About

I’m a married mother in my early 30’s, an Orthodox Christian who grew up Baptist, went to Bible college where I met my husband, and dropped out in my senior year. I love poetry, photography, and theology. I made a vow to believe whatever is most loving about God, no matter the question. I believe faith in its essence is simply aligning oneself with goodness and being against evil and unreality.

Hi, and welcome. This is my communications page. If you want to talk to me about something that isn’t mentioned in a particular post, leave a comment and we can start a conversation!

32 thoughts on “About

    • Hi, Timothy. I see that at some point I said I would email any commenters here. I’m not sure why I said that, but if you prefer email, just let me know.

      Well, the original name of this blog was “Platform.” I basically wanted a place where I could stand up and shout a message to the world every now and then. So, the blog was basically created to meet my personal need to have a place to say something that I needed to say, when I had no one to say it to.

      After a while I got more ornery, so I changed the name of the blog to “Young Curmudgeon,” and after a few weeks to “Curmudgeon in Training,” but it’s still the same animal, just with a few more wrinkles.

      As such, it encompasses all of my main interests: theology, philosophy, poetry, politics, family relations, nutrition, psychological aberrations, humor, and exposing lies.

      Currently I’m getting into photography. Studying and practicing is taking up most of the time that is not being taken up by my two gorgeous kiddos, but I imagine that when the initial surge of effort has leveled off a bit some pictures and articles will appear on the subject.

      As for Orthodox Christianity, I’m a 5-year convert, which means I should be a bout halfway through my normative conversion period, but I’m pretty sure I’ve fallen behind a bit. I guess this blog is Orthodox in the sense that the author is Orthodox, but I don’t feel an obligation to restrain myself to theological topics.

      It’s just been revealed to me, recently, that God actually does forgive sins. To forgive, of course, is (at the very least) to refrain from demanding payment. You can’t forgive a debt and demand payment for it both. This is occupying most of my thoughts at the moment. I was thinking of writing an essay about it but it’s so difficult to write about something that feels like such a revelation but should actually be so obvious and basic. I like to allow these thoughts to ripen before writing about them, otherwise contempt creeps in. I think that contempt is the currency of most academic and artistic realms and so of course I make an especial point of avoiding it.

      Cheers!

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  1. Alana,
    As a fellow struggler, I will prayer for you. I am a 13 year convert. It has only been the last few years the Ive come to a truely relational understanding of the faith. God’s judgement is the fact of His being as Love. St John of the Ladder reminds us that an attitude of mercy and an attitude of jugdement cannot reside in the same heart. My recent project is to conciously consider everyone I meet as a thinking being. For me, this makes it harder to judge them. Im typing ony my kindle, which is hard, so Ill leave it at that.
    Blessed day, Timothy Kyril

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  2. As a philosopher, I found Christos Yannaras’ the Freedom of Morality to be instructive. He’s the one who taught me about God’s nature as Love. Everything else flows from that.

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    • Isn’t it funny how sometimes there’s a book that seems written just for you? I feel the same way about St. Porphyrios and ‘Wounded by Love.’

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  3. I wouldn’t really recommend the book to a non-philosopher, but when I re-read it, it’s “further up and deeper in”! I’ve heard really good things about Wounded by Love. I need to put it on my list.

    As my Priest said today, “We are almost there (through Lent), don’t give up now! God gives us strength for the Finish!”

    Blessed day,

    Timothy Kyril

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      • Ive recomended books I was sure were going to be ahit and had the reader go ‘meh, it was interesting, I guess.’ Ive forced myself to read things I really didnt want to, but since it was a recommendation, I tried. Im currently reading An Altar in the World which I expected to find a challenge (negatively). Instead, I am finding myself learning and growing. God is so good in His mercy!

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  4. This is a general comment about your work as a writer, so I put it here. First, the clarity and patience with which you develop your thoughts is impressive. Your prose is not only logic-driven and detailed, but also very readable, especially when you pin ideas to concrete experiences. I think you could publish articles in important places. That is, the quality of your work is equal to anything I have read (on the topics that you you write about) in the Atlantic, for example, or similar magazines. And your perspective is relatively unique, at least in popular intellectual and cultural circles.

