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Author Topic: Kids "hate" going to church  (Read 12433 times) Average Rating: 0
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WaterGreek
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« on: March 30, 2009, 08:28:14 AM »

Hey all,

My first post here.

I am a life long Orthodox Christian married to a convert - but non-practicing - wife.   I've taken my 2 children to church since they were infants (by myself 99% of the time), have been involved with the church, have had the kids (now 11, 7) involved in as many things as they would go to, and generally try to teach them their faith.

But they've really made no close friends there, and do not like going.

I feel like I'm walking a fine line between being a strong parent and making them go, or feeling like a failure and letting them stop going, or go to another church in order to keep them from getting turned off religion altogether.   It's hard when their friends' churches are "cool" with all the bells and whistles - rock bands, lots of activities, cool things to do - and they like that better.

Now if I had a choice between turning them off to any faith by forcing them to go to the Orthodox church, or allowing them to go elsewhere to foster their spirituality, I think I would choose to let them go elsewhere.   But I feel like I've totally let down God, myself, and Orthodoxy by failing to kinder their spirits.

I'm really struggling with this and I know there is no perfect answer, still, I seek guidance.   My plans for now are to continue keeping them involved as much as possible, being a bit flexible, allowing them to go to youth activities at a friends church (last night was making Easter Baskets for folks in a nursing home), and trying to keep the dialogue open.

What have others done?   What wisdom can you all offer to me?
« Last Edit: March 30, 2009, 08:30:19 AM by WaterGreek » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2009, 09:16:09 AM »

Welcome to the forum!
As a psychologist, I can assure you that from a psychological perspective, you will be blamed for all you children's problems when they grow up no matter what you do. Cheesy
I'm not a parent, so I should probably shut up and let others speak, but FWIW, here are some things I learned from growing up.
Church is important for children, but it is not as importants as many people think. It's actually more important for children (and adolescents) that there be congruence between their parent/s going to Church and the rest of their lives. Kids pick up hypocrisy very easily- they have built-in BS detectors.
Children learn what to love from their parents, and the reverse is also true. This is how bigotry and racism get passed down and also how the love of God gets passed down. If you want your children to love God, then love God yourself in your own life outside of Church and let your children see this. There are practical ways to do this for us Orthodox. Light the vigil lamp in front of the icons every Saturday evening and major feast day as a matter of routine- the way we leave the porch light on for friends that we love. Cross yourself before leaving the house, before starting the car, before starting the lawnmower or any work. I'm sure you can think of more.
I think sending them to other Churches is a bad idea which will just confuse them. How would you see this as helpful? By the time they are adolescents, they will be the cool ones because they will be exotic. Just sent them to school with a copy of this:
http://www.amazon.com/Youth-Apocalypse-Last-True-Rebellion/dp/0938635891
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« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2009, 09:43:42 AM »

I am not expert on this and you're right, every situation is different. 

I like to look at at these problems as a "team effort".  I think it gives the kids a sense of being part of the family and the "team".   Acknowledge to your kids that you see they are unhappy, but don't be afraid to tell them that leaving Orthodoxy isn't the answer. 

First off, try to figure out why they're unhappy.  Is it something fixable?  Is it just they think its "boring"  Roll Eyes?  Are there not enough kids their age to have potential friends?  Is Sunday School not working out?  Would another parish ease or fix any of their issues?  How about just skipping S.S.?  I'm certainly not an advocate of parish hopping but, I think you're right to try and find the best solution to fix the needs you have right now.

Having said that, we have allowed our kids to join other traditions in kids activities in the past (youth group, concerts etc.).   When we went from being non-denom/baptist/charismatic to Lutheran our oldest locked herself in her room the first Sunday - she was adamantly against anything liturgical.  We allowed her to continue at the Baptist youth group as a compromise.  I think it gave her a good comparison with their doctrines (or lack thereof).   She is now Orthodox too and about to get married to the choir director in her parish.  My middle daughter goes to a Catholic high school and that definitely gives her ample opportunity to look at the differences in doctrine.  It has been a very good learning experience and I think it has strengthened her faith. 

HTH, and welcome to the forum
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« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2009, 11:08:16 AM »

Hi WaterGreek, and welcome to the forum!

I don't have any advice for you, because in the case of my daughter, the hate is quite real, without quotation marks. She never liked church, she actually hated it since rather early age (started to hate perhaps at 9-10 and fully developed her hate by the age of ~14). I never understood why. Her mother is the same way, and again, I never understood why. To them both, everything about "organized religion" is wrong, hypocritical, superfluous, deceitful; they see it as a means for one sort of people to get paid (priests), and for the other kind of people to be fooled. They aren't quite the same - the difference is that my wife, essentially an agnostic, makes concessions and accompanies me to church, while my daughter (a staunch, hardcore atheist) would never do even that much.

I wish I understood why some people are so "anti-church," whether they are young or older. I somehow have always been "pro-church" - I was (and still am) rebellious, but my negative energy has always been against the "establishment," the secular powers-that-be, never against the church. (Yet, who knows, if someone would force me to attend church when I was little, I might grow into a God-hater as well.)
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« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2009, 11:25:01 AM »

One over arching thing: think of church like school.  In other words, at this age a non-negotiable.

That being said, if your child didn't like school, you would want to find out why, in order to cure it so that they become life long learners.

One thing, is Church/Orthodoxy confined only to Sunday?  Or is their back up the rest of the week.

I agree with George, letting them choose another church, especicially because it's "cool," or their friends go there, will muddle the issue.

And of coures, pray.
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« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2009, 01:37:09 PM »

Welcome to the forum WaterGreek!

Seeing that you are with the GOA, could the language barrier (and/or emphasis on Hellenism) be an issue?

Are there other Orthodox Churches in your part of the world?  Try attending a different one for a few weeks and see if that helps with your children's attitude.

