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Author Topic: Poor White Trash and the Church  (Read 8521 times) Average Rating: 0
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ozgeorge
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« on: September 02, 2007, 07:35:34 PM »

We are all familiar with these gutter people, "the poor white trash", how do we evangelise them? Is it even possible to evangelise these gutter people? Should we even bother?
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« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2007, 08:02:54 PM »

Is this rhetorical?
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« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2007, 08:07:07 PM »

May be. Wink
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« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2007, 08:21:45 PM »

Well then I believe the Orthodox church would seem very unappealing to the so called "white trash" but I have seen "white trash" enter pentacostal churches around my area because they see hope and all they have to do is "feel" the holy spirit and say a couple of things hear fun music in church and there done. I haven't heard of any "white trash" coming to the Orthodox church has anyone seen this happen? (this is not rhetorical  Wink)
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« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2007, 08:24:00 PM »

My church has penitent gang bangers.  Does that count?
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« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2007, 08:28:13 PM »

penitent gang bangers
Errrr... does "gang bang" mean the same in the US as it does in Australia?
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« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2007, 08:29:41 PM »

I don't know.  I've never been to Australia, although I hear it is beautiful.  It basically means gang member.
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« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2007, 08:33:42 PM »

Errrr... does "gang bang" mean the same in the US as it does in Australia?

HA!
Basically it can be used to describe two different things, depending in what context it is being used. Gang bang in as belonging to a gang and being active, and the gang bang you are thinking of.
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« Reply #8 on: September 02, 2007, 08:34:11 PM »

It basically means gang member.
Oh....then it doesn't mean the same thing!.....PHEW!!!!
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« Reply #9 on: September 02, 2007, 08:36:18 PM »

My goodness, I think I get your meaning.  That sort of thing would require much more penance than what I was talking about.    Shocked
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« Reply #10 on: September 02, 2007, 08:38:26 PM »

I haven't heard of any "white trash" coming to the Orthodox church has anyone seen this happen? (this is not rhetorical  Wink)

Well, you probably could include me in that group: My parents started out in a trailer, I wore flour sacks and burlap bags as a child, and I never had a pair of shoes until I was 3 years old. Due to other factors I've heard 'white trash' being used at me, so I guess there's a pretty strong case that there might be some people who'd consider me in that group.

What's interesting is the converts we're getting in Birmingham: many are from a Southern Protestant background, and all very good people, but may be from a background that some folks might label as 'white trash', so at least in my parish this is happening.

It's good to know that poverty and undereducation has been wiped out in Australia! Maybe I should petition my hierarch to allow me to emigrate there!  Wink
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« Reply #11 on: September 02, 2007, 08:42:03 PM »

Well, you probably could include me in that group

Goodness! And I thought you were such a nice person. I've even been talking to you! Wink
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« Reply #12 on: September 02, 2007, 08:46:21 PM »

^^Maybe I could emigrate and then we'd talk in person!

Alas, but my Greek isn't good enough for Australia...
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« Reply #13 on: September 02, 2007, 08:55:17 PM »

^^Maybe I could emigrate and then we'd talk in person!
NIMBY! (Not In My Back Yard)! Wink
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« Reply #14 on: September 02, 2007, 10:05:28 PM »

The real question in my area would be how welcome would some one be with  tattoos on their neck and hands, wearing blue jeans and a t shirt?  I have seen several Orthodox pamphlets that are very clear that one should dress for church no jeans, no shorts, no t-shirts.  This would be the "poor white trash" as defined in Austin, Texas. How welcome would we be to them or to a street person who entered our worship services?

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« Reply #15 on: September 02, 2007, 10:11:34 PM »

I have seen several Orthodox pamphlets that are very clear that one should dress for church no jeans, no shorts, no t-shirts.  This would be the "poor white trash in Austin, Texas. How welcome would we be to them or to a street person who entered our worship services?
Well, surely we wouldn't allow gutter people like African Americans who speak AAVE into our Churches without asking them to behave certain ways, so why should we allow gutter people like poor white trash in without asking them to behave certain ways? Surely we are not racist? Wink
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« Reply #16 on: September 02, 2007, 11:04:16 PM »

Dear Thomas,   

I attend a parish in Austin who has quite a few members that have many visible tattoos some of who dress more "casually" than most others.  (One of them is a woman who I have come to know that led a completely different lifestyle earlier).  I am happy that they care enough to attend Divine Liturgy and I suppose that their current budget keeps them from the ability to wear "nicer" clothes.  They are attending the Church to worship.

Juliana
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« Reply #17 on: September 02, 2007, 11:22:46 PM »

Dear Thomas,   

I attend a parish in Austin who has quite a few members that have many visible tattoos some of who dress more "casually" than most others.  (One of them is a woman who I have come to know that led a completely different lifestyle earlier).  I am happy that they care enough to attend Divine Liturgy and I suppose that their current budget keeps them from the ability to wear "nicer" clothes.  They are attending the Church to worship.

