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Author Topic: "Alone" in my faith  (Read 9128 times) Average Rating: 0
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Heorhij
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« on: June 13, 2007, 02:38:16 PM »

Dear members,

I wonder, did anyone experience (or is anyone experiencing) the feeling of being the only one person in the world who has religious faith, believes in God, in Christ?

The question definitely sounds weird. Yet, that's what I occasionally feel. I know that there are millions of believers in the world, and millions of Orthodox Christians, but... all of them are to me somewhat "theoretical-hypothetical." My parents were non-believers, and so were their parents (my grandparents), and even my great-grandparents, according to my grandparents' stories, never believed in any God and never attended any church. My wife was infant-baptized Orthodox, but she says about herself that she is agnostic. She never prays or fasts, she is indifferent or ironic about me praying (not fasting - that is a positive thing because it makes me lose weight and look better), and she goes to our church (the tiny Milan Synod Orthodox parish) with me on Sundays merely to do somethig nice to me - she would never go anywhere by herself. My 23-y.o. daughter is a convinced atheist. All of our close friends (not co-workers but really friends, people who visit us at home and whom we visit) are non-believers as well. So, we never talk about matters of faith in my home, or in their homes when we visit them, ever. It's a taboo subject.

I really feel so, so alone in my faith, occasionally. How would you suggest I handle it? Just patience, perseverance? Or should I do something to seek fellow Orthodox friends? We live in a university town and there actually is an Orthodox fellowship at our university, but my wife and I are in our late 40-s (I am 49, she 50), and those fellowship members are students, kids... Also there is, of course, our parish priest and his family, but it does not seem like my wife would be in the least interested in becoming a personal friend to these people, and I do not socialize without her. Your thoughts, advice would be greatly appreciated. Oh, and of course prayers. Smiley

George
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« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2007, 04:18:12 PM »

Brother George,

I think I've felt what you've felt on occasion.  My childhood, however, was quite different from yours.  I grew up in a family that were committed church-goers, but now I feel like the rest of them go when they remember to and just do so out of some strange feeling of "tradition" out of a strong desire to worship God.  My father has all but lost interest in anything but Sunday Mass.  It's very disappointing to me as my father's active role in the Church whilst I was growing up is the reason I know I outright enjoy doing "churchy" things; it was also one of the few things my father and I shared in common.  At any rate, most of my family barely goes to church; one brother is a self-proclaimed atheist and one of my sisters is a unproclaimed Unitarian. 

My wife's family are very ethnic Poles and Italians, with all the "Old World" trappings and superstitions, especially the Italians.  I often feel like I'm the only one who can see the absurdity in the idea that God will indiscriminately kill someone in an otherwise Christian family if I put a hat on the kitchen table.  In fact, I know I'm the only who who can see that absurdity.  Faith stops at the church door, it seems to me, and superstition takes over elsewhere.  I do sometimes also feel like my wife is coming to church just to humor me or at least not to disappoint me.  She is a believer, but oftentimes a lackadaisical one.

I write these not to butter myself up (and I'm sure you wrote your OP with the same humility) but rather to illustrate that you're not alone.  In today's growing secular climate, especially in the United States, it's not uncommon for someone who takes his faith seriously to feel that way.  I'm sure most of us here have felt that at one point or another. 

As to what to do?  Pray.  Pray for your continued conversion and for the conversion of those around you.  Pray that the conversion of someone close to you will help you in your own theosis.  Pray that you have the humility and strength to be a good Christian and an example for others.  Pray for that inner spirit of peace that St. Seraphim of Sarov said will convert the souls around you.
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« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2007, 04:54:05 PM »

Thank you so much for your kind reply, dear brother Schultz. I'll do exactly what you say. --G.

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« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2007, 05:07:21 PM »

Dear George,

My advice would be to try your best to widen your perspective of the situation so that it takes into account the greater matters, such as your role and purpose as an Orthodox Christian in the world, and in the situation God has destined you to be in.

Try and see that the greater the apparent hopelesness, the greater potential there is to bring glory to God. You are where you are, with who you are with, surrounded by those whom you are surrounded by, for a reason and a purpose. The solution is not to look for Orthodox Christians somewhere else, but to create Orthodox Christians where you are now! In so doing, you will surely be challenged, but that will only serve as a catalyst to your own growth in Orthodoxy.

I hope I have not missed the mark in attempting to address your concern.
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« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2007, 05:33:26 PM »

Dear EkhristosAnesti,

Thank you so much... No, you did not miss the mark, you addressed my concern precisely. And it's a great point - that, rather then wonder, where to find these "fellow Orthodox," I should simply live where I am and with whom I am, trying, with God's help, to do something in my life that would help my near and dear's conversion, as well as continue my own. Even if this seems to be a challenge at times, there definitely is a reason for this.

Also, I was thinking... In my daily prayers, I always remember my wife, daughter, and mother (my dad passed away in 1996), and ask God to have mercy on them and to keep and protect them, and to bring them to Him, giving, granting them faith. Maybe I should change this prayer. Maybe I should actually ask the Lord to grant *me*, His servant, the will and the skill and the strengh and whatever else is needed to help these three dear ladies to come to Him? Not being obnoxious, and yet doing, carefully, quietly, inconspicuously, something small every day for this purpose?

Anyway, thank you for your thought!

G.
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« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2007, 07:11:46 PM »

As for the social aspect, have you considered making friends with committed Christians of other churches? CS Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity about how

Quote
Hostility [to his talks] has come more from borderline people whether within the Church of England or without it: men not exactly obedient to any communion. This I find curiously consoling. It is at her centre, where her truest children dwell, that each communion is really closest to every other in spirit, if not in doctrine. And this suggests that at the centre of each there is a something, or a Someone, who against all divergencies of belief, all differences of temperament, all memories of mutual persecution, speaks with the same voice.

