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Author Topic: The Early Christian vs. Today's Christian: A Sharp Contrast  (Read 3011 times) Average Rating: 0
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GabrieltheCelt
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« on: April 26, 2010, 04:33:19 AM »

Hey y'all!

 So, right from the start I'd like to say this topic will be sure to rattle the status quo.  But in so doing, know that I am pointing at myself too.  The comparison of the early Christians gleaned from Scripture and other witnesses vs. today's Orthodox Christian seems so glaringly different that it'd be hardpressed to find many similarities.

 As I look around at Orthodox Christians today, I am really troubled.  When looking at a person, nine times out of ten we wouldn't guess them to be Orthodox if we didn't see them attending the Divine Liturgy.  Today the Orthodox Christian dresses like everyone else around them.  They talk just like everyone else around them.  They watch and play sports.  They visit pubs and nightclubs.  They participate in usury.  They work on Sundays.  They are involved in the political process to the point where they're divided against their own Orthodox brothers and sisters. 

 I'm not suggesting that Orthodox Christians should do something as extreme as living in Orthodox communes where "the world" is shunned.  But it certainly does look as if "The World" has influenced Orthodox Christians waaay more than Orthodox Christians have influenced "The World".  We're a broken down, divided lot that seems more concerned with language, ethnicity and borders than with the Eucharist.  We're an infected, disease ridden group of lepers who seem to care more about ourselves than with each others' well being.  We can cite forwards and backwards our favorite sports and all their meaningless stats faster than we can the Creed. 

 What happened?  How did we get from The Book of Acts to The Golden Ass? 
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« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2010, 05:09:18 AM »

We are the paralytic.  The question is, do we want to be healed?  (John 5:6)
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« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2010, 05:20:52 AM »

We are the paralytic.  The question is, do we want to be healed?  (John 5:6)
Kinda like the Peanuts cartoon of Feb. 13, 1960.  Snoopy lying in his doghouse--he hadn't yet taken to sleeping on top--with a huge icicle pointing straight down at him.  He knows he needs to get out, but he can't.  He's paralyzed.  Seconds after he finally gets the gumption to flee his doghouse, the icicle comes crashing down and destroys it.  That's very much like us.  We know we need to repent, lest we be destroyed, but we don't have the strength.
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« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2010, 05:51:07 AM »

I ask the same questions. And like you, I realize that the beam is first and foremost in my own eye.

But consider the Corinthian Church and the problems St. Paul had to address: incest, drunkeness at the Holy Eucharist, Gnosticism, etc. And yet the Holy Spirit was present and working in the Corinthian Christians.

In the Homily yesterday (Sunday), our Priest talked about this very issue. He explained that when St. John Chrysostom preached in his day, the people were often boisterous and disrespectful while he spoke. They talked loudly amongst themselves; they came late and left early; and often he could barely be heard above the din and clatter. And this was the "Golden Mouthed!" So, our Priest was explaining that the Church has improved in many ways, although we still wrestle with many of the same problems and issues.

I guess as you and Peter both point out, the solutions to these problems begin with ourselves. Our Priest also talked about the work of the paralytic. He was paralyzed, but he was more active than most of us who have complete physical health. For many years he worked to get in a position where he could avail himself of the blessings of God.  He struggled- against numerous failures and disappointments. But he kept on working to position himself to receive God's blessing. And Our Lord honored his efforts and desire. 

The Liturgy is work- the work of the people. It's the divine work of God's children cooperating with Him, with the ultimate goal of becoming one with Him. But it is indeed work. And I am a lazy S.O.B.! But you know what? Sin is work too; but it's wages are darkness, despair, and death.


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« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2010, 09:02:56 AM »

As I look around at Orthodox Christians today, I am really troubled.  When looking at a person, nine times out of ten we wouldn't guess them to be Orthodox if we didn't see them attending the Divine Liturgy.  Today the Orthodox Christian dresses like everyone else around them.  They talk just like everyone else around them.  They watch and play sports.  They visit pubs and nightclubs.  They participate in usury.  They work on Sundays.  They are involved in the political process to the point where they're divided against their own Orthodox brothers and sisters. 

