Make no mistake, the way out of this mess is obedience.
Everything else is the gyrations of a collective cultural epileptic fit. These manic outbursts have nothing to do with being human, or in fact much of anything. It is anti-culture and nothing or no one has ever had to deal with such a beast before.
I hear the words of some who say (with that “nothing is new under the son” tone of voice) that the Roman empire as a first cosmopolitan sociological laboratory was similar, but it wasn’t. Nothing like what we are going through right now has ever happened, nothing remotely like it.
We no longer live in communities, we no longer live together at all. For the first time in human history, more adults will go to bed alone tonight than go with a spouse. More children are raised in fractured (and soon even single) homes than stable ones, forget having extended “clan” relations around.
We have begun to play with the fundamental categories of human nature, not by some accident of the fall, but by intent. We are in a feedback loop of distorted self caused by the nascent ascendancy of man over his own nature.
We’re wrestling about talking about whether or not Church life fits into this mess, but that’s the rhetorical equivalent of putting the cart before the horse. What does life look like at all, when life can look like anything? I didn’t come to Orthodoxy for protection from post-modernism. (I’d rather have post-modernism than modernism any day of the week as at least the post-modernist knows he’s ill, he’s just in despair about it–which is exactly half the delusion the modernist suffers from.)
Back to the beginning. Obedience. This is what it looks like. How can we obey (or understand what healthy obedience looks like) when we don’t even demand our children respect adults by calling them Mr. and Mrs. How do I genuinely use the term “Master” or “His Grace”, if I call my own mother “Sheila”?
But obedience is it. It is the answer. The only way to recover this is to do what Christ did. Empty ourselves of our demigodhood, and do not count ourselves as equals. Obey, not as slaves, but perhaps at least as well as we listen to our new clergy in the medical profession (faith follows function). Obey as our parents obeyed their grandparents. Obey as they obey us. This isn’t subservience, this is, this must flower in mutual love.
This is a mutual obedience, formed by real bonds that really suffers for one another and really ruins a whole family when one member throws the common life into a fit.
It does not matter whether the tones are Byz or SATB in the key of F. Our priests wear what they wear at the altar because if they didn’t they’d be naked, and they might as well wear just about what the guy they remember doing it wore.
Is Orthodoxy in America troubled beyond Owen-ian repair? Of course not. There is no way up, but through. Admit the EOC and a dozen like them, the chips will fall as they may. In 200 years all of this will be summed in a few pages on some history book. It will say, “there was a time when…” and later, “but then there was this and that development…” and then finally, “so now we are past that but have to deal with these new problems.”
And life will go on, as will the Church until the Eschaton.
Again I say, if we are cursed with a freer will (or as I understand it, a never more dangerously enslaved will) let us use that freedom to lay down our slavery and bury our dead bodies in obedience to one another.
Even if it hurts. Especially when others do not return the “enlightened” gesture. Evermore until in the flesh we die.