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Offline Seeker73

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Questions from a seeker
« on: February 11, 2008, 08:46:39 PM »
Hello everyone,

As near as I can tell, this is the appropriate area for me to make this post.  If not, I apologize.

I was raised Protestant but after studying Church history on my own for several years I have realized for the past few years that the Protestant churches are not actually the true Church.  I've been attending a Roman Catholic parish for a while, and I'm happy there for the most part.  However, I have serious reservations about the Roman Catholic Church, reservations that no Roman Catholic priest or parishioner have been able to adequately address.  Posting on CAF hasn't helped either.  Recently, I've been reading about the Orthodox Church.  My readings have been limited to the Internet because I don't have access to, or knowledge of, any good Orthodox books, commentaries, or Bibles. 

Can anyone recommend some good reading materials that would help me learn about the Orthodox faith, and the similarities and differences between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church?  In particular, I have questions about the Papacy, Apostolic succession, and the various national branches of the Orthodox Church.  I have other questions as well, but I won't bore you all by listing them, and I suppose it wouldn't be appropriate to do so anyway.

Thanks to anyone who responds, and God bless to you all!
« Last Edit: February 11, 2008, 08:48:16 PM by Seeker73 »

Offline prodromas

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2008, 08:55:58 PM »
Welcome seeker73 to our humble forum. Do not feel shy posting your questions at all and trust me you won't bore us because at one stage everyone here has seeked the proper answers to them. I even believe that there is a thread just for questions.
The sins I don't commit are largely due to the weakness of my limbs.

1915-1923 Հայոց Ցեղասպանութիւն ,never again,
ܩܛܠܐ ܕܥܡܐ ܐܬܘܪܝܐ 1920-1914, never again,
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(1914-1923) Ελληνική Γενοκτονία, never again

Offline GreekChef

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2008, 09:08:18 PM »
Welcome to the forum, Seeker!

I know everybody always recommends these two books, but, as far as I can tell(I loved both of them when I read them for a class), there's a reason for that.  :)

Start with The Orthodox Church by Timothy Ware and The Orthodox Way, also by Timothy Ware (either one may be found under the name Kallistos Ware- this is the name he was given as a Bishop of the Orthodox Church).  These two books are a fabulous starting point.

Also, feel free to ask your questions!  Don't hold back!  There are lots of people here who are well equipped to answer questions and love to do so.

What specifically about the Papacy, Apostolic succession, and the national branches of the Church are you wondering about?

Also, the other thing most people around here will tell you is, if you are interested in the Church, find your nearest local Orthodox parish and speak with the priest.  They are a wonderful resource and can give you guidance more specific to your situation.

Again, welcome, and may God bless you on your journey!
Presbytera Mari
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Matthew 18:5

Offline Riddikulus

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2008, 09:21:16 PM »
Welcome to the forum, seeker. May the Holy Spirit guide you on your journey of discovery. :)
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Offline Seeker73

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2008, 12:01:31 AM »
Welcome seeker73 to our humble forum. Do not feel shy posting your questions at all and trust me you won't bore us because at one stage everyone here has seeked the proper answers to them. I even believe that there is a thread just for questions.

Thank you!  I'll check out that thread.

Offline Seeker73

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2008, 12:18:26 AM »
Welcome to the forum, Seeker!

I know everybody always recommends these two books, but, as far as I can tell(I loved both of them when I read them for a class), there's a reason for that.  :)

Start with The Orthodox Church by Timothy Ware and The Orthodox Way, also by Timothy Ware (either one may be found under the name Kallistos Ware- this is the name he was given as a Bishop of the Orthodox Church).  These two books are a fabulous starting point.

Also, feel free to ask your questions!  Don't hold back!  There are lots of people here who are well equipped to answer questions and love to do so.

What specifically about the Papacy, Apostolic succession, and the national branches of the Church are you wondering about?

Also, the other thing most people around here will tell you is, if you are interested in the Church, find your nearest local Orthodox parish and speak with the priest.  They are a wonderful resource and can give you guidance more specific to your situation.

Again, welcome, and may God bless you on your journey!
Presbytera Mari

Thank you for the book recommendations, I'll look them up online.

As for asking a priest, I'm not sure how possible that is.  There is one Orthodox parish in my area, and it's a mission church that doesn't have a priest.  I've actually just been made aware of this parish recently.  The priest comes to the parish once a month for Divine Liturgy.  I suppose I could attend the Divine Liturgy and introduce myself to him one month and try asking him some questions. 

Thank you for encouraging me to ask my questions.  As for my first one, I'm wondering about the Papacy.  I realize that the Papacy was established retroactively after the Church had already been in existence for quite some time.  I don't doubt this, because I've had numerous Roman Catholics verify this for me.  I've read numerous RC sources regarding the Papacy and the primacy of Rome, but what I've learned about the subject has caused me to have some doubts and has given me the desire to search out other sources in order to learn more.  I realize that the main issue between Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians is the Papacy, so I'm wondering exactly what is the Orthodox objection?  Why do Orthodox Christians object so strongly to the primacy of Rome?  I feel like I'm missing a piece of a puzzle and need it in order to gain the full picture and truly be able to make an informed decision regarding my faith.  Did Rome rule the Church before the Eastern Church separated from the West, or was the Pope merely one bishop among many?  How can I know with certainty? 

I'm sorry my response is so long.  Due to the length, I'll refrain from asking any further questions right now.  If I start to annoy anyone with questions, please let me know.  I have many, and I understand if they would be too burdensome.  I honestly know little about the Orthodox faith, and I'm simply seeking complete truth. 
« Last Edit: February 12, 2008, 12:19:52 AM by Seeker73 »

Offline Seeker73

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2008, 12:20:46 AM »
Welcome to the forum, seeker. May the Holy Spirit guide you on your journey of discovery. :)

Thank you for the welcome, and God bless you!   :)

Offline prodromas

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2008, 12:34:53 AM »
The way I have had it explained to me seeker is that that Jesus obviously gave some more importance to Peter over the other apostles by handing him the "keys to the Kingdom" and Orthodox don't dispute this and lets say that the Roman Catholic church united with the Orthodox church then the Ecumenical Patriarch would step down as First among equals and would re-establish Rome in her proper position as First among equals. Now this is the dividing part Orthodox believe that no Bishop has any power over another bishop and there is an equal brotherhood with the title of First among equals being only a title of honor then an extra set of rules for that Bishop. Roman Catholics on the other hand believe that the Bishop of Rome (The pope currently His Holiness Benedict XVI) was given from Jesus authority over other bishops and is the universal bishop of the church and power of dogma and belief can be created (or revealed) through him. Please any Orthodox or Catholic believers please help me if I have made any mistakes through ignorance of mine.
The sins I don't commit are largely due to the weakness of my limbs.

