The problem of course is that the Traditionalist movement believes these Canons are simply Liturgical in nature, like telling priests to grow long beards, or how many candles should be set upon an altar. They don't realize Canon law also declares that suffering a miscarriage, being raped, and having a Jewish doctor are “crimes” worthy of excommunication. Yes, the Christian Church really was (is?) that stupid. While most of Christendom has grown up and realized such laws are crazy and therefore have written them off the books, they actually remain on the books in Eastern Orthodoxy. That's right, technically speaking, Orthodox Christians in the 21st century could get excommunicated for the “crime” of having a Jewish doctor – but not for the immoral act of owning slaves.
As an Eastern Orthodox Christian, and a former Orthodox (as well as Protestant) Fundamentalist myself, I believe that these laws are crazy. Yet I also believe that such Fundamentalism can be refuted by illustrating the ridiculous implications involved with excommunicating people who eat Matzo bread, dance at weddings, or become “whoremasters” – okay that last one isn’t so ridiculous, but the rest are quite insane.
My basic argument is that the Christian Church, with all its varieties, both ancient and modern, is simply an imperfect human institution, and that Christians must move beyond blind Fundamentalist appeals to ancient authorities (which unwittingly calls for the excommunication of Jesus, the Matzo bread eating Jew!) and into a new kind of faith, which focuses more on God and neighbor, rather than sacred texts, traditions, and beliefs. I don't think Christians should be afraid to ask questions, question authority, and yes even your own Church. By the way, non-Orthodox Christians shouldn't feel too cocky because for the first 1000 years of Church history these laws were universal within Christendom. So just be thankful you weren't born during a time when it was illegal for a Christian to attend a Bar Mitvah – or you could just be thankful you're not part of a denomination where it is still illegal! And if you're not a Christian or not a believer at all I think you'll get a kick out of this book too – after all, some aspects of religion really are crazy – and Canon law is certainly one of them.
The book is being published by Regina Orthodox Press (Salisbury MA), though it's not up on their website yet, but I will continue to keep you posted. When I know more, so will you.