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Author Topic: Cradle Orthodox vs. New Converts  (Read 4906 times) Average Rating: 0
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DennyB
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« on: May 05, 2008, 01:44:54 PM »

I have a question for those here that are cradle Orthodox Christians. Do you think that you have as much personal devotion( ex: prayer,evangelism,and bible study) as those who are recent converts,especially those who have come out of the evangelical movement?
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« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2008, 02:50:26 PM »

And why is it you are asking such a question, in such a way? Do you want to receive senseless generalisations by way of reply?
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« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2008, 03:12:24 PM »

I have a question for those here that are cradle Orthodox Christians. Do you think that you have as much personal devotion( ex: prayer,evangelism,and bible study) as those who are recent converts,especially those who have come out of the evangelical movement?

Yes.

But don't assume I think this is 'good enough'.
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« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2008, 03:31:46 PM »

I've just heard of new converts bring the excitement and ferver over into their newly found faith,I apologize if the question seemed a little derisive in any way.
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« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2008, 03:33:23 PM »

I never had a cradle, I had a crib.  Seriously why do you ask such a question?  Labels only create division in what is supposed to be the undivided Body of Christ, the church.  Once we are received into the Church, whether 40 days old or 34 years old, we are all one, equals.  People have to convert everyday of their lives and say, "I commit myself to Christ." 
Look, I can take you to a real place RIGHT now where the attitude of some former Protestants is taking its toll on people around them.  They chide and snicker at those they deem ethnic and cradles.
Look, my great aunts and uncles may not have read all the Desert Fathers or memorized the bible in Greek, but they lived their faith.  They lived the Gospels, they carried out the message of Matthew 25.  They believe/believed.
However some find it mandatory to label those folks who labored in coal mines to support a family and a church as nothing but ethnics and cradles and ignorants... the one former evangelical guy I know often brags how he is going to build a paddle with the word "piety" imprinted on it and smack cradles with it.  I don't remember the last time I saw these guys giving their last 10 dollars to another person so she could go get her medicine, or taking food to the shut-ins.  I could go on all afternoon, but please don't fall into this trap of "us converts know orthodoxy more than those whose families have been Orthodox since St. Vladimir converted Kiev'Rus."
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« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2008, 03:40:19 PM »

I'm not a cradle (obviously if you've been reading my posts), but I can say that my parish has a mix of both. Enthusiasm is good, but if you don't adopt a really orthodox mindset and worldview it doesn't really matter. I'm very grateful to those steeped in the faith from childhood because they are the ones who have it in their bones.  Yeah, the finer points of theology matter- that's why many of us are here, right? But there is an extent to which they really do have to be balanced with the big picture. Personally I still feel rather clueless.

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« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2008, 03:40:25 PM »

I have a question for those here that are cradle Orthodox Christians. Do you think that you have as much personal devotion( ex: prayer,evangelism,and bible study) as those who are recent converts,especially those who have come out of the evangelical movement?

I thought Evangelicals didn't believe in works.
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« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2008, 03:45:12 PM »

Just think before you ask: Is it a question you might get some benefit from or is it for comparative study(or simple curiosity)? And how objective or fair could that be? Would it not be putting "cradles" in one sack and "converts" in another?or would you like some brothers to say they think they act better or worse than some other of their brothers? There is not a versus within the Orthodox or there should not be one and while I understand you are just asking, imagine this kind of question been put to you as whether you consider yourself a better son than your brothers and sisters within the family of all of you.Do you get my meaning?
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« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2008, 03:49:48 PM »

I am not really a cradle since I was not baptized at all in infancy, but I grew up in Ukraine and know dozens if not hundreds of "cradles." My wife is a "cradle." And I'd say, NO, the vast majority of "cradles" - at least from the former Soviet Union and its satellites of my generation, people who are now in their late 40-s - early 50-s, are usually NOT what you would call "devout." It does not mean that they are immoral or unbelieving - rather, it's just that outward "devoutness" in these people's minds is associated with a certain, to put it mildly, mental illness. A normal, mentally stable man and woman should work, raise family, accummulate some wealth, gain good repute, and of course participate in all those beautiful Church feasts where kids dance, etc., and good food is sold. But pray a lot, fast seriously, go to youth camps, read those, whaddaya call'em, "fathers...." - uhmmmm, no. Smiley That's for converts. Smiley
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« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2008, 03:50:30 PM »