It is this commitment to Jesus Christ at the center that makes a committed Catholic have more in common with a committed Orthodox than with a cafeteria Catholic and makes a devout Orthodox have more in common with a traditional Anglican than with a lukewarm or nominal Orthodox.

If you have trouble finding many Orthodox around you, fellowship with other believing, loving, committed Christians can be a wonderful, soul-enriching thing. It also allows you to represent the Orthodox faith to other Christians who may not be familiar with your tradition.
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« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2007, 08:00:24 PM »

This seems to be a common problem. To my knowledge, no one in my extended family goes to church anymore, though all at one point did.  They just don't think it is "relevant" or important, though none of them are actually atheists(that I know of). They look upon my Orthodoxy/church attendance as quaint, and oftentimes they think of me as an eccentric college student, and sometimes they say that my Orthodoxy is just a phase that I will grow out of.  It makes me sad.

The area I live in is very non-religious, so many people in my parish are in the same situation- they are the only ones in their families who attend any church at all.  We are all really close, and that helps a lot.

Just keep praying for your wife and family, and be a faithful Orthodox, and they will see the Spirit working in you and God will then work in them.
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« Reply #7 on: June 14, 2007, 12:31:56 AM »

I think a good combo of EA and Lubeltri's comments makes it bearable for a lonesome like yourself.

In WV during the school year, I'm surrounded by Protestants.  The only Orthodox friend I have a Greek Orthodox who is attentive and very kind, but when talking about theology, I had to teach him about the seven councils he vowed to keep (he didn't know there were seven).

When talking about theology, I have a Catholic friend who I am very close to, where we spend hours just talking.  I even told him that I can't really go on a missionary trip with all these Protestants.  Otherwise, I'll be aggressively confrontational (for some reason, I dialogue better with Catholics and anti-religious people, both having no relation really).  He realized this when he went alone, where all of them kept bugging him about his beliefs of being a Catholic.  I even told him if I go next time, I better see you with me, so you can stop me once I start getting red and angry.  The only other Orthodox is my dean, and there's a church an hour away that I go to every month.

It's hard, but I think what's best is that you find that commonality.  For some reason, I actually get along better with agnostics and atheists than with Protestants because I find that intellectual unity with them.  Like them, I agree with evolution and I show that I don't take the Bible ultra-literally.  We are both united in scientific agreement of things and philosophical arguments.  My best friend when I was in undergrad was an anti-organized religion friend, who I love very dearly, and this was when the school was filled with some Coptic Orthodox (and frankly, because of personal experience, I've been appalled by my Coptic friends sometimes and wished I never seen them).

You have a special gift that unites yourself with people you'd never think you'd be in unity with.  Who knows?  Maybe you might make a Christian out of them, maybe even Orthodox.  Smiley

God bless you.
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« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2007, 06:22:53 AM »

Dear members,

I wonder, did anyone experience (or is anyone experiencing) the feeling of being the only one person in the world who has religious faith, believes in God, in Christ?

The question definitely sounds weird. Yet, that's what I occasionally feel. I know that there are millions of believers in the world, and millions of Orthodox Christians, but... all of them are to me somewhat "theoretical-hypothetical." My parents were non-believers, and so were their parents (my grandparents), and even my great-grandparents, according to my grandparents' stories, never believed in any God and never attended any church. My wife was infant-baptized Orthodox, but she says about herself that she is agnostic. She never prays or fasts, she is indifferent or ironic about me praying (not fasting - that is a positive thing because it makes me lose weight and look better), and she goes to our church (the tiny Milan Synod Orthodox parish) with me on Sundays merely to do somethig nice to me - she would never go anywhere by herself. My 23-y.o. daughter is a convinced atheist. All of our close friends (not co-workers but really friends, people who visit us at home and whom we visit) are non-believers as well. So, we never talk about matters of faith in my home, or in their homes when we visit them, ever. It's a taboo subject.

I really feel so, so alone in my faith, occasionally. How would you suggest I handle it? Just patience, perseverance? Or should I do something to seek fellow Orthodox friends? We live in a university town and there actually is an Orthodox fellowship at our university, but my wife and I are in our late 40-s (I am 49, she 50), and those fellowship members are students, kids... Also there is, of course, our parish priest and his family, but it does not seem like my wife would be in the least interested in becoming a personal friend to these people, and I do not socialize without her. Your thoughts, advice would be greatly appreciated. Oh, and of course prayers. Smiley

George


May God bless you for your Christian witness to your family. 

Lord have mercy !
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« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2007, 07:54:50 AM »

Heorhij:

Thank you for posting this subject, as I have enjoyed reading the posts.  You are not alone. I agree with many of the posters here so I will not necessarily post anything new. I will tell you that I identify with you. Both my parents (Father - Orthodox, Mother - Catholic - memory eternal) were nominal in their faith practice and for that reason I am an anomoly; having quite an interest in the faith and practice. Although my wife is a Christian, albeit non-Orthodox, she evinces a nominalness in her faith and rarely attends church. My daughter is still young (4) and enjoys liturgy, for now, and the Sunday School that follows.

I find that I am alone in that I love my Orthodox faith, but have few people to share with the same joy. I have come to hate the petty bickering that goes on about jurisdictions and converts vs. cradles or the individual small "t" traditions. We are all Orthodox.

Anyway dear brother I hope this blog site alleviates some of your lonliness. Also check the location of some of the posters,maybe some are near you. Also, many on OCNet have staged regional get-togethers.

I'll pray for you. I ask you prayers also

Ciao

Dan
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« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2007, 09:14:05 AM »

Dear friends, brothers,

Thank you all so much for your kind and wise thoughts. Yes, this site does, indeed, alleviate my feeling of loneliness, and I do get plenty of good advice!

