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Author Topic: Enfants Terribles: The Challenge of Sectarian Converts to Ethnic Orthodox Church  (Read 5328 times) Average Rating: 0
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BasilCan
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« on: January 24, 2009, 10:08:04 PM »

Does anyone have a copy of this article from "Nova Religio?" And, if so, could they share this with us? Somehow, my library card at my local university will not allow me to access this article in the 'cyberfiles" and I don't want to wait until my roomate returns from his sabatical to get him to download this! It is an interesting study for converts. To quote the abstract:

This article considers two case studies of collective conversions to Eastern Orthodoxy to illustrate the most pressing challenges faced by ethnic Orthodox congregations who attempt to assimilate sectarian groups into their midst. I argue that these challenges include: 1) the different understandings of ecclesiology held by former Protestant sectarians and by "cradle" Orthodox believers; 2) the pan-Orthodox aspirations of sectarian converts versus the factionalism found in ethnically-based American Orthodox jurisdictions; 3) the differing pastoral styles of former sectarian ministers and Orthodox priests; 4) the tendency of sectarian converts to embrace a very strict reading of Orthodoxy and to adopt a critical and reformist attitude in relations with cradle Orthodox communities; and 5) the covert and overt racism that sometimes exists in ethnic Orthodox parishes. I suggest that the increasing numbers of non-ethnic converts to ethnic Orthodox parishes may result in increased pressure to break down ethnic barriers between Orthodox communities and to form a unified American Orthodox Church. These conversions may also lead to the growth of hybrid Orthodox churches such as the Charismatic Episcopal Church.

Basil
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« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2009, 10:27:11 PM »

Check your PM.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2009, 12:28:11 AM by Nebelpfade » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2009, 10:37:10 PM »

Would be very interested to see a copy of this if it is still available,  Many thanks, Fr Ambrose
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« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2009, 11:34:50 PM »

Does anyone have a copy of this article from "Nova Religio?" And, if so, could they share this with us?
Someone has now kindly sent me a copy in .pdf format.  It is less than 1 MB so it downloads quickly.  Please send me your e-mail if you still need a copy.
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« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2009, 02:46:03 AM »

How recent is the study (e.g. when was the study published)?
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« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2009, 04:00:04 AM »

How recent is the study (e.g. when was the study published)?

2003
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« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2009, 12:32:31 PM »

May I receive the link to this article as well?
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Elisha
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« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2009, 02:45:59 PM »

May I receive the link to this article as well?

It's not a link - you either need access to University of California online files or someone to send it to you.

BasilCan,

Can ask your motivation for bringing this up?  It seems to me that you keep bringing up the topics and actual groups discussed in the article (i.e. Ben Lomond.  yes, I had it sent to me and read it last night).  I've lived in California my whole life and know people who have been involved in both situations, so this is just old news to me (and it should be for everyone).  It almost seems like a past that someone can't let go of that they need to keep dredging up - rather unhealthy.  Now if you want to keep it on hand for some new converts as some "lessons learned" and to help them along, then that sounds reasonable.  I'm just wondering why you keep bringing this up.
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« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2009, 03:50:08 PM »

Someone on the St. Andrew House discussion forum just posted the below, which appears to be another view of many of the larger ideas discussed.  If someone wants to wade into this mammoth paper and give a Cliff Notes version, it would be appreciated.

http://etd.library.pitt.edu/ETD/available/etd-04192008-112632/unrestricted/Slagle-Dissertation-ETD.pdf
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« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2009, 05:00:05 PM »

^ Lousy proofreading, The author added an extra "h" for the GOA website.

Oh, I just jumped to the back after skimming the first 70 pages.  No surprises, yet.
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BasilCan
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« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2009, 12:01:06 AM »

Elisha,

Sorry, I've been away on vacation. I guess I bring this stuff up because I feel that converts are not given a true voice in North American Orthodoxy. We can be criticized for all sorts of things, but the Church has always adapted to Her environment. The Antiochian Church is seen as the most "open" to converts. However, the upper hierarchy and the trustees are all Arab American. Converts want more traditional services and clergy attire (at least some due) and Met PHILIP says "NO". He wants 1960's era Episcopalianism. The Russians are no better. ROCOR welcomes you in, as long as you eventually become a Russiophile. So where are we to go? Well, I can tell you from personal experience, converts who come to the Church in a "convert friendly" parish (and I agree there are many flavors of convert parishes) find when they move to a city with old established ethnic churches (like Montreal and Toronto) are really on the fringe. They cannot fit in and don't understand the services so they leave and become "parish tourists" visiting various ethnic parishes every, or every other weekend or even occasionally. We may stay Orthodox, but our kids (or Godchildren) don't because they have not place to stay. The go to church for the Mysteries and then disappear. This whole issue is very serious and needs to be addressed.