1915-1923 Հայոց Ցեղասպանութիւն ,never again,
ܩܛܠܐ ܕܥܡܐ ܐܬܘܪܝܐ 1920-1914, never again,
השואה  1933-1945, never again,
(1914-1923) Ελληνική Γενοκτονία, never again

Offline Seeker73

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2008, 02:58:38 AM »
The way I have had it explained to me seeker is that that Jesus obviously gave some more importance to Peter over the other apostles by handing him the "keys to the Kingdom" and Orthodox don't dispute this and lets say that the Roman Catholic church united with the Orthodox church then the Ecumenical Patriarch would step down as First among equals and would re-establish Rome in her proper position as First among equals. Now this is the dividing part Orthodox believe that no Bishop has any power over another bishop and there is an equal brotherhood with the title of First among equals being only a title of honor then an extra set of rules for that Bishop. Roman Catholics on the other hand believe that the Bishop of Rome (The pope currently His Holiness Benedict XVI) was given from Jesus authority over other bishops and is the universal bishop of the church and power of dogma and belief can be created (or revealed) through him. Please any Orthodox or Catholic believers please help me if I have made any mistakes through ignorance of mine.

Thank you for your answer, I was unaware of this.  So is this why there is currently dialogue between The Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church?  It's an attempt to persuade the Pope to take his place as first among equals so reunification can occur?

Offline orthodoxlurker

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2008, 07:24:26 AM »
The way I have had it explained to me seeker is that that Jesus obviously gave some more importance to Peter over the other apostles by handing him the "keys to the Kingdom" and Orthodox don't dispute this and lets say that the Roman Catholic church united with the Orthodox church then the Ecumenical Patriarch would step down as First among equals and would re-establish Rome in her proper position as First among equals.

Well, several issues here I believe need clarification.

First, we do venerate all Apostoles, and I'm not sure that every Orthodox would agree that Christ gave "more importance" to Peter - yes, He gave him the keys, but there is also "the Apostole whom Jesus loved" John, etc. So symbolism of the keys is not straightforwardly interpreted as "more importance" of Peter - why would Apostole James preside in the Apostoles' Council in Jerusalem, and not Peter? Besides, there is also Peter's confession of Christ, Son of God, as well as his renounce of Christ three times before dawn.

Successors of Peter were Popes of Rome and Patriarchs of Antioch. Pope of Alexandria is successor of Mark, whom was Peter's disciple and was sent there by Peter, so they are also successors of Peter. Antioch is also the mother Church of Constantinopolis and Jerusalem, that were initially part of Church of Antioch, and re-established Russian bishops in present-day Ukraine somewhere in 17th century, so all these trace their succession to Apostole Peter. Constantinopolis is mother Church to a number of autocephalous Churches in Balkans and Europe.

Regarding the Pope of Rome, there are three separate issues:

1) Primacy
2) Supremacy
3) Infaillability

While the later two are flatly rejected, the primacy may be discussed as the decision of Ecumenical Council. It's been proclaimed at a local council in Sardica, A.D. 343 (after the First and before the Second council)

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/sardica5.html
Council of Sardica A.D. 343
Quote
Sardica was the first synod which asserted, in some sense, Roman primacy in the Church

(Greek Verion)

BISHOP HOSIUS said: Decreed, that if any bishop is accused, and the bishops of the same region assemble and depose him from his office, and he appealing, so to speak, takes refuge with the most blessed bishop of the Roman church, and he be willing to give him a hearing, and think it right to renew the examination of his case, let him be pleased to write to those fellow-bishops who are nearest the province that they may examine the particulars with care and accuracy and give their votes on the matter in accordance with the word of truth. And if any one require that his case be heard yet again, and at his request it seem good to move the bishop of Rome to send presbyters a latere, let it be in the power of that bishop, according as he judges it to be good and decides it to be right--that some be sent to be judges with the bishops and invested with his authority by whom they were sent. And be this also ordained. But if he think that the bishops are sufficient for the examination and decision of the matter let him do what shall seem good in his most prudent judgment.

The bishops answered: What has been said is approved.

(Latin Version)

BISHOP HOSIUS said: Further decreed, that if a bishop is accused, and the bishops of that region assemble and depose him from his office, if he who has been deposed shall appeal and take refuge with the bishop of the Roman church and wishes to be given a hearing, if he think it right that the trial or examination of his case be renewed, let him be pleased to write to those bishops who are in an adjacent and neighbouring province, that they may diligently inquire into all the particulars and decide according to the word of truth. But if he who asks to have his case reheard, shall by his entreaty move the Bishop of Rome to send a presbyter a latere it shall be in the power of that bishop to do what he shall resolve and determine upon; and if he shall decide that some be sent, who shall be present and be judges with the bishops invested with his authority by whom they were appointed, it shall be as he shall choose. But if he believe that the bishops suffice to give a final decision, he shall do what he shall termine upon in his most wise judgment.

selected from Henry R. Percival, ed.,The Seven Ecumenical Councils of the Undivided Church, Vol XIV of Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, 2nd series, edd. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, (repr. Edinburgh: T&T Clark; Grand Rapids MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1988) p. 419

Mind, there is no mention of Peter - the primacy was reasoned by the importance of the city of Rome. Sardica was a local council, but Sixth Ecumenical council confirmed it's cannon as ecumenically binding.

Cannonically, the primacy would mean the jurisdiction of the Pope of Rome to hear the appeal by a clargy as a final instance, and to order new trial by the same Church if he reversed the decision. Nothing more.