Do not be hard on yourself and at the same time continue keeping the lines of communication open with your children and your spouse.
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« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2009, 01:59:08 PM »

In my experience, there are two main issues.

Orthodox parishes in general are not good at community building, and can become sacrament factories operating only for a couple of hours on Sunday.

Orthodox services do not induce participation on the part of the laity and many of the services contain long stretches of boring and repetitive material.
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« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2009, 03:18:08 PM »

Orthodox parishes in general are not good at community building, and can become sacrament factories operating only for a couple of hours on Sunday.

Honestly... that's the way I like it...  Embarrassed
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« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2009, 04:52:02 PM »

^^But is that healthy?  Honestly, I'm not calling for a cult-like scenario where every spare second of your schedule outside work is taken up with church activities, but a couple of hours on Sunday unconnected to the rest of the week?  The people at your parish are your parish family, or should be; maybe you have friends closer to you than your family, but you still have family gatherings, you spend time together outside of periodic reunions...I don't know.  I just think that if we're supposedly bound together with the love of Christ like St. Paul says, there ought to be at least some opportunity for our fellowship to overflow into the rest of our lives.

In other words, the Eucharist is the fruit of a unity that's already supposed to have been achieved.  Where is the proof of that unity outside of the service and/or coffee hour?  If all men will know that we are His disciples because we have love for each other, but we don't even have enough of a sense of community to call the elderly gal who fell and broke her hip, or visit the young, stir-crazy mom at home with her three-week old baby, or notify the parish of emergencies (like the priest's heart attack -- which happened at our parish, and some folks didn't get told about it, showed up when we weren't having subsequent services, and were very offended no one had told them), then how can we say that we love one another?  How are we involved AT ALL in each other's lives? 

We don't expect the family to always be the FIRST people we call in emergencies, but we have a shared history, a shared culture, shared interests in one another and in our common life together, so there are things to talk about, an inherent interest.  We should (of course, this is a dream world in some parishes) care enough about our faith to at least have that be a common topic of conversation at times, or at the very least to where it's understood that, when the chips are down, you can count on someone at church to be on the other end of a phone should you need to pick one up, and that that someone will care for you and try to help meet your need somehow, whether material, emotional, or spiritual.

Are we lacking in that? Yes, in several parishes in multiple ways, at times.  But to say that those with whom we labor to bring about the most miraculous work in the cosmos should therefore be held aloof from us, that our relationships with them shouldn't be affected in even the slightest way the whole rest of the week, doesn't make sense to me.  Perhaps the laity is not involved: perhaps reinstituting the kiss of peace, as our archbishop (who will retire tomorrow, sadly  Cry) has endeavored to do recently in Dallas, along with written inserts of the days' hymns, conscious seeking out of congregational singing, etc, maybe the start of an answer.

I'm preaching, I know.  Embarrassed  Let us love one another -- bearing all things, enduring all things, mourning with those who mourn, weeping with those who weep, serving in love the weaker brethren -- that with one mind, we might confess our common faith. 

Forgive me.

(With regard to the OP, perhaps this love will, in time, make itself manifest to kids who seem to despise church.  I think ozgeorge's take on the OP is right on, btw.)
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« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2009, 05:24:18 PM »

^^But is that healthy?  Honestly, I'm not calling for a cult-like scenario where every spare second of your schedule outside work is taken up with church activities, but a couple of hours on Sunday unconnected to the rest of the week?  The people at your parish are your parish family, or should be; maybe you have friends closer to you than your family, but you still have family gatherings, you spend time together outside of periodic reunions...I don't know. 

David, actually, I don't have any friends that are closer to me than my immediate biological family - wife, daughter, mother, son-in-law, his parents and siblings. I have a handful of real good old friends, but they come as distant second to my family. And I don't know how in the world my parish members could be my family or my friends. I love them, i.e. I wish them all the best and if they need me, I will do whatever is needed for them. But they... how would I say it better... simply aren't my family OR my friends. I live very far from them. We have absolutely different lives. They don't seem to miss me much when we aren't together, and I don't blame them. Smiley

I just think that if we're supposedly bound together with the love of Christ like St. Paul says, there ought to be at least some opportunity for our fellowship to overflow into the rest of our lives.

Why is the fellowship during the Divine Liturgy not enough? It's a profound mystical union...
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« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2009, 07:54:58 PM »

I think DavidBryan brings out several good points. Overall, how can we be fully Lanterns unto the World if our particular parish isn't as unified or zealous as it could be? I'm not saying Orthodox should go off and build a Mega-Church, but Christianity is not meant to be practiced as lonely as the parish DB described--in a loosely-based community. In disagreement with you, Heorhij, even if you don't feel it, I feel your parish is meant to be your family. Maybe that's said out of personal bias, but aren't our Christian communities meant to make us more or less Brothers, Sisters, Mothers and Fathers before Christ? Undecided We are meant to be a Family because we strive to be Christ's Family by obeying His Commandments, by reaching out and "loving each other". It's not easy, but nothing worth doing is easy.
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« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2009, 08:27:56 PM »

My children are 12 and 15 (boys) and they both love attending our parish. I think they love it for a variety of reasons.
One: it is open to everyone and all are welcome.
Two: the services are in English
Three: the families who attend are very connected to one another. It is a tightly-knit community who pray and serve together.
Four: They see their parish as dynamic and alive, because others come, watch, learn and then become baptized or chrismated

Someone once explained to me that just attending services isn't a completion of the sacramental life unless the child can take what she/he gets from the mysteries and then go out into the world and serve others. We have one member of our parish who runs a non-profit for the poor. His own children and the teens in our parish all spend time working at the non-profit on Fridays. In other words, their liturgical life spills over and becomes a part of their everyday life when they serve.
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« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2009, 08:41:18 PM »

Orthodox services do not induce participation on the part of the laity and many of the services contain long stretches of boring and repetitive material.

