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Author Topic: Bitterness/Backlash "phase" for Converts  (Read 10810 times) Average Rating: 0
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Seraphim98
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« Reply #45 on: April 15, 2009, 01:07:33 PM »

I quite agree, especially as one prone to pontificating.  To me the disciplined ordered approach to spiritual life is part of the beauty of the Church. It corolates to the icons and the hymns so that any old me and my buddy Jesus tune does not make the festal troparion cut, nor does a wall poster of 70's Jesus playing soccer with a kid make it as an icon.  The rules, the disciplines permit the deep and simple beauties of the faith to find expression and through that beauty we lift our hearts up to God.
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« Reply #46 on: April 15, 2009, 01:24:56 PM »

Good point.
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« Reply #47 on: April 15, 2009, 01:27:36 PM »

At times it's almost happened with me, but it's mainly caused by school and various lectures or textbooks. However then I remember that we are the Church and the fullness of the faith.
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« Reply #48 on: April 15, 2009, 11:26:33 PM »

I don't know about a "bitterness" phase, but I have been through a bit of a "falling out" phase.  I could never be bitter toward the "Church" since the Church is the fullness of Faith and the Bride of Christ.  However, I have to admit that I have been somewhat disappointed with some of the manifestations of that Church.  I have to say that I have found more inner peace since I have stopped attending services.  In some ways I feel more distant from God, but in others I feel more certain than I ever have in His reality and omni-presence.  While it is a bit extreme, I can feel for a friend of mine who once said "I love Jesus Christ. It is Christians that I can't stand."  I guess that my belief (which I still hold) that the Orthodox Church is the repository of Truth left me somewhat unprepared for the pettiness and squabbling that I found within the Church.  That, and the fact that I find most heathens more pleasant to be around than most Christians, including those that call themselves "Orthodox".  Thankfully, an old Priest told me that such was to be expected.  The Devil is not active where there is no threat to him.  I converted to Orthodoxy around 15 years ago.  I am a different man now than I was then.  For that, I am thankful.  I believe that my failing to get the most out of the Church is my own failing and not that of the Church.  My fault, my fault, my own grievous fault as the Latins would say.  Perhaps these feelings are what separate Orthodox from some of the other religions.  It is a marriage.  The infatuation will end.  When it does, it is Love that keeps things going.  Love takes time to cultivate.  All good things take time and effort.  Perhaps the "backlash" phase is the lull between infatuation and Love.

Just my rambling thoughts after far too long of a day. 
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« Reply #49 on: April 16, 2009, 10:32:43 AM »

I don't know about a "bitterness" phase, but I have been through a bit of a "falling out" phase.  I could never be bitter toward the "Church" since the Church is the fullness of Faith and the Bride of Christ.  However, I have to admit that I have been somewhat disappointed with some of the manifestations of that Church.  I have to say that I have found more inner peace since I have stopped attending services.  In some ways I feel more distant from God, but in others I feel more certain than I ever have in His reality and omni-presence.  While it is a bit extreme, I can feel for a friend of mine who once said "I love Jesus Christ. It is Christians that I can't stand."  I guess that my belief (which I still hold) that the Orthodox Church is the repository of Truth left me somewhat unprepared for the pettiness and squabbling that I found within the Church.  That, and the fact that I find most heathens more pleasant to be around than most Christians, including those that call themselves "Orthodox".  Thankfully, an old Priest told me that such was to be expected.  The Devil is not active where there is no threat to him.  I converted to Orthodoxy around 15 years ago.  I am a different man now than I was then.  For that, I am thankful.  I believe that my failing to get the most out of the Church is my own failing and not that of the Church.  My fault, my fault, my own grievous fault as the Latins would say.  Perhaps these feelings are what separate Orthodox from some of the other religions.  It is a marriage.  The infatuation will end.  When it does, it is Love that keeps things going.  Love takes time to cultivate.  All good things take time and effort.  Perhaps the "backlash" phase is the lull between infatuation and Love.

Just my rambling thoughts after far too long of a day. 