Second cannon of Sixth Ecumenical council
http://www.intratext.com/IXT/ENG0835/_P23.HTM
Quote
This too has appeared best to the this holy Council, as well as most important, that the 85 Canons handed down to us in the name of the holy and glorious Apostles, and as a matter of fact accepted and validated by the holy and blissful Fathers preceding us, be henceforth retained and left firm and secure for the care of souls and the cure of diseases. But inasmuch as we are ordered in these Canons to accept the Injunctions of the same holy Apostles (as transmitted) through Clemens, into some of which certain spurious passages destitute of piety have been interpolated long ago by the heterodox to the detriment of the Church, arid have tarnished the becoming and natural beauty of the divine dogmas for us, we have suitably weeded out such ordinances in furtherance of the edification and security of the most Christian flock, not in the least way being minded to approve the fantastic inventions of heretical mendacity that have been inserted in the genuine and uncorrupted didache (or teaching) of the Apostles. On the other hand, we ratify all the rest of the sacred Canons promulgated by our holy and blissful Fathers, to wit: the three hundred and eighteen foregathered in Nicaea, those convened in Ancyra, and furthermore also those who met in Neocaesarea, likewise those who attended the meeting in Gangra, but in addition to these also those who convened in Antioch, Syria, and furthermore also those who held a Council in Laodicea; further, again, the one hundred and fifty who convened in this God-guarded and imperial capital city, .and the two hundred who assembled at an earlier time in the metropolis of Ephesus, and the six hundred and thirty holy and blissful Fathers who met in Chalcedon. Likewise those who convened in Sardica; furthermore those in Carthage. Further and in addition to all these those now again convened in this God-guarded and imperial capital city in the time of Nectarius the president of this imperial capital city, and of Theophilus who became Archbishop of Alexandria. Furthermore also of Dionysius who became Archbishop of the great city of Alexandria, and of Peter who became Archbishop of Alexandria and a Martyr withal, and of Gregory the Thaumaturgus (or Miracle-worker) who became Bishop of Neocaesarea, of Athanasius the Archbishop of Alexandria, of Basil the Archbishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, of Gregory of Nyssa, of Gregory the Theologian, of Amphilochius the Archbishop of Iconium, Timothy a former Archbishop of the great city of Alexandria, of Theophilus an Archbishop of the great city of the Alexandrians, of Cyril an Archbishop of Alexandria, and of Gennadius who became a Patriarch of this God-guarded imperial capital city. Furthermore, the Canon promulgated by Cyprian who became an Archbishop of the country of Africa and a martyr, and by the Council supporting him, who alone held sway in the places of the aforesaid presidents, in accordance with the custom handed down to them; and no one shall be permitted to countermand or set aside the Canons previously laid down, or to recognize and accept any Canons, other than the ones herein specified, that have been composed under a false inscription by certain persons who have taken in hand to barter the truth. If, nevertheless, anyone be caught innovating with regard to any of the said Canons, or attempting to subvert it, he shall be responsible in respect of that Canon and shall receive the penance which it prescribes and be chastised by that Canon which he has offended.

Not all Orthodox accept that, provided Rome renounced novel beliefs that are under anathemas of ecumenical councils, she would immediatelly get primus inter pares status. Many say the time would be required for Rome to witness her Orthodoxy before that.

Needless to say, there are no signs Rome would renounce beliefs that are under anathemas of ecumenical councils, filioque being the main obstacle, and return to Orthdoxy.

BTW, welcome Seeker73.
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Offline Heorhij

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2008, 07:51:39 AM »
Dear Seeker,

Welcome to the site!

May I add to the excellent responses of others that you might also read books by Presbytera Frederica Mathewes-Green (personally, I particularly liked her book titled "The Illumined Heart"). She was raised Protestant and married a man who was an Episcopalian minister. They both converted to Orthodoxy, and now her husband is an Orthodox priest in suburban Baltimore. Mathewes-Green has a very easy-to-read, beautiful, compelling writing style.

Best wishes to you,

George
Love never fails.

Offline prodromas

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2008, 08:21:14 AM »
Thank you orthodoxlurker sorry for the misinformation everyone  :-[
The sins I don't commit are largely due to the weakness of my limbs.

1915-1923 Հայոց Ցեղասպանութիւն ,never again,
ܩܛܠܐ ܕܥܡܐ ܐܬܘܪܝܐ 1920-1914, never again,
השואה  1933-1945, never again,
(1914-1923) Ελληνική Γενοκτονία, never again

Offline Thomas

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2008, 09:17:40 AM »
Dear Seeker 73,

Welcome to the OC.Net and the Convert Issues Forum.  We hope this will be a safe place to ask and get questions answered about the Orthodox Faith. Let us know how your reading is doing and if there are additional questions we can answer.  I know that  Bishop Kallistos does cover the issues you needed answers on in his Book The Orthodox Church and we will be happy to respond to anyother questions you have.  Again Welcome, we look forward to hearing from you regularly.

Thomas
Convert Issues Forum Moderator.
Your brother in Christ ,
Thomas

Offline orthodoxlurker

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2008, 10:16:13 AM »
Thank you orthodoxlurker sorry for the misinformation everyone

There was no misinformation from your part, bro! I just tried to make more proper wording.

@Seeker73,

Also, since i misquoted Sardica regarding reasoning of primacy for Rome being a Royal city, here is the proper cannon:

http://www.intratext.com/IXT/ENG0835/_P1W.HTM
Quote
* Fourth Ecumenical Council.
28.

Everywhere following the decrees of the Holy Fathers, and aware of the recently recognized Canon of the one hundred and fifty most God-beloved Bishops who convened during the reign of Theodosius the Great of pious memory, who became emperor in the imperial city of Constantinople otherwise known as New Rome; we too decree and vote the same things in regard to the privileges and priorities of the most holy Church of that same Constantinople and New Rome. And this is in keeping with the fact that the Fathers naturally enough granted the priorities to the throne of Old Rome on account of her being the imperial capital. And motivated by the same object and aim the one hundred and fifty most God-beloved Bishops have accorded the like priorities to the most holy throne of New Rome, with good reason deeming that the city which is the seat of an empire, and of a senate, and is equal to old imperial Rome in respect of other privileges and priorities, should be magnified also as she is in respect of ecclesiastical affairs, as coming next after her, or as being second to her. And it is arranged so that only the Metropolitans of the Pontic, Asian, and Thracian dioceses shall be ordained by the most holy throne of the most holy Church of Constantinople aforesaid, and likewise the Bishops of the aforesaid dioceses which are situated in barbarian lands; that is to say, that each Metropolitan of the aforesaid dioceses, together with the Bishops of the province, shall ordain the Bishops of the province, just as is prescribed by the divine Canons. But the Metropolitans of the aforesaid dioceses, as has been said, are to be ordained by the Archbishop of Constantinople, after the elections have first been conducted in accordance with custom, and have been reported to him. (Ap c. XXXIV; c. III of the 2nd and c. XXXVI of the 6th.)

