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Author Topic: long, egocentric convert issues  (Read 2826 times) Average Rating: 0
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cancerbike
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« on: May 19, 2008, 10:26:26 AM »

   So hey, I'm way too anxious too talk to a priest about any of this.  If anyone wants to read a post-novella, I have a plethora of convert issues sitting around making it hard to study any more than I am--I made a post asking for books awhile back and other than the actual Bible, I finished most of them. And I'm still interested in converting, I'm just a walking convert issue  Grin
 
   Background: my parents are both "raised Catholics" who carried on the guilt of their church over to raising me, but were adamant about hating the actual church once they reached adulthood. I've always been interested in church life and Bible classes but I wasn't allowed to go to do anything as a kid. I was literally raised to think religion was a bunch of BS, everyone involved in it was a con-artist and the only purpose of churches were to extract money and scare people about hell. Christianity was always equated with low-intellect and selfishness. Needless to say every time I'd been in a church I felt pretty out of place and a little ashamed that I wanted to be a part of it at all.

    When I was around 15 and going through my hard-core atheist stage we went on a vacation to Italy, and the Vatican. I kept trying to joke about religion and how much it sucked, but really I ended up overwhelmed with everything I saw and experienced there, and felt like I was going back to my genuine desire to have faith. I re-examined my beliefs when I got back from my trip, tried to figure some things out and got interested in the Catholic church for awhile. I also met a lot of great Christians from varying paths and, contrary to what I'd been raised to think, they were amazing and genuinely kind people. (Around the same time I was breaking free of my parents' negative, cynical environment and finally getting positive. Obviously befriending these people helped a lot.)

    However, like many others here I got disillusioned by the Catholic church and Western Christianity in general because of the trying to explain religion through logic thing. To me, it's like trying to explain literature with math. Sure, some of it can correlate, but there's no way you can capture the complete universal essence of an amazing literature piece in mathematical terms--it doesn't make sense, and why bother. I don't care for politics in religion, I think the "updates" of the Catholic and protestant churches get kind of silly, and I don't see how science can disprove anything religious. To me, science in the language of God and I really don't see how it relates to the validity of things. Human spiritual needs never change.

    So I get attracted to the Orthodox Church wanting to go back to some kind of source, some purity, the oldest thing possible. I'm terribly attracted to the figure of Christ, the suffering and rebirth, the crossover of a child from the unknowable to the knowable, etc. It's difficult for me to explain, but I don't care of any of it is literally real or not, it means the same to me. That's probably a problem. I feel God strongly, and it moves my writing, but I don't know if it's the way other people feel God. I feel like I know Christ, but I don't think it's the way other people know Christ. Maybe this is a common problem, but it's difficult to talk about.

    About me in general: I'm 21, female, student, also working full time as a secretary, a writer (poetry/stories), I was a literal social hermit for a few years in the past and I've had social anxiety forever. I'm treating it now and I just recently (in the past few months) started talking to people who weren't my boyfriend and my brother. The people I've associated in the past have been rather colorful (I was put in a mental hospital for hermiting and made some interesting friends).

    I'd like to attend services or talk to a priest but I have extreme anxiety, wondering if I'm looking for the wrong reasons and what not. I don't have anyone to bounce ideas off of and no one else is supportive about my wanting to join, so I don't know if I really am interested for the wrong reasons. This could be my quarter-life crisis trying to sort itself out through faith, which makes me feel selfish. Being raised in a really secular environment it seems like I'd fail if I threw myself out of my paradigm so quickly.

    Also I'm super liberal in general even though I'm socially conservative myself. A few other unchanging problems:

    - I have an ovary disease (endometriosis) and my doctor says I have to be on birth control for the rest of my life unless I'm actively trying to conceive, which I don't plan on doing because of the risks. I'm terrified of getting pregnant ever because there's a higher risk of it being in my tubes = abortion which I couldn't deal with. Might adopt, but I haven't decided yet. Also, being on birth control makes me literally asexual a lot of the time so I have this semi-fiancee who I don't have a sexual relationship with anymore. We're fine being faithful without sex but I really don't want to lead him on/throw out long-term plans if I can't have sex at all ever. I don't know, this is a really weird situation and I have no idea where this stands faithwise or marriage-wise.