Orthodox services are only boring if one does not understand what the Liturgy is about and they do not know God.

For children who hate church, it may just be a phase. I was the same way once and I dreaded going to church. I saw it as a waste of time but then I eventually started to learn about the Faith and then I came to love it. I became more excited about the Church after reading the lives of various Saints. The Saints that really inspired me in growing more towards the faith are: St. Seraphim of Sarov, the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste, the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus, St. John of San Francisco, Elder Paisios the Athonite and St. Symeon the Stylite. It would probably be good to teach your children about the Holy Saints of the Church. I'm not a parent, but learning about the Saints helped me a lot in looking to my Faith more.
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« Reply #13 on: March 30, 2009, 08:53:30 PM »

That all sounds nice, but I have two kids under 10 and I teach Sunday school to the Junior High and High School kids.  I am telling you from experience much of the structure of the services is boring and uninteresting to them.

Some of the longer services are also hard for the adults.  I also won't even try and count the number of homilies I've daydreamed through.

I will also say that the experience of community, or lack of it, and the desire to remain on the periphery and only have church be a one day a week thing is from what I've seen fairly common.
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« Reply #14 on: March 30, 2009, 09:26:13 PM »

We have 5 children 9 and under, and our sixth is on the way.  From our experience, how a kid behaves in Church has a lot to do with how they are raised outside of Church.  People always comment on how well behaved our children are, and in general, they look forward to Church.  We try to go to 2 to 3 services a week, of course sometimes we only make one.  I believe a big reason we don't have the problems we see a lot people with Children have is that we don't let our kids play video games, don't let them watch TV during the week(only movies after Church on Sunday), and we homeschool.  As a result, the two oldest, 9 and 8, both are reading at a high school level and all have long attention spans. Their average day is spent reading and constructive playing for hours.  There is of course the tantrum from the younger ones, but in general, when they get past the terrible twos they love Church, even the long services.

In my opinion, the problems most parents face are less about Church and more about our fast food, instant gratification culture and their battle should go beyond Church, but to all aspects of their children's lives in helping them to develop the patience and depth to really embrace an orthodox faith that requires patience and attentiveness.

The fact you are asking for help shows your humility and love for your children.  Keep doing your best, love them as hard as you can, be examples of the faith.  God will reward your effort.

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« Reply #15 on: March 30, 2009, 10:02:30 PM »

Hey all,

My first post here.

I am a life long Orthodox Christian married to a convert - but non-practicing - wife.   I've taken my 2 children to church since they were infants (by myself 99% of the time), have been involved with the church, have had the kids (now 11, 7) involved in as many things as they would go to, and generally try to teach them their faith.

But they've really made no close friends there, and do not like going.

I feel like I'm walking a fine line between being a strong parent and making them go, or feeling like a failure and letting them stop going, or go to another church in order to keep them from getting turned off religion altogether.   It's hard when their friends' churches are "cool" with all the bells and whistles - rock bands, lots of activities, cool things to do - and they like that better.

Now if I had a choice between turning them off to any faith by forcing them to go to the Orthodox church, or allowing them to go elsewhere to foster their spirituality, I think I would choose to let them go elsewhere.   But I feel like I've totally let down God, myself, and Orthodoxy by failing to kinder their spirits.

I'm really struggling with this and I know there is no perfect answer, still, I seek guidance.   My plans for now are to continue keeping them involved as much as possible, being a bit flexible, allowing them to go to youth activities at a friends church (last night was making Easter Baskets for folks in a nursing home), and trying to keep the dialogue open.

What have others done?   What wisdom can you all offer to me?

It could be worse.  Yesterday, our Sunday School superintendant was called into the fourth grade class to break up a fight.  When she got there, she found two boys attacking each other, one of them had his hands around the other's neck and was squeezing as hard as he could.  She managed to get them apart.  (She's one tough woman.)

Anyway, I wouldn't give the kids the choice of going to another Church.  Have them stick with it and they'll thank you later.
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« Reply #16 on: March 30, 2009, 10:40:04 PM »

^^But is that healthy?  Honestly, I'm not calling for a cult-like scenario where every spare second of your schedule outside work is taken up with church activities, but a couple of hours on Sunday unconnected to the rest of the week?  The people at your parish are your parish family, or should be; maybe you have friends closer to you than your family, but you still have family gatherings, you spend time together outside of periodic reunions...I don't know.  I just think that if we're supposedly bound together with the love of Christ like St. Paul says, there ought to be at least some opportunity for our fellowship to overflow into the rest of our lives.

We had an experience like that when 1./ our kids were young, 2./ both hubby and I went to the same church, and 3./ it was small (less than 100 people).  It was not an Orthodox church, but we definitely had community.  Those were some of the best years of our life...cherish it while it is with you, DavidB.

It is a lot different now especially since my husband isn't Orthodox.  Couples with kids from church don't invite my family over for dinner or play time.  I hear about them happening with groups of friends at my parish, but I'm not included.  I'm not saying it to get sympathy.  There are social things at church I purposefully don't participate in because I don't want to go without my hubby.   This is just the reality of my life.  At one time I had David Bryan's experience...but those days are gone.  I think it is an ideal situation, but not necessarily possible for everyone. Currently, my friends at church are either single or Orthodox alone.   Also, life is much busier, now that most of my kids are teens/young adults, so even if someone were to invite me to their "parish friends/family get together" I might not have time or not everyone would go.

IIRC, the OP is Orthodox alone as is Heorhij.
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« Reply #17 on: March 31, 2009, 12:34:56 AM »

I have younger kids-7, 3 and almost 2 (another on the way as well).

But I have to agree that a lot of problems with a child's view of church can be traced to what they think life should be like in general. If a child expects to be "entertained" at all times then they are not as likely to enjoy church. Going to services you can't be focused on yourself alone. And really in the lifestyle of the average child these days children are pretty self centered.
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« Reply #18 on: March 31, 2009, 01:39:43 AM »

Welcome WaterGreek!


