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Author Topic: Ancestral Orthodoxy  (Read 10771 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: December 14, 2007, 05:33:04 PM »

Some of my family came from Ukraine/Russia to Canada and at first they were Orthodox.  The first place the lived in was a small town in Saksatchewan where everyone else was Ukrainian or Russian, and so all the churches were Orthodox, so they remained Orthodox. Then later, they moved to Vancouver, to a very Scottish neighborhood, and basically decided to join the United Church of Canada to be like their neighbors. However, they would go to the Russian Orthodox Church for Pascha and Russian Christmas. But their children, my grandpa, did not have any connection with Orthodoxy that I am aware of, though he may have been baptized in it.  He then married my grandma, who was REALLY Scottish, and the memory of Orthodoxy was mostly lost except for what I just reported above.  I knew all this converting, and it was rather odd to be returning to the Church that my ancestors saw no point in staying in.  I'm thinking about this now because this coming weekend I'll be in Vancouver, and I am thinking of going to the parish that they would go to for Pascha and Christmas.  Does anyone else have any similar experiences? I would imagine there are many people like me, considering the huge discrepancy between the  numbers of Americans/Canadians claiming some East European/Greek/Arab ancestry and the number of Orthodox Christians. 
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« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2007, 06:37:50 PM »

In Australia our country is considered a baby in history terms (200 years of white man) and Greek's who have migrated here are sometimes still 1st generation or 2nd generation Greeks (my dad is 1st and my mum is 2nd so I'm 1 and a 1/2 I guess  Smiley ). To give people an idea the concept of English liturgies in a Greek Orthodox church is still very foreign. Melbourne is the area with the largest amount of Greeks in the world outside of Greece and there is only one priest I know of that holds regular English liturgies once a month (Fr. Chris of Ayios Efstathios) and the attendance is mainly youth. I believe once they turn to the English liturgy there will be more converts and attendance of youth (even though I personally love the sound and use of Ancient Greek). There are a couple of Aussie posters on here that could help confirm this in other parts of Australia.
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« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2007, 07:35:56 PM »

Some of my family came from Ukraine/Russia to Canada and at first they were Orthodox.  The first place the lived in was a small town in Saksatchewan where everyone else was Ukrainian or Russian, and so all the churches were Orthodox, so they remained Orthodox. Then later, they moved to Vancouver, to a very Scottish neighborhood, and basically decided to join the United Church of Canada to be like their neighbors. However, they would go to the Russian Orthodox Church for Pascha and Russian Christmas. But their children, my grandpa, did not have any connection with Orthodoxy that I am aware of, though he may have been baptized in it.  He then married my grandma, who was REALLY Scottish, and the memory of Orthodoxy was mostly lost except for what I just reported above.  I knew all this converting, and it was rather odd to be returning to the Church that my ancestors saw no point in staying in.  I'm thinking about this now because this coming weekend I'll be in Vancouver, and I am thinking of going to the parish that they would go to for Pascha and Christmas.  Does anyone else have any similar experiences? I would imagine there are many people like me, considering the huge discrepancy between the  numbers of Americans/Canadians claiming some East European/Greek/Arab ancestry and the number of Orthodox Christians. 

What always mystifies me is how can a family leave the beauty of Orthodoxy and go to Protestantism.  It is dumbfounding.   Its like going from Champagne to light beer.  How in God's name can someone who is strong in the faith reject Orthodoxy for some non Orthodox Protestant sect?HuhHuh?

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« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2007, 09:24:04 PM »

What always mystifies me is how can a family leave the beauty of Orthodoxy and go to Protestantism.  It is dumbfounding.   Its like going from Champagne to light beer.  How in God's name can someone who is strong in the faith reject Orthodoxy for some non Orthodox Protestant sect?HuhHuh?

Maybe they get tired of the triumphalism...
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« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2007, 10:04:09 PM »

Maybe they get tired of the triumphalism...

Explain how does one get tired of the TRUTH?

That is pathetic.

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« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2007, 10:47:17 PM »

Explain how does one get tired of the TRUTH?

That is pathetic.


Thank you for making my point. 

There are many reasons why someone would leave the Orthodox church, especially when they are immigrants in a mostly non-Orthodox country.  Perhaps they make close friendships with those in the locally dominate religious community and decide from their example to join.  Perhaps they had bad experiences with their Orthodox parish and positive experiences with a local parish of another confession.  I know a Russian person that attends the Catholic church here (even had his child baptized in a Catholic parish) and when he returns every summer to Russia attends an Orthodox church because "they are the same thing."  Confessional affiliation isn't as important to some people as others.  Personally, I know A LOT of Romanians who are know Baptists and Pentecostals and most have had very negative personal experiences with the Orthodox Church, seeing it as a den of corruption and mediocrity.  When people have this very personal problem with Orthodoxy, laughing in their face that they left the TRUTH has never caused a positive outcome, IME. 
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« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2007, 10:54:34 PM »

Some of my family came from Ukraine/Russia to Canada and at first they were Orthodox.  The first place the lived in was a small town in Saksatchewan where everyone else was Ukrainian or Russian, and so all the churches were Orthodox, so they remained Orthodox. Then later, they moved to Vancouver, to a very Scottish neighborhood, and basically decided to join the United Church of Canada to be like their neighbors. However, they would go to the Russian Orthodox Church for Pascha and Russian Christmas. But their children, my grandpa, did not have any connection with Orthodoxy that I am aware of, though he may have been baptized in it.  He then married my grandma, who was REALLY Scottish, and the memory of Orthodoxy was mostly lost except for what I just reported above.  I knew all this converting, and it was rather odd to be returning to the Church that my ancestors saw no point in staying in.  I'm thinking about this now because this coming weekend I'll be in Vancouver, and I am thinking of going to the parish that they would go to for Pascha and Christmas.  Does anyone else have any similar experiences? I would imagine there are many people like me, considering the huge discrepancy between the  numbers of Americans/Canadians claiming some East European/Greek/Arab ancestry and the number of Orthodox Christians. 

It is kind of ironic as I was in the exact same situation, only reversed this summer.  I visited the Catholic church where my grandfather was baptized in rural Poland.  It is definitely a hard feeling to describe.   

Perhaps that has influenced me the most in my views that religion, and Orthodoxy especially is an inherently personal matter.  At the same moment I was very content to be Orthodox, and also content to explore the roots of my own family in the heart of Catholic Poland - and not seeing a contradiction in this at all. 
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« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2007, 12:58:26 AM »

I think many leave Orthodoxy because they were never educated in the faith. My cousins are no longer Orthodox even though my aunt was Syrian-American Orthodox and her husband was Serbian-American Orthodox. My aunt and uncle were both baptized Orthodox Christians and were married in the church. My cousins were baptized Orthodox as babies but while growing up the family never found an Orthodox church which did the Divine Liturgy in English. My aunt and uncle believed in God but they had little understanding of the faith they were raised with because their immigrant parents seemed to assume they would absorb the faith as they did growing up in Orthodox Christian villages in Syria and Serbia.

So when my cousins ended up marrying people outside of Orthodoxy they saw little reason to not become Lutheran and evangelical Christians in order to appease their spouses.

