See this post (or rather a post-within-a-post-within-a-post).
This of course is originally from our friend over at the Ochlophobist blog, and it struck me as being incredibly honest and very true. I sometimes wonder why I am not Orthodox, and my only response is "been there, done that". I should say that I was rather a "Uniate" (I know, people don't like the term, but if the shoe fits.....). In any event, I could tell you how many stichera are supposed to be sung at Vespers tonight, whether or not it's a fast day, and how many canons have to read tommorrow at Matins. You know, the important things in life.....
Seriously though, having been a Uniate, I just have to say to any Orthodox reading this: don't do it, don't even think about doing it, and Rome can keep its organization, number, and prestige; it's all it really has anyway. Any liturgical, spiritual, or theological treasure Rome had was either thrown out the window or is now kept in the basement. (I should know, I have been to many liturgical basements.) If the Catholic and Orthodox Churches united tommorrow, why go to Divine Liturgy every Sunday when you can go to St. Anne's Catholic Community down the road and only spend an hour in church instead of three or four? If you don't do things the same, you aren't the same. That's just the way it is. If anything, Orthodoxy would just become one more corner in the Roman liturgical storage area: the people with the "funny-looking Mass."
Of course, I am not as certain as my blogger friend about the Orthodox Church being the one, true Church Christ founded. If it has any claim to this, according to my understanding of how history is, it is because it was kept stored up in a sealed box and emerged to the world only in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution. For me, the same isolation that has kept the Orthodox so pristine is also a symptom of a sin (or at least defect) of omission on its part. History for Eastern Orthodoxy ended in 1453, and they are having the darndest time starting up the clock again. Some time later, (when I have time..... which is very spare these days) I am going to post something on my experience with Orthdox theology, for better or for worse.
One thing I heartily agree with is the sentiment that the Church of the future will be small and strange. (Was it Flannery O' Connor who said, "the truth will make you odd"?) The whole urge of professional ecumenists to get us all in the Big Tent as soon as possible is very odd to me. "Ut unum sint" (that they all may be one) was not a command. Even if we take the Vulgate (sorry, I do not yet know Greek), the verb is in the subjunctive; it is a wish, not a command. What is commanded is that we hold fast to what has been handed down to us, that we presevere in our Faith to the end, and that we love one another. Anything that is not contained in these things is not urgent. It is not urgent that we have the same CEO on the masthead of our Christian "corporations", it is not urgent that we have the exact same press releases, and it is not urgent that we look organized, efficient, and effective as an organization. Maybe "unity" in the form we want it is not ours to seek, but rather God's to give. If we cannot receive it, it is because we are sinful. Just leave it at that.
Christianity, I am certain, as a mass phenomenon is dead..... long live Christianity! I recently read Chuvin's Chronicle of the Last Pagans. It was a sobering read about the decline and disappearance of paganism in the Roman Empire. It never really died out until about the eleventh century. In one city in what is now Iraq, there was still a remnant of the pagan, Neoplatonic schools that preserved the writings of Plato, Aristotle, and other Greek learning. It was from there that they were spread again throughout the Arab world, and from there to Europe, and the rest is history. Maybe that is how we will be. Christ said the gates of hell will not prevail. He didn't elaborate on what that means exactly. So just as these last hold-outs preserved Neoplatonic thought-forms, so maybe that is how we apostolic Christians (Orthodox, Anglicans, Catholics) will preserve the ascetical, liturgical and traditional Christianity of the ages. We just have to be another faithful link in the chain.