4 Things That Are Not Reasons I Became an Orthodox Christian
BY RYAN ADAMS
There is perhaps nothing which is more painful, and obnoxious, than someone believing that they understand why you believe something that you do. For anyone who believes anything, this is an understandable problem. If you believe in God (or god, or spirits, or even just an afterlife) you’re used to the annoying commentary from the proverbial peanut-gallery remarking on how foolish your fear and superstition is. However, it doesn’t just stop there. Even someone who simply believes that they and those around them really exist is open to the irritating voice from the crowd proclaiming their foolish fear of the reality of the nothing which sits beyond their happy fiction of reality.
This has been my experience with a great many people, Catholics especially, who think that they have nailed down the pesky reason why I became Orthodox. Most irritating in all of this is that not only do many of them believe that they’ve pinned down everything about me, but that they always try to voice an odd sort of sympathy. ”I understand, I feel that way too.” This is almost always followed by a question, which is of almost singular annoyance to me: ”Why didn’t you just become Byzantine though?”
To which I can only respond:
1: Nice Looking Liturgies
Being perhaps the most annoying, for me personally, I thought I’d begin with the impression that an infinite inward passion can be limited to the aesthetically appealing externals of a well celebrated liturgy. It would seem that some, whenever they consider anyone becoming Orthodox the only reason they can muster is that they have “beautiful liturgies.” And to be fair, we do.
However, to say that anyone becomes an Orthodox Christian simply because of the aesthetic experience of the liturgies is missing something integral to Christianity. This idea that “it’s because of the beauty” shows a rather depressing externalism, that is, a reliance upon the aesthetic experience of external actions. This being said, beautiful liturgies are a part of Orthodox worship, but not for the sake of pretty things, but because when something is important you make it visibly special. The beauty of the liturgy has been preserved not for the reason that a work of art is preserved, because it’s something beautiful that should be experienced, but because it is the only response one can muster to the internal and deeply personal meaning of the teachings of the Faith. It is not the gold in the Church, but the reason one wishes there to be that makes the difference.