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JHP17
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« on: July 01, 2004, 01:24:26 AM »

hi everyone,

Reading many of your stories I am very happy that you found the comfort and love in the Orthodox religion that you were looking for. But I have a gripe..........I was born and raised in an Orthodox family. From an early age I was taught that Orthodoxy is the only way to worship God. Coming from the balkans loving Orthodoxy and disliking Catholics and Muslims was the norm for me and to a point it still is. Now to the point of my story - I resent when converts try to change Orthodoxy to what they remember from their previous religion or Orthodox born people changing to be more western. The more I read on the web I realise it is happening significantly in the US. I now see pews when there wasn't any, beardless priests, men and woman on the same side of church. what do the converts and other Orthodox think about this or have I just misunderstood??? Another common thread I have noticed is that everyone seems to talk about different congregations as different religions. As far as I am aware an Orthodox person is able to enter any Orthodox Church ( those in communion with each other) and be received fully.

I hope I haven't offended anyone but I was curious as to what people thought about this.

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« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2004, 02:22:05 AM »

hi everyone,

Reading many of your stories I am very happy that you found the comfort and love in the Orthodox religion that you were looking for. But I have a gripe..........I was born and raised in an Orthodox family. From an early age I was taught that Orthodoxy is the only way to worship God. Coming from the balkans loving Orthodoxy and disliking Catholics and Muslims was the norm for me and to a point it still is. Now to the point of my story - I resent when converts try to change Orthodoxy to what they remember from their previous religion or Orthodox born people changing to be more western. The more I read on the web I realise it is happening significantly in the US. I now see pews when there wasn't any, beardless priests, men and woman on the same side of church. what do the converts and other Orthodox think about this or have I just misunderstood??? Another common thread I have noticed is that everyone seems to talk about different congregations as different religions. As far as I am aware an Orthodox person is able to enter any Orthodox Church ( those in communion with each other) and be received fully.

I hope I haven't offended anyone but I was curious as to what people thought about this.



Anyone want to post that recent article from that British priest (I think 'interesting article' was the title to the thread)?

Now, to answer your questions:
Keep in mind, you're refering to Orthodoxy in America.  America is unlike any other country in that we are a potpouri of every culture.  We take every immigrant (well, historically).  The languange is english, but the heritage and part of the culture is multicultural.  America was not evangelized as other countries that became Orthodox were, because America does not consist of a homogenous people.  It started off as a mission of the Russian Church, but then the Russian Revolution happened, other immigrant groups (and their priests) and jurisidictional overlaps happened (not necessarily all of the previous in that order though).  Pews?  Well, many Orthodox churches are converted Protestant churches and a few others (e.g. many GOA) wanted to fit in with mainstream America (beardless priests a result of this as well).  Yes, from a traditional Orthodox (praxis) perspective a lot of this is lamentable, but the faith has stayed the same nonetheless.

I hope this helps.
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« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2004, 09:42:19 AM »

JHP,

I'm glad you posted.  My wife and I were received into the Serbian Orthodox Church a few months ago, after being Eastern Catholic (Ruthenian).  My wife is ethnic Slovak, so I suppose you can understand why we chose the Serbian Church when we decided to "dox".

The problem is that many converts (by no means all) don't appreciate or understand the connection between cultural and ethnic identity and religous identity in a proper sense.  They see what they call "little 't' traditions" as things that can be haphazardly discarded at the convenience of the individual.  They also see many of these practices as "Serbian things", or whatever the ethnic identity of the church is.

What they don't grasp is that these little "t" traditions are what forms our daily lives around our faith.  Certainly there are Serb practices the Russians or Arabs don't do, but if one is to live the life of the church in the Serbian Orthodox Church *to it's fullest,* the person *must* adopt, to the best of their abilities, the little *t* traditions that has guided that church, of which they chose to become members, in order to receive the fullness that their church can provide.

Yes, we are in America.  But, as stated above, American society is not Orthodox.  Our society finds it odd to pray and fast as much as we are called to pray and fast.  That is not to say that Orthodox in America cannot and should not come up with an *American* way of little fully implementing the faith.  The OCA is trying.  

Considering the jurisdictional chaos and the lack of leadership (oftentimes not because of its own fault) by the OCA in this regard, I think it would be imprudent and foolish for a convert to enter into an Orthodox church of a particular jurisdiction and then decide to live the life of the church in a way different from the church they have joined.

My family now celebrates Slava.  Why?  We *aren't* Serbs.  Because it is a practice that binds our family together in our faith.  Other churches have things that perform the same function.  But I'm not a member of those other churches.

Out of respect for those who suffered to bring me this Church and this Faith and this tradition, I try my best to follow the traditions handed down.
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« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2004, 09:48:26 AM »

I think I should point out that many of your complaints about what is happening to the Orthodox Church is not being done by converts but people who have grown up in the church. Many of the changes you mentioned where adopted in the between the 1920's and 1950's, when there was a very small convert population, in order to blend in with the rest of America. Since convets have been coming into the church you have seen an increase in churches without pews, and bearded clergy because they are better educated.

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« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2004, 10:11:09 AM »

Arimethea,

True, concerning the issues of bearded clergy and pews.  I should have read the original post more carefully.
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« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2004, 10:40:41 AM »

99% of these complaints are all about maintaining Orthodox's ETHNICITY.
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« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2004, 12:11:01 PM »

Maintaining ORthodox ETHNICITY-I think we need an approriate sense of time in all these things, widespread conversions is basically a 25 year old phenomena. Old World Orthodox cultures had 1000-2000 years to develop. Priests without beards look funny to me, and I generally prefer men and women on opposite sides-but we should not let the lack of these things interfere with worship and living a christian way of life  life (or seeing the admirable qualities of those who lack them) Father Roman Braga has stated that the American church will become known for its generousity in highly organized almsgiving. This is a more worthy goal than ripping up pews.

The old world ethnicity and customs are good, in that they have been ways of preserving the orthodox family and an orthodox way of life from the world of greed and lust around us.....However, some converts have family and local cultures that can do this as well-The church should encourage them to retain beneficial aspects of their culture that allowed them to encounter Orthodoxy in the first place.

 

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« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2004, 03:10:30 PM »

Well The US is not the Balkans.

There have been beardless priests for at least one hundred years here...just look at old photos.

As far as pews...besides converted buildings, it is nice for people to be able to take a seat when they need to. People with infirmities, pregnant women, the elderly...all can particpate more fully in the Liturgy when seating is avalable to them.

As far as converts....I have seen some converts in a local ROCOR parish who look like they are wearing costumes when they attend Liturgy. Old-fashioned dresses, head scarves. What is the deal with that? Such efforts to appear "humble" only draw attention to themselves . "Look at me I'm being humble."

I have never met a convert who weanted their Orthodox Parish to change...Now perhaps they have some experiences they can share that might be helpful ....but I don't see the point in becoming Orthodox only to then want your parish to become something else.

Weclome to the U.S.A. Be thankful you are here. DO I detect in the first post though a desire to have every DIvine Liturgy be a trip back to the Old Country?
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« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2004, 03:24:58 PM »

Quote
I have seen some converts in a local ROCOR parish who look like they are wearing costumes when they attend Liturgy. Old-fashioned dresses, head scarves. What is the deal with that? Such efforts to appear "humble" only draw attention to themselves . "Look at me I'm being humble."

I whole heartedly agree here.  In this culture, as it has been for a very long time, a man "dresses up" by wearing a simple suit and tie and a woman, a non-revealing but comfortable dress, usually falling below the knee with a hat or head scarf.  

There is nothing extravagant or proud about wearing such attire, provided one doesn't go buy an Armani suit, Dormeiul tie, diamond cuff-links and custom shoes for church.  I really don't understand the inclination some converts have requring them to become 19th century Russian peasants to be Orthodox.  It truly boggles my mind.  There are perfectly 21st century American clothing that is perfectly Orthodox.
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« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2004, 03:41:19 PM »

Valid and interesting points coming in from both "sides" so far.  Too many strands have appeared to address in orderly fashion!

Yes, Protestants -- to stereotype and generalize -- most often are the ones who want to bring with themselves "comforting bits" retained from their old religion.

Yes, the immigrants themselves often have been the ones to innovate and to disregard Orthodox practices -- e.g. beardless priests, clerical "dog collars", scarfless women, pews and gag-me electronic organs, etc., etc.  If you ever have an opportunity to talk with some older Orthodox immigrants, you might be VERY surprised to learn how much social discrimination they sometimes endured upon coming to the U.S.A.  I do not at all agree that they were right to junk many of the externally-visible elements of Orthodoxy in order to "fit in better"; however, I certainly can understand how severe the social pressure must have been upon them and how they could have been tempted to give in as they often did.

I think there is a misperception that some/all of the changes listed were/are based solely on "ethnic" custom.  Look again, and you will find that there are theological explainations for them.

Yes, there are contemporary clothing fashions that are modest and, thus, appropriate for church attire.  HOWEVER -- please stop bashing those of us who wear clothing patterned after garments from an earlier age.  I wear long dresses because I LIKE HOW THEY LOOK !!!!!  I also find them extremely comfortable in the demonically hot climate where I live, easy to run fast in when the occasion calls for running, and simple to wash-and-care for.  I'm not trying to "look humble."  

As for pews, it long has been the custom to have seating at the rear of a church, or along the side walls, to allow the elderly, the pregnant, and the genuinely ill/exhausted (not the lazy) to sit down.  

Lastly, for JHP17 -- You are absolutely correct:  Orthodox is Orthodox is Orthodox is. . .

4Truth      

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« Reply #10 on: July 01, 2004, 04:38:27 PM »

Hmm...

To give a bit of background...I've been attending Orthodox services for almost five years -- I converted three years ago -- after having come out of a (relatively short) lifetime lived in Evangelical Protestantism.

My thoughts on this are complicated, even to me.  While I see the various "ethnic" aspects of Orthodox worship as a viable part of said worship, there's a part of me, as someone who was born and reared in the US of A that feels slighted when this topic comes up -- like sort of a second-class citizen whose contrasting traditions don't really count -- which is something I have encountered online, but never in the parishes I have attended, thankfully.  I've put some various quotes that stuck out to me from the posts in this thread.

Quote
JHP17: Coming from the balkans loving Orthodoxy and disliking Catholics and Muslims was the norm for me and to a point it still is. Now to the point of my story - I resent when converts try to change Orthodoxy to what they remember from their previous religion or Orthodox born people changing to be more western.

I'm sorry that disliking Catholics and Muslims was a part of your growing up -- folks like me who grow up here obviously have no concept of the tension between those groups -- yet there are many Orthodox -- cradle and convert alike! -- who resent people from such-and-such an Orthodox country who use their picture of Orthodoxy as the one which should be imposed on all other traditions.

Quote
ELISHA: Anyone want to post that recent article from that British priest (I think 'interesting article' was the title to the thread)?

Here it is, I think.

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SPIROS: some converts have family and local cultures that can do this as well-The church should encourage them to retain beneficial aspects of their culture that allowed them to encounter Orthodoxy in the first place.

I agree wholeheartedly.  Fasting, prayer, confession, charitable works, regular church attendance and communion know no ethnic preference and can transfigure Americans just as much as they can anyone else.  Whether or not it will look like something others would immediately accept is another matter.

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SCHULTZ: I really don't understand the inclination some converts have requring them to become 19th century Russian peasants to be Orthodox.

Haven't seen this, though I did meet one person who donned a faux Russian accent and took some impossible-to-pronounce Russian name and another who started studying the Russian language in order to "be more Orthodox" or "learn more about Orthodoxy," or something along those lines.  To me, you do this to become more Russian, not more Orthodox.

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4TRUTH: Yes, Protestants -- to stereotype and generalize -- most often are the ones who want to bring with themselves "comforting bits" retained from their old religion.

Would you mind giving some examples, please?  I'm not trying to challenge you here -- in fact, I lol-ed at the defense of long skirts which you gave, which is a practice also seen among conservative groups here in the States -- but it seems as though many people condemn things from the west/protestantism that converts "bring in" without actually citing anything.