Basil
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« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2009, 12:06:20 AM »

Wow. This is right up my alley, Basil! I've struggled with these issues almost every day since becoming Orthodox (nearly 5 years ago now). Please, can someone send me this article? Thank you kindly! I wish we could all get together in person and discuss these matters.
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« Reply #12 on: February 03, 2009, 12:39:17 AM »

Wow. This is right up my alley, Basil! I've struggled with these issues almost every day since becoming Orthodox (nearly 5 years ago now). Please, can someone send me this article? Thank you kindly! I wish we could all get together in person and discuss these matters.

Check your email (one listed in your profile).   Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: February 03, 2009, 06:18:06 AM »

4) the tendency of sectarian converts to embrace a very strict reading of Orthodoxy and to adopt a critical and reformist attitude in relations with cradle Orthodox communities

Well no kidding.  If you'd been drowning for the past 30 years do you think you'd come up breathing normally or gasping for breath? 

I don't even know most of the rules yet, all I know is I need as much Orthodoxy as I can possibly get!
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BasilCan
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« Reply #14 on: March 07, 2009, 03:34:17 PM »

Looks like the recent actions of Met. Philip of the Antiochians makes this article relevant, once again.

Basil
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« Reply #15 on: March 07, 2009, 04:07:29 PM »

Can someone email this paper to me? My email address is in my profile.
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« Reply #16 on: March 07, 2009, 04:48:03 PM »

I was raised Roman Catholic, and was chrismated on Holy Saturdy in 1984 in a large, pan-ethnic Antiochian parish in the city of my birth, Louisville, KY. I now live in Central Pennsylvania, and there are 61 Orthodox parishes within a 60-mile radius of where I live, including the national Carpatho-Russian Cathedral. I go to the local parish here in town, a small OCA parish. In the intervening period when I returned to Indiana for my PhD, there was only a tiny ROCOR mission there.

I am sympathetic to the concerns raised by the original poster and several others, but I merely want to point out how very different they are from my own experience. The Antiochian parish into which I was chrismated had begun as a very ethnic parish. By the time I got there, the parish was probably no more than 50% Arab, and the rest everything else (Greeks, Slavs, several families from India, and many converts). It was, and still is, a thriving parish. At the time, the chanter was still alive, and he chanted Orthros and Vespers (in Syrian chant, which many here on another thread are calling Byzantine), but the choir sang at Divine Liturgy (I was in the choir). We sang the same 8-tone polyphonic chants they do here at the OCA church. The services were all English.

My parish here is also pan-ethnic, though mostly Carpatho-Russian in background, reflecting the demographics of this part of Pennsylvania. It began as the OCA campus mission (it's a college town), and locals started coming here, rather than drive over the mountains to any one of the other available churches. More came, not all of them even Slavic, much less Carpatho-Russian, they bought a small Methodist church, and the rest is history. The parish here is also completely English.

Other than the rather irritating differences in English translation (just enough to trip you up), these two parishes are very similar. They are both in a very real sense American parishes. Each is an ecclesiastical family where ethnic background is never a barrier. In Louisville after Liturgy, you could get raw kibbeh, fried chicken, and curry. Ethnicity was by no means purged, but nobody there insisted that his ethnicity override all else. We were all Orthodox, and we were all Americans. The same is true here. The priest is from Texas and has a drawl you can cut with a knife. Etc.

The only church where I ran into the wall of ethnicity on steroids was the ROCOR mission in Indiana -- and every single one of them was an American convert. Fake accents, 19th century peasant garb, weekly lectures on how we weren't Orthodox unless we supported an absolute monarchy in the United States, and it was a convert church.

I'm not slinging mud at converts. I am one. My point is that it's not necessarily the immigrants or their children or grandchildren who are insisting on liturgical languages nobody can understand, or an ethnic focus to the point of literal anti-Americanism. Since moving to Pennsylvania, I have seen none of that, and my theory is that it's the demographics. There are so many Slavs here, both Orthodox and Byzantine, that they have no need to carry a chip on their shoulders. They're as American as the Germans in the Ohio River Valley where I was raised.

I'm a linguist. I love languages. But I reject utterly the idea that we should learn a foreign language to adapt to immigrants, be it Spanish, or a liturgical language in an Orthodox church, and for exactly the same reason (I somehow doubt that if a bunch of Lutherans set up a mission in Russia, then held English services and made up reasons to demand that the local populace learn English to accommodate them, that it would work very well, in fact, I suspect the Russians would be screaming bloody murder; that we tolerate it at all in the United States is a testament itself). If the parish here weren't English, I'd drive to one that was.

There will be no American Orthodox church until we Orthodox accept that fact that we are in America, and we do not have any special license here and have to follow the same rules as everyone else. The Catholics realized it. We can, too.


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« Reply #17 on: March 07, 2009, 05:44:21 PM »

...