Education and being able to participate in the Divine Services are both key to keeping people in the Church.
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« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2007, 09:13:53 AM »

I think many leave Orthodoxy because they were never educated in the faith. My cousins are no longer Orthodox even though my aunt was Syrian-American Orthodox and her husband was Serbian-American Orthodox. My aunt and uncle were both baptized Orthodox Christians and were married in the church. My cousins were baptized Orthodox as babies but while growing up the family never found an Orthodox church which did the Divine Liturgy in English. My aunt and uncle believed in God but they had little understanding of the faith they were raised with because their immigrant parents seemed to assume they would absorb the faith as they did growing up in Orthodox Christian villages in Syria and Serbia.

So when my cousins ended up marrying people outside of Orthodoxy they saw little reason to not become Lutheran and evangelical Christians in order to appease their spouses.

Education and being able to participate in the Divine Services are both key to keeping people in the Church.

I fully agree.

All is not lost.  A similar situation happened with a family in my old parish, although worse, because the father was not Orthodox and so all the children were baptized Latin, and all became nominal Catholics.  Years later, when the wife/grandma died, they remembered she was Orthodox (thank God) and bothered to find an Orthodox Church who would bury her.  They were so intreged by the service that they came for DL, and eventually they all became active Orthodox members.  yes, these dry bones can live.
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« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2007, 11:28:55 AM »

I think many leave Orthodoxy because they were never educated in the faith. My cousins are no longer Orthodox even though my aunt was Syrian-American Orthodox and her husband was Serbian-American Orthodox. My aunt and uncle were both baptized Orthodox Christians and were married in the church. My cousins were baptized Orthodox as babies but while growing up the family never found an Orthodox church which did the Divine Liturgy in English. My aunt and uncle believed in God but they had little understanding of the faith they were raised with because their immigrant parents seemed to assume they would absorb the faith as they did growing up in Orthodox Christian villages in Syria and Serbia.

So when my cousins ended up marrying people outside of Orthodoxy they saw little reason to not become Lutheran and evangelical Christians in order to appease their spouses.

Education and being able to participate in the Divine Services are both key to keeping people in the Church.

I can relate to this. Even though I was raised in a non-religious family of loyal Soviet "builders of Communism" and was never baptized, when my family and I moved to the USA, I began to attend a small Orthodox mission parish (Ukrainian, part of the Seattle immigrant Ukie community), and I was very fascinated by the services. But then, when I moved to a small university town in Mississippi, where there were no Orthodox churches or Orthodox people around, I suddenly began to feel "ecumenical" and thought, oh, well, does it really matter, Orthodox-Shmortodox, it's all about Christ, so maybe I'd just join a church, any church, the one closest to where I live! I was never really educated in the faith. I did not realize back then that all those ideas about "different branches of Christianity," "different denominations," etc., were deeply heretical, a serious, life-threatening distortion of Christianity. Yes, I missed the beauty of the Orthodox service - the icons, the censing, the singing, even the visual image of my old Ukrainian priest. But again, I thought, back then, that those things aren't really important! And I began to look for "beauty" in Protestantism. And it even worked for a while! I was eventually baptized in early 2004, and then even ordained a Presbyterian "elder" in 2005. All these years, some "little voice" still kept nagging me from inside, telling me that "it's NOT "IT"," making me miss what I had back in Seattle; and, whenever I had a chance, I still visited Orthodox divine liturgies (e.g., during our visits to Ukraine), and I felt myself like an Orthodox. But it took me some time and some pretty dramatic collisions with people in my Presbyterian congregation on the issue, just what really is this "church" thing all about, to write my letter of resignation and to become an Orthodox catechumen. Probably, if I had more exposure to basics of the Orthodox faith in my youth, I would not allow this "ecumenical feelings" to take over me, - but the truth is, I never had such an exposure in my youth, I am, sort of, having it only now.
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« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2007, 01:24:56 AM »

Probably, if I had more exposure to basics of the Orthodox faith in my youth, I would not allow this "ecumenical feelings" to take over me, - but the truth is, I never had such an exposure in my youth, I am, sort of, having it only now.
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« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2007, 11:43:46 PM »

Education and being able to participate in the Divine Services are both key to keeping people in the Church.

Completely agree.
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« Reply #12 on: December 16, 2007, 11:51:21 PM »

So when my cousins ended up marrying people outside of Orthodoxy they saw little reason to not become Lutheran and evangelical Christians in order to appease their spouses.

I always find it interesting that if an Orthdox marries a non-Orthodox, it is far more likely that the Orthodox spouse will convert rather than vice versa.

Education and being able to participate in the Divine Services are both key to keeping people in the Church.

Faithful catechesis is a must as well as a steadfast prayer life both at home and in church and participation in all her mysteries (including confession). There are far too many Orthodox who simply view the EO Church as one choice among diverse paths to the Truth.  Poor catechesis from priests and from parents and the hostility from the Protestant/atheist society around us have unfortunately claimed too many of the faithful from the faith.
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« Reply #13 on: December 17, 2007, 12:33:20 AM »

I always find it interesting that if an Orthdox marries a non-Orthodox, it is far more likely that the Orthodox spouse will convert rather than vice versa.

Faithful catechesis is a must as well as a steadfast prayer life both at home and in church and participation in all her mysteries (including confession). There are far too many Orthodox who simply view the EO Church as one choice among diverse paths to the Truth.  Poor catechesis from priests and from parents and the hostility from the Protestant/atheist society around us have unfortunately claimed too many of the faithful from the faith.

Well, the reason the poorly catechized is more likely to convert is because all Protestant and most Roman Catholic parishes in North America do their services in the vernacular. Why would someone, who doesn't realize the value of their Orthodoxy, force the one they love to convert to a faith where they would have to hear the services in an archaic foreign language?

Also, some Protestant families would view their son or daughter converting to Orthodoxy as a cultural or social step down. My Episcopalian mother-in-law was not too excited when her favored son (my husband) was chrismated Orthodox. I remember one of his stuffier aunts was appalled by our "barbaric" method of infant baptism through total immersion.  laugh

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« Reply #14 on: December 17, 2007, 06:51:24 AM »

Where I live in Spain, I see Orthodox Ucrainians and Russians baptizing their children in Roman Catholic churches for lack of an orthodox church in the area and because to them "it´s the same thing". I dare say, I see their point from their point of view. I know that being raised in a faith does not necessarily mean being religious nor knowledgeable about that faith further than the basic truths. Members of my family for one, while considering themselves faithful, ignore completely church history, correct fasting rules etc. and do not even imagine the degree of their ignorance.I am very much ignorant myself and I constantly discover the litlle I know when I log in in this forum. "Cradle" Christians are not usually catechised, are raised so, so their knowledge and religiousness depends on the degree of their family involvement in church life which is a variable depending on the family and the persons. Faced with a change of life as drastis as that brought on by immigration, most people adjust their lifestyle accordingly and, considering faith a cultural experience for a lot of us "cradles", it is no wonder, some, presented with a Trinitarian faith other than the Orthodox, would accept its differences mostly as cultural towards which they have to adjust in the new world they have come. It is not as conscious a movement as it would be, had they known in depth what the Orthodox faith is and what the differences are with the other churches. It is important to have in mind, that in traditionally Orthodox countries a great percentage of the population ignores what the differences are between Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox for lack of substantial populations of other churches (having Greece in mind, where officially 98% of the population is Orthodox Christian). You can have people who believe that anyone outside Orthodox is not even Christian, or others who - not knowing - think it is very much the same if it were not for the Pope and crossing oneself the other way round and not having icons. And the religiousness is relative. So, it should not be surprising that some stray to other churches when found in a foreign land, in an attempt to achieve social integration and religious life, religious for them meaning celebrating Christmas, Easter, weddings, christenings and funerals. This is my humble observation, this is why I dare say, it is not as conscious a movement as it would have been, had they known what this desviation implies. Again, feel free to correct me, my experience could be too subjective.
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« Reply #15 on: December 17, 2007, 11:38:36 AM »

Quote
What always mystifies me is how can a family leave the beauty of Orthodoxy and go to Protestantism.

