Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Messiness of Orthodoxy

I seem to be on an orthodoxy kick these days.  Drawing on an article by Garret Keizer in  April 22 edition of Christian Century I offer this citation from Kenneth Leech that speaks well for my own view on these matters:

The rejection of paradox and ambiguity is the characteristic of heretics in all ages.  Heresy is one-dimensional, narrow, over-simplified, and boring.  It is straight-line thinking, preferring a pseudo-clarity to the many sidedness of truth, tidiness to the mess and complexity of reality.  Orthodoxy by comparison is rooted in the unknowable. 


5 comments:

Sarita said...

Ambiguity is what keeps us going, isn't it? Religion is a mystery, not a puzzle to be solved.
Have you read "Jesus, Mean and Wild?" He was anything but 'meek and mild' and we had better begin to really understand how wonderfully controversial he was and is and jump wholeheartedly into the fun of speaking and acting like we believed we CAN make a difference in the world right now. Shalom

Country Parson said...

Yeah, I don't know where the 'meek and mild' stuff came from. At least in America it may have come out of the late 19th century movement toward Jesus as my friend and spiritual Teddy Bear. However, in Good's book "Jesus, the Meek King," it is more clear that the first century understanding of meek (praus) had more to do with kindness and gentleness associated with corresponding strengths that made for a just and wise ruler.

H.M. said...

I'll meet your quotation on "orthodoxy" and "heresy" with just a few of my own:

“The heresy of one age becomes the orthodoxy of the next.” ~Helen Keller

Orthodoxy is my doxy - heterodoxy is another man's doxy” ~William Warburton

“It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creeds into law if it acquires the political power to do so, and will follow it by suppressing opposition...and by killing, locking up, or driving underground all heretics.” ~Robert A. Heinlein

And that last quotation is exactly what happened. "Orthodoxy" as we know it in Christianity is essentially the winners writing the history books. If some other camp besides the "orthodox" had won the early battles for "orthodoxy" ("right belief") in the first centuries of Christianity, you would be believing something else today than you do, and you would be calling it..."orthodoxy." Yet, it would not look anything like the faith you know and profess.

Dear Country Parson,
I hope that you do not take me as combative from the comments I make here. I have great respect for the obvious intelligence and well reasoned thought that comes through in your blog posts. I mean no disrescpect to you in voicing another view. I certainly would stop my comments if you asked me to. Perhaps it doesn't seem like it, but really, above all things I am interested in...

...Peace,
H.M.

PS Checking your blog is distracting me from getting my work done today. :) My bad, certainly not yours.

H.M. said...

PPS I made the comment above before I had read your last response to me in the previous post. Thank you. I appreciate your wide and generous spirit.

Country Parson said...

H.M.
It is April, the cruelest month for both student and teachers, and I've been both. I used to tell my MBA students who wanted to know how to get an A that their job was to write a paper that would keep me awake on a Sunday afternoon while I was watching golf and drinking martinis. And if you get "combative" I'll get more "curmudgeonly" and we'll be even. So far so good -keep it up.
CP