There are also a number of other cannons of Ecumenical Councils that set the organization of the Church after the Metropolitan period into the Pentarchy period. See:
http://www.intratext.com/IXT/ENG0835/_P1L.HTM
http://www.intratext.com/IXT/ENG0835/_P9.HTM
http://www.intratext.com/IXT/ENG0835/_P8.HTM

There is a resource that bluntly addresses some of the issues you raised at
http://www.geocities.com/trvalentine/

Bear in mind no one is infaillable in Orthodoxy except the Church itself, so somethimes it takes us time to see what is the stance of the Church and who is speaking on Her behalf. As an example, at the above link you'll find the claim that the council of 879-880 was Eighth Ecummenical Council, which is not accepted in the Church. Yet, since it is still a valid local council (where actually everybody participated), there still is a chance it will be proclaimed as the Eighth One once we gather the Ninth Ecummenical.

Regarding various national churches, first make the distincion between
those separated from us after 431 (Council of Efesus)
http://orthodoxwiki.org/Nestorianism
those separated from us after 451 (Council of Chalcedon)
http://orthodoxwiki.org/Oriental_Orthodox
(Coptic and Armenian Orthodox, and recently autocephalous Ethiopian Orthodox)
and remaining national churches holding together after Rome separated herself from us in 1054.
http://orthodoxwiki.org/List_of_autocephalous_and_autonomous_Churches

Enjoy.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2008, 10:17:03 AM by orthodoxlurker »
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Offline ialmisry

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #14 on: February 12, 2008, 09:39:33 PM »
Welcome seeker!

I would also, since you come from a Protestant background, get a copy of the Orthodox Study Bible, as it is also written by Orthodox from a Protestant background (and often criticized on that basis).

I'd get the earlier editions of Bishop Ware's "The Orthodox Church."  Recent editions are not as good.

Btw, I am a fomer Protestant, who burned icons within a year before my conversion.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2008, 09:40:00 PM by ialmisry »
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Offline ComingHome

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #15 on: February 13, 2008, 12:16:00 AM »
Welcome Seeker!  You are in the company of a number of us who are seekers and have not yet made it home.  By God's Grace, I am ComingHome.

Offline Myrrh23

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #16 on: February 13, 2008, 06:42:33 PM »
Hey Seeker--


Let me also crowd you down with another welcome basket! ;)
Don't ever feel hesitant about asking us questions, or even being critical of certain beliefs.  :)

Myrrh23
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Offline Paisius

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #17 on: February 13, 2008, 09:40:54 PM »
Btw, I am a fomer Protestant, who burned icons within a year before my conversion.
You burned icons?  :o


Yours in Christ
Paisius

Offline GiC

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #18 on: February 13, 2008, 09:44:06 PM »
You burned icons?  :o

Maybe he was cold. ;)

Offline Marc1152

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #19 on: February 13, 2008, 10:06:57 PM »
Thank you for your answer, I was unaware of this.  So is this why there is currently dialogue between The Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church?  It's an attempt to persuade the Pope to take his place as first among equals so reunification can occur?

I think this Pope is pretty clear about the Orthodox objections to a Papal Monarchy over the entire Church, something we would never accept. I think what he has said is "show me a way to work this out with you without freaking out my followers with too sharp of a turn around"..... Probably cant be done.

I would add to your reading list "Popes and Patriarchs" by Michael Whealton.
Your idea has been debunked 1000 times already.. Maybe 1001 will be the charm

Offline Seeker73

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #20 on: March 03, 2008, 02:41:22 PM »
Thanks again to everyone who has taken the time to reply to me and provide information.  I've been absent because I've been busy moving, but I'm back now.  I'm going to make my way through the links that have been provided and look for the books that have been suggested, and I'll post more.  I appreciate everyone inviting me to ask questions.  This has been the warmest welcome I've ever received on a Christian forum.  I've had some bad experiences on another forum, but I won't digress.

By the way, can someone explain the ethnic nature of the Orthodox Church to me?  I've looked it up several times, but can't find a definitive answer.  For example, there is a Greek Orthodox Church in Norfolk, VA (About a one hour drive from me) and it has an outreach to Christians in Greece, helping them financially.  I don't understand why they would focus solely on Christians of a specific ethnicity.  I feel drawn to the Orthodox Church because of from what I can tell, there isn't the problems with rampant heresy likt there is in the Roman Catholic Church.  (That's one of the major things about the RCC that bothers me.)  However, I have reservations about the ethnic divisions in the Orthodox Church.  I don't think churches are supposed to be divided based on ethnicity, so I would appreciate it if someone would help me understand this while I'm making my way through these recommended readings.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2008, 04:06:35 PM by Seeker73 »

Offline Simayan

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #21 on: March 03, 2008, 05:07:40 PM »
However, I have reservations about the ethnic divisions in the Orthodox Church.  I don't think churches are supposed to be divided based on ethnicity.

Well, as you probably already know, all ethnicities within Orthodoxy are all in communion with one another (i.e. a Russian priest/parishioner could serve the Liturgy/receive communion at a Greek church.

