What’s So Appealing About Orthodoxy?

This is beautiful article in the Washington Post, written by our dear friend, Rod Dreher. It’s especially poignant, given the recent controversies taking place in the OCA (which have, gotten a million times better in the past 24 hours. The sun has come out from behind the clouds at last!). It takes five minutes to read, and I strongly urge you to do so, for it contains all of the EXACT reasons why Michael, Courtney, Jesse and countless others in our circle became Orthodox.

It’s titled, What’s So Appealing About Orthodoxy?

My favorite three paragraphs:

The main reason why Orthodoxy is so attractive to converts, at least to this convert, is its seriousness about sin. I don’t mean that it’s a dour religion – it is very far from that! – but rather that Orthodoxy takes the brokenness of humankind with appropriate seriousness. Orthodoxy is not going to tell you that you’re okay. In fact, it will require you to call yourself, as St. Paul described himself, the “chief of sinners.” And Orthodoxy is going to tell you the Good News: Jesus died and returned to life so that you too might live. But in order to live, you are going to have to die to yourself, over and over again. And that will not be painless, and cannot be, or it’s not real.

Because of that, for all its dramatic beauty and rich feasting, Orthodoxy is far more austere and demanding than most American Christianity. The long liturgies, the frequent prayers, the intense fasts – all make serious demands on the believer, especially comfortable middle-class Americans like me. They call us out of ourselves, and to repentance. Orthodoxy is not interested in making you feel comfortable in your sins. It wants nothing less than for you to be a saint.

Don’t be misled. Orthodoxy is not, at its core, about rules and practices. The more I progress in my Orthodoxy, the clearer it is to me that Orthodoxy is, above all, a way. It is not an institution, a set of doctrines, or a collection of rituals, though it contains all three. It is rather a way of seeing the world, and one’s place in it, and a map to holiness that is paradoxically both ancient and astonishingly fresh, at least to Western sensibilities. It is the way of liberation.


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  • Pam Bartel

    Thanks for posting this. I read the entire article and it helped me to understand a little bit more of why someone would want to be Orthodox. I especially like his thoughts on Christians who want to be comfortable in their sins, who don’t take repentance seriously. I loved that Tim recently asked me to forgive him. It reminded me that I needed to ask him for forgiveness also. Recognition and confession of our sins, dying to ourselves by practicing humility and fasting, remembering our Savior’s love and sacrifice for us, these things are so important! “But, you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”