If you were to write that in Greek, with longer periodic sentences, it could be a text from any century of the Church's history. Same complaints all along, from the very beginning (except you didn't include fist fights in church or hitting the tavern before and after a big feast).
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« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2010, 09:07:37 AM »

As I look around at Orthodox Christians today, I am really troubled.  When looking at a person, nine times out of ten we wouldn't guess them to be Orthodox if we didn't see them attending the Divine Liturgy.  Today the Orthodox Christian dresses like everyone else around them.  They talk just like everyone else around them.  They watch and play sports.  They visit pubs and nightclubs.  They participate in usury.  They work on Sundays.  They are involved in the political process to the point where they're divided against their own Orthodox brothers and sisters. 

If you were to write that in Greek, with longer periodic sentences, it could be a text from any century of the Church's history. Same complaints all along, from the very beginning (except you didn't include fist fights in church or hitting the tavern before and after a big feast).

I would go even further and say that you could use any language, from any period from the Christian East as well as the West and you would find the same complaints.  Don't worry about others, worry about your own salvation.
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« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2010, 11:43:14 AM »

We are the paralytic.  The question is, do we want to be healed?  (John 5:6)

Or, as Father Thomas pointed out yesterday, we may be like all of those folks who did not help the paralytic get into the pool and be healed--for 38 long years.

In response to the OP: Dear Gabriel, I am with Qohelet, son of David, who famously said: "There is nothing new under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9)
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« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2010, 01:47:31 PM »

They watch and play sports.

Have sports ever been condemned by the Fathers? In St. Paul's exhortations to live life like an athlete for Christ, I don't recall him condemning sports, and the hippodrome was a centre of Byzantine life even for the most devout emperors.
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« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2010, 02:51:30 PM »

As I look around at Orthodox Christians today, I am really troubled.  When looking at a person, nine times out of ten we wouldn't guess them to be Orthodox if we didn't see them attending the Divine Liturgy.  Today the Orthodox Christian dresses like everyone else around them.  They talk just like everyone else around them.  They watch and play sports.  They visit pubs and nightclubs.  They participate in usury.  They work on Sundays.  They are involved in the political process to the point where they're divided against their own Orthodox brothers and sisters. 

If you were to write that in Greek, with longer periodic sentences, it could be a text from any century of the Church's history. Same complaints all along, from the very beginning (except you didn't include fist fights in church or hitting the tavern before and after a big feast).

 I suppose you're correct; I've read a few of those homilies.  It's just frightening to look at how "The World" has influenced Christians rather than the other way around.  Sure, we do quite a lot at addressing issues; it just seems as though we're losing.
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« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2010, 02:59:02 PM »

As I look around at Orthodox Christians today, I am really troubled.  When looking at a person, nine times out of ten we wouldn't guess them to be Orthodox if we didn't see them attending the Divine Liturgy.  Today the Orthodox Christian dresses like everyone else around them.  They talk just like everyone else around them.  They watch and play sports.  They visit pubs and nightclubs.  They participate in usury.  They work on Sundays.  They are involved in the political process to the point where they're divided against their own Orthodox brothers and sisters. 

If you were to write that in Greek, with longer periodic sentences, it could be a text from any century of the Church's history. Same complaints all along, from the very beginning (except you didn't include fist fights in church or hitting the tavern before and after a big feast).

Indeed.  This used to get me down until I started reading St. John Chrysostom and realized that people used to cruise for mates during Divine Liturgy, and I don't mean just cast a look around the congregation. 
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« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2010, 03:08:09 PM »

They watch and play sports.

