I Ended Up in the Greek Orthodox Church and Found I Was Just as Dumb as Before

Picture(Tulips, Wind & Sun Oil on canvas 24 x 24 by Frank Schaeffer)

In 1990 I joined the Greek Orthodox Church because, in the words of Umberto Eco, I aspired “to the construction of narratives capable of providing [me] with an explanation and a model, an exemplary image.” At first I missed the point of my escape from my evangelical past almost altogether. I argued the finer points of theology and church history with my long-suffering evangelical mother and sisters. (Dad was spared. He’d died in 1984.) I argued as if any church I happened to join was ipso-facto the gatekeeper to heaven.

I argued in a way that implied that a human can find THE TRUTH and judge others by it. I argued in a way that denied the reality that human our brains process what we hear and see and touch and therefore all “information” is just another story more than a fact.

In our human desperation for meaning we see things very clearly. They just happen to never quite be as true as they’re cracked up to be.

Speaking of which I wrote a book (Dancing Alone) about all that is theologically and historically wrong with the Protestant Reformed tradition I’d fled. I laced my rant with the zealous spirit of proselytizing certainty typical of the fundamentalist “born-again” religion I thought I’d escaped. Ironically I did this while defending an Orthodox tradition that, at its heart, is about ineffable mystery and freedom.

It gradually sank in that if I was honest I’d admit that I didn’t join the Greek Orthodox Church for theological reason, but because it wasn’t my childhood faith and I needed a change. It gradually sank in that when it came to where I went to church “Hide not, but judge not” would be my motto. It gradually sank in that life’s a journey.

I’m still on that journey. I changed my mind once and may again. It gradually sank in that (as I have a character say in my book  And God Said, “Billy!) “there is only one defense against the rising worldwide fear-filled fundamentalist tide engulfing all religions: The embrace of paradox and uncertainty as the virtuoso expression of Christ-like humility.”

It gradually sank in that my ego must be curtailed by what I do not know, which is far more than I do know.

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Frank Schaeffer is a writer. His latest book — And God Said, “Billy! exploring the roots of American religious delusion, and offering another way to approach true spirituality, is on Kindle, iBook and NOOK for $3.99, and in paperback. It spent 8 weeks as Amazon’s #1 best seller for Political Humor.

 



 

About Frank Schaeffer

Frank Schaeffer is an American author, film director, screenwriter and public speaker. He is the son of the late theologian and author Francis Schaeffer. He became a Hollywood film director and author, writing several internationally acclaimed novels including And God Said, "Billy!" as well as the Calvin Becker Trilogy depicting life in a fundamentalist mission home-- Portofino, Zermatt, and Saving Grandma.


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