Ah interesting. During my religious phase I joined the Orthodox Church (a Carptho-Rusyn one)) but was inspired heavily by ROCOR friends I had made online in the mid 1990s.
I even stayed at a ROCOR monastery in… um.. Tennesee I believe.. for about 3 weeks in the late 1990s.
I even made monasticism my retirement plan.. in case.. you know… the whole money thing and paying off a mortgage thing just goes *poof*. It’s an interesting and stable existence it seems and I liked the daily routine. I would’ve stayed longer than 3 weeks but I used up my vacation time from work to do it (they didn’t know where I went) and i was satisfied when I got a taste for it. It’s for me, just, not at that point.
Interest in religious matters petered off after that (and teaching myself a little Russian – or trying) – but the Philokalia which I read all of them cover-to-cover and highlighted and took notes in taught me a lot about human nature. Decontextualized, there’s a lot of great stuff in there.
All started when I was a teenage custodian at my Methodist church I grew up with. 13 year old kid, cleaning up garbage cans after school. I looked around the.. Narthex is it? (I forget the room names now) and thought, “they need more candles in here”.
The “love everybody/serve man” (with a side of bacon) I learned as a kid from Methodist sunday school was helpful but there wasn’t any depth beyond that. Candles, I later realized, represented the missing depth. Almost becoming a Catholic priest (working in a Catholic university as a temp doing data entry (I think I was Unitarian at the time, maybe Quaker), I looked in the phone book to see if I missed any religions that I wanted to investigate during my lunch break.
“Ok, what’s this Orthodox church thing? Never heard of it”.
Called. Priest’s wife answered. (Priests with wives and kids! Check) “Oh, Father’s out blessing houses (it was January). (Check! I always liked the Wiccan (lol) Catholic inspired blessings but didn’t like all the arcane language stuff).
Checked it out. No statues (didn’t like the embodiment in stone thing) but some great medieval art – all totally symbolic (the long noses, the strange inverted perspectives – all completely on purpose)… and lots of Libarace-style gold and pomp and Anglican beauty. [loved Anglican music – they got that part down pat, especially the boys choirs and the pipe organ music – marvelous stuff].
I liked getting an alt.history of the world. Free education there. Pieced the gaps I had in my American education (like, you know, WHAT HAPPENED between fall of rome and Mr. Smart Guy beyond fighting Welsh and Norsemen? I found out where Western Civ MOVED to… or really, never left.. until that “we’re gonna fix Islam once-and-for-all dude in 1493″. Don’t blame him really – power-happens)
So yeah, it was fun journey. Made lifelong friends from it. In retrospect, it was only maybe a 3-5 year obsession.. but it was a blast.