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Author Topic: American Orthodoxy and American Culture: Are They Compatible?  (Read 20170 times) Average Rating: 0
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Cowboy
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« Reply #45 on: February 23, 2007, 02:15:06 PM »

Dear Francis,

Now that WAS funny! And IMHO perfectly fine. Burger King instead of Slovenian Sausage is a way of keeping a tradition alive without being legalistic about it. At my parish, I bet there will be a greater variety of food in the baskets this Pascha than last--it's as if some invisible barrier had been broken--kind of like--"oh, you mean it's ok to bring food you LIKE, whatever it is, to break the fast with".

Dear Sarah,

It is sometimes a little frustrating to me to see convert teens who have read, attended every service, taken special classes during their catechumen period and do actually know more about the Faith than teens of cradles. I dare say that if some of our cradles (teen or adult) were asked to put out the same effort instead of relying on a "birthright" there would be a cry heard all the way to Heaven.

Dear Ebor,

I have also found it quite difficult not to become "jaundiced" when I encounter the rigidity of some cradles especially surrounding attitudes toward traditions or customs. I know that the Pascha meal was positively ruined for a few folks (the "purists) who just could not get past the KFC, ribs and pizza. Now in their defense, I think that they truly believe that what goes in the Easter basket is a critical part of the Orthodox Faith. I of course would argue, that it has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with Orthodoxy. They may not know how many Gospels there are or who wrote 'em but they definitely know that KFC in a Pascha basket is blasphemy. Of course, these are the same parishioners who couldn't attend Holy Saturday Liturgy because they were too busy preparing their baskets for Pascha night. This is a case of the tail wagging the dog; tradition/custom supplanting the Faith in importance.

I found it quite easy to ignore their obvious distress until they started canvassing the hall looking for support for their viewpoints. Even our priest stepped in with a joke to calm the moment.

I think it would be a very good exercise to have board members list traditions and customs that they feel are critical or at least "blessable" by Orthodoxy and then maybe we could add in a few American twists.

Cowboy

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Ebor
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« Reply #46 on: February 23, 2007, 11:50:57 PM »

That's quite good about the gentleman and his Burger King coupons.  I think that he was very much in the spirit and understanding of the occasion.

Cowboy,
I have also found it quite difficult not to become "jaundiced" when I encounter the rigidity of some cradles especially surrounding attitudes toward traditions or customs. I know that the Pascha meal was positively ruined for a few folks (the "purists) who just could not get past the KFC, ribs and pizza.

Frankly, that's pretty sad.  Imho, they "ruined" their own meal by focusing on what other people had/were doing and couldn't accept those that were Not Like Them.  This seems to be a significant problem in many groups and places (not just EO or churches), the idea that "Everyone has to be/do/act/eat/dress/move etc the same as I." and if someone is different, then *they* are wrong/misguided/evil or some other negative idea.

Quote
Now in their defense, I think that they truly believe that what goes in the Easter basket is a critical part of the Orthodox Faith. I of course would argue, that it has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with Orthodoxy.

Indeed.  I understand what you say and I have to say that I agree with you.  I cannot see how any food or drink is "critical" to any Christian faith (EO or otherwise) except for the elements of the Eucharist.  Cultural things are not the same as the articles of the Creeds. How can the point be gotten across then that somethings people do just don't matter. That's it's OK to do or not do something; it's just personal taste or choice.  Let me be clear here that I am not putting all things in that catagory, but there are plenty of things that do go there.

In the past there have been mentions of "T"raditions vs. "t"raditions with some asserting that any tradition is important and inviolate.  What could be examples of ones that vary according to time, place, conditions and people?

Quote
I found it quite easy to ignore their obvious distress until they started canvassing the hall looking for support for their viewpoints. Even our priest stepped in with a joke to calm the moment.

 Huh Shocked They tried to rally support to their personal opinions.  *sigh!*  It sounds like your priest was wise and handled things. Good for him. Smiley

Quote
I think it would be a very good exercise to have board members list traditions and customs that they feel are critical or at least "blessable" by Orthodoxy and then maybe we could add in a few American twists.

I think that that would be an interesting and (one hopes) fruitful discussion. 

Ebor
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« Reply #47 on: February 24, 2007, 02:12:04 PM »

Out of curiosity, I searched for and found a list of churches/denominations in the U.S. that have some sort of ethnic or national identifier in their name (apart from words like "American" or "Canadian"):

African Methodist Episcopal Church
African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church
American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church  (this wins the prize  Wink)
Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East
Armenian Apostolic Church of America
Armenian Evangelical Church
Celtic Orthodox Christian Church in America
Coptic Orthodox Church
Diocese of the Armenian Church of America
General Assembly of Korean Presbyterian Church in America
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregations
Hungarian Reformed Church in America
Indian Orthodox Church
Italian Pentecostal Church of Canada
Mennonite Church
Messianic Jewish
Messianic Jewish Alliance of Canada
Moravian Church in America
Netherlands Reformed Congregations
Patriarchal Parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church
Polish National Catholic Church
Romanian Baptist Church USA
Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America
Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch
True Orthodox Church of Greece
Ukrainian Catholic
Ukrainian Orthodox Church of America
Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA

Obviously the various Orthodox Churches are well-represented on the list, and most jurisdictions have an ethnic identifier, excepting the OCA.  On the question of whether having an ethnic identifier in a parish name matters, as an economist I would have to say undoubtedly yes.  Whether this effect is seen as positive or negative depends on what the goals of the parish are, and I make no value judgment on that.  If a parish wishes to be an ethnic or national enclave, a ministry for a special niche of the Christian "market" (please forgive me using economic terms here), then calling attention to that in the parish name is an effective signal for the broader American population.  It signals to outsiders that a parish desires to remain fundamentally "Greek" or "Russian" or "Serbian" or whatever, and not just "Orthodox Christian".  On the other hand, if the goal is to attract a broad spectrum of American converts, and not just by marriage into the community, then economically speaking you need to lower non-essential barriers to entry.  The name of a parish is a brand name, a form of advertising, at least as seen from outside the community.  Even the most multi-cultural and welcoming parish will lose a lot of potential inquiries simply because it includes an exclusionary or ethnic term in its name.  This is just an unavoidable economic fact.  Everything matters at the margin, and Americans are exquisitely sensitive to ethnic identifiers at the margin.

It is often useful to imagine the situation reversed.  Let us say you are a Presbyterian of non-Asian descent who has recently moved to a new neighborhood.  In your neighborhood are two churches - "Bethel Presbyterian Church" and "Bethel Presbyterian Korean Church".  As a non-Korean which of the two are you most likely to first initiate contact with, all else being equal?  Obviously the former church sends no exclusionary signals by its name and so is likely to attract more attention from non-Koreans.  Now it may possibly be the case that the Korean church is composed of nearly 100% non-Koreans, with little or no Korean-ness to its style of worship or church life, and also very welcoming to all inquirers.  And it may even be the case that the non-ethnic church is quite exclusionary in practice or not very welcoming generally to inquirers or converts or transfers.  However, all else equal one expects the generic church to attract significantly more inquiries simply by virtue of the name difference.  Depending on the size of the effect this may possibly overwhelm the ethnically-named church's advantage in church life and attitude.  While this analysis cannot tell you which church will ultimately attract more new members, it can tell you which church will attract more initial inquiries, holding all else equal and assuming that the surrounding population is not predominantly Korean or East-Asian.  It would be very interesting to look at some hard numbers on this.

