Links to non-film articles

In addition to writing film-related articles, I also write news stories and features, many of them about religion. (I have won a few awards for my news and feature items, but nothing for my reviews — presumably, I would guess, partly because Christian community papers don’t write enough about the arts to make it worth their while to hand out awards in that category.)

Two such stories have gone online in the past week — one is a feature for ChristianWeek on the appeal of Orthodoxy to evangelicals (in a related vein, check my interview with Fr. Thomas Hopko for; and the other is my latest in a long line of stories for BC Christian News about the breaking up of the Anglican church, as seen from the city where the schism really began in earnest about three years ago.

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  • Christian

    Gosh, what to say? I was growing weary of the pro-Orthodox angle of the piece and was somewhat pleased to see the final section, which at least addresses *some* of the concerns about Orthodoxy. Still, I wish you wouldn’t have gone so far with the pro-Orthodox spin what Protestantism is all about. Or, at the least, you could’ve let a Protestant comment on, or challenge, the following passage: “However, he says the Orthodox also place an emphasis on mystery that prevents them from adding too many articles to their faith. ‘The Orthodox church remembers that God is the mystery, and what is revealed to us is still surrounded in mystery, so this mystical emphasis keeps us from overdefining things and trying to explain things that cannot be explained—and we see that as one of the chief dangers of the Roman Catholic church. It seems they try to explain everything, and they have too many definitions and go far beyond where you need to go.’”
    After all, the Bible teaches many things about God that the Orthodox seem reluctant to embrace, lest those teachings interfere with God’s “mystery.” But why not proclaim what the Scripture says we *can* know about God, while retaining the mystery about the vast amount of things we *can’t*? There may be an answer to my question, but I wish articles like yours would address the disconnect.

  • Christian, FWIW, I wrote the article for a very evangelical newspaper, so I didn’t feel the need to shoehorn Protestant points of view into this particular story — at least, not beyond the one person who left Orthodoxy and went back into Protestantism. If anything, the particular quote you cite would have called for a Catholic comment, not a Protestant one.

    I would be curious to know which Bible teachings about God the Orthodox seem reluctant to embrace — the one thing that comes to my own mind are the many references to God’s emotions and whatnot in the Old Testament, which seem to paint a very human portrait of God but are often explained away, by people in all of the churches, as “anthropomorphisms”.

  • Christian

    “I would be curious to know which Bible teachings about God the Orthodox seem reluctant to embrace”

    –You got me there. My memory is fuzzy, other than to recall that the Orthodox embrace negative, or “apophatic” theology, which focuses on what we can’t say about God, rather than what we can.

    The books I was exposed to (through lectures) on this subject were Daniel Clendenin’s “Eastern Orthodox Christianity,” along with his companion reader, “Eastern Orthodox Theology,” and Timothy Ware’s “The Orthodox Church.”

  • FWIW, I have read Ware’s book, though not the other. Yeah, “apophatic” theology is an interesting concept, and I like it, actually — although of course, the Orthodox do make many positive claims about God. My impression is that they just don’t try to fine-tune it to the sort of scientifically calibrated precise degree that, say, Catholics seem to do. (Was it Thomas Aquinas who said that transubstantiation took place between two specific syllables in Latin? The Orthodox would take issue both with the Catholic definition of transubstantiation and with any such precise pegging of it to a specific moment. Similarly, Catholic bishops have been known to say that certain acts of communion were “invalid” after they have already been performed, e.g. in that case where a person who was allergic to wheat was served a rice-wafer communion, but I believe the Orthodox would be reticent to make any claims about what God had or had not done there, though they might insist that the traditional elements be used in the future. In both of these examples, the Orthodox, wisely I think, place a greater emphasis on “mystery” and leaving things unknown or unspecified.)