Monday, February 24, 2014

On the Table and Tea: Thoughts on Theology and Direction

It's been way too long since I posted. And I apologize. My wife and I have been remodeling our kitchen--alas! it's been an arduous and painstaking task but we near the end.

And, frankly, I've been at an impasse. There's several directions I could take this blog. Originally, this blog was (and is) primarily about my journey to the Orthodox Church, and now that I've been chrismated, do I continue sharing the story of my theological wanderings, or should I start afresh with my journey as an Orthodox Christian? I could attempt to include a multiplicity of topics and themes, but it runs the risk of loosing coherence or transmogrify into a self-indulgent web-diary.

I love discussing and writing about theology and philosophy; however, much of my intellectual pursuits and rovings are in the past, they got me to where I am now, but part of me wants to leave it in the past and not keep rehashing the same ol' same ol'. I had planned to do a few posts on Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Lyotard, Derrida, et al, but there are other blogs out there on the interwebs that will cover these philosophers much better.

I've gotten the chance to serve at the altar during Liturgy the last couple of weeks. My first time we concluded Liturgy with a panikhida for my grandfather -- which was truly an inexplicable experience.  The reason I tell you this is because all theology must bring you to the Table. We must fall on our knees in awe and wonder and worship. We must plead for mercy. If theology doesn't accomplish this, it's an idol. As Jean-Luc Marion once penned in his famous work "God Without Being":

       For theology consists precisely in saying that for which only another can answer -- the Other ab-
      ove all, the Christ who himself does not speak in his own name, but in the name of his Father.
      Indeed, theological discourse offers its strange jubilation only to the strict extent that it permits
      and, dangerously, demands of its workman that he speak beyond his means, precisely because he
      does not speak of himself. Hence the danger of a speech that, in a sense, speaks against the one 
     who lends himself to it. One must obtain forgiveness for every essay in theology. In all sense.

Those are powerful words. And where does one obtain forgiveness, healing, mercy? The Eucharistic Table. Communion. Lord's Supper. Marion believes that the only thing that really saves us from nihilism is the Eucharist; the unfathomable and dread Mystery is the one "thing" that, for lack of better words, bridges the gap between the corrupted Adam and the Second Adam.

So what does this say about our feeble attempts at theology? Theology is to be lived in prayerful repentance and childlike awe, yet we brazenly approach the One and feebly try to cram Him into frangible constructs. When one encounters Christ in the Sacrament everything else pales in comparison. Theology becomes, then, the application of our encounter worked out in the life of the Church, and doctrine operates twofold: 1) a formalized expression of beliefs that regulate how we speak of God both in the Church and 2) where Church intersects with culture.

This is my dilemma: Should I continue in my frail attempts to theologize? I believe every honest, thinking Christian will, at some point, peer over the edge of certainty into the void, the unknowable, the Divine darkness. It's edifying for us because it gives us perspective. We just don't know anything at all. In the words of Elder Sophrony, "Stand at the edge of the abyss until you can bear it no longer. Then have a cup of tea."

True theology starts and ends with the Eucharist.

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