Wow. You've essentially written my story, Punch. 18 years ago I converted to Orthodoxy. During my first month I attended a small OCA church. No one would speak with me. One Sunday after the liturgy I approached a man outside on the front lawn and he asked my name. After I told him he responded: "You no Russian?" I answered that I wasn't. "You no Serbian?" No. "You no Greek?" When I told him that I was not Greek he replied: "Then what the Hell you come to my church?" Needless to say, that was a pretty rude awakening for me early on. After ten years I moved to the west coast. My wife and I were trying to find a church in one of the larger cities about two hours from where we live. The Ukrainian and Romanian priests both told us to look elsewhere... that we would be much happier in other Orthodox churches. After a very long search we found a church that would accept us (we had been told at the Greek church by an usher that the Antiochian church and the OCA church would be a better match for us (the Antiochian church was an additional half hour drive making our Sunday commute there and back close to five hours). While the church we found "accepted us" it has been a rather cold experience to say the least (and yes... we've tried). By luck we were able to discover a small mission (about eight folks) who meet once a month which has now become our permanent home. I'm also grateful for a spiritual father who gives us instruction (via e-mail since he is a continent's distance away from us) and who has blessed us to attend "other" Christian services when we are unable to attend our own providing we do not commune. Ironically... this is where we find the warmth and hospitality we have been denied in the Orthodox churches of which we have been members. It's our reality.

The Church's altars are pure. The Church with which we rub shoulders is another matter. You might say that we're hanging on by our proverbial teeth. Bitterness? Not really. I'd call it disappointment.

Have you read the book: Come and See? It's a real eye-opener but be prepared to be shocked at what you find there.
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« Reply #50 on: April 16, 2009, 11:48:36 AM »

That is so sad to hear.

I once had to travel almost 2000 miles to go to church and could only go once a year at either Pascha or Pentecost.

Now I only have to drive a hour and a half to get to church, and we are trying to get a small mission going in my hometown, so I sort of get some midweek vespers services.

But as for the nature of the communities closest to where I live they have all been very open warm and welcoming (OCA, AOCA, and GOA), and we visit each other on a rotating basis for pan Orthodox services.  This year my home parish will be hosting the Agape Vespers and we expect a big crowd. I sympathize but I am grateful that in any of these local parishes visitors are greeted, invited to coffee hour, chatted up by the priest, and given a tour of the bookstore if they are interested.  Indeed after Liturgy, it is unusual if at least two or three people have not offered a guest the antidoran.

Maybe you and your family should consider moving to Mississippi...or indeed anywhere from Texas to South Carolina.  I have never heard of any Orthodox parish in any jurisdiction in this region to be anything but helpful and friendly...there may be exceptions, but rest assured, those if they exist they are definately exceptions.
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« Reply #51 on: April 16, 2009, 11:55:55 AM »

Thanks for the offer, Seraphim. You've very gracious. A move would be impossible at this time which is essentially what I meant by saying that it's "our reality" (at least for the time being). We try to maintain an Orthodox home and listen to Orthodox music (i.e. AFR and so forth) to "be" Orthodox as best we can. The priest of the church (not mission) which we attend (now only periodically) simply can't be bothered to come and bless our home or sit down and talk with us. My feeling is that our pockets are not deep enough to make it worthwhile. You'd have to know the entire picture (which I'm not going to share) to appreciate the truth of this statement.

Anyway... we are Orthodox for better or for worse and the Lord will sustain us. I envy your situation, Brother. The Lord bless you.
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« Reply #52 on: April 16, 2009, 12:08:58 PM »

Theosis ain't for sissies...
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« Reply #53 on: April 16, 2009, 12:11:20 PM »

I don't know about a "bitterness" phase, but I have been through a bit of a "falling out" phase.  I could never be bitter toward the "Church" since the Church is the fullness of Faith and the Bride of Christ.  However, I have to admit that I have been somewhat disappointed with some of the manifestations of that Church.  I have to say that I have found more inner peace since I have stopped attending services.  In some ways I feel more distant from God, but in others I feel more certain than I ever have in His reality and omni-presence.  While it is a bit extreme, I can feel for a friend of mine who once said "I love Jesus Christ. It is Christians that I can't stand."  I guess that my belief (which I still hold) that the Orthodox Church is the repository of Truth left me somewhat unprepared for the pettiness and squabbling that I found within the Church.  That, and the fact that I find most heathens more pleasant to be around than most Christians, including those that call themselves "Orthodox".  Thankfully, an old Priest told me that such was to be expected.  The Devil is not active where there is no threat to him.  I converted to Orthodoxy around 15 years ago.  I am a different man now than I was then.  For that, I am thankful.  I believe that my failing to get the most out of the Church is my own failing and not that of the Church.  My fault, my fault, my own grievous fault as the Latins would say.  Perhaps these feelings are what separate Orthodox from some of the other religions.  It is a marriage.  The infatuation will end.  When it does, it is Love that keeps things going.  Love takes time to cultivate.  All good things take time and effort.  Perhaps the "backlash" phase is the lull between infatuation and Love.

Just my rambling thoughts after far too long of a day. 