I have a question for those here that are cradle Orthodox Christians. Do you think that you have as much personal devotion( ex: prayer,evangelism,and bible study) as those who are recent converts,especially those who have come out of the evangelical movement?
I don't know. I don't busy myself looking over people's shoulders to see what they're reading or put spycams in their bedrooms to count their prostrations. In fact- I don't even care. I don't compare myself to anyone to see if I'm better than they are.
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« Reply #10 on: May 05, 2008, 03:54:00 PM »

I don't know. I don't busy myself looking over people's shoulders to see what they're reading or put spycams in their bedrooms to count their prostrations. In fact- I don't even care. I don't compare myself to anyone to see if I'm better than they are.

But don't you have close friends who are Orthodox? Are they like yourself? Do they share anything about their faith with you?

I can't imagine having a devout Orthodox friend...
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« Reply #11 on: May 05, 2008, 04:07:45 PM »

if anything I think that cradles are more likely to take the faith for granted.  that was my problem for a long time, and I continue to see it at both parishes I attend. 

but it's like anything else in life.  if it's always there, you take it for granted and don't realize how lucky you are.  for some it might be the faith, and for others it might be money, or their family, or something as simple as having ten fingers and ten toes.
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« Reply #12 on: May 05, 2008, 04:17:51 PM »

I have a question for those here that are cradle Orthodox Christians. Do you think that you have as much personal devotion( ex: prayer,evangelism,and bible study) as those who are recent converts,especially those who have come out of the evangelical movement?

This is not the time for a joke, but what the heck. Apprentices always carry the tools. Wink
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« Reply #13 on: May 05, 2008, 04:57:52 PM »

Denny,

We all do Christ's work in our own way. We all can learn from one another. I was raised in an Orthodox home and I had the example of my illiterate Syrian grandmother who wouldn't breathe without saying, "Ya' Allah!" meaning "My God help me!" She couldn't read the Bible or lives of the saints but she had absorbed her faith as a child living in an Orthodox village under less than ideal circumstances. And my dad told me stories of how his father would never let him leave the house without first doing the sign of the cross over my dad as his blessing. According to my dad, my grandfather would give his last dollar to a stranger if the person needed it and my grandfather was not a materially wealthy man. There is much to learn from those who lived and breathed Orthodoxy through the centuries of their ancestors. It is hard to explain in words what I am trying to convey but I do believe we need more of these types of folks around as role models for all of us. The priest I confess to his similar to my grandmother. Whenever I speak to him excitedly about some grand plan I might have, he will slow me down with his quiet words of,"Nish-ker-Allah" which means "God willing."
I hope what I have written has given you a small sense of what a treasure some of these "cradle" Orthodox folks are.

sincerely, Tamara
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« Reply #14 on: May 05, 2008, 06:02:57 PM »

Denny,

We all do Christ's work in our own way. We all can learn from one another. I was raised in an Orthodox home and I had the example of my illiterate Syrian grandmother who wouldn't breathe without saying, "Ya' Allah!" meaning "My God help me!" She couldn't read the Bible or lives of the saints but she had absorbed her faith as a child living in an Orthodox village under less than ideal circumstances. And my dad told me stories of how his father would never let him leave the house without first doing the sign of the cross over my dad as his blessing. According to my dad, my grandfather would give his last dollar to a stranger if the person needed it and my grandfather was not a materially wealthy man. There is much to learn from those who lived and breathed Orthodoxy through the centuries of their ancestors. It is hard to explain in words what I am trying to convey but I do believe we need more of these types of folks around as role models for all of us. The priest I confess to his similar to my grandmother. Whenever I speak to him excitedly about some grand plan I might have, he will slow me down with his quiet words of,"Nish-ker-Allah" which means "God willing."
I hope what I have written has given you a small sense of what a treasure some of these "cradle" Orthodox folks are.

sincerely, Tamara

I guess I was so engrained in Western culture,and Evangelical Protestantism that in the Reforming of my mind,I still have some hang-ups that haunt me.
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« Reply #15 on: May 05, 2008, 06:15:21 PM »

But don't you have close friends who are Orthodox?
Yes.

