dogmatism

by Andrea Elizabeth

For the past 2.5 years I have been sort of forced to change my MO regarding the truth. Before it was imperitive to me for those in my innermost circle to abide by the truth as defined by the Church. If they didn’t, then they were relegated to the outer rings. Not sharing common tenants of faith left me little to talk about once it became clear that they weren’t going to budge towards what the Church says, provided I had it right, which position I hope my study has yielded.

2.5 years ago one of my inner circle began to get closer to people who did not ascribe to all the teachings of the Church and began to investigate their claims with an open mind, and began to wonder if it was that bad to be a little off, and weren’t Orthodox also maybe off on some things? Giving someone the space to be wrong if very difficult for me. It is also difficult for me to not be in confrontational lecture mode with those in my innermost circle, especially if I feel responsible for them, which I especially do if they are my children and not completely self-sufficient yet. So since then I have been slowly stretching what I can allow in my inner circle, forced by the unavoidable fact that one can’t control what others believe, especially other adults, and maybe not even children in that they will doubt things later and may change their mind, even if it was true and right. With this comes self-doubt about my previous mode. Was I too controlling, too closed minded, too harsh?

I am aware that pendulums often swing the opposite way. While I still believe the teachings of the Church are true, now I’m wondering how important is it to believe the right things? What about love? What about right behavior? Before I thought these things were only valid if it was a package deal, and if one had to chose, Orthodox belief is most important. But what if morality trumps correct belief? And which morals are most important? Feeding the poor? Forgiving the worst sinners? And how much error in belief and/or actions can be corrected after death?

But someone’s got to stand up for the truth! And be humbled by those of a different faith who aren’t convinced I know it and who may live it better anyway? The thing is I could be wrong about their virtue, and they could be wrong about my being wrong. While there are so many doubts, and even if I’ve been forced to quit lecturing in order not to drive people further away, the most important thing to me is still communion with the Orthodox Church. If we don’t share that, the main thing I feel is sadness. I can appreciate many other things, like a nice conversation, but they all fall short.

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