Wow. You've essentially written my story, Punch. 18 years ago I converted to Orthodoxy. During my first month I attended a small OCA church. No one would speak with me. One Sunday after the liturgy I approached a man outside on the front lawn and he asked my name. After I told him he responded: "You no Russian?" I answered that I wasn't. "You no Serbian?" No. "You no Greek?" When I told him that I was not Greek he replied: "Then what the Hell you come to my church?" Needless to say, that was a pretty rude awakening for me early on. After ten years I moved to the west coast. My wife and I were trying to find a church in one of the larger cities about two hours from where we live. The Ukrainian and Romanian priests both told us to look elsewhere... that we would be much happier in other Orthodox churches. After a very long search we found a church that would accept us (we had been told at the Greek church by an usher that the Antiochian church and the OCA church would be a better match for us (the Antiochian church was an additional half hour drive making our Sunday commute there and back close to five hours). While the church we found "accepted us" it has been a rather cold experience to say the least (and yes... we've tried). By luck we were able to discover a small mission (about eight folks) who meet once a month which has now become our permanent home. I'm also grateful for a spiritual father who gives us instruction (via e-mail since he is a continent's distance away from us) and who has blessed us to attend "other" Christian services when we are unable to attend our own providing we do not commune. Ironically... this is where we find the warmth and hospitality we have been denied in the Orthodox churches of which we have been members. It's our reality.

The Church's altars are pure. The Church with which we rub shoulders is another matter. You might say that we're hanging on by our proverbial teeth. Bitterness? Not really. I'd call it disappointment.

Have you read the book: Come and See? It's a real eye-opener but be prepared to be shocked at what you find there.

Wow.... Religion would be really cool except for all the people.
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« Reply #54 on: April 16, 2009, 12:22:58 PM »

Sadly many converts have  your experience.  In many cases it is when a parish is not used to having many  conversion and rests upon its laurels of cradle baptisms to stay open.  Sometimes in these cases it is important to communicate with your bishop to discuss the need for an Orthodox Church in your specific area (obviously already done as you have a small mission station).  Request from the Bishop that a "missioner" be appointed to come regularly (1-2 X month) to help serve the Divine Liturgy. IF you have access to an Antiochian Orthodox Church, the Bishop may appoint a deacon to come more frequently to serve a Deacons Typica with Communion (I don't know if other Orthodox jurisdictions offer it but I know the Antiochians do) and assist your mission in catechizing new catechumen into their Baptism.

Make sure you a donating member of a parish and not just attending a parish. In many jurisdictions if you must be donating, dues paying, or tithing to the parish to be  an actual member of the parish, otherwise you are viewed only as a visitor and will not likely have your home blessed.  Directly contact the priest of your current parish, by registered letter if you must, ask him to set a date for blessing your home. If has not done that by a reasonable date, contact the bishop  with your request. I knew a priest who refused to go to bless registered and contributing members of a parish home, they contacted the Bishop and the bishop called the priest inviting him to go with him to bless the home.  The priest never again missed an opportunity to bless Orthodox Homes.

I live 50 miles from my local parish and find that by pledging donations and maintaining my active membership in the parish by tithe and activity, I have no problem in getting the priest to bless the homes of may family and even come  the distance to bury a family member. You may have to do the same if you are not yet a registered member of that parish.

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« Reply #55 on: April 16, 2009, 01:17:48 PM »

I appreciate your words, Thomas, but none of this applies in our situation. We've more than generous when it comes to tithing. After several years of this treatment, we've pulled our tithing from our so-called "home" church and now send it to our spiritual father's church in order that the Lord's work be assisted. Our so-called "home" church has become, in effect, a church to which we occasionally now visit (simply because it is the closest at two hours and has a full choir). We are contributing members to the little mission I mentioned in my earlier post to which a priest serves DL once a month. Thomas... it's just the way it is. You can only reach out so many times and be rebuffed before you simply throw up your hands and say... enough. The reality of our situation is as I've described. Look... 18 years in the Orthodox Church is nothing to be sneezed at. I've tried... trust me. I'm just tired of fighting to be accepted. We commune once a month at the mission. The service is not pretty (with eight people what can you do... but we try) but it's still the DL and that's all we require. As for community... we know no such thing. My wife (a newer convert than I) has never known any sort of community in any church so this lack in the Orthodox Church hasn't surprised her. Distance mitigates against our becoming involved to a greater extent and quite frankly... from what we've experienced in this area (and I'm not going to be specific about it.. it's not my purpose to scandalize) it wouldn't be viable anyway even if we did live closer. I have to tell you... there are times I shout at God and ask Him...: "Why? Why did you bring me here?" Just read the book to which I referred earlier. It will explain everything.

