I-Land is where memories and experiences turn into short stories, personal journal entries and narration in first person, part memoir, part fiction, exploring topics such as the relation between humans and the societies they live in.

The Sad State Of The Greek Orthodox Church: Acting Like The Pharisees

[Previously on The Sad State Of The Greek Orthodox Church: The truth is, I’m being unfair to my friend. He’s getting a raw deal here, being mentioned alongside these tyrannies of the mind. My friend is not like that. He’s a loving dad, a doting husband, an incredibly sensitive person given to occasional emotional outburst, that’s all. Not that this is an excuse for what he said to me, or what he does when he goes off the bend. Many a crazy motherfuckers were loving dads and doting husbands, coming from a good place, acting in everyone’s best interests etc etc.]

But that’s not the point. The point is that what my friend said, his righteous rage, he meant it. His reaction to having been challenged was to shut down his reasoning faculties and bare his fangs. He was desperate to strike, to leave a mark in the name of whatever holy cause he thought he was defending. His reaction to my claim that today’s Church is acting like the Pharisees, corralling religion behind words only they can decipher, forcing believers to simply stand there, clueless and unable to participate fully in the liturgies and ceremonies — all these arguments were deeply unsettling to my friend, and his reaction was self-righteous and aggressive. Like a junior zealot, desperate for a stone to cast but not quite sure how to do it, he lashed out with little reasoning, plenty of rage, and an abundance of self-righteousness. He made his intentions clear, putting up a hurt custodian face.

He would have to walk back from this, undo everything he’d said to me to make things right again. To reinstate a sense of civility between us he would have to apologize, take back his anger and argue with me on the points I’d made. No threats or growling, not before he’d heard me out and considered what I had to say.

Should he be able to do that, we would restart the debate. He would present his counterarguments to me, raising issues and objections, on which I would debate him, arguing back, the discussion taking us where it might.

Then, after everything had been said and done, if we were still at odds, we would be free to disagree, maybe even be mad at each other for not having understood each other’s arguments. We might very well be outraged with each other to the point we would wish each other’s stupid face pummeled into the dirt, our loud mouths broken and battered and unable to utter any more nonsense. We would be free to feel such things, no one could take that away from us, but only after we’d heard each other out, given one another a proper chance to articulate ourselves.

I know I have. I have heard carefully what the other side has to say, paying careful heed, which is why I wrote those pieces in the first place. A direct rebuttal to the numerous arguments I’ve been hearing from the pious over the years, all the righteous things the Church does, I analyzed them and thought them through and wrote them down. I dubbed what I’d heard insane and hypocritical and perversely dumb on occasion, backing my position with concise and critical points.

Having spoken my piece, it’s up to my friend to respond in a proper manner, after he hears me out and considers what I have said in full.

Until he does, I expect an apology for his behavior, for having shut me down without hearing me out, threatening to beat me for my ‘blasphemy.’ His jihadist-light attitude is one I don’t appreciate, and yes, this last insult toward him is on the house, aimed straight at him with full clarity of what I’m saying, to be retracted right after I get my apology.

Until I do, my friend has a big fat bloody sign hanging from his neck saying, Me Pharisee . . . Me Zealot . . . Give Me Barrabas!

Who said religion’s got the final word on guilt trips, or insults?

I learned from the best.

Part 9 to follow