With the current situation in America and most western countries, there is no real "ethnicity", so the separation between Orthodox churches doesn't make much sense to converts (myself included at first). However, it was a way to allowed Christianity to grow in places outside of normal reach. For example, if the Japanese were forced to speak Greek, most would probably not bother to even learn more about the Church, because it was the imposing of a foreign culture upon theirs. This allows different "flavors" of Orthodoxy to be developed while keeping all of the same beliefs.
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Offline Irenaeus07

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #22 on: March 03, 2008, 05:23:24 PM »


By the way, can someone explain the ethnic nature of the Orthodox Church to me?  I've looked it up several times, but can't find a definitive answer.  For example, there is a Greek Orthodox Church in Norfolk, VA (About a one hour drive from me) and it has an outreach to Christians in Greece, helping them financially.  I don't understand why they would focus solely on Christians of a specific ethnicity.  I feel drawn to the Orthodox Church because of from what I can tell, there isn't the problems with rampant heresy likt there is in the Roman Catholic Church.  (That's one of the major things about the RCC that bothers me.)  However, I have reservations about the ethnic divisions in the Orthodox Church.  I don't think churches are supposed to be divided based on ethnicity, so I would appreciate it if someone would help me understand this while I'm making my way through these recommended readings.

The Ethic Division of the Church is due in large to the immigration, from these different parts of the world.  Russian, Greek, Arabs, and the many others.  There is an American Othrodox Church, OCA, as well.  One may ask why did they immigrants build Greek, Russian etc etc in American when there was already Orthodox Church in America.  The need to pray in ones own tongue.  I am American and attend a Greek Church, and they pray in both in English and Greek.  There isn't really an America culture per se, but America is a Culture made up of many different cultures, so different ethic churches are fitting in a way.  So in a way it is a beautiful thing.  I like different cultures, it is not like Islam, where you are made to become an Arab, in the Greek Church you are NOT forced to become Greek, you can pray and learn Christianity in your own language, and this is one of the beautiful things about the Orthodox Church.  They let you keep your culture, yet you still are able to benefit from the spiritual aspect of the church without becoming a completely different culture.

This weekend, after church service, they had a Greek dance.  It was nice.  So you can experience different cultures without traveling to a different country.  One of the perks of becoming Orthodox. :D



I would recommend listening to this lecture by Bishop Kallistos Ware. The Future of the Orthodox Church in America, and he addresses this issue of different Ethic Churches.

http://orthodoxdetroit.com/ Both the lecture and the question and answering.  He kind of addresses this issue.

Be warned though, his speech might put you to sleep, Bishop Kallistos Ware, is aware of it, so much so, that he said, one time his speech put himself to sleep, He is funny, but the message in his lecture is so profound.  I would recommend listening to it.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2008, 05:29:33 PM by Irenaeus07 »

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #23 on: March 03, 2008, 05:25:52 PM »
Seeker73,

Re: enthnic thing.  It really isn't that complicated.  Orthodox churches in America started from immigrants from certain countries.  Since the Orthodox faith is different from, say the Lutheran faith, these immigrants brought the Orthodox faith to this country and set up their churches.  Naturally, they would have inclinations to help (charity-wise) fellow Orthodox back in the mother country.  Yes, we agree that things shouldn't be divided ethnically, but that is reality.  They should be divided geographically or territorially instead of ethnically.  Part of this ethnic fragmenting has to do with how Orthodoxy is not centrally governed like the RCC with Rome but the other is the fact that America is a land of immigrants from many countries.  I've noticed the ethnic thing but to a lesser degree in RC churches when there are separate Spanish/English/German/etc. services.  Also keep in mind that the Protestant churches came to the USA for religious freedom and have changed drasically from their start as well as many of them starting on American soil.

Offline Elisha

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #24 on: March 03, 2008, 05:29:29 PM »

Be warned though, his speech might put you to sleep, Bishop Kallistos Ware, is aware of it, so much so, that he said, one time his speech put himself to sleep, He is funny, but the message in his lecture is so profound.  I would recommend listening to it.


He used that joke in Oakland, CA as well, mostly in respect to his last lecture which was after lunch.  I wouldn't say that his speech is boring/soft at all - quite the contrary.  He is a very interesting speaker.

Offline Seeker73

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #25 on: March 03, 2008, 09:22:56 PM »
Thanks for all the answers about the ethnic aspect of the faith.  Are there any parishes that don't associate with any one particular ethnic group?

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #26 on: March 03, 2008, 09:58:39 PM »
For example, there is a Greek Orthodox Church in Norfolk, VA (About a one hour drive from me) and it has an outreach to Christians in Greece, helping them financially.  I don't understand why they would focus solely on Christians of a specific ethnicity. 

Let me just hone in on this point:

You state: "I don't understand why they would focus solely on Christians of a specific ethnicity."  They don't.  If you're surmising that they do based on the moniker "Greek Orthodox," then let's get to the bottom of the descriptor: "Greek Orthodox" is a term also used in Middle Eastern and North African Churches, even though they don't speak Greek.  Sometimes descriptors like "Greek" and whatnot don't describe who's inside, but rather how they worship - i.e. what set of traditions they follow; in addition, while frequently in this country "Greek" and other such descriptors do actually indicate who's inside, it doesn't restrict who's allowed in - in these cases, it's just telling you where they came from.

On the other hand, if you're surmising that they're "focus(ed) solely on Christians of a specific ethnicity" because they lend help to people in Greece specifically - well, I think that maybe my future Father-in-law's Church should be called Tanzanian (even though they're all Greeks and speak English and Greek in the services) because they lend their help to people in Tanzania specifically.
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Offline Seeker73

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #27 on: March 03, 2008, 10:11:02 PM »
Let me just hone in on this point:

You state: "I don't understand why they would focus solely on Christians of a specific ethnicity."  They don't.  If you're surmising that they do based on the moniker "Greek Orthodox," then let's get to the bottom of the descriptor: "Greek Orthodox" is a term also used in Middle Eastern and North African Churches, even though they don't speak Greek.  Sometimes descriptors like "Greek" and whatnot don't describe who's inside, but rather how they worship - i.e. what set of traditions they follow; in addition, while frequently in this country "Greek" and other such descriptors do actually indicate who's inside, it doesn't restrict who's allowed in - in these cases, it's just telling you where they came from.

On the other hand, if you're surmising that they're "focus(ed) solely on Christians of a specific ethnicity" because they lend help to people in Greece specifically - well, I think that maybe my future Father-in-law's Church should be called Tanzanian (even though they're all Greeks and speak English and Greek in the services) because they lend their help to people in Tanzania specifically.