Why did the Protestant Reformation happen amidst much of the beauty of the Renaissance era Catholic Church?  I'm sure the reasons are complex and varied.

One of the most interesting periods to understand the issue in Orthodoxy is to look at the rapid rise of Protestant-like sectarianism in the 17th century in the borderlands and frontier of Russia, particularly around Tambov.  It's a phenomenon that continues to this day.

Quote
I always find it interesting that if an Orthdox marries a non-Orthodox, it is far more likely that the Orthodox spouse will convert rather than vice versa.

Is there hard data about this?  I have observed the opposite.

Quote
Faithful catechesis is a must as well as a steadfast prayer life both at home and in church and participation in all her mysteries (including confession). There are far too many Orthodox who simply view the EO Church as one choice among diverse paths to the Truth.  Poor catechesis from priests and from parents and the hostility from the Protestant/atheist society around us have unfortunately claimed too many of the faithful from the faith.

The lack of willingness or interest on the part of parents to provide a thorough religious grounding is I believe the primary problem.  The second part is more complicated.  Certainly Orthodoxy in parts of the world has undergone extensive periods of persecution and existence in hostile environments.  In western society though I think the issue is more one of increasing secularization of society, and not overt hostility.  That is as problematic for Protestants as for anybody else.

Quote
Well, the reason the poorly catechized is more likely to convert is because all Protestant and most Roman Catholic parishes in North America do their services in the vernacular. Why would someone, who doesn't realize the value of their Orthodoxy, force the one they love to convert to a faith where they would have to hear the services in an archaic foreign language?

Because there is inherant value and worth in the traditional languages of the church, just as there is in all of the traditions of the church.  Maybe the majority of Roman Catholic parishes in the U.S. do use modern vernacular, but you would have a hard time convincing me the change to this has been successful.  Metropolitan Laurus talked about this same issue in a recent interview, he said

Quote
4. What is the relationship within your flock between those who are of Russian descent and those who accepted Holy Orthodoxy having come from other Christian churches? How do you think their relationships might change, if they do?

The old emigrants and their descendants comprise the majority of our parishioners; then the new immigrants and their children; then the newly-converted, who mainly participate in the life of our missions. Will their relationships change? It is difficult to say. In any case, we work with all of them, preserving and increasing the great legacy of Holy Russia that we have been given.

Thank God, our parishes have Russian parish schools in which children are taught the basic truths of our faith, Russian language, Russian literature and history; there are youth circles led by good pastors, who call upon young people to love the Church and the Fatherland. There are summer camps and youth conferences throughout the globe. Parents try to speak only Russian with their children and follow the Russian Orthodox way of life. This is a great feat, performed under difficult circumstances.

In a word, our goal is not only to preserve but to increase among our children that which we have, to serve the Russian Orthodox Church, help her witness the Truth of Christ and speak the great word of Holy Russia to the whole world. We intend to continue the salvific service to God and to the people of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

http://www.synod.com/synod/eng2007/12enmlinterview.html
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« Reply #16 on: December 17, 2007, 12:00:13 PM »

Sophie, what an excellent post!

May I just add that quite a lot of "cradles" in the present-day post-Soviet countries may be not catechized OR WRONGLY "catechized," educated in some sort of pseudo-Orthodoxy, which is entirely political. Scores of young Russians today are under the influence of clerics who are rabidly anti-Western and Judophobic. In Ukraine, one just cannot become Orthodox and not side with one of the two battling political camps, one of them nationalist and the other Ukrainophobic and, again, anti-Western. There is even a term in Ukraine, "bujno-pravoslavnyj" (a hybrid of "bujnopomeshannyj," a term borrowed from psychiatry and indicating a delusional patient who is so aggressive that he/she needs to be held in a straight jacket, and "pravoslavnyj" - an Orthodox).

A few years ago, Petro Symonenko, the chief of the Communist Party of Ukraine, issued a number of statements where he highly praised "genuine Orthodoxy," meaning, actually, the peculiar amalgam of aggressive anti-Westernism and Ukrainophobia and "Eurasianism" (the crazy notion that Slavic peoples are genetically and culturally Asian and are currently in the captivity of Jews, Free Masons and the European West, orchestrated from the Pentagon and the US Department of State). Some humorists replied to that by writing an open letter to Symonenko, where they described horrible "discrimination" and "oppression" of "genuinely Orthodox" Russian-leaning children in an Eastern Ukrainian grade school. According to that letter, pro-Western Ukrainian nationalists ("Banderites" and of course hidden Roman Catholics) took over that school and forbade the poor innocent children to wear clothes made of the Holy Fofudya. The latter is something that is mentioned in one of the 12th century chronicles, and no one really knows, just what the heck this Fofudya means, other than it was some sort of material of which certain clothes were made back then. Symonenko failed to discern the sarcasm and imediately replied at length, saying that from now on, the Communist Party of Ukraine will do everything in its power to defend the Holy Fofudya as a genuine element of the genuine Orthodoxy in Ukraine. The humorists replied to this reply, saying that have, actually, already founded a Union of the Defenders of the Holy Fofudya, and gave the link to a virtual newspaper that voices their holy struggle...

Meanwhile, scores of young Ukrainians remain atheist, or join the Roman Catholic Church (because it is clearly pro-Western, which is "cool"), or become members of Charismatic Protestant groups like the Kiev-based "Embassy of God," led by a Nigerian pastor Sunday Adelaja...

Quite some work remains to be done... Smiley
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« Reply #17 on: December 17, 2007, 01:19:11 PM »


Is there hard data about this?  I have observed the opposite.

Poor catechises with intermarriage to a non-Orthodox are the reasons our numbers have been decimated. I have been Orthodox my whole life and my observation is the opposite of yours. How many years have you observed this phenomena? Millions of Orthodox immigrants came to North America over hundred years ago. Where are the millions of descendants of the immigrants? Their descendants have been quickly assimilated through marriage. Even the Greek Orthodox Church in America only has about 500,000 members according to the Krinditch study. I have many friends who are half Greek or a quarter Lebanese whose grandparents were Orthodox but my friends are Roman Catholic or Protestant. There are several half-Greek children who are Presbyterian who attend my son's middle school. Their fathers were members of the Sons of Pericles with my brother-in-law years ago but when his friends married nice Protestant girls they left Orthodoxy behind. My own extended family is a classic example. I even have cousins who are half-Syrian and half-Jewish. Those families are agnostic in order for the original marriage to have succeeded. Only my sister and I , along with our immediate families remain Orthodox. She married someone who was Greek Orthodox and I married someone who came to see the truth of Orthodoxy over time in an exclusively ENGLISH-speaking parish.