Juliana

Like everything in Orthodoxy (don't take that out of context) its all about the situation you are in and the different circumstances to wear whatever is your "best" clothes whatever that may be.
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« Reply #18 on: September 02, 2007, 11:57:14 PM »

I posed the scenario from the perception that people I know who have visited the churches in Austin area ( where I go and indeed serve in one of the parishes there) have noted.  I understand that  we are welcoming but pamphlets and such noting these "standards" send a message that is some what disconcerting at least. The message they send to the average members is "do these people  belong here?"  I think they do, but are we as Orthodox willing to bid them welcome or do they have to force their way in?

Forgive me if I have offended.

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« Reply #19 on: September 03, 2007, 01:44:57 AM »

Quote
My goodness, I think I get your meaning.  That sort of thing would require much more penance than what I was talking about. 
   

I'd say it requires a different kind of penance with the same result: freedom.  I'm not saying sexual sins cannot be soul killers, but violence, drugs and crime certainly something to take for granted.  Why are we so obsessed over sexual sins, and seem to ignore the fact that it all is a black mark on the soul?

Oh, and as the the question in the thread...Barbecues.  After liturgy of course.  Provided it isn't a fasting season.  When it's not raining.

Carry a ham!
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« Reply #20 on: September 03, 2007, 01:46:18 AM »

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The real question in my area would be how welcome would some one be with  tattoos on their neck and hands, wearing blue jeans and a t shirt?

With love and understanding. Smiley
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« Reply #21 on: September 03, 2007, 01:49:26 AM »

I've often wondered about this.

We've got a family from a poorer region of the DFW metroplex in our parish--he's a blue-collar biker w/long hair who comes in jeans, sandals and a t-shirt quite a bit of the time.

I personally long for the day when those of lower socio-economic groups can feel at home in Orthodox churches.  I know some folks in my parish would be horrified were this to start happening on a grand scale (the abovementioned family is very persistent and willing to stick it out regardless of what certain prominent members think, much to the annoyance of said prominent members).

Put it this way: until Orthodoxy can be made palatable to certain groups of people...

...the average, blue-collar bubba...
...the immigrant Mexican mechanic...
...the African-American factory worker playing dominoes on his day off...

...and still be Orthodoxy, it's not come into its full missionary potential in this country.  God hasten the day it can do this.
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« Reply #22 on: September 03, 2007, 10:11:58 PM »

Put it this way: until Orthodoxy can be made palatable to certain groups of people...

...the average, blue-collar bubba...
...the immigrant Mexican mechanic...
...the African-American factory worker playing dominoes on his day off...

...and still be Orthodoxy, it's not come into its full missionary potential in this country.  God hasten the day it can do this.
I wonder if the problem is really that Orthodoxy is not "palatable".
Walking through the streets of Athens two years ago, I remember coming across a few people begging in the street or street vendors peddling booklets or little gadgets like those things that hang off your cell phone and which light up when it rings. On Sunday, I attended Liturgy at the Annunciation Cathedral, and recognised two of the beggars and peddlers I had seen in the streets during the week.
I think this is how the Church is meant to be. It is a place where different people with different life stories come together in the Unity of something Higher than socio-economics, social status, politics etc. In Church, the Socialist meets the Capitalist, the Prostitute meets the Nun, the rich meet the poor.....
I wonder if the alienation from Orthodoxy which the poor in America experience is not so much the problem with Orthodoxy being unpalatable to them, but  rather, that they already feel alienated from the American Community and society. In Greece, connecting with the Community of Believers in Church brings with it some connection to Greek Society and social Community. In America, connecting with the Community of the Orthodox Church is no guarantee of connection to American Society and Social Community (unless, perhaps, you attain a status recognised outside of the Church, such as a member of the clergy or an author), otherwise, for "ordinary laity" the social alienation continues outside the Church Community.
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« Reply #23 on: September 04, 2007, 12:10:16 AM »

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...the immigrant Mexican mechanic...

Actually, with the Mexicans I have encountered visiting the church, I see a great deal of familiarity in their eyes... for some almost too familiar.  Having grown up most likely in Roman Catholic homes, Orthodoxy may just seem the same to them, just perhaps a little fancier and with some incomprehensable giberish (Greek, Arabic, Slavonic) thrown in.  And they have said as much.  I've heard some say "It's all the same to me.  Just no statues."  Now there are a few who stick around long enough to fins out otherwise, but, at least in my parish, to date, there is no significant number of Mexicans.

As for evangelism itself, I think Clark Carlton said it best on his second to last podcast "God does all the heavy lifting.  We are to transform ourselves and work on our salvation first, and others will follow." 