Does any of this mean that Orthodox parishes should drop ethnic identifiers in their names?  Depends on what the parish's mission is.  Is the goal to minister to a well-defined group?  Then keeping the ethnic identifier serves a positive purpose since it signals to the outside world as well as the community the ethnic character of the community.  That can be a good thing if it brings the community together in positive ways.  Just don't expect too many inquiries from outsiders, especially of the walk-in variety.

On the other hand, if a parish decides to be broad and multi-ethnic, then the emphasis should be on "Orthodox Christian" rather than "Greek" or "Russian" or "Serbian", at least in the name that goes in the yellow pages.  Dropping any explicit ethnic references in the parish name, even if the community is in truth mostly from one ethnic group, would be the better strategy given the parish's goal.  Again, there's nothing to say a multi-ethnic parish can't have an ethnic moniker attached, but one should realize that at the margins the parish is losing inquirers who will go elsewhere simply because they never took the first step to investigate the parish.  Exactly how large this effect might be I cannot be sure without seeing some data, but I suspect it may be significant, at least statistically.  Going back to the Korean church example, I know that I would hesitate to just walk into a Korean church if I were shopping around for a new community, even though I know Korean and East-Asian culture comfortably well and have many Korean friends both in America and in Korea.  [Though I admit Korean cooking might be a draw!].  Again, it would be interesting to see what economic studies have been done on this.

Anyway, I can't say anything about the way things are within Orthodox parishes, since I am not a member of any Orthodox parish (yet).  Nor would I presume to.  However, as an economist I can say a few general things about Orthodoxy as it presents itself within the broader American religious landscape.  I think ethnicity is fine generally, so long as people don't make it the end-all and be-all of religious life.  But unless a parish is Irish-Slovene-Dutch-German-British-Cherokee-American in orientation, then ethnicity won't be particularly attractive to me in its own right. Wink

In Christ,
Brian
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« Reply #48 on: February 24, 2007, 02:27:42 PM »

Excellent post, Brian.  My parish did this very thing when it dropped the "Russian" part of its name subsequent to the OCA's autocephaly in 1970.  There is still a large Slavic influence in the parish, but it has never felt exclusionary to me.
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« Reply #49 on: February 24, 2007, 02:45:32 PM »

Well, I'm going to come at this from a different angle and let me post my disclamer that I do not accept the three branch theory nor do neccesarily believe that keeping in names 100% of the time is a good thing (however, I also don't think it is a bad thing).  Anyways, why are these ethnic names in there?  To distinguish it from the other churches.  If I go to a GOA church and then a ROCOR church, then I am aware of who the metropolitan is and so on.  It also helps me to know what to expect.  Now when were these names inserterd?  2000 years ago.  In Scripture you already see Paul refering to the Church of fill in the blank.  An ethnic modifier is something distinctive of almost all churches that have some claim to apostolic succession.  The ROMAN Catholic Church, the ANGLICAN Church, the former Church of GAUL, or the Church of ANTIOCH, or MOSCOW, etc.  Now, of course, not all members in the RCC are Roman or even Italian, far from it.  However, this is the same thing with the Russian Orthodox Church.  In it there are Ukranians, Moldavans, BeloRussians, Yakuktsi, Kazakhs, Africans, etc.  You can see similar things with any Orthodox church or other Church for that matter.  Then lets take a look at Islam.  Technically to be Muslim is often to be considered Arabic with the language.  This hasn't seemed to stop converts within the United States.  Although, the reality is far from true to the theory with Islam, it provides another important example.  My point is that I highly doubt the ethnic label is the problem.  I do think in some occasions it is, and in others people use it as an excuse to not convert.  However, I am a member in two ROCOR churches.  We don't just have Russia in our name, but we have it twice!  However, both churches get about 1 or two converts a year.  Not a bad number for being such tiny parishes.  Thus, I think we're missing the historical reason for these modifiers and I also think that ethnicity is hardley the reason.  IT is a reason, but I doubt the main one.  And to even take the name off is very superficial.  They're still going to be Greek and they have every right to.  Just like Catholics may have the right to be Irish and converts to ORthodoxy have the right to be Irish, or whatever they feel like.  Anyways, I can't figure out how to give a good conclusions so I'll just offer my two kopecks for what ever they're worth.
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« Reply #50 on: February 24, 2007, 03:58:10 PM »

The historical monikers of the early church were not ethnic markers because at the time of the Roman empire there were a variety of ethnic groups living in different cities throughout the empire. The church of Antioch, was a geographical term, not an ethnic term because the church had members who were Jewish, Syrian, Greek, etc. During the development of the church of the Roman empire, one's ethnic background was not considered as important as being a citizen of the Roman empire. This point can be compared to how most Americans view their citizenship as of greater importance than their original ethnic heritage. And with each subsequent generation, this sense of identification becomes stronger as the ethnic link weakens over time through assimilation and intermarriage. I believe this is one of the main reasons so many of the 3rd and 4th generation Orthodox Christians have assimilated out of Orthodoxy.

If you went to Greece today and visited a church it would not have the ethnic title of 'Greek' in its name (ie: St. Sypridon Orthodox Church.) I would expect this fact would be true in all countries who have a history of having large Orthodox populations. The ethnic markers are only used in the western world, in other words, they are an innovation.
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« Reply #51 on: February 24, 2007, 04:36:30 PM »

Not always true, and it is partially my mistake on jumping around all in history.  Early on in Christianity, those areas outside the Roman Empire were refered to by their ethnic name.  The Churches have often called themselves by the names of the local city. However, that wasn't my point anyways.  I was pointing out that an ethnic name does not neccesarily imply an ethnic idenity.  Now the ethnic title is an innovation (if you consider 1000 years to be an innovation), but it did later on take hold in Christian terminology. .Hence the example of the Russian Church.  The same thing can be said about Rome or Canterbury.  The name, rather, implies the heritage of the Church one belongs to.  That, I would argue, is neccessary for a person to learn even if they're not of that group.  If one joins the Russian Church they have an obligation to learn of Russian history and the effects it had on the Church and her teachings.  By knowing of the reforms of Peter, the spiritual movement of 19th century Russia, and the Bolshevik Revolution, I can easier place my faith in a context and understand it better and it is only fuller.  If one is of the Antiochian Church, then they have an obligation to study the contrasting theological schools of the first millinium with Antioch being a contender, the oppression under the Muslims, and the great missionary activity from  Antioch in the 20th century.  It can only enrich one's faith.  By learning of such heritage I have not abandoned my Texan heritage or my family's.  However, by becoming Orthodox I have adopted another heritage whether wilingly or unwilingly.  I am not Russian or Greek, but the murder of the Tsar and the fall of Constantinople does affect me just as a Russian or a Greek.  IF you let it BECOME your faith, then it is detrimental.  However, if you use it as an aid then it can only help one.