As for having friends among other Christians, Heterodox... Somehow we never really became close with any of them. In 1991-1998, we lived in Seattle, and socialized a lot with our fellow Ukrainians, first-, second-, and third generation immigrants. We were rather friendly with one family that was "Uniate" (Greek Catholic). But this friendship only lasted when we were there - once we moved to Mississippi, we all but stopped communicating. Then, in 2003-2006, we (my wife and I) attended a very "progressive" modernist liberal Presbyterian church (PC(USA)) in our town, but we never befriended any family, any person from that congregation, big as it was (over 200 people). We just felt, I don't know... different. By the way, not because we are "conservative" socially - just different. We don't like conservative Evangelicals who dominate in our area, but we are also not part of the modern "liberal" "progressive" American culture, we just don't quite understand and like the way those people communicate, socialize. My wife never even stayed for coffee in that church. I stayed a few times but I never knew what to say, how to behave - it all seemed so fake, "plastic," pretentious and superfluous to me.

On the "one on one" basis, I had coffee a few times with one very good guy from that church, their campus minister, a "nerdy" person like myself, a fanatic reader and a deep thinker-theologian; and I, indeed, found him to be my soulmate. But we do not really communicate regularly, just trade e-mails once a month or so. He seems very interested in learning more about Orthodoxy, but he never showed any signs of interest in becoming Orthodox. We like each other though.

Anyway, thank you all, again, you are a great help! God bless you and keep.

George
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« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2007, 10:03:28 AM »

George:  I can truly sympathize because I have this feeling everyday.  My husband is not Orthodox, nor does he ever go to church.  He claims to be a Christian but that means only having a personal belief in God.  I have been Orthodox for 15 years and he is still thinks my Orthodox faith and practices are weird, strange, and totally foreign to him as someone who was raised a Baptist (American Baptist Church, I think, more liberal).  He has been dismissive and mocking at best, hostile and contemptuous at worst.  It makes raising Orthodox children difficult to say the least.  I have shed many tears over the hopelessness of this situation, and the total spiritual isolation I feel all the time.  It just wears me down, but I will not give up my faith or my children's souls because of it.  I think I'm a stronger believer for being in this situation - or maybe I just like being a martyr.  Whatever it is it keeps me going.

I commend you for being so patient and prayerful for your wife and daughter.  As artificial as it may seem, your wife's willingness to go to church with you, even to humor you, is at least something.  My spiritual loneliness is hardest on Sunday mornings surrounded by spouses attending church together.  But these are the same people I lean on and consider my second family, the ones I can feel and act as a whole Orthodox believer. 

Because so many Orthodox in America are converts or returning cradle Orthodox, I think this feeling of spiritual isolation from family and friends is a common but very sad reality.  The thrill of becoming Orthodox eventually is balanced out with the realization that you are always going to be this odd duck in most dealings with other people.  This may have the unfortunate effect of weeding out the more spritually vulnerable believers, who's weakness or problems means they needed the Church even more to help them. 

We've all picked a hard row to hoe haven't we!  I think that's why we can share so openly with our on-line Orthodox friends.  Who else is going to understand?

Blessings to you George and I pray God sends more spiritual friends into your life to give you peace and comfort.

Tina
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« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2007, 01:11:46 PM »

Dear Tina,

My heart goes out to you! It must be terribly difficult to be in your situation. I know how it feels when you go to church and your spouse does not want to go with you. I actually feel ashamed to have posted my whining here, while I realize that your situation is a lot tougher than mine. I have it easy - my wife does go with me on Sundays, almost always; and, being Ukrainian like myself, she does not find the Orthodox Divine Liturgy in any way strange or foreign. (On the contrary, services in our First Baptist Church, a.k.a. "Country Club of The Saved," make her laugh and say that it's like a Communist Party meeting in the former USSR, except that the rhetoric about building Communism is replaced by the rhetoric about Christ, Holy Spirit and salvation Smiley In an Orthodox church, she says that she at least sees a real "church," the way she knows the "church" ought to be.)

I'll pray that the Lord illumines your husband's heart and brings him to our Church, but that His will be done, no matter what that will appears to us to be... Thank you ever so much, God bless you!

George
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« Reply #13 on: June 14, 2007, 01:38:18 PM »

NEVER give up hope.
20 years ago when I married my wife I excommunicated myself marrying outside the Church. My spouse was religious, a "Christian" as they say, and a die-hard Protestant. So, for the next 15 years I proceeded to go to church on my own - unable to participate in the sacramental life at all. My early attempts at convincing my spouse seemed for naught as she was totally put off by my all Greek parish (yada yada yada). Later, we moved from Pittsburgh to another county in PA far distant from a Greek Orthodox parish. I began attending the nearest Orthodox parish - an English only ACROD one. It never crossed my mind to ask my wife to join me.
Later came snowy winters - too bad to drive 45 miles to church (so I said). And so I began to "attend" Divine Liturgy on Sundays on our kitchen computer. Religious discussions were revived in our home. Many discussions as I explained away to the best of my ability. Then one day my wife said , "I think I might really BE Orthodox already. Can I go to church with you next week?" I was astounded.
Three weeks, with tears streaming down her pretty face she "got it" -the Truth. Only the Holy Spirit working in her did that. She became Orthodox in record time with our priest commenting that she had been well prepared.
I was accepted back into the Church, our marriage blessed.
Glory to Jesus Christ!
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« Reply #14 on: June 14, 2007, 02:02:56 PM »

Dear Demetri (Aristocles),

Thank you so much for the encouragement!