Have sports ever been condemned by the Fathers?
I would say yes, absolutely they have.  Some have indirectly, others have attacked sports directly.  In his book, "Rosary: Mysteries, Meditations and the Telling of the Beads", Kevin Johnson writes, "The Fathers of the Church struggled mightily to close down the arenas and the hippodromes and to get the point across that sport is not compatible with a Christian way of life.  It was hard to make that point then as it would be now." pg 265
 
In St. Paul's exhortations to live life like an athlete for Christ,
I think to hold this exhortation up in support of sports is using rather poor judgment.  St. Paul used the analogy of an athlete in-so-far as it was able to conjure up the image of someone struggling against apathy rather than against our fellow man.

I'll see if I can find some homilies or exhortations both for and against sports.  



 
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« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2010, 03:13:11 PM »

If you were to write that in Greek, with longer periodic sentences, it could be a text from any century of the Church's history. Same complaints all along, from the very beginning...
Exactly.  I don't think there's much contrast at all between the early Christians and us.  If Christ returned today, I'm convinced he'd say "Hey, this place looks pretty familiar."  One can only hope (but probably in vain) that we'd treat him a little better this time around.
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« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2010, 03:19:05 PM »

They watch and play sports.
Have sports ever been condemned by the Fathers?
I would say yes, absolutely they have.  Some have indirectly, others have attacked sports directly.  In his book, "Rosary: Mysteries, Meditations and the Telling of the Beads", Kevin Johnson writes, "The Fathers of the Church struggled mightily to close down the arenas and the hippodromes and to get the point across that sport is not compatible with a Christian way of life.  It was hard to make that point then as it would be now." pg 265
In St. Paul's exhortations to live life like an athlete for Christ,
I think to hold this exhortation up in support of sports is using rather poor judgment.  St. Paul used the analogy of an athlete in-so-far as it was able to conjure up the image of someone struggling against apathy rather than against our fellow man. I'll see if I can find some homilies or exhortations both for and against sports.

It seems to me the arguments on either side are pretty clear.

SPORTS GOOD = physical activity (keeping the temple healthy, as salvation is for the body as much as for the soul), camaraderie/friendship, communal bonds, cooperation, et cetera.

SPORTS BAD = the end is near, need to spend that time in prayer, peace and repentance; useless idle time when you should be working for the kingdom painting an icon or something

I would guess the fathers that were against sports were because of the brutal nature of the sport, which was often about watching people fight to the death or against some wild beast. Today sports don't have to be that bad, but many are nearly as distasteful. Boxing is a great example of something detestable, watching people beat the shit out of each other for money. I think "Ultimate Fighting" that I've heard mentioned by others might be a similar phenomenon. Hockey borders on this, as does American football and rugby, wrestling, et cetera. On the other hand, things like baseball and basketball seem to be in good taste to me.
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« Reply #13 on: April 26, 2010, 04:14:42 PM »

As I look around at Orthodox Christians today, I am really troubled.  When looking at a person, nine times out of ten we wouldn't guess them to be Orthodox if we didn't see them attending the Divine Liturgy.  Today the Orthodox Christian dresses like everyone else around them.  They talk just like everyone else around them.  They watch and play sports.  They visit pubs and nightclubs.  They participate in usury.  They work on Sundays.  They are involved in the political process to the point where they're divided against their own Orthodox brothers and sisters. 

If you were to write that in Greek, with longer periodic sentences, it could be a text from any century of the Church's history. Same complaints all along, from the very beginning (except you didn't include fist fights in church or hitting the tavern before and after a big feast).
LOL. Maybe I can dig up some old Chicago newspaper articles....
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« Reply #14 on: April 26, 2010, 04:35:06 PM »

As I look around at Orthodox Christians today, I am really troubled.  When looking at a person, nine times out of ten we wouldn't guess them to be Orthodox if we didn't see them attending the Divine Liturgy.  Today the Orthodox Christian dresses like everyone else around them.  They talk just like everyone else around them.  They watch and play sports.  They visit pubs and nightclubs.  They participate in usury.  They work on Sundays.  They are involved in the political process to the point where they're divided against their own Orthodox brothers and sisters. 

If you were to write that in Greek, with longer periodic sentences, it could be a text from any century of the Church's history. Same complaints all along, from the very beginning (except you didn't include fist fights in church or hitting the tavern before and after a big feast).