    - I'm pro-legal abortion although I'm morally against it. Personal reasons are I don't have a grandma because she died of illegal abortion in the 30's. Basically my grandpa was abusive and in the mob so she didn't want to have another kid by him, got an illegal abortion, died, and my dad doesn't have a mom and we don't have a grandma. I know that confused women in bad situations will choose to get abortions whether they're legal or illegal, ALWAYS have, and I'd rather have them not die and hurt others around them for generations by doing so. I do think abortion is killing and immoral, but that's my stance unfortunately on legality.

    - My brother (who is my best friend) is gay. I've pretty much raised him since my parents weren't around much and I know first hand how he's always been. I truly believe it's a genetic and chemical misfiring that shouldn't effect much. Given my reproductive problems I don't put a huge emphasis on the value of being fruitful of multiplying, and I feel like being socially aware and responsible is more important.

   - Another problem is I'm relatively physically attractive and really young. Not saying that to be vain, but I don't think I'm a typical convert I'm used to people trying to take advantage of me in situations where I ask for any guidance. Also I'm a female who has no interest in family aspects of the church. I have a view of myself being baptized in church and not coming back so I can study and practice by myself.

So I'm feeling incredibly awkward. Any input at all from anyone would be greatly appreciated, on anything at all.


EDIT:  Inappropriate word replaced with something a bit tamer  -PeterTheAleut
« Last Edit: May 19, 2008, 12:41:38 PM by PeterTheAleut » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2008, 10:44:11 AM »

Beloved in the Lord, Cancerbike

Welcome to the Convert Issues Forum! The purpose of the Convert issues forum is to provide a a place on the OC.Net where inquirers, catechumen, and newly converted may ask their questions about the Orthodox Faith in a safe and supportive forum without retribution or recrimination. Many of the questions that you have presented show the turmoil you have in reaching out to the Orthodox Faith and still clinging to your old belief system.  Members of this board will be happy to assist you inunderstanding the position of the orthodox Church on these issues.

I would ask our forum members to keep your answers grounded in Orthodox teachings and currently practices of the Orthodox churches. Please keep your answers direct and simple with sources if possible .

Once again welcome to the Convert Issues Forum.

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« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2008, 12:19:38 PM »

cancerbike,

Welcome to the forum.

First, it is great that you have at least read a bunch of material that was referred to you in your post a month back, but Orthodoxy is something that must be experienced.  One of the biggest "evangelical mottos" if you will (from scripture) is "Come and see!"  So, with that in mind...

1.  Go to http://www.orthodoxyinamerica.org/ and find a parish(es) near where you live and visit.  Visit as many are reasonably close and visit each at least a couple of times to get a good impression.

2.  Since you say you have anxiety, just quietly observe from the back until you feel more comfortable.  After the service, either two things will happen:
2a.  Someone will spot you as being new, introduce themself and possibly invite you to cofee hour/lunch or
2b.  No one will talk to you and you can quietly leave (not the best sign for the parish though, since it makes them seem uninviting/unfriendly).

If 2a happens and you don't feel like hanging out afterward, just politely tell the person(s) that you're shy, just visiting and maybe another time.

God bless.
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« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2008, 01:01:26 PM »

Hey cancerbike,

 I was deeply touched by the examples of your life you gave.  When I began investigating Orthodoxy I too was really shy (heck, I'm still kinda shy Wink) so one day I just called up the priest and asked if we could visit for a while at the church.  He graciously obliged and it was very informal.  He answered all of my questions (sometimes I would call him out of the blue with just one question.) Gradually I got the nerve up to go to church but I went on a Wednesday night when there weren't many people there.  Maybe you could try something similar that wouldn't be so nerve-wracking.  And about your other concerns- they're very important aspects of your life so don't let anyone trivialize them or try and judge you for them.  Most of us are really good at trying to hide our problems, but make no mistake about it- we all have a lot of [stuff] we're desparately trying to work with.  But as you already know deep down in your heart, Christ is with you, ready to help you at every step of the way.  I *really* appreciate your courage to just jump in and share with us.  And- welcome to the forum. Smiley

In Christ,

Gabriel
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« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2008, 08:41:31 PM »

Welcome, Cancerbike! I'll try to address some of the concerns you had:

Quote
I have an ovary disease (endometriosis) and my doctor says I have to be on birth control for the rest of my life unless I'm actively trying to conceive, which I don't plan on doing because of the risks. I'm terrified of getting pregnant ever because there's a higher risk of it being in my tubes = abortion which I couldn't deal with. Might adopt, but I haven't decided yet. Also, being on birth control makes me literally asexual a lot of the time so I have this semi-fiancee who I don't have a sexual relationship with anymore. We're fine being faithful without sex but I really don't want to lead him on/throw out long-term plans if I can't have sex at all ever. I don't know, this is a really weird situation and I have no idea where this stands faithwise or marriage-wise.

