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Good Morning Nanty Glo!


Wednesday, May 18 2005
Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Creating our own worlds

A video clip last week from some footage of a politician on the campaign trail showed her challenging her supporters to dream big and make a change for the better in their world. At this time of the year, that phrase is a cliche: change your world. Every graduation speaker says something almost identical to that in every speech. I was momentarily moved by the politician's rhetoric, which seemed to spark a flash of insight on the screen at the back of my cranium.

I was reminded that it was just that possibility that made me most reluctant to make the transition from Protestant to Eastern Orthodoxy just over a decade ago. For a fleeting moment that may have lasted a day, the thing that barred me from choosing the Orthodox Way was my realization that if I became Orthodox I'd have to give up my lifelong "calling" to be a reformer. In the Reformed tradition that had become my ministerial home, the slogan was "the reformed church is always reforming." As the editor of a string of religious periodicals and an author and lecturer, I had the tools and means of changing the world, at least a tiny bit of it, at my disposal. The thought of not being able to continue that work was daunting and disheartening, because everything else pointed to my becoming Orthodox.

It was, of course, a silly fear. Orthodox figures like Dostoyevsky, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, even Leo Tolstoy before his apostasy late in life, have changed the world more in any one of their books than I can ever hope to have done. But the Protestant church, from its liturgy to its social programs, youth outreaches, missions, and its theology is all about reinventing itself. The whole ethos of Orthodoxy, on the other hand, is the proposition that God has revealed himself perfectly to the church and nothing more is required. To be Orthodox is to keep— keep—the faith, not reinvent it. By the time of the seventh ecumenical council in Nicea, 787 A.D., the whole of Orthodox Christian doctrine had been worked out.

It seemed I had to choose between a life of creativity—with the ever-present hope of finding some great new discovery—and one of "just" standing guard over a well-kept treasure.

Of course this attitude isn't "Orthodoxy"; it's not what the church actually teaches. Though there has been no pressing need for another council of the whole church since 787, there have been new church fathers, new theologians, thousands of new saints, and millions of lives meaningfully lived for the sake of coming to salvation. Fights have been fought and won (and sometimes lost), an empire thrived for a millenium, new worlds were discovered and missionized. I had to come to the awareness that the world I had to create was my own: "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12).

And in the last analysis, that's the only world anyone can hope to create.


A complete index of Jon Kennedy's Jonals for 2001 - 2005


Just remember...if the world didn't suck, we'd all fall off.

Sent by Trudy Myers  

Thought for today

Learning should be a joy and full of excitement. It is life's greatest adventure; it is an illustrated excursion into the minds of the noble and the learned.

Taylor Caldwell (1900-1985)  

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