Your story is amazing, it's actually a dream of mine (to see my dear wife wake up one day and say, "ya know, I BELIEVE...") She comes from the same Soviet-era urban intelligentsia background as I do, very secular and terribly sceptical about anything even remotedly sounding as "pious," "religious," about all this "God-talk." While she stays in the classical agnostic position of "I don't know whether God exists or does not, and it's impossible to find that out," she is very deeply convinced that Christianity as a whole is an anomaly, a mental disease of sorts, a mass hypnosis - OR a role-play, an adaptation to society like belonging to social clubs for the middle-aged or being athletes for the youth. Yet, she is at least not hostile to me being a believer. She thinks that it's just a part of me being a weirdo that I am, but she actually likes me being a weirdo that I am. Smiley Smiley Smiley

We'll see, we'll live, we'll pray...
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« Reply #15 on: June 14, 2007, 02:56:27 PM »

Aristocles:

Many years to you and your wife. Slava Isusu Christu!

TinaG

I am with you right now with the exception that my wife voluntarily attended Good Friday and Pascha services and tends to socialize well with my Orthodox friends, despite her, disdain shall we say, for Orthodoxy. Struggle on sister. Maybe we will have a happy ending like Aristocles.

Heorji:

I loved you wife's impression of Evangelical churches comparison to Communist Party meetings.  Grin. I've been to these meetings and at times was repulsed by the Godspeak and glad handing. Once when I went I was approached by a smiling lady who wanted to give me a name tag. I told her nicely that I could not accept it as I am in the witness protection program. You know Mafia. She re-coiled with a perplexed face.

 Grin
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« Reply #16 on: June 14, 2007, 04:26:57 PM »

Dear George,

I have another spouse story to give you hope. My husband was an Episcopalian when we married in the Orthodox Church. He was fine with having our future children baptized Orthodox but he made it very clear to me he would never abandon his childhood faith. He did however decide that it was important for our children that we all attend Divine Liturgy together so that the children would have the stability of attending one church as a family.
After ten years of faithfully attending church with us, my husband secretly informed our priest he wanted to attend catechism class and had decided he wanted to be chrismated. I attribute his change of heart to his faithful attendance over the years to the services. He had absorbed enough of Orthodoxy that when he returned to his church one Sunday to partake of Holy Communion he no longer felt like he belonged to the Episcopal church. I was shocked because his ancestors fought in the Revolutionary war and he has always been very proud of his Anglican heritage.
At the moment he is in Hong Kong on a business trip and he emailed me wanting to know where he could attend Divine Liturgy in Hong Kong for father's day. Miracles do happen...especially if your wife continues to attend services with you.
Don't forget to pray to the saints for their intercession on this matter. Even though you feel you are alone, in reality you are not. You have many friends in heaven just waiting for you to call them up so they can help you.

sincerely, Tamara
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« Reply #17 on: June 14, 2007, 05:08:05 PM »

Dear Aserb and Tamara,

Thank you so much for your kind support!

Aserb, I laughed when I read your story about name tags. We had that in the PC(USA) church, too... By the way, my wife always had this sarcastic comment, "hmmm, how come they call themselves 'church' if they don't even sign themselves with the sign of the cross?" Smiley Smiley Smiley

Tamara, that is so encouraging, about your husband, that his attendance helped him to absorb something and convert... And also, it's a great idea to pray to the saints for the intercession. My wife's patron saint is St. Alexandra (or so I think, because her baptismal name is Alexandra; her given name is non-Christian "nativist" Ukrainian but sounds a bit like "Alex"). I'll get an icon of St. Alexandra and will include a prayer to her into my prayer routine.

Thank you all so much again, I feel like I am getting a lot of help!

G.
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« Reply #18 on: June 14, 2007, 11:38:31 PM »

Dear Tamara and Aristokles,
How amazing all these stories are! Wonderful!

Dear TinaG, Heorhij and Aserb,
After all participants of this thread posted brilliant thoughts, I do not think I am capable to produce some decent addendum. But I have witnessed some stories, similar to these of Tamara and Aristokles. My prayers are with you. Heorhij, my background is very similar to yours. In my case, I was born in Ukraine to a dedicated Orthodox mother and an extremely hard-core atheist father. I also grew up in urban intelligentsia under atheist yoke. So secularism was all around.

Some changes, when a spouse became interested in Orthodoxy started from some remarkable service in a parish (Easter, Orthodox conference) or after communications with some especially prominent priest or theologian. May be there is some misisonary literature for this purpose? This forum, in particular, can be a great support group.

Personally, I also often became shocked by USSR-style of meetings at some Protestant denominations. And this question “have you been saved”.

At the moment he is in Hong Kong on a business trip and he emailed me wanting to know where he could attend Divine Liturgy in Hong Kong for father's day. Miracles do happen...especially if your wife continues to attend services with you.

Hope this helps:
St. Luke Orthodox Cathedral in Hong Kong
http://www.cs.ust.hk/faculty/dimitris/metro/HK.html
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« Reply #19 on: June 15, 2007, 09:08:22 AM »

The goal to conversion of a spouse is to get them to Church---the Holy Spirit will do the rest!

Thomas
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« Reply #20 on: June 15, 2007, 09:12:05 AM »

Thank you so much, Starlight.

In my family, actually, only one person was what you can call "hardcore atheist" - my maternal grandmother. She was an extremely erudite woman, spoke and read very fluent French, and had Voltaire as her idol. If she saw a priest or a monk walking down a street, she would literally spit and curse. In her conversations, she always mentioned, how ultimately stupid must people be to believe ancient fairy tales about gods in our age of science and technology. She was a great fan of opera, and, when I was little, she often walked with me to the Kyiv opera house at the corner of Volodymyrs'ka St. and former Lenina St. (now Chmielnicki St.). On our way, we walked near the St. Volodymyr cathedral, and, if the cathedral bells were chiming, my grandma would always say something like, "amazing, there is this beautiful opera house with its wonderful music, and right next door to it there is this savagery, these Dark Ages, this degrading of the human spirit by idiotic myths!"