Well, the vast majority of Orthodox are fine with birth control and sex during marriage, especially in a situation where it could jeopardize your life. Though I'm not sure if that was your concern or not.

Quote
I'm pro-legal abortion although I'm morally against it. Personal reasons are I don't have a grandma because she died of illegal abortion in the 30's. Basically my grandpa was abusive and in the mob so she didn't want to have another kid by him, got an illegal abortion, died, and my dad doesn't have a mom and we don't have a grandma. I know that confused women in bad situations will choose to get abortions whether they're legal or illegal, ALWAYS have, and I'd rather have them not die and hurt others around them for generations by doing so. I do think abortion is killing and immoral, but that's my stance unfortunately on legality.

Debatable by some, but there's an equal amount that share your opinion. I see your point, and it would seem to me that it's better to repent from a safe abortion than die in an illegal one. Prayers for your grandmother, as well.

Quote
My brother (who is my best friend) is gay. I've pretty much raised him since my parents weren't around much and I know first hand how he's always been. I truly believe it's a genetic and chemical misfiring that shouldn't effect much. Given my reproductive problems I don't put a huge emphasis on the value of being fruitful of multiplying, and I feel like being socially aware and responsible is more important.

We have a plethora of threads on this forum dealing with homosexuality, and the general consensus among nearly all Orthodox is that it is not our place to judge another. We may not condone the actions of living an active homosexual lifestyle, but having the genetic change is just another cross that some must bear.

Quote
Also I'm a female who has no interest in family aspects of the church. I have a view of myself being baptized in church and not coming back so I can study and practice by myself.

This is where things could get problematic. Orthodoxy, and Christianity in general, is a communal environment. The Eucharist, and nearly every aspect of our Faith, attempt to mirror the fellowship found within the Trinity, which is a "perfect" union of love among Three. I understand the concern for protecting yourself and keeping a comfortable distance from a very "in-your-face" culture, and that is to be expected. Just try to keep an open mind as the process continues, should you decide to convert.

I hope your search leads you to happiness.

-Will
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« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2008, 04:47:30 PM »

Grace and Peace Cancerbike,

It has been my experience that no matter what your views the Church will find a way to accept you, so don't worry about it.

Peace and God Bless.
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« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2008, 05:01:13 PM »

Welcome to the forum, cancerbike.

Your story is quite telling except the term "egocentric."

There are numerous incidents in the Bible where one suffers for placing the "ego" above God's Will.  My favorite example is the affair King David had with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah.  While King David repented for his egotistical act of adultery (and the subsequent death of Uriah because he was sent to the front of the line where the fighting was heaviest), the child born to King David and Bathsheba passed away.  While David was punished for his egotistical behavior and suffered the consequences, the Lord forgave King David and allowed Solomon to be born (the seed of his loins) to Bathsheba.  On the subject of King David, he did not receive the opportunity to build the temple due to excess shedding of blood.  King Solomon received that commission.  Scripture references are provided below.

2 Samuel, 11
2 Samuel, 12:1-24
2 Samuel, 7:1-17
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« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2008, 06:19:58 PM »

Endometriosis is not as dangerous as it once was. And your symptoms will actually virtually disappear while pregnant and breastfeeding. I know a woman that has had a baby every other year in the same month. In part because she has no symptoms, and in part because she loves having children. It isn't nearly as bad as it is made out to be. See a specialist.

I have a favorite quote:

"No one can call God their Father without calling the church their mother." Faith is not meant to be practiced in a vaccum. Hermits and recluses have to spend YEARS AND YEARS living in community before they are ever given the opportunity to practice alone. I don't know of any parish that would baptize you into the church only to have you "lone ranger" it. What exactly do you thing a typical convert is? There is a growing popularity with Orthodoxy in the outh culture. Check out death to the world. There is no "typical" age for a convert in Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2008, 06:26:01 PM »

You would have a god mother when you are baptized. In ANY pursuit as a woman we should seek out other women rather than men to help us. Your Godmother would be your go-to person for spiritual guidance. So unless you (or your priest) choose a horrible Godparent, there is little chance that you will be taken advatage of.
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« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2008, 10:47:50 PM »

Welcome to the forum. I totally agree with SolEX01. Your story does not have anything egocentric. Instead, your frankness is appreciated.