 I suppose you're correct; I've read a few of those homilies.  It's just frightening to look at how "The World" has influenced Christians rather than the other way around.  Sure, we do quite a lot at addressing issues; it just seems as though we're losing.

I believe it was a hierarch from Corinth who said that in the past 2000 years, his diocese hasn't changed all that much.

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« Reply #15 on: April 26, 2010, 05:13:08 PM »

Sorry to be so disagreeable so late, but just got here. 
Do you mean sharp as in the difference with cheeses?
Or are you just saying we modern Christians don't stink as much as those earlier ones, but we also lost our good taste?

john
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« Reply #16 on: April 26, 2010, 05:22:43 PM »

For those who want to discuss the compatibility of sports with the Christian life as an offshoot of this thread, we already have this old thread that you can resurrect:  Another look at "Sports"
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« Reply #17 on: April 26, 2010, 05:29:14 PM »

As I look around at Orthodox Christians today, I am really troubled.  When looking at a person, nine times out of ten we wouldn't guess them to be Orthodox if we didn't see them attending the Divine Liturgy.  Today the Orthodox Christian dresses like everyone else around them.  They talk just like everyone else around them.  They watch and play sports.  They visit pubs and nightclubs.  They participate in usury.  They work on Sundays.  They are involved in the political process to the point where they're divided against their own Orthodox brothers and sisters. 

If you were to write that in Greek, with longer periodic sentences, it could be a text from any century of the Church's history. Same complaints all along, from the very beginning (except you didn't include fist fights in church or hitting the tavern before and after a big feast).

 I suppose you're correct; I've read a few of those homilies.  It's just frightening to look at how "The World" has influenced Christians rather than the other way around.  Sure, we do quite a lot at addressing issues; it just seems as though we're losing.
I wonder just how much nostalgia for the "good ol' days" is influencing your view, since the common thread I see in so many posts on this topic is that Christians have really not changed as much as you think over the centuries.  As early as the Letters of St. John the Theologian to the Seven Churches (first few chapters of his Apocalypse) do we see Jesus chastising His churches for losing their first love or becoming lukewarm or other such fallings away.
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« Reply #18 on: April 26, 2010, 06:27:07 PM »

They watch and play sports.
Have sports ever been condemned by the Fathers?
I would say yes, absolutely they have.  Some have indirectly, others have attacked sports directly.  In his book, "Rosary: Mysteries, Meditations and the Telling of the Beads", Kevin Johnson writes, "The Fathers of the Church struggled mightily to close down the arenas and the hippodromes and to get the point across that sport is not compatible with a Christian way of life.  It was hard to make that point then as it would be now." pg 265
In St. Paul's exhortations to live life like an athlete for Christ,
I think to hold this exhortation up in support of sports is using rather poor judgment.  St. Paul used the analogy of an athlete in-so-far as it was able to conjure up the image of someone struggling against apathy rather than against our fellow man. I'll see if I can find some homilies or exhortations both for and against sports.

It seems to me the arguments on either side are pretty clear.

SPORTS GOOD = physical activity (keeping the temple healthy, as salvation is for the body as much as for the soul), camaraderie/friendship, communal bonds, cooperation, et cetera.

SPORTS BAD = the end is near, need to spend that time in prayer, peace and repentance; useless idle time when you should be working for the kingdom painting an icon or something

I would guess the fathers that were against sports were because of the brutal nature of the sport, which was often about watching people fight to the death or against some wild beast. Today sports don't have to be that bad, but many are nearly as distasteful. Boxing is a great example of something detestable, watching people beat the shit out of each other for money. I think "Ultimate Fighting" that I've heard mentioned by others might be a similar phenomenon. Hockey borders on this, as does American football and rugby, wrestling, et cetera. On the other hand, things like baseball and basketball seem to be in good taste to me.
The word sportsmen meaning,in the good old days of the empire,gladiators killing each other to the death with swords or whatever weapon, today means guys throwing a ball into a hoop for points.
To
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« Reply #19 on: April 26, 2010, 06:30:36 PM »

As I look around at Orthodox Christians today, I am really troubled.  When looking at a person, nine times out of ten we wouldn't guess them to be Orthodox if we didn't see them attending the Divine Liturgy.  Today the Orthodox Christian dresses like everyone else around them.  They talk just like everyone else around them.  They watch and play sports.  They visit pubs and nightclubs.  They participate in usury.  They work on Sundays.  They are involved in the political process to the point where they're divided against their own Orthodox brothers and sisters. 

