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Author Topic: Troubled by Orthodox church website  (Read 2599 times) Average Rating: 0
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HumbledDaily
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« on: May 01, 2011, 01:02:27 AM »

Hi all. I'm new to the forums, so I hope I'm not breaking policy or something by doing this. If so, please forgive me.

I stumbled across an Orthodox church website that I find troubling. Perhaps it's because I'm new to Orthodoxy and not yet officially a catechumen and so therefore completely ignorant. Or maybe I'm just especially sensitive. But I just feel bothered by the tone of some of the things on this website, and I'm curious if anyone else feels the same way. Or do I just need a thicker skin? ...I'm just glad this wasn't my first contact with Orthodoxy.

http://holywisdomnevadacity.org/

Also, under "10 Things I Wish I'd Known as a Convert": http://holywisdomnevadacity.org/Worship.dsp
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« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2011, 01:14:19 AM »

Hm.. which things in particular were you troubled by if I may ask?
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« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2011, 01:15:26 AM »

Is it the "Why Evangelicals Hate Jesus" article that is getting to you? I don't know much about the Ukrainian situation, so it's hard for me to say much about the group itself. Their suggested reading list on the one page is pretty mainstream Orthodox, nothing jumps out as crazy.

EDIT--I think the "things I wish I'd known as a convert" thing is quite opinionated, somewhat tactless in spots, but also has some good advice (and in the areas of good advice, it's forthrightness is a strength).
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« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2011, 01:25:37 AM »

The tone reminds me of a certain Varvara and his angry tirades. This kind of stuff shouldn't be on a parish website. With all due respect to the priest or whoever runs the site, get a blog.

The comments about evangelicals do NOT reflect an official position of the Church. And the Catechumenate stuff could be more tactful and probably should be part of a class, not thrown online for the world to see.

Don't let it bother you. This parish doesn't represent any parish I've ever been to.
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« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2011, 01:26:37 AM »

I am going to assume that you were unsettled with the convert list.

Asteriktos is right -- it's pretty tactless in some areas. When I was inquiring, I read articles, books and I encountered a lot of opinions that made it sound like the church didn't even want converts. "You're going to be crazy, start speaking Greek and wearing a headscarf everywhere, so just go in the corner until you've been Orthodox for 5 years!" To be honest, sometimes I feel like that when reading some of the posts here. I think, "Should I even be posting? They probably think I'm a crazy, zealous convert and I don't even know anything!! AAA!"

There IS good advice underneath that list, though. Go slowly, constantly check your own motivations, and just let God work through you. Otherwise, I would try to tune out anything that people say about converts -- I think it can do more harm, although the intention is (usually) good. I just dove in and started reading Orthodox lit. Once I started attending Divine Liturgy, I tried not to read what people were saying about converts, because it is making me too self conscious about how the people in the church view me. Hey, I'm there to be one with God and fellowship! That's all, and I'm not going to let some angry cradle/convert/non-Orthodox change that for me.

I kinda want to complain about that website's layout, but I'm restraining myself.
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« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2011, 01:27:16 AM »

Well, maybe it was that on the very first page of the website was an article titled, "Why Evangelicals Hate Jesus." Or this sentence, "They hate anything that smacks of "socialism," even though that is essentially what their Savior preached." I'm by no means in favor of the death penalty or a lover of guns, and I understand the irony they're referring to but... I don't know. I guess I just didn't expect that being Orthodox meant being a Democrat... ?

Also, some of the "10 things" were titled stuff like, "No one cares what you think," and there was even the statement that children are to be seen and not heard.

Maybe I'm being way off base here. I don't mean to be disrespectful to this church or anything. Are these commonly-held Orthodox views? Is it OK to respectfully disagree with the way some of this stuff was written? I guess I'm trying to understand what it means to be a "good" Orthodox and still to have my own personal opinions about stuff.

I do agree that frankness can be a good thing. Maybe I'm just a little too sensitive.
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« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2011, 01:34:45 AM »

Thank you IsmiLioria and bogdan. You've settled some of my concerns already. *Taking deep breaths* Wow, I had no idea I'd get so worked up! Time for some Jesus prayers! haha.  angel
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« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2011, 01:43:05 AM »

The Church in Nevada City, CA is not in Communion with any other Orthodox Church ... well, maybe Ukraine ... for reasons that have been beaten to death on this forum.

