My wife and I, on behalf of the parish, have spent most of the afternoon and evening laboring to meet the desperate needs of a homeless person on a freezing night, something that normally I would not mention, but keep secret. After all this, I find myself doubly irritated by the activities of Eastern Orthodox bloggers who have been expressing their madness and hostility in reaction to my brother's beautiful column about one of the most loved and holy people my family ever knew.
Yes, we called her Aunt Susie because, in the 1960s, Maryland was still a Southern State with Southern culture-it was a title no one would use today (nor did I know any reason not to suppose she was a flesh and blood aunt, being a child at the time), and so almost modern PC "liberals" presume they have some right to act like self-righteous morons about it. But, God knows, no one meant any disrespect, indeed, just the opposite. She was half Black and half Cherokee; to us she was family, as beloved as any relative, and respected far more.
My brother's column, that I reproduced on The Continuum, has been maligned by the kind of Orthodox Christians I think of as "the usual suspects." They are angry because David Bentley Hart dared to contradict a beloved Abbott, some mostly harmless geezer who presumes to tell the world that only in the Eastern Orthodox Church can there be any holiness. On one of their blogs (that someone linked to The Continuum without our approval), some demented blogger demonstrated his own racism, complete with images, from his own overtly racist heart, of a black face minstrel, and references to something he called "the magical negro" and to "mammy," to accuse my brother of covert racism. God, how ironic. His own bigotry against Aunt Susie (she will forever be family to me), for being a Protestant, caused him to vent fully by using his racist bigotry (complete with racist imagery that he imposed on the whole story), as a defense. He could not defend the Ortho-Chauvinism of the beloved Abbott, so he deflected the bigotry of his own evil heart on to my brother's First Things column.
As if this was not demented enough, the comments on that blog have taken a twist and turn to the "usual suspect" complaint that my brother does not appreciate the essential divide between "East and West" over the question of "Divine Simplicity" against the difference between "Essence and Energies." You may wonder what this kind of academic theology (and, academic is the most it can be) has to do with real life, indeed with Christianity at all, especially against the holiness of a real life saint whom these One True Churchers would exclude from the Church altogether, simply for not belonging to the correct country club. Frankly, it has nothing to do with real life, and nothing to do with God and His Son Jesus Christ. (That absurd little "Acolyte" says that Western Christians perceive of God merely as the Highest Being among beings, making no distinction between created and Wholly Other Uncreated. He says this is the difference between "Western" Christianity and Orthodoxy. What does that mean? It means, he has a completely false understanding of "Western Theology." And, don't tell him that Augustine is a Saint in the East as well as the West, because you would ruin his whole day).
The Two One True Churches have a lot to learn. They demand our respect, but don't try to earn it. The Roman Catholics have yet to speak with humility, despite the obvious moral failure of their system. They still talk down to the rest of us. Certain members of the Orthodox Church (except for notable exceptions, such as my brother and Fr. Partick Henry Reardon) need also to demonstrate humility and charity, if only to strike a balance against the hate mongers and overly academic theology bloggers who give their whole Church such a bad name.
Many years ago I felt great respect for Rome and for Orthodoxy, and felt the burden to gain their respect for Continuing Anglicanism. Now I feel very differently. It is high time that the Two One True Churches demonstrated humility and charity, for right now they are failing to earn our respect.