If you were to write that in Greek, with longer periodic sentences, it could be a text from any century of the Church's history. Same complaints all along, from the very beginning (except you didn't include fist fights in church or hitting the tavern before and after a big feast).

 I suppose you're correct; I've read a few of those homilies.  It's just frightening to look at how "The World" has influenced Christians rather than the other way around.  Sure, we do quite a lot at addressing issues; it just seems as though we're losing.
I wonder just how much nostalgia for the "good ol' days" is influencing your view, since the common thread I see in so many posts on this topic is that Christians have really not changed as much as you think over the centuries.  As early as the Letters of St. John the Theologian to the Seven Churches (first few chapters of his Apocalypse) do we see Jesus chastising His churches for losing their first love or becoming lukewarm or other such fallings away.

I think that the vanity of humans makes us think that somehow, in a fundamental manner, we are different than those who preceded us. That may be true in terms of medical science, materialism and our modern standards of living (to name a few), but our ancestors were surely as intelligent as we are and their emotional make up was the same. Great literature from the ancient Greeks through Shakespeare through Tolstoy and into the 21st century remains relevant to us as it reminds us of our common bond with all of humanity, past and present. That being said, the French have a saying: "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose" or "The more things change, the more they stay the same."
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« Reply #20 on: December 07, 2012, 11:00:39 PM »

If you were to write that in Greek, with longer periodic sentences, it could be a text from any century of the Church's history. Same complaints all along, from the very beginning...
Exactly.  I don't think there's much contrast at all between the early Christians and us.  If Christ returned today, I'm convinced he'd say "Hey, this place looks pretty familiar."  One can only hope (but probably in vain) that we'd treat him a little better this time around.

would we have a chance to treat him any other way this time around? I bet not. He wouldn't let us. Of course on the other hand, I wouldn't want to treat him, with anything but kindness. Because jesus deserves all the kindness he can get. I just wish I could be consistent at that all the time.
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« Reply #21 on: December 08, 2012, 01:01:52 AM »

The pagans are just as bad. Where are the blood sacrifices? Where are the temple prostitutes? Where are the Baals, the Asherim, and the Molechs? Where are the amulets, wizards, oaths, superstitions? Where are the philosophers and the myths? Where are the pantheons, the idols? And, where is the persecution? I've been waiting, but no one has dragged me to the temple and given me a choice of offering a pince of incense to an idol and denying Christ or death. It's all very disheartening, really. It used to be that men believed in gods. Then man believed in the true God. Then man began to believe in himself. Now man believes in nothing, and not even in nothing. Man simply doesn't give a flying flip about belief.

That said, the contemporary accounts we have of early Christians do not set them physically apart much from the pagans surrounding them. Their differences were only seen by those who looked for them. And it is the same today. While we have worldly Chrisians, and while Christians are weaker than they have been, we need to recall the words of the ancient fathers, how many of them longed to live in these and the end times, and how for us the struggle will simply be to hold on to our faith. We are incapable of great deeds. But the opposition is so great for this one little desperate act that it will be counted by God to be worth more than many great deeds--so said many of the ancient fathers.