Peace
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« Reply #24 on: September 04, 2007, 06:56:38 AM »

Feed the poor that they may pray for our souls and so we may both be brought to heaven.
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« Reply #25 on: September 04, 2007, 01:59:57 PM »

I am absolutely positive that the Orthodox Church can, and should, include all categories of people - all races, all cultural backgrounds and all economical backgrounds, including the so-called white trash. Practically, however, I can see serious difficulties for these people in an Orthodox church. In the area where I live - east-central Mississippi, part of the US "Bible Belt" - these people seem to be very used to the Evangelical Protestant kind of worship: simple, with no "externals," no liturgy as such, simple music, and long cermons on something that is, in their minds, "relevant to their lives" (like blasting those "liberals" who will raise their taxes and take away their guns).
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« Reply #26 on: September 04, 2007, 02:05:15 PM »

I wonder if the problem is really that Orthodoxy is not "palatable".

I think you've hit on something, as it seems that there's plenty for uneducated, so-called "simpler" folks to latch on to, cherish, and claim for their own within the Faith.  That's wonderful that folks have Orthodoxy as a part of the fabric of the culture (whether actually practiced or not by most folks), since there's more of an ability to connect through that predominant culture, as you said.

However, it's been (in)famously said that, here in America, the most segregated time of the week is ten o'clock on Sunday morning.  Blacks go to black churches, whites go to white churches, the Mexicans go to their Catholic church, etc.  For want of a predominant culture, not only does Orthodoxy not provide for that connection (like you said) but is sectioned off into its own little niche of "Arab/Russian/Greek Church" for those from other countries who practice the faith here, or "Whitebread bookish convert Church" for those of us who came in later.

My beef, then, I guess, is with our apparent tendency to attract the two above mentioned groups, but not the ones (for the most part) that I mentioned in my previous post -- those who are not from higher educated backgrounds, those who are in poverty...
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« Reply #27 on: September 04, 2007, 02:18:35 PM »

Put it this way: until Orthodoxy can be made palatable to certain groups of people...

...the average, blue-collar bubba...
...the immigrant Mexican mechanic...
...the African-American factory worker playing dominoes on his day off...

...and still be Orthodoxy, it's not come into its full missionary potential in this country.  God hasten the day it can do this.

....the Blackfoot or Crow or Salish man or woman or teen (or Hopi or Navaho or....) on a reservation
....the hired hand and his boss the rancher/farmer and their families (and being a rancher or dry land farmer doesn't mean rich in Montana).
....the widow in a tiny town hours from any city whose children have all moved to other states to get work.

just some other kinds of folk

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« Reply #28 on: September 04, 2007, 03:41:49 PM »

Oh....then it doesn't mean the same thing!.....PHEW!!!!

Where I'm from, I've never heard it used the other way. I had the same reaction as you!
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« Reply #29 on: September 04, 2007, 04:01:29 PM »

Where I'm from, I've never heard it used the other way. I had the same reaction as you!

The two uses are really closely related, actually.  Typically, a female is initiated into a gang via what George was thinking, resulting in the female being called a gang banger for obvious reasons.  The term eventually spread to mean any member of a gang.
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« Reply #30 on: September 04, 2007, 04:36:04 PM »

Especially street gangs, armed, who use their dastardly weapons in their rival turf (drug) wars and in doing so terrorize the neighborhood in a battle zone of self-destruction. My own old Pittsburgh neighborhood has had enough experience already with this scourge.
Gangs + guns= gangbangers.
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« Reply #31 on: September 07, 2007, 06:09:45 AM »

We are all familiar with these gutter people, "the poor white trash", how do we evangelise them? Is it even possible to evangelise these gutter people? Should we even bother?

Well the actual Orthodox Churches both in Greece and Russia are made up of white trash mainly.

To be honest though the effeminancy and prissiness of the likes of OCA, etc would put off a lot of "gutter people". I cant blame them for that. And it is a fact that psuedo-Christianity is notoriously "bent" as I have sadly learnt from experiance. Those who have actually suffered know that "liberalism" makes no sense...and God speaks through suffering.

A famous Russian novelist said there is nothing more masculine than Christ, therefore it makes sense that there is nothing more effeminate (NOT feminine but effeminate) than Antichrist.

Theophan.
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« Reply #32 on: September 07, 2007, 07:40:01 AM »

Errr.......yeah...
Thanks for that interesting stream of consiousness.

If I ever needed a reason not to join the GOC, Theophan, you're it.
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« Reply #33 on: September 07, 2007, 07:52:56 AM »

Errr.......yeah...
Thanks for that interesting stream of consiousness.

If I ever needed a reason not to join the GOC, Theophan, you're it.