Yes, they seem to focus solely on helping Christians in Greece.  If they don't, they make no mention of it.  All this is clearly stated on their website.  As for your future father in law's church, that doesn't concern me.  I have no knowledge of it, so I can't comment.  My post stated that this parish concentrates on extending aid to Christians in Greece, which they do.  This can be alienating to non-Greeks.  I'm sorry if you have a problem with this.  It's a shame some people obviously feel the need to be sarcastic and condescending when someone asks a sincere question.  I've noticed that you've answered other newcomers' questions in a helpful and welcoming manner.  Apparently you've reserved your hostility for me for some reason.  Thanks for making me feel so welcome here.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2008, 02:01:45 AM by Seeker73 »

Offline Marc1152

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #28 on: March 03, 2008, 10:34:23 PM »
Thanks for all the answers about the ethnic aspect of the faith.  Are there any parishes that don't associate with any one particular ethnic group?

If the liturgy is in English it means that it is not an ethnic community much more than if it is part of a particular jurisdiction. For example, one local Russian Orthodox Church has an African Amercan Priest, and the other one in town has a former Anglican as their Priest. The "Russian" or "Greek"  or "Antiochian" label has more to do with some stylistic differences The key is if a parish  is committed to worship in English.

Then of course you can merely find an OCA parish ( Orthodox Church in America) which tries hard to give American convets a soft landing even though they are in reality part of the Russian Tradition .
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Offline Irenaeus07

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #29 on: March 03, 2008, 10:42:44 PM »
Thanks for all the answers about the ethnic aspect of the faith.  Are there any parishes that don't associate with any one particular ethnic group?

OCA, Orthodox Church of America give there services in english only, but honestly speaking, you should not allow the ethicity of a particular church, veil the path that God is paving for you.

The parish I go to is Greek, and however the first Orthodox Parish I attended was the OCA.  While a beautiful parish, I feel that I should not let ethicity veil me from attending the local Greek Orthodox Church which is five minutes from my house, the OCA Is 45 minutes from my house.

There are things that we personally want in life, but what does God want for us, is the most important question.  Yes I want to be part of a parish that is not based on ethicity, for I feel that this the aim of the church, yes I want a parish which give classes on Orthodox Christianity, because other parishes do, yes it would be nice to be part of parish that I could relate to, however all this does not exist in the Greek Parish I attend.  But I say, perhaps God placed in this city, with a Greek Orthodox church for a reason.

So I place my self in the hands of God, with the hopes that He, our Lord, knows what is best for me.

And it is God alone who gives success.



 
« Last Edit: March 04, 2008, 01:33:54 AM by Irenaeus07 »

Offline John of the North

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #30 on: March 04, 2008, 02:19:12 AM »
Yes, they seem to focus solely on helping Christians in Greece.  If they don't, they make no mention of it.  All this is clearly stated on their website.  As for your future father in law's church, that doesn't concern me.  I have no knowledge of it, so I can't comment.  My post stated that this parish concentrates on extending aid to Christians in Greece, which they do.  This can be alienating to non-Greeks.  I'm sorry if you have a problem with this.  It's a shame some people obviously feel the need to be sarcastic and condescending when someone asks a sincere question.  I've noticed that you've answered other newcomers' questions in a helpful and welcoming manner.  Apparently you've reserved your hostility for me for some reason.  Thanks for making me feel so welcome here.

I don't catch an ethnic slant on the Cathedral website....in fact the list of external charities they support is very non-ethnic in my eyes...

For the record I am an Orthodox Convert who is one quarter Ukrainian. Although my home parish is Ukrainian, I am also involved the Antiochian parish and to a lesser extent the Orthodox Church in America parish. Through the Orthodox college group, I hope to also attend the Russians, the Serbians, the Romanians...essentially everyone I can.

The varied ethnicities of the Church is not a burden, it is a blessing. Each of us, convert or cradle, has our unique cultural background and life expereince to bring to the Church. I remember sitting down with Fr. Elias and apologizing for not being avble to attend Liturgy with the Antiochians as often as I would like....and he explained to me that any work I do with the Ukrainians is for the betterment of the entire Church. The priority should be on being Orthodox Christian....Ukrainian or Russian or Serbian or Greek second.

The main barrier would be language, and even that can be overcome with time and patience if that is what you desire. I am sure that, for the most part, any Church you visit will accept you with open arms and tender love.
“Find the door of your heart, and you will discover it is the door to the kingdom of God.” - St. John Chrysostom

Offline Seeker73

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #31 on: March 04, 2008, 01:48:09 PM »
I don't catch an ethnic slant on the Cathedral website....in fact the list of external charities they support is very non-ethnic in my eyes...

For the record I am an Orthodox Convert who is one quarter Ukrainian. Although my home parish is Ukrainian, I am also involved the Antiochian parish and to a lesser extent the Orthodox Church in America parish. Through the Orthodox college group, I hope to also attend the Russians, the Serbians, the Romanians...essentially everyone I can.

The varied ethnicities of the Church is not a burden, it is a blessing. Each of us, convert or cradle, has our unique cultural background and life expereince to bring to the Church. I remember sitting down with Fr. Elias and apologizing for not being avble to attend Liturgy with the Antiochians as often as I would like....and he explained to me that any work I do with the Ukrainians is for the betterment of the entire Church. The priority should be on being Orthodox Christian....Ukrainian or Russian or Serbian or Greek second.

The main barrier would be language, and even that can be overcome with time and patience if that is what you desire. I am sure that, for the most part, any Church you visit will accept you with open arms and tender love.

Thank you for your response.  That has been my main reservation about Orthodox Christianity, and not being able to find a clear answer regarding the ethnic divisions in the Church hasn't helped, of course.  My main concerns regarding the ethnic divisions have been any possible language barrier in the liturgy, and wondering how welcome I would be at a Greek, Russian, etc. parish. 

Perhaps some people here should keep in mind that many people do not have a background in any type of church that has any type of ethnic ties at all, so the idea of a "Greek" or "Russian" church would be confusing to them.  Also, taking a sincere question at face value without stooping to being hostile would also be nice, especially since this is a Christian forum. 
« Last Edit: March 04, 2008, 01:48:55 PM by Seeker73 »

Offline Seeker73

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #32 on: March 04, 2008, 01:50:09 PM »
OCA, Orthodox Church of America give there services in english only, but honestly speaking, you should not allow the ethicity of a particular church, veil the path that God is paving for you.