But they've really made no close friends there, and do not like going.

Do your children feel 'left out' at their church?  Churches, like schools or any other gathering, can become cliquish.  This was one reason I hated going to church when I was younger.  Try observing all the children, if you haven't already, and see what's going on.  Maybe you and your wife could invite some of the other children over to your house for a birthday party or some other type of fun activity.



 But I feel like I've totally let down God, myself, and Orthodoxy by failing to kinder their spirits.
Don't be so hard on yourself.  I'm not a parent yet, but in talking to my brother (who has three children), and my friends with children, I can understand how hard it is to stay on top of these things and not always be second guessing yourself.  There's really only so much you can do as a parent. 

What wisdom can you all offer to me?

Aside from inviting the other children over to your home, how involved are you at your parish?  Does the church have youth activities of any sort?  Have you shared your concerns with other parents at your church?  With your priest? 

 In Christ,
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« Reply #19 on: March 31, 2009, 02:16:42 AM »

WaterGreek,

I have the same problem with my eldest who just turned 4, although it waxes and wains. He does take his duties while in church seriously, but doesn't much like it. I have trouble getting him to pray at night before bed too (I try to set an examples, and now his baby brother who is 20 months old, crosses himself and does prostrations - very cute - but the older one still avoids it as best he can). Our church no longer has a Sunday School, although it did (not sure if it still does) have a Russian cultural school that includes religious studies for older kids on Saturday. My son is 1/2 Russian, but not much fond of speaking/listening to it (I guess because it's tougher for him, even though he understands it completely). We don't have coffee hour anymore either, despite having a largish congregation, for a variety of reasons. When we did have coffee/lunch hour, we did make friends with another family with children of the same age, but they have since moved far away. There are quite a few small children in our church, and we're friendly with a few of the families (and others like singles and older couples etc.), but there isn't really an opportunity to get to know them better, anymore, other than quiet nods in church (or when the kids need a break and are running around outside) Asides from the fact that we don't have a mechanism to get to know other families, I think it would be really hard anyway. For instance, moms gatherings (not that I could partake anyway as I work too much) would be hard as many of the Russian women don't/can't drive and everyone lives quite far from one another and the church. Russians strike me overall as very shy and reserved too, until of course you get to know them - then they are super friendly. I know I shouldn't whinge though - I realize that if I want it to happen (community events, etc.), then I need to take the initiative; it's just I can't personally at this point in my life as I'm burning the candle at both ends and frankly falling apart with the responsibilities I already have. It's a problem a lot of people have, right? My priest and I were chatting over the phone one day and this topic came up. Part of the problem is too that in the past in our church, there was always a core group of women who organized many things and were a sort of glue. But most of those ladies didn't work much outside of the home so devoted themselves to this sort of thing, and at any rate have passed on or are too old. There isn't anyone to replace them in this way.

Also, my Russian husband tells me in Russia that it is not normal to have the kinds of church gatherings that you see in e.g. Protestant churches (and while our church has been around for decades, many of our parishioners are recent immigrants). We figure that perhaps this stems from the fact that in the past in places such as Russia, your church was the one in your village or down on the block; you already always socialized or otherwise dealt with all the other parishioners outside of church as they were your neighbours. They already were your extended family. This is not the case here in North America (or really anywhere in a city) nowadays.

I personally don't have any answers for this problem but wish I did; I ache sometimes for more community and friendship with those who attempting to follow the same path.

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« Reply #20 on: March 31, 2009, 07:39:01 AM »

Christianity is not meant to be practiced as lonely as the parish DB described--in a loosely-based community.

I don't know... We are all different, and maybe there are no "recipes" that fit all people in all cases. I am completely happy with the loosely-based community of my Greek parishioners. Again, I am ready to do whatever they would ever ask me to do for them, but right now it does seem that they do not need anything from me, and I am perfectly fine with this. I do not feel any discomfort just because I am not involved in church "activities." I had my share of sitting on various "committees" in a Protestant church and I would actually hate to see the same thing in the Orthodox Church - to me, it's all "vanity, chasing after the wind." I am blissfully happy when I hear an Orthodox priest say, "again and again, let us pray to the Lord..." and when I am going to receive Christ in the Eucharist. To me, that's "the only thing needed." I am not saying that I am right and you and others who want "building a comunity" are wrong; but I believe that there exist other people who are more like me than like you (and maybe you are actually closer to me in this regard than you think - because of some upbringing stereotypes?). And as far as kids are concerned, I generally tend to think, as I have already said on this forum, that at least for some kids the whole business of building "relationships," being involved in "activities" etc. is a huge and irreversible turn-off.

In disagreement with you, Heorhij, even if you don't feel it, I feel your parish is meant to be your family. Maybe that's said out of personal bias, but aren't our Christian communities meant to make us more or less Brothers, Sisters, Mothers and Fathers before Christ? Undecided We are meant to be a Family because we strive to be Christ's Family by obeying His Commandments, by reaching out and "loving each other". It's not easy, but nothing worth doing is easy.

In reality though, I do absolutely feel that I already AM in full communion with each and every Orthodox on earth and in heaven when I am receiving Christ in the Holy Eucharist; "reaching out" in the traditional (in the USA) form of "community-building," "group activities" etc. is, to me, incredibly superfluous and totally unnecessary. Smiley
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« Reply #21 on: March 31, 2009, 08:13:53 AM »

That all sounds nice, but I have two kids under 10 and I teach Sunday school to the Junior High and High School kids.  I am telling you from experience much of the structure of the services is boring and uninteresting to them.

Maybe that's because of the compulsiveness of all that. My very first encounter with the Orthodox Divine Liturgy happened when I was a ~9-10 y.o. child living in then-Communist Ukraine, compulsively fed with a lot of Communist garbage, which I hated even then (and even more so later). The encounter with the DL was a totally different and very mysterious experience, with all these rich obertones of something "forbidden," which I loved; I became really fascinated with the Churhc right away exactly because of this sense of "other-worldliness" of it (compare the words of Prince Volodymyr's envoys after they returned from Constantinople...).