This ends up leaving the convert adrift in some limbo where all they hear is something along the lines of, "You're doing it wrong / you're too American / You just wouldn't understand; you're not Greek/Russian/Lebanese/Whatever," with no actual instruction on how to be "more Orthodox" that doesn't just sound like "be/sound/eat/react like us as an ethnic group."
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« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2004, 04:40:37 PM »

Quote
Yes, there are contemporary clothing fashions that are modest and, thus, appropriate for church attire.  HOWEVER -- please stop bashing those of us who wear clothing patterned after garments from an earlier age.  I wear long dresses because I LIKE HOW THEY LOOK !!!!!  I also find them extremely comfortable in the demonically hot climate where I live, easy to run fast in when the occasion calls for running, and simple to wash-and-care for.  I'm not trying to "look humble."  

This is the proper attitude towards wearing long dresses: you like how they look, they're comfortable to you and also utilitarian.  I know plenty of women who feel the same way.  I suppose what I'm railing against are those people who feel like they must adopt a certain costume in order to be "Orthodox".  


Quote
Look again, and you will find that there are theological explainations for them.

I have to ask, did the theology come first, or did the certain ethnic practice take on a theological meaning after the fact?  I'm not asking this question on any specific ethnic practice, but as a general question one should ask.  What one culture considers to be a certain pious custom another may not.  Take for example the Eastern practice of bowing as opposed to the Western practice of genuflection.  Both are showing their deep reverence for God whilst in church, but also come with certain cultural meanings that the other culture lacks.
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« Reply #12 on: July 01, 2004, 06:01:55 PM »

Schultz<<There is nothing extravagant or proud about wearing such attire, provided one doesn't go buy an Armani suit, Dormeiul tie, diamond cuff-links and custom shoes for church. >>

Awww man, time for plan B.
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« Reply #13 on: July 01, 2004, 07:13:37 PM »

Many of the untraditional practices in Orthodoxy in America was introduced by ethnic Orthodox.  Look no further than the GOA!  

And Tom, I am curious which of these complaints are ethnic based?
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« Reply #14 on: July 01, 2004, 07:24:30 PM »

"However, some converts have family and local cultures that can do this as well-The church should encourage them to retain beneficial aspects of their culture that allowed them to encounter Orthodoxy in the first place."

This is quite true, as it has always been in Orthodoxy.  However, the Americas are not receiving Orthodoxy in the traditional manner either.  My patriarch is not your patriarch, my bishop is not your bishop, etc.  That leaves us in the care of a particular church.  This has certain limitations that must be understood and considered.  The OCA is certainly one option.  I don't feel comfortable with the OCA.  I don't like the feeling of cultural anarchy that does not guide the believer in a way offered by the older churches.  

What is needed is one primary "mother" church guiding American Orthodoxy into its own.  We don't have that and I don't think it's helpful to act as though we do.

"I have to ask, did the theology come first, or did the certain ethnic practice take on a theological meaning after the fact? "

The answer depends on the custom.  

I don't think it is a very relevant question, however.  If that custom is important and difficult to replace in that tradition and the custom is guiding its adherents to the ultimate goal of Orthodoxy, how God introduced or used that custom in His church is irrelevant.

I think it is important to remind the revisionists of traditional customs that these are practices through which God has revealed Himself to that church.  You cannot and should not expect the members of that church to give up these practices in order to make it more culturally relevant.  That seems rather presumptive to me.  

We in the United States have a tendency to want things delivered immediately, while God knows the right time.  I have no doubt that God will reveal Himself more fully in an American way.  We are a very young country.  I'm not certain if any Orthodox country had less jurisdictional and cultural confusion after a mere 200 years of existence of conversion . . .  and we are not an Orthodox country!  

So be patient and do your best to live the Orthodox faith the way it was handed down to your spiritual ancestors in your church.
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« Reply #15 on: July 01, 2004, 11:35:01 PM »

Quote
You cannot and should not expect the members of that church to give up these practices in order to make it more culturally relevant.  That seems rather presumptive to me.

I agree, but nor can you expect a Hispanic person, for example, to have to adopt a Russian cultural mindset in order to experience Orthodoxy.  It seems rather presumptive to me that a man should practically have to change his name from Jose to Josef in order to be "Orthodox", and, sadly, that is what many people experience, if not explicitly then definitely implicitly.
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« Reply #16 on: July 02, 2004, 01:13:29 PM »

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nor can you expect a Hispanic person, for example, to have to adopt a Russian cultural mindset in order to experience Orthodoxy.

Well, to an extent, if he is a member of the Russian Orthodox Church, to understand his church he is going to *have* to adopt parts of a Russian cultural mindset because his church is Russian.

The answer isn't in asking a Russian church to reject a Russian mindset, it is in creating an Orthodox church for the culture in question.  The Russian Church can help that to come about, but one cannot expect the Russian Church to stop being Russian anymore than one can expect an American of whatever flavor to stop being an American.

Quote
It seems rather presumptive to me that a man should practically have to change his name from Jose to Josef in order to be "Orthodox", and, sadly, that is what many people experience, if not explicitly then definitely implicitly.

The linguistic form of a person's first name is not an issue of religous custom, but one of language.  I was not and am not arguing that a person's name must be changed in order to sound Russian.  It is also obvious that whether one calls oneself Jose or Josef adds nothing to "the manner in which God has communicated Himself to that church."

I have yet to meet a Russian or a Serb who thought I should do that, although I have met some "Russified" Americans who did.  

I do, however, follow the customary fasts and celebrations of my church at church and at home.  I still have a hillbilly sounding first name.  The only person who cares about name issues is a convert who has a pagan first name.  He goes by another name for liturgical purposes.  I have a pagan orginated first name and go by it all the time.  

Am I a Serb?  No, and no one expects me to be one.  BUT I am not just Orthodox, I am Serbian Orthodox and how I practice my faith revolves around my Serbian church.  If that entails me adopting some practices, such as Slava celebrations, then I will not deny that part of my faith by terming it a "little 't' tradition."
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« Reply #17 on: July 02, 2004, 01:24:19 PM »

By the way, one of the answers to the cultural issues does not always involve the rejection of one particular church's customs.  It can involve cultural additions and modifications.  

My wife grew up in a mixed home.  Her father was half Polish and half Slovak and her mother was Slovak.  They maintained their Christmas and Easter customs even after they stopped attending church.  My family now practices those traditions at home, along with some of the other Serbian traditions, which differ only slightly.  We have found the Serbian Church to be not only cordial in allowing us these customs, even when we bring them to church (like our lovely Slovak Pascha basket), but they are extremely supportive and are very happy to see my wife carrying on the customs that were passed on to her by her family.

Customs don't have to be an either-or proposition.  They can, at times, include both.  That is how a trully American Orthodoxy must develop.  This is the way all Orthodox customs have developed: through living the life of the Church with the Holy Spirit as guide.
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« Reply #18 on: July 02, 2004, 02:49:11 PM »

Quote
I have yet to meet a Russian or a Serb who thought I should do that, although I have met some "Russified" Americans who did.  

And the "Russified Americans" are who I'm talking about, not the genuine immigrant Slavs.  

I think, overall, you and I are arguing for the same thing, only from different directions and experiences. Smiley
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« Reply #19 on: July 02, 2004, 03:59:14 PM »

There are several reasons why I hate internet message boards:

1.  What people really think doesn't come through for several days and posts.
2.  People can't discuss things over beer (or tea for fasting times)
3.  People can agree and never know it.
4.  People can't have a beer while they are discussing things.
5.  It takes too long to say anything.
6.  Beer is unavailable.
7.  No beer.
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« Reply #20 on: July 03, 2004, 03:58:15 AM »

Schultz: nor can you expect a Hispanic person, for example, to have to adopt a Russian cultural mindset in order to experience Orthodoxy.
 
cizinec: Well, to an extent, if he is a member of the Russian Orthodox Church, to understand his church he is going to *have* to adopt parts of a Russian cultural mindset because his church is Russian.

Help me understand, here.  If this Church that is to be established is "for the culture in question," i.e., that of America, how is adopting a "Russian cultural mindset" conducive to bringing this about?  

And when would the "transfer of power" be allowed to take place from one culture to another?  IOW, when is it OK for an American Church to replace Russian traditions that were present at the Church's founding with distinctly American ones?

Quote
No beer.

Ay, you said it...I think I need some Cuervo....  Grin
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« Reply #21 on: July 03, 2004, 12:45:13 PM »

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 IOW, when is it OK for an American Church to replace Russian traditions that were present at the Church's founding with distinctly American ones?

Which Russian/Greek traditions need to be replaced (besides language) in America?
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« Reply #22 on: July 03, 2004, 01:04:57 PM »

Dear JHP17,

I think many of your observations are valid.  In light of this, I'll offer a few comments reflecting my own experiences/opinions.

1) While there have been examples of converts trying to do it "their way", the truth is most of the alterations of practices that you've observed are the result of "ethnic" so called "born" Orthodox people, not converts.  If anything, I've noted a pretty decent split in converts, regarding how they view such changes to traditional piety (some ambivilent, others very much against it.)  You can see that in this forum - some converts expressing less than enthusiastic views about other converts who grow beards and do not dress in a worldly manner in the Churches (women using the traditional head scarf, etc.), where as other converts would defend this to the bitter end.  In reality, both reflect differences which begin with the "ethnic Orthodox" themselves.

2) American Orthodoxy is still feeling it's way around, and has to do so in some conditions which while in a temporal/worldly sense are very good, often times weight in against the spirituality of the Church.  Westerners like their sufferings in bite size pieces, that appraisal including many of the so called "ethnic Orthodox" who have been here for a significant period of time (such as second and third generation types.)  While we should have gratitude for the great bounty of material goods provided for us here, the truth is we actually quite ungrateful (myself included), knowing nothing else.  Even where actual poverty is absent, Christians must strive for the spirit of poverty and humility - a task which becomes doubly hard (at least!) in this social climate.  There is also an incredible moral decadence here, which can make it difficult for people to gauge just what is objectively right - too often it is easy to be satisfied with being a "few steps to the right" of our neighbours.

3) While we westerners owe our experience of Orthodoxy to the "mother countries" (Greece, Russia, Romania, Serbia, etc.), and it is true that Orthodoxy is much more "natural" over there (ex. in a real sense it can be said the "Russian God" is the Lord God adored by the Orthodox Church, even in the details...the same cannot be said of western countries), I think it has to be said that we cannot take everything that occurs in the mother countries as emblematic of the "Orthodox ideal."  For example, phyletism is a heresy as far as the Church is concerned; yet the growth of nationalism in traditionally Orthodox lands has created a tacit disregard for this amongst many people, and that implied phyletism (associated with etnicity/national origin) has been imported over here (thus explaining in large part the completly uncanonical situation of overlapping "juristictions").  Also, while Orthodox here often err too often on the side of a false (and indeed heretical) ecumenism in their thinking about heterodox confessions, I think it also needs to be said that a lot of the distance put between Orthodox and non-Orthodox in traditionally Orthodox lands is less due to a strong dogmatic consciousness on the part of the Orthodox, but long standing ethnic/nationalistic bias (ex. it's not just because group "x" is Roman Catholic and adheres to an incorrect understanding of the Church that is the problem, but also that they were Polish, with memories of the struggles between "traditionally Roman Catholic" and "traditionally Orthodox" peoples thrown into the mix.)

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« Reply #23 on: July 03, 2004, 03:15:39 PM »

Which Russian/Greek traditions need to be replaced (besides language) in America?

Well, some things I or friends of mine have done that we've found resistence to from cradle Orthodox, right off the top of my head:

  • Making the sign of the cross at "inappropriate times," i.e., other than @ "Fr., Son, HS" and "It is truly meet."
  • Saying responses such as "Indeed, He is risen!" or, "He is, and ever shall be!" in a manner that was accused, at first, of being "too loud," and, when volume was turned down, of being "too enthusiastic" or even, in my personal case, of saying them in "non-Orthodox languages" (-íEn verdad, ha resucitado!)
  • Bringing things like seafood gumbo, crawfish etouffee or fish tacos to coffee hour because they "weren't Orthodox" or "from Orthodox countries."
  • Asking why the priest sounded bored while praying (in contrast to the words of Fr. Peter Guilquist(sp?) -- "A little boy heard my name and said, 'Oh, you're the one who shouts when he preaches!' I don't think I'll ever get to the decibel level that some cradle Orthodox would like...") -- and being told that "enthusiasm is not the 'Orthodox way.'"  Not that we need to be swinging from the chandeliers, but why sound bored saying prayers to the All-Holy Trinity?
  • Being "called on the carpet" for going to confession and communion "too frequently" by people who were NOT the priest (and who, truthfully, were the kind who came once, maybe twice a year to confession themselves, some of them just as often to commune)...these people were pretty much given tacit approval to do this parish-wide, as they were some of the founding members ("And they came OVER from the old country, you know!") and wanted to "safeguard against some people's (read: converts') 'abusing the sacraments'"! Angry
Why should Americans' tendencies towards these things be looked down upon?

