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Author Topic: who leaves Orthodoxy and why ?  (Read 14543 times) Average Rating: 0
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Jonas Suender
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« on: May 27, 2007, 07:51:52 PM »

I'm thinking about joining Orthodoxy, which means I would leave my current religion (Catholicism). 

I'm curious:  who leaves Orthodoxy and why?


I'm posting this here on the convert issues forum because I want to get a better sense of Orthodoxy before I decide to join.  I apologize if this is the wrong forum.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2007, 07:52:15 PM by Jonas Suender » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2007, 12:34:48 AM »

I know a guy who was baptised and grew up in the Orthodox church and then went Agnostic and has gone back to school at a seminary in order to "allow the orthodox church to win him back" literally. 

Anyway, this guy had issues with the language barier mostly. 

He also felt like Protestant worship was much more condusive to personal prayer and expression of faith. 

He also felt that the Orthodox church wasn't doing anything with its call to be Christians and missions, and etc.  We just arn't visible..period. 

These were his reasons for leaving, in a nutshell. 
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« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2007, 12:55:18 AM »

I remember someone who joined the Orthodox Church then left a few years later to return to her Protestant Charismatic roots because the Orthodox services weren't charismatic and emotional enough for her.
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« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2007, 01:16:44 AM »

I think the above are really important points that I think many Orthodox themselves may find that they struggle with from time to time. I suppose this is one point where things can be really subjective and you can find people who simply love the traditional services and others who find that they are left wanting.

Another important aspect to consider as well could be what many might refer to as legalism or phariseeism in the church, ie to say a kind of inflexible rigidity. Clericalism may also be an issue as well.
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« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2007, 02:19:40 AM »

I would argue that there are three classes of people who leave the Church.

One group consist of those born into the Church who have, generally speaking, never been very involved and end up naturally gravitating towards the first real religious experience they have, regardless of where they find it.

The next group is primarially converts who are seeking an emotional/spiritual high, they come to Orthodoxy for a while, get their fix, but then when things stop being so mystical and strange, they loose interest and go looking for their next fix.

Finally, we live in an age of reason, religious absurdities and hypocracies can simply not be tolerated by the rational and educated modern human. Unfortunately, we have more than our fair share of these absurdities and even a hand full of hierarchs who advocate them. I must confess that if I believed the Church to be anything like the dystopia certain traditionalist groups seem to advocate (just rhetoric, no offence intended Anastasios Wink) I would have probably already left. But I do believe from the fathers that our faith is a far more reasonable faith and that it is perfectly capable of evolving along with culture and society...of course there are some who would diagree; then again, there are some who might include this group with 2...but I would argue that they confuse emotion and reason.

Hopefully Asteriktos will see this and chime in, I'm sure he could offer a unique perspective to your question.
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« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2007, 02:55:26 AM »

Quote
I know a guy who was baptised and grew up in the Orthodox church and then went Agnostic and has gone back to school at a seminary in order to "allow the orthodox church to win him back" literally.

Anyway, this guy had issues with the language barier mostly.

He also felt like Protestant worship was much more condusive to personal prayer and expression of faith.

He also felt that the Orthodox church wasn't doing anything with its call to be Christians and missions, and etc.  We just arn't visible..period.

These were his reasons for leaving, in a nutshell.


I hate to say it, but I believe Orthodoxy can be a stumbling block to some individuals. I really do think that when it comes to the laity, all in all, for some reason protestants seem to be much more faithful to adhering to their faith. Maybe all the *structural* & cultural aspects allow some of us to get apathetic about the Orthodox faith so easily, where in Protestantism all there is to do is pray and participate in other personal devotions. Maybe such simplicity is easier for some people to follow. Orthodoxy on the other hand, in my opinion is the greatest treasure in Christendom; the more advanced spiritual seeker will never grow tired of what the Orthodox Church has to offer. I probably didn't explain this in the best manner, but I'm sure some of you get what I'm trying to say.


Quote
I'm thinking about joining Orthodoxy, which means I would leave my current religion (Catholicism).

I'm curious:  who leaves Orthodoxy and why?


I'm posting this here on the convert issues forum because I want to get a better sense of Orthodoxy before I decide to join.  I apologize if this is the wrong forum.

There are plus and minuses to joining Orthodoxy. If you have a family, you might miss some of the programs and social institutions that may be of benefit to you and your family in the RC. That's one area really lacking in Orthodoxy, we just don't have the social networks that are so common in the RC. On the other hand, I would say the beauty and Tradition our Liturgy dwarfs the modernism found in the new RC mass. There's also the question of differences in theology, western/eastern world viewpoints. Depends what you are looking for I guess. I personally have never met anyone who has left Orthodoxy for Catholicism. I did get to challenge Scott Hahn once when I called into Catholic Answers radio show on why he chose the RC over Orthodoxy. He seemed unsure of his answer to a few of the questions I posed, even pausing at one point to really think out what he was going to say to me. I could tell his faith commitment to Catholicism over Orthodoxy may have been based on personal preference & also a western cultural aspect also. I got the feeling that it just wasn't from a purely theological or historical point of view. Hope this helps some.   

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« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2007, 03:56:46 AM »

I did get to challenge Scott Hahn once when I called into Catholic Answers radio show on why he chose the RC over Orthodoxy. He seemed unsure of his answer to a few of the questions I posed, even pausing at one point to really think out what he was going to say to me. I could tell his faith commitment to Catholicism over Orthodoxy may have been based on personal preference & also a western cultural aspect also. I got the feeling that it just wasn't from a purely theological or historical point of view. Hope this helps some.   

I was exposed to a bit of Scott Hahn when I lived with an RC roommate for 9 months.  I kinda got the impression that he knew next to nothing about Orthodoxy during his process of converting to Catholicism, which made Protestantism vs. Catholicism appear to be the only debate that mattered--I thought like this during my conversion process until I discovered the Orthodox Church.  All that he learned subsequently about Orthodoxy appeared to be solely from RC apologetics.  As such, he kinda gave me that sense that after his conversion he couldn't help but look at the Orthodox Church through Rome-colored glasses.  Maybe I was way off base in my assessment of Dr. Hahn, for I certainly won't knock his vastly superior intellect and his keen ability to articulate his beliefs in a very clear manner, but I haven't yet seen enough to shake my first impression of him.
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« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2007, 06:45:10 AM »

I was raised in the Orthodox Church, so I can only speak from that experience, but I think one of the contributing factors to people leaving the Orthodox Church is that no one has time any more for the slow and painful process of theosis, a process which requires not only time and effort, but also gives one very little (if any) feedback on how one is going.

It's a vastly different world we live in compared to even 30 years ago.
I'm 40 years old. In my lifetime, computers have gone from huge mainframes using punch cards to laptops & PDA's. When I was growing up, if you didn't get to the bank by 5pm on Friday, you had no money for the weekend. Your milk got delivered to your door. We played on the streets, down in the gullies and didn't come home until dark. A murder or armed robbery was headline news for months. The quickest way you could communicate with anyone was by telegram.