Quote
Because there is inherant value and worth in the traditional languages of the church, just as there is in all of the traditions of the church.  Maybe the majority of Roman Catholic parishes in the U.S. do use modern vernacular, but you would have a hard time convincing me the change to this has been successful.  Metropolitan Laurus talked about this same issue in a recent interview, he said

http://www.synod.com/synod/eng2007/12enmlinterview.html

Well, if the archaic language was so important to the faith then we would either be using ancient Hebrew or Aramaic today.
I don't agree with your view. Met. Laurus has missions which use English exclusively because some of his parishes are made up of those who only speak English.
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« Reply #18 on: December 17, 2007, 01:33:42 PM »

Wow, George, very interesting stuff. Thanks for enlightening a Westerner like me who has no idea what it is like over there.

-

Welcome back, Welkodox! Will you be coming around more often?
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« Reply #19 on: December 17, 2007, 01:36:02 PM »

Poor catechises with intermarriage to a non-Orthodox are the reasons our numbers have been decimated. I have been Orthodox my whole life and my observation is the opposite of yours. How many years have you observed this phenomena? Millions of Orthodox immigrants came to North America over hundred years ago. Where are the millions of descendants of the immigrants? Their descendants have been quickly assimilated through marriage. Even the Greek Orthodox Church in America only has about 500,000 members according to the Krinditch study.

Is that the reason for the enormous discrepancy between the number of EO claimed in this country and the number reported in various studies?
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« Reply #20 on: December 17, 2007, 01:45:45 PM »

Is that the reason for the enormous discrepancy between the number of EO claimed in this country and the number reported in various studies?

I believe so...I think the various Orthodox churches use the claimed ethnicity of American citizens to determine how many Orthodox Christians live in the United States. It is a numbers game. The Krinditch study is closer to reality.
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« Reply #21 on: December 17, 2007, 01:56:39 PM »


  Perhaps they had bad experiences with their Orthodox parish and positive experiences with a local parish of another confession. 

When did protestants and the like become confessions?

These 'groups' are not confessions they are 'protestants'.

When remember the origins of these groups we reminded that they are founded on beligerance and heressy. Unless this is confession.
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« Reply #22 on: December 17, 2007, 02:02:17 PM »

Sophie, what an excellent post!

May I just add that quite a lot of "cradles" in the present-day post-Soviet countries may be not catechized OR WRONGLY "catechized," educated in some sort of pseudo-Orthodoxy, which is entirely political. Scores of young Russians today are under the influence of clerics who are rabidly anti-Western and Judophobic. In Ukraine, one just cannot become Orthodox and not side with one of the two battling political camps, one of them nationalist and the other Ukrainophobic and, again, anti-Western. There is even a term in Ukraine, "bujno-pravoslavnyj" (a hybrid of "bujnopomeshannyj," a term borrowed from psychiatry and indicating a delusional patient who is so aggressive that he/she needs to be held in a straight jacket, and "pravoslavnyj" - an Orthodox).

A few years ago, Petro Symonenko, the chief of the Communist Party of Ukraine, issued a number of statements where he highly praised "genuine Orthodoxy," meaning, actually, the peculiar amalgam of aggressive anti-Westernism and Ukrainophobia and "Eurasianism" (the crazy notion that Slavic peoples are genetically and culturally Asian and are currently in the captivity of Jews, Free Masons and the European West, orchestrated from the Pentagon and the US Department of State). Some humorists replied to that by writing an open letter to Symonenko, where they described horrible "discrimination" and "oppression" of "genuinely Orthodox" Russian-leaning children in an Eastern Ukrainian grade school. According to that letter, pro-Western Ukrainian nationalists ("Banderites" and of course hidden Roman Catholics) took over that school and forbade the poor innocent children to wear clothes made of the Holy Fofudya. The latter is something that is mentioned in one of the 12th century chronicles, and no one really knows, just what the heck this Fofudya means, other than it was some sort of material of which certain clothes were made back then. Symonenko failed to discern the sarcasm and imediately replied at length, saying that from now on, the Communist Party of Ukraine will do everything in its power to defend the Holy Fofudya as a genuine element of the genuine Orthodoxy in Ukraine. The humorists replied to this reply, saying that have, actually, already founded a Union of the Defenders of the Holy Fofudya, and gave the link to a virtual newspaper that voices their holy struggle...

Meanwhile, scores of young Ukrainians remain atheist, or join the Roman Catholic Church (because it is clearly pro-Western, which is "cool"), or become members of Charismatic Protestant groups like the Kiev-based "Embassy of God," led by a Nigerian pastor Sunday Adelaja...

Quite some work remains to be done... Smiley

Wow...

This is a very unfortunate matter.

The idea of church and Christ never seems to meet in the situation you noted here.

Many prayers.
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« Reply #23 on: December 17, 2007, 02:10:26 PM »

When did protestants and the like become confessions?

These 'groups' are not confessions they are 'protestants'.

When remember the origins of these groups we reminded that they are founded on beligerance and heressy. Unless this is confession.

They are confessions. A confession, according to Webster's, is "an organized religious body having a common creed." I think it's a very good term to use if your own ecclesiology prevents you from calling them "churches" but you still want to respect them as Christians and thus don't wish to brand them with something as secular-sounding as "group" or "organization."

Communion is another good term to use.
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« Reply #24 on: December 17, 2007, 02:17:38 PM »

Quote
Poor catechises with intermarriage to a non-Orthodox are the reasons our numbers have been decimated. I have been Orthodox my whole life and my observation is the opposite of yours. How many years have you observed this phenomena? Millions of Orthodox immigrants came to North America over hundred years ago. Where are the millions of descendants of the immigrants? Their descendants have been quickly assimilated through marriage. Even the Greek Orthodox Church in America only has about 500,000 members according to the Krinditch study. I have many friends who are half Greek or a quarter Lebanese whose grandparents were Orthodox but my friends are Roman Catholic or Protestant. There are several half-Greek children who are Presbyterian who attend my son's middle school. Their fathers were members of the Sons of Pericles with my brother-in-law years ago but when his friends married nice Protestant girls they left Orthodoxy behind. My own extended family is a classic example. I even have cousins who are half-Syrian and half-Jewish. Those families are agnostic in order for the original marriage to have succeeded. Only my sister and I , along with our immediate families remain Orthodox. She married someone who was Greek Orthodox and I married someone who came to see the truth of Orthodoxy over time in an exclusively ENGLISH-speaking parish.

I can only say that in my experience it seems that if someone is  active and dedicated to being in an Orthodox parish, they tend to be the one that does not convert, even if marrying someone that isn't Orthodox.  That is just my observation, and the first liturgy I attended was in 1989.  Now obviously that is someone who is properly catechized in that case.

It seems to me the real crux of the issue is why do people in the diaspora leave the church.  I don't doubt that the experiences relayed here are real, or that the overall trend is that the churches have shrunk.  How many immigrants this country received that were Orthodox in reality is unknown to me.  Many people who came from Eastern Europe or the Middle East were not Orthodox at all.

I think the real issue is secularization, and that people who are Orthodox are probably no more or less prone to succumbing to its effects.  I know many Catholics who intermarried and left the church, or married other Catholics and never attend mass.  My family at one time was extremely involved in church.  I'm one of two or three people in my extended family that I can think of that goes to church at all now.

Quote
Well, if the archaic language was so important to the faith then we would either be using ancient Hebrew or Aramaic today.
I don't agree with your view. Met. Laurus has missions which use English exclusively because some of his parishes are made up of those who only speak English.