Respetuosamente (I hope,  :-),

Pedro
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« Reply #24 on: July 03, 2004, 04:08:01 PM »

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Making the sign of the cross at "inappropriate times," i.e., other than @ "Fr., Son, HS" and "It is truly meet."

This is something that I don't understand.  I tend to make the sign of the cross A LOT, whereas I've noticed others make it rather rarely.... I have always thought it was a personal devotion (mostly) and people can make as they feel.  Eitherway I don't see that as an ethnic or cultural thing at all.  Eitherway as long as someone isn't being disruptive I think they should cross themselves however often they wish.

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Saying responses such as "Indeed, He is risen!" or, "He is, and ever shall be!" in a manner that was accused, at first, of being "too loud," and, when volume was turned down, of being "too enthusiastic" or even, in my personal case, of saying them in "non-Orthodox languages" (-íEn verdad, ha resucitado!)

I know of no ethnic custom against saying things with emotion.  And are you saying "En verdad, ha rescucitado" to someone who speaks Spanish?  

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Bringing things like seafood gumbo, crawfish etouffee or fish tacos to coffee hour because they "weren't Orthodox" or "from Orthodox countries."

Compromises can be worked out.  Orthoodx immigrants don't want to lose their ethnic heritage (nor should they they be pressured to).  But that is more of a matter of certain people being rude, not ethnicity.

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Asking why the priest sounded bored while praying (in contrast to the words of Fr. Peter Guilquist(sp?) -- "A little boy heard my name and said, 'Oh, you're the one who shouts when he preaches!' I don't think I'll ever get to the decibel level that some cradle Orthodox would like...") -- and being told that "enthusiasm is not the 'Orthodox way.'"  Not that we need to be swinging from the chandeliers, but why sound bored saying prayers to the All-Holy Trinity?

I'm used to the Athonite way of doing things, and yes many priests do read prayers in a more subdued style and do not jump up and down.  But a number of prayers are supposed to be read +£-Ã -â-ä+¦+¦-ë-é - silently.  It is quite prideful though to accuse a priest of being bored because he doesn't act like an evangical protestant.  I am told that Metr. Paisios from Saint Irene's though "preaches llike a baptist preacher" from various people - so for many it is a matter of thier personal preference.  To me it is rather rude to come to the Orthodox Church and expect things to be done in Evangical Protestant style.

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Being "called on the carpet" for going to confession and communion "too frequently" by people who were NOT the priest (and who, truthfully, were the kind who came once, maybe twice a year to confession themselves, some of them just as often to commune)...these people were pretty much given tacit approval to do this parish-wide, as they were some of the founding members ("And they came OVER from the old country, you know!") and wanted to "safeguard against some people's (read: converts') 'abusing the sacraments'"!

There are trends towards communion at EVERY liturgy with very rare or no confession at all - especially among converts.  So there is some justification for this.  

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Why should Americans' tendencies towards these things be looked down upon?

1) People should respect the practice of the place they are at.  So if no one else says greetings and responses loudly and doing so would be disruptive do not do so.  When in Rome....

2) People tend to be proud of their ethnicity.  Some converts (such as the Eastern rite protestants, i.e. the Antiochians) have the attitude that they want to go on some holy crusade to free pure Orthodoxy from the shackles of (insert ethnicity here) customs.  People get offended by this.  

3) A lot of people in general bring a very modernist view to Orthodoxy.  So when ethnic Orthodox see people skipping vigil/vespers and confession and recieving communion every single liturgy they get alarmed.  The demands of many converts do not stop at wanting all English liturgy (which IMO English is a good thing).  Soon you see royal doors staying open all the time or disapearing altogether, sercives being shortened, the anaphora being read out loud etc.  

4)  There are a lot of arrogant and mean people - both ethnic Orthodox and converts.  I've seen a tendancy whenever a convert runs into a mean sprited ethnic person they suddenly want to cleanse Orthodoxy of all ethnicity. Thus an ideology is built because of personal disagreements.  

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Respetuosamente

I don't speak Spanish.

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« Reply #25 on: July 03, 2004, 10:30:24 PM »

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Being "called on the carpet" for going to confession and communion "too frequently" by people who were NOT the priest (and who, truthfully, were the kind who came once, maybe twice a year to confession themselves, some of them just as often to commune)...these people were pretty much given tacit approval to do this parish-wide, as they were some of the founding members ("And they came OVER from the old country, you know!") and wanted to "safeguard against some people's (read: converts') 'abusing the sacraments'"!


Quote
There are trends towards communion at EVERY liturgy with very rare or no confession at all - especially among converts.  So there is some justification for this.

Quote
3) A lot of people in general bring a very modernist view to Orthodoxy.  So when ethnic Orthodox see people skipping vigil/vespers and confession and recieving communion every single liturgy they get alarmed.  The demands of many converts do not stop at wanting all English liturgy (which IMO English is a good thing).  Soon you see royal doors staying open all the time or disapearing altogether, sercives being shortened, the anaphora being read out loud etc.

I am more of an observer on this thread as of now, but just a clarification point, if you read Pedro's initial statement, he has been scoffed at for attending confession as well as communion "too frequently." It is not fair to directly respond to this particular plight (twice), and justify the treatment he has received, by citing trends that do not apply to his case.

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I don't speak Spanish.

I'm pretty sure Respetuosamente means "Respectfully," and Pedro, by my standards your personal encounters were related quite so. Smiley
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« Reply #26 on: July 04, 2004, 12:43:23 AM »

You got it, Donna -- and thanks.

I have always thought [the sign of the Cross] was a personal devotion (mostly) and people can make as they feel.  Eitherway I don't see that as an ethnic or cultural thing at all.

Exactly, though it has been treated as such by folks of an ethnicity which shall remain unnamed (such things happened in more than one parish of this jurisdiction, which I do not attend) -- why folks were even paying attention to me or to my friends is beyond me.

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And are you saying "En verdad, ha rescucitado" to someone who speaks Spanish?

Yeah -- this was actually a minor "issue."  Can't even really call it an issue, as our Abp. speaks perfect Spanish and gives the call and response to all his priests.  It was mostly just from a few folks in the parish turning their noses up at it, saying it sounded like we were riding a horse, and that "voistinu voskress" was just fine, thank you very much.

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But that is more of a matter of certain people being rude, not ethnicity.

I agree.

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I'm used to the Athonite way of doing things, and yes many priests do read prayers in a more subdued style and do not jump up and down.


If you read my post again, you'll see I specifically mentioned not doing such ridiculous things.  There's a big difference between "jumping up and down" and simply reading the prayers as though they mean something to you.  And yes, I know one does not have to be emotionalistic to genuinely feel joy -- one could argue that joy transcends emotion -- yet pastorally, the priest is attempting to convey something life-altering to his flock; if he sounds as though it's about to put him to sleep, they will (and have; I've seen it) follow suit.

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But a number of prayers are supposed to be read +£-à -â-ä+¦+¦-ë-é - silently.

Fine.  I'm talking about the spoken prayers.

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It is quite prideful though to accuse a priest of being bored because he doesn't act like an evangical protestant.

I will be frank here -- it is also quite rude, sir, to assert that that was what I was implying.  I know of many evangelical protestant pastors (for this is "where I grew up") who, frankly, go overboard in their volume, intensity, etc.  In no way was I stating I wanted to hear such ruckus from an Orthodox priest.  But again, there is a difference between sounding out of control and simply sounding sincere.

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To me it is rather rude to come to the Orthodox Church and expect things to be done in Evangical Protestant style.

Again -- not Evangelical Protestant necessarily!  It was simply a plea from someone who noticed that the priests seem to be "running through the motions" up there.  Is it impossible to think that perhaps there are trends within the praxis of the Church (or, at least, in certain geographical sections thereof) which need to be addressed?

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There are trends towards communion at EVERY liturgy with very rare or no confession at all - especially among converts.  So there is some justification for this.


Donna dealt with this -- the issue was people protesting to TOO FREQUENT CONFESSION...which was my personal experience, BTW.  I understand the importance of frequent confession with regards to communion, sir.  The [ethnicity] apparently did not, and said that in the [ethnic] tradition of the Church, this was not how things were done...which I didn't buy, and I'm sure, from your above quote, that you don't buy, either.

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People should respect the practice of the place they are at.  So if no one else says greetings and responses loudly and doing so would be disruptive do not do so.  When in Rome....

Understandable.  What if you are the only person (or one of the few) doing so at all?

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People tend to be proud of their ethnicity.  Some converts (such as the Eastern rite protestants, i.e. the Antiochians) have the attitude that they want to go on some holy crusade to free pure Orthodoxy from the shackles of (insert ethnicity here) customs.  People get offended by this.  


As I'm sure people get offended by being called "Eastern-Rite Protestants."  Many cradle (and converts) are so paranoid of even one word outside of the language, much less any deviation from the status quo, that one could say that the "crusade" goes both ways.

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So when ethnic Orthodox see people skipping vigil/vespers and confession and recieving communion every single liturgy they get alarmed.

This is the exact opposite of what I've experienced.  In the parish where I was chrismated (which was not in the "unnamed" jurisdiction; it was Eastern-Rite Protes -- er -- Antiochian), one gentleman cornered us (the to-be converts) about how we shouldn't wear just slacks and polo shirts to our first Holy Week(this being only our first one!).  The priest overheard this, then, a bit miffed, said, "well, maybe when I see him at Orthros a little more often he can make that judgement!"  Turns out that the Orthros service, as well as the start of the Divine Liturgy, was attended mostly by converts.  The cradle often shuffled in during the antifons, after the Creed, right before communion, etc.

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The demands of many converts do not stop at wanting all English liturgy (which IMO English is a good thing).  Soon you see royal doors staying open all the time or disapearing altogether, sercives being shortened, the anaphora being read out loud etc.

All of which were instigated (and defended!) by men and women who had been Orthodox their whole lives, born to Orthodox parents, etc.

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I've seen a tendancy whenever a convert runs into a mean sprited ethnic person they suddenly want to cleanse Orthodoxy of all ethnicity. Thus an ideology is built because of personal disagreements.

Not ALL ethnicity -- there's much there that is beneficial!  Perhaps it's useful to ask why the cradle Orthodox is mean-spirited.  Perhaps the mean-spiritedness is caused by feeling uncomfortable about change -- especially about being shown the need for change by "that upstart convert over there."  There are, at times, changes that need to happen, as people can get stuck in traditions that are, in fact, detrimental to spiritual growth within the Church.  Whether it comes from a cradle or a convert makes not the slightest difference.

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I don't speak Spanish.

Lo siento...sorry.
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« Reply #27 on: July 04, 2004, 03:30:21 AM »

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I am more of an observer on this thread as of now, but just a clarification point, if you read Pedro's initial statement, he has been scoffed at for attending confession as well as communion "too frequently." It is not fair to directly respond to this particular plight (twice), and justify the treatment he has received, by citing trends that do not apply to his case.

I commented on the communion without confession and people saying something since I have witnessed that.  As to Pedro's situation where frequent confession was ridiculed - that is truly sad.  Still I believe that is an issue of rude people, not ethnicity.

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Exactly, though it has been treated as such by folks of an ethnicity which shall remain unnamed (such things happened in more than one parish of this jurisdiction, which I do not attend) -- why folks were even paying attention to me or to my friends is beyond me.

Ethnics pale in comparison to wrath of a super correct convert.  Like I've said already I think these are rude people, not an ethnic situation.   Some of nicest, most tolerant and loving Orthodox Christians that I have met were born and raised in Greece.  

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Yeah -- this was actually a minor "issue."  Can't even really call it an issue, as our Abp. speaks perfect Spanish and gives the call and response to all his priests.  It was mostly just from a few folks in the parish turning their noses up at it, saying it sounded like we were riding a horse, and that "voistinu voskress" was just fine, thank you very much.

How very odd, since isn't it kind of the norm thing to say Christ is Risen in as many languages as possible?  Then there is the whole Agape vespers deal.  I've had priests ask me how to say it in Polish before and also to read the Latin Gospel for agape vespers - hardly "Orthodox Languages" and this was in an ethnic parish too!  