Today, in the first world, we are bombarded with information via TV, Internet, WiFi, Ipod, email, cell phones etc. Sometimes it's easy to feel like roadkill on the information highway. And as for the choices! When I grew up, there were two brands of toilet paper you could buy. I went to buy a espresso machine last week as a housewarming gift for someone, and there were two aisles of them to choose from in the department store! People in first world countries today are in overload and are tired, and who can blame them? Unfortunately, there is no such thing as "Orthodoxy Lite" to offer them.

An Orthodox Christian prays, fasts, goes to Liturgy for hours on end, kisses strange objects, has to learn to get on with people vastly different to themselves, has to remain cheerful and accommodating when people mistake their faith for a type of Judaism and ask them if they are Christian, and has to do all this and more knowing that they are doing nothing more than is their duty, and so, cannot even feel a sense of accomplishment.

It's a big ask for anyone, but it's a much bigger ask of someone who lives in the developed world. Is it any wonder that people want to choose a spiritual home which is more comfortable, gives them feedback, and tells them when they're doing fine?



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« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2007, 06:47:33 AM »

Interesting.  And thank you, all of you, for your candid replies.  Thank you also, in advance, for reading what follows. 

From another thread, http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,9919.15.html
I stated that I'm hesitant about converting to Orthodoxy.  These are some of the issues why that is so.



1.  Is the effectiveness of Orthodox liturgy and tradition largely a matter of individual personality?

I knew a guy who left the Eastern Catholic (uniate) Church for an Evangelical Church.  He did so because he loved the emphasis on Scripture, but I think he also liked the more "personal" form of worship there.  For myself, I found the Divine Liturgy to be very conducive to personal prayer.  In the midst of corporate worship, I was simultaneously alone with God.  While my body and mind were occupied with the certain rhythms of the Liturgy, my spirit was freed to commune with God.  But, I wonder how much of that is based on individual personality.  In other words, do some people just have a personality that is more geared to one form of worship over another?  I suspect that is so.



2.  Is theology primarily intellection or is it primarily grace and experience?

I would tend to agree that Scott Hahn and some other Western Christian scholars seem to have learned about Orthodoxy from Western apologetics.  I don't remember if I read it or saw it on TV, but I remember from somewhere that Dr. Hahn claimed that Orthodoxy didn't develop significant theology since the end of the patristic age.  I read another author, a Protestant, who claimed the same thing.  Both men are very intelligent and otherwise very knowledgeable, but I was floored when I encountered that claim.  I thought to myself, "What about the preservation of the Byzantine Empire and Christian civilization from invasion by pagans and Muslims?  What about the conversion and civilizing of the Slavs?  What about St. Gregory Palamas and mystical theology?  What about St. Nicholas Cabasilas and sacramental theology?  What about the hesychast renewal, starting in the Middle Ages and going on today?  Etc.  Can't there be theological progress and development and contribution without Scholasticism?  Can't theology be pneumatological also?"  But, you see, that is one of the things I like about Orthodoxy.  In Orthodoxy, theology means the direct, personal experience with the living God.  It is not mere intellection, which, at best, is a reflection on experience or a vehicle for experience but  not a substitute for experience and grace.  Sometimes, I think that Protestant and Catholic forms of Christianity are much closer to each other than to Orthodoxy because they seem to share several premises, and one of them seems to be that theology is primarily intellection.  Orthodoxy, however, seems to say that theology is primarily grace and experience with the living, triune God.  Or, am I wrong in that?



3.  How widespread is phariseeism in the Orthodox Church?  But, is a certain amount of phariseeism necessary to preserve and pass on the Tradition?

That said, I have encountered in the Orthodox Church a little but real bit of phariseeism -- wherein what mattered was how things were done, instead of the purpose behind the rituals.  That turned me off.  But, I have wondered since then if ritualistic exactitude is the only pragmatic way that the Tradition can be preserved and handed down through the generations.  (The contrast in the Roman Catholic Church and in some mainline Protestant Churches is striking.)  Because, is not Tradition the vehicle for preserving theosis? 



4.  Evangelization?

I agree, too, that some people join Orthodoxy out of enthusiasm and leave after the enthusiasm wears off.  I'm trying to prevent that from happening in my case by taking my time and testing my feelings and determination.

On the other hand, I also agree that Orthodoxy sometimes seems to be invisible here in the U.S.  I realize that part of that is because there are relatively few Orthodox here.  Part of that also is because most Orthodox are concentrated in large cities, and they are not as commonly found in smaller cities, towns and small towns.  And, part of that is probably because of the different jurisdictions which necessitates dividing up members and resources.  Etc.  But, sometimes it seems that Orthodoxy is content to be the best kept secret in Christendom; and if the Holy Spirit happens to lead a person to it, well and good.  I realize that websites like this, books like H.G. Kallistos Ware's, etc. are examples of Orthodox outreach.  Are those exceptions that prove the norm?  Or, is Orthodox evangelization --like everything else in the Orthodox Church-- just different from Western models of evangelization?



5.  My own personal worry.

My own personal worry is being true to my vocation.  I feel called to be a priest (unworthy, but called anyway).  I'm the first to admit I might be wrong.  But, assuming that I'm right, here's the problem.  I would prefer to be in the Orthodox Church, but I feel drawn to serve in the Catholic Church. 

Allow me to explain. 

There are a lot more people in the Catholic Church than in the Orthodox Church here in America.  Therefore, if I became a Catholic priest, I could help a lot more people than in the Orthodox Church. 

However, I would have to sacrifice a certain amount of my integrity to be a Catholic priest because I just don't believe in certain Catholic teachings:  the birth control teaching, the divorce teaching, papal infallibility, papal claims to universal jurisdiction and authority, the filioque, a view of Mary that doesn't quite seem to be Orthodox, etc.  Also, Orthodoxy just seems to be a better fit for me, personally, than Catholicism: liturgically and spiritually. 

On the other hand, maybe remaining a Catholic and the renunciation it would require of me is my share in the Cross that He wants me to carry. 

I don't know. 

I don't expect anyone here to know, either. 

But when push comes to shove, this is the real issue that holds me up from joining the Orthodox Church:  Does Christ want to use me in the Catholic Church to serve His people there because there are so many more people there and there is such a priest shortage there?

Feel free to post or PM your responses.

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« Reply #9 on: May 28, 2007, 06:51:07 AM »

I was raised in the Orthodox Church, so I can only speak from that experience, but I think one of the contributing factors to people leaving the Orthodox Church is that no one has time any more for the slow and painful process of theosis, a process which requires not only time and effort, but also gives one very little (if any) feedback on how one is going.

It's a vastly different world we live in compared to even 30 years ago.
I'm 40 years old. In my lifetime, computers have gone from huge mainframes using punch cards to laptops & PDA's. When I was growing up, if you didn't get to the bank by 5pm on Friday, you had no money for the weekend. Your milk got delivered to your door. We played on the streets, down in the gullies and didn't come home until dark. A murder or armed robbery was headline news for months. The quickest way you could communicate with anyone was by telegram.

