Oh, we're definitely denominationAL; we're just not different denominations in the religious sense, which almost always (in the case of American denominationalism) has to do with doctrinal difference. That is the only reason we (yes, I include myself in this) seem allergic to the application of the "d- word": There are no differences of discipline, hierarchical structure, sacraments, major (and even minor, in almost all cases) theological stances, or liturgy amongst the Orthodox jurisdictions here in the States. To us, it appears like this:
- denomination: sect of a wider religious group that has separated (or has held itself up as separate from its self-starting inception) from the original (or other) group for doctrinal reasons.
- jurisdiction: sect of a wider religious group that is separate -- but not separated in the sense of estrangement -- in matters of church government and programs, but not in any doctrinal sense.
I think we make such liberal use of the word "jurisdiction" because we want something to draw attention to our insistence that there is no doctrinal difference to speak of between all the different Orthodox churches that have set up shop here, as opposed to the VAST majority of Protestant denominations which differ wildly from each other (differences which, then, form the basis for their denomination, as opposed to us).
Are we unique in our self-imposed connotations of this word? Yes, but this is hardly the first time a group has taken it upon itself to do such a thing. In my mind, a jurisdiction is something that is wasteful and unnecessary, but if anything good could be said about us here in the West, at least we're not divided for doctrinal reasons. Yes, we should, imo, unite administratively, for it would in no way impede cultural distinctiveness to have one hierarchy over an ethnically diverse American Church (unity in diversity and all that) -- but even in our current, overlapping state, we are not the same as theologically-conflicting denominations...and that distinction must always be held up and emphasized.
Thank you DB! Finally we are getting somewhere in this discussion. Please note that I have been arguing that, FUNCTIONALLY, the various jurisdictions operate like donominations and NOT that there is any difference in doctrine (I am pretty sure you have gotten that point from my posts, but I am not sure some others have, in fact I am pretty sure they have not).
I see denomination used in various ways: the very similar conservative Presbyterians I mentioned, but as you point out the word can refer to such diverse bodies as pentecostals, baptists, methodists, episcopalians, independent congregations, emergent groups etc, etc.
I think we need to see ourselves as jurisdictions for unity/doctrinal purposes, but as denominations in terms of the non-canonical situation, the superfluous wastefulness and redundancy of all these different, everlapping administrations, boards, publications etc. Maybe it will shock/shame us into taking some action.
I agree with you that there will still be ethnic parishes under one Hierarch/Orhtodox Church in North America but it will be because of need (immigrants for instance), neighborhood (the historic ethnicity of a part of town) or region (there are alot of a particular ethniciy in an area). But not choosing a parish because my last name ends in the letters: "ous" or "onov" or "vitch" or "lah".
On the other hand, with just one Orthodox body in the US, when someone moves to a new suburb, they will go to the Orthodox Church there, whether they are Arab, Greek, Russian, Serbian, convert. The Greeks (insert: Serbs, Russians, Arabs)won't skip the local parish to drive to the Greek (insert ethnicity) parish.
It is ridiculous for fully assimilated third and fourth generation ethnic people who no longer speak the language or practice the customs to attend ethnic parishes just because they say: hey, I'm of Russian ancestry, there's a Russian Othodox Church (again, insert whatever ethnicity), so I should go there. If there was just one Orthodox Church they would choose the nearest parish or one, if there are several parishes in the area, choose one that they felt they could be of most use: (the priest is active and caring and my kids relate well to him; the parish is older and could use a younger family like my own; I could help teach Sunday school at the smaller parish whereas the larger one has a lot of volunteers; I travel alot and can't get all that involved, so maybe the large parish fits us best with all its programs-- whatever). These kinds of reasons beat: I am Serbian so I will go here; I am of Arab descent so will go there.