What if the tables were turned. If you went to Egypt to work, would you expect them to supply a liturgy in English?
(playing devil's advocate)
I and other Americans were not the ones who brought the Coptic liturgy to Egypt.
If the Coptic liturgy were developed by Americans it would be entirely different.
If I am understanding Ioannes correctly, he is not just opposed to Coptic and Arabic language being used. He's also objecting to the Coptic culture being the prevalent culture at his parish. If I understand him correctly, he wants the Copts to replace Coptic culture with American culture.
I guess I need him to explain what he means by that, especially in light of his recent objections to what he called Protestant influences working their way into the Coptic Church:http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,30535.msg482594.html#msg482594
American culture is in essence Protestant. America was founded by Protestants, has for her entire history been made up mostly of Protestants (although that may be changing now,) and her culture has been widely shaped by Protestantism. It's hard to separate American culture from Protestantism. And yet Ioannes, who is understandably critical of Protestant influences seeping into the Coptic Church, seems to want her to abandon her Coptic culture and replace it with an American one.
I don't get it.
I know second and third generation American Armenians who believe the Armenian Church here in the US should be Americanized. That includes not only English liturgies, but also female priests. In American culture, after all, roles are gender neutral. The concept of a male-only priesthood is culturally very, very Un-American.
Americanizing the Armenian Church would also include services that are exactly
an hour long, in which the priest/priestess is facing the congregation; with less ritual and sacraments; and more attention during the services on the needs and talents of the congregation. These are all things that are very necessary in making the Church American. In American culture events should not last too long, so the liturgy should be cut. American culture is extremely self-absorbed and anti-ritual, so more attention needs to be on the congregation, and ritual and sacraments should be kept to a minimum.
I'm not kidding. I know people who want that. Fortunately most of my fellow American Armenians do not feel this way, but I do see a growing trend. There are plenty here who believe that since we are Americans now, we should Americanize the Church to make it relevant to American Armenians. Otherwise, they argue, people will leave.
Oh, and by the way, they also want bands with contemporary music, mixed in with the traditional hymns. The Armenian hymns are so
Does any of this sound familiar? This is how you Americanize a Church. The above is all American culture. Does it sound Protestant? That's not a coincidence, since American culture is essentially Protestant.
So I guess I can't understand how someone can say he wants to rid the Coptic Church of Coptic culture and replace it with American culture, but then object to a Coptic Church in Los Angeles having a band playing Protestant type praise hymns. That's how you Americanize a Church. The parish in L.A. that he is talking about is probably trying to do exactly what he is advocating in this thread. (By the way, I visited that parish many years ago, and they had a liturgy entirely in English.)
Now it could be that I am reading Ioannes wrong. He probably means something entirely different than what I described when he said he wants the Coptic Church to be American and not Coptic.
I have to say, however, that I can't imagine any Church being Americanized without the changes I outlined above, and which are advocated by at least some people I know who want to Americanize the Armenian Church.
I guess what I am saying is that you can't completely separate a Church from the culture it developed in for centuries. Nor can you separate a culture from the Church that developed it. Coptic culture was shaped and developed by the Coptic Orthodox faith. Armenian culture was shaped and developed by the Armenian Orthodox faith. American culture was shaped by the Protestant faith. You can't completely separate a Church from the culture it was embedded in for centuries without in some way changing the Church.
You want a male-only priesthood, and a lengthy liturgy with ritual, sacraments and a celebrant who focuses on God and not you? That's not American. That's Armenian, Coptic, Russian and Greek. You want ancient hymns instead of contemporary praise band music? Well, the ancient hymns are not by any means American.
People need to make up their minds. Converts need to realize that when they come into a Church that developed in a particular culture, they will have to pick up a certain amount of that culture. It's not reasonable to ask a Church to completely change itself to suit your own particular tastes. That
would be Protestant.
Now the language is a more subtle issue, but Ioannes is not just talking about language; he's talking about both language and culture. At least that is how I am reading him. Actually, I think he is on to something, in that language and culture can be very connected to each other. A while back, there was an "English liturgy" movement among the American Armenians here. Now I am not strictly speaking opposed to a liturgy in English. However, I opposed the movement because most of the people I knew who supported it were also into the "reforms" I outlined above.
Of course it is possible to have English liturgies without changing the Faith and culture of a Church. However, it should be a slow process, partially to guard against the danger of changing the Faith along with the language. For reasons I explained above, I get nervous when people say they want to Americanize the Church along with translating the liturgy into English.
And I don't think we should just brush aside the needs of the recent immigrants who need to hear the liturgy in their own language. Me traveling to Egypt is not the same thing. It was the Copts who brought the Coptic Church here to the US; the Armenians who brought the Armenian Church here, etc. It just seems downright rude to say to them: "Well now that you brought your beautiful Church and liturgy here, we are going to change it to something you can't recognize, understand, or feel comfortable with. It's ours now. Good-bye."
Again, I am probably not understanding Ioannes correctly, and it is not my intention to attribute motives to him that are not there. Perhaps if he explains himself a little more, that would help. Perhaps he can tell us what he means when he talks about changing the culture. I can't imagine him wanting the same things as the American Armenians I described above. However, I feel I have to point that situation out as a very possible outcome to wanting to completely throw out the old and replace it with American culture.
I hope you can understand where I am coming from. I realize that I also have to make an effort to understand you. Forgive me if I have misrepresented you. I realize you probably want something different from what I described above. Perhaps it would help if you explained more specifically the changes you would like to see at your parish.