Today, in the first world, we are bombarded with information via TV, Internet, WiFi, Ipod, email, cell phones etc. Sometimes it's easy to feel like roadkill on the information highway. And as for the choices! When I grew up, there were two brands of toilet paper you could buy. I went to buy a espresso machine last week as a housewarming gift for someone, and there were two aisles of them to choose from in the department store! People in first world countries today are in overload and are tired, and who can blame them? Unfortunately, there is no such thing as "Orthodoxy Lite" to offer them.

An Orthodox Christian prays, fasts, goes to Liturgy for hours on end, kisses strange objects, has to learn to get on with people vastly different to themselves, has to remain cheerful and accommodating when people mistake their faith for a type of Judaism and ask them if they are Christian, and has to do all this and more knowing that they are doing nothing more than is their duty, and so, cannot even feel a sense of accomplishment.

It's a big ask for anyone, but it's a much bigger ask of someone who lives in the developed world. Is it any wonder that people want to choose a spiritual home which is more comfortable, gives them feedback, and tells them when they're doing fine?


VERY interesting post . . . .   especially the last two paragraphs.
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« Reply #10 on: May 28, 2007, 08:54:46 AM »

Why do Orthodox leave?

My observance is as follows:

1. Converts  Type One: did not find what they expected when they came into the Orthodox Church [This is often due to the rush to catechize the convert that some parishes have and  chrismate them before they understand fully the expectations of the Orthodox Church]

2. Converts Type Two: The Orthodox Church was not conservative enough---these leave to  conservative branches off mainstream orthodoxy or go to vacante groups.

3. Cradle Orthodox Type One: Married non-orthodox spouse, started to attend spouse's church part-time to preserve family unity but spouse did not reciprocate, leaves church to keep family together and hold down family stressors.

4. Cradle Orthodox Type Two:parish Clergy have failed to focus on spirituality and biblical foundations of Orthodoxy--- Type Two Cradle Orthodox leaves to seek stronger meat---i.e Bible Studies, sermons that are focussed on bible and taking a stand against sin.

5. Cradle Orthodox Type Three:  Anti-Ethnic, Wants to fit into the American Culture and stop being labled a foreigner so they join an "American Church" to fit in better.

6. Cradle Orthodox Type Four: Rejects morals and ethics taught by Church. Wants a less demanding Church. Homosexuality, liberality such as abortion, rejection of traditional beliefs of orthodox morality become the reasond that this group leaves---they often become Episcopalian.

7. General Orthodox Type One: Orthodox in the wilderness. Employed in areas where there is no Orthodox Church or where they have to travel long distances to get to church but feel the need for worship and spiritual food, they begin to go to heterodox churches in the area they live in. This group will usually never take the final break, i.e. they will travel the distance for major feast or attend Orthodox Churches when they  are visiting an area with Orthodox Churches. Their children however will usually become  a Cradle Orthodox Type One or Type Three as they are usually not catechized.

I know there are probably more however these are the ones that stand out the most to me.

Thomas
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« Reply #11 on: May 28, 2007, 09:36:51 AM »

 In my home country, Ukraine, quite a lot of people are leaving Orthodoxy because they are irritated by constant bickering of the divided jurisdictions, and also (and especially) by lavish lifestyle of Orthodox bishops, archbishops and metropolitans. They see these fat bellies, covered with gold-embroidered vestments, and these fancy million-dollar Mercedezes, and get furious.

On the other hand, many are attracted to newly emerging Protestantism, especially to Charismatic groups. There attract people as simple, accessible, "democratic," and practically efficient. For example, one Charismatic "church" in my home city, Kyiv, known as "The Embassy of God," runs a highly efficient program aimed at curing alcoholics and drug addicts, and they have already achieved quite a success. People compare this with what they perceive as monotonous, repetitive ancient cultish worship, recall yet another Orthodox hierarch awarded with yet another golden medal by some state official, and draw their conclusions...
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« Reply #12 on: May 28, 2007, 10:58:49 AM »

I was raised in the Orthodox Church, so I can only speak from that experience, but I think one of the contributing factors to people leaving the Orthodox Church is that no one has time any more for the slow and painful process of theosis, a process which requires not only time and effort, but also gives one very little (if any) feedback on how one is going.

It's a vastly different world we live in compared to even 30 years ago.
I'm 40 years old. In my lifetime, computers have gone from huge mainframes using punch cards to laptops & PDA's. When I was growing up, if you didn't get to the bank by 5pm on Friday, you had no money for the weekend. Your milk got delivered to your door. We played on the streets, down in the gullies and didn't come home until dark. A murder or armed robbery was headline news for months. The quickest way you could communicate with anyone was by telegram.

Today, in the first world, we are bombarded with information via TV, Internet, WiFi, Ipod, email, cell phones etc. Sometimes it's easy to feel like roadkill on the information highway. And as for the choices! When I grew up, there were two brands of toilet paper you could buy. I went to buy a espresso machine last week as a housewarming gift for someone, and there were two aisles of them to choose from in the department store! People in first world countries today are in overload and are tired, and who can blame them? Unfortunately, there is no such thing as "Orthodoxy Lite" to offer them.

An Orthodox Christian prays, fasts, goes to Liturgy for hours on end, kisses strange objects, has to learn to get on with people vastly different to themselves, has to remain cheerful and accommodating when people mistake their faith for a type of Judaism and ask them if they are Christian, and has to do all this and more knowing that they are doing nothing more than is their duty, and so, cannot even feel a sense of accomplishment.

It's a big ask for anyone, but it's a much bigger ask of someone who lives in the developed world. Is it any wonder that people want to choose a spiritual home which is more comfortable, gives them feedback, and tells them when they're doing fine?





Yes, I think that what you say is right.  Orthodoxy, unlike many forms of contemporary spirituality, is slow and hard.  The journey takes a long time and it requires much.  Those who get the initial emotional/spiritual high become disappointed when they learn just how hard it really is.  Most people just want to feel good and have a good time in Church.  This is why the protestant Megachurches are basically the future of American religion and spirituality.  When it comes to really hard work, few will want to travel the path.

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« Reply #13 on: May 28, 2007, 11:04:43 AM »


My own personal worry is being true to my vocation.  I feel called to be a priest (unworthy, but called anyway).  I'm the first to admit I might be wrong.  But, assuming that I'm right, here's the problem.  I would prefer to be in the Orthodox Church, but I feel drawn to serve in the Catholic Church. 

Allow me to explain. 

There are a lot more people in the Catholic Church than in the Orthodox Church here in America.  Therefore, if I became a Catholic priest, I could help a lot more people than in the Orthodox Church. 

However, I would have to sacrifice a certain amount of my integrity to be a Catholic priest because I just don't believe in certain Catholic teachings:  the birth control teaching, the divorce teaching, papal infallibility, papal claims to universal jurisdiction and authority, the filioque, a view of Mary that doesn't quite seem to be Orthodox, etc.  Also, Orthodoxy just seems to be a better fit for me, personally, than Catholicism: liturgically and spiritually. 

