OrthodoxChristianity.net
August 29, 2014, 10:20:39 AM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News: Reminder: No political discussions in the public fora.  If you do not have access to the private Politics Forum, please send a PM to Fr. George.
 
   Home   Help Calendar Contact Treasury Tags Login Register  
Pages: « 1 2  All   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: Is this an American thing?  (Read 4055 times) Average Rating: 0
0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
IsmiLiora
Chronic Exaggerator
Archon
********
Offline Offline

Faith: One step closer!
Jurisdiction: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOA)
Posts: 3,434


Back by unpopular demand.


« Reply #45 on: March 29, 2011, 11:03:25 AM »

For what it's worth...

For many Americans converts or visitors, I think that they are initially a bit wary because of the Orthodox cultures (Greek, Ukrainian, etc.) and they want to feel like they won't be an outsider forever, once they join the church.

No, I don't want a ton of tracts shoved in my face and people with fake smiles chasing me up and down the aisles. However, at the last Baptist church I attended, the pastor made it a point to say "Hi" to us every weekend and ask how we were doing. (Little did he know that we were plotting our exit :-/) I did appreciate that, even though I felt like he was being a LITTLE too enthusiastic. Like some people were saying above, the courtesy isn't entirely fake. He thought that it was awesome that we were so intensely searching for a church and I think he just wanted to make sure we stayed there. The sincerity was there, although his manner was a tad aggressive.

Now, in a Greek Orthodox Church? There appear to be several members who don't speak English and I think the intimidation factor jumped a lot for my husband and I, who don't speak Greek. It's hard to push myself, as an extreme introvert, to sit down in coffee hour and strike up conversations with people who may not understand what I'm saying. We're also quite a bit out of the cultural picture, so there is a lot that we don't understand.

So I don't think its expecting hand-holding to want to actually TALK with the people sitting on the pew next to us, or simply to have our "Hi"s returned (at the Baptist church some of the people literally looked right through me when I tried to greet them!). We want to know that we can grow both in Christ and both as members of His body. That's not a bad thing.

How can we show other people Jesus' light if we just keep it to ourselves? I'm ALWAYS fighting to speak up more often and engage more people, not just for Him but for my spirits as well. I could never be content with letting members walk in the door and look around, completely lost. And believe me, you will find those types of visitors more often in an Orthodox Church than and Protestant church, partly because of the language and culture.
Logged

She's touring the facility/and picking up slack.
--
"For in much wisdom is much grief, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow." Ecclesiastes 1:18
--
I once believed in causes too, I had my pointless point of view --
Life went on no matter who was wrong or right
CRCulver
OC.net guru
*******
Offline Offline

Faith: Eastern Orthodox
Jurisdiction: Church of Finland and Romanian Orthodox Church
Posts: 1,159


St Stephen of Perm, missionary to speakers of Komi


WWW
« Reply #46 on: March 29, 2011, 11:27:45 AM »

'Spiritual competition'? 'Race for converts'? It sounds as if you consider the Orthodox Church as a sort of shop that fights for customers to be financially successful. To me it sounds outright blasphemous.

The Church in Russia oversaw the conversion of entire peoples by promising them less burdensome taxation if they left their pagan beliefs behind. Offering some material benefits is not "outright blasphemous", it's part of Holy Tradition.
Logged
Iconodule
Uranopolitan
Taxiarches
**********
Online Online

Faith: Orthodox Christian
Jurisdiction: OCA (Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania)
Posts: 6,926


"My god is greater."


« Reply #47 on: March 29, 2011, 12:18:33 PM »

'Spiritual competition'? 'Race for converts'? It sounds as if you consider the Orthodox Church as a sort of shop that fights for customers to be financially successful. To me it sounds outright blasphemous.

The Church in Russia oversaw the conversion of entire peoples by promising them less burdensome taxation if they left their pagan beliefs behind. Offering some material benefits is not "outright blasphemous", it's part of Holy Tradition.

