... well, now that I have your attention.
And no, it doesn't have anything to do with "all the inner turmoil" I've experienced this year.
Yeah, well, I know this doesn't sound "all that pious" of me. Enjoying the scandal? Might as well find out why. Keep reading.
Tonight I landed upon this article here which has the interesting title More Teens Becoming 'Fake' Christians. Rather catchy, eh? While reading this article, I realized what it is that has been bothering me for some time - the whole year really - ever since I met the first truly authentic Orthodox Christian I had encountered in a very long time. I say authentic Orthodox Christian, when she wasn't even actually an Orthodox Christian at the time, because she was/is a truly authentic person. And nobody is really buying into authenticity these days. Except for the teens. And that's why they are leaving the Church.
I'll tell you the full-meal-deal. Thing is, when I said "I'm sick of Orthodox Christianity" I didn't mean our religious faith, really I didn't mean I was sick of our religion itself. What I'm sick of is the way we have decided as an Orthodox culture to practice our faith. That's what I'm sick of, and I'll tell you why.
Authenticity. I remember when I was a young person, I got lucky. I just happened upon a Christian Church where "the youth were on fire." Have any of you ever encountered that in your protestant Christian days? What it meant at the time was that the teens of the Church were sick and tired of their parents and grandparents being stuffy old pew-stuffers who just sat there to please themselves each Sunday by looking nice and sharing their painted-on faces with one another and their Amen's and God-Bless-Yous. What these teenagers started doing was reading the scriptures, getting involved in charitable activities, and discussing REAL topics, from REAL life from a Christian point of view.
Why are we Orthodox so self-absorbed? We've got the marvelous example of the saints and the things they've done, but all we do is sit on our comfy couches, drinking our comfy micro-brews, singing our apostolic songs, that are so true and so wonderful because they are so ancient, and never internalizing anything, never taking action in our own lives to follow in the footsteps of those Godly beacons of faith, or even to actually do the wonderful things we love quoting to one another on our facebook walls. We are stuff old pew-stuffers who love to say our Amens and God-Bless-Yous in the original Greek (or Slavonic), and we call THAT authenticity.
Now, I know I'll be accused of being sanctimonious here, of making myself out to be better than everyone else, and all that. Ok, I admit all this doesn't sound so good. I can tell you that I'm just as rotten as all those I'm supposedly accusing, and I am, but I'm not accusing anyone here anyway. I'm just pointing some things out. It is easy to get sick of mediocrity - in ourselves and in Church leaders that don't challenge us to make progress in our lives.
But the next time you ask yourself why so many of the youth are leaving the Church maybe you should consider this. Most teenagers start asking questions. They start probing all the things they've been taught their whole lives, and challenging those things. They aren't doing this out of rebellion. They are doing it out of an ordinary sense of need for authenticity. Most young people start asking themselves such questions in their teen years, and it lasts well into early adulthood - sometimes their whole lives. That's a good thing, not a bad thing. If all they learn in Church is about how Godly Saint Blagalucious was beheaded and had his right hand chopped off for the sake of God in 1542, are they going to remember that or the words to their favorite pop song? You guess.
We need instruction that is relevant to our own lives, that's all I'm saying. We need to be engaged by the reality and authenticity that is inherent in our liturgical tradition, and not something that wears a mask of indifference to the world around us. I'm sick of phonies, and you know what? So are the youth.