    Second, the passion with which you write prose, and the topics you write about, might work just as well in poems, if you were as willing to reveal yourself that way, and not worry too much about whether you are creating art. Not as in driving somewhere (excellent, thought-provoking analogy, by the way – more on that later), but just running the engine of your heart, “letting off steam” and feeling it’s smooth and powerful workings (sorry, couldn’t resist). I am not suggesting a poetry of ideas, but more of feelings informed by beliefs and convictions. Not religious poetry, but poems from faith or frustrstion, from love or anger, poems that most thoughtful, sensitive people can relate to with the same immediacy that happens when we (I) read your paragraphs.

    Third, you have books to write. Easy for me to say, who hasn’t been able to make that commitment. But you seem to have the drive. You could do it, given a little more freedom (say, when the children get in school – or am I assuming too much – I. E. Is home schooling in your plans?)

    I tell you this because I believe in the efficacy of poems & good books to changes people. Reading this blog has influenced me, though I may be too far gone to change.

    Albert (usually in bits & pieces)

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    • So, Albert, then, from now on!

      Thanks so much for your encouragement. The truth is, I have lots of ideas for lots of writing, but I’m terrible at follow-through. I really want, when I depart this life, to have written several mythopoeic novels and a couple of comic ones. I have them planned; but my inspiration (the fuel in my engine) seems to be scarce and expensive and so I write a scene here or there – maybe one or two a year – and I simply get no-where. I don’t think it will always be this way but right now I’m just pursuing what seems within my grasp, which is blogging everywhere. The fact that I have readers and commenters, and get instant feedback, is a very great positive incentive. Perhaps this is what I need right now, to train myself as a writer. I do notice that my writing has improved enormously when I compare my recent posts with those from five years ago, at the start of the blog.

      I don’t want to change you, friend! I enjoy thinking and I think it’s more fun when others are doing it with me. Change is terribly stressful and should only be done when necessary, in my opinion. But I think God makes it clear to us when we do need to change something. You’re changing some really big things already, it seems like. Good, organic growth – that, I wish to all of us.

      Thanks again. 🙂

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      • Writing a long continuous narrative even in essay form takes a lot of commitment, time, energy and skill. However, I have found that the more I write, the better I write.

        I am friends with the owner of Eighth Day Books and publishing. If you have a manuscript of poems and/or commentary, or anything really, I’d be glad to take it to him and see if he is interested in publishing it. He loves good literature and poetry. His bookstore is a place of peace and excitement at the same time.

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        • Wow! Thanks for the offer, Michael. I don’t have anything ready – lots of material, but no finished manuscript. However, when I do complete something, I will ask you about this at that time.

          You’re right, it does take a lot of follow-through and commitment.

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  5. Hi Alana! I wanted to get your thoughts on a recent conversation we had at a Bible study in church. It seems like for once I am on the ‘liberal side” of the discussion. We were discussing preparation for receiving communion and I mentioned a book I have on my nook called “Journey to the Kingdom” by Father Vassiliios Papavassillou and he believes that some people throw up unnecssary roadblocks to others in receiving communion. He said he doesn’t believe you must necessarily go to confession first and that the preparation the clergy do, is also what the laity must do (quoting John Chrysostom). Several of the members of the study are from Greece and they said that they rarely take communion because they don’t feel prepared and then a convert (who happens to be my husband’s godfather and was formerly Seventh Day Adventist) said that the canons say you must go to confession first. I had asked my priest about this and he seemed to indicate this is not the case. I am feeling kind of discourage because sometimes Orthodoxy feels like fundamentalism, just harder. I don’t want to end up like Frank Schaeffer (another person I admired) who just wrote a book about how he is an atheist who still believes in God. I want to believe there is some truth to what this priest wrote but my husband’s godfather said this priest is liberal. What do you think? Apparently I have been going to communion too much because I haven’t been to confession first which would be impossible since my priest can only see a person four times a year. Sometimes I feel I will never be able to shake what I grew up with and sometimes I think maybe I shouldn’t. Maybe it is good to be hypervigilant but it doesn’t ever settle well in your soul.