I'm a linguist. I love languages. But I reject utterly the idea that we should learn a foreign language to adapt to immigrants, be it Spanish, or a liturgical language in an Orthodox church, and for exactly the same reason (I somehow doubt that if a bunch of Lutherans set up a mission in Russia, then held English services and made up reasons to demand that the local populace learn English to accommodate them, that it would work very well, in fact, I suspect the Russians would be screaming bloody murder; that we tolerate it at all in the United States is a testament itself). If the parish here weren't English, I'd drive to one that was.

...
While I agree with you, I have to add a caveat though.  While working towards all (or mostly, as I would prefer) English should be the end, it won't nor shouldn't happen overnight.  We all need to remember that converts are still a minority, the "ethnic speakers" are still the vast majority and that there is still a constant immigration of those from the old countries and thus we must be pastoral to them.

....and welcome to the forum.
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« Reply #18 on: March 07, 2009, 06:06:20 PM »

The only church where I ran into the wall of ethnicity on steroids was the ROCOR mission in Indiana -- and every single one of them was an American convert. Fake accents, 19th century peasant garb, weekly lectures on how we weren't Orthodox unless we supported an absolute monarchy in the United States, and it was a convert church.

That is my favourite mark of a crazy convert.  What on earth is the deal with a fake accent?
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« Reply #19 on: March 07, 2009, 06:15:59 PM »

The only church where I ran into the wall of ethnicity on steroids was the ROCOR mission in Indiana -- and every single one of them was an American convert. Fake accents, 19th century peasant garb, weekly lectures on how we weren't Orthodox unless we supported an absolute monarchy in the United States, and it was a convert church.

That is my favourite mark of a crazy convert.  What on earth is the deal with a fake accent?
An Antiochian priest in SoCal has kinda picked one.  He is actually speaking at the ROCOR Lenten Retreat in SF in a month.  I wouldn't call him a "crazy convert" though, although I think he flirts with the line.  I mentioned this to another a different Antiochian priest whom the first entered the church with concurrently.  Priest #2 agrees with me and laughs - saying that he has pointed it out to him, but he's in denial.  Cheesy
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« Reply #20 on: March 07, 2009, 06:38:06 PM »

Father Seraphim of Platina picked up a Russian accent over the years, although he was fluent in Russian.  Was he one of your crazies?
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« Reply #21 on: March 07, 2009, 06:43:36 PM »

Father Seraphim of Platina picked up a Russian accent over the years, although he was fluent in Russian.  Was he one of your crazies?

The leader of the pack. 
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« Reply #22 on: March 07, 2009, 06:44:53 PM »

Father Seraphim of Platina picked up a Russian accent over the years, although he was fluent in Russian.  Was he one of your crazies?

His brother in religion Fr Herman always used to say:  "You have to be cuckoo to be a believer."
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« Reply #23 on: March 07, 2009, 07:01:53 PM »

So as not to hijack this thread any further, I've started a new one on fake accents:
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,20093.msg298971.html#msg298971
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« Reply #24 on: March 08, 2009, 02:07:59 AM »

Can someone email this paper to me? My email address is in my profile.

I've sent you a copy.

If anyone would like one, please mail me at

emrys.crazymonk@globe.net.nz.middle.earth

Remove the crazymonk and middle.earth.  LOL!
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« Reply #25 on: March 10, 2009, 05:55:21 PM »

I found a photo blog carried on by African-American Zaraisk Deacon, Fr. Michael. There are pictures from some Russian Festivals, Russian Liturgy Traditions and similar things. I completely cannot understand why he chose that Parish with all that Russian ethnicity?  Why did he make so much effort in adapting to Russian traditions completely alien to him?
« Last Edit: March 10, 2009, 05:56:24 PM by mike » Logged

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« Reply #26 on: March 10, 2009, 06:45:37 PM »

mike,

You know, that looks exactly like an African-American Deacon I know at the JP parish in Felton, CA.  Interesting....(but the guy I know has a white wife and has been part of that group for at least 20 years).
« Last Edit: March 10, 2009, 06:45:57 PM by Elisha » Logged
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« Reply #27 on: March 14, 2009, 11:25:31 PM »

I found a photo blog carried on by African-American Zaraisk Deacon, Fr. Michael. There are pictures from some Russian Festivals, Russian Liturgy Traditions and similar things. I completely cannot understand why he chose that Parish with all that Russian ethnicity?  Why did he make so much effort in adapting to Russian traditions completely alien to him?


I think he was assigned there. I spoke with him once or twice through e-mail some months ago. I know of a few African American sub-deacons that are part of mostly Romanian or Arabic speaking parishes.

Unless one starts a mission in an area where there are mostly African Americans then most likely you will be needed somewhere else.

Also Fr. Moses is African American but most of his parishiners are European American. It shouldn't matter, but if you are needed somewhere then you are needed, and you go where you gotta go.




JNORM888

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« Last Edit: March 14, 2009, 11:28:47 PM by jnorm888 » Logged

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