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If you read my post again, you'll see I specifically mentioned not doing such ridiculous things.  There's a big difference between "jumping up and down" and simply reading the prayers as though they mean something to you.  And yes, I know one does not have to be emotionalistic to genuinely feel joy -- one could argue that joy transcends emotion -- yet pastorally, the priest is attempting to convey something life-altering to his flock; if he sounds as though it's about to put him to sleep, they will (and have; I've seen it) follow suit.

But the style of reading prayers is NOT an ethnic thing.  Greeks (who I deal with a lot) are incrediblely emotional people, like teh stereotypical Italian.  This is more an issue of not agreeing with the Typikon.

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Is it impossible to think that perhaps there are trends within the praxis of the Church (or, at least, in certain geographical sections thereof) which need to be addressed?

But I know several Hieromonks that are VERY soft spoken yet overflowing with a very sutble joy - they would most likely fall under your catagory of not being joyfull or expressive enough, but that is the way athonite hieromonks are (and many traditional parish priests).  True holiness doesn't need a show.  

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Understandable.  What if you are the only person (or one of the few) doing so at all?

I've served the altar at two different GOA parishes, in one the "Christ is in our midst" greetign is always said, in the other it is never said.  I just follow the practice of where I am at.  At Saint Anthony's monastery no one does the greeting, so I don't either.  If I notice that people start the practice - I better learn it in Greek Wink  !

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Many cradle (and converts) are so paranoid of even one word outside of the language, much less any deviation from the status quo, that one could say that the "crusade" goes both ways.

Oh I agree entirely.  It's actually very funny to me.  I often find myself trying to convince my Greek friends that there is such a thing as non- GREEK Orthodoxy AND trying to convince my fellow converts to be more tolerant of ethnic Orthodoxy.  In the end nobody thinks I'm on thier side.

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All of which were instigated (and defended!) by men and women who had been Orthodox their whole lives, born to Orthodox parents, etc.

I think we may be talking about two different ethnic groups.  I meant the traditonal very pious ethnic Orthodox when I made this statement - but I do know the type you are refering to here.  That type is frustrating beyond belief to me.

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Not ALL ethnicity -- there's much there that is beneficial!  Perhaps it's useful to ask why the cradle Orthodox is mean-spirited.  Perhaps the mean-spiritedness is caused by feeling uncomfortable about change -- especially about being shown the need for change by "that upstart convert over there."  There are, at times, changes that need to happen, as people can get stuck in traditions that are, in fact, detrimental to spiritual growth within the Church.  Whether it comes from a cradle or a convert makes not the slightest difference.

I see a lot of this though as a two way street.  A few small things converts can do, can put the ethnics at ease.  Saing "Christ is risen" and other greetings and small talk in the ethnic language is a great start....it shows people you aren't out to destroy thier heritage and that you respect it.  A little of this at first and down the road people will start to catch on that English is spoken and that this is America... but baby steps first.
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« Reply #28 on: July 04, 2004, 09:01:18 AM »

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2) People tend to be proud of their ethnicity.  Some converts (such as the Eastern rite protestants, i.e. the Antiochians) have the attitude that they want to go on some holy crusade to free pure Orthodoxy from the shackles of (insert ethnicity here) customs.  People get offended by this.  

Eastern-rite Protestants?!? how charitable. I've been to a mostly convert Antiochian parish where they seemed to be adopting much eastern/ethnic custom and removing "western" things.  

And some of the converts I've read or heard about from "cradle" EO seem to be dedicated to taking on as much of the "old country" as they can and telling the people who were there before them how it should be done.

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« Reply #29 on: July 04, 2004, 02:31:12 PM »

Ethnics pale in comparison to wrath of a super correct convert.

Having gone to school with two very super-correct Byzantine Catholics turned super-correct Orthodox, I definitely know what you mean about the converts, yet I guess when you said
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I think we may be talking about two different ethnic groups,
you hit on the crux of the matter -- you and I have had very different events predominate our experience with cradle Orthodox.  So it is a matter of experience, I suppose; I agree with you about the devout, pious Orthodox.  As you can see, they're not the ones my acquaintances and I have had problems with.  Also....

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Some of nicest, most tolerant and loving Orthodox Christians that I have met were born and raised in Greece.

Ditto, but born/raised in Lebanon.

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But I know several Hieromonks that are VERY soft spoken yet overflowing with a very sutble joy - they would most likely fall under your catagory of not being joyfull or expressive enough, but that is the way athonite hieromonks are (and many traditional parish priests).  True holiness doesn't need a show.

True, yet again, I'm not asking for a "show."  The Hispanic hieromonk from the OCA who helps the GOA parish here with their Spanish-speaking mission is very subdued, yet very sincere.  He is one of many examples of clergy -- ranging from "yellers," I suppose, like Fr. Guilquist, to the subdued Fr. Efra+¡n -- who celebrate with joy and do not come across as bored and flat...I guess you've just never seen a liturgy done by a priest who was like this...count your blessings.

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I see a lot of this though as a two way street.  A few small things converts can do, can put the ethnics at ease.  Saing "Christ is risen" and other greetings and small talk in the ethnic language is a great start....it shows people you aren't out to destroy thier heritage and that you respect it.

Agreed, definitely -- years of working with Hispanic missions has taught me that regard for the culture -- language especially -- will do wonders for convert/cradle relations.  Once this is established, the lax cradle Orthodox are much more likely to take their "shot in the arm," as my former priest put it, from the example of faithful converts.
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« Reply #30 on: July 04, 2004, 02:49:57 PM »

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Eastern-rite Protestants?!? how charitable. I've been to a mostly convert Antiochian parish where they seemed to be adopting much eastern/ethnic custom and removing "western" things.

And some of the converts I've read or heard about from "cradle" EO seem to be dedicated to taking on as much of the "old country" as they can and telling the people who were there before them how it should be done.

I agree. I've read some of these post in here & not sure what the hell they are talking about. The "eastern rite parishes" I've been to must do a great job at hiding their agenda because they sure do hold to all the traditions & customs of Orthodoxy. They are also much better Orthodox and really live thier faith from what I have seen as compared to the other jurisdictional parishes where the people casually stroll in half an hour later from the start of the divine liturgy. If you ask me, they have a very "protestant" attitude & have no respect for the church or others when they do such a thing. I guess this is why I could never see myself being part of a really "ethnic" parish  because they are "Orthodox lite" . This is just another reason why the Antiochians will be the premier church in America because not only have they held to the customs of Orthodoxy, they have focused on the core of the gospel. Nice to see all these "learned" converts throwing stones over the internet though, I'm glad I've never had to deal with this by anyone I've actually met.      

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« Reply #31 on: July 04, 2004, 02:59:02 PM »

Please refrain from referring to Eastern Orthodox jurisdictions by various "interesting" nicknames.  

This is not the first time I've seen people in "world Orthodoxy" do this.  Elsewhere I've seen the Greeks referred to as the Anglicans of Orthodoxy or some nonsense like that by an Antiochian.  I sometimes wonder why some of you are in your current jurisdictions if you cannot tolerate your brethren with whom you are in full communion.  It's not like you don't have choices: this is America, the land of a thousand bishops.  Smiley
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« Reply #32 on: July 04, 2004, 03:50:46 PM »

As many of you know I'm an Episcoplian "guest" in this forum, may I aks Nacho what exactly is "protestant" about wandering into church late? Over the years I've visited many different churches, and in all fairness at most protestant churches folks are there and ready for the service at the appointed time.  As much as I love Orthodox spirituality and worship, at most Orthodox churches I've visited many folks wander in very late, sometimes even the acolytes Shocked . I realize that with Matins being served before Liturgy on Sundays, the schedule may be off a few minutes, but if the sign says "Divine Liturgy, 10:00am" there is really no reason to be wandering in at 10:15 or 10:30.

If I may soap-box a bit, I've noticed that some people on this forum use the term "protestant" as a catch-all for anything they don't like or dont' agree with relating to church.

I think it would help communication if everyone would use the name of the specific denomination, or at least use a more descriptive phrase such as "liturgical" vs. "non-liturgical" churches. After all "protestant" is broad and includes some groups that have virtually nothing in common; Southern Baptists, United Methodists, Lutherans etc... all have very distinctive theologies, sacramental views and styles of worship. Beleive me, as someone who has worshipped in the Anglican liturgical tradition most of my life, I feel more at home worshipping with Orthodox or Roman Catholics then say the Assembly of God or Mennonites.
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« Reply #33 on: July 04, 2004, 03:59:02 PM »

[Eastern-rite Protestants?!? how charitable. I've been to a mostly convert Antiochian parish where they seemed to be adopting much eastern/ethnic custom and removing "western" things. ]


However, there is such a thing as 'Eastern Rite Protestants'.  Check out the folowing website regarding the Ukrainian Lutheran Church who uses a modified version of the Orthodox Divine Liturgy instead of the normal Lutheran service.  This church was started by former former Eastern Catholics not in communion with Orthodoxy -

http://www.angelfire.com/ca4/saintsophiaseminary/liturgy.html

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« Reply #34 on: July 04, 2004, 04:04:13 PM »

Quote
As you can see, they're not the ones my acquaintances and I have had problems with

I have also had some nice meetings with that type of ethnic person, one lady told me that my last name was ugly, others will complain to me after service if I chanted in too much English.  At parishes that is a big problem, but my most common experience with ethnics is at a monastery which is entirely different (for the most part).

Quote
Ditto, but born/raised in Lebanon.

What has frustrated me with my personal experiences with the Antiochians is that Arabs have been treated like dirt by many of the converts - PART of my not being overly fond of the entire jurisdiction.  I find the entire disregard for tradition among the antiochians to be alarming - but this is a problem in all of SCOBA.    

Quote
And some of the converts I've read or heard about from "cradle" EO seem to be dedicated to taking on as much of the "old country" as they can and telling the people who were there before them how it should be done.
 

I'm sure this happens (I heard about in particular with various ROCOR parishes and slavophile converts) but IME with very very ethnic Greek Orthodoxy I have not really seen thist, except for converts learning Greek - but that is more practical than anything else.

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« Reply #35 on: July 04, 2004, 04:06:03 PM »

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It's not like you don't have choices: this is America, the land of a thousand bishops.

For people living back east, yes...not for those of us still living on the wild western frontier.
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« Reply #36 on: July 04, 2004, 04:09:35 PM »

..may I aks Nacho what exactly is "protestant" about wandering into church late?

I agree. The first thing I had to do when I converted to Orthodoxy was to get my GOA in-laws to get to church ON-TIME. As a Baptist it was very RUDE to show up for services after they had started -- it was considered showing disrespect to God.

I remember when my GOA wife first started trying to get me to go to church -- she woauld ask me about 20 minutes before the service started. I would say "No. The service starts in 20 mintues -- I am not going to walk in halfway through the service" To her that was normal.
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« Reply #37 on: July 04, 2004, 05:23:37 PM »

I do despise these jurisdictional pissing contests.  No jurisdiction is perfect. We all do some things well and some things poorly.  I must say, from my point of view at least, that complaining about those who arrive at Liturgy late strikes me as something that is characteristic of someone who is still in what I call "convert mode."  It is necessary at some point for the convert to simply become Orthodox, and stop thinking of himself as a "convert." Those who complain about people arriving to Liturgy late remind me of people standing on the front porch of the Church.  It's time to get off the front porch, come inside the Church and worship.  We cannot control the behavior of other people.  The only behavior we can control is ourselves, and none of us even do that very well.  If being at Divine Liturgy on time is important to you, then be on time.  I'm sure your priest will appreciate it.  I think you'll benefit from it spiritually too.  But, for heaven's sake, be polite and tolerant of those who are not early risers and who come into Liturgy late.  Greet them with a smile and not a prideful look of disdain.  And realize that even the Liturgy itself presupposes latecomers.  Ever notice that the Litany of Supplication, chanted AFTER the Sermon, the Cherubic Hymn and the Great Entrance says "For this holy house, and for those who ENTER with faith, reverence, and the fear of God, let us pray to the Lord."? I daresay that arriving to Liturgy late, while certainly not a virtue or something to be encouraged, is a by product of a more relaxed attitude toward time charateristic of the Mediterrean world in general. In fact, it seems to me that only the Anglo and Germanic worlds have such an obsessive compulsive attitude about EVERYONE being there when a service starts.  Ever been to a Mexican Catholic Mass?  They come in late too, just like the ethnic Greek and Russian Orthodox do.  Are they any less faithful than the American Catholics that arrive at Mass on time?  I think not.
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« Reply #38 on: July 04, 2004, 05:35:26 PM »

Ever been to a Mexican Catholic Mass?.....are they any less faithful than the American Catholics that arrive at Mass on time?  I think not.

