Friday, April 20, 2018

‘Having through Unbelief Come to Belief’

St John of Damascus (+780) writes the following lines in his Canon for Antipascha, which is the same Sunday on which St Thomas the Apostle (‘Doubting Thomas’) is commemorated:

Thomas the Twin, who alone was bold, and brought blessing by his faithless faith, banished misty ignorance in all the ends of the earth by his believing unbelief; while for himself he wove a crown as he wisely said, ‘You are our God, O highly exalted, our God and the God of our fathers; blessed are you’.

Not in vain did Thomas doubt your Rising, not in vain declare, but he hastened, O Christ, to show to all the nations that it was undoubted; and so having through unbelief come to belief he taught them all to say, ‘You are our God, O highly exalted, our God and the God of our fathers; blessed are you’.

For those in the [u]nited States, these lines have the potential to upend a lot of the thinking about religion in the various sections.  The conventional thinking is as follows:

 . . . In recent decades a trend has emerged in the location of the most religious and least religious states. As one might expect, the most religious states are in the South (plus Utah) and the least religious are in the northern corners.  . . .

 . . . There has been little regional change in religiosity throughout the past few decades. In our lifetime, the South has always been seen as the Bible Belt. New England and the Northwest have been less religious regions.

 . . .

From the numbers shown at that same page, New England is indeed the least religious section in the (artificial, unnecessary, and harmful) Union.

What is so interesting about this is that, from the Orthodox point of view, it is New England, and not the South (the most religious section), where the True Faith is most likely to flourish first.  Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky explains why:

Half-faith has many degrees, but one thing inevitably follows from all half-belief. Those who deny know both what they have denied and to what to return. But the half-believer does not have any such clarity and grows accustomed to a life guided by sophistries, half-truth, and hints at some sort of supposed truth.

New England has for the most part made a full denial of the Truth.  The South, however, is still clinging tightly to the tattered rags of post-Schism ‘Western Christianity’.  It is the former, therefore, who are better able to embrace the Orthodox Faith:  The hands of the Yankees are open, hanging by their sides in despair; Dixie’s fists are clenched shut in stubbornness and disobedience.

The Yankees have wonderful patrons available to them in the two holy men who enlightened their forefathers in Old England:  St Felix of East Anglia (+648) and St Cedd of Essex (+664).

May they cry out to them more and more in the coming months and years!

The South is not without good news, however.  Two Orthodox monasteries have lately appeared in very significant places.  The first is in Weaverville, North Carolina, the homeplace of Richard Weaver:

The second will be in Monteagle, Tennessee, home of Andrew Nelson Lytle and also very near to the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn. (about 5 miles distance between the two):

As Mr Weaver and Mr Lytle are two of the most important Southern Agrarians of the 20th hundredyear, the rooting of these monasteries in their hometowns and so near also to a major Southern cultural institution is hopefully a sign that the Orthodox Faith will not be long in spreading throughout all of Dixie.

Whatever the timeline will be in the end, through the prayers of St Thomas and all our Holy Fathers and Mothers, may the Orthodox Church bear much fruit in New England, the South, and all the real countries lying within the borders of North America.


Holy Ælfred the Great, King of England, South Patron, pray for us sinners at the Souð, unworthy though we are!

Anathema to the Union!

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