To the OP, do not lose sleep over the contents of a schismatic Church's website.   Smiley
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« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2011, 01:45:30 AM »

"Why Evangelicals Hate Jesus" is quite obviously written by a left-wing professor. Unfortunately, the ancilla of Orthodoxy: the icons, the chants, the rituals--the sheer beauty of it--tends to attract people capable of being more in love with the aesthetics of the Church than they are with its Truth. This is the crowd that believes that traditional doctrine should be abandoned to permit the theological acceptance of active homosexuality.

Nothing could be further from the truth. I encourage them, as kindly as I can, to go join the Episcopalian "church". As long as I have breath in my body, Orthodoxy shall stand for the original teachings of our Lord, Jesus Christ, as passed down to us by the Apostles and the Holy Fathers.

"10 Things I Wish I'd Known as a Convert" is, in my opinion, quite shallow and un-Christian, and I would disregard it entirely. Anyone who can type may imagine that he's Frederica Matthewes-Green---but he's not. If I had read either of these articles while I was studying Orthodoxy, I would have abandoned my quest and remained an atheist.
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« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2011, 02:04:30 AM »

This is not a Church recognised as canonical by the Orthodox Churches.  However two weeks ago Patriarch Kyrill of the Russians made them an offer to come into the Russian Church with the same sort of status as that of the Russian Church Abroad.

As regards the off putting points in the article -- I find that some of the clergy of these uncanonical Churches are hastily ordained without any seminary training.   They can be diamonds in the rough and their opinions can be a little eccentric in some areas.
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« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2011, 02:26:04 AM »

The tender feelings of Evangelicals were hurt Sad
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« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2011, 02:37:52 AM »

lol, meanie.  Tongue
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« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2011, 02:54:28 AM »

"They hate anything that smacks of "socialism," even though that is essentially what their Savior preached."

Sorry for being off-topic, but this thinking annoys me to no end.
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« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2011, 02:56:33 AM »

"They hate anything that smacks of "socialism," even though that is essentially what their Savior preached."

Sorry for being off-topic, but this thinking annoys me to no end.
It gladdens me to read that on an American Orthodox church's  website.
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« Reply #14 on: May 01, 2011, 03:06:39 AM »

"They hate anything that smacks of "socialism," even though that is essentially what their Savior preached."

Sorry for being off-topic, but this thinking annoys me to no end.
It gladdens me to read that on an American Orthodox church's  website.

I know American Christians can sometimes mistake being a Christian with being a liberal-capitalist, but I seem to recall Christ telling us to redistribute our own wealth, not to hand it all over to a faceless bureaucracy for distribution according to whatever principles of social engineering prevail that day.

My bias is showing, isn't it? I'll stop there.
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« Reply #15 on: May 01, 2011, 03:32:15 AM »

"They hate anything that smacks of "socialism," even though that is essentially what their Savior preached."

Sorry for being off-topic, but this thinking annoys me to no end.

Ths Saviour would approve though.

Here are my thoughts about embodying His teaching and compassion into government care for the needy.....

See message 16
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http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,31404.msg496572.html#msg496572
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« Reply #16 on: May 01, 2011, 03:36:48 AM »

"They hate anything that smacks of "socialism," even though that is essentially what their Savior preached."

Sorry for being off-topic, but this thinking annoys me to no end.
It gladdens me to read that on an American Orthodox church's  website.

It's Orthodoxy 101. The Byantine Empire used money taken in taxation to provide wide scale programs of relief for those in need, for orphans, for widows, for the sick, even for reformed prostitutes striving for a way-out.
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« Reply #17 on: May 01, 2011, 03:45:45 AM »

The question, in my mind, isn't about whether we should provide for our neighbors. (Of course we should!) But was the Christian Byzantine Empire just as wasteful with tax money as our US government? Also, does it make a difference that the Byzantine Empire was Christian while the US government arguably is not?

Edit: If our government were Orthodox, sure, tax me! I trust the Orthodox Church to actually use my money to help others. Not only that, but Orthodoxy is, so I understand, about helping us to help ourselves. It's not about slapping a band-aid on something and enabling us to be needy but about getting to the root of the problem and actually healing us, which is through Christ our Lord.
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« Reply #18 on: May 01, 2011, 03:52:44 AM »

The question, in my mind, isn't about whether we should provide for our neighbors. (Of course we should!) But was the Christian Byzantine Empire just as wasteful with tax money as our US government? Also, does it make a difference that the Byzantine Empire was Christian while the US government arguably is not?