I think I've shared more than is prudent. This is my last post on the subject. Please forgive me if I've discouraged you.
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« Reply #56 on: April 16, 2009, 03:01:09 PM »

Well...if you can't move, come visit...you deserve at least to see one or two friendly Orthodox parishes. Who knows it might recharge your batteries.  Off the top of my head I can recommend St. Barbara's near Ft. Forth, Christ the Saviour in McComb, St. George's in Vicksburg, MS, Holy Resurrection in Clinton, MS, St. John's in Jackson, MS, St. Peter and Paul's in Madison, MS, St. Anne's in Memphis, and St. John the Wonderworker in Atlanta...and there's a good one in Knoxville and in Birmingham but I can't quite recall their names. So pick a national park or a bike trail and trundle on over for a pickmeup.
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« Reply #57 on: April 16, 2009, 03:34:46 PM »

Douglas- Could you please give a bit more information about the book you mentioned?  There are a number of works with "Come and See" in the title.  Thank you

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« Reply #58 on: April 16, 2009, 03:43:48 PM »

I appreciate your words, Thomas, but none of this applies in our situation. We've more than generous when it comes to tithing. After several years of this treatment, we've pulled our tithing from our so-called "home" church and now send it to our spiritual father's church in order that the Lord's work be assisted. Our so-called "home" church has become, in effect, a church to which we occasionally now visit (simply because it is the closest at two hours and has a full choir). We are contributing members to the little mission I mentioned in my earlier post to which a priest serves DL once a month. Thomas... it's just the way it is. You can only reach out so many times and be rebuffed before you simply throw up your hands and say... enough. The reality of our situation is as I've described. Look... 18 years in the Orthodox Church is nothing to be sneezed at. I've tried... trust me. I'm just tired of fighting to be accepted. We commune once a month at the mission. The service is not pretty (with eight people what can you do... but we try) but it's still the DL and that's all we require. As for community... we know no such thing. My wife (a newer convert than I) has never known any sort of community in any church so this lack in the Orthodox Church hasn't surprised her. Distance mitigates against our becoming involved to a greater extent and quite frankly... from what we've experienced in this area (and I'm not going to be specific about it.. it's not my purpose to scandalize) it wouldn't be viable anyway even if we did live closer. I have to tell you... there are times I shout at God and ask Him...: "Why? Why did you bring me here?" Just read the book to which I referred earlier. It will explain everything.

I think I've shared more than is prudent. This is my last post on the subject. Please forgive me if I've discouraged you.

Douglas,

It saddened me so much to read your story.

While I certainly do not like it one bit that someone asked you, "why the hell are you in my church," - I, on the other hand, wonder: what do you understand under "being accepted?"

Broader: is it really NECESSARY to be "accepted?" Why?

The thing is, I am in a way the opposite of you. I absolutely do not care about being "accepted"; moreover, if people in my parish would try to "involve" me more, I'd perhaps dislike it...

My ideal church is this: come to the Divine Liturgy, pray, savor the bliss - then go out into the wide world and live there the best you can. Then return to the next DL. Smiley
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« Reply #59 on: April 18, 2009, 10:22:44 PM »

Douglas, I'm so sorry, too. While I'm not a "paying" member of any parish, and at times I do feel worried that my lack of big bucks perhaps causes the priests to be less interested in meeting my spiritual needs, still, I've never experienced anything quite as alienating as what you speak of.  My parish is very ethnic (to say the least), yet, there are all sorts of different people there-including converts. I've made many friends amongst the slavic population and whilst we may not always agree on everything, still, we do have some common ground and basis for friendship. I'm thankful for those dear souls who have made an effort to befriend me, because, outside of church and internet, I have almost no contact with human beings.
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« Reply #60 on: December 13, 2010, 08:54:42 PM »

I was not aware that tollhouses were a part of Holy Tradition.

I did some reasearch on these "aerial tollhouses" and I have to conclude how perposterous it sounds. So you are telling me that, let's say for example someone who has practiced monastics all there life now has to go through some tribulations so that their soul won't go into Hell?

Scriptually speaking, Christ told the thief on his right that he would be in Paradise with Him; why in the world would he have to go through those trials already knowing he would be in Paradise. You could argue that Christ foretold that the thief would go through the tollhouses fine, but then what would be the point of ever going through them if the thief himself knew the outcome.

You also undermine Christ's death and salvation for His people. We are all saved so the purpose of having such tollhouses also is nonsense. Why would we be saved and then endure more trials after death in order for us to be somehow 'ready' for Paradise. And also too you could go through all these tollhouses, end up at the last one and get your soul dragged into Hell. How is that fair at all?

