Her as our Mother – is the truest answer to why I became Orthodox.

  3. Dear Chelsea:

    I can answer the first question you asked! The reason I didn’t have Kelly and Courtney on the program was a practical one. We only have four mics and earphones in the studio we record in! The fourth is used by the sound engineer, so we can only acommodate four (max) in any given interview. Kelly and Courtney would have made excellent guests, however!

  4. wow! two answers…and more questions. =) Does there happen to be Gregorian chant or other such music on this radio station?

    In regards to the dialog issue, it really does sadden me that, in a general sense, humanity seems to not like dialog–or at least know how to participate in it well. Though I will admit that I prefer facts/ doctrine when it comes to discussing religion as it is a little more concrete to discuss than anecdotal revelations, there is still room for discussion–and there should be discussion–about such things. Charles Williams of all people whom I esteem (well, at least his writings as I never knew him) seems to mix anecdote and dialog quite well in regards to belief. We should never shy from something simply because it is more difficult and I do not think we as friends have ever been known to do that–tedious and heart-wrenching as it may become at times. I often wish that dialog were more pervasive though am more often met with a feeling of, “oh, you just like that academic stuff”–what can be more frustrating!

    As an interview/discussion with like-minded people, of course you did well–could you really have done anything less? =) I was speaking more to the general angst of a lack of discussion between various theological beliefs and the lack of desire to discuss. If only people would sit down and talk, right? It deeply saddens me that there are so many rifts within our Church. The more I study the history, the more I see less reason for the Protestant/ Catholic split and the Orthodox/ Catholic split–I won’t even touch on the Protestant denominational splits. The more I study, the more I am also convinced that religious beliefs should stay away from politics–it has never ended well. However, as much as I may wish, this is the world we are in and there is- at least on this side of death’s other kingdom- little hope of reunification.

    I do not think that one system is better; but, I do think there are things they can all learn from each other. There has been more talk recently between Catholic/ Orthodox leaders–which is encouraging–and I hope that Protestants will also begin to open dialog-though I am less inclined to think it will go well, which is unfortunate and potentially devastating.

    On a side note (well, a potentially long one) the Protestant detest and disdain for “high-church,” ceremony/ tradition, and Mary has always astounded me. Even if dialog is to be initiated, I do not know that it is a stumbling block that can be avoided, which seems unfortunate to say the least; and, even, a little confusing.

  5. Chelsea,

    Ancient Faith Radio plays Orthodox music of all kinds, Russian, Greek, Romanian, even some “American” stuff! They have several good podcasts, interviews, etc. on there. Gregorian chant, though pre-schismatic, I haven’t heard that often…

    By dialog I was not referring merely to anecdotal evidence, but the ability to talk about what matters, anecdotes included. As it relates to my conversion to Orthodoxy, I looked under many rocks as it concerned facts/ doctrine (as you put it) and I think that you’ll agree that I was all but offensive in asking my friends and others I respected for their thoughts on the matter. Again, though, there seems to be something about the Orthodox-infected mind that burns from different questions, or gives different priority to the same questions. This I have also said several times before.

    I would argue that I would never claim Orthodoxy to be a “system”, though I think you can compare Pomanzanky’s “Orthodox Dogamatic Theology” to other systematic theology texts that’s not the kind of project the Orthodox are interested in. I started reading it for the expressed reason to pit Orthodox doctrine vs. the Roman/ Protestant doctrine, and for answers to the “why the crap do they do that?!” types of questions. By the time I put it down I had the attitude towards it that I would have for an apologetic work arguing for the existence of God – I already know that it was, at least in major areas, true.

    If you want to see the heart of Orthodoxy you have to see Her as the Church. Nobody would treat a “system” like you would treat the Bride of Christ. “Orthodox Dogmatic Theology” or Meyendorff’s wonderful “Byzantine Theology” do not reveal the heart of the Body of Christ like the writings of St. Theophan the Recluse, the Blessed Metropolitan Anthony Bloom, the Blessed Sophrony, St. Nikolai Velimirovitch, or St. Seraphim on “The Acquisition of the Holy Spirit.” These texts are about living in Christ, about being completely transformed, about war, about the path to the Kingdom being “blood, every step of the way” and loving one’s enemies. Reading about the politics surrounding St. Cyrill and the banishment of St. John Chrysostom, or the formulation of the councils, is beneficial only in the context in the Incarnate Body of Christ full of the power of the Resurrection.

    Reading about Orthodoxy is great, and change can happen; but you and I both know that books don’t change you if you are in a vacuum. Likewise, only part of the life of Orthodoxy can be learned from the writings of the Saints. Getting to know the Saints doesn’t really happen through their writings.

    As far as Roman/ Orthodox relations go: I too pray for reconciliation, but there are some real hurtles to cross – hurtles which both sides are keenly aware of. (And the RCC and Benedict XVI have their own in house issues to take care.)

    Speaking of which, I need to return to my paper on Aquinas and St. Gregory of Palamas…

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