If you do not mind me suggesting something, please try to find a parish. You may want to visit several Orthodox parishes in your area, actually as many as do exist / appear not to remote, etc. It may seem better to make a decision after seeing several churches.
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« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2008, 12:34:37 AM »

Endometriosis is not as dangerous as it once was. And your symptoms will actually virtually disappear while pregnant and breastfeeding. I know a woman that has had a baby every other year in the same month. In part because she has no symptoms, and in part because she loves having children. It isn't nearly as bad as it is made out to be. See a specialist.

Disclaimer:  I'm a male, so I probably don't really know what I'm talking about.

To second Quinault, a friend from church has Endometriosis and finally conceived after being married for around 15 years in her late 30's.  About two years later she had her second child as well.  I think she (or someone else) said that the first child clears out the stuff which makes succeeding children more likely.
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« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2008, 04:56:57 PM »

1.  Go to http://www.orthodoxyinamerica.org/ and find a parish(es) near where you live and visit.  Visit as many are reasonably close and visit each at least a couple of times to get a good impression.

Lol. I typed in my zip (60622) and I think this will take quite a while Cheesy

Endometriosis is not as dangerous as it once was. And your symptoms will actually virtually disappear while pregnant and breastfeeding. I know a woman that has had a baby every other year in the same month. In part because she has no symptoms, and in part because she loves having children. It isn't nearly as bad as it is made out to be. See a specialist.

I have a favorite quote:

"No one can call God their Father without calling the church their mother." Faith is not meant to be practiced in a vaccum. Hermits and recluses have to spend YEARS AND YEARS living in community before they are ever given the opportunity to practice alone. I don't know of any parish that would baptize you into the church only to have you "lone ranger" it. What exactly do you thing a typical convert is? There is a growing popularity with Orthodoxy in the outh culture. Check out death to the world. There is no "typical" age for a convert in Orthodoxy.

Thanks for the kind words Smiley I guess I will have to see how it goes for me. And about the conversion, I don't know, I always figured it was more families or Christians of other denominations that converted, older, married couples or something...

Death to the World looks awesome, too.

Thanks a ton to everyone replying!!
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« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2008, 05:21:47 PM »

Thanks for the kind words Smiley I guess I will have to see how it goes for me. And about the conversion, I don't know, I always figured it was more families or Christians of other denominations that converted, older, married couples or something...

Ahh - there are plenty (I mean that) of "lone rangers" who convert - people who are single/unattached, people who convert without their families (and then either convert their families or attempt to coexist despite the differences), etc.  The critical pre-requisite is that you be committed to the conversion - the rest (i.e. whether or not you have a family, etc.) are just details.
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« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2008, 05:30:07 PM »

Lol. I typed in my zip (60622) and I think this will take quite a while Cheesy

Thanks for the kind words Smiley I guess I will have to see how it goes for me. And about the conversion, I don't know, I always figured it was more families or Christians of other denominations that converted, older, married couples or something...

Death to the World looks awesome, too.

Thanks a ton to everyone replying!!

60622 eh? You're not too far from me or my fiancee. If you want to try a church with young vibrant orthodox many of whom are college students, I would recommend Christ the Savior OCA church http://www.xcthesavior.org/. If you want a Greek Service, you could go to Annunciation Cathedral http://www.goarch.org/en/parishes/search_detail.asp?id=1280 or www.goarch.org. If you want Antiochian, I would recommend All Saints Church on Newport Ave. http://www.allsaintsorthodox.org/ For ROCOR, the only one I know of is in Des Plaines http://www.russianorthodoxchurch.ws/synod/indexeng.htm (their parish search isn't working at the moment). For Serbian, there's Holy Resurrection Cathedral on Redwood Drive not far away from I-90http://serbiancathedral.org/. For Ukrainian there's St. Volodymyr's Cathedral at 2230 Cortez http://www.uocofusa.org/ (The church doesn't have it's own website).  Not to say that there aren't others, but those are the ones that seem like they would fit into what you're looking for from each jurisdiction. If you want more information on any of these parishes, please feel free to PM me, or you can go to the website of the jurisdiction you feel most interested in seeing.