Paradoxically, of all my family, my maternal grandma was the least conformist to the Communist system. Her own father was deported from his native Odesa to Western Siberia in the late 1920-s, and she absolutely hated Stalin and everything related to the Soviet governing circles. And she was wonderful to me, most loving, caring, totally self-sacrificial, supportive in everything. She was also amazingly good with all people, with her neighbors especially, absolutely honest, willing to share the last "kopiyka." But she really had this incedible hatred to religion.

My other relatives were simply indifferent to anything religious, and sceptical, ironic. My mom is now 77, and to this day, whenever I mention anything about God in my phone conversations with her, she immediately says, "Please, please, I don't want to hear anything about this "religion" thing of yours; I know that the Kingdom of God is within us, and that is ALL I need to know." (By the Kingdom of God being within us, she, of course, means that you simply need to be a good person, and if you are, it does not matter whether you believe in Christ, Buddha, Allah, or in the great spirit of man in this era of science and technology. Smiley )

My wife's mother says about herself that she is a Christian, and if she sees an icon, she would sign herself with the sign of the cross. But she would never go to any church, because she hates politics and she is convinced that in Ukraine, everything is about politics nowadays, including churches.

Thanks again for all your support! I actually did pray to St. Alexandra yesterday night and this morning... Smiley

George/Heorhij
« Last Edit: June 15, 2007, 09:14:50 AM by Heorhij » Logged

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« Reply #21 on: June 15, 2007, 11:42:55 AM »

You are not alone, after all, as this thread illustrates  .  .  . 

Yet, it can be a lonely road when only one person in a marriage takes their religion seriuously.  You are to commended, again, for your witness. 

Also, a thought:  Could you start a group for people interested in Orthodoxy (or, perhaps by the backdoor, a group of people interested in Eastern Europe...) ?

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« Reply #22 on: June 15, 2007, 02:42:33 PM »

Thank you for your kind words, Jonas.

I am not sure I could start a really efficient internet group on these problems, although maybe I could... There are Yahoo groups of Ukrainian Orthodox, but they discuss almost exclusively various jurisdictions, their canonicity etc. There is also one Yahoo group for Ukrainian youth, but it's absolutely secular and "touristy," talks mostly about Americans visiting Ukraine or Ukrainians (almost always young females) visiting the USA (sort of mail-order brides  Embarrassed ). Actually, I am already getting quite a lot of support right here, and you guys have helped me to design a certain plan.  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #23 on: June 16, 2007, 08:45:49 AM »

I feel like the whiner here.  We are trying to help George in his situation and y'all are praying for me.  Thank you for being so kind and I do appreciate the prayers.  I think we all feel isolated in whatever particular difficulty we find ourselves in.  That's the great "I" of being human and its flaw.  I've gotten so frustrated about these difficulties that I've been pissed off at God many times and felt he isn't doing enough to help me.  Pretty arrogant.  George I think it would be harder in your situation with a non-believing spouse, but you do at least have a common cultural background.  If there is one thing I've realized, it's that marriage is tricky business.   There are so many minefields laid down in it that just getting through is pretty difficult.  Having a common faith has got to give you some protection.  Oh well, sorry for all the philosophizing so early in the morning. 

Gotta finish packing and get the kids going.  We're off for 4 days of fishing at the coast  (Baffin Bay to be more exact - home of the biggest trophy trout and redfish on the Gulf Coast - and there's one with my name on it.)  At least that's one thing my husband and I have in common - fishing.
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« Reply #24 on: June 20, 2007, 12:41:31 AM »

Dear George,

Sorry for the delayed response.

Also, I was thinking... In my daily prayers, I always remember my wife, daughter, and mother (my dad passed away in 1996), and ask God to have mercy on them and to keep and protect them, and to bring them to Him, giving, granting them faith. Maybe I should change this prayer. Maybe I should actually ask the Lord to grant *me*, His servant, the will and the skill and the strengh and whatever else is needed to help these three dear ladies to come to Him? Not being obnoxious, and yet doing, carefully, quietly, inconspicuously, something small every day for this purpose?

I think changing the wording of your prayer in the manner you've suggested is a good idea. It will serve to remind you of the fact that you are called by God to be His co-worker. There is nothing at all obnoxious about recognising your role in God's salvific plan for the world. It is out of God's goodness and love that He endowed man with such nobility. It is nothing but our duty, our response to His calling, our exercise of the inherent qualities of our theological ontological identity as creatures made in His image and likeness, to embrace the entire world, all persons and creatures therein, for their salvation and to the Glory of God.
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« Reply #25 on: June 20, 2007, 08:43:29 AM »

Thank you so much, EkhristosAnesti! And again, many thanks to all of you. --G.
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« Reply #26 on: December 27, 2007, 12:15:33 PM »

An update, of sorts, and not a very happy one...

My daughter and her fiance stayed with us for Christmas, and, during the Christmas dinner on the 25th she tried to engage me in a "debate..." There were five of us - she, her fiance, my wife, one guest (a graduate student, young woman from Germany), and me. I lost. Or, rather, I just bailed out, saying that it's not a good time to debate and I am not in a right shape, after several shots of vodka and generous servings of roasted goose. All four of them, essesntially, said, aha, see, you are weak, like all theists; you can't prove your point (that "God is"), so you are just saying that you don't want to debate...