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« Reply #52 on: February 24, 2007, 04:41:54 PM »

I would also have to argue that it is the reason for people dropping out of Orthodoxy.  How about the people exiting Protestant Churchs and Catholic Churches?  Many of them can be as American as apple pie.  There is also a similar exodous in those mainstream churches to either apathy or a flashier church.  Are some cradles turned away from the ethnicity?  Sure.  I doubt, however, that this is the primary reason and tends to be a good excuse.  Many people are turning away, simply due to poor catechism, the lack of faith being practiced at home, and the grabbing of secular culture.
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« Reply #53 on: February 24, 2007, 07:27:03 PM »

Not always true, and it is partially my mistake on jumping around all in history.  Early on in Christianity, those areas outside the Roman Empire were refered to by their ethnic name.  The Churches have often called themselves by the names of the local city. However, that wasn't my point anyways.  I was pointing out that an ethnic name does not neccesarily imply an ethnic idenity.  Now the ethnic title is an innovation (if you consider 1000 years to be an innovation), but it did later on take hold in Christian terminology. .Hence the example of the Russian Church.  The same thing can be said about Rome or Canterbury.  The name, rather, implies the heritage of the Church one belongs to.  That, I would argue, is neccessary for a person to learn even if they're not of that group.  If one joins the Russian Church they have an obligation to learn of Russian history and the effects it had on the Church and her teachings.  By knowing of the reforms of Peter, the spiritual movement of 19th century Russia, and the Bolshevik Revolution, I can easier place my faith in a context and understand it better and it is only fuller.  If one is of the Antiochian Church, then they have an obligation to study the contrasting theological schools of the first millinium with Antioch being a contender, the oppression under the Muslims, and the great missionary activity from  Antioch in the 20th century.  It can only enrich one's faith.  By learning of such heritage I have not abandoned my Texan heritage or my family's.  However, by becoming Orthodox I have adopted another heritage whether wilingly or unwilingly.  I am not Russian or Greek, but the murder of the Tsar and the fall of Constantinople does affect me just as a Russian or a Greek.  IF you let it BECOME your faith, then it is detrimental.  However, if you use it as an aid then it can only help one.

I would agree that if one becomes Orthodox that learning the history of the whole Orthodox church would give one perspective and would enrich one's faith. But I would argue it is not necessary for one's salvation. All one needs is the faith of a child for salvation. I would argue the only heritage you have adopted is the culture of salvation which can come in any type of package as long as that package is the one True Faith. Cultures will not follow us into the heavenly kingdom.
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« Reply #54 on: February 24, 2007, 08:38:13 PM »

I would argue the only heritage you have adopted is the culture of salvation which can come in any type of package as long as that package is the one True Faith.
Well put.
As with the example of Pascha Baskets given earlier, Easter Baskets are, themselves, not an "Orthodox" tradition, but in fact a Russian one. We do not bless Easter Baskets in the Greek Orthodox tradition. So "Westernising" the foods in an Easter Basket would simply be the Westernisation of a Russian custom, not the adoption of a Church tradition as would, say, adopting the fasts of the Church. Westernising the foods in a Pascha Basket would simply be "phoney-doxy"- a "Hollywood" version of it.
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« Reply #55 on: February 24, 2007, 09:14:35 PM »

Quote
I would agree that if one becomes Orthodox that learning the history of the whole Orthodox church would give one perspective and would enrich one's faith. But I would argue it is not necessary for one's salvation.

And I would agree with you.
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« Reply #56 on: February 24, 2007, 09:56:02 PM »

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Easter Baskets are, themselves, not an "Orthodox" tradition, but in fact a Russian one. We do not bless Easter Baskets in the Greek Orthodox tradition.
Maybe not Greek, but not exclusively Russian, either. The Romanians also practice this custom. The content of the basket would be a bit different, though.
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« Reply #57 on: February 24, 2007, 10:23:09 PM »

Maybe not Greek, but not exclusively Russian, either. The Romanians also practice this custom. The content of the basket would be a bit different, though.
The point remains the same. Westernising the contents of a Pascha Basket is the westernising of an ethnic custom, not a Church tradition, so where do we draw the line if the West wants to really claim Orthodoxy as it's own?
Similarly, the decorating of the Epitaphios with flowers on Holy Friday, the blessing of grapes on the Feast of the Transfiguration, the different crowns used in Orthodox weddings, the different practices in anointing of candidates for Baptism...these are all "ethnic" differences as well, so which ones should an "American Orthodox Church" adopt or reject if it wishes to be "truly American"?
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« Reply #58 on: February 25, 2007, 12:35:47 AM »

The foods of pascha are indeed a "t"radition.  The Greeks serve Margaritsa, roasted lamb, and braided pascha bread. The Antiochians and  palestinians serve roasted chicken with pilaf, sweet bread, mahlmoud, and sweets.  The Slavs serve the pork and sausages, Bobkha, sweet butter and horse radish. What Americans serve has yet to be determined.

I must admit that the traditions of the Slavs with their pascha baskets has developed a certain symbolism that has embued their traditions with  meaning. This is from the Orthodox Family website and is an explaination what the items placed in the basket mean to Ukranians who have learned how to prepare these foods, and what they meant: 

"1)  Pascha, a rich egg-based bread sweetened with raisins, represents the "Bread of Life", Christ. My family always baked half a dozen paschas in small coffee cans, so they were round when you sliced them. [My Grandma always turned the pascha over before she cut it, and said, "In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit," cutting off three small pieces from the bottom as she did so. These pieces were put on the window sill to dry out, then eaten throughout the year, like Holy Bread, when one of us was sick.] 

2)  Christ's Biscuits, were small round rolls made from the same dough as the pascha, brushed with egg as they were baking so the tops were shiny and deep brown. They always had icing crosses on the top. Again, they symbolize the Bread of Life. 

3)  Pysanki, decorated hard-boiled eggs, are a symbol of the Resurrection: Jesus came out of the Tomb just as a chick comes out of an egg. My family always had bright pink eggs dyed with onion skin (like the one Mary supposedly offered to Pilate when she visited him after the Resurrection), and eggs decorated with pussy-willows, crosses, swirls, and "Christ is Risen! Christos Voskrese!" [As children, it was our job to prepare the eggs using the pysak (a "quill pen" for applying melted wax to eggs) my Grandfather had made before he died. My mother always removed the wax after the eggs were dyed, because she never scorched them! Depending on how close to "western Easter" it was, we would use an egg-dye kit for some of the eggs, so our baskets sometimes included marbleized, glittered, or Mickey-Mouse eggs as well. We never included the glossy black "Ukrainian" eggs made with toxic dyes, even though we made them throughout the year for show. Basket stuff was meant to be eaten!] 

