Sunday, December 11, 2005

A public apology

This is a public admission of arrogance to two bishops and a Protestant television celebrity. A couple of days ago, I posted a snarky comment about a Russian archbishop calling Krishna Satan, and then I drew a comparison to Pat Robertson and my bishop, Tikhon, and suggested that they all go to Antarctica together. To all three, I offer profound apologies. It's not that I think Archbishop Nikon was correct; it's that, first, who am I to sentence anyone to exile, and second why bring in Pat Robertson or Bishop Tikhon, neither of which had anything to do with it?

I thought about just deleting the post, but then I decided that this is more appropriate.

Let me do my disagreement with Archbishop Nikon more better.

I begin with the Kontakion of Pentecost:
When the Most High came down and confused the tongues,
He divided the nations;
But when He distributed the tongues of fire,
He called all to unity.
Therefore, with one voice, we glorify the all-holy Spirit!
The nations, as we know, are still divided, and the task of calling all to unity has fallen to the Church, empowered with the Holy Spirit. But the fact that we are divided doesn't mean that those on the outside are necessarily rebelling against the Cosmos, harmony with God -- they may be following to the best of their understanding -- more or less, and often more than, say, I am, who am supposedly blessed with the Holy Spirit.

So how can we give the Good News to people who have grown up not knowing it? If someone comes to me and says, "Everything you think is good is evil. Everyone you thought loved you has deceived you. Let me turn your world upside down and give you a life of dissension and chaos," I'm not going to be much inclined to listen.

Instead we can say, "Everything that you know that is true is True. Everything that you know that is good is Good. Everything that you know that is beautiful is Beautiful. Like everyone who learns and grows, you may have to throw away some fond beliefs on the way to a better understanding of what's True and Good and Beautiful, but you'll count them as dross in light of the greater Truth, Goodness and Beauty that you'll find." Then if we follow it up with deeds of mercy and compassion, we may find some who will listen. Others won't, but as St. Paul says, one plants, another waters, and God gets the harvest.

This is true whether we're talking to Hindus, Moslems, Native Alaskans or 21st-century agnostic skeptics. We owe a gentler touch to people outside the Church than to those within. After all, St. Nicholas punched out the archheretic Arius, not his pagan neighbors.

That's what I should have said about Archbishop Nikon's comments, and not what I did say.

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