The only good news, possibly, is that yesterday, when my daughter and her fiance were on the road, driving from our home back, he told her that she might have been too hard on me and that she should call me and make sure everything was alright. She did call, and she, indeed, sounded worried that she had probably caused me an emotional distress by her harsh words about all these theistic "idiotic delusions." I said, no, nothing happened, we are cool, I love you. Smiley

I know, it's all just whining and venting, but I am so tired of this strong, wonderfully logical, rationally quite convincing atheism/agnosticism/anti-theism (or simply unbelief) from all around me, all around me...
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« Reply #27 on: December 27, 2007, 12:30:18 PM »

An update, of sorts, and not a very happy one...

My daughter and her fiance stayed with us for Christmas, and, during the Christmas dinner on the 25th she tried to engage me in a "debate..." There were five of us - she, her fiance, my wife, one guest (a graduate student, young woman from Germany), and me. I lost. Or, rather, I just bailed out, saying that it's not a good time to debate and I am not in a right shape, after several shots of vodka and generous servings of roasted goose. All four of them, essesntially, said, aha, see, you are weak, like all theists; you can't prove your point (that "God is"), so you are just saying that you don't want to debate...

The only good news, possibly, is that yesterday, when my daughter and her fiance were on the road, driving from our home back, he told her that she might have been too hard on me and that she should call me and make sure everything was alright. She did call, and she, indeed, sounded worried that she had probably caused me an emotional distress by her harsh words about all these theistic "idiotic delusions." I said, no, nothing happened, we are cool, I love you. Smiley

I know, it's all just whining and venting, but I am so tired of this strong, wonderfully logical, rationally quite convincing atheism/agnosticism/anti-theism (or simply unbelief) from all around me, all around me...

What does not kill you makes you stronger-Nietsche.

Not a Church Father.

But true none the less.

And its not whining.  Its seeking consolation in the fight.  That's why we have a Church and a communion of Saints.
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« Reply #28 on: December 27, 2007, 01:11:41 PM »

What does not kill you makes you stronger-Nietsche.

Not a Church Father.

But true none the less.

And its not whining.  Its seeking consolation in the fight.  That's why we have a Church and a communion of Saints.

Thank you, brother, that was really strong and kind of you.
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« Reply #29 on: December 27, 2007, 01:59:23 PM »

NEVER give up hope.
20 years ago when I married my wife I excommunicated myself marrying outside the Church. My spouse was religious, a "Christian" as they say, and a die-hard Protestant. So, for the next 15 years I proceeded to go to church on my own - unable to participate in the sacramental life at all. My early attempts at convincing my spouse seemed for naught as she was totally put off by my all Greek parish (yada yada yada). Later, we moved from Pittsburgh to another county in PA far distant from a Greek Orthodox parish. I began attending the nearest Orthodox parish - an English only ACROD one. It never crossed my mind to ask my wife to join me.
Later came snowy winters - too bad to drive 45 miles to church (so I said). And so I began to "attend" Divine Liturgy on Sundays on our kitchen computer. Religious discussions were revived in our home. Many discussions as I explained away to the best of my ability. Then one day my wife said , "I think I might really BE Orthodox already. Can I go to church with you next week?" I was astounded.
Three weeks, with tears streaming down her pretty face she "got it" -the Truth. Only the Holy Spirit working in her did that. She became Orthodox in record time with our priest commenting that she had been well prepared.
I was accepted back into the Church, our marriage blessed.
Glory to Jesus Christ!

May God continue to bless you and your soul mate as you are one flesh...Amen
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« Reply #30 on: December 27, 2007, 02:00:10 PM »

H-Man

Debating of any kind can wear you down. Slavic peoples are passionate, opinionated and strong willed. Maybe a bit sweeping of a generalization. But I grew up around enough Serbs, Ukrainians, Croats, Poes, etc. to fill a life time of debate.

Hope this helps.  Hang in there. Go to a movie!
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« Reply #31 on: December 27, 2007, 02:44:30 PM »

It's unfortunate that Heorhij and others have such difficulty living with the faith of Christ.

I pray for us all.

I to have similar concerns; although not like what I have read hear.

The strange thing for me is.....

I am around orthodoxy all the time.

My house is like a church itself with Icons, Crosses and incense as well as the sounds of various liturgies emanating in the background from the stereo. I put on all kinds of liturgies EO or OO. I am NOT an OO prude at all. I love the Russian traditions of all the EO traditions I have experienced thus far which for me are so thorough, organic and deeply spiritual.

My family and my wifes family, my close buddy etc. I even work with a Bulgarian and a Ukranian Orthodox. Even non-religious people (the few I know) engage with us in a sort of 'must be around them' sort-a-way. Me and my wife are to many people urbane and "city-slick". WE are really very nerdy, religious people with a love for various cultures and traditions which makes us very likeable....popular. WE are not urbane. Just seems that way.

I work in midtown Manhattan and have the choice of praying my daily devotions in an Armenian, Russian or Greek Orthodox Cathedral.

This is my blessing.

BUT.....Lately things have been changing and thats how I fit into this thread.

I must go now. But I will pick up from here shortly with Gods will upon me.

Heorhij; I am with you my brother.



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« Reply #32 on: December 27, 2007, 02:53:18 PM »

H-Man:

I thought of something else. Thank God that your daughter debates. To me that is sign that she is thinking. That something has hit her. Debating may be tiresome but it is better in my opinion. I am surrounded by apathy and people that are ignorant and wish to stay that way. I have a friend who does not listen to the news, he or his wife. Why?  They want to stay positive and not dwell on the negative. Many people around me are the same way with their faith.
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« Reply #33 on: December 27, 2007, 03:00:48 PM »

H-Man

Debating of any kind can wear you down. Slavic peoples are passionate, opinionated and strong willed. Maybe a bit sweeping of a generalization. But I grew up around enough Serbs, Ukrainians, Croats, Poes, etc. to fill a life time of debate.

