Several months ago, I recounted the story of how I got myself kicked out of a Russian Orthodox parish for wearing the wrong clothes. I was on an internet site when I inserted my foot in my mouth yet again.
Innocently enough, I used the name of a character from one Leo Tolstoy’s finest short stories. His name in Russian is Alyosha Gorshok, but it is translated into English as “Alyosha the Pot.” Of course, I thought that it was just any old pot until a frustrated poster told me that it was a chamber pot and that my username was insulting and obscene. I guess I can’t claim ignorance, can I? Of course, I apologized to the poster and changed my username.
I point out these stories not for their entertainment value, but to point out something else. Every time I go and explore Orthodox Christianity, I always feel the door slam in my face. I wonder sometimes if my approach is wrong or whether I am being too proud. Maybe I am like St. Peter and doing everything with the best of intentions, but getting slammed because I put my foot in my mouth.
Of course, I understand why people would feel insulted or why they would throw me out of a parish. People have their own reasons for being the way that they are and there is little that I can do to change them. There will always be those who feel that their parish is their own little kingdom and that everyone who does not come in with the right clothes is trespassing on that little kingdom. Of course, there will always be super correct people who believe that their interpretation of canon law is the correct one and that nobody else can do it right even if that other person’s interpretation is the correct one. The list goes on and on.
The truth of the matter is that those kinds of people are slamming the doors on those who are seeking Christ and would like to know Him and love Him. We shouldn’t judge others and turn them away because they don’t fit into our own little self-made worlds. If anything, those “others” deserve our love and forgiveness. Is that really so hard to do?