I read a story somewhere, I think it was a book about the history shamanism, talking about the Buryats in Russia. Buryats by default practiced some kind of shamanism/ animism. At the same time, they were being missionized by both Orthodox Christians and Buddhists (of the Tibetan-Mongol variety). Both Orthodoxy and Buddhism tended to disapprove of shamanism and sought to get rid of it among the Buryats- however, the Buddhists were more aggressive, because they were closer and more hands-on. So many Buryats otped for Orthodoxy because Church authorities were further away and in less of a position to interfere.
Logged

"A riddle or the cricket's cry
Is to doubt a fit reply." - William Blake

Quote from: Byron
Just ignore iconotools delusions. He is the biggest multiculturalist globalist there is due to his unfortunate background.
Carl Kraeff (Second Chance)
Warned
Taxiarches
**********
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox Christian
Jurisdiction: OCA
Posts: 6,696



« Reply #48 on: March 29, 2011, 02:57:54 PM »

I have to admit that I do miss coffee hour in Romania and elsewhere. Getting together for fellowship and a meal after the liturgy is a tradition found at the very beginning of Christianity, and it's a pity that most of the Orthodox world has abandoned it. When everyone just goes straight home after liturgy (and many don't even stay through the whole thing), it's hard to build a solid Christian society.

Not my experience in the United States. In fact, in my current OCA parish, nine teams of families provide lunch to all at the "coffee hour."
Logged

Michal: "SC, love you in this thread."
Carl Kraeff (Second Chance)
Warned
Taxiarches
**********
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox Christian
Jurisdiction: OCA
Posts: 6,696



« Reply #49 on: March 29, 2011, 02:59:08 PM »

'Spiritual competition'? 'Race for converts'? It sounds as if you consider the Orthodox Church as a sort of shop that fights for customers to be financially successful. To me it sounds outright blasphemous.

The Church in Russia oversaw the conversion of entire peoples by promising them less burdensome taxation if they left their pagan beliefs behind. Offering some material benefits is not "outright blasphemous", it's part of Holy Tradition.

Not all Tradition is holy. Some is just custom, some is just history.
Logged

Michal: "SC, love you in this thread."
Spartan563
Jr. Member
**
Offline Offline

Faith: Greek Orthodox
Jurisdiction: GOA
Posts: 59



« Reply #50 on: March 30, 2011, 03:13:08 AM »

I've experienced this in Greek churches, and I'm not a convert.  It would be nice if someone came over and introduced themselves.  I haven't been to church in other countries so I can't say it's just an American thing.  For a while I thought it was a Greek thing, but I've experienced the same in Antiochian and OCA churches as well.  Maybe my wife should dye her blonde hair and color her blue eyes??   Wink
Logged
Conservative Rebel
Jr. Member
**
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox Christian
Jurisdiction: Russian Orthodox Church
Posts: 35


« Reply #51 on: March 30, 2011, 07:23:43 AM »

'Spiritual competition'? 'Race for converts'? It sounds as if you consider the Orthodox Church as a sort of shop that fights for customers to be financially successful. To me it sounds outright blasphemous.

The Church in Russia oversaw the conversion of entire peoples by promising them less burdensome taxation if they left their pagan beliefs behind. Offering some material benefits is not "outright blasphemous", it's part of Holy Tradition.

With all respect, I cannot force myself to consider this tradition 'holy'. I admit it is expedient. It did encourage 'entire peoples' get baptised and become nominal Christians. That was politically useful as it promoted religious and, therefore, cultural cohesion of the Empire. But how many of those 'Christians of convenience' really believed in Jesus Christ and profited from their newly-adopted faith not only financially, but also spiritually?

And are people who come to the Church lured by financial gain an asset for the Church? When they find it convenient they join the Church, but when persecutions begin they leave her and join her enemies. After 1917, many people in Russia who formally belonged to the Orthodox Church, left her quite happily just because being a Church member was no longer useful or 'respectable' but, on the contrary made put you in a dangerous and humiliating position.

And Jesus Christ did not promise His disciples either material riches or a great respect by worldly people. He warned them that they will be persecuted and abused for His sake.

So, if the Russian Imperial authorities did try to recruit new Church members by offering tax reductions or career opportunities or anything of the sort, well, I would not condemn them - they acted in the interests of the State for which they were responsible and, perhaps, achieved something useful for the wordly power of the Empire. But I have a nagging suspicion that, on the spiritual level, these measures did more harm than good. Well, I am not too sure. But I would respect more a Buryat who remained faithful to his ancestral religion despite higher taxes or any other inconvenience than a Buryat who happily joined the Church motivated only by a lighter tax burden.
Logged
Conservative Rebel
Jr. Member
**
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox Christian
Jurisdiction: Russian Orthodox Church
Posts: 35


« Reply #52 on: March 30, 2011, 08:02:36 AM »

For what it's worth...