Right. They are both schismatics anyway, so what does it matter?  Grin
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« Reply #39 on: July 04, 2004, 06:28:50 PM »

Quote
As many of you know I'm an Episcoplian "guest" in this forum, may I aks Nacho what exactly is "protestant" about wandering into church late?

Nothing at all. I'm using it in the context of the 'standards" of those on this forum. From what I have seen, Antiochians are somehow mysteriously equated with being protestants in the world of Orthodoxy. I'm by no means anti - protestant myself. I would rather worship along side a protestant that is trying his best at having a relationship with Christ than the stone throwers of "internet" Orthodoxy that throw a fuss over the smallest minutia etc. etc.....

Like I said, I'm glad I've never had to deal with this in the real world. Not even by the hardcore Orthodox russians I have met & talked with on numerous occasions in San Francisco who run a Orthodox bookstore where I buy most of my books. People should step out of thier fairytale beleif system of what consitutes a "perfect Orthodoxy"  that the rest of us fail to meet because they have raised the bar so high.
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« Reply #40 on: July 04, 2004, 07:52:34 PM »

Nothing at all. I'm using it in the context of the 'standards" of those on this forum. From what I have seen, Antiochians are somehow mysteriously equated with being protestants in the world of Orthodoxy. I'm by no means anti - protestant myself. I would rather worship along side a protestant that is trying his best at having a relationship with Christ than the stone throwers of "internet" Orthodoxy that throw a fuss over the smallest minutia etc. etc.....

Like I said, I'm glad I've never had to deal with this in the real world. Not even by the hardcore Orthodox russians I have met & talked with on numerous occasions in San Francisco who run a Orthodox bookstore where I buy most of my books. People should step out of thier fairytale beleif system of what consitutes a "perfect Orthodoxy"  that the rest of us fail to meet because they have raised the bar so high.    

Nacho,
I think that is because of the history of the AOA in Amercia.  Since the former EOC/AEOMers are all coverts and they have had such a huge influence upon the American Orthodox scene today,  you might hear that "protestant" label thrown around.  I don't take offense at it - and they are my history!  I just realize what   people are talking about and can see it from another perspective now that I've been attending parishes in another jurisdiction (OCA) for several years now.  There is an Antiochian mission with an old Arabic priest a few miles from my house.  I point out some of these same ("ecumenistic" issues for lack of a better term) that Nektarios brings up with his son who I hang out with sometimes.  I definitely see Nektarios's points.  Yes, we all have our shortcomings though.
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« Reply #41 on: July 04, 2004, 11:54:11 PM »

:where the people casually stroll in half an hour later from the start of the divine liturgy. If you ask me, they have a very "protestant" attitude & have no respect for the church or others when they do such a thing. :

I agree with what someone else said--how is this Protestant? It's vintage Orthodox, and it's something I learned to love while in Eastern Europe. It always seemed to me as if the liturgy was just there, going on all the time (it helped that Romanian churches generally don't post hours for services--at least I rarely found any such posting), and it didn't depend on me. I grant that there can be problems with this attitude, but the American Protestant idea that liturgy is purely something created by the gathered community also has its shortcomings . . . .

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« Reply #42 on: July 05, 2004, 09:03:46 AM »

Your discussion makes me want to puke :cwm8:

After all, what is "Church" all about?
What is Liturgy all about?
Why are you going to Church at all?
Why are you attenting Liturgy ?

When Jesus was still alive, where did He "fellowship" ?

And after His Ascencion, where did the Apostles go to "attend"?

And what was the purpose of coming together anyhow?

Please remember what Saint Paul says in 1.Cor.3:1-11

" And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.
 2.  I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.
 3.  For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
 4.  For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?
 5.  Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?
 6.  I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
 7.  So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
 8.  Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.
 9.  For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.
 10.  According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
 11.  For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ."


And your discussion reminded me of another fact, mentioned in Mt.27:18

"For he knew that for envy they had delivered him."

Shiloah, listening to all your disputing and having to think of the eight 'Woe's in Mt.23 which culminate in the words of Jesus in verse 37, saying

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
 38.  Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.
 39.  For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord."


O yes, I took all these verse out of their context in the bible , only to apply them to the context of your discussion and the situation of the churches in this world, because looks like to me they are congruent.
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« Reply #43 on: July 05, 2004, 09:17:57 AM »

For people living back east, yes...not for those of us still living on the wild western frontier.

I dunno...the AZ valley has, what, five?

Quote
I must say, from my point of view at least, that complaining about those who arrive at Liturgy late strikes me as something that is characteristic of someone who is still in what I call "convert mode."

OK, this, to me, is ridiculous (my apologies; I'm usually try to not be this blunt).  This brings us back, I think, to the original topic of "Changing Orthodoxy": there are some ethnic Orthodox who, I believe, hide behind their ethnicity when it comes to being late for Church, saying things like, "It's vintage Orthodox," which seems to me just to translate into a sneering, "get off my back, konvert."

Yes, perhaps, in the old country, signs weren't posted and priests said nothing.  This is not the old country.  This is not even Latin America, where, you're right, Tikhon29605, time is every bit as fluid, I'm sure, as in Europe.  This is the USA, where it's a well-established tradition -- independant of any direct Protestant label, I might add -- that, if something matters to you enough, you'll get there on time.

I posted earlier about things converts have been accused of by ethnic Orthodox; I guess this is a big "j'accuse" from me.  Every priest I've ever been under (which includes both convert and cradle) has addressed this from the "pulpit," saying that the beginning of the Liturgy is just as important as the rest.  They are given either rolling eyes or nothing in response, usually because after their late arrival, these folks are busy gabbing in the back of the nave.  Oh, well...I guess that's just "vintage Orthodoxy" that we converts have to accept as time-honored and venerable...I'm sure they're all just taking advantage of the liturgy in some "mystical" way we converts don't yet grasp.   Roll Eyes

Quote
I grant that there can be problems with this attitude, but the American Protestant idea that liturgy is purely something created by the gathered community also has its shortcomings . . .

How so, Edwin?
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« Reply #44 on: July 05, 2004, 09:23:34 AM »

Your discussion makes me want to puke :cwm8:

After all, what is "Church" all about?
What is Liturgy all about?
Why are you going to Church at all?
Why are you attenting Liturgy ?

Shiloah, this is exactly why I made the points that I made -- why attend at all if you are going to skip the first half or third of Liturgy?

As for making you want to vomit...well, I agree that it's not a "fun topic" to discuss.  However, there's plenty in the epistles regarding "internal affairs" that the Apostles had to deal with, much of which was based on ethnicity!  It's not pretty, but it is reality, and it's better to air dirty laundry than have it mildew.

Pedro, determined to engage the human side of the Church, as well as the divine....
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« Reply #45 on: July 05, 2004, 10:00:14 AM »

To me, this is a deliberate act by the Lutheran church to deceive those who are unsuspecting and under-educated in Ukraine. I bet if you asked those attending these pseudo-Orthodox Liturgies if they were Orthodox, they would probably say, Yes.  What a scam.

JoeS   :-

[Eastern-rite Protestants?!? how charitable. I've been to a mostly convert Antiochian parish where they seemed to be adopting much eastern/ethnic custom and removing "western" things. ]


However, there is such a thing as 'Eastern Rite Protestants'.  Check out the folowing website regarding the Ukrainian Lutheran Church who uses a modified version of the Orthodox Divine Liturgy instead of the normal Lutheran service.  This church was started by former former Eastern Catholics not in communion with Orthodoxy -

http://www.angelfire.com/ca4/saintsophiaseminary/liturgy.html

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« Reply #46 on: July 05, 2004, 10:06:49 AM »

Hey, how about starting the Liturgy when "everyone" gets there.  Im sure that those who come late would realize that they have inconvenienced those who did come on time.
Just kidding!

JoeS  Roll Eyes

I do despise these jurisdictional pissing contests.  No jurisdiction is perfect. We all do some things well and some things poorly.  I must say, from my point of view at least, that complaining about those who arrive at Liturgy late strikes me as something that is characteristic of someone who is still in what I call "convert mode."  It is necessary at some point for the convert to simply become Orthodox, and stop thinking of himself as a "convert." Those who complain about people arriving to Liturgy late remind me of people standing on the front porch of the Church.  It's time to get off the front porch, come inside the Church and worship.  We cannot control the behavior of other people.  The only behavior we can control is ourselves, and none of us even do that very well.  If being at Divine Liturgy on time is important to you, then be on time.  I'm sure your priest will appreciate it.  I think you'll benefit from it spiritually too.  But, for heaven's sake, be polite and tolerant of those who are not early risers and who come into Liturgy late.  Greet them with a smile and not a prideful look of disdain.  And realize that even the Liturgy itself presupposes latecomers.  Ever notice that the Litany of Supplication, chanted AFTER the Sermon, the Cherubic Hymn and the Great Entrance says "For this holy house, and for those who ENTER with faith, reverence, and the fear of God, let us pray to the Lord."? I daresay that arriving to Liturgy late, while certainly not a virtue or something to be encouraged, is a by product of a more relaxed attitude toward time charateristic of the Mediterrean world in general. In fact, it seems to me that only the Anglo and Germanic worlds have such an obsessive compulsive attitude about EVERYONE being there when a service starts.  Ever been to a Mexican Catholic Mass?  They come in late too, just like the ethnic Greek and Russian Orthodox do.  Are they any less faithful than the American Catholics that arrive at Mass on time?  I think not.
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« Reply #47 on: July 05, 2004, 10:11:42 AM »

Shiloah and Pedro, it's making me want to puke too.  Especially calling the Antiochians "Eastern-Rite Protestants".  That's a very offensive term to me and an insult to all Antiochains, including cradle Antiochians.  

I know of a couple of priests (one GOA and one OCA), that if you show up very late for liturgy (especially at the last minute), you know to not even approach the chalice because the priest will not commune you.
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« Reply #48 on: July 05, 2004, 11:01:05 AM »

Quote
I might add -- that, if something matters to you enough, you'll get there on time.

Excellent point Pedro !  How many here in the South would show up late for a football (American) game or a NASCAR event ??  Do 'we' not only show up on time but have preliminary 'tailgating' activities ??
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« Reply #49 on: July 05, 2004, 11:32:18 AM »

It's not pretty, but it is reality, and it's better to air dirty laundry than have it mildew.


OK, Pedro, I understand that people need to vent. It's just that sometimes that's all they do, vent, and a lot of hot air coming out. Bickering about each other and about everybody else...

Hope people will not just keep airing their dirty laundry but maybe try a little water and soap, like the ones Jesus had for this purpose in

Eph.5:26-27 "That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27.  That he might present it to himself a glorious church,..."  

and in Ma.3:2-3 "But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap:
 3.  And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness."


The word "full" is from the Anglo-Saxon fullian, meaning "to whiten." To full is to press or scour cloth in a mill. This art is one of great antiquity. Mention is made of "fuller's soap" (Mal. 3:2), and of "the fuller's field" (2 Kings 18:17). At his transfiguration our Lord's rainment is said to have been white "so as no fuller on earth could white them" (Mark 9:3).

Doesn't the Bible say in Phil.2:13 " For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."  What about those then who are so negligent about what pleases God?
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« Reply #50 on: July 05, 2004, 11:42:53 AM »

And how fitting to today's discussion is today's Reading from St. Paul's Letter to the
   Galatians 5:22-26; 6:1-2

   Brethren, the fruit of the Spirit is
   love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
   faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;

   against such there is no law.

   And those who belong to Christ Jesus

   have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

   If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

   Let us have no self-conceit,
   no provoking of one another,
   no envy of one another.

   Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass,
   you who are spiritual
   should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.

   Look to yourself, lest you too be tempted.

   Bear one another's burdens,
   and so fulfill the law of Christ.

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« Reply #51 on: July 05, 2004, 01:40:43 PM »

Quote
The Hispanic hieromonk from the OCA who helps the GOA parish here with their Spanish-speaking mission is very subdued, yet very sincere. He is one of many examples of clergy -- ranging from "yellers," I suppose, like Fr. Guilquist, to the subdued Fr. Efra+¡n -- who celebrate with joy and do not come across as bored and flat...I guess you've just never seen a liturgy done by a priest who was like this...count your blessings.

