The Time for Orthodoxy in America?

Circles of young women crying on one another’s shoulders—you’ve seen the pictures. As if a Tsunami had just struck the coast and wiped away every living person they knew, demolishing every personal possession they had.

Young men aghast, photographed staring blankly at the TV screen, frightfully covering their noses with their prayer-like folded hands. These boys exhibit not simply surprise, or even shock, but utter horror—as if they had just witnessed the downing of a 747.

Thousands marching in streets, lighting piles of who-knows-what on fire in the middle of city avenues. One unfortunately iconic image circulated the Internet of a woman who hiked up her skirt, defecated on the sidewalk, and then smeared her offering on a Trump sign.

In my weaker moments, I look on these photos—how can one avoid them?—and think, “could this be real?” I see this visceral reaction of some as the ongoing tantrum of undisciplined children in adult bodies.

But in my more sober moments, I hope inspired by the Holy Spirit, I see these fellow citizens in a more serious light: these are sheep without a shepherd.

These are Americans, of all ages and races, who have fallen for a hopeless trick of the devil: to put their “trust in princes, in sons of men, in whom there is no salvation.” I suspect it would better in this case to be clearer: they put their trust in a princess, a daughter of men, in whom there is no salvation. And when she was vanquished, it was like the breath of life was sucked from their pleading lungs. In reaction, they declare (also hopelessly, futilely) “Not my President!” They are at least right in not transferring their misplaced Clinton-trust to our President-elect—not because he is evil, or the devil, or an insert-malevolent-descriptor-here. Human beings should not put that kind of trust in *any man or woman*—neither him nor her!

In these last days, an interesting turn of events has transpired. President-elect Trump named an Orthodox Christian as his chief-of-staff. This would surely be the most influential Orthodox position in American political history. In a very real way, the possibility for Orthodox Christian influence on the shape of our culture has now its greatest opportunity. This could be the most evangelistic gift the Lord has given our United States, from an Orthodox perspective.

Will Orthodox Christians seize the day? Will we find ways to urge our new President to undo the legalized permission to destroy unborn life? Will we find our voice to influence the re-catechesis of America on the realities of man and woman and marriage, for the stabilization of our society? Will we prophesy, “we cannot promote the calling of good “evil” and “evil good”? Will we lead the way, urging that we, the people of the United States of America, have a tremendous amount of public repentance to offer? Will we move to instruct the President-elect, along with Secretary Clinton, and our other public leaders on the true meaning of “Forgive me,” the proper way to amend one’s life, to “turn from wickedness and live”?

In becoming Orthodox, I found that almost of all of my “either/or” questions had no “either/or” answer, but rather that I had to learn to rephrase my inquiry. This “either/or” thinking is demonstrated, as always, in spades in the recent election cycle. But now, we have the chance to lead in rephrasing, from an Orthodox perspective, the questions that confront the United States—to point to the only man in whom one can put his full and unqualified trust, who is not a prince, but the King of Glory, who is Salvation incarnate: Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World.

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Fr John Parker is the pastor of Holy Ascension Orthodox…
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