Do You Want To Be Orthodox?

learning to be orthodox

One of my favorite films is Martin Scorcese’s The Departed. It’s a thriller about an undercover cop sent to infiltrate the Irish mafia. His mission is to uncover a mole inside the Boston police department.

There’s a line in the film that I recite all the time to my long-suffering wife. In my best Boston accent, I repeat a question Police Captain Queenan (Martin Sheen) delivers to a young recruit, Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio):


“Do you want to be a cop, or do you want to appear to be a cop?” Queenan asks Costigan. “It’s an honest question. A lot of guys just want to appear to be cops. Gun, badge, pretend they’re on TV.”

Queenan is taking the measure of young Costigan. He wants to find out if his recruit is willing to do the dirty work ahead, or whether he just wants to bask in the glory of the uniform. With lives at stake, Queenan wants dedication, not mere playacting.

Appearing to be Orthodox

I’ve entered my third year as an Orthodox Christian. My convert’s zeal is running out of steam, and I’m faced with the task of actually living Orthodoxy in my daily life. Results have been mixed.

My prayer rope is on my nightstand more than it is on my wrist. The icons on my wall look at me far more often than I look at them. What started out as weekly posts on this site have become fewer and farther between.

This last item may be a good thing. How can I talk to all of you about Orthodoxy when I know so little of it, and practice it so badly?

Do I want to be Orthodox, or do I want to appear to be Orthodox?

Living Orthodoxy is more than the forms of the faith. It’s more than your conversion story. At some point you must settle in and just be Orthodox.

I’m still figuring out what that means. As I go through the process of learning, I will continue to try sharing that with you. That includes my lapses, my ups and downs, and my struggles. It also means sharing the continued peace I have in knowing I have found the true Church of the Apostles. It’s knowing that I am in the Church that will never pass away. It means I am part of a community that has lasted over 2,000 years.

I’d love to hear from any of you that have experienced this. Have you passed through the conversion phase and into a place of truly living Orthodoxy? Your thoughts and advice are welcome.

I don’t want to merely appear to be Orthodox.


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