On the other hand, maybe remaining a Catholic and the renunciation it would require of me is my share in the Cross that He wants me to carry. 

I don't know. 

I don't expect anyone here to know, either. 

But when push comes to shove, this is the real issue that holds me up from joining the Orthodox Church:  Does Christ want to use me in the Catholic Church to serve His people there because there are so many more people there and there is such a priest shortage there?

Feel free to post or PM your responses.



Jonas, you have put your finger on the issue.  How can you be a priest and compromise your integrity?  You wouldn't be helping people.  "To thine ownself be true..." as Shakespeare said.  If you regard certain Roman Catholic doctrines as being wrong, then you can't possibly minister and represent the Roman Catholic Church.  God would not ask us to do something that involved our lying to ourselves.  Anyway, my advice to you is to never do anything that violates your integrity or your conscience.  God bless.

Joe
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« Reply #14 on: May 28, 2007, 11:11:21 AM »

Why do Orthodox leave?

My observance is as follows:

1. Converts  Type One: did not find what they expected when they came into the Orthodox Church [This is often due to the rush to catechize the convert that some parishes have aqnd  chrismate them before they understand fully the expectations of the Orthodox Church]

2. Converts Type Two: The Orthodox Church was not conservative enough---these leave to  conservative branches off mainstream orthodoxy or go to vacante groups.

3. Cradle Orthodox Type One: Married non-orthodox spouse, started to attend spouse's church part-time to preserve family unity but spouse did not reciprocate, leaves church to keep family together and hold down family stressors.

4. Cradle Orthodox Type Two:parish Clergy have failed to focus on spirituality and biblical foundations of Orthodoxy--- Type Two Cradle Orthodox leaves to seek stronger meat---i.e Bible Studies, sermons that are focussed on bible and taking a stand against sin.

5. Cradle Orthodox Type Three:  Anti-Ethnic, Wants to fit into the American Culture and stop being labled a foreigner so they join an "American Church" to fit in better.

6. Cradle Orthodox Type Four: Rejects morals and ethics taught by Church. Wants a less demanding Church. Homosexuality, liberality such as abortion, rejection of traditional beliefs of orthodox morality become the reasond that this group leaves---they often become Episcopalian.

7. General Orthodox Type One: Orthodox in the wilderness. Employed in areas where there is no Orthodox Church or where they have to travel long distances to get to church but feel the need for worship and spiritual food, they begin to go to heterodox churches in the area they live in. This group will usually never take the final break, i.e. they will travel the distance for major feast or attend Orthodox Churches when they  are visiting an area with Orthodox Churches. Their children however will usually become  a Cradle Orthodox Type One or Type Three as they are usually not catechized.

I know there are probably more however these are the ones that stand out the most to me.

Thomas

I agree a lot with what Thomas addressed.  A lot of them were similar to the reasons converts to Roman Catholicism left for various Protestant groups.

From what I have seen so far, the most popular reasons are:
1)  Too conservative
2)  Not conservative enough
3)  Want for a simplier, less demanding Church (focus on the Bible alone, less Tradition [beliefs revolve around the Five solas])
4)  Want to appear more 'American', 'Canadian', or 'Western'
5)  More focus on missionary work, youth groups, BBQs, Hawaiian shirt days, etc wanted
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« Reply #15 on: May 28, 2007, 10:29:34 PM »

Thomas,

You know...the funny thing to me about one of your catagories is that the Devil knows the Bible better than any person.  Yet, why are we not going to him for advice?  If the Bible is the answer? 

Its really a hypothetical question.  I think both you and I could come up with some nice answers.  But I think just asking the question really makes us think about things..

Eh...just a thought... Wink
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« Reply #16 on: May 28, 2007, 10:41:27 PM »

I agree with evaluations above. Great thoughts, guys!

Also, what I would add:

- Convert spouses of Orthodox Christians, who got divorced. Often when someone converts through a marriage with a really dedicated Orthodox Christian, regardless convert or cradle, that conversion becomes irreversible. Instead, if a marriage comes to catastrophe, then the faith comes to a catastrophe, too. Suggested response: Orthodox marriage therapy.

- Cradle secularists. In my opinion, more common to New England compared to other parts of North America and seems to occur more seldom now, thanks God. When someone just grows up and gets secular and does not want to attend a church, which becomes perceived as a club. This category may be just an
extreme of Cradle Orthodox Type Four, perfectly identified by Thomas and / or victims of a negative information flow as also perfectly described by OzGeorge. Suggested response: effective parish schools and work with young adults.

With General Orthodox Type One, the situation seems a little better due to emergence of new parishes and missions.

May I ask a new question - what needs to be done in order to eliminate all these cases of outflow?
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« Reply #17 on: May 28, 2007, 11:27:15 PM »

May I ask a new question - what needs to be done in order to eliminate all these cases of outflow?

Eliminate, or reduce the frequency?  Humans being what they are, creatures with free will, we can really do nothing to totally eliminate cases of people leaving the Church without squelching this free will.  All we can really do is make the Church a more desirable place to stay, thus making it less likely that people will want to leave.
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« Reply #18 on: May 29, 2007, 12:01:30 AM »

or reduce the frequency? 
Yes, I agree. You are right. I just expressed the overly idealistic expectation.
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« Reply #19 on: May 29, 2007, 01:08:44 AM »

In my home country, Ukraine, quite a lot of people are leaving Orthodoxy because they are irritated by constant bickering of the divided jurisdictions, and also (and especially) by lavish lifestyle of Orthodox bishops, archbishops and metropolitans. They see these fat bellies, covered with gold-embroidered vestments, and these fancy million-dollar Mercedezes, and get furious.

On the other hand, many are attracted to newly emerging Protestantism, especially to Charismatic groups. There attract people as simple, accessible, "democratic," and practically efficient. For example, one Charismatic "church" in my home city, Kyiv, known as "The Embassy of God," runs a highly efficient program aimed at curing alcoholics and drug addicts, and they have already achieved quite a success. People compare this with what they perceive as monotonous, repetitive ancient cultish worship, recall yet another Orthodox hierarch awarded with yet another golden medal by some state official, and draw their conclusions...

I notice that this hasn't been replied to, yet it NEEDS to be acknowledged as a VERY REAL REASON for folks' leaving.  Folks, stuff like this is not right.  I understand--and wholeheartedly agree with--ozgeorge's summation of life in Christ, theosis, taking one's whole life, but there ARE some things that can be practically done, NOW, in order to help people.  I don't see this as the focus in many places of the Orthodox Church.  Rather, we're so content to just make sure the services go smoothly and that all the vestments are the right color and that the rubrics are all lined up, etc...that we don't ever stop to ask if anything could be done on the level of the person out on the street who's not even sure if there's a GOD in the first place...much less whether or not He is a Godhead of Three consubstantial Persons who seek to bring us to repentance and theosis...as if these people who are so strung out and tired of life even CARED what those words mean...

