OK, Sabbas, we can skip over the part where you're presuming to pass judgement on churches within your own jurisdiction before you've even been chrismated, and skip directly to the buildings in question.
Different jurisdictions have different custom with respect to the appearance of the iconostasis. It seems proper at your stage to subject yourself in humility to the custom of your jurisidiction rather than already engaging in the unfortunately common practice of shopping for the jurisdiction with the most spiritual machismo strictest piety. Any of us here can tell you about this because we've all seen it happen over and over, but you should at least wait for the chrism before you start your search for your next jurisdiction.
First I am also being baptized. I was never baptized as a child because my mother and father, who belonged to different denominations (Methodist and Roman Catholic) decided to let me decide. Second I think you should respect my own judgment. If I ultimately choose to be in the GSR as opposed to the AA that is my choice. And I do plan to make that decision before being baptized as I do not look favorably on 'jurisdiction hopping.' Third the AA mission I attend has a full iconostasis (royal doors, curtains, etc.) and what I listed in the picture is in no way related to the established form of an Eastern Orthodox sanctuary. Though I admit that church is quite young I was more concerned with the innovation of having a gigantic Christmas tree in the sanctuary. However the other picture I listed is from a parish that has been around for 30 years, and is a traditional slavic church in everyway, as far as I can tell, except it has no iconostasis.
I guess it will not surprise you too much if I disagree with you about this, Sabbas.
I thnk the iconostasis is a real barrier to liturgical communication, and is designed to shut the laity out. I have been in parishes that have both ornate icon screens and simple barrrers as attested to by Choirfiend, and I much prefer the latter, although I do agree that there should be an indicator of some kind as to a deliniation between the altar area and the nave, and that no one should go back there unless they have a good reason.
It may interest you to know that in Slavic Orthodoxy, the Muscovite tradition in its rubrics has all kinds of things noting when to shut the royal doors and curtains during the liturgy. The Kievan tradition, on the other hand, is very clear in mentioning that the doors and curtains should remain open for the entire liturgy.
I hope that I am not the only one who likes iconostasises. Not that I don't understand why some people don't. I tend to like the Rude screens used in the west. However I wil list a quote by someone who can express my opinion on the iconostasis and liturgical development better than me.
the Icon screen in our Churches divides the Holy of Holies from other sections of the Church. And this division is not architectural or merely "spatial." The Eucharist rests in the Altar on the Holy Table. And its Presence there sanctifies and changes that place. In the procedure of the Liturgy, the Icon screen protects that which is holy from the profane and that which is profane from the power of the holy. No historical acrobatics meant to prove that the Icon screen is an impediment to worship can change the fact that the Altar contains something which must be protected and concealed, except in those moments when the Holy Things are brought out for the sanctification of the people.
The Liturgy is a mystical event. Its development is subject to historical investigation. But the "whys" of its development lie within the action of the Holy Spirit. The Liturgy is a formula, as it were, by which the earthly lifts itself up to the heavenly. It exists for this purpose. Any changes and developments which we see in it are not the result of human whim but of maturation and the development of Divine procedure.
It may interest you to know that in Slavic Orthodoxy, the Muscovite tradition in its rubrics has all kinds of things noting when to shut the royal doors and curtains during the liturgy.
Yes I am familiar with this and I recently read of an interesting practice of Optina in which the opening of the Royal Doors is central. It is called the 'Bridegroom Matins' I think. It's described in better detail in Fr.Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works
by Hieromonk Damascene.
Those who LEAVE the church are not part of the Church
I agree that groups like the Matthewites, ROAC, etc. have cut themselves off but I would be more circumspect about the groups like the GSR and its sister churches. They recognize the validity of the sacraments in the official jurisdictions. They are in communion with ROCOR. ROCOR is in communion with the Serbian Patriarchate. Patriarch Diodoros I of the Jerusalem Patriarchate praised Metropolitan Cyprian in a versperal homily. I could go on with the names of those in official Orthodoxy who have stated that those in certain Old Calendar groups are not heretics, and not even schismatic. And I could give more reasons why you should take a look at their arguments. I think that you should admit things are not as cut and dry as you think and look more closely at the history of the Old Calendar movement.
Do you have larger pictures of the churches? thanks~
I can give you the websites if you like. http://www.oca.org/pages/events/2004/10.October/1017SeaCliffNY/index.html
Leonid Kishkovsky served as president of the NCC for a while as well. http://www.peterpaul.net/index2.htm
We know where the Church is; we know not where it is not." God saves, we do not limit Him by declaring who can or cannot be saved.
Christ came to renew human nature which had been corrupted by sin, and entrusted this greatest work of His goodness, mercy, truth, and wisdom to His Holy Church. The Holy Spirit, Who came into the world and Who operates in the Church through the clergy, the Divine Service, the sermon, and the Mysteries, works this renewal without ceasing. Only within the Church is this renovating force contained, outside the Church it does not exist and cannot.
I think this makes it clear that the Church is visible, one, and we know where it is not.
What is your definition of ecumenism? Ecumenical dialogue? Is it wrong to discuss differences of beliefs with others in the hope that they will one day return to the truth Faith? Is it wrong to work on humanitarian efforts with other groups in order to benefit the poor and needy? (and by AA, do you mean the Antiochian Archdiocese? How do you reconcile your vigor against the new calendar with joining a new calendar church?)
My definition of Ecumenism is the same as is written about at http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/
My definition of modernism is the same as voiced so well by Fr.Alexander Lebedeff http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/tradmod_intro.aspx
and Dr.Constantine Cavarnos http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/modernism.pdf
Humanitarian efforts with other groups for benefit of poor and needy is not what any traditionalist is against. It's the idea that by engaging in theological dialogue in a Protestant dominated group being beneficial when it's clearly not is what we're against. It's not just Old Calendarists who feel this way. There are articles I could show you from those in official new calendar jurisdictions as well. If you'd like to read them I'll get the addresses for you. My justification for going with an AA mission that I attend, and yes that's Antiochian, is that I do not entirely agree that traditionalism is dead in official Orthodoxy. I recently read a book about the traditionalist Elder Cleopa http://www.svspress.com/product_info.php?products_id=2598
And I was swayed by his arguments against the Old Calendarist movement that perhaps there is hope that Orthodoxy and its Tradition will not necessarily destroyed by the sad actions of a few at the top, Heresiarch Athenagoras for instance.
I have yet to hear "many" arguing for the Julian calendar in any of the new calendar Orthodox that I have met.
Usually you have to go to ethnic parishes to find them. Though I have known two, one a priest, who think it would be better to go back to the Julian Calendar. Outside America there are many in official jurisdictions who feel this way.
I doubt this priest planted the views expressed in your posts in your mind. Have you discussed these issues with him? Does he know you believe these things? These are topics that should be worked out in your catechical sessions with your priest.
The priest who made me a catechumen is a wonderful man who I learned a lot from. He had a long correspondence with Fr.Alexey Young, now Hieromonk Ambrose, who started Orthodox America and knew Fr.Seraphim well. He told me point blank that Ecumenism is heresy. However he did not feel the same way I did about those in Old Calendarist groups. He said he had friends in these groups and respected them but that it wasn't time to leave world Orthodoxy. I do trust his judgment which is why I have had such a hard time with this.