I gues my daughter was exacly like me in this regard. When she first visited a Ukrainian Orthodox mission parish in Seattle, she had these wide-wide-wide open eyes of a little person who is utterly surprised, fascinated, spiritually "conquered." But when it turned to communication with other kids who were enthusiastically discussing shopping (girls) and sports (boys), she became completely turned off, and began to hate this "church thing," and hates it gravely till this day.
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« Reply #22 on: March 31, 2009, 03:12:53 PM »

Our parish has been intentionally made into a community. And I love it. I think that your view Heorhij  is influenced by the fact that you are in the minority in your house. If your wife and child were involved in parish life then you likely wouldn't feel the same way. As it stands currently to be in a more involved and make church a "family" would mean leaving out your wife. And that wouldn't be healthy for your marriage. Especially since you describe your wife as out right hostile towards Christianity.
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« Reply #23 on: March 31, 2009, 04:02:11 PM »

Our parish has been intentionally made into a community. And I love it. I think that your view Heorhij  is influenced by the fact that you are in the minority in your house. If your wife and child were involved in parish life then you likely wouldn't feel the same way. As it stands currently to be in a more involved and make church a "family" would mean leaving out your wife. And that wouldn't be healthy for your marriage. Especially since you describe your wife as out right hostile towards Christianity.

Yes, to some extent, maybe you are right... although I have to say that Lesya is not exactly hostile to Christianity as such; she is an agnostic and she simply has no feelings whatsoever about anything religious, anything supernatural - because she honestly does not know whether it exists at all or not. Her hostility is more to certain types of people whom she suspects to be religious fanatics, freaks. I don't have that particular kind of hostility but I can't say I like this type of people, either. And I most definitely dislike any "group activities" in any setting, religious or not. That's hardly my wife's influence, I have that in me, on my own, since very early age. The Divine Liturgy is, however, a totally different thing to me, because it is "other-wordly."
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« Reply #24 on: March 31, 2009, 04:38:14 PM »

You have mentioned that she makes fun of "religious people" that to me is hostile. Maybe your idea of hostile and mine are different.
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« Reply #25 on: March 31, 2009, 05:09:40 PM »

You have mentioned that she makes fun of "religious people" that to me is hostile. Maybe your idea of hostile and mine are different.

Well, poking good-natured fun is not exactly hostility, I poke fun on her all the time and she does it to me all the time, that only makes our life better.Smiley

Sometimes she is furious at some religious people, but not because they are religious - because they are tactless or because they say atrociously wrong things. For example, she got mad at one Orthodox priest who called her on the phone (never actually having met her, not knowing her at all) and told her that because she is Orthodox and there will be a priest visiting our town, she has to cook dinner for that priest. That was, indeed, tactless, I am absolutely with her there. Or she gets mad at Evangelical preachers like Pat Robertson when they say that the number one obligation of a God-fearing Christian is to donate money to Israel. Again, I am absolutely on her side in that.

But I am afraid whe deviated from the topic, it's about kids and social activities at church.
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« Reply #26 on: March 31, 2009, 05:15:42 PM »

And I most definitely dislike any "group activities" in any setting, religious or not. That's hardly my wife's influence, I have that in me, on my own, since very early age. The Divine Liturgy is, however, a totally different thing to me, because it is "other-wordly."

I'm the same way, Heorhij.  I despise the silly "getting to know you" games and group activities that are so popular these days.  Every time I got involved with something like that at my former church, it inevitably split the group into the people who are part of a clique and the people who weren't.  Even if they all got mixed together, it was like two factions in one party anyway.  I'd rather just go to Liturgy, pray, prostrate, sing, etc. and then go talk to people afterward than try to make church life into an ongoing church social.  What drew me to the Orthodox church in the first place was not all the bells and whistles, the lock-ins, the bicycle and tv giveaways, but the sense that I was actually taking part in real worship, not just clapping along to the praise band.
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« Reply #27 on: March 31, 2009, 05:18:52 PM »

And I most definitely dislike any "group activities" in any setting, religious or not. That's hardly my wife's influence, I have that in me, on my own, since very early age. The Divine Liturgy is, however, a totally different thing to me, because it is "other-wordly."

I'm the same way, Heorhij.  I despise the silly "getting to know you" games and group activities that are so popular these days.  Every time I got involved with something like that at my former church, it inevitably split the group into the people who are part of a clique and the people who weren't.  Even if they all got mixed together, it was like two factions in one party anyway.  I'd rather just go to Liturgy, pray, prostrate, sing, etc. and then go talk to people afterward than try to make church life into an ongoing church social.  What drew me to the Orthodox church in the first place was not all the bells and whistles, the lock-ins, the bicycle and tv giveaways, but the sense that I was actually taking part in real worship, not just clapping along to the praise band.

Thank you, EofK. Good to know that I am not a total "oddball." Smiley
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« Reply #28 on: March 31, 2009, 05:40:55 PM »

We'll be fellow oddballs. Smiley
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« Reply #29 on: March 31, 2009, 10:27:12 PM »

From what I've seen, church is really just a Sunday morning thing and people don't get all that involved in anything beyond that.  So personally I don't see this as odd.  I don't hang out with anyone from church, and I'm one of the Sunday morning only people.
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« Reply #30 on: April 01, 2009, 12:35:07 AM »

I like how the Orthodox Church does not beg its congregants to care.

Whether you are there or not, the services will go on.  The Church will maintain the faith.  What you get out of it is what you put into it.  If the liturgy is dead to you, it is because you kill it.  If Church is boring, it's because you're not willing to exert any effort.