If you want to look at waste, you could start with the military.  Billions of dollars ripped off citizens by forced taxation and wasted.
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« Reply #19 on: May 01, 2011, 03:56:16 AM »

I completely agree with you that we spend entirely too much on the military.
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« Reply #20 on: May 01, 2011, 04:04:10 AM »

Edit: If our government were Orthodox, sure, tax me! I trust the Orthodox Church to actually use my money to help others. Not only that, but Orthodoxy is, so I understand, about helping us to help ourselves. It's not about slapping a band-aid on something and enabling us to be needy but about getting to the root of the problem and actually healing us, which is through Christ our Lord.

How does the Church heal poverty and and hunger?  In modern economies a certain percentage of unemployed people can be desirable.

In the Diocese of Moscow the Church operates 400 soup kitchens in the city!  I suppose this is a band-aid activity... but it is still a necessary work of compassion. 

Do you remember Mother Teresa - when I build refuges and feed the poor and treat the sick, they call me a saint.  When I talk about programs to prevent these things they call me a dangerous communist.
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« Reply #21 on: May 01, 2011, 04:11:03 AM »

Please don't misunderstand me. I certainly don't mean that soup kitchens are just a band-aid activity. The point I'm trying to make is that the Church heals us because of Christ. The Church has an incentive to see us healed. Whether that is the government's ultimate goal is questionable. My political persuasion has more to do with a distrust of government than an uncaringness for people. Maybe a lot of that has to do with personal family history, I'm not sure. Anyway, I will politely bow out of this discussion before it gets too heated.
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« Reply #22 on: May 01, 2011, 04:11:55 AM »

Father, bless.

It's not so much waste that bothers me (though it does) -- it's more my money being spent on things of questionable morality or dubious spiritual value.

In heterogenous cultures like the ones you and I live in, it is difficult to trust the government to spend my money in a way that would be pleasing to the Lord.

Of course, ultimately, I must render unto Caesar, but I much prefer to charitably give on my own way, and not because I am made to by the coercive hand of an ungodly state.

I hope I am not over-stepping with this post. Forgive me if I've caused offence.
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« Reply #23 on: May 01, 2011, 04:25:41 AM »


I hope I am not over-stepping with this post. Forgive me if I've caused offence.


No, no offence.  We all have various opinions.  The matter concerns to what extent we believe that we should empower our governments to incorporate Christian/humanitarian ideals into their policies.

For example,our Government has allocated millions of taxpayers' money for relief work after the disastrous Christchurch earthquake.   Believe it or not, but there are evangelical-type Christians who protest this.   They also protest the use of our tax money for overseas disasters, relief programs and humanitarian programs.
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« Reply #24 on: May 01, 2011, 04:30:01 AM »

I guess I just didn't expect that being Orthodox meant being a Democrat... ?

There's one thing you should know, HumbledDaily. You are attempting to join the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America which is under Patr. Bartholomew of Constantinopole. The main occupation of this man seems to be environmental protection. That's why he favours the Democrats whom he considers to be so "green." He doesn't seem to care that they are pro-abortion (yes, I know that many Republicans aren't any better, but still -- there are greater chances to find pro-life politicians in their party then in the Democratic one). But that's not surprising. Just have a look at this articles:
 - http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2009/10/27/a-not-so-pro-life-patriarch/
 - http://www.aoiusa.org/blog/2009/10/a-patriarch-who-generally-speaking-respects-human-life/
 - http://merecomments.typepad.com/merecomments/2009/11/the-green-patriarch-to-protestant-eys.html
 - http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/2053256/posts

Here is the website of Patr. Bartholomew: http://www.patriarchate.org. Let's see, what's more important for him, plants and animals, or human beings? Compare: http://www.google.pl/search?q=environment+site:patriarchate.org and http://www.google.pl/search?q=abortion+site:patriarchate.org. Undecided

Yeah, that's sad but true. And what is even more sad is the fact that primates of other Orthodox Churches don't have the guts to step in and remind the Ecumenical Patriarch what should be more impartant for an Orthodox Christian. How does the Orthodox Church look like when compared to the absolutely pro-life Vatican? Definitely not the way the true Church of Christ should look like.
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« Reply #25 on: May 01, 2011, 04:56:05 AM »

Well, I thought I'd bow out, but I'm weaker than I thought.  Embarrassed It's sad that we should have to choose between the environment and human life at all. Both are important. Most of my distrust of government probably stems from my Cherokee Indian ancestry. The US government has historically been less than kind to American Indians. It's not so much that I hold a grudge. It's just that I tend to be overly cautious when the government says, "I'm here to help." I also hope I haven't offended anyone if I've chosen my words carelessly.