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    • One more word about the cannons. I know that the acts of a council are not exactly canons but if anything they are more authoritative. One of the things I read while converting was the acts of the 7th ecumenical council, on icons. One of the things that stuck with me was that they said icons should only be made of precious, non-perishable materials.

      Well, that makes a lot of sense to me. It’s something my conscience concurs with. Problems is, that’s not how things actually work in the Church. All my icons at home are printed on paper. Some icons are printed on paper and put on cardboard or wooden backing. (Wood is explicitly forbidden in the acts of the council.)

      I’ve never been able to afford a “real” handpainted icon on non-perishable materials. I remember I was once buying an icon of St. Nicholas and showing it to a priest and someone came up and said, “Let me see,” and she looked at it and then said dismissively, “Oh, it’s not a real icon.”

      The priest looked at her andput his finger to his mouth and said, “SHHHHHH!”

      Recently a myrrh-streaming icon came out our church and I got to touch and inspect it (not to mention venerate it which is the real point.)

      It was very comforting to realize that it was a cheap painted icon – not a “real” one.

      I still think the council was “right.” I still refuse to take home bulletins from church because they have “iconographs” printed on them and I hate it when I have to throw them away in the trash and I can’t bear to have them lying around the house because they are so obviously meant to be disposable and are worthless to me.

      But I don’t worry about my printed icons, either. I venerate the image of Christ and that is my Orthodoxy – not the rigorous adherence to official rules.

      So, don’t worry about the fundamentalists! God never changes: he still know what we’re made of. Even he doesn’t obey all the rules. 🙂

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    • Pam, be at peace. God knows your heart. The issue of confession before communion and the frequency of communion has been an on-going debate within the Church for centuries. Don’t worry about what others say. Ask your priest and be obedient to him and his direction.

      My brother is a priest in a jurisdiction that if a person is going to take communion on Sunday, that person must go to confession during the week or on Sunday morning to partake. My jurisdiction instructs us that the only time we are required to go to confession in order to receive communion is once during Lent if we intend to receive communion on Pascha and once during the Nativity Fast if we want to receive communion on Christmas. Although once a month confession is recommended. But, guess what, we are all Orthodox.

      I often go up to receive fully expecting to be turned away, recent confession or not. I am certainly not worthy, those who put off communion because they don’t feel prepared may never go “…a contrite heart, God will not despise…” My jurisdiction loosened the rules because they found that with the tighter rules many people didn’t go to confession or communion. In an interest of true economia and the care of souls, the bishops decided to encourage confession, but allow folks to receive communion anyway.

      The last time I visited my brother, I asked about what my wife and I should do in regard to confession. He told me that it would be best if we went to confession at our parish before we left for the visit, but that they received communicants from other jurisdictions as long as they were in good standing with their own bishop. That is exactly why, if I am traveling and will be in a parish that is new to me, I will always call the priest there first and let them know I am coming.

      It is indeed easy to get caught up in all of the ‘rules’ that seem to be floating around in the Church. Remember this, however, only the doctrinal statements about the nature of the Holy Trinity and the like are unbendable. The interrelationship each of us has with God is unique. The goal for each of us is the same, the paths we each take to get there are quite different. That is why Jesus told Peter to not worry about what He had in mind for John, but only pay attention to his own path.

      Also it is good to remember: “What God has cleansed, call thou not unclean.” “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

      As far as the realness of icons, think of the Velveteen Rabbit: Love makes things real. To my mind the person who sniffed, “That’s not a ‘real’ icon” might never have experienced a real icon in his life. Sad.

      We are icons who become real because God loves us after all. That is one thing the lives of the saints teach us.

      All that the Church is and does has one end in mind: union with Christ. “All things work for good for those who love God.”

