Sunday, February 7, 2010

Orthodox Adventure (it's practically alliterative.)

This morning, my dad, two brothers, and I went to an Orthodox church in Boston.

And I want to tell you about it, because it was a new and very different experience compared to anything I had previously seen when visiting churches.

The overall impression was of something very, very old, but still remarkably alive. The architecture within the room, the artwork, the clothing worn by the priests, the "music" (the entire service was sung, and there were no accompanying instruments. It sounded very Byzantine) all combined to make you feel like you were living back in 300 A.D. But the people, the college students from nearby colleges, the moms with little girls trailing after them, they were very much 2010. The "message" - at least, the part of the sermon not read - was a mixture of ages. It was also very nice and very... humble. And very true, a reminder of basic truth, of how to apply the scripture read to our lives.

There were some things that seemed weird to me, culture shock, if you will. I've grown up in a baptist church, so I wasn't used to crossing myself. The veneration of the icons (kissing pictures of saints, if you weren't sure) seemed... unsanitary. And strange. One thing that was strange that I liked was the fact that people wandered in and out of the sanctuary pretty much whenever they wanted to. And there were several 3-5 year olds who simply wandered around as if they didn't notice the service going on around them.

One thing that seemed... wrong, to me, was their (apparent) theology regarding Mary. Now, I know this is a touchy subject, and I'm the last one to claim that my own opinion is worth taking note of, but the repetition of "Theotokos, save us," in the liturgy was... off. Mary doesn't save us. Period. Obviously, I only attended one service and I can't make any sweeping statements - even about that particular church - but it was one thing I noticed that I didn't particularly like.

And that's what I did today.


  1. I like visiting churches. I like Catholic churches for being so pretty and solemn, but the incense always makes me cough, and I never know any of the congregational prayers or when to kneel or when to cross myself, and the resulting feeling of "not belonging" makes me confused about the unity of the Church.

    My neighbor is a born-again Catholic who prays to Mary every day: I'm convinced he's saved, but I also feel like he's had a lot of confusion in his walk with Christ because of beliefs on Mary.

  2. Hmm, yeah, I know what you mean about Mary. I believe she would be seriously shocked if she knew that people were worshiping her.