Sep 16, 2014

Angela Doll Carlson: on being Nearly Orthodox

Where matters of faith are concerned, everything is remedial.

I have become a pilgrim of sorts. I never imagined myself taking this road. Though the destination is not new, the road is new.

I can easily say that meeting God on a regular basis has been a habit I've fostered. The mystery, the wonder, the practice—I'm all about it. In my best moments, I suppose I thought I had already arrived. I thought I was there, sipping mai tais with God on a white beach somewhere, palm trees waving in the warm tropical wind. In my worst moments, I thought I'd at least be boarding a plane to get there.

That I'm on foot and taking this ancient road comes as a surprise. This road is dusty and wide. It can be lonely. Sometimes I don't see another soul for miles. In the heat of the day, the road of Orthodoxy is arduous and beautiful. In the calm of the night it is expansive; the moon and the stars provide company, promise, and revelation. But where matters of faith are concerned, everything is remedial. The word comes from the Latin, remedialis, meaning "healing, curing." Everything about faith is this. Everything.

- Excerpt from Nearly Orthodox: On being a Modern Woman in an Ancient Tradition by Angela Doll Carlson

Whenever anyone would ask me about being religious, I would say, “I’m Catholic.”  No matter that I had not practiced Catholicism for 20 or maybe 30 years. No matter that I had visited in pretty much every other version of Christian denominations in that time. I was born into a Catholic family and in part I felt that perhaps I’d return there one day when I was ready.

But sometimes we don’t go home again. Sometimes we wander off and then when we turn around we realize that perhaps we belong another place. Perhaps another place is also “home.” Orthodoxy was this for me. I spent about three years pursuing it and I spent a great deal of that time writing about it, talking about it, struggling with it. This book, “Nearly Orthodox” is an account of the struggle, but not simply the struggle to convert to Orthodoxy, but rather, the struggle of living out our lives in the tension of the now and the not yet, the remembrance of our history, the immediacy of the present and the fear of the future.

I am now two years into my journey as an Orthodox Christian, walking in community with fellow travelers at Christ the Savior Orthodox church (OCA) in Chicago. Sometimes, I’m asked why the book and the blog are called “Nearly” Orthodox rather than “finally” or “becoming” or “being” Orthodox. It’s a good question and while I believe the book answers it far better than I can in this short space, I will say that my journey began long before I stepped foot into an Orthodox church and continues long after the oil of my chrismation. It’s a long road. I anticipate curves, bumps and construction along the way but I also hope I take time to appreciate the beautiful scenery, the company of fellow pilgrims, the feel of the air on my skin and the cool, clear water that comes when I find I am most thirsty.

Nearly Orthodox: On being a modern woman in an ancient tradition is available now in print or eBook format from

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