Saturday, June 12, 2010

Learning to Live in England, Part 04

Sunday, 06 June

As we did last Fall, we decided to play Anglican today, not having a car to get to an Orthodox church, and having slept too late to catch a train. We attended the 11:15 service at the Ormskirk Parish Church (of Sts. Peter and Paul), a service branded as 'more traditional' - 'more' [nearly] being the key word. It still did not much resemble the Book of Common Prayer I grew up with. (Do you have to say 'up with which I grew' to avoid putting a preposition at the end of the sentence?' Silly rule, as Winston Churchill said, 'Up with which I will not put!')

We sat in the back, but were not favored with any anonymity; the Rector recognized us, and, walking back to us, said, 'I think I see some visitors from America this morning. Please tell us your names?'

The other visitors were from Germany.

Then Rev. Jones asked if anybody was having any celebrations this week, such as birthdays, anniversaries. The man in front of us said he and his wife were celebrating their 55th and added, 'The first three years of which were happy, too!' and his wife giggled. they look so young they must've married when they were 10. Later, after church, chatting with that man, I said (taking the woman's part, naturally), 'I won't even ask you what you did wrong in the fourth year.'

'I lost command!' was his instant answer.

A man named Keith, who had been confirmed a few days before, stood up during the service and read his 'testimony,' and it was very moving. He spoke of feeling lost and alone and then one day he knelt down and asked God to forgive him and something happened, he could not explain what, but 'Now, with God, I can live.'

It reminded us that the Holy Spirit works wherever He will, meaning as extensively as possible, given man's freedom, which He will never violate, because that by definition would be the very opposite of saving us.  he is never entirely absent from anywhere, and He certainly isn't from here.

The sermon, given by the Linda, the Vicaress (?) who is married to the Vicar (the curate being Ann), picked up on the theme, 'With God, we can live.'

The other thing that impressed us greatly was that perhaps the reason these people are throwing out all their traditions is that they no longer know what they mean. That is, the traditions no longer have any function for them, no longer serve any edifying purpose.  People have forgotten what they were for, if anything; they suppose tradition is for its own sake, and see no point in that.

In the afternoon, David and Julia's son James came with his girlfriend, Kim, to take us to his parents' house for a barbeque. James is Demetrios' godson. He is 6'4" tall and has the deepest blue eyes I ever saw. (His father's are bright blue, but James' are saturated, as though God had dished out a triple dose of pigment when He made James.) Kim has reddish brown hair in one of those cuts that is jaw-length in front and shorter in back.  Both are very amiable and easy to be with.

The Bates have a sunken garden out behind their house and conservatory, with a summerhouse beside it. The summerhouse has two rooms, a kitchen and a very small sitting room. We all crowded into the latter and were very comfortable there, seven of us including the younger son, Nick. Nick is very gregarious and has sandy-colored, curly hair.

'Your father had hair just like that when I first met him,' Demetrios remarked, prompting James to quip, 'That's a bit worrisome, ain't it, Nicky?'

David is a chef par excellence. I've always heard of his cooking, and now I know why. We had beef and lamb and potatoes and grilled vegetables, all exquisite. Julia crowned all these with a homemade tiramisu. I could have eaten the whole, large bowl.

David opened a theological discussion, prompted by reading my blog, which for him is too religious. His comments reminded us that yes, it is right and proper when one way or the other we grow out of the baby religion we were taught as children; as David put it, all that stuff about God waking up in the morning and being entertained by angels playing harps. Or as I would add, God requiring a bloody human sacrifice in payment for our sins.

Outgrowing that 'folk religion', as we might call it, can of course take at least two forms. One is simply to reject it and another is to acquire a more adult understanding of God.

Another thing of which the conversation reminded us is that True Religion does have to be logical! Christ, after all, is the Logos of God, God's logic, incarnate. More accurately, He is the Principle of Truth, from which all true logic and reason flow.   A religion that is illogical is not His, and therefore is not true.

On the other hand, we aren't speaking of secular logic, either. David pointed out repeatedly that this gets us approximately nowhere.

So what's the difference between secular logic and spiritual logic? Is it the topic of the discussion? No! You can discuss theology in perfectly secular ways and too many so-called theologians do just that; or you can discuss, say, deer hunting in perfectly spiritual terms.

The difference is that spiritual logic is rooted in faith in the God Who is Love. It all begins there. So, for example, it is not logical to believe that a man could rise from the dead. UNLESS you have seen Him die and have met Him alive afterwards! And have put your hands into His wounds and have seen Him eat before you, and have heard Him conversing with you, and others have seen Him alive, too, up to 500 people all at the same time. Then (and only then) the illogical, indeed the insane thing would be not to believe!

We came home with increased gratitude for Holy Orthodoxy, which leads her children into personal experience of all these things, making each generation into firsthand witnesses of them. Do Holy Week and Pascha with the Orthodox Church and then when anybody asks you, 'Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?' you'll answer, 'Yes! Yes, and when He trampled down death by death, too, and when He burst its bonds!  I was there!'  And you were, in a way that leaves those who were there historically with no spiritual advantage over you.


David kindly lent me his birdbook! Yes, the black fellow with the impressive volcabulary is indeed a blackbird. And yes, we have Wood Doves here, and Collared Doves. And the birds on the pond in the park are Mute Swans and Mallards and Coots and something I haven't found yet.

And the guy sitting on the TV ariel across the street from us is only sometimes the Mallard Drake. A Wood Dove likes to there, too, just to make it more confusing.


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