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  6. Wow, I’m so sorry you are going through this, Pam! “It doesn’t ever settle well with your soul – ” I think that is something very important to pay attention to. It’s like St. John said: “You have no need that anyone should teach you, because you have an annointing from the Holy One and you all know.” The wonderful thing about being Orthodox is that a verse like that makes sense because we were literally annointed so we don’t have to spiritualize it. There is something in us somewhere that qualifies us to recieve or refuse any spiritual teaching that may come our way. Not that we can’t mess that up or have things get in the way. But the point is, we are able to become competent to judge things spiritually, especially as we mature and get experience with God hearing our prayers and providing for us spiritually and materially.

    So, you’ve learned to look for a “settling” and you know what that feels like – if you are not finding it, I would be loth to see you ignore that fact.

    Look, the cannons say a lot of things. It reminds me of Peter’s statement about the Old Testament Law: he said that neither his generation nor their fathers had ever been able to bear it, and therefore it was a bad idea to try to lay it on Gentile converts as a burden. I think that is something important to pay attention to.

    I was talking to an older priest who grew up Roman Catholic and has a lot of great stories. One of the things was that in his southern town growing up, he and his family were the only ones who stood up for a black family and helped them out when all the other Christians in the town were turning a cold shoulder, and his dad got publicly attacked for it. Talk about moral courage – a genuine spiritual inheritance. This man spent a year on Athos. He was also a delegate to the Vatican for a while, from the Antiochian Orthodox, and knew the Pope. He is elderly and venerable and spends all his time tenderly caring for his very ill wife. This is someone I respect.

    Anyway, I was asking him about some issue, and he became quite vehement when I said something about canonicity. He pointed out that if you keep all the canons, there are literaly no days left in the year when married people are allowed to have intercourse (for example.) No Orthodox would ever have children. Again, this reminds me of the Judiazing controversy in the early church. Paul pointed out that those who wanted to circumcise the converts weren’t even keeping the law perfectly themselves. I gaurantee the same thing is true about your husband’s godfather. If he wants to keep all the cannons perfectly, let him arrive at that level of perfection before he starts laying burderns on others!

    So, anyway, this elderly priest said that we aren’t meant to keep all the cannons – originally you would keep only one set of cannons, those written by a specific saint. I don’t really know enough about this to understand how that would work – was it for monks, or everybody? Was it for a specific set of social, cultural circumstances – or meant for all time? Were cannons written for specific local or national churches, or for all the Churches? Were cannons something that was a response to the Empire’s demand for a codification of the state religion, or was it something that would have happened anyway? These are discussions I have heard and there are some very good reasons to doubt that “all the cannons all the time” is the right way to be Orthodox.

    But generally speaking, what many priests have told me is that cannons are Church law, and law only applies when it is enforced and the people responsible for enforcing the cannons are the bishops. If they aren’t enforcing something then it isn’t an issue of Church order – and the only thing you have to worry about is 1.) following your conscience and your understanding of scripture, with the help of your priest, on moral issues and 2.) performing whatever acts of worship and love to Christ that you are able to perform whether in or outside the context of the Church and most importantly of all, 3.) praying regularly and trying to know God and learn the life of grace from experience.

    That right there is about all I can handle anyway, on a really good day!

    There is a lot of good writing out there on this subject by the more generous-minded Orthodox. I personally steer clear of people who want to think fundamentalistically about Orthodoxy. I do not feel obligated to know everyone’s perspective on everything, because a lot of people have a really twisted perspective. I go where I sense light and love. I think those who want to think fundamentalistically about Orthodoxy are people who have simply brought their fundamentalism into Orthodoxy with them, or who have been infected spiritually or intellectually by someone else who has done so. I never, ever, ever, listen to anything from orthodoxinfo.com for instance, and I avoid all religiously-focused internet forums other than the occasional blog. When you look at these fundamentalistic people as a group, they are always condemnding others and saying that so-and-so is going to Hell (you know, wicked sinners like the ecumenical Patriarch, or St. Porphyrios or the blessed Fr. Seraphim Rose.)