Good night!  Kiss
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« Reply #26 on: May 01, 2011, 06:03:10 AM »

 
Quote
How does the Orthodox Church look like when compared to the absolutely pro-life Vatican? Definitely not the way the true Church of Christ should look like.
Just join the Vatican if being loudly anti-abortion is such a huge thing. Pro-life is more than screaming outside Planned Parenthood clinics.
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« Reply #27 on: May 01, 2011, 06:15:23 AM »

Quote
How does the Orthodox Church look like when compared to the absolutely pro-life Vatican? Definitely not the way the true Church of Christ should look like.
Just join the Vatican if being loudly anti-abortion is such a huge thing.

It is not? Shocked You are from Romania, right? Well, if in your largely Orthodox Christian country almost 50% of conceived children are killed in the wombs of their mothers, then probably the Romanian Orthodox Church's anti-abortion stance is not loud enough.
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« Reply #28 on: May 01, 2011, 11:05:16 AM »

There's nothing wrong with being an environmentalist. I'm anti-waste. I'm the hippie down the corner that is vigilant about re-using cloth bags at the grocery store. As someone who has some conservative opinions myself (such as being generally pro-life), I hate it when conservatives shy away from ANY environmentalist issues because it's a "Democrat" issue. Been there with my own family.

But then again, I'm still undecided of how much clergy should be involved in politics, in general.

HumbledDaily, keep soldering on!  Cheesy (I'm at the GOA as well, and as I'm finding out, every church has problems...I'm not telling you to stay there or not go to another church, but I think you will become more distressed if you pay attention to the snippy arguments that go on between other Orthodox churches.)
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« Reply #29 on: May 01, 2011, 11:05:56 AM »

Quote
How does the Orthodox Church look like when compared to the absolutely pro-life Vatican? Definitely not the way the true Church of Christ should look like.
Pro-life is more than screaming outside Planned Parenthood clinics.
I don't agree with the capitalism/socialism thing, but I DO agree with that!
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« Reply #30 on: May 01, 2011, 11:10:09 AM »

As someone who has some conservative opinions myself (such as being generally pro-life) . . .

Generally? You mean, like your Patriarch?
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« Reply #31 on: May 01, 2011, 11:20:03 AM »

Sigh, no, I don't have the same opinions. I don't want to turn this into an abortion debate thread though.  Undecided I'll just say that I don't agree with the rationale behind the pro-choice position and I disagree with a lot of aspects of the pro-life MOVEMENT in the U.S. I think that we shouldn't be focusing on just marching once a year in DC to reverse Roe Vs. Wade (symbolic) but we should actually BE there for the women who need help to raise their children and change our culture by addressing the root causes. That's all.

Please PM me if you have anything else to scold me about. I don't want to hijack this thread further.
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« Reply #32 on: May 01, 2011, 11:32:34 AM »

Sigh, no, I don't have the same opinions.

I'm sorry. You used a phrase very similar to the one used by His Holiness so I thought maybe you followed his teachings on this issue. Many women in Greek Orthodoxy seem to do so (http://www.helleniccomserve.com/abortionsingreece.html).
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« Reply #33 on: May 01, 2011, 07:34:49 PM »

"They hate anything that smacks of "socialism," even though that is essentially what their Savior preached."

Sorry for being off-topic, but this thinking annoys me to no end.
It gladdens me to read that on an American Orthodox church's  website.

It's Orthodoxy 101. The Byantine Empire used money taken in taxation to provide wide scale programs of relief for those in need, for orphans, for widows, for the sick, even for reformed prostitutes striving for a way-out.

So I keep reading about, but once I fianlly looked for sources of this I couldn't find any. There is plenty about the emperor using personal funds and encouraging wealthy aristocrats to make such social provision voluntarily. And plenty about patriarchs urging the emperors to act in his manner. But no formal tax system.
Please, point me to the right library.
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« Reply #34 on: May 01, 2011, 08:30:08 PM »

"They hate anything that smacks of "socialism," even though that is essentially what their Savior preached."

Sorry for being off-topic, but this thinking annoys me to no end.
It gladdens me to read that on an American Orthodox church's  website.

It's Orthodoxy 101. The Byantine Empire used money taken in taxation to provide wide scale programs of relief for those in need, for orphans, for widows, for the sick, even for reformed prostitutes striving for a way-out.