The typically church that practically begs its congregants to care knows that it needs them to survive.  People don't "need" religion today, and so their attendance at a church is almost like a bargaining chip with how things are done.

Is your seat comfortable?  Do you like the music?  Sure, bring your doughnut into the sanctuary; ain't no big thing...

PUKE!!!

It's all seeker sensitive and marketing.  The Orthodox Church is about serving God (literally servicing or tending to the God).  A lot of time when I enter an Orthodox Temple I feel as though I am entering into the temples of antiquity, incense alight, awaiting the sunrise to sing praises to the god.  Nothing about the service is designed to make the worshiper feel special.  It is about coming together to worship the God Almighty.

So "not liking" church is a problem, but if you can find some way to try and impress upon the children that effort and work are a part of the true spiritual life, then maybe they will begin to appreciate how cooperative their relationship with God is.  It's not a consumer endeavor for their entertainment, it's about peering beyond the either into the mysterious face of God.
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« Reply #31 on: April 01, 2009, 01:37:05 AM »

Heorhij - I do understand - my husband is the same as you.

To me, however, it helps to be able to spend time with other Orthodox; it's not about having buddies (I can do that on my own, although I don't have time for friends much nowadays), nor having rock shows and other such "popular" things, but it's about being able to spend time with people who understand what you are going through. You can share ideas with them and discuss things you wouldn't/couldn't with anyone else (hence the reason I am here on this forum). For instance, childrearing with an Orthodox viewpoint. You can provide support to one another in your struggles, and share lighthearted moments with the same perspective. You can feel free to be Orthodox - open about it, open about prayer, etc., which I most certainly cannot do in much of my daily life. You don't have to repress or hide it.

Furthermore, we must consider that showing up only on Sundays does not provide enough support to run a church (I am not pointing any fingers at anyone here -  I know everyone helps out in their own way, and goodness I'm not nearly involved enough at all). It's not just about tithing; there is a whole lot of work that is required, and one cannot possibly know what that is if you are only there for the liturgy (even if the priest mentions there is a need for help in some areas - that's rarely the whole story and often there are those behind the scene who are carrying far more of the weight than they should). Even at purely social events, people talk, and information gets around. If you are more involved outside of liturgy, you are far more aware of what the church is needing in order to function.

Also, if you want to have a church where congregants support one another in rough times, they have to actually have some idea of who other congregants actually are (yes, of course we should be as helpful to complete strangers too, but a church community goes beyond that).
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« Reply #32 on: April 01, 2009, 01:48:14 AM »

And I most definitely dislike any "group activities" in any setting, religious or not. That's hardly my wife's influence, I have that in me, on my own, since very early age. The Divine Liturgy is, however, a totally different thing to me, because it is "other-wordly."

I'm the same way, Heorhij.  I despise the silly "getting to know you" games and group activities that are so popular these days.  Every time I got involved with something like that at my former church, it inevitably split the group into the people who are part of a clique and the people who weren't.  Even if they all got mixed together, it was like two factions in one party anyway.  I'd rather just go to Liturgy, pray, prostrate, sing, etc. and then go talk to people afterward than try to make church life into an ongoing church social.  What drew me to the Orthodox church in the first place was not all the bells and whistles, the lock-ins, the bicycle and tv giveaways, but the sense that I was actually taking part in real worship, not just clapping along to the praise band.


Eeeeeekkkk - the various "enticements" you list above sound horrible, and that's not what I personally mean about community in the least. What about getting a group going for a wilderness hike and appreciating the great outdoors from an Orthodox perspective (and inspire stewardship)? Or just gathering for a picnic at the beach and enjoying the sight of the church's young children enjoying the moment, thereby inspiring congregants to be properly involved in the raising of the next Orthodox generation. Those are but a couple of basic ideas - I'm sure more inspiring people with better leadership skills could come up with far better ideas.
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« Reply #33 on: April 01, 2009, 01:58:54 AM »

Oh, another idea - what about a painting party? The church has to be painted, why not includes some food and a little hanging out during breaks (if you're too shy to talk much when you are on a break, just rest under a tree or something - at least you're a part of something - and yes, the most important part of something to be involved with is the liturgy, but as previously mentioned, there is importance to knwoing the community you are communing with)? I remember participating a few time in vareniki/pelmini (perogies) making sessions as a church fundraiser. It was actually rather fun. A bunch of women sat around making these things and chatting, while the guys (especially the priest) ran around getting dough ready and delivered to the tables (plus the guys cleaned up). There is something soothing once in awhile about not having to do something directly related to one's job or intellectual pursuits or something.

Just my largely uneducated opinion,

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« Reply #34 on: April 01, 2009, 02:04:48 AM »

Perhaps what EofK means is that even with ideas such as hiking and picnicing, it has acquired tones of what certain people consider "membership"--being in the clique. Heck, I know of Orthodox priests who weren't a certain ethnicity or weren't cradle-born, and the Church and its officials pushed them around and basically drew in the Welcome Mat. I feel Orthodox people need the kind of cohesive community that we all dream of, but we also need to be gentle about welcoming people and making them feel a part of it, and that takes time and patience and endurance, especially time. Perhaps the communities that EofK has experienced did not bother or did not know how to gradually build up their fellowships. I think, as Orthodox communities, we need to be like God's Still Small Voice---gentle, but inviting about it.
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« Reply #35 on: April 01, 2009, 02:11:27 AM »

Having a Paschal potluck and one after Liturgy each week is a community thing. Having the parish cleaned is a community thing. Maintaining the parish grounds is a community thing. Parish funds going towards these things is a waste when you could have volunteers maintain it instead. Taking meals to the sick and families with new babies is a community thing. These are all things that need to be done and when they are done get you involved in the lives of others. If a parish is unwilling to do these things (and would rather put it in the budget to have others do it) then is is a bad omen for the health of the body.

