Why don't we first sell all our unnecessary personal possessions that we use only for ourselves? It's easy to say "yeah, sell off all the fancy stuff at church", but I'll only buy that argument when everyone at the parish is already living in tiny, bare, plain houses; driving plain functional cars; eating plain, functional food; and wearing plain, functional clothes.
You might as well say, "we'll gut our Churches when the moon turns to green cheese!"
In fact, quantum mechanics makes it actually more likely that the moon will turn into green cheese long before every single Orthodox Christian does as you ask.
Look I love our beautiful Churches. I think they should be adorned in beauty, but like it or not, there is at some point when the lavishness of our Churches simply goes too far. Look at St. Peter's in Rome. One of the most fabulous Churches on earth, but for most of it's history it stood in glory while the rest of Rome was a hovel. Our Churches sometimes are no different, sometimes even worse. Parishes struggle for financial viability while there are 10 gold chalices sitting unused
in the Altar.
We don't need nice furniture, nice cars, multiple (or any) TVs or computers, decorations, knickknacks, Internet access, air conditioning, or even fancy icon corners like many of us have.
And Churches don't need Icons made out of silver and gold. Bishops don't need vestments woven out of gold and silver thread. Monasteries don't need millions of dollars worth of adornments. Churches don't need a lot of things. To ask that the people actually set the example for the Church to follow is utterly backwards. It's like going to a hospital and the doctors tell you to treat your own broken leg, then after you get better they'll wrap it in a cast.
Get rid of all that personal vanity, then we can talk about gutting our churches.
How can WE get rid of personal vanity when the Church, which is supposed to nurture us, teach us, and guide our paths into theosis, won't take the initiative to teach and guide us? This just doesn't make sense to me.
I'm not saying we should gut our Churches, but I've come to realize, long ago that sometimes the criticisms against the Church are in fact correct. It is perverse to see multi million dollar parishes in the midst of some slum somewhere in the world. It's just ridiculous to see some of the financial waste that takes place in some of our parishes. Yes, they are beautiful places of worship. No doubt. but what is more important? The altar or the gold that the altar is made of? Plenty of Alaskan Churches have been made out of log cabins, with a few nice Icons, and a carved wooden altar and they are just as beautiful, (if not more so) than the grandest cathedrals in the world. I certainly don't think we need to gut our Churches. However a little more modesty would go along way in the world in teaching not only Orthodox, but non Orthodox that we are concerned more with people than with things. That when we swear on the altar it is the altar that is important, not the gold that it is made of. No reason to strip down our Churches ala Vatican II, that would be horrible and totally pointless. But is there any reason for say St. George's Patriarchal Church to add yet another golden chalice to it's already fabulous collection? Is there any reason St. Anthony's Monastery in Arizona should be more spectacular than most parish churches in North America? I mean, what do monks need with all of that? Again I think st. Anthony's is spectacular, but what are our priorities here?
of course Churches shouldn't strip down to their bare walls, however I think we can find some form of balance and moderation in all this. Lots of people thing Churches need the newest and best, the biggest and brightest and continue to hoard things that will basically go unused until the end of time while their neighbors and fellow Orthodox struggle to make ends meat. Don't think it happens? Believe me, it most certainly does. I think this is where the Church can and should have a little more discernment. Not with what we already have, (unless we just have too much as it is like the previously mentioned gold chalices that are never used etc) but with new things. However asking the sheep to become their own shepherd just doesn't make sense to me.