I hope this idea gains no ground in Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #61 on: December 13, 2010, 09:01:25 PM »

It already has Oh great resurrector of Dead Threads!!! Wink
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« Reply #62 on: December 13, 2010, 09:22:48 PM »

Aerial Toll houses do not exist.

You are off topic, but still I ask... Proof?

You're kidding me.   Huh

I'll give you my proof - in my years of Sunday School, no one ever mentioned an aerial toll house; hence, they don't exist.

LOL! You think one learns the totality of the Church's teachings in Sunday school? As a Church school teacher, I can attest that that sort of thing would be impossible. There is not enough time, there are not enough resources, and, frankly, not that much evident interest to go into such great detail.
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« Reply #63 on: December 13, 2010, 09:26:55 PM »

I was not aware that tollhouses were a part of Holy Tradition.

I did some reasearch on these "aerial tollhouses" and I have to conclude how perposterous it sounds. So you are telling me that, let's say for example someone who has practiced monastics all there life now has to go through some tribulations so that their soul won't go into Hell?

Scriptually speaking, Christ told the thief on his right that he would be in Paradise with Him; why in the world would he have to go through those trials already knowing he would be in Paradise. You could argue that Christ foretold that the thief would go through the tollhouses fine, but then what would be the point of ever going through them if the thief himself knew the outcome.

You also undermine Christ's death and salvation for His people. We are all saved so the purpose of having such tollhouses also is nonsense. Why would we be saved and then endure more trials after death in order for us to be somehow 'ready' for Paradise. And also too you could go through all these tollhouses, end up at the last one and get your soul dragged into Hell. How is that fair at all?

I hope this idea gains no ground in Orthodoxy.

Aerial tollhouses is not a movement, unlike dogmatic revisionism, which is most certainly a plague of modern Church life.
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« Reply #64 on: December 13, 2010, 09:47:41 PM »

It already has Oh great resurrector of Dead Threads!!! Wink

LOL. I didn't want to make a new thread, as I seen it has been discussed here.

So if aerial tollhouses are not a movement then what is it?
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« Reply #65 on: December 13, 2010, 10:02:10 PM »

Aerial Toll houses do not exist.

You are off topic, but still I ask... Proof?

You're kidding me.   Huh

I'll give you my proof - in my years of Sunday School, no one ever mentioned an aerial toll house; hence, they don't exist.

LOL! You think one learns the totality of the Church's teachings in Sunday school? As a Church school teacher, I can attest that that sort of thing would be impossible. There is not enough time, there are not enough resources, and, frankly, not that much evident interest to go into such great detail.
Even so, you would think that one would hear of them if they were so central as some claim.

They nibble at the fringe, but I've never seen them in a catechism that i can recall.
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« Reply #66 on: December 13, 2010, 10:15:17 PM »

Aerial Toll houses do not exist.

You are off topic, but still I ask... Proof?

You're kidding me.   Huh

I'll give you my proof - in my years of Sunday School, no one ever mentioned an aerial toll house; hence, they don't exist.

LOL! You think one learns the totality of the Church's teachings in Sunday school? As a Church school teacher, I can attest that that sort of thing would be impossible. There is not enough time, there are not enough resources, and, frankly, not that much evident interest to go into such great detail.
Even so, you would think that one would hear of them if they were so central as some claim.

They nibble at the fringe, but I've never seen them in a catechism that i can recall.

I would not call them central, but they are mentioned in several prayers and by several fathers. They are part of the teaching of the soul after death and the particular judgment. I've read of the particular judgment in the better catechisms, but, really, compared to Trinitarian dogma and Christology, icons and sacraments, aerial tollhouses get little play. I think this is because, since death is a mystery (I mean, there's an excellent book called The Mystery of Death by a Greek theologian), one is forced to speak of it in shadowy terms.
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« Reply #67 on: December 13, 2010, 11:40:34 PM »

Aerial Toll houses do not exist.

You are off topic, but still I ask... Proof?

You're kidding me.   Huh

I'll give you my proof - in my years of Sunday School, no one ever mentioned an aerial toll house; hence, they don't exist.

LOL! You think one learns the totality of the Church's teachings in Sunday school? As a Church school teacher, I can attest that that sort of thing would be impossible. There is not enough time, there are not enough resources, and, frankly, not that much evident interest to go into such great detail.
Even so, you would think that one would hear of them if they were so central as some claim.

They nibble at the fringe, but I've never seen them in a catechism that i can recall.

I would not call them central, but they are mentioned in several prayers and by several fathers. They are part of the teaching of the soul after death and the particular judgment. I've read of the particular judgment in the better catechisms, but, really, compared to Trinitarian dogma and Christology, icons and sacraments, aerial tollhouses get little play. I think this is because, since death is a mystery (I mean, there's an excellent book called The Mystery of Death by a Greek theologian), one is forced to speak of it in shadowy terms.

