I had a friend who after the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church’s annual Greek Fest, wanted change his faith from Roman Catholicism to Eastern Orthodox. They had better food, he said, smiling. Of course, he had yet to find out about the Eastern Orthodox Lenten Fast. I think you are allowed to chew on an old shoe during the 40 days to remember Jesus, though don’t quote me. Actually, it is no meat, dairy, fish or oil, which pretty much leaves only an old shoe in my pantry. My shoes are made from genuine artificial leather and no animals were harmed in their making, which makes them OK to gnaw on while remembering Jesus. The bonus is the old shoe laces operate like built in floss. Bon appetite.
Anyway, I know many of you are condemning my friend for choosing his church based on something so shallow as culinary delights, rather than some more substantial and theological like the church has upbeat music or its Pastor gives non-boring sermons like Mark Driscoll, but trust me when I say my friend took his conversion seriously. He learned the difference between his beloved Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. He could recite the delicate details of the Filioque controversy. He talked to the Orthodox priest and took classes on theology. In the end he remained with the Catholic Church, but gained a respect for the Orthodox tradition. I am not going to speculate on if he found out about the Lenten Fast, though I have a lot of old shoes he could borrow if he changes his mind.
I too have to admit an attraction to the Eastern Orthodox Church. Theosis, or their doctrine, that all of life has been made holy by the Incarnation, because where God has walked, God has made holy makes sense to me. Since Jesus partook in human life, all human life is holy. Eating, singing and dancing all can become forms of prayers since Jesus ate, sang and danced with us. So why not chose a church because they have great food? I mean have you ever tried the Baklava at the Greek Fest? It is to die for. Not to mention the souvlaki. Even joking and laughing are holy and a form of prayer. Anyone who thinks that God doesn’t joke hasn’t seen a platypus. What happened when a beaver, duck, and otter all walk into a bar? Platypus.
Anyway, the last time we went to the Greek Fest, we took my 3-year-old. He was transfixed by the young dancers from Holy Trinity. The circle dances made him pause and soak in the beauty. The children in turn accepted him after the performance and danced with him. Within their circle I saw God being with them. The joy on the children’s face taught me Jesus is still with us and even gnawing on a shoe or two has its benefits. Theosis also means that eating food, dancing and the smile of my child are Holy.