Hope this helps.  Hang in there. Go to a movie!

Aserb, - you are so right, bro! SmileySmileySmiley Thank you. It's funny, my wife and I are having a really great time right now, relaxing, watching old movies, reading... She (my wife) is not nearly as "passionate" in the matters of faith as our daughter, and she is trying so hard to be a buffer in this issue. Basically, her position is, as long as I don't lament that our daughter and her fiance do not plan to get married in the Orthodox Church (or in any religious organization, for that matter), my daughter will, at some point, feel that I am not her enemy and will mellow down. And I did not, in all honesty, "insist" - I just mentioned wedding in the Orthodox Churh when they arrived... and I do not really regret that I did. Maybe this desire to debate is a sign that something is going on in my daughter's soul, I don't know. Maybe not. In any case, thank you all for your prayers, that's really appreciated.
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« Reply #34 on: December 27, 2007, 03:03:04 PM »

You know what works to stop a debate. Agree with the other person. Not sarcastically. Just say "you know, you may be right about that."  Works everytime.
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« Reply #35 on: December 27, 2007, 03:35:15 PM »

All four of them, essesntially, said, aha, see, you are weak, like all theists; you can't prove your point (that "God is"), so you are just saying that you don't want to debate...

The only good news, possibly, is that yesterday, when my daughter and her fiance were on the road, driving from our home back, he told her that she might have been too hard on me and that she should call me and make sure everything was alright. She did call, and she, indeed, sounded worried that she had probably caused me an emotional distress by her harsh words about all these theistic "idiotic delusions." I said, no, nothing happened, we are cool, I love you.

I do not post here often, so maybe it is not my place to say.  It seems to me, though, that the god whose existence non-theists want to debate is not God as Orthodox know him.  The proof of God's existence cannot be debated, but it can be demonstrated.  God is, and in that instance He was in your forgiveness and love for your daughter, despite her ridicule of your "idiotic delusions."
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« Reply #36 on: December 27, 2007, 04:18:17 PM »

I do not post here often, so maybe it is not my place to say.  It seems to me, though, that the god whose existence non-theists want to debate is not God as Orthodox know him.  The proof of God's existence cannot be debated, but it can be demonstrated.  God is, and in that instance He was in your forgiveness and love for your daughter, despite her ridicule of your "idiotic delusions."

Thank you so much for this, Tuesdayschild. I want to believe this.
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« Reply #37 on: December 27, 2007, 05:41:04 PM »

The tangent about news as information or entertainment has been split into its own thread and moved to Free-for-all/Non-religious topics:

News as information v. news as entertainment
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,14076.0.html

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« Reply #38 on: December 27, 2007, 05:57:56 PM »

George,

I can add little in the way of advice, other than to be among the many to let you know you're not alone.  I too am married to a non-believer, but am fortunate in that she has never done or said anything to disparage my faith.  In fact, if I miss church she will often chide me for doing so!

Even so, I too often feel alone in my faith.  I am the only person in my family who is religious at all.  My in-laws are Protestant, so they at least like to discuss matters of faith and do so from the viewpoint of believing in Christ.  But aside from that, I often feel that I have no one in my personal life with whom I can share my experience of being Orthodox. 

This has been especially true since my wife and I moved to our current home about 4 years ago, and I left behind the few Orthodox friends I had in my old parish.  My new parish is full of kind people, but I have not really made a connection with any of them.

Anyway, this is not about me, so I'll just say to do whatever you can to stay strong and I hope you can take solace in the fact that so many here are supportive of you, even though we are separated by great distances.

Chris
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« Reply #39 on: December 27, 2007, 11:36:54 PM »

May God assist all those in such situation.

Actually, I agree that a debate is a signal of interest, and often serves as a good sign. Also, it seems good that you were able to interupt the situation and to change the focus to other things.
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« Reply #40 on: December 28, 2007, 11:03:39 AM »

Thank you, Chris, and Starlight.
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« Reply #41 on: December 28, 2007, 12:22:32 PM »

George,

You were absolutely  right not to debate.  When alcohol  is involved on any of the part of the debaters there are usually no actual intellectual discussions  being done but just emotions arguements.  I commend you for knowing when to shut it down.  You may want to use a phrase like, lets discuss this when we all haven't had any drinks and can discuss this with our full attention. This has always worked for me well.

Thomas
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« Reply #42 on: December 28, 2007, 03:20:48 PM »

It's unfortunate that Heorhij and others have such difficulty living with the faith of Christ.

I pray for us all.

I to have similar concerns; although not like what I have read hear.

The strange thing for me is.....

I am around orthodoxy all the time.

My house is like a church itself with Icons, Crosses and incense as well as the sounds of various liturgies emanating in the background from the stereo. I put on all kinds of liturgies EO or OO. I am NOT an OO prude at all. I love the Russian traditions of all the EO traditions I have experienced thus far which for me are so thorough, organic and deeply spiritual.

My family and my wifes family, my close buddy etc. I even work with a Bulgarian and a Ukranian Orthodox. Even non-religious people (the few I know) engage with us in a sort of 'must be around them' sort-a-way. Me and my wife are to many people urbane and "city-slick". WE are really very nerdy, religious people with a love for various cultures and traditions which makes us very likeable....popular. WE are not urbane. Just seems that way.

I work in midtown Manhattan and have the choice of praying my daily devotions in an Armenian, Russian or Greek Orthodox Cathedral.

This is my blessing.

BUT.....Lately things have been changing and thats how I fit into this thread.

I must go now. But I will pick up from here shortly with Gods will upon me.

Heorhij; I am with you my brother.





Heorhij

I did not get to finish this post.

As I was saying ... things have began to change for me.