    As you can see, I feel very strongly about this.

    As Paul said about those who were fighting over religious observances such as feast days: “Who are you to judge another man’s servant? To his own master her stands or falls. Nay, he will stand because God is able to make him to stand.” I think you know this and probably just need some encouragement. It’s so, so hard when someone that is supposed to be your spiritual superior is trying to enslave your conscience. There is a certain force they have, a certain natural power to activate the mechanisms of obedience within us. When this happens, we remember what Peter said: “We ought to obey God rather than men” – that is, when the two are in conflict!

    What helps me when I am struggling with issues like these is to go back to the spiritual elders. Sometimes there is a helpful tension between the elders and the institutional Church. You will rarely see an actualy schism there (although some saints have been banished or removed from office by the institutional Church, such as St. Symeon the New Theologian.) These saintly elders will often have their own unique approaches to the spiritual life. Some will be quite strict. Others will be extremely generous (the real meaning of “liberal.”) Taken together, I get the impression that uniformity of religious observance was never really meant to be the path for most ordinary Christians, especially in terms of what Christ really cares about. What matters is what works: what heals, enlightens and makes us like Christ. True unity is in the minds that are captivated with the beauty of Christ, adore him, and love his creatures.

    St. Porphyrios says that the whole Christian life can be summed up as love for Christ. If all we ever thought about was the Love of Christ and returning that love, we would not go wrong. Force and legalism and wrestling face-to-face with the devil and resisting evil violently simply have no place where the Love of Christ reigns, and that’s where my spirits’ home is.

    It is a good idea to prepare for communion, of course! I think it was St. Porphyrios who said that the prayers we are given to recite before communion have enormous power to sanctify us and make us worthy to partake. Thankfully, because of people’s lax observance of communion preparation (I’m the worst on this) most parishes now have the practice of everyone reciting those prayers all together during the Liturgy right before communon. That way, everyone is covered! All of these prayers involve confession of sinfulness. They are the only prayers in the Liturgy that I can think of in which we say “I” instead of “we.”

    On the other hand, the Eucharist itself is meant to cleanse from sins and give healing of soul and body. How many baths do we have to take before we are clean enough to get in the bath?

    There’s a lot of disagreement within Orthodoxy over how much monastic practice should cross over into parish practice. I could write a lot on that subject, but I’m not really an expert and this comment is getting long! However, it seems that weekly confession is an area in which monastic practice has crossed over. (This is what my priest said.) Confession 4 times a year is what your priest offers! If you husband’s godfather has a problem with that, he probably shouldn’t be agitating the Church members over his disagreement. It’s not as if this is a scriptural issue. If you are living an open, just, peaceable and chaste life and you acknowledge your faults to God and other relevant people, and if the priest to whom Christ has given the power, through your bishop, to forgive sins says you are forgiven, why should you be afraid to approach the body of your Savior? After all, he shed his blood and his body was broken, not for the righteous, but for sinners. May God give us all confidence to approach the throne of mercy!

    Just one more quick point: if you were coming here telling me that you feel a deep need to confess more often and deepen your spiritual life in this way because you feel that it does you a lot of good, I might recommend seeking out someone else to be your confessor, or asking your priest for additional times. Personally, confession can be very helpful at times but is also problematic at times. When I was doing it weekly, it really became a burden. St. Seraphim said that you have to be observant and find out what spiritual practice helps you personally, and do more of that. (Albert linked to this on his blog.) For me, fasting is worse than useless right now so I don’t really do it other than during Holy Week when it seems to make sense. I kind of feel where in my life the Spirit’s spotlight is shining and I focus on doing those few things, and I think by God’s grace that’s how I make progress.

    So, do you love St. Porphyrios, too? I think I could be happy if he was the only saint I ever read again.

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    • You have a gift, Alana. This came at the right time for me. The whole thing. I needed to hear it. As Fr M. at my church says to me so often, nothing happens by chance. I missed seeing this, but Pam’s recent comment made me wonder about the reference to “him,” so I went back and looked. I am going to print this out and keep it nearby. Also, do you mind if I share it with family & friends.? I am going to find and read “him” too.