4) Kielbasi and Ham are in the Pascha basket to symbolize the sacrifices made before Christ's perfect sacrifice; they are the basket's allusion to the Old Testament. I've recently read that meat in the Pascha basket also symbolizes the calf sacrificed when the Prodigal Son returned home; the meat is a celebration of our return to Christ. 

5) Horseradish and Spicy Mustard are included in the basket to remind us of the bitter drink given to Christ at his crucifixion, vinegar and gall. [My Grandma sometimes dyed the horseradish pink with beet juice, to symbolize the Blood shed by Christ.]

6) Butter, usually whipped and flavored with almond, was included in the basket to symbolize the Lamb of God, the Sacrifice made for the world. [Some families used a lamb-shaped mold for their butter, which made the symbolism even stronger. We leave ours in a block, but carve a cross into it.] 

7) Salt, which was traditionally used to preserve food, represents the Truth of his eternal message. [When I married, my Grandmother gave me a special crystal shaker for my basket salt as a gift; she has used her shaker for over 70 years!] 

Cool  Egg-cheese (actually called "rrrroot-KA", which might be spelled "hrutka") was the adult's favorite basket food; it was a rich, sweet scrambled-egg lump that they sliced, salted, and ate cold on pierces of pascha. [I have never tried to make it myself, but have my Grandma's recipe.]

9) Sweets: Our family's Pascha basket never included chocolate or other candies, but I plan to slip in a chocolate egg and marshmallow lamb for my 18-month-old daughter this year. The symbolism is there, and as long as she grows up knowing the meaning of the foods in the basket, the sweets will never be confused with the plastic Easter baskets filled with sugar and stuffed rabbits sold at K-Mart. 

10) The foods were prepared and loosely wrapped, then displayed in a sturdy basket so everything could be touched by the Holy Water when blessed after the Resurrection Liturgy. A decorated candle (and matches) were tucked into the side of the basket, and it was covered by an ornate cloth. The full basket was heavy, so we didn't worry about it tipping over in the car. "


To this we might add the tradition for the triple braided Pascha Bread of the Greeks representing the Holy Trinity and the One God.

These traditions  are used by people because they are meaningful to those who do it, however if the tradition becomes more important than the reason it is wrong.

Where will the American (or Canadian or Australian) Orthodox  go with their Pascha traditions who knows?  Maybe someone can figure a symbolic reason for the eating of KFC or pizza or Burger King hamburgers---oh wait there is a reason ---It is the Feast of Feasts when we no longer fast and repent in sorrow but  celebrate the joy of the resurrection of the Lord! According to St John Chrysostom:

"You rich and poor together, hold high festival!
You sober and you heedless, honour the day!
Rejoice today, both you who have fasted
And you who have disregarded the fast.
The table is full-laden; feast ye all sumptuously.
The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away.
Enjoy ye all the feast of faith:
Receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness. "



In Christ,
Thomas
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« Reply #59 on: February 25, 2007, 12:43:00 AM »

George,

Its possible that whatever ethnic customs work for Americans will be adopted and modified as needed. Did you know that the Russian pascha dessert served at Pascha was originally an ancient Greek dessert adopted by the Russians when they became Orthodox? They then made their own adjustments to the recipe. I made the original Greek dessert last fall. It is a much simpler recipe but it is delicious. It is made with Ricotta cheese, honey, sweet wine and ground almonds. I think that Orthodoxy in America will incorporate various customs from all the different ethnic groups. Maybe one day American Orthodox Christians will celebrate St. Basil's day with vasilopeta or a version of it but they may also bring baskets to church for Pascha. Probably the jurisdictions which are the most open to new comers will find their customs adopted and more than likely they will evolve over time just like the Greek dessert was adopted changed by the Russians into their famous pascha.
Many customs were started to celebrate feast days and saint's feast days (bar-bara is soupy, sweet, wheat dish served on St. Barbara's feast day by Palestinians). As American saints are recognized customs will arise to celebrate their feast days.
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« Reply #60 on: February 26, 2007, 12:31:10 PM »

Orthodoxy is most certainly “compatible” with American culture, because America is a nation of immigrants.  The ethnic parish, ethnic communities and so on are quintessentially part of the American experience.  Many Orthodox groups were also able to thrive and survive here when their own traditions or ethnic groups were threatened in the countries of origin.

It seems to me this thread is really about two basic things:

- Evangelism and how best to make the church attractive to outsiders (and really to Protestants and Catholics).
- Assimilation and how to retain 2nd, 3rd, etc. generation cradles.

Those perhaps are different subjects, but all of the same themes and ideas might apply to both.

Also, having an issue with what other people do or do not have in their Easter basket is to me a joke.
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« Reply #61 on: February 26, 2007, 02:34:28 PM »

Dear Wellkodox,

I agree with you on all counts. Let me offer three suggestions applicable to both of the missions you point out:
      1. Drop all reference to ethnic identifiers in all church names, instead opting for St. (fill in blank) Orthodox Christian Church. If one can only be attracted on the basis of ethnic pride, then one might be there for the wrong reasons.
      2. Conduct all services in English.
      3. Emphasize attendance at services as critical for salvation.

In this way all little t traditions will be automatically relegated to their proper place in Orthodox Christianity: fourth place.

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« Reply #62 on: February 26, 2007, 02:46:55 PM »

I agree with you on all counts. Let me offer three suggestions applicable to both of the missions you point out:
      1. Drop all reference to ethnic identifiers in all church names, instead opting for St. (fill in blank) Orthodox Christian Church. If one can only be attracted on the basis of ethnic pride, then one might be there for the wrong reasons.
      2. Conduct all services in English.
      3. Emphasize attendance at services as critical for salvation.

In this way all little t traditions will be automatically relegated to their proper place in Orthodox Christianity: fourth place.

Cowboy, I mostly agree, with the exception of point number 2.  The rule on lanugage should be that it matches that generally spoken by the community, rather than specifying which one.  English will probably predominate, but Spanish missions in the Southwest aren't inconceivable.  Similarly, for parishes that have a high number of members for whom Russian, or Serbian, or whatever, is their first language (think recent immigrants rather than third and fourth generation American born ethnics), those people would be best served by that language.  What does need to end is the use of a language that few in the parish actually speak.  That doesn't automatically equal English, though.  Other than that, I pretty much agree with you.
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« Reply #63 on: February 26, 2007, 03:03:47 PM »

Cowboy

Quote
1. Drop all reference to ethnic identifiers in all church names, instead opting for St. (fill in blank) Orthodox Christian Church. If one can only be attracted on the basis of ethnic pride, then one might be there for the wrong reasons.

