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Author Topic: Superiority Complex?  (Read 1440 times) Average Rating: 0
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Dismas84
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« on: June 02, 2008, 12:44:04 AM »

Greetings. As some of you have probably realized I'm new here.  Tongue As some of you may notice from the title I gave myself, I'm also new to the faith. Some of you have gave me nice little welcome posts when I replied to a thread, and I thank you for that.  laugh I have here a topic that's a bit different than normal, I'm sure, and just happened to me all too recently.

Well there was an old friend of mine who also became a catechumen, and we kept in contact online. He responded to my blog a couple of times, and we would exchange links to websites that had writings of the church fathers or sold icons and/or books.

However, I couldn't help but notice he seemed to have a problem: he was very mocking of non-Orthodox. He regularly called Protestants stupid and Catholics papists. Whenever other Christian sects came up in conversation he would often start giving them insulting names, or speaking down on them in general.

It got worse on this forum we both went to. There were atheists who often mocked Christianity in general, but while I would often ignore them (you just can't change some people's minds) or try to make them understand religion with a more open mind, he would get downright personal with them. I would tell him to just ignore them, since he only did what they wanted, but he would still attack them, again with the name-calling. At one point I even said to him (and I paraphrase), "I'm not a perfect guy or a master theologian...but please, learn some humility."

Recently he started launching a personal "crusade" (his words) against a guy there. The guy insulted him...but you have to understand this guy insults every body, but nobody minds because he does it like a New York comedian, with a touch of humor that makes people laugh at themselves. Well my fellow catechumen took it a bit personal and started deleting every single post the guy made. I told him to leave him alone, but it kept going.

Finally one day my comrade got upset and said he would make an avatar that showed my father in a profane way since I didn't seem to care about personal insults. I told him up front I didn't care - he could do what he wanted, and I would just pray he made the right decision in the end. And then I broke off contact with him, remembering the advice of St Paul when he said to shun Christians who go far astray. He still has ways to contact me, mind you, but I'm not going to stoop down to his level and start insulting or making attacks in return.

What got me thinking was if his interest in the Church was simply a kind of superiority complex that he got. We know ourselves to be the "holy and apostolic church", which carries quite a title in a world full of tens of thousands of Christian branches. Could this be why my friend seemed to thrive on the fact he belonged to the "original" Church, rather than what the Church truly taught? I do not want to sound judgmental, as I'm hardly a clean person (no one truly is), but as I said earlier that seemed to be a reoccurring problem with him.

Is this a danger for converts to fall into? Can this be one of the more sneakier ways pride is slid into our soul? I know many other religions, such as Islam or Mormonism, have a similar problem among some converts, where they believe themselves to be part of a pure religion where everything is perfect and it has more than its peers, and is therefore more holy. I really don't know, but I do pray for my friend.
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« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2008, 12:51:16 AM »

Quote
they believe themselves to be part of a pure religion where everything is perfect

I know I certainly had this problem when I became Orthodox. And then once I found the perfect place, I felt like I had to defend it tooth and nail. I think, for some people anyway, Orthodoxy can really magnify your personality. If you're meek, you become more meek. If you're giving, you become more giving. And if you are prone to having a fundamentalist mindset, it can become even more fundamentalist, because you think that you've finally found the perfect Church of God. I know that was my problem, anyway. It takes some time to tear out the bad side, I think, and replace it with something good. Those are my thoughts from my limited experience, anyway.
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« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2008, 12:54:35 AM »

Judge not, lest ye be judged.  (Matthew 7:10-13)

Above passage usually (but not always) prevents Superiority Complexes from developing in a vast majority of Orthodox Christians.

I went through phases where I couldn't stand anything not Orthodox; I realized that such thinking was wrong and I was glad that I didn't hurt anyone in the process.   Smiley
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Dismas84
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« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2008, 01:35:51 AM »

Some good news is that he just sent me a PM apologizing, and I accepted.