Now, maybe the Charismatic rehab place is something like what Fr. Tom Hopko means when he talks about "coping in the pigpen"--in other words, just trying to get along in this life instead of transforming this life into the life of God Himself--but I'm reminded of the words of St. Athanasius who, in his work On the Incarnation, compared what Christ did on earth to what parents do to their kids: Just as parents crouch down to kids' eye level and get their attention when the kids are absorbed in their own thoughts or play, so God in Christ emptied Himself and became man, working miracles that DEFINITELY got people's attention (if nothing else--ideally these were done to draw people's priorities heavenward, although some did not get that far).

All that to say this: Orthodoxy is the pearl of great price.  We (ideally) offer not only a way to improve this life, but to transform it, to live the very life of God Himself, here in this life.  Other groups cannot claim as much, imo, but, in spite of that, are much more practical (and therefore, effective) in getting their incomplete or warped version of the gospel out to people...and in the process, they actually seem to help people.

So which is better?  A full truth that seldom gets noticed or proclaimed?

Or a partial truth that, at the very least, gets out there and helps some?

I think a lot of people in the Ukraine/Greece/Russia/etc are putting two and two together and answering that question...and the fact that they don't even think Protestants are only "partially true" adds to the situation.

I think we can expect more and more folks to leave us for Evangelicalism as long as they are willing to engage the unchurched on levels that matter to them and as long as we continue to engage in paegentry for the sake of paegentry--which is what "monotonous, repetitive ancient cultish worship" is when not connected to Christ and the absolutely necessary components of missions, evangelism, and knowledge of the Scriptures.
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« Reply #20 on: May 29, 2007, 01:40:02 AM »

All that to say this: Orthodoxy is the pearl of great price.  We (ideally) offer not only a way to improve this life, but to transform it, to live the very life of God Himself, here in this life.  Other groups cannot claim as much, imo, but, in spite of that, are much more practical (and therefore, effective) in getting their incomplete or warped version of the gospel out to people...and in the process, they actually seem to help people.
...

I had a rather extended and rhetorically laced reply, but as I noticed this is the convert form (and I guess we don't want to scare anyone off by presenting Orthodoxy in all her glory Roll Eyes) I'll keep it short and merely respond to your appeal for reform.

While I believe that reform is necessary on various accounts, I do not believe this is one of them. You speak of Orthodoxy being a pearl of great price...I seem to recall something about what one ought not to do with their pearls when swine are involved. And as for those who would reject Orthodox (or any religion, with the possible exception of mohammedianism, for that matter) for charismatics of all people...well, I think you can follow my logic.
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« Reply #21 on: May 29, 2007, 03:45:44 AM »


 Hi All,

 Being a convert myself, I can identify with a lot of the thoughts and ideas presented here. Here's my 2 cents worth. I think the answer lies in the two differing world outlooks; Western vs. Eastern. Westerners are fiercely individualists, ex. 'the Bible means what I say it means'. The East is about community, ex. 'the Bible means what the Church says it means'. Westerners want things quickly, and we tend to over focus on 'the bottom line' rather than appreciating 'the journey' to said bottom line. The West is famous for outlining and making lists such as "Five Easy Steps Towards (fill in the need or want), whereas the East, while having a well worn path, warns you from the outset that while the goal is achievable, it is at the same time, difficult. Western attention spans are terribly short- we want what we want when we want it and everything must be presented to us in easily digestable bits or we lose interest. In other words, boil it down to a bumper sticker.
 
 In EO, the goal is all about Theosis. To achieve that means to slowly give up a lot of our creature comforts. It's not naval gazing like some of the other Eastern religions, but there is a great deal of interior work. Also, genuine repentance does not come easy for anybody, Westerners are famous for playing victims (Well, I only did it because...). We hate admitting we messed up. And we sure as heck don't want someone else (eg a priest) knowing we messed up. I could go on, but y'all get the picture. And I'm speaking of the 'Big Picture' here.

 There's any number a person may leave anything; too hard, too bored, too much pressure from family, etc etc. The charge has been put forward that EO simply doesn't do anything for people (as far as social programs go). As a whole, in the West, this is true. But here and there you see many parishes with outreach and other community programs. Obviously the larger, and thus, more wealthy parishes, will be able to do much more than a smaller parish can. And as EO continues to grow and become more visible, this will eventually need to change (To whom much is given, much will be required...)

 A lot more could be said, and in a much better way than I can say it, but these are a few examples/reasons that come to my mind...

 Gabriel
 
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« Reply #22 on: May 29, 2007, 06:27:16 AM »

Thank you, all of you, for your replies: for my sake and for anyone else who comes across this thread.  May God bless you all for trying to help our discernment.
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« Reply #23 on: May 29, 2007, 09:00:08 AM »

Dear members,

Reading your replies, particularly Gabriel's, I thought about Fr. A. Schmemann's lecture, titled "Between Utopia and Escape." Here's the link to full text (transcript from audiotape):

http://www.schmemann.org/byhim/betweenutopiaandescape.html

I think it says a lot about those modern Westerners who "try" Orthodoxy and then leave.

George
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« Reply #24 on: May 29, 2007, 09:51:37 AM »

Quote
I'm curious: who leaves Orthodoxy and why?

I'm not an expert and don't have statistics in front of me but my guess is the commonest reasons are to do with assimilation into the larger non-Orthodox culture. The second-, third- etc. generation person doesn't want to be Greek, Russian etc. any more. This is speeded up and reinforced by, I'm guessing, mobility (corporate transfers uprooting people and families every few years), moving people away from Orthodox churches, and the big one, intermarriage, which is probably still the No. 1 reason non-Orthodox become Orthodox like in Rita Wilson's irreverent movie about ethnic Greeks. (I've seen Byzantine Catholics leave their churches because of moves and intermarriage - they marry RCs and they and their kids end up mainstream RC.)

Did the convert boomlet ever overtake marriage as a reason for joining? Does it now?

And does the boomlet offset the numbers who leave for the reason above?

What's happening to the boomlet's kids (born Orthodox but with no long family/ethnic history in Orthodoxy), now coming of age?

The perpetual convert who jumps from one true church to better one true church every few years makes a lot of noise on the Internet but probably isn't that common in real life.
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« Reply #25 on: May 29, 2007, 10:04:25 AM »

I mentioned this idea in a thread some time back: sometimes a person may move to a place where there is no EO church and getting to one may have been difficult or impossible.  A century or more ago, some people moved out West, a place of long distances between towns and many of them are small.  So, as a fer'instance, someone comes to the US and eventually goes to the high plains and finds work on a wheat farm or a ranch.  Maybe it's a married couple, maybe not. Maybe they knew enough to do Readers Services so they do, but what if they don't?  What if it's just the prayers they remember? Maybe in dealing with the neighbors there's only a Methodist Church or an RC one (both common in Montana as we had missionaries come out from both).  Over time and generations the people fit into the community.  Maybe in a crisis, it's the local pastor who shows up, not to convert but to be a neighbor and give support.  Two or three generations later (with the children marrying local people because that's who there is) and still no EO parish, mission, other people and the family has adapted to their living situation.

