Maybe growing up south of the Mason-Dixon is more different from the Northern experience than I thought, ...
Your mistake - only my early elementary years were spent â€˜south of the Mason-Dixon lineâ€™. Which is why I do understand America - I've lived across much of it. Iâ€™ve taught youth in America as well, and I know that they are not stupid. In fact, they have much more in common intellectually with their grand-parents than their parents (though they are also more socially advanced in some ways - such as lacking racism.) That might make me more of an optimist, but Iâ€™ll bet the youth of Ohio should be given more credit, and are more likely the same as those I know in Kansas, Oklahoma, Alabama, New Mexico, Colorado, California, Florida, Missouri, etc. There are, of course, a minority who *choose* ignorance - it goes along with an adopted identity (gangsta, bimbo, etc.)
But yes, things are more different South than what you thought. Iâ€™m an Allen Tate sort of Southerner (transplanted North, and came to grips with Southerness because of Northern misunderstandings - so that coming back South, I was able to see it all in a new light.) Most Southerners younger than me are more Southern than I am in fact - more Southern than my parents (baby-boomers were those who really wanted to forget what they were, especially the â€˜bad partsâ€™.) Flannery O'Connor once said of the South: ""By and large, people in the South still conceive of humanity in theological terms. While the South is hardly Christ-centered, it is most certainly Christ-haunted." The return to Christ is all that is needed to be Christ-centered again, Christ-haunted means he still calls all men to repentance.
This issue of Orthodoxy and Southerness has been foremost in my mind of late, living in one of the most Anglo-Saxon parts of the country (Florida Panhandle) - the book Iâ€™ve found that best explains the same conundrums we deal with is â€œThe Church, the South, and the Futureâ€ by James J. Thompson (Christian Classics, Westminster MD, 1988). The book is by a Catholic convert from Adventist - much of what he says resonates with the Southron Orthodox convert experience.
However, I would add that it is possibly more difficult to "straighten" out Catholic/Protestant "traditions" because of the mere fact that they are Christian already with Christian origins, ...
I canâ€™t disagree more. The analogy of â€˜flat landâ€™ vs. â€˜hillsideâ€™? That only describes the situation if Orthodoxy is described to them as just â€˜ethnic Christianityâ€™ or another denomination. Really, all conversions to Orthodoxy are rolling the ball up the hill (that goes for those born in it as well.) American Christianity is far from suffering inertia - the truth is they are always seeking. They desire to know God, they desire to serve Him, etc. They change all the time because they are restless, restless because they are still looking. But, unless someone tells them, they wonâ€™t know. The idea that resistance to change is somehow more latent in American culture? That is purely laughable - Russian and Greek society are *far* more resistant to change.
No, we are in disagreement, because I'm stating that for at least 3 of these holidays (excepting Christmas) that there is little if any Christianity left in the holiday - and while many claim to know the historical ties, the holidays in essence and in practice have become largely secular or pagan.
Nothing can â€˜become paganâ€™. Post-Christian is not 'pagan' - it is just Prodigal. There are secular (and Christ-haunted) celebrations of those festivals, but like it or not they are indeed still Christian. The American churched majority goes to Church and celebrates St. Valentineâ€™s day. They are aware of who St. Valentine was, though they might not call him Saint (they likely consider all Christians as saints.) They do the same with St. Patrick (every state Iâ€™ve lived in, St. Patrick is claimed as partisan for Baptist, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, Adventist, Episcopalian, Methodist, Presbyterian, etc.) Nobody is worshipping false gods on those days.
Halloween is another matter - extreme Fundamentalist Protestants came up with some absurd tales about Druids and such. Their goal was to attack Roman Catholics as being pagan. Unfortunately, some others brought that Fundy Prot polemic into Orthodoxy. So, now we have rants against Halloween every Fall that attack the Christian tradition itself, because their is no separation in their mind between a small minority of deviants (Satanists, Witches) and the majority who donâ€™t treat it as a demonic day (but for who many celebrate it as Hallows Eve, or â€˜Reformation Dayâ€™.) All of it illustrates a dark vision of everthing, a pessimism about humanity and the created world that seems contrary to the optimism that Orthodoxy actually has.
