I’m too folksy for the Church

by Andrea Elizabeth

I exaggerate for the sake of the song. Being willing to so exaggerate does put me at odds with what people consider Tradition. Notice the capital T. I just got in a discussion on social media with a Traditionalist who defended using proper Greek terms for Church stuff. See I said stuff. Can holy things be stuff? What comes to mind for me, who am traditional*, is the 7th Ecumenical Council which said that icons should be displayed on roadways. I’ve heard people become scandalized at the idea of Orthodox icons on billboards. I agree with holding things sacred, but mainly in their proximity to the Church, specifically the alter. But from there on out is “degradation” as soon as the Communion enters my mouth. From there it starts touching everything on earth. It goes into the sewers and streams. This is why I don’t get bent out of shape at the idea of printing icons on paper publications, and for them even being thrown away in the common trash, though I do believe one should hesitate, sort of like how before we kill something or eat it we should, in the Last of the Mohicans, Daniel Day Lewis Indian (this discussion made me think of using Indian [which are the most traditionally American] words instead of Greek words for holy things as they considered everything holy, unlike the Protestants who made religious words mean different things) way, thank God, the animal, and the trees who all died for our sustenance. God is everywhere and Jesus condescended to making waste himself, so to me he sanctified the landfills. We are to receive communion to take it out into the outermost corners of the world. To me it’s isolationism to have a secret holy language, even if it can be googled**. They say that even priest garments used to be the common dress of the day, so why should we only use the Greek Orthodox words for them? This is not to say that I want Priests to start wearing baggy, low slung jeans. That is the quandary I mentioned in my discussion. But if you remember the common context that these holy things had, then we can relate to them in a human, not Klingon, way.

* I suppose tradition for me is the spirit of the law and not just the letter. Capital T tradition is supposed to mean the non-negotiables of our faith and not the individual cultural manifestations. But to Traditionalists, they demand the 1700 year old Greek cultural manifestations, imo. Better that than 50 or 100 year old Protestant cultural manifestations, imo. But even these are better than Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus, whose musical talent I can still recognize.

** People since the Reformation have been worried about Holy Texts being put in the common language, even though Latin used to be the common language. Even Orthodox have been worried about especially deeply monastic writings, like the Philokalia and The Ladder of Divine Ascent being put into unworthy hands and minds. I think more context for these writings should be discussed. What’s usually said is, “you’re not advanced enough for this” which offends egalitarian Americans. I don’t read them probably for 2 other reasons, laying aside that one. 1, I have a theory that monastic life is different. It necessarily entails a rejecting of family. Some families may be fine rejecting all wordly things as a group. But maybe teenage retention is a problem because they feel it is forced on them. Paul says it’s better to not get married because he concedes the world must be dealt with, not shunned, in that case. I have had a particularly monastic week at a monastery where it was very hard for me to come back to my family. I don’t engage in that anymore and consider not living that way a sacrificial thing. 2. It may be psychological for me. Or pride. But I feel better praising God instead of dwelling on penitential things all the time. I believe I have heard, even from Orthodox, that some people actually need to feel better about themselves rather than worse. That isn’t a blanket statement as everyone needs to come to grips with their own complicitness in sin, and eventually they may be able to accept only that, but baby steps.