Just another idea.

Ebor
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« Reply #26 on: May 29, 2007, 10:07:16 AM »

Dear members,

Reading your replies, particularly Gabriel's, I thought about Fr. A. Schmemann's lecture, titled "Between Utopia and Escape." Here's the link to full text (transcript from audiotape):

http://www.schmemann.org/byhim/betweenutopiaandescape.html

I think it says a lot about those modern Westerners who "try" Orthodoxy and then leave.

George

Thank you for the link, George, I'll try to listen to it soon.  I would like to suggest though that there are some sweeping generalizations about what "Westerners" are like vs what "Easterners" are like.  It's not a matter of indentical actions/opinions/ideas in common with a monolithic block of humanity. 

Ebor
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« Reply #27 on: May 29, 2007, 12:57:47 PM »

Thank you for the link, George, I'll try to listen to it soon.  I would like to suggest though that there are some sweeping generalizations about what "Westerners" are like vs what "Easterners" are like.  It's not a matter of indentical actions/opinions/ideas in common with a monolithic block of humanity. 

Ebor

Ebor, I agree. Indeed, I meant rather stereotypical, cliche "Westerners" - people who live in countries that have experienced Rennaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment, industrial revolutions etc. It is usually assumed that at least the majority, if not all, of these people have an individualist mentality and may show a tendency to "shop" for religion. Of course, like all cliches, it's a poor and incomplete representation of the truth.
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« Reply #28 on: May 29, 2007, 01:54:37 PM »

Quote
"The next group is primarially converts who are seeking an emotional/spiritual high, they come to Orthodoxy for a while, get their fix, but then when things stop being so mystical and strange, they lose interest and go looking for their next fix."

My husband and I are looking into the EOC.  This is what scares me the most.  I have been studying for nearly 3 months now and have developed a great affection for this church.  I see now that the rules are hard and that I will not like all of them, but I know that the process of theosis is less concerned with my feelings than with the state of my soul.

How can we tell if we just want a 'fix'?  How can we stay Orthodox?  This is very important to me.  If I join, I want it to be for life.  I've changed churches 7 times in my life, and I'm only 26.  I don't want to do that to the EOC. 
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« Reply #29 on: May 29, 2007, 02:05:33 PM »

My husband and I are looking into the EOC.  This is what scares me the most.  I have been studying for nearly 3 months now and have developed a great affection for this church.  I see now that the rules are hard and that I will not like all of them, but I know that the process of theosis is less concerned with my feelings than with the state of my soul.

How can we tell if we just want a 'fix'?  How can we stay Orthodox?  This is very important to me.  If I join, I want it to be for life.  I've changed churches 7 times in my life, and I'm only 26.  I don't want to do that to the EOC. 

Hi Labosseuse,

I don't know, I don't have any answers in general. What attracts me to the Holy Orthodoxy is simply that in an Orthodox Church, I feel the CHURCH. Anywhere else - and I visited a conservative evangelical Protestant church, a liberal mainline Protestant church and a contemporary American post-Vatican-2 RC parish - I do not. I feel either something that reminds me of a Communist Party meeting with its pomp and platitudes (fire and brimstone sermons in the first), or something that reminds me of a business meeting at my work (discussions about organized charities in the second) or something "plastic," non-authentic, in the third... In the Orthodox Church anywhere, I KNOW that I am in CHURCH, I just KNOW it. Probably impossible to translate into a human "cerebral" language.

George
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« Reply #30 on: May 29, 2007, 03:35:44 PM »


  I would like to suggest though that there are some sweeping generalizations about what "Westerners" are like vs what "Easterners" are like. 


Ebor, I agree. 

 Ditto, George and Ebor. This was basically a general breakdown given by Ravi Zacharias in one of his talks, as well as my studies with Buddhism/Hinduism. Of coarse, there are always exceptions to the rule. Wink

 Gabriel
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« Reply #31 on: May 29, 2007, 04:09:34 PM »

My husband and I are looking into the EOC.  This is what scares me the most.  I have been studying for nearly 3 months now and have developed a great affection for this church.  I see now that the rules are hard and that I will not like all of them, but I know that the process of theosis is less concerned with my feelings than with the state of my soul.

How can we tell if we just want a 'fix'?  How can we stay Orthodox?  This is very important to me.  If I join, I want it to be for life.  I've changed churches 7 times in my life, and I'm only 26.  I don't want to do that to the EOC. 

I don't know if you can tell. Religion and spirituality are closely linked to emotion and, as such, one's reason is probably clouded by emotion (happened to everyone who converted, myself included) so you cannot be assured that you are thinking clearly, that you are not being unduly influenced by emotion.

As for the best insurances against this, well the traditional long catechumenate is probably a good start. But also one should try to get a realistic understanding of Orthodoxy in this day and age and in the place where you live. Modern America is not 19th Century Russia nor is it 4th Century Constantinople. Understand the Church for what it is today and not only by what you read in patristics...visit a few parishes, get a feel for the status quo, because you need to get used to it since you probably can't change it, regardless of what you think one way or the other.
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« Reply #32 on: June 01, 2007, 10:16:20 AM »


 Ditto, George and Ebor. This was basically a general breakdown given by Ravi Zacharias in one of his talks, as well as my studies with Buddhism/Hinduism. Of coarse, there are always exceptions to the rule. Wink

 Gabriel

Frankly, human beings what they are, I would suggest that there are more exceptions then cases that go along with "rules".  Might one ask how the break down with Buddhism/Hinduism looked at it?  Thank you.

Ebor

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« Reply #33 on: June 01, 2007, 10:29:55 AM »

Ebor, I agree. Indeed, I meant rather stereotypical, cliche "Westerners" - people who live in countries that have experienced Rennaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment, industrial revolutions etc. It is usually assumed that at least the majority, if not all, of these people have an individualist mentality and may show a tendency to "shop" for religion. Of course, like all cliches, it's a poor and incomplete representation of the truth.

Well, two points that occur to me as I read this:

1.  For things like this, are people *really* as individualistic?  There's often an influence of the surrounding culture/group/folkway for people to be alike or go along with what's there.  Then there's the idea that sometimes there's only one or 2 (or no) options.  From what you've written, you've lived in populous areas of the US and are now in one that is less so if I understand.  In the past, when there was less mobility people might have just gone along or made do with what there was in the area. 

2.  In looking at societies that have experienced "Rennaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment, industrial revolutions" one might look at the case of Japan.  Closed for over 200 years and in the Meiji Reformation suddenly opened to a great variety of "outside influences" in technology, social movements, education, cultures and more.  The horrors of the English Industrial Revolution and the treatment of workers of the late 18th-into the 19th century are depressingly paralleled in Japanese history of the late 19th-early 20th centuries.   Yet in roughly 150 years, there is still a very strong idea of "Group agreement" and not rocking the boat.  Yes there are some who do not follow this and Japanese society is not, in fact, so homogenous what with subgroups of Burakumin and Ainu and persons who are identified as "Korean" even though it was their ancestors who were brought over from Korea in the early 20th century.