Tollhouses get little play because they make no sense whatsoever and I would argue goes against the very princples of Christianity.
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« Reply #68 on: December 13, 2010, 11:48:47 PM »

Is it common for converts to Orthdoxy to have a phase of near-rebellion after awhile?  It seems like certain aspects of Holy Tradition make me almost angry, especially the idea of our souls being tested by angels and demons after death (toll houses). 

Not familiar with this sort of topic but I will say this, life is cruel, why should the afterlife be any different?
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« Reply #69 on: December 14, 2010, 10:47:30 AM »

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In the grand scale of things I did not consider that my presence in Orthodoxy would amount to much...it was a mercy to me to let me in at all.  While I waited to be admitted I took the attitude of the slain concubine in the book of Judges. It may be that my passions would overwhelm and slay me, but this much I was determined to have, that my hand would always be stretched out towards the threshold of my Lord. He would avenge me.

It is approaching the 11th year of my baptism as an Orthodox Christian, there are still scandals, still unfaithful or despotic heirarchs, still lax laity, still ethnic clubs, still triumphalitis, still people falling down, getting up, falling down and getting up all over the world. And there are still living saints being discovered, there are still hearts being awakened and ravished by the first clear glimpse of the faith, still young people headed to the monasteries, there are still refuges trickling in from collapsing traditions, and my hand is still outstreached to my Master's threshhold.

I just loved this! Amen, brother!

I didn't experience bitterness or backlash, but I did experience a dawning realization that,for me, Orthodoxy was not going to be easy, and that I had a lot of work to do. Like the whiny Israelites in the desert, ("what, manna again?), I would often yearn for the easier life in my former Protestant church. I was born and raised German Lutheran, from a family of German Lutherans, and I was certainly comfortable there, in a way. Sometimes Orthodoxy for me is like being the new in-law at the family reunion. You don't understand the relationships or get the jokes.
Sometimes I think that it would certainly be easier in a sense for me not to be Orthodox (all that standing and confessing and fasting!) but then again, I think "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."

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« Reply #70 on: December 14, 2010, 11:34:11 AM »

Aerial Toll houses do not exist.

You are off topic, but still I ask... Proof?

You're kidding me.   Huh

I'll give you my proof - in my years of Sunday School, no one ever mentioned an aerial toll house; hence, they don't exist.

LOL! You think one learns the totality of the Church's teachings in Sunday school? As a Church school teacher, I can attest that that sort of thing would be impossible. There is not enough time, there are not enough resources, and, frankly, not that much evident interest to go into such great detail.
Even so, you would think that one would hear of them if they were so central as some claim.

They nibble at the fringe, but I've never seen them in a catechism that i can recall.

I would not call them central, but they are mentioned in several prayers and by several fathers. They are part of the teaching of the soul after death and the particular judgment. I've read of the particular judgment in the better catechisms, but, really, compared to Trinitarian dogma and Christology, icons and sacraments, aerial tollhouses get little play. I think this is because, since death is a mystery (I mean, there's an excellent book called The Mystery of Death by a Greek theologian), one is forced to speak of it in shadowy terms.

Tollhouses get little play because they make no sense whatsoever and I would argue goes against the very princples of Christianity.

That shows the spirit of a catechumen!
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« Reply #71 on: December 14, 2010, 12:05:20 PM »

Technically, I've been Orthodox for 3 years--I've been attending for 6--and I am far from being burned out. To the contrary, I'm becoming more ardent and dedicated every day. I attribute this to the fact that I had no previous Christian background. I had no idea what what to expect, so I've been developing slowly. I wonder if I had a Christian background, if I wouldn't be suffering under some preconcieved ideas about how I'm supposed to feel, or who I'm supposed to be, that would make me discontented now. I don't know. But I think it's a marathon, not a sprint.
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« Reply #72 on: December 14, 2010, 12:09:02 PM »

Quote
I think this is because, since death is a mystery (I mean, there's an excellent book called The Mystery of Death by a Greek theologian), one is forced to speak of it in shadowy terms.
Exactly. I personally hold to the toll house theory. It is important to remember that any time we take something that is a spiritual reality and try to become very literal with the interpretation, then we make a grave mistake. It is a theological opinion in the Church, which can be found in the Liturgical deposit. And just for my own information, how many here have actually read Fr. Seraphim's book that deals with this subject?
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« Reply #73 on: December 14, 2010, 02:22:38 PM »

Quote
I think this is because, since death is a mystery (I mean, there's an excellent book called The Mystery of Death by a Greek theologian), one is forced to speak of it in shadowy terms.
Exactly. I personally hold to the toll house theory. It is important to remember that any time we take something that is a spiritual reality and try to become very literal with the interpretation, then we make a grave mistake. It is a theological opinion in the Church, which can be found in the Liturgical deposit. And just for my own information, how many here have actually read Fr. Seraphim's book that deals with this subject?