The liturgical languages used by the church are part of the deposit of faith developed over time and are no more archaic or obsolete than any of the other customs or traditions that have become part of the fabric of belief in the church.  Clearly there is nothing wrong with translating the texts of the church in to vernacular languages or using those texts in worship, but they will never be of the same importance or have the same unifying power as the sacred languages of the church.  The complete triumph of the vernacular would in all liklehood mean the complete Balkanization of the church.

What I believe Metropolitan Laurus is saying is that the religious culture his church was formed in, will always be the reference point for all its members no matter their origin, and I do believe he is quite correct in his belief.  There is no reason English and Slavonic cannot co-exist in the places where English language predominates, because the use of Slavonic will remain a link to the mother church and a common reference point for others for whom English is not a first language.  It is in other words the sacred language is not an artifact of a bygone era, but a critical vestige of a faith that has its whole ethos built on fidelity to the past.
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« Reply #25 on: December 17, 2007, 02:40:39 PM »

They are confessions. A confession, according to Webster's, is "an organized religious body having a common creed." I think it's a very good term to use if your own ecclesiology prevents you from calling them "churches" but you still want to respect them as Christians and thus don't wish to brand them with something as secular-sounding as "group" or "organization."

Communion is another good term to use.

Interesting ; thank you!

I must note that where I come from the term 'confession or confessor' is a term that is absolute in context and nature. (We do not depend on Webster's understanding at all. I am sure he has definitions well researched nevertheless. Our Church father instruct on terms and meanings within the Holy Church. Webster and his dictionaries although valid for many reasons are not a reference of real importance or validity for spiritiual matter in our church).

We are the "confessors of Christ" and the "confession" is the true church. Thus "confessors" are true believers within the Ethiopian lexicon. To Ethiopian Christians the orthodox are the only confessors on earth . We share that with no one else. Its not a term to be used loosly or how one may deem it good. Anyone outiside orhthodoxy is not an confessor nor related to a confession.

We will not apply this term outside the true faith which is orthodox for any reason. WE equate "confessor" and orthodox christian as one and the same.

Seems our use of this term is very very rigid.

The term we use in our language is very parallel when translated to English. Confessor is a very exact match to the Geez and Ethiopic. Thus the English "confessor" is born into Ethiopic in many current sermons and essays on the faith.

Seems thats my issue.

Thanks for the clarification
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« Reply #26 on: December 17, 2007, 02:41:00 PM »

I believe so...I think the various Orthodox churches use the claimed ethnicity of American citizens to determine how many Orthodox Christians live in the United States. It is a numbers game. The Krinditch study is closer to reality.

Actually, I'm sure the GOA uses the mailing list for the Observer (which is vast), which is based on the sum total of the membership lists reported by the various parishes.  They come up with their number based on the number of households listed as members of the Churches, multiplied by some factor to take children into account.

Of course, when one works in the Church, you learn that there are 3 numbers that are sometimes put out there as "membership": mailing list, stewardship list, and the list of people who regularly attend.  This complicates the problem.

Our Metropolis of Pittsburgh could rightly claim 25k-37k members based on the stewardship numbers for each parish, multiplied by 2-3 (depends on how you want to calculate children vs. single people).  However, if we based the numbers on mailing lists (not stewardship), I'd estimate a number closer to 45k-50k.  And we're one of the smallest Metropolises in the GOA by a long-shot.
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« Reply #27 on: December 17, 2007, 02:57:50 PM »

Meanwhile, scores of young Ukrainians remain atheist, or join the Roman Catholic Church (because it is clearly pro-Western, which is "cool"), or become members of Charismatic Protestant groups like the Kiev-based "Embassy of God," led by a Nigerian pastor Sunday Adelaja...

I don't know that it is always so flippant as Roman Catholicism (or the growing Protestant groups for that matter) is cool and Western.  These groups tend to have very strong youth outreach programs.  I ended up spending a lot of time with Protestants in Russia (my girlfriend was a Bible-thumping Baptist  Smiley ) and I found most of them to be very sincere and serious about their faith.  And what most of them disliked about Orthodoxy was a caricature of Orthodoxy and not the real essence of the faith. 

The liturgical languages used by the church are part of the deposit of faith developed over time and are no more archaic or obsolete than any of the other customs or traditions that have become part of the fabric of belief in the church.  Clearly there is nothing wrong with translating the texts of the church in to vernacular languages or using those texts in worship, but they will never be of the same importance or have the same unifying power as the sacred languages of the church.  The complete triumph of the vernacular would in all liklehood mean the complete Balkanization of the church.

I think a unity based on the idea that we pronounce the same sounds during liturgy as you do is inherently superficial.  And of course, Slavonic is just one of those vernaculars that "will never be of the same importance or have the same unifying power as the sacred languages of the church."  Μιλατε ελληνικα; 

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« Reply #28 on: December 17, 2007, 03:36:59 PM »

Quote
I think a unity based on the idea that we pronounce the same sounds during liturgy as you do is inherently superficial.

Are the stylistic rules that govern the painting of icons superficial in nature?  I'm actually not posing that as a yes or no question, nor do I believe that I could convince you of my point about unity to be found in language.  It's simply something to consider.

The sacred languages in my own opinion are an invaluable part of the tradition of the church, to be neither ignored or put aside.  They represent periods of tremendous cultural flowering in the church, and deserve their higher place of worth over other languages used in the church based on this.  It's not that they are just a better series of sounds.  I realize the pendulum can swing the other way, and the church has at times made no allowance for vernacular use.  I believe that is equally as detrimental as advocating or regulating that only vernacular is admissible in worship.  I think where sacred languages have been set aside, something invaluable is lost, which only succeeding generations may come to appreciate or notice.

Secondly, I do believe the sacred languages represent a real unifying point, and that for instance Church Slavonic is a base of reference for all Eastern Slavic religious culture that supersedes all the modern political and national divisions that exist there.

Quote
And of course, Slavonic is just one of those vernaculars that "will never be of the same importance or have the same unifying power as the sacred languages of the church."  Μιλατε ελληνικα;

Indeed, and Slavonic represents one of the apexes of genius and human achievement in the church.
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« Reply #29 on: December 17, 2007, 04:13:01 PM »

Are the stylistic rules that govern the painting of icons superficial in nature?  I'm actually not posing that as a yes or no question, nor do I believe that I could convince you of my point about unity to be found in language.  It's simply something to consider.

I'd answer a resounding yes to your non-yes-or-no question  Wink

Besides the great diversity of styles within the Church, I can find even in my own pictures from Mt. Athos plenty of icons that break the "rules" (i.e old man trinity, Christ depicted in non-human form).  The icon of the Mother of God in which St. Seraphim of Sarov prayed in front of his whole life would also likely be condemned by purists. 

Quote
The sacred languages in my own opinion are an invaluable part of the tradition of the church, to be neither ignored or put aside.  They represent periods of tremendous cultural flowering in the church, and deserve their higher place of worth over other languages used in the church based on this.  It's not that they are just a better series of sounds.  I realize the pendulum can swing the other way, and the church has at times made no allowance for vernacular use.  I believe that is equally as detrimental as advocating or regulating that only vernacular is admissible in worship.  I think where sacred languages have been set aside, something invaluable is lost, which only succeeding generations may come to appreciate or notice.

