In anticipation of Metropolitan Jonah’s consecration tomorrow, Ancient Faith Radio has posted a new Illumined Heart podcast. Host Kevin Allen asked many background questions the average layperson has probably been wishing he could ask, particularly about his Beatitude’s conversion to the Orthodox Faith. It’s a voyeuristic curiosity among converts that we never get tired of listening to these stories. Not to compare our faith with another believer, but as a reminder of where we came from. I think it’s a way of renewing our zeal for the faith.
I loved the questions about Metropolitan Jonah’s favorite movies and books. I think you can tell a lot about a person by what they read (Met. Jonah cites Edward Abbey among others), the movies they like and their childhood hobbies and interests. For the record, my 8 year old thinks our new Metropolitan is officially cool. Anyone, even a hierarch, who lists Star Wars among his favorite films is ok with him.
During the early 80’s as a college student studying wildlife science and parks and recreation, I think reading Edward Abbey, particularly Desert Solitaire, was as close to a spiritual experience as I’d ever had at that point. To this day, a hike through the desert Southwest can feel like a second baptism. It wasn’t until I became Orthodox years later that I got the same “religious” feelings from any other writer. Some people think of Abbey as an eco-terrorist, a liberal radical, an anarchist. Well, he might have been all that but he was also a philosopher. The man who could say “Love implies anger. The man who is angered by nothing cares about nothing”, can’t be totally without a spiritual core.
Two things really struck me about Metropolitan Jonah’s interview – one, just how calm, easy-going and sensible he sounds. This is someone who knows people and how to deal with them; that is the strength that made him a good abbot and also what being an abbot taught him about dealing with people.
The second was how the Holy Spirit was working in his life even as a college student and Orthodox newcomer. In the Orthodox college fellowship that he founded, at least eight persons went on to become priests, priest-monks, a nun, deacon and matushka. That is a remarkable number considering most average parishes can count on one hand the number of priests, deacons or monastics ever produced during the community’s entire history.
I’ll post Part 2 as soon as it’s out on Ancient Faith Radio. In the meantime, please keep praying for our Metropolitan.