Ebor
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« Reply #34 on: June 03, 2007, 06:37:47 AM »

At the risk of being accused of trying to spread atheist propaganda again...

Quote
I'm curious: who leaves Orthodoxy and why?

I left Orthodoxy because the more I read the Bible and Church Fathers, the less sense Christianity made to me. I wanted to be a Christian. I literally threw thousands of dollars worth of CD's and DVD players and TV's and whatnot in the trash while I was a Christian, in the silly pursuit of some "simplistic, pious life". I spent most of my free time studying Christianity, and trying to make sense of it. If Christianity was correct, then God was what was most important, so what could be more important in life than understanding and following him? I stopped playing guitar. I stopped playing sports. My whole life revolved around God. But the more I read, the more I realised that there were serious problems.

Finally I realised that I had always accepted Christianity a priori, and never really questioned it; the only questioning for me had been which form of Christianity was the most authentic one. Once I decided to look at Christianity from the outside, as someone who would no longer accept Christian beliefs and arguments without examination, I found no reason to be a Christian any longer, and realised that there were reasons to not be a Christian. I believe to this day that Orthodox Christianity is the most authentic form of Christianity. But the least corrupted bad apple is still a bad apple, no matter how you look at it. So basically, I didn't read non-Christian material and say "this stuff makes sense," but rather I read Christian material and said "this stuff doesn't make sense".

More on this in the months to come, mwahaha. [now adding layers to thicken skin]
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« Reply #35 on: June 03, 2007, 08:08:29 AM »

Hi Labosseuse,

I don't know, I don't have any answers in general. What attracts me to the Holy Orthodoxy is simply that in an Orthodox Church, I feel the CHURCH. Anywhere else - and I visited a conservative evangelical Protestant church, a liberal mainline Protestant church and a contemporary American post-Vatican-2 RC parish - I do not. I feel either something that reminds me of a Communist Party meeting with its pomp and platitudes (fire and brimstone sermons in the first), or something that reminds me of a business meeting at my work (discussions about organized charities in the second) or something "plastic," non-authentic, in the third... In the Orthodox Church anywhere, I KNOW that I am in CHURCH, I just KNOW it. Probably impossible to translate into a human "cerebral" language.

George

Well put, George.
You "know" because you have been 'converted' - "changed your mind"- metanoia : the real meaning and translation of 'repentence'. You have seen with your heart what the mind cannot see. Those who convert only through intellection will eventually 'think' their way out of the church ( see my friend's post above).
Thank you for your post.

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« Reply #36 on: June 03, 2007, 08:45:37 AM »


 But here and there you see many parishes with outreach and other community programs. Obviously the larger, and thus, more wealthy parishes, will be able to do much more than a smaller parish can. And as EO continues to grow and become more visible, this will eventually need to change (To whom much is given, much will be required...)
 



Good point; I have been associated with large and small evangelical parishes (before converting) and it is pretty much just the large ones that have all the programs and outreaches. The small ones are hanging on for dear life and can barely support the pastor, just like so many small Orthodox parishes in the rust belt.

Some of it is less Orthodox vs. Evangelical, but rather small parish (which we have alot of) vs large parish (even tho evngels don't call their church a parish). If anything, that puts an even greater burden of responsibility on large, financially prosperous Orthodox parishes to bear the burden of outreach into the community and to help the small parishes be viable enough so that they can begin outreach.
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« Reply #37 on: June 04, 2007, 01:34:01 AM »

But the least corrupted bad apple is still a bad apple, no matter how you look at it. So basically, I didn't read non-Christian material and say "this stuff makes sense," but rather I read Christian material and said "this stuff doesn't make sense".

 Atheism has certainly caused not a few Christians to leave their faith. But I'm just curious about two things:
   1) During your 'questioning' phase of your leaving Christianity, did you sincerely pray and ask God to help you with your questions? I must say that doubting is something that probably everyone of us go through from time to time. This is something Satan jumps for joy over.
   2) I don't mean this question to come off as callous but, if you sincerely view Christianity as a bad apple, why waste your time on a Christian forum? It doesn't make any sense. From my tiny pea-brain, I can only see two possibilites to this question-
      A) You still feel there is something to Christianity, but are finding it difficult to understand or,
      B) You really are trying to spread Atheist propaganda. When you said you weren't trying to spread atheist propaganda, I was reminded of the boy who ate the cookie, when asked by his father, "Who ate the cookie?" replied, "I don' know....I'm not lyin'."

  I'm not calling you a liar, friend. It just sounds odd to me....

 Gabriel
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« Reply #38 on: June 04, 2007, 01:51:26 AM »

I spent most of my free time studying Christianity, and trying to make sense of it.

Well, you still do, so what's your point?  How many hundreds of posts have you made here since you formally started calling yourself an Atheist over a year ago (or 2 or whatever)?
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« Reply #39 on: June 04, 2007, 02:10:37 AM »

Might one ask how the break down with Buddhism/Hinduism looked at it?  Thank you.

 Ebor,

 Eastern religions emphasize 'experience' or 'the journey', rather than simply the 'end result'. To be sure, they expect an end result, otherwise the journey would lose its meaning but overall, it's the experience. Here's what I took from Buddhism. How do we explain the taste of sugar? Verbal descriptions won't help us. A famous Zen Buddhist expression goes, 'Like honey in the mouth of a mute'. To know the taste, one must experience it. For the most part, Western Christianity does not so much experience the 'Uncreated Energy' of God as intellectualizes over it. To be sure, there is a lot of intellectualizing in Eastern Orthodox Christianity as well, but without the 'experience', we're simply speculating. Hinduism, for the most part, says the same thing. The Mahabharata contains the most famous of all the Upanishads- the Bhagavad Gita. In it, Krishna tells Arjuna "The secret is the summit of education, the innermost secret, the supreme purifier, and the perfection of religion. It can only be learned by direct experience...". He's telling Arjuna to take off his thinking cap and get his hands dirty.

 Gabriel  
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« Reply #40 on: June 04, 2007, 08:03:21 AM »

visit a few parishes, get a feel for the status quo, because you need to get used to it since you probably can't change it, regardless of what you think one way or the other.

This is so true and may be another reason converts leave. In some evangelical congregations, if you have a new idea and the leadership doesn't think you're a quack, they will encourage someone to start a new "ministry" or program.

For the Orthodox convert there is the dual problem that they aren't going evangelicalize their parish (and I don't even think they necessarily intend to do it; some things are instictive for post-evangelicals, you can no more blame them than you can a cat for chasing mice - like wanting lay led Bible studies where anyone can spout their interpretation, prayer circles (not a bad thning but often meetings where 55 minutes is spent on prayer requests and only the remaining 5 on actual prayer; and that being the extemporaneous variety) and hymnology/music that they can emotionally relate to.