Are they like yourself?
In what way?

Do they share anything about their faith with you?
Yes.

I can't imagine having a devout Orthodox friend...
How do you know that you don't have one?
Orthodox spirituality and piety is such a personal thing between each person, God and their Spiritual Father or Mother. Because of our Liturgical practices and the way we conduct ourselves in Church as Orthodox Christians, people tend to assume that our personal spirituality is just as visible. It isn't. Saints are invisible during their lives on earth, which is why so many of them are overlooked or even rejected by the "respectable" people in the Church (St. Nektarios of Pentapolis springs to mind). So often, when people seek signs of of "piety" and "sanctity" in others, what they are looking for (and often find) are "piosity" and "sanctimony"- the hideous apes of piety and sanctity.
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« Reply #16 on: May 05, 2008, 10:20:00 PM »

I am not cradle, but let me give you a friendly warning.  I've seen many posters on internet forums accuse cradle Orthodox of being nominal or lax and that they have nothing to learn from them.  However, if you have that attitude, of course, you won't learn anything from them.  You can only learn if you are willing to see that you can learn from them.  Have I know nominal or lax cradle Orthodox, sure, but I've also known converts that are the same.  I've also known some cradle Orthodox that are extremely holy and who live their faith every day.  If you have the attitude that you have a lot to learn and that you can learn from cradle Orthodox, I'll guarantee that you can learn a lot.  People who truly live the Orthodox life and are mature in the faith don't go around trumpeting it and giving unsolicited advice. 
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« Reply #17 on: May 05, 2008, 10:47:47 PM »

I am not cradle, but let me give you a friendly warning.  I've seen many posters on internet forums accuse cradle Orthodox of being nominal or lax and that they have nothing to learn from them.  However, if you have that attitude, of course, you won't learn anything from them.  You can only learn if you are willing to see that you can learn from them.  Have I know nominal or lax cradle Orthodox, sure, but I've also known converts that are the same.  I've also known some cradle Orthodox that are extremely holy and who live their faith every day.  If you have the attitude that you have a lot to learn and that you can learn from cradle Orthodox, I'll guarantee that you can learn a lot.  People who truly live the Orthodox life and are mature in the faith don't go around trumpeting it and giving unsolicited advice. 

I'm sure I could learn alot from a cradle Orthodox.
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« Reply #18 on: May 05, 2008, 11:01:59 PM »

This is an issue even St Paul had to deal with. My advice is don't put people into these categories at all and just deal with each person individually.
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« Reply #19 on: May 06, 2008, 09:34:21 AM »

I'm sure I could learn alot from a cradle Orthodox.

Good for you.  With that attitude, you can learn a lot.  Just be aware that you can often see among converts on the internet the opposite point of view.  I tend to stay away from those people.
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« Reply #20 on: May 06, 2008, 11:45:07 AM »

This is an issue even St Paul had to deal with. My advice is don't put people into these categories at all and just deal with each person individually.

Good advice! Many of my friends who were born in Orthodox countries always say "you converts have so much more zeal than we-you're truly Orthodox."  Yet more often  than not I feel convicted by THEIR zeal and repeat those words back to them...
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« Reply #21 on: May 06, 2008, 12:39:53 PM »

Howdy!

For Convert v. Cradle issues, I strongly recommend:

One Flew Over the Onion Dome
American Orthodox Converts, Retreads & Reverts
By: Fr. Joseph David Huneycutt
Pub: Regina Orthodox Press
ISBN: 978-1-928653-27-1
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« Reply #22 on: May 06, 2008, 12:49:39 PM »


 How do you know that you don't have one?
Orthodox spirituality and piety is such a personal thing between each person, God and their Spiritual Father or Mother. Because of our Liturgical practices and the way we conduct ourselves in Church as Orthodox Christians, people tend to assume that our personal spirituality is just as visible. It isn't. Saints are invisible during their lives on earth, which is why so many of them are overlooked or even rejected by the "respectable" people in the Church (St. Nektarios of Pentapolis springs to mind). So often, when people seek signs of of "piety" and "sanctity" in others, what they are looking for (and often find) are "piosity" and "sanctimony"- the hideous apes of piety and sanctity.

Completely agree. But that's exactly what I meant - I don't have any friends who are "piositious" and "sanctimonious."

