orthodox

An Orthodox Hymn for Good Friday

There is a section of the Good Friday liturgy in the Orthodox Christian tradition called “15th Antiphon from Great and Holy Friday Matins.” The section juxtaposes the higher and lower parts of the life of Christ. It also is sung/chanted in a way that when speaking about the higher aspects, the voice of the priest is higher. Conversely, when speaking of the lower aspects, the voice drops. This is not a hymn in my tradition, but it is a hymn that my tradition can affirm. I hope this hymn/poem might speak to you this Good Friday. If you would like to hear the late Archbishop Job sing/chant this hymn, the video is below or you can follow this link.

“Today He who hung the earth upon the waters is hung on the tree,
The King of the angels is decked with a crown of thorns.
He who wraps the heavens in clouds is wrapped in the purple of mockery.
He who freed Adam in the Jordan is slapped on the face.
The Bridegroom of the Church is affixed to the Cross with nails.
The Son of the virgin is pierced by a spear.
We worship Thy passion, O Christ.
We worship Thy passion, O Christ.
We worship Thy passion, O Christ.
Show us also Thy glorious resurrection.”

The late Archbishop Job sings the 15th Antiphon at Matins for Great and Holy Friday 2009. This video almost didn't happen. We had wanted to record Vladika singing this antiphon for years, but he often refused to sing it out of humility.
Source: https://ryanphunter.wordpress.com/tag/15th...

Orthodox, Heterodox and Heretic

I grew up in the “crazy” streets of a sub-urban cul-de-sac neighborhood. It was there, in those secure and safe streets that one rule reigned supreme among the neighborhood kids. Majority rule. When we all got together to play, the majority decided what will be played. It did not matter if you wanted to play soccer, the majority had roller blades and so it was decided that street hockey was to be played. Majority rule. It was the indisputable logic and rule of the “sacs” (the name we gave to the collection of dead end streets in our neighborhood).

By in large, majority rule is still the reigning rule of groups not just in group decisions or politics but even in theology. Of course, the Church does not call it “majority rule”, the Church word is “Orthodox”. What is considered orthodox is what has been agreed upon by the majority of people in a given time and place. Sometimes those majorities rule for a long time but others change with high frequency, however the underlying assumption is it is the will of the majority that rules.

Of course as long as you are in the majority you are probably happy, but once you come to disagree with the majority then what do you do? In the “sacs” the minority positions would be banished from the conversation and you either got on board or you went home. Thus, making decisions becomes a zero-sum game. There are those who “win” and those who “loose”.

In the life of the Church, this zero-sum approach shows up as there are those who are “orthodox” and those who are “heretic.” It becomes the task of the heretic to get on board with the orthodox and it is also the task of the orthodox to convince the heretic to join the majority.

The Heterodox Beauty

The Heterodox Beauty

Many people in the Church do not hold the majority (orthodox) position but they are not heretical. For example the UMC upholds that women can be in any level of leadership. However there are many in the denomination who do not agree and refuse to accept a female pastor. Those who do not accept a female preacher hold a minority position in the UMC. Of course this position is the majority in another denomination.

Minority positions in the church are called “Heterodox”. The heterodox position is one that is of dissent to the orthodox position. It is the voice that challenges and critiques. It is not heretical, it is heterodoxal.

So what are we to do with those who hold minority positions in the denomination?

As a side note: I wonder why the majority/orthodox positions become frustrated with the minority/hertordox positions? Why would the majority be annoyed by the minority if not but out of fear of loosing the prestige of being in the majority? If the majority is really threaten could it be because on some level those in the majority know there is truth in the minority position?

Vanilla Ketchup And Understanding the Bible

In 1999 a little study was conducted in Germany using ketchup. The Germans who were formula fed as an infant, preferred ketchup that was scented with vanilla than the Germans who were breast fed as infants. Those who preferred the vanilla scented ketchup did not make the connection that how they were fed as infants influenced their later in life ketchup preference later in life. (Citation). It is a silly little example of something that we all know - what foods you like and dislike are influenced by your experiences. 

We accept this about our tastes in food as well as of other things that are even more silly. For instance, expecting parents will not give their baby the same name of someone they know and think is a jerk. There was no way our boys were going to be named Ryan or Eric for this exact reason. We all know that there is nothing wrong with those names but our experiences, even irrationally, affect our decisions. 

The same is true for understanding the Bible. We want to think that we can objectively read and understand the Bible. We want to think that we "just looking at the scriptures" when we try to understand them. We want to think that we can read the Bible in isolation of our experiences. Additionally, we tend to think that others are more prone to allow experiences/culture to influence their interpretation of the Bible than we are. 

I think vanilla scented ketchup sounds disgusting, I am not sure that I want to call it real ketchup.  However, many others believe ketchup without vanilla scent is incomplete ketchup. Both sides are unaware of how their infant diet affects their understanding of orthodox ketchup.

Maybe our understanding of what is orthodox is less influenced by a rational and objective set of decisions, and more about experiences we never would imagine would matter.