Saturday, August 10, 2002

I cited a passage from the Japanese poet Basho last week. His great work "The Narrow Road to the Deep North" is available in a useful hypertext edition at Basho's World. Not only are there photographs and illustrations of the places Basho visited, but you can read each entry in Basho's travelogue in up to five different translations. The Japanese text is also linked for those more linguistically gifted than I am.
Many of the hits I get on this site are referrals from a search request on Google. It is always interesting to see what people are looking for when they come by. I'm not sure I want to know what page this surfer was expecting to find with the following search: watch me i am a beautiful farm girl. The really odd part is that the referring Google search page was in Finnish. Backtracking though the search, I discovered that it had linked to the post where I told the story of meeting my own beautiful farm girl.
The Warren County Fair wraps up tonight. The 4-H Auction last night went well, and both my sons were pleased with the sale prices for their lambs. Susan, who made sure that sheep got fed, boys got to shows on time, and that difficulties both usual and unusual were dealt with quickly and (relatively) calmly, is recovering with a long afternoon nap. By tomorrow afternoon, everything should be cleared out and the space returned to empty fields with a few permanent display and show buildings near the roadway. The lights from the midway, the music from the ampitheatre and the sounds of animals from the show barn have brought a little life to a part of the County that is increasingly industrial. Across the street from the Fairgrounds is the Family Dollar Store Distibution Center, a single building the size of downtown Front Royal. The jobs it provides are welcome, but I miss the open fields that were there before.
Father Nectarios at Orthopraxis and Gerard Serafin at A Catholic Blog For Lovers have both posted recently on Orthodox-Catholic relations, though from very different perspectives. Father Nectarios links to some interesting and irenic remarks about Eastern Rite Catholics from Metropolitan Nicholas, the hierarch of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese which he had posted earlier. The status of the Eastern Rite, or "Uniates" is a sore point in current Orthodox-Catholic dialogues. Most of today's Eastern Rite Catholics are former Orthodox, brought back into communion with Rome through means which have been the source of centuries-long controversy. The ongoing existence and post-cold war expansion of the Eastern Rite Catholic churches has disrupted dialogue between Rome and several local Orthodox Churches. Most Catholics seem baffled by the vehemence of otherwise ecumenically oriented Orthodox on this point. This situation is, to say the least, complicated, and I would recommend Metropolitan Nicholas' remarks for a fresh perspective.

I once tried to explain the problem to a sympathetic Catholic by suggesting an analogy to the world of business and corporate mergers and acquisitions. For nearly a thousand years Rome approached the East as a kind of corporate raider, attempting to pick up the Orthodox Churches cheap in a series of forced buy outs and hostile takeovers. Since the sixties, Rome has shifted goals, and seems sincerely interested in a negotiated merger with the East. From the Roman standpoint, the Catholic Eastern Rite is a situation that will take care of itself once full communion is restored, much the way overlapping departments are gradually combined and reorganized in any merger. The Patriarch of Constantinople is the prime mover in dialogue with Rome from the Orthodox side. The Patriarchate sees Orthodoxy as living in a hostile environment, troubled by rising secularism on the one hand, and resurgent Islam on the other. While not adverse to merger, that is, to restoration of full communion on proper terms, the Patriarch is more interested in finding support for the survival of Orthodox Christianity in an increasingly hostile world. To follow through with the business metaphor, he is not seeking a merger but rather is trying to negotiate a strategic alliance to reduce competition and preserve market share. From this perspective, the Eastern Rite Catholics are not a problem to be dealt with later, but a chief item on the agenda. If Rome really accepts the Orthodox as "Sister Churches," why are they marketing a competing product in traditionally Orthodox territories? If they continue to do so, does this suggest that talk of merger is really just a cover for yet another takeover attempt?

Needless to say, this explanation of the situation is my own eccentric perspective and should in no way be taken as the "Orthodox" view!
Wayne Olsen, whose weblog is linked over at the left, has started a new blog; The Fathers of the Christian Church: A Weblog . He is inviting contributors to post their favorite excerpts from the Fathers.