The parish I go to is Greek, and however the first Orthodox Parish I attended was the OCA.  While a beautiful parish, I feel that I should not let ethicity veil me from attending the local Greek Orthodox Church which is five minutes from my house, the OCA Is 45 minutes from my house.

There are things that we personally want in life, but what does God want for us, is the most important question.  Yes I want to be part of a parish that is not based on ethicity, for I feel that this the aim of the church, yes I want a parish which give classes on Orthodox Christianity, because other parishes do, yes it would be nice to be part of parish that I could relate to, however all this does not exist in the Greek Parish I attend.  But I say, perhaps God placed in this city, with a Greek Orthodox church for a reason.

So I place my self in the hands of God, with the hopes that He, our Lord, knows what is best for me.

And it is God alone who gives success.

Thank you for your insight.



 
« Last Edit: March 04, 2008, 01:52:35 PM by Seeker73 »

Offline Seeker73

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #33 on: March 04, 2008, 01:51:55 PM »
If the liturgy is in English it means that it is not an ethnic community much more than if it is part of a particular jurisdiction. For example, one local Russian Orthodox Church has an African Amercan Priest, and the other one in town has a former Anglican as their Priest. The "Russian" or "Greek"  or "Antiochian" label has more to do with some stylistic differences The key is if a parish  is committed to worship in English.

Then of course you can merely find an OCA parish ( Orthodox Church in America) which tries hard to give American convets a soft landing even though they are in reality part of the Russian Tradition .

Thank you.  So would it be accurate to say that the different divisions in the Church aren't that significant, or not really divisions at all then? 

Offline Fr. George

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #34 on: March 04, 2008, 02:04:19 PM »
Yes, they seem to focus solely on helping Christians in Greece.  If they don't, they make no mention of it.  All this is clearly stated on their website.  As for your future father in law's church, that doesn't concern me.  I have no knowledge of it, so I can't comment.  My post stated that this parish concentrates on extending aid to Christians in Greece, which they do.  This can be alienating to non-Greeks.  I'm sorry if you have a problem with this.  It's a shame some people obviously feel the need to be sarcastic and condescending when someone asks a sincere question.  I've noticed that you've answered other newcomers' questions in a helpful and welcoming manner.  Apparently you've reserved your hostility for me for some reason.  Thanks for making me feel so welcome here. 

I'm sorry you've perceived hostility and sarcasm where there isn't any - my response was pretty genuine.  I find that passing judgment on a parish for who they happen to help seems a bit out of place - there are billions of people worldwide that need assistance; this particular parish feels that these folks in Greece are being neglected.  It's not that every "Greek" parish only helps people in Greece - far from it.  But this particular parish happens to see a need and they are trying their best to help out.  I'm sorry if you feel alienated by the Christian Charity of a parish; that's unfortunate.  I'm sure if you investigate the church's outreach efforts more closely, you may find that they lend assistance elsewhere; if they don't, that's too bad (I think all parishes need to have a local outreach, in addition to whatever national or global assistance they provide).

Again, I find it unfortunate that you think there is hostility in my response to you - I've put no emotion in my responses in order to provide you with fairly straightforward information.  And my point about the other parish stands - if one is to associate ethnic ties based on who the parish lends their aid to, then you'd find hundreds of different ethnicities on the parish labels (more chaotic than it currently seems, IMO).  Instead, I think you'll find that the parish's ethnic makeup or focus is determined by who's there and how they behave - a determination that can only be made by regularly attending the Church (no one-time visits can give you a good picture as to the health, vitality, focus, etc. of a pairsh).

I hope you do feel welcome here - OC.net is a great place to find information and useful discussion with Orthodox Christians of all backgrounds, walks of life, geographic locations, and of diverse personal histories.
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Offline Fr. George

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #35 on: March 04, 2008, 02:07:10 PM »
Thank you.  So would it be accurate to say that the different divisions in the Church aren't that significant, or not really divisions at all then? 

BINGO.  They're less "divisions" in the major sense (i.e. opposing factions, like Apples and Oranges) as they are "divisions" in the sense that a Granny Smith apple is divided from a Red Delicious.  They're both apples, partaking of the same Apple nature, belonging to the same apple family; they just happen to be different flavors of apple.  Some people like all kinds of apple, and appreciate the diversity of flavors and whatnot.  Some people only like one flavor of apple and don't like the others.  Regardless of whether you eat Granny Smiths, Red Delicious', or another variety, though, you're still eating an apple.  Hope this is helpful.
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Offline John of the North

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #36 on: March 04, 2008, 02:08:00 PM »
Thank you.  So would it be accurate to say that the different divisions in the Church aren't that significant, or not really divisions at all then? 

Correct. By the way, the Antiochian parish I visit is very "ethnic"....low convert total, high immigrant population, a priest from Lebanon, Liturgy in Arabic and English. I love it! I'm really sorry I can't visit there more......so I wouldn't be too worried about the ethnic part unless that parish is actually making it an issue. It honestly doesn't happen too often.

I think the main confusion is not they are discriminating because you are not ethnically the same as them......but they just don't understand why you would be there. To them, One is Orthodox because one is Ukrainian, or Russian, or Serbian etc. Orthodox is a default setting to them.

I remember I had been at my current parish for a few months, and after one of the Lenten evening services one of the ladies came up and we were talking.....it turns out half the parish thought I was just studying Orthodoxy for school and thats why I was having private meetings with Father during coffee hour etc.
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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #37 on: March 04, 2008, 02:48:57 PM »
I currently serve in an Antiochian Parish that is primarily convert with some Russians and a few Greeks mixed in---it is very traditional for a new calendar parish  and yet very evangelical and open to none Orthodox vistors and inquirors.  I was Chrismated into the Orthodox Church in a Greek Orthodox parish amd spent several years in a ROCOR Church mission.  All in all, beyond the ethnic traditions, I have learned to focus on the unity of the faith that is evident in Orthodox Liturgical practice, beliefs, and worship.  Some of the parishes I have been in were very ethnic, others not so much---but I have enjoyed them all with their cutural diversity and traditions that enrich my life and my spiritual growth---I have learned something from each of them.  I hope that such may be your experience over the years.  My wife and I celebrated 20 years as Orthodox Christians, last Pascha.