I believe I know the priest you are referring to, and to be fair, he is a very devout and quiet man who happens to be afflicted with a very droning and quiet voice, whereas Fr. Efrain has a very full and vibrato-rich voice. I don't think it's an intentional thing by that priest, but simply how his voice is, and if he's busy trying to stay on pitch it may be a bit much to ask that he add expressiveness as well.
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« Reply #52 on: July 05, 2004, 02:00:20 PM »

Perhaps it is just my background which affects how I look at this... but in the end, while the value of the sermon is affected by the capabilities of the celebrant, in the end the value of the Divine Liturgy, and of the Church Services in general, has little to do with the personality of the Priest.   Ideally we should love our clergy (even in spite of their shortcomings), but when they minister, try to see through them - for Christ is ultimatly the Bishop, Priest, and Deacon of our Church.

Roman Catholics generally have this attitude - the Priest as a man is interchangable.  On the other hand, I've noticed in Protestantism the opposite is the case; congregations often split over the removal of a pastor, the cult of personality being much more strongly underlined.  I'm probably biased, but I cannot help but see the first way (RC) of looking at such things as being the more appropriate, and in line with the Orthodox Church's tradition of non-judgement, humility, and mysticism.

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« Reply #53 on: July 05, 2004, 04:09:53 PM »

I believe I know the priest you are referring to, and to be fair, he is a very devout and quiet man who happens to be afflicted with a very droning and quiet voice, whereas Fr. Efrain... (emph. mine)

Hmm...now I'm confused.  Fr. Efra+¡n was the Hispanic priest -- really, the heiromonk -- I was referring to who had the subdued voice...he certainly doesn't have a rich, vibrato tone (not sure who you're talking about there).  Nonetheless, Fr. Efra+¡n conveys the liturgy in a very meaningful way.

Quote
Ideally we should love our clergy (even in spite of their shortcomings), but when they minister, try to see through them - for Christ is ultimatly the Bishop, Priest, and Deacon of our Church.

This is true; we should try to see through them.  However, congregants follow their leader in the way he leads.  Some might possibly say that to deviate from or disagree with the established way of "saying Mass" or "performing the Liturgy" (both terms I despise) is to deviate from "Orthodox tradition" in favor of one's own, pre-Orthodox, American prejudices.
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« Reply #54 on: July 05, 2004, 04:19:02 PM »

How many here in the South would show up late for a football (American) game or a NASCAR event ??  Do 'we' not only show up on time but have preliminary 'tailgating' activities ??

Too true, though this is nothing new, as we see from St. John Chrysostom:

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Is it not strange that those who sit by the market can tell the names, and families, and cities of charioteers, and dancers, and the kinds of power possessed by each, and can give exact account of the good or bad qualities of the very horses, but that those who come hither should know nothing of what is done here, but should be ignorant of the number even of the sacred Books? If thou pursuest those worldly things for pleasure, I will show thee that here is greater pleasure. Which is sweeter, tell me, which more marvelous, to see a man wrestling with a man, or a man buffering with a devil, a body closing with an incorporeal power, and him who is of thy race victorious?

Let's get some priorities straight here; that's all I'm sayin'.
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« Reply #55 on: July 05, 2004, 05:36:25 PM »

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Hmm...now I'm confused. Fr. Efra+¡n was the Hispanic priest -- really, the heiromonk -- I was referring to who had the subdued voice...he certainly doesn't have a rich, vibrato tone (not sure who you're talking about there). Nonetheless, Fr. Efra+¡n conveys the liturgy in a very meaningful way.

Hmmm... we are talking about the Hispanic OCA hieromonk who serves in Dallas? I may be misremembering, but I seem to remember him having a very pronounced vibrato, to the point where I occasionally had difficulty making out what he was singing. The very devout and quiet man I referred to was the one who I thought you were referring to as serving with a very "boring, flat" tone (unless we are thinking of two different priests, which is perfectly possible).
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« Reply #56 on: July 05, 2004, 09:02:22 PM »

I may be misremembering, but I seem to remember him having a very pronounced vibrato, to the point where I occasionally had difficulty making out what he was singing.

Maybe.  I've never been to Transfiguration Mission myself, but he's always been relatively quiet when officiating at Vespers at San Demetrio.

Quote
The very devout and quiet man I referred to was the one who I thought you were referring to as serving with a very "boring, flat" tone (unless we are thinking of two different priests, which is perfectly possible).

Nope...Fr. Efra+¡n was the devout, quiet man, which, as I was saying, is not the same as "boring" or "flat."
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« Reply #57 on: July 05, 2004, 09:28:09 PM »

Since our behavior is the only behavior we can control, why continue to point the finger at our Orthodox brethren who arrive late for Liturgy?  I just don't get this.  Does it make those who have arrived on time feel smug, holy and more "spiritual" in some way? This is starting to remind me of the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican .... "I thank Thee, O Lord, that I am not like these vile latecomers ..."  Again, coming late is not an excellent practice, but it's much better than not coming at all.  I simply do not understand why we cannot be polite and tolerant of such people.  Everyone in the Church is not on the same spiritual level.  In the Orthodox Church we have all levels of spirituality, from the Saints like Saint Seraphim of Sarov who prayed for 1,000 days on a rock and was never late for Liturgy to the curious seeker who might not even believe in God yet, who wanders into Church late, stands at the back, and just takes it all in, and everyone in between.  I call for a loving welcome to all.
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« Reply #58 on: July 05, 2004, 10:45:51 PM »

Ok, I think I have this sorted out...

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Nope...Fr. Efra+¡n was the devout, quiet man, which, as I was saying, is not the same as "boring" or "flat."

Right, but two pages back you had said:

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Asking why the priest sounded bored while praying [...] and being told that "enthusiasm is not the 'Orthodox way.'"

And all I was saying was that, if the priest I have in mind (who is not Fr. Efrain) is indeed the one you had this experience with, it's probably not because he finds the prayers boring but because that's just how his voice is.

BTW, how's the cathedral coming along? I've not been up there in quite awhile; they only had one wall finished last time I was there.
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« Reply #59 on: July 06, 2004, 02:29:30 AM »

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Since our behavior is the only behavior we can control, why continue to point the finger at our Orthodox brethren who arrive late for Liturgy?  I just don't get this.  Does it make those who have arrived on time feel smug, holy and more "spiritual" in some way? This is starting to remind me of the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican .... "I thank Thee, O Lord, that I am not like these vile latecomers ..."  Again, coming late is not an excellent practice, but it's much better than not coming at all.  I simply do not understand why we cannot be polite and tolerant of such people.  Everyone in the Church is not on the same spiritual level.  In the Orthodox Church we have all levels of spirituality, from the Saints like Saint Seraphim of Sarov who prayed for 1,000 days on a rock and was never late for Liturgy to the curious seeker who might not even believe in God yet, who wanders into Church late, stands at the back, and just takes it all in, and everyone in between.  I call for a loving welcome to all.

Yea, but as someone else pointed out on this board, this is not the "old country". America is a time driven nation, those are our customs. This is the least of the points I would make on this problem though.

If you can't give 2 measly hours out of the whole week to God, then something is really wrong. I find it somewhat offensive when people come strolling in late all the time. Once in a while is fine, but when it gets to take effect on many members who start doing it, then it becomes a problem. I noticed at the local Serbian church by my house that they have way more people half way through the liturgy than at the start. It's almost as if most of them have timed it & know exactly what time eucharist is that they all show up right at that point. I feel really sorry for the priest also because he's such a nice guy & wonder if people are taking advantage of him.
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« Reply #60 on: July 06, 2004, 02:58:46 AM »

This is starting to remind me of the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican .... "I thank Thee, O Lord, that I am not like these vile latecomers ..."

Let's not take either this situation or the parable out of context.  Yes, there's a similarity in that both I and the Pharisee are pointing out (albeit to different people) the faults of another.
Two differences, however:

  • I am not trying to enumerate my virtues here to God in an attempt to make myself seem more righteous to Him.  I don't mention this in confession.
  • The parable is not a justification for always letting the faults of other people just slide by, even to the point of being encouraged as "vintage Orthodoxy".
  • These are hardly repentant "tax collectors" we're speaking of here; these are men and women who were brought up in the Church and feel it is their "right" to do it this way, despite the "request" of the priest.
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In the Orthodox Church we have all levels of spirituality, from the Saints like Saint Seraphim of Sarov who prayed for 1,000 days on a rock and was never late for Liturgy to the curious seeker who might not even believe in God yet, who wanders into Church late, stands at the back, and just takes it all in, and everyone in between.  I call for a loving welcome to all.

Nice thought, but "to whom much is given, much is required."  The curious newcomer who didn't know what time things got underway has more than enough of an excuse to show up right after the homily, but people who were baptized as infants in that parish and still stroll in talking right after the homily (how convenient)?  No, thank you, and the priest has said as much.

Again: if we don't know the person's intent, it's good not to say anything.  If they've made their opinion plenty clear -- "Well, I just don't see what the big deal is...maybe if he just cut out some of the service or didn't do all that preaching," or, "well, if it's good enough for my grandmother, it's good enough for me, and it should be good enough for Father!" -- then something must be done.  I applaud the abovementioned priests who have started witholding the Eucharist from late stragglers.  Such people have no concept, apparently, of the Church as worship.
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« Reply #61 on: July 06, 2004, 07:05:37 AM »

After observing this thread for a while, I've come to some sort of conclusion that actually ties in w/ the original topic of the thread (not that we have strayed terribly Wink).

It seems that there are virtues to be learned and gained from ethnics who now live and worship here in America, if only for the simple fact that the mindsets transplanted from wholly Orthodox countries are going to be different than the mindsets of us born-and-bred Americans - by no fault or choice of our own - and the "transplanted" mindset is probably more prone to leading lives obedient to the Church (since their entire CULTURE is saturated with church-life).

However, the ethnics are either immigrants themselves or have parents, grandparents, great grandparents, etc. who were immigrants into this GREAT country, where they have been granted with opportunities not available in the homeland. I know all about this - my grandparents were Italian immigrants, as was my mom when she was 3 years old, so I am no stranger to the significance of being able to settle in America. I would not be who I am today if they did not.

So it logically follows: if your (my Wink) ancestors saw something worthwhile in this country and its ways, it can be taken as insulting to their incredible sacrifice to scoff at all things "American," particluarly when they are positive things, like arriving to church on time.

If the ways of this country were good enough for them to move and settle here, granting YOU (me) with a life you (I) otherwise wouldn't have, then I think it's safe to say that there is something to our "ways," just like we have incredible amounts to learn by example from those who've had more experience at allowing Orthodoxy to seep into every aspect of one's life - family, school, church, the work place, all of it.

We may not be an Orthodox country, but we do have plenty of virtues to be learned, and there is much to be gained from our ways - your grandparents, etc. thought so at least.

It is stating the obvious perhaps to say that more charity on both sides of the argument would allow for a mutual learning experience, but in my mind I think it falls to the ethnic Orthodox who have grown up with the Church at the center of their lives to teach (by example) poor, wretched, confused converts (like myself - although I am not Orthodox yet) how to lead Orthodox Christian lives.

I didn't mean to offend anyone with this post. Please forgive me if I have.
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« Reply #62 on: July 06, 2004, 09:03:39 AM »

Not to sound cynical, but most immigrants have come to the new world for opportunistic (and I mean this in the most enlightened, justified way possible - poverty sucks, and I don't blame anyone for wanting something better for their children) reasons, more so than an initial infatuation with whatever we can say is uniquely "American."  Were the "opportunity" to have suddenly ran dry in the "land of opportunity", I can guarantee the immigration would have stopped, and plenty of folks would have gotten back on their boats and headed home.

Actually, that does sound pretty cynical. Sad  Didn't mean it that way.

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« Reply #63 on: July 06, 2004, 09:48:37 AM »

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IOW, when is it OK for an American Church to replace Russian traditions that were present at the Church's founding with distinctly American ones?

It will eventually happen.  When it happens is not for us to decide.  Be patient.