I guess this one I don’t feel so strongly about, though I can see the point of what you’re saying.  The sign that is readable from the street at our parish says “Blah Blah Orthodox Church”.  The cornerstone says “Blah Blah Orthodox Catholic Church”.  The full name is used in some places and documents along with the name of the diocese.

Quote
Conduct all services in English.

I was going to raise the same points that Veniamin, though in the context of attracting outsiders and retaining 2nd, 3rd generation and beyond – I would agree English is essential.

When my wife and I were looking for a parish last year we did rule out a couple of places because they used another language extensively.  At our current parish a little Slavonic is used here and there, which I do like.

Quote
Emphasize attendance at services as critical for salvation.

No argument there.

One thing I think it might be a mistake to assume is that simply having all English, or having no identifiable or pronounced ethnic tradition present in the parish is a guarantee of success.  What’s important I think is a good community, a good priest and an overall healthy atmosphere.  I don’t think those things are limited to any one type of parish profile.  I also think that when the cultural traditions of a given community are given their proper place, and are optional if one chooses to accept them, then they can be greatly enriching and rewarding.
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« Reply #64 on: February 26, 2007, 08:12:41 PM »

OK I have tossed about this idea in my head but in this part of the US many older Episcopalian churches have a sign that may read as follows.

CHURCH OF SAINT JAMES
(Episcopal)

So for the Orthodox

CHURCH OF SAINT NICHOLAS
(Orthodox)

Hey we're in America.

Also, I'm for people coming to church for whatever reason. Who am I to judge their motives only God knows. Maybe something might hit them that day during liturgy that they need (I know sounds evangelical). Worst case they may dro pa few $100 in the collection plate.
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« Reply #65 on: February 27, 2007, 01:24:03 AM »

Well, why not just become Episcopalians?

Are we to reduce Orthodoxy to nothing more than a theological system? To nothing more than a few dogmatic points? If we do so we have committed the grave error of the west, we have ourselves become like the latins and the protestants.

It is not liberalism, as many here would claim, that is the threat to the Church, and it was never liberalism that was the threat to the west. The Church and culture have and should function as one organism, if culture is to become more enlightened and liberal it is only natural that the Church should follow. Rather, it is reductionism that is the threat...the reducing of the Church to abstract concepts and dogmas and by doing so both retarding her natural development and tearing from her all that is good and noble about her past. The protestants first did this, then the latins did the same in reaction, essentially becomming no different than the Protestants save in some minor differences of opinion regarding abstract theology...but they are essentially the same.

Sts. such and such Orthodox Church that claims to be free of ethnic influence is not Orthodox at all...it is a Protestant Church that perhaps espouses a few abstract theological points that are similar to those of the Orthodox, but it is not Orthodox in any meaningful way. It has been reduced to abstract dogmas and rubrics, it is devoid of Orthodox Culture and is no more Orthodox than the local rotary club or masonic lodge...not that there's anything wrong with either of these things, they're just not the Orthodox Church.
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« Reply #66 on: February 27, 2007, 08:57:17 AM »

Franky GreekChristian, I would argue that some Orthodox Churches have becomoe like the local Rotary Club and that reductionism has already affected the Orthodox church in America. It is difficult to put an abstract theological concept in say a tract published by Concillar Press, but its been done. Many people would pick up one of these tracts and read say aboyt Mary. Agree or disagree with it and then study no further. This I might add is quite American. Americans have become conditioned to sound bites, quick fast cogent, if you will, information. Maybe because we live in the information age or we're too busy or we have too many distractions to be "fully" Orthodox.
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« Reply #67 on: February 27, 2007, 10:13:07 AM »

Dear GIC and Aserb,

I very strongly disagree with you. Ethnicity has nothing to do with being an Orthodox Christian. How could you possibly equate dropping ethnic identifiers in church names, having services in English and putting greater emphasis on attending all services offered by the church--as turning into Episcopalians??

I did not say let's stop venerating Icons, revise the Liturgy, change the Apostles Creed, stop fasting, stop ceaseless prayer, stop taking up our crosses as our Lord did, stop worshipping, stop giving alms, stop loving our neighbor---THIS IS Orthodoxy. It is not abstract, it is real in the here and now. Orthodoxy and American culture will NEVER be compatible, neither is current Greek culture and Orthodoxy compatible, neither is current Russian culture and Orthodoxy compatible. In all three countries Orthodox Christianity is COUNTER-CULTURE. We Orthodox Christians must be a beacon of light and hope for those around us. I am arguing that we cannot do this as Church if we constantly put up barriers to entry in the Orthodox "club".

I agree with both you and Aserb that some of our churches do resemble the Rotary club. I my experience these are the heavily ethnic parishes (like the one I was raised in) that had a church bar, bingo, social hall for dancing and drinking, folk dancing and festivals---but no one attending liturgy or vespers except for Christmas and Easter.

I am totally against the reductionism you decry. However I have been in a couple of "bookstores" at local Greek churches that were more like being in a travel agent's office specializing in tours of Greece. This is reductionism--equating the Motherland and a long ago mythical culture to Orthodox Christianity. Greek festivals have NOTHING to do with Orthodox Christianity, in the here and now in America.

Knowledge of Russia, Greece, Serbia, Antioch is not necessary for my salvation in the here and now. Orthodoxy is not an abstract concept to me, it is a daily journey.

Cowboy
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« Reply #68 on: February 27, 2007, 10:24:34 AM »

I agree with you, Cowboy.
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« Reply #69 on: February 27, 2007, 10:41:21 AM »

Cowboy,
I'm in the midst of an effort to establish a Pan-Orthodox English speaking parish in the Community where we live, yet I have to say that I disagree with you and agree with GiC on this point.
Firstly, Orthodoxy is a Living Tradition passed on from person to person like the Holy Light at Pascha. It is a Tradition which is incarnate in real people. The Holy Spirit does not dwell in books and pamphlets, He dwells in human beings, flesh and blood. Whether we like it or not, Orthodoxy was brought to the Diaspora  carried in human beings who received it in their cultural context, and they are the only ones who can transmit it to us, and the mode of their transmission, being human, also includes their cultural context.
Secondly, divorcing or disengaging Orthodox Christianity from cultural context means that the Church can never transform society and can never sanctify the world- in other words, the Church cannot fulfil one of the the very reasons for it's existence! No one is saved alone. Either we are saved together, or none of us is saved. If the Church cannot sanctify our society and culture, then, as GiC points out, it is mere abstract theology, and not the Living Apostolic Tradition incarnated in human flesh.
George
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« Reply #70 on: February 27, 2007, 11:10:50 AM »

You know we have the luxury in the first world countries to TALK TALK TALK TALK TALK.

I agree with Cowboy, my posts were not meant to reduce Orthodoxy to Anglicanism.