We have sign ups for bringing food and cleaning up each Sunday. The rotation is about every two months. Everyone brings things to the St. Nicholas day feast. The Paschal feast is one that everyone contributes to. Everyone helps hide eggs, play games with the kids, play music and various other activities. We all make the floral decorations for the parish during Holy week together as well. To think that community equals some protestant idea of "lock-ins" and the like is rather narrow minded and frankly a pretty "American" line of thought.

We make palm leaf crosses for palm sunday, dye the Paschal eggs, have the youth go to Mexico to build homes and churches for Project Mexico various times of year, make food to take to the local shelters each week, make a quilt for each couple getting married (we all cross stitch a square), the women in the parish make blankets for the local shelter a couple times each winter, we have baby showers, wedding showers, birthday celebrations, anniversary celebrations, the youth make a waffle breakfast after baptisms on Lazarus Saturday, there are orthodox ski trips, girls retreats, boys retreats, youth retreats, men's retreats, women's retreats (the retreats typically take place at a monastery)
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« Reply #36 on: April 01, 2009, 02:21:23 AM »

Having a Paschal potluck and one after Liturgy each week is a community thing. Having the parish cleaned is a community thing. Maintaining the parish grounds is a community thing. Parish funds going towards these things is a waste when you could have volunteers maintain it instead. Taking meals to the sick and families with new babies is a community thing. These are all things that need to be done and when they are done get you involved in the lives of others. If a parish is unwilling to do these things (and would rather put it in the budget to have others do it) then is is a bad omen for the health of the body.

We have sign ups for bringing food and cleaning up each Sunday. The rotation is about every two months. Everyone brings things to the St. Nicholas day feast. The Paschal feast is one that everyone contributes to. Everyone helps hide eggs, play games with the kids, play music and various other activities. We all make the floral decorations for the parish during Holy week together as well. To think that community equals some protestant idea of "lock-ins" and the like is rather narrow minded and frankly a pretty "American" line of thought.

We make palm leaf crosses pal sunday, dye the Paschal eggs, have the youth go to Mexico to build homes and churches for Project Mexico various times of year, make food to take to the local shelters each week, make a quilt for each couple getting married (we all cross stitch a square), the women in the parish make blankets for the local shelter a couple times each winter, we have baby showers, wedding showers, birthday celebrations, anniversary celebrations, the youth make a waffle breakfast after baptisms on Lazarus Saturday, there are orthodox ski trips, girls retreats, boys retreats, youth retreats, men's retreats, women's retreats (the retreats typically take place at a monastery)

Wow. Very cool! Do you have a small parish, Quin?
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« Reply #37 on: April 01, 2009, 02:22:44 AM »

Between members (and kids) and catechumens there are about 150-200 people. Although a great number of people that have left the parish to join another come back for Holy Week and Pascha. Then it is more like 200-250 (if not more, it feels like 500 it is so crowded. We open the doors and have people outside for Paschal services. And it isn't "feast day Orthodox," it is people that used to be a part of the parish that are well known and loved). Our parish grew quite fast but to maintain community started several other parishes in other areas (places that are North, South and East of our present location) to keep the communal aspect going.
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« Reply #38 on: April 01, 2009, 02:25:35 AM »

Perhaps what EofK means is that even with ideas such as hiking and picnicing, it has acquired tones of what certain people consider "membership"--being in the clique. Heck, I know of Orthodox priests who weren't a certain ethnicity or weren't cradle-born, and the Church and its officials pushed them around and basically drew in the Welcome Mat. I feel Orthodox people need the kind of cohesive community that we all dream of, but we also need to be gentle about welcoming people and making them feel a part of it, and that takes time and patience and endurance, especially time. Perhaps the communities that EofK has experienced did not bother or did not know how to gradually build up their fellowships. I think, as Orthodox communities, we need to be like God's Still Small Voice---gentle, but inviting about it.

Oh, I understand the issue with cliques - I'm not Russian, but attend a Russian church, and still find people surprised that a Russian man married a Canadian woman rather than the stereotypical Canadian/American man marrying a Russian woman, plus, I've felt the sting of being outside of the clique in my youth - not with church as I never really attended one until my late 20's, but in school etc. But I also don't worry too much if I have buddies at church - I just want to be part of a community.

What horrified me were the examples of "get to know you games" (although as a teacher we're supposed to conduct those with our students, they do make me squirmy, and make my husband downright hostile) and bells and whistles etc. I love the real worship too, and that by far is my favourite part.
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« Reply #39 on: April 01, 2009, 02:28:34 AM »


We make palm leaf crosses for palm sunday, dye the Paschal eggs, have the youth go to Mexico to build homes and churches for Project Mexico various times of year, make food to take to the local shelters each week, make a quilt for each couple getting married (we all cross stitch a square), the women in the parish make blankets for the local shelter a couple times each winter, we have baby showers, wedding showers, birthday celebrations, anniversary celebrations, the youth make a waffle breakfast after baptisms on Lazarus Saturday, there are orthodox ski trips, girls retreats, boys retreats, youth retreats, men's retreats, women's retreats (the retreats typically take place at a monastery)

These are lovely activities that serve to let people know they are loved, are remembered, are cared for, and it brings people together in a positive way. Congratulations to your church!
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« Reply #40 on: April 01, 2009, 02:32:26 AM »

Feeling needed and that you can contribute sparks community. Our parish could not function without people that volunteer. And by doing this we keep the church budget down quite low. The annual church budget/expenses for my entire parish is LITERALLY less than the annual SALARY of one of the (nearly 2 dozen) pastors at the church I left-Mars Hill (here in seattle). Joining a church is always a bit awkward at first. But if they communicate to you that they not only want but need your help it is easy to slip in a feel like you are part of a larger family. Right now they are even sending my husband a card each month as well.