For many Americans converts or visitors, I think that they are initially a bit wary because of the Orthodox cultures (Greek, Ukrainian, etc.) and they want to feel like they won't be an outsider forever, once they join the church.

Now, in a Greek Orthodox Church? There appear to be several members who don't speak English and I think the intimidation factor jumped a lot for my husband and I, who don't speak Greek. It's hard to push myself, as an extreme introvert, to sit down in coffee hour and strike up conversations with people who may not understand what I'm saying. We're also quite a bit out of the cultural picture, so there is a lot that we don't understand.

So I don't think its expecting hand-holding to want to actually TALK with the people sitting on the pew next to us, or simply to have our "Hi"s returned (at the Baptist church some of the people literally looked right through me when I tried to greet them!). We want to know that we can grow both in Christ and both as members of His body. That's not a bad thing.

How can we show other people Jesus' light if we just keep it to ourselves? I'm ALWAYS fighting to speak up more often and engage more people, not just for Him but for my spirits as well. I could never be content with letting members walk in the door and look around, completely lost. And believe me, you will find those types of visitors more often in an Orthodox Church than and Protestant church, partly because of the language and culture.

Well, I think I am beginning to understand you. For you, an American, Orthodox Christianity is, at least, to some extent, an exotic religion, strongly connected with a foreign culture. I tried to imagine myself trying to join, e.g., the Traditional Buddhist Sangha. If I entered a temple, full of Buryats or Kalmuks, and tried to follow some rites in Tibetan or Sanskrit or whatever language they use, I would also need encouragement. I would want someone in the congregation to show me that I was if not welcome, at least, tolerable. And I would very much appreciate if someone helped me to understand what I see and hear.

But I converted to Orthodox Christianity in Russia, my native country. A long line of my ancestors had belonged to the Church, although I had had quite a godless upringing. On the one hand, I did feel a bit unsure or even unsafe when started popping in churches. We, Soviet children, had rather wild ideas about the Church. For example, I remember a classmate say that if you enter a church with your Young Pioneer red tie on, the congregation will tear you apart. The atmosphere was very new to me.

My conversion was not an easy one, and it did take quite a lot of help from some Orthodox people I met at the time, to make me get baptised. But I do not think I needed anyone at a church to give me any special welcome or an invitation to coffee. At that time I might have been scared away by such attention. In church, I did not want to have any contact with people, I wanted to be left alone, to feel the atmosphere, and to try and understand whether God exists and whether this is the place where I can meet Him.

That is why I did not at first understand why you or anyone would want people to notice you or talk to you.

But now I see that in your situation it is quite natural.
Logged
CRCulver
OC.net guru
*******
Offline Offline

Faith: Eastern Orthodox
Jurisdiction: Church of Finland and Romanian Orthodox Church
Posts: 1,159


St Stephen of Perm, missionary to speakers of Komi


WWW
« Reply #53 on: March 30, 2011, 09:35:47 AM »

With all respect, I cannot force myself to consider this tradition 'holy'. I admit it is expedient. It did encourage 'entire peoples' get baptised and become nominal Christians. That was politically useful as it promoted religious and, therefore, cultural cohesion of the Empire. But how many of those 'Christians of convenience' really believed in Jesus Christ and profited from their newly-adopted faith not only financially, but also spiritually?

Even if some converted purely for material means, the conversion of the entire people through economic policies means that the sacred groves were cut down or abandoned and the old deities and rituals were forgotten, therefore a more spiritually healthy society came about. You could not have gotten that if only a few sincere folks converted while the rest of their people maintained the old demonic rites. One man might feign conversion for the money, but his son will grow up in a society where Christianity is accessible and there's no pagan faith to tempt him away from it.

The Church recognizes the value of even nominal Christians each year when it commemorates St. Vladimir and the Conversion of Kyiv Rus'. Surely many of the people driven into the frozen river at swordpoint didn't truly believe, but Vladimir was nonetheless glorified as a saint for so doing.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2011, 09:37:10 AM by CRCulver » Logged
Conservative Rebel
Jr. Member
**
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox Christian
Jurisdiction: Russian Orthodox Church
Posts: 35


« Reply #54 on: March 31, 2011, 12:50:53 AM »

With all respect, I cannot force myself to consider this tradition 'holy'. I admit it is expedient. It did encourage 'entire peoples' get baptised and become nominal Christians. That was politically useful as it promoted religious and, therefore, cultural cohesion of the Empire. But how many of those 'Christians of convenience' really believed in Jesus Christ and profited from their newly-adopted faith not only financially, but also spiritually?

