As an Orthodox Christian priest, I am always interested in how people find and (sometimes) abandon their Orthodox Christianity. In a recent conversation with a close friend of mine, we found ourselves reflecting on friends of ours who have risen to prominence in parishes or theological or academic circles, only to ‘implode’ in a variety of ways, even going so far as to abandon their faith in God entirely.
Growing up a Southern Baptist in eastern Tennessee, Brent Gilbert says, he never realized there were other ways to worship.
He figured everyone knew the best church music was contemporary. He was sure there was a 45-minute pastor's sermon at the heart of every Sunday service. And didn't all Christians agree that religious art, symbols and rituals were relics of a less desirable past?
Then he encountered the ancient faith that would change his life. In the formal liturgy, rituals and language of the Greek Orthodox Church, he found a worship tradition so enriched by its direct link to lives of Christ's original followers that it turns faith into an "all-encompassing phenomenon."