Considering that I have spent a great deal of time and effort in learning to understand (and even chant in and read in) liturgical Greek and am currently working on Slavonic, you can't really accuse me of wanting to simply discard them.  But, I think there is always a danger of ossification.  The Bulgarian culture that produced Sts. Kliment and Naum was a dynamic one, as was Kievian Rus'. 

Quote
Secondly, I do believe the sacred languages represent a real unifying point, and that for instance Church Slavonic is a base of reference for all Eastern Slavic religious culture that supersedes all the modern political and national divisions that exist there.

I wouldn't got that far.  Simply pronounce the word Бог and it becomes political. 

Quote
Indeed, and Slavonic represents one of the apexes of genius and human achievement in the church.

The Wright brothers represent an apex of genius and human achievement in aviation.  Still, I'd rather fly in an Airbus or a Boeing. 

My hunch is that if Russian vernacular (a brilliant language in which some of the best prose and poetry *ever* written was produced in) were introduced into the MP is that in twenty years most monasteries, major cathedrals and a handful of parishes would use Slavonic while the typical parish would use Russian.  I don't see how that would be a bad compromise.   
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« Reply #30 on: December 17, 2007, 04:23:15 PM »

Actually, I'm sure the GOA uses the mailing list for the Observer (which is vast), which is based on the sum total of the membership lists reported by the various parishes.  They come up with their number based on the number of households listed as members of the Churches, multiplied by some factor to take children into account.

Of course, when one works in the Church, you learn that there are 3 numbers that are sometimes put out there as "membership": mailing list, stewardship list, and the list of people who regularly attend.  This complicates the problem.

Our Metropolis of Pittsburgh could rightly claim 25k-37k members based on the stewardship numbers for each parish, multiplied by 2-3 (depends on how you want to calculate children vs. single people).  However, if we based the numbers on mailing lists (not stewardship), I'd estimate a number closer to 45k-50k.  And we're one of the smallest Metropolises in the GOA by a long-shot.


According to the GOARCH website the Orthodox Observer has a circulation of 140,000 households. So if the Greek Archdiocese was going to base its membership on that number multiplied by 2 or 3 you would come up with 500,000 members. This number is the same number from the Krinditch study.

http://www.goarch.org/en/archdiocese/departments/observer/
"Through the years, the Observer has undergone many changes and improvements. One result has been the dramatic rise in its readership from a circulation of about 45,000 issues in the 70’s to the current circulation of approximately 140,000."


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« Reply #31 on: December 17, 2007, 04:31:28 PM »

According to the GOARCH website the Orthodox Observer has a circulation of 140,000 households. So if the Greek Archdiocese was going to base its membership on that number multiplied by 2 or 3 you would come up with 500,000 members. This number is the same number from the Krinditch study.

http://www.goarch.org/en/archdiocese/departments/observer/
"Through the years, the Observer has undergone many changes and improvements. One result has been the dramatic rise in its readership from a circulation of about 45,000 issues in the 70’s to the current circulation of approximately 140,000." 

Well, if the GOA is self-reporting a number of $1m+, then the only way to get that number is in the estimated number of people that are Orthodox but not stewards.

For example (and this is an extreme one), the St. Demetrios parish in Astoria, NY is the largest of the Archdiocese, and estimates over 1,000 "members" who are not dues-paying members of the Parish, but who are baptized and chrismated Orthodox and have their kids baptized/married there, show up for communion and unction.  According to one of their priests there's no sure way of "nailing down" how many non-paying members of the Church exist, but they come up with the 1,000+ number because of the rate of sacraments that the Church does.
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« Reply #32 on: December 17, 2007, 06:04:11 PM »

I can only say that in my experience it seems that if someone is  active and dedicated to being in an Orthodox parish, they tend to be the one that does not convert, even if marrying someone that isn't Orthodox.  That is just my observation, and the first liturgy I attended was in 1989.  Now obviously that is someone who is properly catechized in that case.

It seems to me the real crux of the issue is why do people in the diaspora leave the church.  I don't doubt that the experiences relayed here are real, or that the overall trend is that the churches have shrunk.  How many immigrants this country received that were Orthodox in reality is unknown to me.  Many people who came from Eastern Europe or the Middle East were not Orthodox at all.

I think the real issue is secularization, and that people who are Orthodox are probably no more or less prone to succumbing to its effects.  I know many Catholics who intermarried and left the church, or married other Catholics and never attend mass.  My family at one time was extremely involved in church.  I'm one of two or three people in my extended family that I can think of that goes to church at all now.

The liturgical languages used by the church are part of the deposit of faith developed over time and are no more archaic or obsolete than any of the other customs or traditions that have become part of the fabric of belief in the church.  Clearly there is nothing wrong with translating the texts of the church in to vernacular languages or using those texts in worship, but they will never be of the same importance or have the same unifying power as the sacred languages of the church.  The complete triumph of the vernacular would in all liklehood mean the complete Balkanization of the church.

What I believe Metropolitan Laurus is saying is that the religious culture his church was formed in, will always be the reference point for all its members no matter their origin, and I do believe he is quite correct in his belief.  There is no reason English and Slavonic cannot co-exist in the places where English language predominates, because the use of Slavonic will remain a link to the mother church and a common reference point for others for whom English is not a first language.  It is in other words the sacred language is not an artifact of a bygone era, but a critical vestige of a faith that has its whole ethos built on fidelity to the past.

You are right. Those who were catechized properly didn't leave. However most were not catechized properly so they left when they married someone who was Christian but not Orthodox. The time of marriage is pivotal moment. You must decide what church you will be married in and then soon after you must decide which church will you baptize your children in. Once those decisions are made there is usually no turning back. So many of those in the first or second generation believed in Christ and saw no problem with joining 'another' Christian denomination because they didn't know any better, not because they were secularized. Secularization came to later generations, after their parents had already left the Orthodox Church. My Serbian-American girlfriend is a great example. Her grandmother was a devout Orthodox who always attended the services but her daughter left Orthodoxy because it was too foreign (Slavonic liturgy). She met my girlfriend's father and they were married in the Presbyterian Church. They raised their children to be good Presbyterians. As my girlfriend came of age she became disenchanted with the blandness of mainline Christianity. She was lost for few years as a young adult due to the secularization of college life...then she was evangelized by evangelical Christians. And then by some strange twist of fate, she joined a Vineyard evangelical church that eventually became Orthodox.

 
The Orthodox Churches of America are already Balkanized. That is why we have 15 jurisdictions. Most of these jurisdictions are not growing...they are shrinking. Using the vernacular would be one way to help unify the Orthodox Church of America. But I have no issues with immigrant parishes which need to use archaic languages for their people. However, in time, even the immigrant parishes will need to adapt so that the decedents of the immigrants will stay with the church. The reason I use the word archaic to describe the liturgical languages is because those languages are not even the vernacular languages of the immigrants. I believe those ancient languages need to be studied by our theologians and academics so that we will have better translations of liturgical and hymnal texts. We need to reawaken to our missionary task following the examples of SS. Cyril and Methodius and the Russian saints who translated the liturgy into the vernacular languages of the native American people in Alaska.
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« Reply #33 on: December 17, 2007, 11:29:33 PM »

I can only say that in my experience it seems that if someone is  active and dedicated to being in an Orthodox parish, they tend to be the one that does not convert, even if marrying someone that isn't Orthodox.  That is just my observation, and the first liturgy I attended was in 1989.  Now obviously that is someone who is properly catechized in that case.