ROFL!
Say that again, ozgeorge.
This IS the FFA boards so he's exercising his posting privilege to be dead wrong in the most offense manner possible. Definitely reverse jurisdiction proselytizing, I would say.
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« Reply #34 on: September 07, 2007, 08:45:44 AM »

"A famous Russian novelist said there is nothing more masculine than Christ, therefore it makes sense that there is nothing more effeminate (NOT feminine but effeminate) than Antichrist."

Theophan makes an interesting point, one that is not mising in the Roman Catholic Theology of Anna Emmerich who is  the source for  Mel Gibson's  "The Passion" movie.  As you will remember,  in the film Satan as seen in that film was depicted as a sexless, effiminate appearing person  (actually played by a woman but without hair lending to a male appearance) with long nails and languid eyes.

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« Reply #35 on: September 07, 2007, 09:02:40 AM »

Theophan makes an interesting point, one that is not mising in the Roman Catholic Theology of Anna Emmerich who is  the source for  Mel Gibson's  "The Passion" movie.  As you will remember,  in the film Satan as seen in that film was depicted as a sexless, effiminate appearing person  (actually played by a woman but without hair lending to a male appearance) with long nails and languid eyes.
Which is fine for Roman Catholics and Hollywood producers who get drunk and rail against Jews in public while being arrested, however, in the Orthodox Church, we have Icons of Christ which depict him as genderless- such as the Russian Icon of Christ as Hesychia ("The Blessed Silence"). Are these Icons "evil"?




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« Reply #36 on: September 07, 2007, 09:36:43 AM »

Which is fine for Roman Catholics and Hollywood producers who get drunk and rail against Jews in public while being arrested, however, in the Orthodox Church, we have Icons of Christ which depict him as genderless- such as the Russian Icon of Christ as Hesychia ("The Blessed Silence"). Are these Icons "evil"?






What a cheap shot against Mel Gibson, a man of faith who put a lot of himself both personally and financially on the line to promote that movie about Christ.  I don't see any *Orthodox* people doing something so wonderful as he did. It's easy to criticize those who actually have the guts to step up. That he got drunk and made disparaging comments against Jews is his fall, he apologized for it, it's over--besides, one would expect that when someone steps up for God, the devil will attack his weaknesses all the more strongly, and that he is not in the Church made him all the more susceptible.  We all have good and bad sides. But he did a lot of good by making that movie and it was an excellent portrayal of Christ.
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« Reply #37 on: September 07, 2007, 09:39:18 AM »

Mel Gibson, a man of faith
Because of such "men of faith", the Name of Christ is blasphemed among unbelievers.
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« Reply #38 on: September 07, 2007, 09:41:59 AM »

If I ever needed a reason not to join the GOC, Theophan, you're it.


Comments like that are not helpful.

Getting to the point, though, Theophan may overshoot and overgeneralize to the extreme, but I have noticed that some of what he is saying (i.e. effeminancy of many clergy in mainstream jurisdictions in the US) is very true and is a turn off for "white trash"/"gutter people" who find Christianity a wimpy religion. I think there is a parallel in the demasculization of the Roman Catholic Church which people such as Serge (the young fogey) have noticed.  Theophan may express himself in a frank and abrasive way, and he may overgeneralize, but his post is not without truth.
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« Reply #39 on: September 07, 2007, 09:42:17 AM »

Because of such "men of faith", the Name of Christ is blasphemed among unbelievers.

The name of Christ is blasphemed by you and me every day through our sinful actions. Mel though has the same struggles, only he is more in the public eye.  Mel has done more than either you or me though to promote Christ in the public sphere and his movie had a tremendous impact.  Most people were not too excited by his lapse, save the people that already hated him and Christ.
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« Reply #40 on: September 07, 2007, 09:42:41 AM »

That is not true.
Yes it is.
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« Reply #41 on: September 07, 2007, 09:45:20 AM »

Yes it is.

I amended my post before you responded.
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« Reply #42 on: September 07, 2007, 09:48:44 AM »

Theophan may express himself in a frank and abrasive way, and he may overgeneralize, but his post is not without truth.
I see. So you agree with him then that the OCA is effeminate and prissy?
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« Reply #43 on: September 07, 2007, 09:50:40 AM »

I see. So you agree with him then that the OCA is effeminate and prissy?

No, read what I wrote above in the nuanced manner I wrote it.
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« Reply #44 on: September 07, 2007, 09:56:15 AM »

No, read what I wrote above in the nuanced manner I wrote it.
So, if there is no truth in the statement that the OCA is effeminate and prissy, and therefore not "putting off the gutter people", then
A) There is absolutely no truth in what GOCTheophan said (i.e., it is without truth), and
B) Something else must be putting "gutter people off" from joining the Church.
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