I wrote this paper in 2008 for my Master’s degree colloquim. The topic was mysticism, so I decided to write about pain as a mystical experience in relation to the movie Fight Club. Enjoy.

Fight Club Paper

I am going to re-attempt the discipline of blogging for my last year in seminary, hopefully on a weekly basis at least. This blog is going to refocus on matters related to faith and become a focal point of my attempts to reimagine an ecumenical dialogue between the Emergent Movement and Eastern Orthodoxy.

I will be setting up a more personal blog in the next few weeks and it will posted here (just in case anyone still reads this thing).

An interesting article:

http://theburningbush.wordpress.com/2008/09/28/fr-john-a-beck-on-the-church-of-tomorrow/

My paper on Judas I wrote last year. I’m not sure why I am posting it now. Enjoy

Our Patron Saint

As Lent approaches for many Western Christians, I am concerned about the wide gulf between Easter dates in the Eastern and Western churches. Over a month separates the two dates this year, March 23 and April 27. While we are not in communion with each other, it seems ridiculous that we can’t celebrate the resurrection of Christ on the same date. We both agree it happened, we both build our faiths around this central event. So why the hell can’t we celebrate it on the same date? The date of Easter is not a theological issue; rather, it is an issue of what date system is being used.

So to my Orthodox Brothers and Sisters, I say we need to get over ourselves. We need to compromise for the sake of our own souls. We aren’t giving in to the heterodox who sacked Constantinople, we aren’t selling out to those who excommunicated us. We are allowing ourselves to change, and change for the better of all Christians everywhere. The Orthodox generally have accepted the standard Western practice of Christmas on December 25 … is this really that much more difficult?

There are many things that need to be done in order to return to being one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. This is one area the Orthodox can easily step up in in good faith and say, we are willing to do this for the unity of the body. There are some things we will probably never accept, such as the universal authority of the bishop of Rome or the Western version of the Nicene Creed. We will have to make some concessions, such as possibly allowing the Pope to have authority over what could be deemed “Western” churches, but places him on the same level as the Ecumenical Patriarch or any of the other bishops of Orthodoxy, who will be allowed to run their individual flocks as they see fit. We will have to sort out a way to look at the filioque, such as changing the wording to “through the Son” instead of “and the Son,” as this comes closer to the Orthodox and historial understanding of the procession of the Spirit, while still maintaining that the Son has a hand in the process. The Orthodox are going to be FAR less willing to accomodate changes such as these. The West will need to take the smallest concessions as a victory, while at the same time being willing to make changes themselves.

So to my Western friends, have a blessed Lent, and pray for the unity of all.

I felt like writing some quasi-mystical bullshit, so here goes. 

The Unperfected Many

You have heard it said that all men want to go to heaven, but don’t want to do what it takes to get there.

I say that all men work to go to heaven, but when they get there, they find that they do not want to be there. In the quest to be good we only rationalize what we think, do, believe, as a means to an end. If our intentions are good and we find ourselves doing well, we believe in ourselves, in our ability to be human. He who believes in himself says, “See what I have done, Lord? I am a better person for what I do, and I know it must please you.”

Yet, if I believe in God, and in his truth, I live out his kingdom, and the means becomes the end. I do not feed the homeless because it will grant me favor with God … I do it because I am part of the kingdom. I have no choice but to do so, because if I do not do onto the least of our brothers, I have already condemned myself, as I have no love for God, only for myself. To live in the kingdom is to not love yourself, it is to love your neighbor and God, which denies your importance in the world. Yet we are all selfish beings, and we all, great and small, work for our own ends. We are the unperfected many.

But in the presence of God, of almighty truth and light, the unperfected many are exposed. In God there can be no sin, no darkness. When we stand before him and the light surrounds us, we at that point must contend with who we truly are: a sinner. All our deeds will come out of the darkness of our souls and into the light of Christ. And for that brief moment, when our sin surrounds us, and starts to drown us, we must make a choice … do we deny our darkness, our fallenness, and surround ourselves with the shell of a life we have created up to that point? Or do we admit who we truly are, a being of darkness, the chief of sinners and accept our whole self, our whole life, light and shadow, life and death, and know we fall short of the glory of God, no matter where we are on the ladder of ascent.  And the proud man, the arrogant man, he will say, “Surely not me, Lord.” And he will separate himself from the love of God, so that he may love himself. Imperfect love does not suffice for eternity, and soon the agony will overtake him as fire comes over the brush. But the humble man, the man who has found the true light, will say, “It is I.” And by accepting the truth we are admitted into the divine truth, the infinite love, majesty and glory of the Lord, and become one of the perfected many.

Our judgment is our own. Our death is our own. God loves us so much he will allow us to damn ourselves before forcing us to return his love to his divine face. And that should be our greatest fear, not that God will damn us to hell, but that we will love ourselves so much that we will choose our own love over his. But when we see his face we will know … because we will have either seen his face in our life, or we will have not. You cannot love what you have not seen. And we will have truly seen his face, if we have seen it in our neighbors, in our enemies, and in our friends. And when we see the face of Christ, we will either see God and be transfigured and perfected by his glory, or we will not see him at all, and fall in the ruin of our own, imperfect love.

Give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good, alleluia.
For his mercy endures forever, alleluia.

Welcome to my blog. This has been several years in the making, and after several premature starts, I finally have a grasp on the direction and intention of going through with this. More or less, it’s to be an avenue of expression for myself, a way to organize my thoughts about what’s going on in my life and in my brain. Hopefully it will also allow for interaction with both people I know and do not know, and possibly make some new friends in the process.

 So on to the title … why “emergent Orthodox?”

“emergent” refers to a lot of things. The primary meaning goes back to the concept of the emerging church, the movement within Christianity that is focused on living out their faith in a postmodern society. I find the emerging church fascinating, and my own ecumenical goals include reaching out to those who also consider themselves emergent, albeit in Protestant forms of spirituality. “Orthodox” refers to my faith — that of the Eastern Orthodox Church. I came to Orthodoxy after several years of studying the historical church and a long drought of spirituality.  My background and my interests help me be a bridge between the emergent Protestant movement and Eastern Orthodoxy, bringing a better understanding of the ancient faith of the Church to postmodern Christians, while helping my own tradition move into the 21st century. Hence the “small e” emergent and “Big O” Orthodox.

As for a little more about myself, I will defer to the questionnaire developed by Bernard Pivot, and revised by James Lipton of “Inside the Actor’s Studio.”

What is your favorite word?
Knowledge.

What is your least favorite word?
Mistake.

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
Being in nature.

What turns you off?
Incompetence.

What is your favorite curse word?
Shit.

What sound or noise do you love?
Water.

What sound or noise do you hate?
Cash registers and ringing phones.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Chef. It was either seminary or culinary school …

What profession would you not like to do?
Anything involving children.

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
Well done, good and faithful servant.

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