That is the exact conclusion that I drew from my observations as well.
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« Reply #34 on: December 18, 2007, 09:37:43 AM »

My hunch is that if Russian vernacular (a brilliant language in which some of the best prose and poetry *ever* written was produced in) were introduced into the MP is that in twenty years most monasteries, major cathedrals and a handful of parishes would use Slavonic while the typical parish would use Russian.  I don't see how that would be a bad compromise.   

That would probably make sense.

You are right. Those who were catechized properly didn't leave. However most were not catechized properly so they left when they married someone who was Christian but not Orthodox. The time of marriage is pivotal moment. You must decide what church you will be married in and then soon after you must decide which church will you baptize your children in. Once those decisions are made there is usually no turning back. So many of those in the first or second generation believed in Christ and saw no problem with joining 'another' Christian denomination because they didn't know any better, not because they were secularized. Secularization came to later generations, after their parents had already left the Orthodox Church.

There are two things in this that I would see differently.  One is that I think the people in question did in fact know better, but decided for whatever reason that it was not important to remain Orthodox.  Orthodoxy in the source countries came in to contact with nearly all the major Christian confessions and non Christian religions as well.  People there, down to the peasants themselves, knew at the most basic level why they were or were not Orthodox.  Secondly, I believe the process you are describing is indeed the process of secularization.  Secularization is a process, beginning with the loss of adherence to clearly defined truths, breakdown of communal obligations and observance and most importantly the preeminent place of individual conscience and autonomy.

Quote
My Serbian-American girlfriend is a great example. Her grandmother was a devout Orthodox who always attended the services but her daughter left Orthodoxy because it was too foreign (Slavonic liturgy).

Could be the second generation effect.

Quote
The Orthodox Churches of America are already Balkanized. That is why we have 15 jurisdictions. Most of these jurisdictions are not growing...they are shrinking. Using the vernacular would be one way to help unify the Orthodox Church of America. But I have no issues with immigrant parishes which need to use archaic languages for their people. However, in time, even the immigrant parishes will need to adapt so that the decedents of the immigrants will stay with the church. The reason I use the word archaic to describe the liturgical languages is because those languages are not even the vernacular languages of the immigrants. I believe those ancient languages need to be studied by our theologians and academics so that we will have better translations of liturgical and hymnal texts. We need to reawaken to our missionary task following the examples of SS. Cyril and Methodius and the Russian saints who translated the liturgy into the vernacular languages of the native American people in Alaska.

There is nothing wrong with use of the vernacular, and one thing I do think would be nice is standardization of the English language texts used across the various jurisdictions.  The sacred languages should however continue to be used along side them, and jurisdictional unity should never be equated with or be tantamount to the erasing of the distinct ethnic and cultural elements of each particular church that are present here.
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« Reply #35 on: December 18, 2007, 11:14:35 AM »

That would probably make sense.

There are two things in this that I would see differently.  One is that I think the people in question did in fact know better, but decided for whatever reason that it was not important to remain Orthodox.  Orthodoxy in the source countries came in to contact with nearly all the major Christian confessions and non Christian religions as well.  People there, down to the peasants themselves, knew at the most basic level why they were or were not Orthodox.  Secondly, I believe the process you are describing is indeed the process of secularization.  Secularization is a process, beginning with the loss of adherence to clearly defined truths, breakdown of communal obligations and observance and most importantly the preeminent place of individual conscience and autonomy.

Could be the second generation effect.

It wasn't the immigrants who walked away from their faith away. They realized how valuable it was and that is why they sent for priests from the old country and built churches in North America. It was their children and grandchildren who did not comprehend what they had because the churches here catered to the immigrant's needs. The churches here did not understand how intermarriage and the wide variety of denominations would pull their children and grandchildren away. My grandparents and great uncles were strict fasters, understood the scriptures in Arabic, could chant in Arabic and understood the theology because they had been educated while they were children in the old country. Traveling Syrian bishops and priests would stay with my dad's family because they knew my grandfather was a strong supporter of the church. However, my father and his generation were ignorant about the theology of the faith. He said Orthodoxy for him meant attending a Greek or Russian Orthodox church and standing for hours bored to death, listening to services in a foreign language. There was no Sunday school, youth groups or catechism classes for his generation. The only reason he remained Orthodox was when he moved to Washington DC, he attended an Antiochian church in the hope he would find a wife. It wasn't until years later, when my sister and I were teenagers, he learned what it meant to be Orthodox. We were all catechized together by a former Roman Catholic seminarian who converted to Orthodoxy and became our priest. We were fortunate. He conducted all the services in English and my father was amazed at what he learned from attending the services and catechism class. In his middle age, he discovered the pearl of great price his father had treasured. If this priest hadn't been assigned to our parish, I highly doubt I would have remained Orthodox if I married someone outside of the faith. But because of what he taught me I remained steadfast during my dating years. I let anyone I dated know how important my Orthodox faith was in my life and how I would never give it up for anyone.

Quote
There is nothing wrong with use of the vernacular, and one thing I do think would be nice is standardization of the English language texts used across the various jurisdictions.  The sacred languages should however continue to be used along side them, and jurisdictional unity should never be equated with or be tantamount to the erasing of the distinct ethnic and cultural elements of each particular church that are present here.
I don't mind having a sprinkling of "Lord have mercys" and other petitions in another language and it is beautiful to sing "Christ is Risen" in various languages but I doubt in the long run, Orthodox churches in North America will continue to use foreign languages.  Cultural elements will change over time because it will be impossible to maintain distinct ethnic or cultural elements. People forget that the church has evolved since day one. Just ask any immigrants from any Orthodox country if the Orthodox churches here have the same customs and do things exactly the same way as over there.  Various cultures have put their mark on Orthodoxy and this will continue to happen. We cannot stop it. The only thing that remains the same is change.
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« Reply #36 on: December 18, 2007, 01:21:55 PM »

I don't mind having a sprinkling of "Lord have mercys" and other petitions in another language and it is beautiful to sing "Christ is Risen" in various languages but I doubt in the long run, Orthodox churches in North America will continue to use foreign languages.  Cultural elements will change over time because it will be impossible to maintain distinct ethnic or cultural elements. People forget that the church has evolved since day one. Just ask any immigrants from any Orthodox country if the Orthodox churches here have the same customs and do things exactly the same way as over there.  Various cultures have put their mark on Orthodoxy and this will continue to happen. We cannot stop it. The only thing that remains the same is change.

The sacred languages used by the church are not "foreign languages".  They are the languages of the church itself.  Do I think vernacular could and should be used, absolutely, but the sacred languages of the church should never go away.  Ideally the two should be used side by side.

The particular churches that have a presence in North America certainly are not exactly like their source countries, but they are now and should remain distinct.  Alaska is a good example.  There is a distinct culture that has emerged in there, but by the same token it is certainly distinctly and visibly identifiably Russian in nature, though it has evolved.  It is and should always remain what the diocese refers to itself as - The Russian Orthodox Diocese of Alaska.  The beauty of Orthodoxy in this country is that it is a tapestry of distinct cultures and traditions.  Doubtless these will change to some extent, but we should always be able to go in to a parish and know it's Greek or Romanian or Bulgarian or whatever in its traditions.  The carrying forward of these traditions is not only possible, it's an imperative for the church.

