Posted by: jamesthethickheaded | July 25, 2011

That Elevator Speech Thing

So I voted for one of the Antiochian Church’s Elevator speeches (FWIW, number # 3 on the list – the eternal love affair with God bit), but can’t say that any of them threw me ’round the room. And if I get it right, seems to me an elevator speech should push your buttons, without punching you out. Tricky thing that.

Something from the Fathers would be good. Ah… but who has the time? So don’t think any of the candidates went there. S-P’s old “Life in Christ” podcast tagline was pretty good, and I have to say that I wonder how that missed the cut? Once upon a time in an Anglican galaxy far, far away, I actually had a priest who’d left a life on Madison Avenue to go to seminary and do the deal, and he could probably manage this thing without Focus Groupies and all that… being one of those rare traditionalists…. but I don’t think seminary or the Anglicans would have given him much to work with as traditional as he might have been. So that’s a dead-end, too.

But we’ve got all those big timers on the Avenue and plenty in the UK, too (Saatchi and Saatchi). But once upon a time, there was this Street called Strait that was almost as famous, maybe… and a bunch of guys (twelve actually) who all worked together at this once agency…and  I’m betting they knew a thing or two about “the pitch”.  So I gotta ask, didn’t anyone check with Boanerges, Boanerges & Didymus Worldwide?

Anyway, found this from St. Cyprian Orthodox Church website in Midlothian Virginia (outside of Richmond): and it fairly rocks, IMHO:

Orthodoxy is the Church of Christ on earth.  The Church of Christ is not an institution; it is a new life with Christ and in Christ, guided by the Holy Spirit.  Christ, the Son of God, came to earth, was made man, uniting His divine life with that of humanity.  This divine-human life He gave to His brethren, who believe on His name. Although He died and rose again and ascended into heaven, He was not separated from His humanity, but remains in it.  The light of the resurrection of Christ lights the Church, and the joy of resurrection, of the triumph over death, fills it.  The risen Lord lives with us, and our life in the Church is a mysterious life in Christ.  ‘Christians’ bear that name precisely because they belong to Christ, they live in Christ, and Christ lives in them.  (From The Orthodox Church, by Father Sergius Bulgakov (1871-1944), revised translation by St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1988)

Pretty sweet, huh? Okay, it runs a little longer than 30 seconds, so cut out some of the “fluff” in the middle… which is like cutting out the heart to save the patient (old Aztec ER team’s catch-all solution for what to when stuck in over your head and left the Merck manual at home), but still I think you can paraphrase that puppy a bit to pare it:

Orthodoxy is the Church of Christ on earth…not an institution,… but new life with Christ and in Christ, guided by the Holy Spirit. (He gives His) divine-human life to His brethren, who believe on His name. The light of the resurrection of Christ lights the Church, and the joy of the Resurrection fills it.  He lives with us, and our life in the Church is a mysterious life in Christ.

You could substitute ‘The Orthodox Church” for “Orthodoxy” to conform, but it still seems to work. Just an idea. Surely some of the others follow the same attempt… only I’m unaware of the base point. I liked the line someone had that it’s not an easy life, and you could go there to take down some of what folks call “triumphalism” of the first sentence just a notch if you had to.

In true elevator land, still seems like you need to add an ending, and you could go there  depending on the audience.

Hipster types:

“Not always an easy life, working things out next to a carpenter dude carryin’ all those thunderbolts, halos, keys, and stuff… but it’s all good.”

Reverent types :

“… that leads us and restores us simply as The Way, the Truth and the Life.”

 Irreverent types:

 “Now He may not dig me so much, I am where I am… but you guys… you look a lot more His type. I think you’d dig it.”

The whole still needs work. Duh. But that’s what the wordsmiths are for. I mean… this is free, right? ‘Nuff said.  Tricky part in using any of these in the real world is it seems to me that if you gauge these things wrong, someone probably gets pushed out of the elevator “at altitude” to finish “his faith journey” before the elevator finishes it’s own journey to the ground floor. Ouch!


  1. “You could substitute ‘The Orthodox Church” for “Orthodoxy” to conform…”

    Just curious about this statement. What do you mean? I don’t really like the word ‘Orthodoxy’ when it’s bandied about instead of saying ‘the Church’ because it seems to imply some sort of cloud-floating ‘correct theology’ or ‘correct spirituality’ detached from any earthly establishment. I agree the Church of Christ is not an institution, but it does exist concretely in us and where we worship. We don’t believe in an invisible Church.

    I like your thoughts here! 🙂

  2. Gold:

    Remember… These aren’t my words. All I’m doing is trying to shoehorn Bugkalov’s phraseology into the elevator style of 30 seconds. It’s an edit… and not something original.

    Yet I think you point to an apparent equivocation… and wonder whether it is in fact like the Anglican dodge to the amorphous “church in my/our heads”… the Via Media “Third Branch” BS. This is a worthy point, but I have to say firmly that I don’t think so.

    Here’s why: I think the distinction between the two terms is that when we use them with intentional precision, what we tend to mean differentiates the Church where lay people worship from the whole of Orthodoxy that includes the Orthodox Church and the Orthodox monastics and all our hierarchs and related institutions both lay and ecclesiastical. As you suggest, Orthodoxy is not meant to refer to an ideology or book of rules or even teaching (like the RC magisterium), but refers to all these people in living breathing worship in various places as they live their lives in constant prayer (and thus union with Christ) joined together with all those who are mystically present with us, and this also refers to those moments when we are in fact acting together as the Church in its fullest as a living breathing part of Christ’s body – and not those lesser moments where we allow something less and may in fact fall into error. In practice of course, we tend to be a lot less precise and a lot less perfect… ergo your concern seems a natural outgrowth of discomfort with that practice.

    I could be in error on this, but that’s my beginner’s sense of these things.

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