My wife and I socialize mostly with very secular people who openly declare that they don't believe in any gods and that Christianity is an evil thing. Yet, there are exceptions. When we lived in Seattle, we knew two families of first-generation Ukrainian immigrants who were very religious and yet not "piositious" or "sanctimonious." They were cradle Ukrainian Greek (or Eastern Rite) Catholics though, not Orthodox.
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« Reply #23 on: May 06, 2008, 10:54:50 PM »

Just because evangelicals, whether Orthodox converts or still protestant come equipped with a ready made vocabulary of personal faith and piety doesn't mean they really are.

What I noticed right away when I began the journey to Orthdoxy is that Orthdodox people don't have the vocabulary of personal faith that evangelicals do. By this I mean the evangelical talk of a  "personal" relationship with Jesus; "quiet time,"   "God told me" (aside: when I hear this I usually want to run for the nearest door)   "the Lord led me"     "commitment"    "giving one's life to Christ"     "sharing"         "God spoke to me through scripture" (the apex of sola scriptura).

Anyway, evangelicals carry this vocabulary of personalized religion into Orthodoxy; they quickly learn the new lingo and can answer all the protestant objections to Orthodoxy. The really smart ones might remember alot of quotes from the Fathers or what the various canons say. And every one thinks they are pious and better Orthodox Christians.

Life-long Orthdox will be more reticent. They may talk of a rule of prayer, but won't easily volunteer (so as not to brag) about their own rule of prayer; they will talk more of the liturgy; if they brag, it won't be about themselves but about an uncle or their mother or the priest they grew up under. But you can bet, they absorbed alot from them and likely practice it themselves. Like some Roman Catholics, they might not have scruples about saying a few cuss words or having a drink.

So evangelical converts wrongly conclude they are not pious or are ignorant. Meanwhile. the elderly of these "ignorant" people, with great pain and effort, make their aching prostrations during lent. In fact it might take them the whole sequence of every one else's three prostrations just to get their old arthritic bodies to do one. Just getting up the stairs into the church is their greatest prostration that they do (at least I beleive
God sees it as such).

Then again there are humble and sincere converts as well as cradles that take it all for granted and for whom Orthodoxy is more of a nationality thing.

Fortunately, I don't know people that are like the latter description. As someone already said, it is really an individual thing. person by person.

But it is better not to judge at all and remember the Lenten prayer we say about not judging my brother's sin.
Because really, we don't know the other person's starting point. Someone else's sporadic attendance at liturgy but involvement in all the ethnic food activities may be much further along in his/her journey than I am. In the end, each of us can only judge oneself. And pray.
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« Reply #24 on: May 08, 2008, 08:48:55 AM »

I have a question for those here that are cradle Orthodox Christians. Do you think that you have as much personal devotion( ex: prayer,evangelism,and bible study) as those who are recent converts,especially those who have come out of the evangelical movement?
I am not a cradle.

For the sake of clarity, I think that you should give your definition of "the evangelical movement."
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« Reply #25 on: May 08, 2008, 09:14:44 AM »

Brother Aidan, your post was excellent.

In my former faith, everything was black and white. A regenerated,born-again  person was kind, good, didn't drink,smoke or curse; dressed modestly,gave alms and supported missions,read the Bible daily, prayed, didn't dance or own a TV. Everything  "LOOKED" better.

After being taught that there will be an obvious, outward change at a certain point, it was quite difficult to accept  the fact that in Orthodoxy everything isn't spelled out in such "black and white" terms,that everyone is on a different level, progressing at a different rate.

I still struggle with this. It has not been easy for me to change my mentality. I marvel at, yea, even envy, these converts who can so totally embrace their new faith without any qualms or doubts. I'm not that way at all, sadly.

George, you stated you know very few "pious" Orthodox. This surprises me. Perhaps it is because of your location? I am almost surrounded by recent and not-so recent immigrants from the former USSR and many of them (I mean the ones who attend church) are people of almost fierce piety. In fact, in many ways they appear to me to be the Orthodox equivalent of that from which I came. They read spiritual books all the time, urge others to attend church,contact the priest several times a day, fast much more zealously than I could ever hope to...
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« Reply #26 on: May 08, 2008, 09:32:47 AM »

Brother Aiden, I agree with your post.  Evangelicals talk about having a personal relationship with Christ, but when you talk about keeping His commandments and doing the things that make Him happy, you are accused of trying to earn salvation by works.  Yet, if you have a loving, intimate relationship with someone, you try to do things that will make them happy and please them.  If you love them, the things that are important to them become important to you. 