Take care and best wishes on your journey.

-Nick
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« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2008, 05:38:10 PM »

Hi Cancerbike,

Welcome to the forum! It's a great group, you will find a lot of support here.

I am male, 50, but nonetheless there is some similarity between you and me. I was not brought up in any faith; my parents were what you might probably call "secular humanists," and some of my other relatives very militant atheists, so I can very well relate to hearing in your childhood that all religion is a bunch of... you know what, and all religious activists, clergy, etc. are con artists. I came to Christianity without any aid or support from any relatives or schools.

Like you, I am very strongly in favor of keeping abortion legal, even though I do believe that it is a frivolous termination of a human life and is, as such, morally unacceptable. I am also very liberal in pretty much everything.

I second others who said (above) that no matter what your particular views are, you can always find home in the Orthodox Church and be accepted there. My all best wishes to you in your search for the Truth!

George
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« Reply #15 on: May 22, 2008, 03:39:14 PM »

Hi There,

I'm young like you (22) and I just entered the church last month. I too come from a biological family that is very negative toward religion. Also, I hold many of the same views as you. But one thing I wanted to tell you is that when comparing Orthodoxy to Roman Catholicism you have to make sure to keep them distinct. Whereas the RCC  has a very strong sense of "outward unity, God in a box, one size fits all and you fall in line" it's not that way as much in Orthodoxy. There is very little that applies across the board.

Our priest told me just last night that the canons are called canons (rules) and not laws. Everyone has to figure out what is helpful to their soul. I would never assume that there is no place for you in the church.  Given our similar backgrounds, feel free to write to me privately if you so desire. No pressure if you don't desire!

Bridget
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« Reply #16 on: May 23, 2008, 05:25:27 PM »

60622 eh? You're not too far from me or my fiancee. If you want to try a church with young vibrant orthodox many of whom are college students, I would recommend Christ the Savior OCA church http://www.xcthesavior.org/. If you want a Greek Service, you could go to Annunciation Cathedral http://www.goarch.org/en/parishes/search_detail.asp?id=1280 or www.goarch.org. If you want Antiochian, I would recommend All Saints Church on Newport Ave. http://www.allsaintsorthodox.org/ For ROCOR, the only one I know of is in Des Plaines http://www.russianorthodoxchurch.ws/synod/indexeng.htm (their parish search isn't working at the moment). For Serbian, there's Holy Resurrection Cathedral on Redwood Drive not far away from I-90http://serbiancathedral.org/. For Ukrainian there's St. Volodymyr's Cathedral at 2230 Cortez http://www.uocofusa.org/ (The church doesn't have it's own website).  Not to say that there aren't others, but those are the ones that seem like they would fit into what you're looking for from each jurisdiction. If you want more information on any of these parishes, please feel free to PM me, or you can go to the website of the jurisdiction you feel most interested in seeing.

Take care and best wishes on your journey.

-Nick

thanks for this Smiley I will start looking around.
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« Reply #17 on: May 30, 2008, 10:16:50 AM »

Howdy cancerbike!

During my catechumen class my priest gave me a very illuminating example of what happened when a gay person wanted to join the church...

A person who was gay started making inquiries about joining churches. Once he came straight out and said "I'm gay!" he got a bunch of negative responses from protestant pastors, Catholic priests and evangelicals...

He asked an Orthodox priest and the priest started with the usual:
"You need to be baptised,
You need to take classes,
You need to be chrismated..."

The inquirer then said: "BUT I'M GAY!!"

The priest continued:
"You need to attend the Liturgy regularly,
You need to confess regularly...:

He said -- "Excuse me father, but I said 'I'M GAY!'"

The priest replied "I heard you...
"Being gay is not a sin, it's what actions you take on your urges that lead to sin."

I personally find that the Orthodox mindset on "What is sin?"
and on "Church is a hospital, not a courtroom" to be much healthier
than the western concepts.

I would also suggest "shopping around." Since you are 21, the masses that you attended were probably done in English. I would suggest finding an Orthodox church that celebrates the Liturgy in English (or "mostly" English.) Coming out of a Lutheran Liturgical upbringing, I find that if the liturgy is in a foreign language I am just "making noise" rather than worshiping from the heart.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2008, 10:25:10 AM by howdydave » Logged

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