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Well, some things I or friends of mine have done that we've found resistence to from cradle Orthodox, right off the top of my head:
-+   Making the sign of the cross at "inappropriate times," i.e., other than @ "Fr., Son, HS" and "It is truly meet."
-+   Saying responses such as "Indeed, He is risen!" or, "He is, and ever shall be!" in a manner that was accused, at first, of being "too loud," and, when volume was turned down, of being "too enthusiastic" or even, in my personal case, of saying them in "non-Orthodox languages" (-íEn verdad, ha resucitado!)
-+   Bringing things like seafood gumbo, crawfish etouffee or fish tacos to coffee hour because they "weren't Orthodox" or "from Orthodox countries."
-+   Asking why the priest sounded bored while praying (in contrast to the words of Fr. Peter Guilquist(sp?) -- "A little boy heard my name and said, 'Oh, you're the one who shouts when he preaches!' I don't think I'll ever get to the decibel level that some cradle Orthodox would like...") -- and being told that "enthusiasm is not the 'Orthodox way.'"  Not that we need to be swinging from the chandeliers, but why sound bored saying prayers to the All-Holy Trinity?
-+   Being "called on the carpet" for going to confession and communion "too frequently" by people who were NOT the priest (and who, truthfully, were the kind who came once, maybe twice a year to confession themselves, some of them just as often to commune)...these people were pretty much given tacit approval to do this parish-wide, as they were some of the founding members ("And they came OVER from the old country, you know!") and wanted to "safeguard against some people's (read: converts') 'abusing the sacraments'"!

BUT NONE OF THESE ARE VALID RELIGIOUS ETHNIC CUSTOMS!  Would the leader of any ethnic church look at your list and say that these other parishioners had practiced their faith according to their received tradition?  

These may well be the practices of lazy believers and of cultists who don’t want anyone else in their club.  I’m talking about traditions like Slava, maintaining fasts in a particular way, responding in whatever language with which you are greeted, or giving and receiving the kiss of peace without turning away in revulsion.  

Pedro, you should come to my church.  It is primarily made up of political refugees from Bosnia and Croatia (for those of you who like to make this great nation look better by bad-mouthing immigrants, these folks would rather be able to live in their country, but thanks to the EU and, in part, this country, they do not have the right to return to where they want to live) and they would be thrilled to have etouffee or fish tacos.  A word of warning, though: folks who don’t speak English but do like your food may bombard you with compliments and free beer.  


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« Reply #64 on: July 06, 2004, 10:12:11 AM »

BUT NONE OF THESE ARE VALID RELIGIOUS ETHNIC CUSTOMS!  Would the leader of any ethnic church look at your list and say that these other parishioners had practiced their faith according to their received tradition?

Sadly, there have been some parishes (read: only two in my direct experience or those of friends) who have treated the above as such.  As for metropolitans or such saying so, no, this hasn't happened to my knowledge.  Which was my only point: that people had taken things that were NOT valid religious customs and had treated them as such, where converts were made to feel guilty if they didn't follow them.  To many inquirers or converts, it doesn't matter if the Metropolitan or Archbishop endorses what they do; the converts don't have to attend liturgy with the hierarchs, most times.  Things that, to most people's mind, can be up to individual interpretation within the life of the Church -- like the things mentioned above, which converts from Protestantism (or nowhere in particular) can have their own concept of upon entering the Church -- should not be "enforced" as though they were an integral part of the Faith.

Donna, your post was great, as always, and thought provoking.  You managed to sum up how I actually feel about the issue, though I'm afraid I've had to sound pretty one-sided as of late.

Folks, I'd like to ask everyone for their forgiveness if I've come across as inherently anti-cradle Orthodox.  Such is not the case.  Many very legitimate traditions have been named in this thread -- things we Americans have no concept of or counterpart for -- that have been of incalculable worth upon entering the Church and which, really, made our entrance to the Church truly possible.

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Pedro, you should come to my church.  It is primarily made up of political refugees from Bosnia and Croatia (for those of you who like to make this great nation look better by bad-mouthing immigrants, these folks would rather be able to live in their country, but thanks to the EU and, in part, this country, they do not have the right to return to where they want to live) and they would be thrilled to have etouffee or fish tacos.  A word of warning, though: folks who don’t speak English but do like your food may bombard you with compliments and free beer.  

Thanks, cizinec; sounds like a great time.  I deplore the situations that caused them to leave their homeland -- not that we won't love them here! -- so it sounds like they're making the best of -- and making new friends during -- a very hard situation.  I myself commune at an OCA parish which has, I believe, a majority of converts, but not by much, as we have a very large (and open-minded) Russian/Ukranian base.  Not one of my complaints (OK, one, but it's been worked out) came from this parish; it's an example of what can happen when everybody's willing to give a little on certain things for the benefit of the whole group.
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« Reply #65 on: July 06, 2004, 11:09:13 AM »

What we are experiencing now in the life of the Orthodox Church in America is the tension between people who are thoroughly American in culture who have converted to the Orthodox faith and immigrants from the Old Country who are still a large portion of many of our parishes.  I think it is ridiculous to think the native born Americans and foreign born immigrants will never have any differences.  If the supply of immigrants from the Old Country dries up, within several generations our churches will be completely American in culture, and I'll bet arriving late for liturgy will almost disappear.  Until that time comes, we will continue to experience the tension between the uptight (dare I say, anal-retentive) American attitude toward time, and the more relaxed Mediterrean/Eastern Euopean attitude toward time. I do think it is necessary for converts to the Orthodox faith to transcend and move beyond this horror they have of people arriving late to church.  Eventually, as our churches become more American in culture, the lateness will subside.  Until then, we should be polite and tolerant of each other.
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« Reply #66 on: July 06, 2004, 10:36:27 PM »

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Until then, we should be polite and tolerant of each other.

At least.  I think we may even be able to forge that new American Orthodox experience and tradition if we listen to one another and enjoy and learn from each other.
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« Reply #67 on: July 07, 2004, 02:46:41 AM »

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At least.  I think we may even be able to forge that new American Orthodox experience and tradition if we listen to one another and enjoy and learn from each other.

Amen, +æ++++++, -É-+-+-+-î!!!    

I think in time this will naturally happen, the only thing stopping it is artificially being too American or intentionally trying to exlcude converts.
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« Reply #68 on: July 09, 2004, 11:57:27 AM »

Well, some things I or friends of mine have done that we've found resistence to from cradle Orthodox, right off the top of my head:

  • Making the sign of the cross at "inappropriate times," i.e., other than @ "Fr., Son, HS" and "It is truly meet."
  • Saying responses such as "Indeed, He is risen!" or, "He is, and ever shall be!" in a manner that was accused, at first, of being "too loud," and, when volume was turned down, of being "too enthusiastic" or even, in my personal case, of saying them in "non-Orthodox languages" (-íEn verdad, ha resucitado!)
  • Bringing things like seafood gumbo, crawfish etouffee or fish tacos to coffee hour because they "weren't Orthodox" or "from Orthodox countries."
  • Asking why the priest sounded bored while praying (in contrast to the words of Fr. Peter Guilquist(sp?) -- "A little boy heard my name and said, 'Oh, you're the one who shouts when he preaches!' I don't think I'll ever get to the decibel level that some cradle Orthodox would like...") -- and being told that "enthusiasm is not the 'Orthodox way.'"  Not that we need to be swinging from the chandeliers, but why sound bored saying prayers to the All-Holy Trinity?
  • Being "called on the carpet" for going to confession and communion "too frequently" by people who were NOT the priest (and who, truthfully, were the kind who came once, maybe twice a year to confession themselves, some of them just as often to commune)...these people were pretty much given tacit approval to do this parish-wide, as they were some of the founding members ("And they came OVER from the old country, you know!") and wanted to "safeguard against some people's (read: converts') 'abusing the sacraments'"! Angry
Why should Americans' tendencies towards these things be looked down upon?

Respetuosamente (I hope,  :-),

Pedro

I read of Pedro's experience and wanted to contrast his with my family's experience as converts at a very healthy OCA parish in the Chicago area.

*On our first visit, places were reserved for us up front so we could see everything. We were told "don't worry, no one is going to wag their finger at you and say you are doing something wrong. If you need to sit, sit. No one will be focusing on you, just don't be disruptive or disprespectful."

*Afterwards we were introduced to so many people our heads began to spin. We were made to feel very welcome, and could not help but sense the fraternal love among the parishioners.

*The more enthusiastic people tend to arrive early and take places close to the front. If you arrive late or have small children, you tend to be towards the back. Enthusiasm dwindles the farther back you get.

*One is more inclined to have meaningful conversations with a priest than to have "formal" confessional sacrements throughout the Liturgical year, but it is required you confess at least once per year during Lent.

* The priests know everyone in the parish -- they know who should and should not be receiving receiving Holy Communion, and there has never been an issue on this matter.

*If you are a regular and don't show up one Sunday -- don't be surprised if a priest calls to see that everyone is alright.

*Congregational singing means everybody sings and it is loud and beautiful.

* More than 12 different languages are spoken in our Parish. The chidren try to learn to say "Christ is Risen. Indeed, He Is Risen" in all of them. This includes Viet Namese, Spanish, German and many "Non-Orthodox" languages. (the emphasis here is on the word "try".)

* Spring Rolls, corn bread, sushi, Spaghetti -- we've seen everything at coffee hour in our hall and the variety is quite wonderful.

Ethnicity, language and cultural traditions can be a strength...but when a parish focuses on these things more than Christ's teachings, they are dooming the parish to die a slow death.
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« Reply #69 on: July 09, 2004, 01:19:22 PM »

It's a truism that different parishes are different.  Some Orthodox parishes are more welcoming than others, some are more vibrant than others, etc., it just depends on where you fit best.  The same can be said of any church, however, including the RCC.
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« Reply #70 on: July 10, 2004, 12:25:33 AM »

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I read of Pedro's experience and wanted to contrast his with my family's experience as converts at a very healthy OCA parish in the Chicago area.

*On our first visit, places were reserved for us up front so we could see everything. We were told "don't worry, no one is going to wag their finger at you and say you are doing something wrong. If you need to sit, sit. No one will be focusing on you, just don't be disruptive or disprespectful."

Spartacus,

It's nice to hear that you had such a nice experience when you first visited St. Joseph's. Was it the first time you had ever visited an Orthodox Church?

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Ethnicity, language and cultural traditions can be a strength...but when a parish focuses on these things more than Christ's teachings, they are dooming the parish to die a slow death.

Yup, I definitely agree with you on that.

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It's a truism that different parishes are different.  Some Orthodox parishes are more welcoming than others, some are more vibrant than others, etc., it just depends on where you fit best.  The same can be said of any church, however, including the RCC.

Brendan,

I know exactly what you are talking about. In my many visits to Orthodox churches of various jurisdictions and different churches in those jurisdictions I have had my fair share of experiences where I might as well have been invisible because nobody even acknowledged my presence. It's to be expected in larger parishes and during holy days, but when it's a small mission parish with 80 people or so attending it's a little harder to understand why someone can't even smile or stop to at least say hi.

But, the positive experiences that I have had have been truly wonderful and they definitely make up for all the negative times.  Cheesy

In Christ,
Aaron
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« Reply #71 on: July 10, 2004, 12:30:28 AM »

I read of Pedro's experience and wanted to contrast his with my family's experience as converts at a very healthy OCA parish in the Chicago area.

Fr. John painted a similar picture when he visited during Lent...your parish is mostly converts, am I right?

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Ethnicity, language and cultural traditions can be a strength...but when a parish focuses on these things more than Christ's teachings, they are dooming the parish to die a slow death.

Here, here!

I have to say that, in both the churches I've been a member of (Antiochian in Tulsa; OCA in Ft. Worth), 99% of the time, convert/cradle relations have been excellent.  Lots of understanding going both ways.  My comments were sparked mostly from (one-time-only!) visits of mine and friends of mine to other Churches.
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« Reply #72 on: July 10, 2004, 04:20:35 AM »

I've been following this thread closely, being as I am considering Orthodoxy. When I think of converting, I don't think in terms of adopting ethnic customs; I think about growing closer to God through fasting, prayer, the Liturgy and the sacraments.  Of course if I get exposed to some interesting Greek, Russian or other ethnic customs and foods Smiley along the way-I'll enjoy that.
As far as converts changing the church, of course an influx of "white bread" Americans will cause some change, intentional or not. Also bear in mind that many "cradle" Orthodox in the US are themselves people who were born and raised in this country. More and more of them are removed from thier immigrant ancestors and esentially Americanized in their thinking.
Think about this: how many Lutherans in the US actually speak German or Scandinavian languages anymore?
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« Reply #73 on: July 10, 2004, 11:12:32 AM »

As I and my wife are recent converts, I find this very interesting. We are members of a Greek Orthodox parish and admittedly felt a little strange at first. Fortunately, the liturgy book is in both Greek and English and after a few weeks we were able to follow along with ease.  I have even learned a little Helenica to my surprise and am able to partipate in some of the responses in Greek.  I am now making an effort to learn Greek with a Pimsleur course, not because I feel I need to, but because I want to.