And even when the Orthodox and Evangelicals use the same terms, they mean something different, sometimes totally different.
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« Reply #27 on: May 08, 2008, 09:38:20 AM »

Quote
  Evangelicals talk about having a personal relationship with Christ, but when you talk about keeping His commandments and doing the things that make Him happy, you are accused of trying to earn salvation by works.  Yet, if you have a loving, intimate relationship with someone, you try to do things that will make them happy and please them.  If you love them, the things that are important to them become important to you. 


My former church taught a more synergist approach involving both faith and works. I'm thankful for that.

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« Reply #28 on: June 04, 2008, 09:14:48 PM »

Well, a lot of the cradle folks I know are an inspiration to me.  I've learned a lot from them.  They're probably more devout than I could ever think of being.
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« Reply #29 on: June 15, 2008, 05:51:52 AM »

Quote
It does not mean that they are immoral or unbelieving - rather, it's just that outward "devoutness" in these people's minds is associated with a certain, to put it mildly, mental illness.

I can understand that. Jesus Himself said not to be like the Pharisees, who show off to everyone how much they fast and how faithful they are. People are so quick to judge how much you love God by how much you adhere to rituals or attendance or expression. We don't need to police each other to make sure everyone is participating "the right way". We just need to encourage people's hope, joy, and trust in God. I think the best way to do that, whether with cradles or converts, is to let them know we're here and give them their space. This seems to be what makes Orthodoxy so different from everything else...this love through trust--the trust that comes from believers trusting that both converts and cradles are reaching out to and being nurtured by God in different ways and at different times in their lives. Smiley
The spirituality of Jesus Christ was never meant to be a race or a contest to see who can get the most of Daddy God's attention and favors. Each individual is different, though all the parts of Orthodoxy are designed to bring people closer to Him. It's just the timing of that closeness that's different for everyone. In the end, we're all in the same Family. I think God requires us to be there for our Brothers and Sisters, but not run the better part of the show for Him. People hear Him sooner or later... Smiley
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« Reply #30 on: June 15, 2008, 07:18:25 PM »

I know this is late in coming and the "props" will pale in comparison to the "Post of the Month" honor already received, but I very much appreciated Brother Aiden's post.

Today at Pentecost Liturgy a sweet, elderly cradle Orthodox woman knelt on arthritic knees through the whole thing.  Her husband -- also very devout -- got onto her for doing so given her condition.  I then asked (along with him) why she was kneeling.  "For the Lord," she responded simply.

None of their kids attend church now, all of them having grown up and married non-Orthodox Christians who themselves do not attend regularly.  This is a couple who did EVERYTHING with their kids -- Sunday school, prayers, REGULAR church attendance, the works.  The elderly gentleman converted from Roman Catholicism for her and was himself a very devout Orthodox Christian from that day forward -- to a degree I didn't see in most Southern Baptists I knew at the churches I attended growing up.  This shows me, the father of two small girls who prays daily -- begs, really -- for God to light His spark in their hearts so they would love God with all their hearts and serve Him in His Church, that even if all the right "stuff" that converts usually brag about doing (or complain about its not being done) is done, you never can tell how things'll end up.

Some of the most active converts are the ones who end up leaving after a few years anyway, btw.  The "slow-burning embers" usually stick around.

I have a maxim of sorts that I try to live by: The people who are the most successful at changing anything -- themselves, their homes, "the world," etc -- are the ones you'll never hear talk about it, because they're too busy actually doing it.  The "humble and sincere converts" Brother Aiden mentioned will lead by example in regular church attendance -- "every time the doors are open," and all that.  The cradles will teach us to shut up about it.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2008, 07:20:25 PM by DavidBryan » Logged

Priest in the Orthodox Church in America - ordained on March 18, 2012

Oh Taste and See (my defunct blog)

From Protestant to Orthodox (my conversion story)
Tags: humility Orthodox conversion Cradles vs. Converts 
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