And although I do love my parish. I am not saying all this to brag on it. I am just trying to point out how community doesn't have to mean social games. It can (and should be) a means to make an impact on the community both within and outside of the parish.
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« Reply #41 on: April 01, 2009, 03:25:49 AM »

Having a Paschal potluck and one after Liturgy each week is a community thing. Having the parish cleaned is a community thing. Maintaining the parish grounds is a community thing. Parish funds going towards these things is a waste when you could have volunteers maintain it instead. Taking meals to the sick and families with new babies is a community thing. These are all things that need to be done and when they are done get you involved in the lives of others. If a parish is unwilling to do these things (and would rather put it in the budget to have others do it) then is is a bad omen for the health of the body.

We have sign ups for bringing food and cleaning up each Sunday. The rotation is about every two months. Everyone brings things to the St. Nicholas day feast. The Paschal feast is one that everyone contributes to. Everyone helps hide eggs, play games with the kids, play music and various other activities. We all make the floral decorations for the parish during Holy week together as well. To think that community equals some protestant idea of "lock-ins" and the like is rather narrow minded and frankly a pretty "American" line of thought.

We make palm leaf crosses for palm sunday, dye the Paschal eggs, have the youth go to Mexico to build homes and churches for Project Mexico various times of year, make food to take to the local shelters each week, make a quilt for each couple getting married (we all cross stitch a square), the women in the parish make blankets for the local shelter a couple times each winter, we have baby showers, wedding showers, birthday celebrations, anniversary celebrations, the youth make a waffle breakfast after baptisms on Lazarus Saturday, there are orthodox ski trips, girls retreats, boys retreats, youth retreats, men's retreats, women's retreats (the retreats typically take place at a monastery)

Now THAT'S what I'm talking about!   Grin Grin Grin
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« Reply #42 on: April 01, 2009, 07:10:11 AM »

Having a Paschal potluck and one after Liturgy each week is a community thing. Having the parish cleaned is a community thing. Maintaining the parish grounds is a community thing. Parish funds going towards these things is a waste when you could have volunteers maintain it instead. Taking meals to the sick and families with new babies is a community thing. These are all things that need to be done and when they are done get you involved in the lives of others. If a parish is unwilling to do these things (and would rather put it in the budget to have others do it) then is is a bad omen for the health of the body.

We have sign ups for bringing food and cleaning up each Sunday. The rotation is about every two months. Everyone brings things to the St. Nicholas day feast. The Paschal feast is one that everyone contributes to. Everyone helps hide eggs, play games with the kids, play music and various other activities. We all make the floral decorations for the parish during Holy week together as well. To think that community equals some protestant idea of "lock-ins" and the like is rather narrow minded and frankly a pretty "American" line of thought.

We make palm leaf crosses for palm sunday, dye the Paschal eggs, have the youth go to Mexico to build homes and churches for Project Mexico various times of year, make food to take to the local shelters each week, make a quilt for each couple getting married (we all cross stitch a square), the women in the parish make blankets for the local shelter a couple times each winter, we have baby showers, wedding showers, birthday celebrations, anniversary celebrations, the youth make a waffle breakfast after baptisms on Lazarus Saturday, there are orthodox ski trips, girls retreats, boys retreats, youth retreats, men's retreats, women's retreats (the retreats typically take place at a monastery)

Now THAT'S what I'm talking about!   Grin Grin Grin

Yeah. Very American. Smiley
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« Reply #43 on: April 01, 2009, 10:45:28 AM »

My experiences with "church community" are very similar to what Quinalt posted.  My parents were pretty active in our parish growing up.  The whole family looked forward to helping out at our church's annual bazaar in August, working on constructing/tearing down the game booths (and working the games themselves) as well as working in the kitchen.  My father helped run the weekly bingo games and my mother made food for the poor every other week.  You just plain got to know people working alongside them w/o the need for the artificiality that EofK described.  It does help, though, if one can find a person of similar interest within the parish community.  At least it helped me to integrate myself into the life of the parish as I am not a conversationalist by any means and generally find meeting new people difficult.  However, once you're "in", so to speak, you're in.
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« Reply #44 on: April 01, 2009, 11:21:16 AM »

My experiences with "church community" are very similar to what Quinalt posted.  My parents were pretty active in our parish growing up.  The whole family looked forward to helping out at our church's annual bazaar in August, working on constructing/tearing down the game booths (and working the games themselves) as well as working in the kitchen.  My father helped run the weekly bingo games and my mother made food for the poor every other week.  You just plain got to know people working alongside them w/o the need for the artificiality that EofK described.  It does help, though, if one can find a person of similar interest within the parish community.  At least it helped me to integrate myself into the life of the parish as I am not a conversationalist by any means and generally find meeting new people difficult.  However, once you're "in", so to speak, you're in.

But what if somebody just does not need to "integrate" him or herself into what you call "the life of the parish?" Again, I never, never, never felt any need to be a part of this "life"! In the Church, I seek God. I come to the Chalice and receive Him. I prepare myself for that all the time, trying, failing, again trying. I interact with hundreds of people outside the church - at my work, and on the Internet forums like this one. I am just not seeking any additional occupation and interaction elsewhere! If some brother or sister in Christ, be he/she from my parish, or not from my parish, is "hungry" - needs something that I can help with, - I will try to provide what he or she needs to the best of my abilities. I don't need to be involved in any organized actitivites to do this!!!

I don't know... In Ukrainian large cities like my home city, Kyiv, or Lesya's home city, Luts'k, there are very many Orthodox people and there are wonderful Orthodox churches, with magnificent exterior and interior, with heavenly choirs, and everything that must be there. But there just isn't any "parish life" - and to me, that's GOOD!!!

Well, maybe not all people are so extremely anti-social as I am or as my wife and daughter are. But I know that I am not unique, and (closer to the OP) I am sure that there are kids who don't like social interactions. To them, the "parish life" may well be a permanent, irreversible turn-off. 
« Last Edit: April 01, 2009, 11:22:33 AM by Heorhij » Logged

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