I have to say that I am excited to have read some non-Christian religious sci-fi at last (although, I suppose if you count Orson Scott Card...). It seems that most of the short stories we've read up until this point have come out of a largely Christian-informed tradition, even though the authors themselves might not have been religious. I thought "On Venus, Have We Got a Rabbi" was playfully satiric. There's a mix of asking serious questions about preserving tradition amid societal and technological changes and also the Jewish tradition of arguing over an issue in order to seek clarity. The latter is treated somewhat humorously in this story b/c of the idea of "brown lumpy pillows" w/ grey tentacles wishing to be Jewish.
Well, this got me thinking about change and tradition w/in my own faith in the future. Orthodoxy is a faith that is very resistant to change...and that's putting it lightly. There is controversy in Bulgaria even now about whether or not a bishop should be in his position until his death or whether he is allowed retirement. There is controversy in some American churches as to whether or not guide dogs should be allowed in church for blind parishioners (there is a church canon that declares dogs "unclean"). But I often wonder if Orthodoxy has changed as little as it has claimed. Is it just a front that it puts up in order to maintain stability? If Orthodoxy were to change at all, I think it would continue to deny that it had changed. There is a joke in Orthodox communities-- A layperson asks, "How many Orthodox bishops does it take to change a lightbulb?" And a church father responds, flabberghasted, "Change?!"
If I foresee any changes w/in the Orthodox church in the near or far future, it would be a breaking down of ethnic boundaries. As of rigt now we have defined Bulgarian, Romanian, Antiochian, Russian, Coptic, Greek, Ukrainian, Ethiopian, Macedonian...etc. Personally, I hope for greater and more profound changes w/in the church, particularly a movement toward the acceptance of "spiritual" individuals over "religious" individuals, b/c the latter seems to emphasize rules and dogma over individuals and their varied needs. I will end w/ a favorite quote of mine--"Religion is for people afraid of going to Hell. Spirituality is for those who have already been there."