So, we can go on and on comparing, or we can follow the patristic advice and stop making comparisons altogether and do our best to do what God has given us to do. It is sufficient for us--not just for squeaking by into Heaven, but for many to obtain crowns.
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« Reply #22 on: December 08, 2012, 06:48:09 AM »

We're here, in this day and age, for a reason. I think we need to remember that, even as we lap in the teachings of the Fathers and the other greats who came before us. We're never going to have the "Early Church" again, at least not in its physical manifestation circa 33 A.D. What we do need to keep alive is the Church that transcends space and time (that includes ethnic and national divisions as well).

Something I've noticed as I pursue Orthodoxy is how warped my ideas of Christianity are when compared to the authentic patristic teachings. The Western tradition is an integral part of Christianity, and we would be wrong to condemn it entirely, but its more rational emphasis (and the heresies that arose from it) has overshadowed the Eastern tradition. I didn't come from a Christian background, but when I practiced my previous faith, Judaism (which is, of course, an Eastern religion at heart), I was certainly influenced by the Western, protestant sense of religion I was exposed to growing up in suburban America.

Everything must and can be explained. You must have absolute certainty of your salvation and of others' eternal condemnation. You're either in a state of absolute holiness, or utter depravity. These are not Eastern ideas. We would be wise to remember what the Fathers teach, so that we might combat the erroneous outlook to which we have become so accustomed.
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« Reply #23 on: December 09, 2012, 04:32:25 PM »

Hey y'all!

 So, right from the start I'd like to say this topic will be sure to rattle the status quo.  But in so doing, know that I am pointing at myself too.  The comparison of the early Christians gleaned from Scripture and other witnesses vs. today's Orthodox Christian seems so glaringly different that it'd be hardpressed to find many similarities.

 As I look around at Orthodox Christians today, I am really troubled.  When looking at a person, nine times out of ten we wouldn't guess them to be Orthodox if we didn't see them attending the Divine Liturgy.  Today the Orthodox Christian dresses like everyone else around them.  They talk just like everyone else around them.  They watch and play sports.  They visit pubs and nightclubs.  They participate in usury.  They work on Sundays.  They are involved in the political process to the point where they're divided against their own Orthodox brothers and sisters. 

 I'm not suggesting that Orthodox Christians should do something as extreme as living in Orthodox communes where "the world" is shunned.  But it certainly does look as if "The World" has influenced Orthodox Christians waaay more than Orthodox Christians have influenced "The World".  We're a broken down, divided lot that seems more concerned with language, ethnicity and borders than with the Eucharist.  We're an infected, disease ridden group of lepers who seem to care more about ourselves than with each others' well being.  We can cite forwards and backwards our favorite sports and all their meaningless stats faster than we can the Creed. 

 What happened?  How did we get from The Book of Acts to The Golden Ass? 

These are some of the main reasons that the Mennonites LIFESTYLE appeals to me (non-commune at all) because I saw it too.  EO in nightclubs.  EO at bars... EO dressing "non-conservative".  They also participated in Usury.  They also participated in competitive sports.  One of the EO churches I attended were deeply divided in politics.

Then (my wife's family is Mennonite) I saw the Mennonite LIFESTYLE.
1) No nightclubs
2) No drinking
3) All dress conservative
4) No usury at ALL.  Never allowed to get interest at a bank even.
5) They do not engage in competitive "SPORTS".  They will play games, even sporting games with each other, but not organize teams, uniforms, rivalries, sponsors, etc.  It's ALL in good fun only.  NEVER organized to meet other teams to play etc.
6) They do not vote ever.

You have found several of the contrasts against the scriptures of MANY of the EO lifestyle.  Now, the monastics are different, as well as several lay people.  This is not all inclusive of the EO.  It's "Many".  I'd say roughly 85% vs. 15% who are doing the things you stated.

On Mennonite front, it's the other way around.  IN LIFESTYlE, its 15% vs. 85% who are doing what yous stated.

(Figures pulled as approx from what I have personally evaluated)
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« Reply #24 on: December 09, 2012, 04:39:26 PM »


1) No nightclubs
2) No drinking
3) All dress conservative
4) No usury at ALL.  Never allowed to get interest at a bank even.
5) They do not engage in competitive "SPORTS".  They will play games, even sporting games with each other, but not organize teams, uniforms, rivalries, sponsors, etc.  It's ALL in good fun only.  NEVER organized to meet other teams to play etc.
6) They do not vote ever.