I just hope and pray he really does learn from this.
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« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2008, 08:52:11 AM »

It is easy to get into the mindset that we've found the perfect faith and everything else is inferior, but I would not have recognized the Orthodox Church for being the true church if I hadn't had exposure to some truth while I was Protestant.  I certainly have my criticisms of Protestantism, but it's not all bad and that's something I have to keep reminding myself.  You're right, humility is something that is imperative for the catechuman, especially in regards to this situation.  I'm not that far into Orthodoxy myself (I was baptised August 2006) and this is a struggle I think I'll always have.  But hey, I'm glad to hear he apologized.  Keep praying for your friend and hopefully he'll mellow out.  It's great to have zeal, but when it drives others away it does no good. 
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« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2008, 09:42:16 AM »

Many converts go through this stage in their growth into the faith (agitation, rigidity, and turmoil), many grow thru it into harmony and peace, others remain agitated throughout their life and often go jurisdiction hopping in order to find the "REAL" Orthodox Church.  IMHO there are many  levels of Orthodox belief that range from very rigid who seek to abandon the world to those who live in the world but are not part of the world. The study of the  traditions and practices of the multi-jursidictional United States can create a wider appreciation of what Orthodox believe in unity and what they hold as holy custom or tradition---in American society where one frequently moves from town to town and state to state for work and growth we will often find ourselves attending  traditions and jurisdictions that may not be like the one we originally came into Orthodoxy initially---When I first entered the Church I was in a Greek Parish , later I moved and went to a ROCOR parish, and then again moved and now attend an Antiochian parish.  All of these parishes teach Orthodox Teachings, do the Orthodox services, yet each was different because of their pious customs and practices.  As a convert in the US we must be open to the richness of the Orthodox Cultures that we see when in other parishes, we should not  say that one is better or "more true" than the other. Our ability to embrace with understanding the richness of the Orthodox Churches should help us to feel the peace of Christ in our life.

Thomas
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« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2008, 10:16:20 AM »

Dismas 84,

Don't think that this is just a trap for those who "enter Orthodoxy in adulthood" (I use that phrase more than the word "convert," since we all convert to Orthodoxy, just some of us did when we weren't even a year old yet) - it is a danger and temptation for all who reside within the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.  I've met clergy and laity alike who have been Orthodox since their youngest days who can be triumphalistic, condescending, and outright rude and mean to those not in Holy Orthodoxy.  I have fallen into that trap many times myself.  These different battles are all small segments of the war against humility fought by the one who wages ultimate war on us.  I think all of us can and should learn from the example you've put forth, and we should all strive to guard our hearts and minds from the trap of judgment and condescension.  Thank you for sharing the story!
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« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2008, 10:29:33 AM »

Most Orthodox do go through a phase or two.

I was pretty zealous during my Catechumenate (like trumpeting the amazing accomplishments of the Byzantine Empire whenever I could), but it died down early 2007, about 18 months after I first met with a priest.

I have to say, though, I've become more accepting of those who are not Orthodox, which has led to greater peace and solidarity in my faith. Before, I would try to back everything up with Bible passages and Fathers. Now, I don't try to convince people of my way of thinking. I know what is the Truth, and my ideas may not work for everyone else.

"Judge not, lest you be judged," was the personal motto of my Irish grandmother. Certainly good words to live by.
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« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2008, 10:59:47 PM »

To paraphrase what DavidBryan said once on the forum "We should stop trying to be Orthodox and start being more Christian". I finally this year understood what he meant and this sentiment goes for all those that are "new" to the faith.
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« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2008, 11:24:20 PM »

To paraphrase what DavidBryan said once on the forum "We should stop trying to be Orthodox and start being more Christian". I finally this year understood what he meant and this sentiment goes for all those that are "new" to the faith.

That's very true! I've noticed with great concern the hostility and superiority I sense in many Orthodox towards other faiths. I've wondered what engenders this belligerence-a belligerence to which I also have sadly fallen prey. Orthodoxy has had a custom of treating indigenous culture with respect-so why shouldn't we treat with respect the established religious cultures in America,for instance?

I'm constantly grateful to the Faith in which I was raised-it was by no means American pop culture-and I still think in some ways it was superior to Orthodoxy, although Orthodoxy is unequivocally the fullness of Christianity.

I would have to echo Simayan's words regarding the acquisition of greater peace and solidarity upon becoming more accepting of non-Orthodox Christians.
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Tags: hatred rage pride Catechumen conversion superiority complex 
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