S'nami Boh!
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« Reply #37 on: December 18, 2007, 01:23:16 PM »


When people have this very personal problem with Orthodoxy, laughing in their face that they left the TRUTH has never caused a positive outcome, IME. 

I don't think Joe was laughing. I think he, like me, would be very sad whenever anyone leaves the Orthodox Church.
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« Reply #38 on: December 18, 2007, 02:00:18 PM »

The sacred languages used by the church are not "foreign languages".  They are the languages of the church itself.  Do I think vernacular could and should be used, absolutely, but the sacred languages of the church should never go away.  Ideally the two should be used side by side.

The particular churches that have a presence in North America certainly are not exactly like their source countries, but they are now and should remain distinct.  Alaska is a good example.  There is a distinct culture that has emerged in there, but by the same token it is certainly distinctly and visibly identifiably Russian in nature, though it has evolved.  It is and should always remain what the diocese refers to itself as - The Russian Orthodox Diocese of Alaska.  The beauty of Orthodoxy in this country is that it is a tapestry of distinct cultures and traditions.  Doubtless these will change to some extent, but we should always be able to go in to a parish and know it's Greek or Romanian or Bulgarian or whatever in its traditions.  The carrying forward of these traditions is not only possible, it's an imperative for the church.

S'nami Boh!

All wishful thinking. Like I said, even the ROCOR has seen the need to have exclusively English speaking parishes. I am sure some customs will remain but change will happen and we don't know what form it will take. But we should never forget the imperative of the church is to baptize all nations in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
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« Reply #39 on: December 18, 2007, 02:04:37 PM »

Wellkodox,

I could not disagree with you more. Why should native Alaskans (AMERICANS) be identified with the Russian Orthodox Church?

A number of posters on this thread have very clearly pointed out that the use of languages other than English have been responsible for nearly extinguishing Orthodoxy among the second and third generation of immigrants. I completely disagree that there are "sacred" languages in the Church of Christ. The language of the church is the language that people read and understand the Gospels in. Divine Liturgy is not a performance to be watched and listened to. It is meant for active participation by all in attendance--in the language they speak!

I grew up with church slavonic and understood nothing! I am the only one of the 38 kids in my last Sunday school class who is still Orthodox. My generation (I'm 54) missed learning about Orthodoxy because of church slavonic. If the church clings to Russian, Greek or Arabic as the languages of Divine Liturgy, the church will continue to diminish into "heritage clubs"  and lose another generation.

My parish has ethnicity of every stripe. But what we all have in common is ENGLISH. At Pashca a few foreign language Christ is Risen's are thrown in for nostalgia's sake but that is it. We have 200 members and are growing. If we put Russian, Greek or Antiochian in our church name that growth would stop.

We need to jettison ethnicity and foreign language FAST,IMHO, to save the church from diminishment.

Cowboy
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« Reply #40 on: December 18, 2007, 02:12:50 PM »

Wellkodox,

I could not disagree with you more. Why should native Alaskans (AMERICANS) be identified with the Russian Orthodox Church?

A number of posters on this thread have very clearly pointed out that the use of languages other than English have been responsible for nearly extinguishing Orthodoxy among the second and third generation of immigrants. I completely disagree that there are "sacred" languages in the Church of Christ. The language of the church is the language that people read and understand the Gospels in. Divine Liturgy is not a performance to be watched and listened to. It is meant for active participation by all in attendance--in the language they speak!

I grew up with church slavonic and understood nothing! I am the only one of the 38 kids in my last Sunday school class who is still Orthodox. My generation (I'm 54) missed learning about Orthodoxy because of church slavonic. If the church clings to Russian, Greek or Arabic as the languages of Divine Liturgy, the church will continue to diminish into "heritage clubs"  and lose another generation.

My parish has ethnicity of every stripe. But what we all have in common is ENGLISH. At Pashca a few foreign language Christ is Risen's are thrown in for nostalgia's sake but that is it. We have 200 members and are growing. If we put Russian, Greek or Antiochian in our church name that growth would stop.

We need to jettison ethnicity and foreign language FAST,IMHO, to save the church from diminishment.

Cowboy

Cowboy,

People forget that Koine Greek was the vernacular of the empire (kind of like English is today)...not a sacred language. If a specific language was to be consisdered sacred then Hebrew or Aramaic would have been the choice of the church and we would still be using it today.  Through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, God blessed all languages to be used to spread the Word of God to all men on Pentecost.
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« Reply #41 on: December 18, 2007, 02:23:06 PM »

Tamara,

Let us also not forget that St. Herman translated the Gospels into Aleut for the Alaskan people. He did not force them to learn Russian/Church Slavonic.

Cowboy
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« Reply #42 on: December 18, 2007, 02:25:31 PM »

Cowboy, I think things are not always as simple as they may first appear to be.  I think the sacred languages of the church are indeed just that as I have said, part of the tradition of the church and part of its sacred culture.  Neither the church languages or vernacular should be used to the exclusion of the other.  The Roman Catholic Church systematically removed its sacred language from its liturgy, and in my opinion (shared by many Catholics I have spoken with) they ended up disposing of much of their sacred culture as well.  Ironically now many young Catholics are actively looking for and advocating the TLM; i.e. the traditional Latin mass with no vernacular whatsoever - http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/Top_News/2007/10/28/young_catholics_turn_to_latin_mass/3399/.  They lost something when they threw the culture they were rooted in out the window.  Many Catholics who have nothing but English language liturgies available to them, and a generic American religious culture to participate in, continue to leave in droves.

I won't re-quote Metropolitan Laurus of the ROCOR, but he spoke on this exact topic.  When asked how people would be integrated in his church, he made it clear it is the culture and model of Russian Orthodoxy that will unite them.  Even the missions that use English predominantly (and not exclusively, because I don't think they have any where no Slavonic is used at all), have this as a common reference point.  Metropolitan Laurus may be a wishful thinker, but to my knowledge the ROCOR is growing and the OCA not, so I am far from convinced that the prescriptions I hear for stripping Orthodoxy of its cultural elements will do anything in the long run but destroy the church.  Look at what the Ruthenian BCC is doing to themselves right now.

In regards to the Alaskan Diocese, one would have to ask them, because it was and is their decision to retain the name "The Russian Orthodox Diocese of Alaska".
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« Reply #43 on: December 18, 2007, 02:28:17 PM »

Tamara,

Let us also not forget that St. Herman translated the Gospels into Aleut for the Alaskan people. He did not force them to learn Russian/Church Slavonic.

Cowboy

You are right. Wasn't there an account of a native Alaskan crying the first time he heard the Gospel or the Divine Liturgy in his native language? He was overcome with joy to understand the meaning of what he had never known before that moment. I can't remember where I read that story.  Huh
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« Reply #44 on: December 18, 2007, 02:37:52 PM »

Wellkodox,

I never said anything about culture, just about language. I have no problem with ethnic customs, traditions, etc. I think this is the "tapestry" of which you speak. But I truly believe that we Orthodox, in defiance of the great commision, put up many, many unnecessary obstacles to attracting our own youth as well as other Christians and non-Christians. Language is just the most obvious and aggrandizing example.

The Russian Orthodox Diocese of Alaska remains so named due to a rogue Bishop of the OCA. Ask a native Alaskan if this is the name they cherish. You will find the answer to be a resounding NO.

Cowboy
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