I have.  And I find nothing in his book to be out of order.
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« Reply #74 on: December 14, 2010, 05:06:45 PM »

That shows the spirit of a catechumen!

So explain exactly why the soul would have to endure 'spiritual' tests before being accepted into Heaven, so you get all the way to the final tollhouse and then somehow you don't pass and your soul gets dragged into Hell.

That's not the God of love that I know of.
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« Reply #75 on: December 14, 2010, 05:45:21 PM »

That shows the spirit of a catechumen!

So explain exactly why the soul would have to endure 'spiritual' tests before being accepted into Heaven, so you get all the way to the final tollhouse and then somehow you don't pass and your soul gets dragged into Hell.
Are you sure that that is how it goes?
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« Reply #76 on: December 14, 2010, 06:37:40 PM »

That shows the spirit of a catechumen!

So explain exactly why the soul would have to endure 'spiritual' tests before being accepted into Heaven, so you get all the way to the final tollhouse and then somehow you don't pass and your soul gets dragged into Hell.
Are you sure that that is how it goes?

From my understanding each tollhouse represnets a sin (lust, gluttony, etc) and if you do not pass one tollhouse your soul goes to Hell.

This must be reiterated:
Jesus Christ paid the ultimate toll ... His Life for us to have Life Everlasting.
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« Reply #77 on: December 14, 2010, 06:46:06 PM »

I have.  And I find nothing in his book to be out of order.
I reiterate. Have you actually read the book by Father Seraphim Achronos?
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« Reply #78 on: December 14, 2010, 10:42:53 PM »

I have.  And I find nothing in his book to be out of order.
I reiterate. Have you actually read the book by Father Seraphim Achronos?

I thought that you meant Seraphim Rose, who's book on the Toll Houses I have read.  I have never heard of Seraphim Achronos. 
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« Reply #79 on: December 17, 2010, 03:58:28 AM »

I don't think I ever had bitterness, but I did go through a phase where I felt like I didn't need to be "that" Saintly and that it was okay to party, get drunk, dance around, etc... I think that was a reaction more to the fact I had just turned 21 and I was experiencing my first alcoholic parties rather than a reaction against the Church though.
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« Reply #80 on: December 17, 2010, 01:18:17 PM »

Maybe you and your family should consider moving to Mississippi...or indeed anywhere from Texas to South Carolina.  I have never heard of any Orthodox parish in any jurisdiction in this region to be anything but helpful and friendly...there may be exceptions, but rest assured, those if they exist they are definately exceptions.

I was just thinking this myself. (Naturally, you will have to allow for a certain regional bias, since I am a Southerner by the grace of God!)
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« Reply #81 on: December 17, 2010, 02:08:48 PM »

That shows the spirit of a catechumen!

So explain exactly why the soul would have to endure 'spiritual' tests before being accepted into Heaven, so you get all the way to the final tollhouse and then somehow you don't pass and your soul gets dragged into Hell.

That's not the God of love that I know of.

People judge God because of hell's very existence. The particular and final judgments exist because of free will. It is not for you, as a catechumen, or for me as a communicant, to edit the teachings of the Church, whether they relate to dogma or are theological opinions taught by the saints, simply because they do not square with our own opinions of how we think things are or should be. Rather, we need to show some humility before the Church, our mother and teacher, and if there is something we cannot grasp or understand, instead or rebelling against it or calling it stupid, we should remind ourselves that we, by ourselves, do not have all the answers, and to us it is not given to comprehend all of the mysteries of God.
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« Reply #82 on: December 17, 2010, 02:17:35 PM »

That shows the spirit of a catechumen!

So explain exactly why the soul would have to endure 'spiritual' tests before being accepted into Heaven, so you get all the way to the final tollhouse and then somehow you don't pass and your soul gets dragged into Hell.
Are you sure that that is how it goes?

From my understanding each tollhouse represnets a sin (lust, gluttony, etc) and if you do not pass one tollhouse your soul goes to Hell.

This must be reiterated:
Jesus Christ paid the ultimate toll ... His Life for us to have Life Everlasting.