Most people who go to Mass to begin their St. Patrick's day festival have no clue about his life, the impact of his ministry, or why he's such a great saint to the Irish people.
Sure they do. The reason we have the festival is we understand his impact. He defeated the pagans and brought Christianity to Ireland (ie, drove out the snakes and explained the Shamrock.) The truth is, most Orthodox have no clue - Protestants and Catholics do, theyâ€™re just still arguing the significance.
... trying to restore the holiday to a Christian root is possibly harder than if the holiday was soely pagan to begin with - now they have to combat the pagan/secular celebration, and the cultural biases,
Which is my point - there is *nothing* pagan about St. Patrickâ€™s day. The only thing â€˜obscuringâ€™ the day is some public drunkenness (as if that doesnâ€™t happen with Orthodox holidays - Iâ€™ve seen it), and some blatant nationalism (but nothing on the order of nationalism one sees with many Orthodox.) One doesnâ€™t have to â€˜combatâ€™ anything with St. Patrickâ€™s day but sectarianism and drunkeness - not â€˜paganâ€™ issues.
You didn't read my post, did you? My point, .... but I noticed that you overlooked it when you spoke about the formation of government, which by its nature may be driven by popular referrendum, but in its essence is formed by the "cultural elite," in this case the Washingtons and Jeffersons of this world.
I read your post, and that is a tangent - we werenâ€™t speaking of the formation of government. The impact of the French Enlightenment on the Founding Fathers was spare - the Scottish Enlightenment was of bigger import. In fact, the same Founding Fathers you mention were already â€˜enlightenedâ€™ before the French starting having their parallel movement. Upon closer inspection, our American ancestors were not very happy with the ideals or reality of French Revolution or Enlightenment. The Enlightenment itself came about with the spread of learning out from Constantinople to Western Europe (ie, the Renaissance.) Those ideas are not â€˜Westernâ€™, and not particularly American - Orthodoxyâ€™s struggle with the Enlightenment is not a struggle against America or the West, but against something it has dealt with for centuries in the East; an engagement with science and philosophy.
But I don't think using an American-cultural "Romanticism" that isn't reflective of reality as a whole is the answer. Of course, maybe that's me - I'm not "romantic" about the Church, the Empire, the Greece, or any other "the"s that we can come up with.
And I havenâ€™t presented any â€˜American-cultural Romanticismâ€™ - Iâ€™m reflecting reality: a sociological reality, anthropological reality, historical reality, psychological reality. So, youâ€™ll have to put away that straw man. If you donâ€™t understand what Iâ€™m talking about, just say so and we can work from there. Just throwing out dismissive labels doesnâ€™t help the discussion. Romanticism exalts the emotional over the rational, nationalism over the individual, convention over pragmatism and innovation - none of that having *anything* to do with what Iâ€™m writing about (again, Iâ€™m not a Romantic - I donâ€™t care for emotionalism, nationalism, or convention.) That part of internet pop-culture I find frustrating - a mere mention of a â€˜trigger wordâ€™ and an effusion of descriptors having nothing to do with anything flows out: â€˜Romanticismâ€™, â€˜elitismâ€™, â€˜antiquarianismâ€™, etc.
Just because religion is/was a prime motivator for Americans in War doesn't mean that the war is religious or that it should be held in esteem as a religiously-motivated war.
Esteem? Who said anything so perverse? Esteem for war is morbid and misanthropic! If religion is a motivator for a war, that does indeed make it a religious war (what else could make it a religious war?) If youâ€™re hunting for romanticism - there it is : â€œthat it should be held in esteem as a religiously-motivated warâ€. Iâ€™ve been a soldier - no one esteems war. Its a dirty mess that someone else makes, and puts you into so humans can be destroyed (either physically or psychically.) I esteem the warrior, but not the war - America hasnâ€™t had a war yet that was necessary, IMHO.