Even if some converted purely for material means, the conversion of the entire people through economic policies means that the sacred groves were cut down or abandoned and the old deities and rituals were forgotten, therefore a more spiritually healthy society came about. You could not have gotten that if only a few sincere folks converted while the rest of their people maintained the old demonic rites. One man might feign conversion for the money, but his son will grow up in a society where Christianity is accessible and there's no pagan faith to tempt him away from it.

The Church recognizes the value of even nominal Christians each year when it commemorates St. Vladimir and the Conversion of Kyiv Rus'. Surely many of the people driven into the frozen river at swordpoint didn't truly believe, but Vladimir was nonetheless glorified as a saint for so doing.

You might have a point here. Still, let us not forget that even after the introduction of Christianity by St Vladimir lots of pagan superstitions have survived in Russia to this day. I assure you that even nowadays more people in Russia believe in evil eye, love spells and things like that than in the general resurrection.
Logged
Robb
OC.net guru
*******
Offline Offline

Faith: RC
Jurisdiction: Italian Catholic
Posts: 1,537



« Reply #55 on: March 31, 2011, 01:20:22 AM »

For what it's worth...

For many Americans converts or visitors, I think that they are initially a bit wary because of the Orthodox cultures (Greek, Ukrainian, etc.) and they want to feel like they won't be an outsider forever, once they join the church.

No, I don't want a ton of tracts shoved in my face and people with fake smiles chasing me up and down the aisles. However, at the last Baptist church I attended, the pastor made it a point to say "Hi" to us every weekend and ask how we were doing. (Little did he know that we were plotting our exit :-/) I did appreciate that, even though I felt like he was being a LITTLE too enthusiastic. Like some people were saying above, the courtesy isn't entirely fake. He thought that it was awesome that we were so intensely searching for a church and I think he just wanted to make sure we stayed there. The sincerity was there, although his manner was a tad aggressive.

Now, in a Greek Orthodox Church? There appear to be several members who don't speak English and I think the intimidation factor jumped a lot for my husband and I, who don't speak Greek. It's hard to push myself, as an extreme introvert, to sit down in coffee hour and strike up conversations with people who may not understand what I'm saying. We're also quite a bit out of the cultural picture, so there is a lot that we don't understand.

So I don't think its expecting handholding to want to actually TALK with the people sitting on the pew next to us, or simply to have our "Hi"s returned (at the Baptist church some of the people literally looked right through me when I tried to greet them!). We want to know that we can grow both in Christ and both as members of His body. That's not a bad thing.

How can we show other people Jesus' light if we just keep it to ourselves? I'm ALWAYS fighting to speak up more often and engage more people, not just for Him but for my spirits as well. I could never be content with letting members walk in the door and look around, completely lost. And believe me, you will find those types of visitors more often in an Orthodox Church than and Protestant church, partly because of the language and culture.

Greeks tend to be rather ext raverted.  Maybe you should join with the more introverted Russians.

As for me, I grew up Catholic and the attitude and behavior of RC parishioners is about the same as Orthodox ones (A lot of cliquishness, less "buddy buddy" chat with someone in Church, unless you know them).  I'd just go for the Liturgy and spirituality first (Although I do understand that, if you come from a smaller Protestant church backround where "everybody knows your name" then its hard to move into the less personal world of sacramental Christianity).
Logged

Men may dislike truth, men may find truth offensive and inconvenient, men may persecute the truth, subvert it, try by law to suppress it. But to maintain that men have the final power over truth is blasphemy, and the last delusion. Truth lives forever, men do not.
-- Gustave Flaubert
Conservative Rebel
Jr. Member
**
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox Christian
Jurisdiction: Russian Orthodox Church
Posts: 35


« Reply #56 on: March 31, 2011, 01:59:59 AM »

Robb,
I like very much your formulation 'the less personal world of sacramental Christianity'. It is exactly what I loved when I made my first steps in the Church. Nobody intruded my privacy. When I heard some people say: 'Baptists are not like us, they have a real community life, they take so much interest in each other' I always thought: 'Thank God we are not like Baptists'. I might be wrong, but I have the impression that in some Protestant denominations people mistake the church for a social club.
Logged
IsmiLiora
Chronic Exaggerator
Archon
********
Offline Offline

Faith: One step closer!
Jurisdiction: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOA)
Posts: 3,434


Back by unpopular demand.