Orthodoxy is about doing. doing doing.
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« Reply #71 on: February 27, 2007, 11:20:37 AM »

Out of curiosity, I searched for and found a list of churches/denominations in the U.S. that have some sort of ethnic or national identifier in their name (apart from words like "American" or "Canadian"):


Mennonite Church

I'm not meaning to be a quibbler here, but "Mennonite" is not per se an ethnic or national identifier. It is taken from "Menno Simons" a leader in the Anabaptist movement (and in the same way that "Amish" is from Jacob Amman).  While he was from a part of what is now the Netherlands, it is not a "Dutch" church as it were.
http://www.gameo.org/index.asp?content=http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/M4636ME.html


With respect,

Ebor


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« Reply #72 on: February 27, 2007, 11:22:50 AM »

I agree with Cowboy, my posts were not meant to reduce Orthodoxy to Anglicanism.

Orthodoxy is about doing. doing doing.

Ermmm, ah,  Anglicans also do   Undecided

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« Reply #73 on: February 27, 2007, 11:30:41 AM »

Anglicans also do
Well that proves the point I made in my last post! I bet that's because they have an ethnic identifier in their name which describes their cultural/ethnic origins and because they do not try to divorce Church from culture.  Cheesy
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« Reply #74 on: February 27, 2007, 11:48:18 AM »

I've been reluctant to post too much here, not being EO and all, but may I any way now?


Whether we like it or not, Orthodoxy was brought to the Diaspora  carried in human beings who received it in their cultural context, and they are the only ones who can transmit it to us, and the mode of their transmission, being human, also includes their cultural context.

Indeed, that is what human beings do, because it's what they know and have lived and cultures include lots of things like language, foods, clothing styles, art forms, stories and more. Can a problem be a 'clash of cultures' as it were?  One thinking that it is superior to others or in some way Supreme and all others are to adapt to *it*?  Please note that I am looking at this from a frame of any 2 cultures coming in contact.

There are so many varieties of what human beings do that are not intrisically Evil or Good, but just how they do things and I think that people, in general, are comfortable with what they have known and done in the cultural and folkways context.  So when they are told that they have to change/stop they tend to get ummm uncooperative or annoyed let's say.


Quote
Secondly, divorcing or disengaging Orthodox Christianity from cultural context means that the Church can never transform society and can never sanctify the world- in other words, the Church cannot fulfil one of the the very reasons for it's existence! No one is saved alone. Either we are saved together, or none of us is saved. If the Church cannot sanctify our society and culture, then, as GiC points out, it is mere abstract theology, and not the Living Apostolic Tradition incarnated in human flesh.
George

I think that thiese are some very wise words.  So how can they be applied when there have been some that I've read in the past that contend that "western" things cannot be part of EO or there is nothing that can be 'baptized' in a culture that a person has to totally adapt to another to be part. (Granted, I've seen some fairly fringe writings occasionally.)

I think what I was trying to suggest a couple of posts upstream was a discussion of "What cultural things can be adopted/adapted?"  Look at the basket situation, some people put in foods (or coupons. I liked that story alot Smiley ) that meant things to them.  That seems OK to me.  I know that a Greek Orthodox tradition is a particular kind of soup, "Mageritsa" I think it is.  If the custom traveled, could it be adapted to another cultures foodways and available ingredients (like there not being lamb available)?  

What about songs/music styles?  I know that I've mentioned a person many years ago on GEnie who wrote that the Only Music for Chanting was Byzantine, that that was what God heard and no other would do, that it was dictated by angels while all other music was from human creation.  Undecided

There are so many other areas that could be looked at.  What elements of American/Western/Australian/Canadian/ etc Culture could be transformed/sanctified?  

I apologize for being pushy or for cutting into the thead like this.

Ebor
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« Reply #75 on: February 27, 2007, 11:55:43 AM »

Well that proves the point I made in my last post! I bet that's because they have an ethnic identifier in their name which describes their cultural/ethnic origins and because they do not try to divorce Church from culture.  Cheesy

Hehehe.  Well there may be something to that, though "Episcopalian" is a polity identifier rather then ethnic  Wink.  And while Anglican may describe an origin, it's not an imposing British culture thing these days, at least not as far as I know.  My New Zealand BCP has both English and Maori as well as some rites that apply to local cultural customs.  There are Japanese Anglican churches that have tatami matting and local customs and some that are modern or gothic in style according to a book I have.

The idea of bringing parts of a culture in to the Church is not alien to me but more of an "yes, that's what we're supposed to do, isn't it?"  with a puzzled air. Smiley

Ebor
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« Reply #76 on: February 27, 2007, 12:20:59 PM »

I know that a Greek Orthodox tradition is a particular kind of soup, "Mageritsa" I think it is.  If the custom traveled, could it be adapted to another cultures foodways and available ingredients (like there not being lamb available)? 
I think, rather than simply changing the ingredients of the soup, what we need to do is look at how and why the custom developed, and what existing customs can be sanctified to serve the same purposes.

Margeritsa is a soup made from offal. The three reasons it came into practice are:
1) It uses the offal of the lamb which is traditionally cooked on the spit for lunch on Easter Sunday (ie, it reduces wastage).
2) It is a gentle way of reintroducing meat into the diet after 7 weeks of fasting from meat.
3) It can be prepared ahead of time, so that the family can attend the Paschal Service which usually commences around 10pm and concludes around 2am. So they can come home, warm the soup and break the fast together.

So, basically, any shared meal which includes a digestible form of the foods we can once again eat after the Great Fast, and which can be prepared several hours ahead would work. The benefit of Margeritsa of course, is that we know it works- it is digestible and can be prepared ahead of time, which is why it developed into a custom. And customs are also important because they mark the calendar and make days different. Imagine a birthday with no cake and candles or Christmas without a Christmas tree! Customs give us routine.
With time, customs can develop in any culture which are sanctified by the Church because they work in synergy/harmony with her. But there are certain American customs which, at present, do not work in harmony with the Church. For example, Thanksgiving in the US falls during the Nativity Fast, when we abstain from meat and eat only fish. And even on the important feasts which fall during the Nativity Fast (such as the Feasts of St. Andrew and the Feast of St. Matthew) we only relax the Fast to allow oil and wine. So if Thanksgiving were relaxed to include meat, it would be a local feast which surpassed the importance of the universally observed feasts of the Apostles. So either Thanksgiving would be celebrated with Fish instead of Turkey, or Thanksgiving would have to be translated to the day the Canadians celebrate it. This is how Church and culture work together.
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« Reply #77 on: February 27, 2007, 12:21:48 PM »

Reading over the posts I think I now agree and disagree with everyone.

The first Orthodox parishes I ever visited were very ethnic, in the sense that they still had a strong link with their immigrant past and cultural traditions.  That was my introduction to the church, and it was this initial experience that interested me (a bland Northern European ethnic American) in converting.  The services were mostly in English and there were certainly converts around, which was important too.  My parish now is a mix of cradles and converts, with many things about it that would be considered ethnic or old school (bingo, food sales, etc.).  My parish is far from perfect, but it is the environment my wife and I feel comfortable in.  She is actually non European ethnic, and said she feels at home with many of the things people in our parish do, even though it isnt her background.