Me and my wifes families have digressed to the point to where they have very little to do with the orthodox faith anymore. There is every excuse in the world for not fasting or attending liturgy or any of the orthodox services. They no longer come to my home for religious gatherings (we call this 'Maheber').

One brother in-law corrupted himself by marrying outside the church. This act alone brought with it a land slide of extenuating circumstances which have created a lot of bad feelings.

Many if not most Ethiopians are cradle baptised. This is so prevelant that many of us are surprised that a grown person can be baptised. Some Ethiopians learn this after coming to America and attending services at the Archdiocese Cathedral in NY and seeing adult people get baptised. I have had Ethiopians tell me that "the Ethiopian Church only baptises babies".

Uhh!!!

Also many Ethiopians feel that we are already 'blessed' and so it does not matter that we may not hold to all the church doctrine. A sort of like being born holy and blessed just because your Ethiopian.

The cause of this is very complex. Part of which is the fact that Ethiopia is very prominantly mentioned in bible from Genesis to Revelations as well as the quran and many of the the important historical ancient books of the Greeks; where in most cases "Ethiopians" are regarded in high esteem...even as Godly of Godly. This lends to the idea that we are aong the "elect" by virtue of our 'birth' alone. Not all of us think this way; but a good amount does.

Of course Ethiopians like Isrealites, Hebrews, Jews and all other people on earth who does not call on Jesus Christ and is NOT baptised and keeps NOT His commandments and partakes NOT of His Holy Body and Precious Blood will NOT see God and will NOT inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.

 TRUE!!......But we are hard headed and upity....so the truth never really sets with alot of us. When I say "us" I mean all mankind. The is especialy true when you have a big impotant life. It is hard to be mindful of Godliness.

I serve in the American mission for a lot of good reasons firstlly that God has put me here. I do not feel like some other Ethiopains about "being Ethiopian". I live in the west thus I am a black man; case closed. I have had some white Americans try to treat me as if I was higher than what they called "regular blacks". But to me that is all nonsense to serve some deep rooted 'racist ideology'.

Any way....

I am happy working with converts and mission related activities.

Most our converts are African-American. They are always shocked beyond belief when they learn about how ancient Christs Church is in Africa. They are also pleased to know that baptist and all the other protestant religions are not all they have.

They like the spiritual and holiness of orthodoxy in lieu of the jump and shout religions they know. They also get the bonus of returning back home to Africa. Its a win win. It is very rewarding to be a part of the missionary outreach of our church.

I am ashamed when I visit Ethiopian churches that have no mission outreach ....nothing....just Ethiopians only interested in other Ethiopians. NO English services....nothing. In America or anywhere outside Ethiopia this behavior is sinful to me and goes against the grain of what is truely apostolic.

How can we call ourselves "orthodox" if we are not preaching and teaching the Holy Gosple to ALL the world?

Is not that how we all got our national churches in the first place?

To make a long story short I said to my wife recently..." maybe we are too orthodox"....."maybe we need to roll back a little and be more in line with the world we know". She then asked me.."what will rolling back actually be"?

Of course we can not roll back.

So we are now living on the fringes of what was a very happy thoroughly orthodox world. If we move any further we will be out of our orthodox world. We are at the fringes trying to keep up with what is all around us who were slowly leaving and changing. This is my final move.

I am turning back toward the path I was on. Looking at whats a head appears very lonely. But I told my wife that we are who we are because God has kept us. We have no choice.

We love so much our family and friends who have chosen to move away from the church (and us) but my life is a church life. I have no interests that compel me to seek experiences outisde the church way of life.

So; I am with you Heorhij.

You have helped me to understand what is begining to happen to me.

May God continue to work through you and bless you.

Give God Glory..Halleuyah!!!...Amen
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"ETHIOPIA shall soon stretch out her hands unto God".....Psalm 68:vs 31

"Are ye not as children of the ETHIOPIANS unto me, O children of Israel"?....Amos 9: vs 7
Heorhij
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« Reply #43 on: December 28, 2007, 03:33:58 PM »

Dear Thomas and deacon Amde,

Many thanks to you both!

Thomas, you are so right - there is no serious intellectual discourse when alcohol is involved. As I get older, I begin to know myself a bit better, and I realize that even if I do not feel "drunk" at the moment, I do lose some of the ability to listen to what my opponents have to say when I drink three of four shots of hard liquor.

On the other hand... honestly... I am not especially looking forward to a discussion with my daughter on the subject of whether God exists, even when we do not have any alcoholic drinks. What Tuesdayschild said, makes perfect sense to me right now. I don't know, maybe because I am not a debater by nature, or maybe because my English is tremendously inferior to the English of my Tulane and Cornell and Harvard-educated "child" Smiley, as her Ukrainian is somewhat inferior to mine... or for whatever other reason I do not think I will ever "win" an intellectual debate about God. It just does not seem to happen ever, so I will perhaps be better off if I just live my life in His presense, remain faithful to Him and demonstrate His love to all of us by loving my family.

Many, many thanks to all of you for support!

George (or Heorhij or H-man, I like that a lot Smiley
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Love never fails.
FrChris
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Holy Father Patrick, thank you for your help!


« Reply #44 on: December 28, 2007, 07:22:36 PM »

...so I will perhaps be better off if I just live my life in His presense, remain faithful to Him and demonstrate His love to all of us by loving my family.


That's all that you can do, Heorhij...empty yourself through love, and by so doing carry your Cross.

I haven't said this in...oh, a month or so...and again I'll repeat it:

We will never argue a person into our Churches.
We can only love them into our Churches.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2007, 07:23:03 PM by FrChris » Logged

"As the sparrow flees from a hawk, so the man seeking humility flees from an argument". St John Climacus
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