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  7. I have never read anything by him but it sounds like I need to. Thank you for your comments. This has been a very discouraging week as I am very busy preparing for my end of the year concert. My husband and I were attending this Bible study as a favor to the man who leads it. My husband had been attending another study he liked better on Tuesday but I have to work then so I wasn’t able to go. The strange thing about this whole discussion was that we were ending the book fo Acts and the leader said he wanted to give us a quiz about that. It ended up being a quiz about the church and what we should do to prepare for communion. I thought that was odd. It seems like there is a division in our church over this issue with the older people not participating in communion that often and the younger people participating too much in the view of their elders. It is disheartening that this “sacrament” should be such a division between us. The leader said that if you go to communion unprepared you risk damnation and I think remember Paul saying something like that. I guess my old fundamentalist radar goes up with statements like that. It is so hard for me not to feel like I have to walk on eggshells all the time and then I suppose I grow lax or something, or give up because it feels too hard to keep going. I will look up St.. Porphyrios – it sounds like I could use his counsel.

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    • Wow, Pam! Again, I am amazed by the level of poking-ones-nose-in-other-peoples-affairs-ity that these people seem to be displaying. That is strange behavior indeed – someone has pet peeve and they are using the Bible study as a platform.

      I looked up the passage from St. Paul you referred to. This is amazing to me because it’s actually a passage warning people not to use the Lord’s body (the Eucharist) to create division in the Lord’s body (the Church.)

      What he says is that if you eat and drink the Lord’s body “unworthily” you eat and drink damnation to yourself. Mind you, this is the King James Version.

      Some considerations regarding this passage.

      1. Eating and drinking damnation is different from risking damnation in the future. It means that something is going into your body which will is not agreeing with you right now.

      2. Paul goes on to say, “For this reasons many of your are sickly and weak, and many sleep.” So, which is it – damnation (i.e. Hellfire) or a physical consequence (sickness and physical death)?

      3. It turns out that other translations don’t say “damnation.” The New American Standard Bible says “judgment” which would fit with the whole getting sick and/or dying idea. The Greek word is “krima” and a quick check in Strong’s Concordance says that this word means “condemnation of wrong, the decisions (whether severe or mild) which one passes on the faults of others.”

      http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/nas/krima.html

      So clearly this is talking about present judgment, not future Hellfire.

      4. So how does one eat and drink the body of Christ “unworthily”? Well, based on my understanding of the Greek here, “unworthily” means “in an unworthy manner.” I think we could come to the same conclusion without Greek. If everyone who were unworthy to partake of the Lord’s body but did so anyway would get sick or die, then we would all be dead. So clearly this word, which is an adverb and therefore describes an action, not the person doing the action, is talking about the way in which we handle the Lord’s body and blood.

      5. In ancient times, Christians were far less restrictive and formalized about handling the holy gifts. It would shock us today, but even several centuries out from Christ, ordinary Church memebers were taking the Eucharist in their bare hands, even carrying some home. Was this the case in Paul’s day? And if so, could this free and loose atmosphere have had something to do with the way in which his readers were taking communion in an unworthy manner?

      6. As it turns out, the answer to that question is a resounding, easy yes. Based on the flow of argument in 1 Corinthians 11:17-34, we see that the Corinthians had a division between rich and poor that shamed the poor. (James complained about the same thing to his Jewish readers.) One way this was displaying itself was at the Church dinners. Holy Communion and the agape feasts were being eaten together, and at these feasts the rich people were gorging themselves in front of the poor people and not sharing, thus creating a division.

      7. In fact, Paul’s whole complaint here is introduced by the phrase, “I hear that there are divisions among you.” This pretty much sums up what he is saying. They were using communion to create divisions among the brethren. Why is this such a problem? Well, the whole point of communion is that it makes us all one body in Christ. If you use it as a way of dividing Christ’s body, this is a really terrible perversion of the essential nature of the Eucharist. You take a holy spiritual power of the highest kind and twist it, and the effects on you will be disastrous – no one will need to condemn you because you are ingesting your own condemnation i.e. the natural results of your action which is sickness and/or death.