There is just no one magic formula for what works in my opinion beyond what I believe are the basics  a good priest, a good community and a strong liturgical life.

Also, I have family that are Episcopalians, and I've visited several of ECUSA parishes and my wife and I went to one for a short time.  I said when we stopped, and I wasnt kidding, that the Episcopalians were way too ethnic for me.
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« Reply #78 on: February 27, 2007, 12:41:02 PM »

Dear Ozgeorge,

First let me say that I applaud your pan-orthodox, English-speaking parish community efforts.

The Living Tradition of Orthodox Christianity HAS been passed down to us here in America. It came with a whole set of ethnic culural customs and traditions which have absolutely nothing to do with Orthodox Christianity. The fact that our forebearers confused Orthodox Christianity with their own cultural norms, practices, traditions and customs has negative effects on us today in trying to spread Orthodox Christianity in the United States. The "bookstore" of one of our local Greek churches could easily be confused with a Greek travel agents office. Posters of Greece, but no Orthodox Study Bibles. What is an enquirer to think?

I am not arguing for isolationism. Exactly the opposite. Why would we put ethnic barriers before enquirers to Orthodox Christianity? What purpose does this serve? Are you saying that Orthodox Christianity is somehow inseparable from Mother Russia or Greece? Or their current cultures? Should we look to Russian and Greek culture today (with sky high abortion rates, for example) as models to emulate?

How can we begin to "sanctify" American culture (truthfully I am not sure what this means and why it is at all important)? By starting in our own parishes with worship. Common work as a community. And then as a community to let our light shine through our WORKS as a beacon of hope to those outside our community. I agree with you that we are saved together and that the only thing one can do alone is go to hell.

That is the crux of my argument for removing barriers to spreading Orthodox Christianity.  

Ebor, I feel like you might have it backwards--we are supposed to bring the Church into the culture, not the culture into the Church.

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« Reply #79 on: February 27, 2007, 12:47:56 PM »

I think, rather than simply changing the ingredients of the soup, what we need to do is look at how and why the custom developed, and what existing customs can be sanctified to serve the same purposes.

Well, I wasn't thinking of changing the ingredients, but finding something that would be a good substitute, something to fit the idea or reason for having it, and that is what you proceeded to do.   Wink  Thank you for the explanation and reason for the custom.

Quote
The benefit of Margeritsa of course, is that we know it works- it is digestible and can be prepared ahead of time, which is why it developed into a custom.

Exactly!  People do things for reasons and if something works and is good, then they will likely make it a custom or tradition.

Quote
And customs are also important because they mark the calendar and make days different. Imagine a birthday with no cake and candles or Christmas without a Christmas tree! Customs give us routine.

Well, unfortunately I've read some that say that a Christmas Tree is not an EO custom or tradition so it should not be done by one who converts.  Undecided  Or that marking a birthday is not EO, that it should be the saints name day that matters.  And other things along those lines.  Now *I* think that customs (family, local, cultural) can be a Good Thing. I'm not about to tell someone they shouldn't do something that they know and like (that isn't illegal or immoral that is.  Fattening otoh can be part of customary foods after all.  Cheesy )

Quote
With time, customs can develop in any culture which are sanctified by the Church because they work in synergy/harmony with her. But there are certain American customs which, at present, do not work in harmony with the Church. For example, Thanksgiving in the US falls during the Nativity Fast, when we abstain from meat and eat only fish. And even on the important feasts which fall during the Nativity Fast (such as the Feasts of St. Andrew and the Feast of St. Matthew) we only relax the Fast to allow oil and wine. So if Thanksgiving were relaxed to include meat, it would be a local feast which surpassed the importance of the universally observed feasts of the Apostles. So either Thanksgiving would be celebrated with Fish instead of Turkey, or Thanksgiving would have to be translated to the day the Canadians celebrate it. This is how Church and culture work together.

I appreciate your thoughts on this.  Where does the idea of "economia" fit in this, as I understand that some American EO jurisdictions will allow Thanksgiving for a feast on that one day.  The question of moving it to Canadian Thanksgiving is (I think) not likely, since many people in the US don't even know that Canada has that holiday.  (I'm going anywhere near calendar issues on this, though I've seen it done).

Ebor
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« Reply #80 on: February 27, 2007, 12:54:58 PM »

Cowboy,
If Orthodox Christianity is something you think should only be done for three hours on a Sunday Morning and have absolutely no bearing on the rest of your life, society or culture, then I have to disagree with you.
Not only culture, but everything in the cosmos has to be brought in to the Church to be sanctified- just like we have to bring the Prosforo in to the Church to be sanctified. The Church is the Ark of Salvation. You don't save drowning people by throwing a ship on top of them...you help them in to the ship.
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« Reply #81 on: February 27, 2007, 12:55:16 PM »

Ebor, I feel like you might have it backwards--we are supposed to bring the Church into the culture, not the culture into the Church.

Well, what does that *mean*, bring the Church into the culture.  How are the two to be melded or not?  Is the basket with sausage and slivo a cultural thing that was brought in or did it just sort of grow out of the dim times and then became ensconced as "The Way It Has To Be" for some such as those you describe?  How do you bring "the Church" to KFC chicken as it were (I'm not trying to be flip, just having a bit of a time trying to get the idea across.)  The thread title is about being "compatible".  Someone saying "Nothing Western is allowed" would not be finding any compatibility, nor looking to find any.

I'm not trying to give anyone grief here, and I apologize for any muddled ideas.

Ebor

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« Reply #82 on: February 27, 2007, 01:18:00 PM »

George,

I don't think it is the type of food that we consume is important. The point is whether we feast and fast. Most of the people in my parish are not from traditional Orthodox cultures. But they fast very strictly using recipes they have been developing over the last 15 years. The recipes are from a variety of ethnic backgrounds that work with the fast. And some of the recipes they have come up with are original. However let me stress again, the point is not the food but the effort they put into fasting.  Fasting and feasting in Orthodoxy is the spiritual culture which will have many manifestations in the various cultures Orthodoxy meets (ie: Russian pascha that was originally an ancient Greek dessert). Changes will happen. But we don't have to worry about the changes if they promote feasting and fasting according to our Orthodox heritage.
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« Reply #83 on: February 27, 2007, 01:30:12 PM »

Well, unfortunately I've read some that say that a Christmas Tree is not an EO custom or tradition so it should not be done by one who converts.  Undecided
One of the most traditionalist Eastern Orthodox Churches is the one Anastasios belongs to. Ask him how St. Markella's Cathedral is decorated at Christmas.  Cheesy

Or that marking a birthday is not EO, that it should be the saints name day that matters. 
Great way of hiding your age! But seriously, I think you'll find that either they are new migrant to the diaspora who aren't accostomed to celebrating birthdays, or they are new converts to Orthodoxy with crazy ideas. In the modern Greek-Australian custom, you get presents on your birthday, and you give "favours" (a round of drinks, cakes, sweets etc) on your Name day.