« Reply #57 on: March 31, 2011, 07:38:16 AM »

The nearest Russian Orthodox Church is about 2 or 3 hours away...even though I am part Slavic in blood (and I understand the culture much better), I DO like the church we are going to now (In fact, I am kind of dreading my husband or I getting a new job and having to move because we're starting to settle in and I really like the 'vibe' so to speak).

The cultural differences just takes a little getting used to. And I maintain that there's nothing wrong with having a strong community supporting, praying and helping one another. No, it doesn't need to be like the Protestant churches and their over-effusive hospitality, but a middle would be nice.
Logged

She's touring the facility/and picking up slack.
--
"For in much wisdom is much grief, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow." Ecclesiastes 1:18
--
I once believed in causes too, I had my pointless point of view --
Life went on no matter who was wrong or right
Father H
Archon
********
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox Christian--God's One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church
Jurisdiction: UOCofUSA-Ecumenical Patriarchate
Posts: 2,611



« Reply #58 on: March 31, 2011, 10:41:35 AM »

The point about introverted and extroverted is very important.  As many specialists in temperament and personality have shown (Keirsey, Myers, etc.), virtually half the population is introverted, and half extroverted (there are some "in betweens" which are called "x" temperaments, but ultimately everyone tends to fall on one or the other).   Many extreme extroverts (who are generally energized by being around people in a social setting with much interaction) tend not to understand introverts (who are often de-energized by much social interaction, and often need to be alone to "recharge" after being around a lot of people and much social interaction).   They tend to think that introverts "need busted out of their shell" rather than realizing that it is simply a part of their makeup.  In turn, introverts will tend to avoid places where they need to "fight off" the pygmalian projects of extroverts.   In any case, this is one reason why small churches have a hard time growing, and why already large parishes can get larger.  With the former, everyone is in everyone else's business, but this tends not to be enough interaction for the extrovert and tends to be too much busibodiness and lack of initial anonymity for the introvert.  However, with the large church, there are many "options" so to speak.  There is anonymity if one wants it but also many options of social circles for the extrovert--if they fall out with one group, they can migrate to another rather than leaving the church.  This is not so with a small church.   
   
Logged
podkarpatska
Merarches
***********
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox
Jurisdiction: ACROD
Posts: 8,232


SS Cyril and Methodius Church, Mercer, PA


WWW
« Reply #59 on: March 31, 2011, 11:10:11 AM »

'Spiritual competition'? 'Race for converts'? It sounds as if you consider the Orthodox Church as a sort of shop that fights for customers to be financially successful. To me it sounds outright blasphemous.

The Church in Russia oversaw the conversion of entire peoples by promising them less burdensome taxation if they left their pagan beliefs behind. Offering some material benefits is not "outright blasphemous", it's part of Holy Tradition.

Not all Tradition is holy. Some is just custom, some is just history.

Well said and all too often we all tend to elevate a favorite custom to the point where we consider it 'Holy Tradition.' (I am not suggesting that the poster meant that tax forgiveness was a good incentive to convert, just trying to make a point.)
Logged
NW Nik
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Faith: Eastern Orthodox
Jurisdiction: Antiochian
Posts: 20


+ St. Nikolai (Velimirovich) of blessed memory +


« Reply #60 on: March 31, 2011, 01:50:42 PM »

In response to the original post, a couple of thoughts. Be careful of such a broad analysis. We have various motivations in our approach to the Church, yet being welcomed into a new situation is always helpful. We, my family and I, did not expect wine and roses by any means. Secondly, for those of us who convert out of a heterodox tradition, it may also have been our main social outlet. Thus we may expect, on some level, the same type of experience even though entering Orthodoxy is a radical change from what we had known previously. We inquired and converted into a small Antiochian mission in the NW US with no cradles to speak of, so I only have heard of ethnic issues from afar.

Nikolai/Neil
Logged
Tags: converts pride Consumerism Seeker-friendly 
Pages: « 1 2  All   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.18 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!
Page created in 0.09 seconds with 43 queries.