I don't think it would be any easier to get into heaven without toll houses, nor do I think they make it more difficult. The Lord is not very touchy-feely when He speaks of His judgment in the Gospels. Nor is the Church very touchy-feely when she speaks of what sinners can expect in eternity. If one does not repent in his lifetime, he is in a very difficult position. And who can say he has repented enough? Even the saints begged for more time to repent of their sins, and mourned that they had done no good in this life and had not followed Christ's commandments.
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« Reply #83 on: December 17, 2010, 02:35:47 PM »

the toll houses are NOT a universal tradition...They do not fulfil the Orthodox criteria for sound doctrine. They fail the Vincentian Canon of "what has been believed everywhere, always, and by everybody.."

Correct
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« Reply #84 on: December 17, 2010, 11:16:27 PM »

I went through a bitterness phase, as you call it. It happened at the point when the "newness" started to wear off, and I began delving into the less appealing aspects of the Church (i.e. some of the governance issues in the AOCA, Orthodox Christians for Accountability, etc.). I recoiled, fell into a spell of atheism, and then eventually came back. I'm still in the inquiry/catechumen stage, though.
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« Reply #85 on: December 17, 2010, 11:18:37 PM »

the toll houses are NOT a universal tradition...They do not fulfil the Orthodox criteria for sound doctrine. They fail the Vincentian Canon of "what has been believed everywhere, always, and by everybody.."

Correct

Our parish priest wrote a 'treatise' against the literal interpretation of toll-houses.
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« Reply #86 on: December 18, 2010, 01:05:13 AM »

You know, I think this thread is kind of symptomatic of the original poster's concerns.

The OP gave toll houses as an example and the thread exploded into that argument.  Again.

Yes, op, I'm with you, 5 years in The Church and I too lost the rose tinted shades... somewhere.


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« Reply #87 on: December 19, 2010, 05:41:46 PM »

Brothers and sisters, and especially TryingtoConvert, the Convert Issues board is intended to be a place where inquirers, catechumens, and the newly illumined Orthodox can ask their questions about the Orthodox Faith and about the process of conversion without fear that we're going to diminish them for their "newbie" status. This is not the place for atheistic rants against the faith of the Church. I have therefore moved the latest tirade off this thread and merged it into the thread TryingtoConvert started with the intent of taking his tirade where it's more appropriate.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation in making this section a safe place for our converts by taking your debates and bloviations elsewhere.

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« Reply #88 on: December 19, 2010, 06:18:19 PM »

You know, I think this thread is kind of symptomatic of the original poster's concerns.
The OP gave toll houses as an example and the thread exploded into that argument.  Again.
Yes, op, I'm with you, 5 years in The Church and I too lost the rose tinted shades... somewhere.

How did you lose the rose colored glasses?   We are asked a generality but also the specifics are indeed part of the equation.  If nothing else, at least we are getting to the fact that some of these issues are not the universal teaching of the Church.   
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« Reply #89 on: December 19, 2010, 07:33:54 PM »

St. Isaac of Syria writes against this heresy in his Homilies (Appendix B: Epistle to Abba Symeon on pg. 445) as "corrupt heresies under the influence of demonic phantasies, [which] describe the celestial abodes in the firmanent ...pathways into heaven, places set apart by the Judgement..but these things are shadows of an intellect inebriated by conceit and deranged by the working of demons. ..therefore, beware of the phantasies of profound thoughts [ so-called]. This warfare especially assaults monks who are keen-witted, who inquire into empty opinions, yearn for novelties and are superficial." S

St. Irenaios of Lyon's "Against Heresies" (Bks I-III) describes the gnostic "archons" in which the soul is given magical incantations by these deranged heretics, so that they can pass upwards into being equal with the most high God. The book "Christian Responses to Gnostic Charismatic heresies" explains this ancient heresy as it appears in the charimatic Word-Faith movement. Seraphim Rose is the Orthodox version, wrapped in long beard and robes of a monk. Many more examples are given in Archbishop LAZAR's "Soul, Body and Death" which discusses this also from the bogomil incursion into Russian theology where it appears in some Bulgarian mythologies even today.

These prayers are drawn from the Latinized Russian Church which has shades of "purgatory" and judgements from demons - which denies the very Pascha sermon of St. John Chrysostom in which he cries "the demons are fallen..." See Archbishop LAZAR's "Soul, Body, and Death" for complete answers to this; also "Basil and Theodora Myth" both available from Synaxis Press at the www.orthodoxcanada.org website.

How on earth could demons judge the souls of those who have been baptized into Christ's death and Life? We see the Icon of the Resurrection in which these same demons are being routed and bound by the angelic hosts! Often we hear the excuse that these are school-children stories meant to "scare" the poor laity into complete submission (through Confession) to their spiritual "father", usually young priests who pretend to be spiritual directors.
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