Where does the idea of "economia" fit in this, as I understand that some American EO jurisdictions will allow Thanksgiving for a feast on that one day. 
Economia is fine, but economia which doesn't take the Universal Church into consideration can be harmful. As stated, Thanksgiving is what we could call a "local" American Feast. This concept is by no means foreign to the Orthodox Church. The feast day of every Parish and Monastery (the Feast of their Patrion Saint) is considered a local feast. But if that feast day falls on a fasting day, the most that is permitted in the jurisdiction of that Parish Church or monastery is wine and oil. On March 25th, we celebrate one of the "Twelve Great Feasts" of the Church, the Annunciation., which falls during Great Lent. Yet even on this universally observed Feast of the Incarnation of Christ, the Church will not permit meat to be eaten. So if a local American feast is given more importance than even the Universal Feast Commemorating the Incarnation of God- what is that saying about the relationship of American Orthodox Christians to the rest of the Orthodox Church throughout the world? And if an American is living abroad on Thanksgiving day, he or she is under the jurisdiction of the local Bishop, should they alone among the local Church be permitted to eat meat on Thanksgiving simply because of their ethnicity?

I don't think it is the type of food that we consume is important.
Tamara,
I think if you re-read my posts in this thread, you'll find that this is exactly what I'm saying. Smiley
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« Reply #84 on: February 27, 2007, 01:54:17 PM »

Cowboy,
If Orthodox Christianity is something you think should only be done for three hours on a Sunday Morning and have absolutely no bearing on the rest of your life, society or culture, then I have to disagree with you.
Not only culture, but everything in the cosmos has to be brought in to the Church to be sanctified- just like we have to bring the Prosforo in to the Church to be sanctified. The Church is the Ark of Salvation. You don't save drowning people by throwing a ship on top of them...you help them in to the ship.

Dear Ozgeorge,

I do not think that Orthodox Christianity is limited to 3 hours on a Sunday morning!! Orthodox Christianity is a way of life, every minute dying to this world and every minute rising again with Christ.

Regarding worship, my point is that if we, as Orthodox Christians, are to glorify God at all times, we must have a time when we do nothing else. This is  Sunday Liturgy/Vespers/Vigil/Matins/Holy Days/Presanctified Liturgies in Lent. We Orthodox Christians like to jump to the end without the hard work in the middle after Baptism and Chrismation. Our first goal as a community is to have every member of the parish attend every service that the church offers. How many of you can say in all honesty that you had packed temples for the three day reading of the Canon of St Andrew and Forgiveness Sunday Vespers last week? I only mean to say that Orthodox Christianity BEGINS with a foundation of worship.

How do we get drowning people "into the ship"? By living Orthodox Christianity daily as individuals and as communities so that those around us can see that we are different and good and holy and true. This is what will attract them.

I just don't see and have yet to hear how putting ethnic or cultural barriers in the way of our efforts at evangelization is at all in keeping with spreading the Gospels.

I really don't care about ethnic recipes that work or don't work. The fact that the Apostles ate figs is NOT a dogma of Orthodox Christianity. Recipes are a way of us having "good tasting" lenten meals--again irrelevant to the idea of fasting.

Cowboy
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« Reply #85 on: February 27, 2007, 02:15:18 PM »

How do we get drowning people "into the ship"? By living Orthodox Christianity daily as individuals and as communities so that those around us can see that we are different and good and holy and true. This is what will attract them.
OK. So, what defines "the Community" in which we are supposed to live as Orthodox Christians? Is "the Community" just a bunch of individual people that happen to worship together once a week? A community devoid of any culture? Devoid of anything sociologists call "symbolic interaction"?
And should this "Community" have absolutely no interaction with the rest of the society in which it lives in order to avoid being infected with anything as vulgar and unholy as "culture"?
And to make the point that Church and culture must never mix, should we also remove any Scriptural references to culture and ethnicity such as "King of the Jews", Samaritan, Simon the Cyrenian, Galilean,  etc.?
You enjoy your culture-less "utopia". I'll stick with the human race thanks. Wink
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« Reply #86 on: February 27, 2007, 03:06:54 PM »

Dear Ozgeorge,

I am sorry to have gotten you so worked up. Please forgive me. I said I AM NOT in favor of isolation. You put a whole lot of words into my mouth that never appeared in my posts. Interaction with the world is a GIVEN. What made you suppose that the parish community lives as hermits? As Orthodox Christians we come into contact with the world at work, at school and at play. I have no idea what sociologists call "symbolic interaction" even is. Nor do I care. Of course Orthodox Christians should avoid being infected with sin at all costs. Those parts of American culture which are sinful or lead one into temptation should be avoided. Some things are not and some are even blessable.

Your hyperbole notwithstanding, I am a full blooded Slav. This is my birthright. I could not choose it. You can call me Cowboy the Slav. Or Cowboy the American. This is merely descriptive. I can't be Cowboy the Galilean now can I? So what. None of your examples have ANYTHING to do with Orthodox Christianity.

I have no idea how you came to the "Cultureless Utopia" idea but I think that it is antithetical to Orthodox Christianity. So I'm glad you came around to wanting to stick with the human race.

Cowboy the Slav

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« Reply #87 on: February 27, 2007, 04:28:17 PM »

Okay I'm takin' the gloves off  Grin

I am tired of the arguements over "Orthodox" being too ethnic. I live in the heart of high Episcopalian country here in southeastern PA and frankly I have felf uncomfortable attending Episcopal services. Where I live the Episcopal parish is many times an extension of the nearest country club and many of the parishes are attended by very wealthy people. In both cases I do not identify. Although, I do consider myself an Anglophile, I am not Anglo-Saxon. Many of the customs practiced Anglo-Saxon in origen or northern German, Welsh or Scottish. All quaint customs but nothing I identify with. My ancestors did not run around in kilts and tams (no offense Schultz).

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« Reply #88 on: February 27, 2007, 04:36:19 PM »

Aserb,

Just because Episcopalians do it too, doesn't make it right. Maybe they have an internet board somewhere where "low churchers" are criticizing "high churchers" for this exclusionary "kilts and tams" and country club exclusionary  behavior. I think you said you feel uncomfortable with their "ethnicity". This is how I think the majority of non-ethnics (unlike you and me) feel about Orthodox churches.

Cowboy the Slav
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« Reply #89 on: February 27, 2007, 04:42:05 PM »

My ancestors did not run around in kilts and tams (no offense Schultz).

None taken! Smiley

Chances are, mine didn't either, as the Highlanders in my ancestry were in this country by the early 17th century (1632 was the latest, I think) and the latecoming Scots were either of French Heugenot stock or were lowlanders Smiley

I just wear it because it's comfy!
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