So I keep reading about, but once I fianlly looked for sources of this I couldn't find any. There is plenty about the emperor using personal funds and encouraging wealthy aristocrats to make such social provision voluntarily. And plenty about patriarchs urging the emperors to act in his manner. But no formal tax system.
Please, point me to the right library.

I have, years ago, browsed a book on the philanthropia of the Byzantine state but cannot recall its title. 


The Byzantine State used taxes to run

Gerocomeia - homes for the aged

Xenotapheia  -provided funerals for poor citizens and strangers

Orphanotropheia - orphanages

Ptocheia - homes for the poor

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« Reply #35 on: May 01, 2011, 11:27:30 PM »

Back to the original topic... I didn't read the whole site, but I thought the "10 things" article was actually alright. The subheadings were a little misleading, perhaps, but the text itself didn't really rub me wrong, and wouldn't have when I first started looking at the Church.

But each person is different, and chances are it is me who is still rough enough around the edges not to be bothered when someone is a jerk.
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« Reply #36 on: May 01, 2011, 11:51:20 PM »

"They hate anything that smacks of "socialism," even though that is essentially what their Savior preached."

Sorry for being off-topic, but this thinking annoys me to no end.
It gladdens me to read that on an American Orthodox church's  website.

It's Orthodoxy 101. The Byantine Empire used money taken in taxation to provide wide scale programs of relief for those in need, for orphans, for widows, for the sick, even for reformed prostitutes striving for a way-out.

Father, bless.

I just realised that the "Why Evangelicals Hate Jesus" article in which the quoted line appeared was written by an avowed atheist (and, surprise surprise, an academic).

I am very wary of Christianity being reduced to the so-called "social gospel". Surely our Lord pre-empted attemps to reduce the faith to the mere co-operation of humankind for the betterment of all when he said "the poor you will always have with you"?

It is even worse when our Lord's name is invoked by those who would gladly see our faith disappear from this earth simply to justify whatever questionable social engineering cause happens to be in vogue at the present moment. I must confess it makes my blood boil. That the "spiritual" writings of an avowed atheist should appear on an "Orthodox" website is cause for consternation.

Please do not think I belong to the camp that believes that any and all government spending is Satan's work and that the unfortunate victim's of Christchurch's earthquake and similar disasters should just be left to fend for themselves. I merely resent the notion that any person who thinks liberal-capitalism is the least-worst system of ordering economies and social relations humanity has yet devised is demonstrably devoid of compassion and is clearly a bad Christian.
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« Reply #37 on: May 02, 2011, 12:50:17 AM »

I'll be honest.

I don't think the "Why Evangelicals Hate Jesus" article should have ever been written by anyone anywhere for any reason, much less made accessible for anyone to read. I can see how this could be a stumbling block to anyone looking into Orthodoxy, and I honestly don't even think it is representative of Orthodoxy either in it's tone or it's content.

As far as the "12 Things..." article, it's pretty common and I think most of the points are pretty good to keep in mind. Please post if there are any of these points in particular that you might have a hard time with.
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And FWIW, these are our Fathers too, you know.

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« Reply #38 on: May 02, 2011, 01:10:11 AM »

As for the "10 things," it wasn't really the content that I found disturbing. But the advice is supposed to be about what someone wishes they would have known. In that sense, something like, "When I was a catechumen, I was a real know-it-all, and I didn't appreciate that I was there to learn. This actually hindered my growth at first," would have been very helpful. But to assume that the reader is also a know-it-all, is more offensive than helpful. The tone sort of puts the reader on the defense like, "Wait a second. I've never thought of Orthodoxy as a Renaissance Festival! Why would you assume that about me?"

Then again, I confess that I am often times way too sensitive for my own good and take things too personally. And that is probably something I need to work on as well.

Thank you everyone for your insight, even to those of you who don't agree with me.
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« Reply #39 on: May 02, 2011, 03:37:06 AM »

"Why Evangelicals Hate Jesus"

What a tactless article... Sad
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« Reply #40 on: May 21, 2011, 11:39:09 AM »

'Why Evangelicals Hate Jesus' is silly and tactless, of course.

On the '12 things' article, I'm not Orthodox, but from a general human perspective, nobody wants to be put in their place or told to pipe down. But when we often find we learn a lot more when we do so. I'd just keep that in mind. The tone may be a bit harsh, but the lessons struck me as good ones, for any conversion experience. Although the "don't under any circumstances date a member of your parish" thing seems a bit much. Don't be shopping around for the sake of shopping around of course, but if you meet someone you meet someone.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2011, 11:39:53 AM by Alcuin » Logged
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