If you tried to convert me to mennonism you would have lost me at 2.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2012, 04:39:34 PM by Cyrillic » Logged

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« Reply #25 on: December 09, 2012, 05:04:57 PM »

Today the Orthodox Christian dresses like everyone else around them.

Well how are we supposed to dress? Being modest doesn't mean that we have to dress old fashionedly. We dress modestly according to the standards of modern society. People often make the mistake of confusing modesty with old fashioned. If I came to Church dressed like someone from the 1st century, I imagine that I would draw more attention to myself and cause more spiritual harm than if I attended Church dressed in a way that is seen as modest by modern society's standards.

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They talk just like everyone else around them.

Well how are we supposed to talk? In tongues?

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They watch and play sports.

So?

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They visit pubs and nightclubs.  They participate in usury.  They work on Sundays.  They are involved in the political process to the point where they're divided against their own Orthodox brothers and sisters.

All of which unfortunately existed in the Church even from day one. You think that these are all modern problems that we are only facing today? Orthodox Christians are still people, and like all people, we are fallible and do some things that we should not do. But this has been going on in the Church since day one, just look at how much St. Paul had to scold the Christians in his epistles. I think that you are romanticizing the "early Christians".

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We're a broken down, divided lot that seems more concerned with language, ethnicity and borders than with the Eucharist.

Which has been going on since day one from the moment the Gentiles entered the Church, nothing new.

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We're an infected, disease ridden group of lepers who seem to care more about ourselves than with each others' well being.

The Church is a hospital for the sick, not a country club for the righteous. If we weren't infected, disease ridden and selfish, then we wouldn't need the Church.
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« Reply #26 on: December 09, 2012, 05:58:00 PM »

JamesR, I don't think that user expects an answer to their OP since this is another age-old thread resurrected by Tweety the necromancer.
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« Reply #27 on: December 09, 2012, 06:47:52 PM »

I am sure that there's a contrast between us now and then at least in "mores" and social life. That is not a doctrinal thing. 

Back in the early times we are talking about a movement to a big extent made up of slaves and the poor. In a personal relations sense they were living on the edge of society, often secret. And when someone found that another person is a Christian, this created a close unique relationship and I expect the Christian would do more to help the other one out.

Another issue is that they seem to be more often pacifists and emphasizing avoiding wars and military service- there were lots of soldiers who put down their arms on becoming Christian.  Granted, one obstacle was serving a pagan or rabbinical military force. But today the military and political leadership in alot of countries is non-Christian, secular, and/or politically expansionistic, so I think someone today could still object that he/she can't put their trust in the government making orthodox Christian decisions about war. (As opposed to decisions couched in Calvinistic Christian pretenses).

I am afraid- and hopefully this is just my perception- that Orthodox today might not be as committed to the poor on an everyday level, and this includes myself. One priest who I generally admire said he doesn't get involved in the local interfaith food kitchen because the people who go aren't really poor. And it's work. To me, however, the biggest disadvantage is that an interfaith kitchen is not Orthodox, and in America the default is Protestantism and Catholicism, so Orthodox efforts have a big "drowning" risk. But if one's Orthodoxy is clearly visible in these efforts, then it seems OK.

These two notable differences for me- the lack of strong avoidance to war and frequent focus on the poor and mixing with them- seem partly a result of the Orthodox Church becoming supported and promoted by the State in Orthodox countries- in those cases a situation developed where Orthodox people could rely on it to keep in mind Christian beliefs and efforts regarding peace and charity.

I would point out that these early Christian traits, however did not disappear from Orthodox life. Instead, they became focused in the monasteries, which traditionally practiced communism, avoidance of military service, and taking care of people like the poor and pilgrims. And in fact monasteries are still considered central points that focus closely on Orthodox living within the Church. That is, monasteries are much more than places where celibate people live.
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