The subject of Orthodoxy and ethnicity has come up in several recent posts. To limit Orthodoxy to a particular ethnic group is, of course, heretical. But as I have noted earlier, the fullness of Orthodox does not destroy the particularity of who we are – but fulfills it. A man does not become less himself but more truly himself than he could ever have been apart from Christ. Only in Christ are we truly fulfilled.
The same is true of a culture. To remove the fullness of Christ from a culture would be to leave it little more than costume and stage play. Too much of our American culture is precisely that – many professing the Christian faith racing to compete in new ways to present the faith as yet another stage play – Church as karaoke.
But there is a possibility for all cultures to be truly fulfilled in Christ. What this would look like in America is not immediately obvious – though I suspect that many of its more native forms (“shape note” singing in Appalachia, for example) have probably come closer to doing this than any of our modern efforts. For a culture to be fulfilled there is a substance required to start with. Virtual reality will not do.
I believe thought about this topic will have to continue for quite some time. I welcome suggestions of examples. In the meantime – it is worth looking at an ancient culture which still can exhibit elements of its fulfillment. For a second time I am sharing some of the beauty of Georgian Orthodoxy.