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Offline Seeker73

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #38 on: March 04, 2008, 04:22:46 PM »
I'm sorry you've perceived hostility and sarcasm where there isn't any - my response was pretty genuine.  I find that passing judgment on a parish for who they happen to help seems a bit out of place - there are billions of people worldwide that need assistance; this particular parish feels that these folks in Greece are being neglected.  It's not that every "Greek" parish only helps people in Greece - far from it.  But this particular parish happens to see a need and they are trying their best to help out.  I'm sorry if you feel alienated by the Christian Charity of a parish; that's unfortunate.  I'm sure if you investigate the church's outreach efforts more closely, you may find that they lend assistance elsewhere; if they don't, that's too bad (I think all parishes need to have a local outreach, in addition to whatever national or global assistance they provide).

Again, I find it unfortunate that you think there is hostility in my response to you - I've put no emotion in my responses in order to provide you with fairly straightforward information.  And my point about the other parish stands - if one is to associate ethnic ties based on who the parish lends their aid to, then you'd find hundreds of different ethnicities on the parish labels (more chaotic than it currently seems, IMO).  Instead, I think you'll find that the parish's ethnic makeup or focus is determined by who's there and how they behave - a determination that can only be made by regularly attending the Church (no one-time visits can give you a good picture as to the health, vitality, focus, etc. of a pairsh).

I hope you do feel welcome here - OC.net is a great place to find information and useful discussion with Orthodox Christians of all backgrounds, walks of life, geographic locations, and of diverse personal histories.

I'm sorry you jumped to the conclusion that I was judging this parish, and I'm sorry you didn't see the sarcasm and condescension in your response to me.  You've judged me unfairly and didn't bother to take into account where I'm coming from.  Everyone except you has made me feel welcome here.  Being new here, I hope the rest of my experiences here are more positive than my interaction with you has been.  Perhaps the two of us should just avoid each other in the future.

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #39 on: March 04, 2008, 04:39:45 PM »
I'm sorry you jumped to the conclusion that I was judging this parish, and I'm sorry you didn't see the sarcasm and condescension in your response to me.  You've judged me unfairly and didn't bother to take into account where I'm coming from.  Everyone except you has made me feel welcome here.  Being new here, I hope the rest of my experiences here are more positive than my interaction with you has been.  Perhaps the two of us should just avoid each other in the future.

My sincerest apologies for offending you.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2008, 04:42:15 PM by cleveland »
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Offline Seeker73

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #40 on: March 04, 2008, 04:42:31 PM »
BINGO.  They're less "divisions" in the major sense (i.e. opposing factions, like Apples and Oranges) as they are "divisions" in the sense that a Granny Smith apple is divided from a Red Delicious.  They're both apples, partaking of the same Apple nature, belonging to the same apple family; they just happen to be different flavors of apple.  Some people like all kinds of apple, and appreciate the diversity of flavors and whatnot.  Some people only like one flavor of apple and don't like the others.  Regardless of whether you eat Granny Smiths, Red Delicious', or another variety, though, you're still eating an apple.  Hope this is helpful.

Thank you for your response.  (I just read this one, after my most recent post to you.)  Let's officially bury the hatchet now.  God bless.

Offline Seeker73

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #41 on: March 04, 2008, 04:43:24 PM »
My sincerest apologies for offending you.

I apologize as well.  Apparently this was just an unfortunate misunderstanding.

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #42 on: March 04, 2008, 05:20:26 PM »
Correct. By the way, the Antiochian parish I visit is very "ethnic"....low convert total, high immigrant population, a priest from Lebanon, Liturgy in Arabic and English. I love it! I'm really sorry I can't visit there more......so I wouldn't be too worried about the ethnic part unless that parish is actually making it an issue. It honestly doesn't happen too often.

I think the main confusion is not they are discriminating because you are not ethnically the same as them......but they just don't understand why you would be there. To them, One is Orthodox because one is Ukrainian, or Russian, or Serbian etc. Orthodox is a default setting to them.

I remember I had been at my current parish for a few months, and after one of the Lenten evening services one of the ladies came up and we were talking.....it turns out half the parish thought I was just studying Orthodoxy for school and thats why I was having private meetings with Father during coffee hour etc.

That's interesting.  That reminds me of some of the synagogues and mosques I've visited in the past, when I was in college writing papers on world religions.

Offline Seeker73

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #43 on: March 04, 2008, 05:26:49 PM »
I currently serve in an Antiochian Parish that is primarily convert with some Russians and a few Greeks mixed in---it is very traditional for a new calendar parish  and yet very evangelical and open to none Orthodox vistors and inquirors.  I was Chrismated into the Orthodox Church in a Greek Orthodox parish amd spent several years in a ROCOR Church mission.  All in all, beyond the ethnic traditions, I have learned to focus on the unity of the faith that is evident in Orthodox Liturgical practice, beliefs, and worship.  Some of the parishes I have been in were very ethnic, others not so much---but I have enjoyed them all with their cutural diversity and traditions that enrich my life and my spiritual growth---I have learned something from each of them.  I hope that such may be your experience over the years.  My wife and I celebrated 20 years as Orthodox Christians, last Pascha.

Thomas

And I take it you were welcome in all of them?  It's interesting that you mentioned the unity of the faith, because I think I feel drawn to Orthodoxy partly due to the rampant heresy in the Cartholic Church.  Judging from the parishes here in Northeastern North Carolina and Southeastern Virginia (And from what Catholic friends in other parts of the world tell me) Catholic parishes are teaching many varied doctrines today, many of them heretical.  From what I've read, heresy doesn't seem to be as much of a problem in the Orthodox Church. 
« Last Edit: March 04, 2008, 05:32:45 PM by Seeker73 »

Offline Seeker73

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Re: Questions from a seeker
« Reply #44 on: March 04, 2008, 05:32:14 PM »
By the way, I called the local Orthodox mission here in my area.  (The only one close by, the next one is the Greek Orthodox Church in Norfolk, VA that I mentioned earlier.)  The man who answered the phone was friendly and seemed genuinely excited that I had called.  There is an inquirer's class that meets tomorrow night, and I'm going tomorrow evening.  I'm looking forward to it.