Then there is the issue of stubborn parish councils that have done things the same way forever and see no need for new ideas, even in the areas that have nothing to do with the thngs mentioned above. So, getting frustrated and feeling powerless, they become disillusioned or embittered. Then they go back to whence they came (maybe a more liturgucal version) of they seek the ever more "true" church within Orthodoxy.

I think the transition for a convert from a church from a mainline denomination that has an evangelical ethos rather than an independent evangelical church makes it easier because one has already run up against institutional resistance to change of any sort.

The thing for converts to remember is that the reason you found this Church relatively intact after 2000 years is precisely that it doesn't change easily and measures change over centuries and your grand idea may bear fruit in the year 2352!  Grin
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« Reply #41 on: June 04, 2007, 08:13:08 AM »

P.S. I think it takes a decade or so to de-evangelicalize.  For myself, even after having left the protestant church for the better part of a decade and coming back to it tentatively [with great reservation toward evangelicalism and having tapped out on that experience, and also not being particularly attracted to the more liberal congregations (I was Presbyterian)] it (evangelicalism) still rears its ugly head (so to speak) after 5 years into my Orthodox journey.

Very weird is missing things you didn't even like! I think it is nostalgia for the familiar.

Also, converts beware - Christmas and Easter will be big nostalgic occassions - get a CD of Christams carols and stalwart big church organ music for your fix during those times and persevere!  Cheesy    Roll Eyes
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« Reply #42 on: June 04, 2007, 08:14:26 AM »

sorry, I went to modify and must have clicked on quote
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Jonas Suender
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« Reply #43 on: June 04, 2007, 09:36:44 AM »

This is so true and may be another reason converts leave. In some evangelical congregations, if you have a new idea and the leadership doesn't think you're a quack, they will encourage someone to start a new "ministry" or program.

For the Orthodox convert there is the dual problem that they aren't going evangelicalize their parish (and I don't even think they necessarily intend to do it; some things are instictive for post-evangelicals, you can no more blame them than you can a cat for chasing mice - like wanting lay led Bible studies where anyone can spout their interpretation, prayer circles (not a bad thning but often meetings where 55 minutes is spent on prayer requests and only the remaining 5 on actual prayer; and that being the extemporaneous variety) and hymnology/music that they can emotionally relate to.

Then there is the issue of stubborn parish councils that have done things the same way forever and see no need for new ideas, even in the areas that have nothing to do with the thngs mentioned above. So, getting frustrated and feeling powerless, they become disillusioned or embittered. Then they go back to whence they came (maybe a more liturgucal version) of they seek the ever more "true" church within Orthodoxy.

I think the transition for a convert from a church from a mainline denomination that has an evangelical ethos rather than an independent evangelical church makes it easier because one has already run up against institutional resistance to change of any sort.

The thing for converts to remember is that the reason you found this Church relatively intact after 2000 years is precisely that it doesn't change easily and measures change over centuries and your grand idea may bear fruit in the year 2352!  Grin

This is rich, serious food for thought.  Thank you.
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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #44 on: June 04, 2007, 09:47:14 AM »

Jibrail Almuhajir

Quote
Atheism has certainly caused not a few Christians to leave their faith. But I'm just curious about two things: 1) During your 'questioning' phase of your leaving Christianity, did you sincerely pray and ask God to help you with your questions? I must say that doubting is something that probably everyone of us go through from time to time. This is something Satan jumps for joy over.

I tried as best I could to ask God for any assistance he'd give, sure. As an Orthodox Christian I certainly believed the "We cooperate with God" synergetic approach to faith, so I tried very hard not to discount him. Now, towards the end I sought his help less and less, especially once I stopped looking at Christianity with the preconceived notion that it must be correct. But this end part was just the last bit of several years of questioning. It was questioning, after all, that made me leave Wesleyanism, and eventually become Orthodox. Then it was questioning that led me towards a more traditionalist stance, and then more questioning (of myself as much as Orthodoxy) that led me back to a more moderate position. I would guesstimate that the period in which I had serious doubts and was deperately seeking God's help was about the 7 months or so prior to my becoming an agnostic.

Quote
2) I don't mean this question to come off as callous but, if you sincerely view Christianity as a bad apple, why waste your time on a Christian forum? It doesn't make any sense. From my tiny pea-brain, I can only see two possibilites to this question- A) You still feel there is something to Christianity, but are finding it difficult to understand or, B) You really are trying to spread Atheist propaganda. When you said you weren't trying to spread atheist propaganda, I was reminded of the boy who ate the cookie, when asked by his father, "Who ate the cookie?" replied, "I don' know....I'm not lyin'."

Not callous, though tedious. I don't know how many times I've heard this, or a variation of this, and I've only been an unbeliever for a year and a half! Smiley Whether you will believe my answer, I don't know, but if I'm really being honest with myself, this is the main reason I am still here. I like it here. I like discussing theology. I like discussing history--including Christian and Byzantine history. And frankly, I like the people here. This is one of the best forums I've found on the net. And I've been here for 4 1/2 years now, so my roots run deep here.

I don't have to be Greek or a (religious) pagan to like Greek mythology. I don't have to be German or a follower of Thor to enjoy European mythology. If I had spent most of my time for 8 years studying Greek mythology or European mythology, I'd most likely be on a forum that deals with that. (Look at JRR Tolkien, he studied various mythologies all his life, incorporating a lot from them into LOTR, yet he had no problem reconciling that activity with his Catholicism).

As I've said to GIC, I don't think that I need to spread "atheist propaganda". I left Christianity after examining it, I believe that others could do the same. I didn't deconvert because I read Dawkins or Nietzsche, but because I read Chrysostom and Popovich. I do make a few comments here and there which some might take as atheistic propaganda, and maybe I do cross the line sometimes. HA! Anyone who knows me can tell you that I often type first and think/edit later. That's not a sign of atheist propaganda, that's a sign of some issues I have. Wink I don't believe that, in the last year and a half, I have ever posted a thread trying to build a case against God. And, if I remember correctly, I have never even tried to give arguments against Christianity, except when people have asked why I didn't believe in God, why I left Christianity, what I thought of Jesus, etc. (ie. I was giving a relevant response to a question).

 
Elisha

Quote
Well, you still do, so what's your point?  How many hundreds of posts have you made here since you formally started calling yourself an Atheist over a year ago (or 2 or whatever)?

No, the two time periods are like the difference between night and day. Before I had a terrible amount of anxiety, to the point where I would lose sleep over this stuff. What if I was wrong? My soul--for all eternity--hung in the balance. At least according to some religionists, though they happened to be the religionists I associated with at times. I enjoyed theology then, but I also felt the need to make sure I was where I was supposed to be. Today theology and history are mostly hobbies for me, something I get joy out of without the anxiety. I've retired from the pressure and anxiety of theology, and now live in a sunny Florida retirement home (so to speak), where I can discuss it at my leisure.
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