This entry is my response to the blogger Death Bredon over at Energetic Procession on this post. My answer became far longer than I anticipated it would, so I decided to post it here.
This site, I also would like to mention, I really enjoy and visit often.
I do not know how to cut material from Energetic Procession as they are with WordPress and I have as yet to figure how to 'cut' and 'paste' from Wordpress sites. I would have liked to have posted Death Bredon's comments to make more sense of my response to him and present a context for what I post below, but I am left with the only option of having you, the reader, read his comments there.
Ok. So on with it:
I have some thoughts along the lines of the things you mention but as yet I have not written them out to develop them.
From the ground you comment on, I am in agreement with you. I also am in sympathy with your statement that ascetiscm IMPOSED as NORMATIVE for all can be inherently superstitious and idolotrous.
There is a certain reality which we cannot escape from, regarding these matters which are purely sociological and have "nothing" to do with The Faith whatsoever(it is impossible for anything to have nothing to do with anything else in the ultimate sense, as Christ has entered the creation uniting all things with Himself). For the sake of this argument I use the word "nothing" here in this sense to create a category to observe this statement in, realizing, of course that any category "falls" into Reality as one strand among countless others to "make up" the Reality you and I experience. So I use "nothing"only to separate out whether any given praxis is "Christian" or not.
In other words, I want to do what I think I need to do do be more Orthodox and not only that, to make you(impersonal pronoun) believe that I'm really Orthodox. This, I would say, to a certain extent,though not fully, stems from our fallen condition, the "herd" mentality if you will. Not fully, however, because the human animal is a social animal as created by our God: "It is not good for the man to be alone."
I believe, however, that there is a ground from which this matter can be approached in which Orthodoxy is the Great Preserver, preserving that which has been baptized and divinized. And having undergone theosis, it has now become united to Christ and cannot now pass away.
In studying a bit in how Alaska was missionized, I was struck by how the Native population took to the Faith(and here I also sense a parting of the ways between us as I believe "Orthodox" History to be synonymous with "Christian" History where in your mind they are two separate things). Apart from the Natives taking to the Faith, however, it is interesting to note that had it not been for the acceptance of the True Faith, their languages, customs, cultures, would have been lost forever. In other words, the entire culture(people, places, things, concepts,loves, nuances, etc. ad infinitum) was baptized into the Orthodox-re: The True Faith.
Another interesting to note is that when we observe "Native" (3rd World peoples) ,keeping their culture and identity, we tend to like this, even wishing we too could be more simple, "connected with the Earth and its cycles and all). On the other hand, when a European type of people is involved(Greek, Russian,Serbian,etc.), peoples which I guess we consider more or less our peers, keep their customs, it seems to tend to inspire comments of "racism" or other such politically correct observations. Is it not possible to consider that the customs we sometimes view with annoyance are things that have become "baptized", sealing the culture with these praxis?
Taken in the light of an American, let's say, attempting to be Orthodox by being "ultra Russian" or what not in order to be more fully Orthodox, is more in line with your disdain of "uberOrthodoxy" and creates the scenarios which are cause for ridicule. The praxis themselves are not at fault, here, but rather their use and the motivation of the one using them. (You know, examples such as "A car can be driven to take me to grandma's house' vs. 'A car can be driven to mow down innocent people". I would dare say that neither one of us would find fault with the car being driven but would rather find fault with the one driving.)
And on this topic, motivations are tricky. Who I am right now(and now, now...and now, now...) is a snapshot in time/space. I am not in static existence but am always becoming.
So even with one using "silly" methods such as prayer ropes, the Philokalia,etc., to more fully become "more" Orthodox, I believe over time that such a one, if he should really begin to purify his nous, really begin to experience God in him and himself in God, mending the mind to heart, such a one should be glad for these methods which men far holier than himself have testified as to their efficacy to bring about ends which "deliver the goods."
There is still much more I would like to develop along this vein, but time at present constrains me to attend to other matters. Again, forgive my foolish comments as I have not developed this line of thought at all except within myself, but I do, nonethelss thank you for listening.
A Statement on Christians Who Practice Yoga - An encyclical issued on June 4, 2013 by Metropolitan Markos of Chios on Christians who practice Yoga and whether or not it is merely a physical exercise....
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