      8. To sum up, Paul’s readers were using the body of Christ to divide the body of Christ – an action so unthinkable that it was making them physically sick. He was not saying that they were unworthy to take communion, just that they were doing so in an unworthy way. He was also not saying that they were going to go to Hell after they died for what they were doing. Also, there is no referrence here to general sins, to going to confession whether weekly or otherwise, or to frequency of partaking. In fact, Church history tells us that in the early days, Christians would sometimes take communion every day. Since the practice of confession had not fully taken form then, I think this shows us that there is nothing inherently sinful about weekly communion without weekly confession.

      9. If Paul were talking about communing too often without confession of the same frequency, then wouldn’t we and the people around us be dropping like flies? Some of my relatives who were interested in Orthodoxy took communion for months, without having been chrismated, before anyone noticed and told them not to. Others take communion and they are closet atheists, or are living in some ongoing sinful situation. Christ’s blood and body can recieve any sinner, can cover any sin; it is the act of forcing the Eucharist to become an instrument of division, which is contrary to its nature, that is dangerous to one’s health.

      9. Here’s the link to the Bible passage in question. If you don’t like the interlinear you can change the search paramaters to any version of the Bible that the website has.

      https://beta.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Corinthians+11%3A+17-34&version=MOUNCE

      The only other passages that may have some bearing on this question are the one where Jesus says that if your brother has something against you, i.e. if you have materially wronged him in some way, you should not offer your gift on the altar until you have made it right with him. I personally believe this is talking about money management, but at any rate it also does not say what these people are saying.

      You also have the passage that says you should not join yourself to a harlot and then join yourself to Christ. The reason is that sexual intercourse is also a form of communion, so only marital intercourse doesn’t defile the body. Again, this is an issue of not perverting the nature of the Eucharistic communion. I don’t believe any threats are made regarding this, however. It’s simply seen as shameful.

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    • On reflection I would add that it seems like there’s a clash here between two different customs. The old guard has one custom; the new people and the priest have another. I have seen and experienced situations like that and I know it is really painful for everyone. Generally, it seems like the stricter customs are always with the Russians and the looser customs are with the middle-easterners. Then, the Americans get divided between these two pre-existing tendencies with both sides pushing and saying, “This is the real Orthodox way.” I think what we American converts have going for us is a greater knowledge of the scriptures than most ethnic/cradle Orthodox, because we come from a tradition where the Bible was everything and we were expected to study it carefully and often. I think if we use this advantage properly it can help us navigate questions and differences that seem static and unsolveable to others.

      Also, it’s helpful to reflect that in any question, the larger and more comprehensive considerations have to govern the smaller and more particular considerations. So, in the present case, the frequency of confession is areally a nitpicky technical thing – very small, very particular. But the need for unity in the Church is really huge, very comprehensive concern.

      From my distant perspective, it seems like the best solution is for people to not impose their will on others. And if others are imposing their will on you, to try to ignore it as serenely as posisble.

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  8. Thanks Alana and Michael for your input. I have just finished my school year and now have some time to look into the matter more closely. I am sort of glad to know that others have struggled with this issue as well. However, my upbringing tends to make me hyper sensitive and I need to really back off and explore the issues more dispassionately. Thanks for letting me vent with you! I hope to have time this summer to explore this but also to thank God for His blessings on my life, which are many!

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  9. Just now, in place of sleepy-headed prayer, i read everything again. All of it. Couldn’t stop to take notes, or even nod, or sigh. I was grestly moved. thought i had my concerns about confession and communion all figured out, but lately the old anxieties have made their presence known again. Reading these comments brought peace back. Thank you all!

    Like

  10. Just reading that essay in the book “What are people For”.
    Just addresses some ideas of male-female and family you live and he lives too.

    Like

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