The Orthodox Way of Knowing God

Frederica Mathewes-Green

Orthodox author Frederica Mathewes-Green was interviewed by National Review Online recently about the Orthodox faith, particularly why she became an Orthodox Christian (read the full interview here).

One answer illuminates the vision and mission of St. Peter’s parish.

LOPEZ: What could our American culture afford to learn from the Orthodox Church?

MATHEWES-GREEN: Maybe the most important thing would be the seriousness of Christian faith. Or it might be better to speak of the seriousness of life. I just have to shake my head in wonder sometimes at how silly our common life has become. It’s all funny videos and celebrities.

Even our controversies, even our tragedies, are gussied up as entertainment. Countless generations of our ancestors labored and sacrificed, working toward just such a safe, prosperous, comfortable world as we now enjoy. And, once they get there, look how people want to spend their time. You want to laugh and cry at the same time.

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So I would hope that some people, at least, would reflect on the fleeting nature of life, and the certainty of brokenness and suffering in everyone’s life sooner or later. I hope that motivates them, first of all, to fulfill their commitments and stay faithful to those who depend on them. The faithfulness you give is the faithfulness you will desperately need one day.

But if they also spend some time thinking about what lies beyond life and death, and why we have sprouted from this whirling planet in the first place, and what it all means — I hope they will consider Jesus Christ. Knowing him is the entire point of Christian faith.

Orthodoxy is a collection of time-tested wisdom about how to do that. We’re able to maintain such a seamlessly entertaining public sphere because of our ferocious drive for independence. The flip side of independence is isolation, so when someone falls into sorrow or trouble, they fall out of sight, and the party goes on.

There’s plenty of suffering; I expect loneliness is epidemic. But, much more than they used to, people suffer alone. When they reach the hard moments of life, all they have is that list of favorite videos. They have “friends” who understand “friendship” to mean clicking a like button. Friendship used to mean a lot more than that.