By Mark Shea.
Yeah, that's right. Mark makes a great case for Orthodoxy when asked by a reader why he is Catholic instead of Orthodox. How does he do this? Certainly, he makes it clear why he is Catholic! Of course. But the content of his arguments just doesn't seem to be, well, read for yourself.
Well, not really. First, he fails to give the Number One Reason he has always defaulted to when pointing out the flaws in others' testimonies: Because it is True. No matter what, that's the bottom line reason to be Catholic. I'm not saying he doesn't think this. But it's noteworthy when distinguishing between the Church and the Orthodox, a clear "Because It's True" never occurs.
Much of the reasoning - and indeed, much of the reasoning in the comments - is a broad version of 'their mammas wear army boots. Suggesting that Orthodox are more this or more that or more the other, as opposed to Catholics. The problems with this, of course, is that it means nothing about the Truth of Orthodoxy's claims, as has been said on CAEI and other Catholic blogs when Atheists blast the actions or tendencies of religious people.
Several of the theological issues he touches on seem to be vaguely understood at best, and he never really delves into them as I would like to have seen. The Filioque is perhaps the main example. Not mentioned by most was less the fact that the Orthodox churches disagreed with the theology of the phrase as much as they disagreed with the theology of the Roman Church suddenly feeling it could add to the Creed without input from the rest of the Christian world.
Another interesting twist on Mark's take was the emphasis he put on those rascally converts. This is shocking since, in the day, Mark would be the first to come down hard on someone for impugning the motives or tendencies of converts to Catholicism. In Mark's piece, he once again makes the suggestion that while 'many' may not be that way (in standard fashion, pointing to personal friends he knows as examples), clearly a problem with Orthodoxy is its converts. Followed by an equally condemning attitude toward those dreaded reactionaries, many of whom are such converts who become Catholic for all the wrong reasons. That's called change. Mark saying what Mark once would have condemned.
Some of the reasons are silly. The idea that the Orthodox are anti-Western? Most of Mark's own Catholic readers are part of the whole 'the West is dead, let it die' movement. We won't even discuss their attitudes about the US. Does he mean anti-Western in the sense of the Old Western culture, or currently anti-Western? That's a broad term and tough to pin. In that Orthodoxy is not a product of Western Latin Culture is true, and could be part of the issue. He does mention its hostility toward the West since VII. But I don't really know what is meant by that, so it's hard to say.
Mark ends it with saying the Orthodox Church just isn't ready to accommodate, as Cardinal Newman said. Though the phrase is assimilate. A hairline distinction between those terms to be sure, and a balance I'm not sure the Church is any better at achieving. Sure, "Doctrine (TM)" will never change. But almost anything you do with it can change if you're clever. Something the Orthodox might have figured out, that the Catholic Church, after centuries of changing to fit the latest, still doesn't seem to get.
Anyway, in light of my own post a few days ago
, I thought the timing was interesting. On our way into the Church, we seriously considered Orthodoxy. Practical considerations made it a moot issue. But reading this, and the rather weak and contradictory reasons (at least contradictory reasons when considering the criticisms of others' reasons for conversions) was an interesting read.
Oh, and one more thing. Mark made a little dig about the Orthodox letting bygones be bygones. He mentions his ability to get over Pearl Harbor. Yet even now, there are still tens of thousands of families who lost loved ones living today for that very attack. Mark's OK with that. And yet.
As can be expected, grudges are only excusable for the right reasons and right people. So many revealing statements, so little time.