We have also encountered some problems with the frequency of receiving Holy Communion.  We addressed this with our Spitual Father who told us as long as we were not in grievous sin and met the other reqirements to not worry about it. Old traditions die hard.
After all, what is the ultimate purpose of the Eucharistic  celebration?  

BTW, are their any resources availiable to learn the "Our Father" and the "Nicene Creed" in Greek?

John
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« Reply #74 on: July 10, 2004, 11:58:51 PM »


BTW, are their any resources availiable to learn the "Our Father" and the "Nicene Creed" in Greek?


John,
Both should be in the pew copy of the Divine Liturgy that you reference above.

Demetri
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« Reply #75 on: July 11, 2004, 05:52:48 PM »

 Smiley I know they are in the liturgy book-I failed to make myself clear. I want to learn it in Greek--phonetically since I do not read Greek at this point.
Thanks,
John
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« Reply #76 on: July 11, 2004, 06:14:50 PM »

John,
I think your experience is what all parishes AND converts should be aiming towards. Together, converts and cradle can make more out of each other. Language ,even a little bit, is a way of building bridges to your brothers and sisters in Christ. You can enrich them by bringing your equivalent of fish tacos (or possibly helping them negotiate a strange cuiltural situation).
The result-a strong community in Christ!

Spiros
(feeling unusually optimistic)

Demetri-is the GOA prayerbook in phonetic Greek? all Arabic (trisagion, etc) in our prayer book is phonetic, with English characters.
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« Reply #77 on: July 13, 2004, 05:08:10 PM »

IMO it is better to learn the Greek alphabet since it is fairly simple to learn and Greek is VERY phonetic.  And in time once you get used to it, the sounds of Greek and hear in church you will want to learn the language - there is no escaping it! Smiley

Also knowing the alphabet will allow you to read the names on icons and other little things like that here and there which is very helpfull.

But if needed, I'd be happy to post some transliterations later this week when I get a chance.
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« Reply #78 on: July 31, 2004, 09:41:34 PM »

Have tried to follow this whole through in one go, phew!

Surely cradle Orthodox and 'converts' both have something to other, but this is only possible with a degree of mutual respect and growing understanding between everyone.

Pews are cited as being 'comfortable' among others things, but they introduce a rigidity and impediment to movement. Try doing metonia or prostration with pews. Modest loose clothing helps too, a scoop top and shortish skirt ain't fun. Men on one side and women on the other introduces a certain order and reduces 'unwanted' distraction. God made us male and female not androgynous. Personally I find head-scarves and male facial hair helps prevent me making social faux pas!To say nothing of clergy who look like clergy rather your best mate or an interloper from that Anglican/Catholic/Lutheran kirk down the road! Roman collars belong round the necks of Latin priests.

As to something which is a specifically American, Canadian, British or Irish expression of Orthodoxy, this will come over time. The Slavs took their Orthodoxy in all senses from Constantinople. Individual use and custom evolved rather was manufactured over a short period.

Lateness I abhor, and have tried to understand. Some come far. Sometimes the church is so crowded so an informal rota comes into play and people take in turns to go out so others may take their place for a while. A considerate custom I noted at Serbian churches. Among the Russians I noted if you might question whether something should be done this way rather than that, it was because, "Darlink, you no understand our Roosian ways".
Greeks in deference to the crownds made tiny signs of the cross on their central chest, thus avoiding crowding their neighbour whose ribs were no doubt recovering from the elbowing you had given them going up for communion. Somewhere will be a bearded male who stand parade ground still before breaking into great circular signs of the cross accompanied by deep bows, the Orthodox gymnast. On feast days the menfolk would kindly beef up the sounds of bells by loosing off a few rounds from their world war 11 relics, or the family shotgun. (It helps reduce pigeon roosting on the temple, you know).

Seriously I have met great kindness from Orthodox folk regardless of their background, race, language group or anything else. There are always one or with an 'attitude', often with a poor or extremely rigid comprehension of what Orthodoxy is.

There are 'converts' who appear to leap from being inquirers to unrecognised mini-popes in a season, and others who confuse piety with dressing as extras in a 19th century play.

Each of us a child of God, intent on our ascetic struggle to follow Him.
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« Reply #79 on: August 02, 2004, 04:49:54 AM »

 Somewhere will be a bearded male who stand parade ground still before breaking into great circular signs of the cross accompanied by deep bows, the Orthodox gymnast.


ROFLOL   Egads!  I am a bearded male, and I make my sign of the cross the old fashioned Russian way (actually I HAD too, we had an Old Russian man in my parish who used to watch people make the sign of the cross and when it was not made properly to his satisfaction you'd get this Father Vasily Vasilevich style questioning of "What is this? This is not Chreeeeeestian way to make sign of Cross! Is outrage! In Leningrad we never ..... "
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« Reply #80 on: August 02, 2004, 10:51:32 AM »

Off subject:

What is this "circular way of making the cross?"  

From what I have been taught it is the first three fingers together, the last two bent into the palm. "The Father" (point three fingers to top of forehead), "The Son" (point to lower chest), "and Holy Spirit" point from right shoulder to left shoulder.

(Be nice to me, I'm an inquirer who has decided to convert.)
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« Reply #81 on: August 02, 2004, 10:57:39 AM »

Off subject:

What is this "circular way of making the cross?"  

From what I have been taught it is the first three fingers together, the last two bent into the palm. "The Father" (point three fingers to top of forehead), "The Son" (point to lower chest), "and Holy Spirit" point from right shoulder to left shoulder.

(Be nice to me, I'm an inquirer who has decided to convert.)

LOL, thornygrace!
I think the description is merely of exaggerated motions overly drawing attention to one's 'piety' versus a more humble signing.

We aren't nice to everyone?  Shocked

Demetri
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« Reply #82 on: August 02, 2004, 03:29:14 PM »

<LOL @ Demetri's sarcasm>

I remember talking to one lady who talked about how displeased God was with us if we weren't making perfect signs of the cross, taking care to touch each place with the utmost precision, etc.

This was a woman who told us that crossing ourselves for a car ride after the engine was turned on was showing a neglect of God....  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #83 on: August 03, 2004, 12:10:16 AM »

WOW! I didn't expect my initial post to cause such a flurry of excitement and controversy. But that is what this is all about. The reason I brought this all up in the 1st place was that growing up in Australia we are predominantly 1st gen aussies so we don't see this change taking place in churches here as it is in the US.
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« Reply #84 on: August 08, 2004, 08:15:16 AM »

aussies? wow! yayy! Smiley

i must admit the orthodox churches in australia definitely seem much more traditional than those in the US. as for an english service? well you may be lucky to see one a month in some churches with a younger priest, but its pretty much all Church Slavonic.

questions: there are orthodox priests without beards?!!! this i find truly difficult to believe. is this normal? it is common? pardon my ignorance i have just never heard of such a thing.

my church (in australia) has women and men on different sides, and women do wear scarves (they must) - is that also different in the US. i know in sydney most churches are scarf free, as the GOA church here in Spain is.

cheers,

mike
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« Reply #85 on: August 08, 2004, 09:01:34 AM »

Didn't the Aussie Orthodox just sign some type of statement saying that the recognize heterodox baptisms? Maybe I misread...
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« Reply #86 on: August 09, 2004, 12:06:11 AM »

There is a local Priest here in Michigan who has no beard, but my Priest has one.
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« Reply #87 on: August 10, 2004, 12:05:05 PM »

i didn't know there was an Aussie Orthodox church. i have no knowledge of it. my jurisdiction is in Braila Rumania. I find it funny that that priest has no beard. my priest has been a member of the clergy for 30 years now. since his ordination he has not cut his hair or beard ONCE! even his moustache is so long that when he eats he must push it to the sides first. his beard is very long (santa claus length!) and his hair to his bum!

in australia with temps reaching 40+ (celcius) it can be hot, but its his faith.

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« Reply #88 on: August 10, 2004, 10:19:20 PM »

Quote
questions: there are orthodox priests without beards?!!! this i find truly difficult to believe. is this normal? it is common? pardon my ignorance i have just never heard of such a thing.

Yes, especially within Greek parishes in the United States. Some of the GOA bishops, while they maintain their beards, trim them heavily and have short hair; and some OCA bishops merely have goatees, including their primate. The priest who baptized me, though I believe him to be a godly and compassionate man, has no beard. It is very common in the U.S.

Quote
my church (in australia) has women and men on different sides, and women do wear scarves (they must) - is that also different in the US.

Yes, this is quite different. In some more traditional parishes (some OCA and all ROCOR) you will find pewless churches and women wearing head scarves, but to my knowledge there are no parishes, save those within the ROCOR, who place men and women on separate sides. I may be wrong about this, but such has been my experience.
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« Reply #89 on: August 12, 2004, 02:53:47 AM »

Smiley I know they are in the liturgy book-I failed to make myself clear. I want to learn it in Greek--phonetically since I do not read Greek at this point.
Thanks,
John
Fair enough, shanmo9. It will take a bit more for the Creed, I afra+¦d - there is no "official", agreed, translation. Demetri


The Lord’s Prayer

+á+¦-ä+¦-ü +¦++-ë++

Pater imon

OUR FATHER


++ +¦++ -ä+++¦-é ++-à -ü+¦+++++¦-é

o en tis ouranis

WHO ART IN HEAVEN


+æ+¦+¦+¦-â++++-ä-ë -ä++ +++++++++¦ +ú++-Ã

Agiasthito to onoma Sou

HALLOWED BE THY NAME


+ò+++++¦-ä-ë ++ +¦+¦-â+¦+++¦+¦+¦ +ú++-Ã

Eltheto i vasilia Sou

THY  KINGDOM COME


+ô+¦++++++++-ä-ë -ä++ +++¦+++++++¦ +ú++-Ã
-ë-é +¦++ ++-à -ü+¦++-ë +¦+¦+¦ +¦-Ç+¦ -ä++-é +¦++-é

Yenithito to thelima Sou
Os en ourano ke epi tis yis

THY WILL BE DONE ON EARTH
AS IT IS IN HEAVEN


+ñ++++ +¦-ü-ä++++ ++++-ë++ -ä++++
+ò-Ç+¦++-à -â+¦++++ +¦++-é +++++¦++ -â+++++¦-ü++++

Ton arton imon ton epiousion
Thos imin simeron

GIVE US THIS DAY
OUR DAILY BREAD


+Ü+¦+¦ +¦-å+¦-é +++++¦++ -ä+¦ ++-å+¦+¦+++++++¦-ä+¦ ++++-ë++

Ke afes imin ta ofilimata imon

AND FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES


-ë-é +¦+¦+¦ +++++¦+¦-é +¦-å+¦+¦+++¦++ -ä+++¦-é ++-å+¦+¦+++¦-ä+¦+¦-é ++++-ë++

 os ke imis afiemen tis ofiletes imon

AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO TRESPASS AGAINST US


+Ü+¦+¦ ++++ +¦+¦-â+¦+++¦+¦+¦++-é +++++¦-é +¦+¦-é -Ç+¦+¦-ü+¦-â++++++

Ke mi isenegis imas is pirasmon

AND LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION


+æ+++++¦ -ü-Ã -â+¦+¦ +++++¦-é +¦-Ç++ -ä++-Ã  -Ç++++++-ü++-Ã

Alla rise imas apo tou ponirou

BUT DELIVER US FROM EVIL


+æ++++++
Amin
AMEN

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« Reply #90 on: August 12, 2004, 06:18:18 PM »

Quote
To my knowledge there are no parishes, save those within the ROCOR, who place men and women on separate sides. I may be wrong about this, but such has been my experience.

The OCA Romanian church here in Houston (*very* ethnic) does keep a strict separation of men and women on opposite sides of the church, whereas both ROCOR parishes here are very loose about who goes where, with the distribution of sexes being pretty much random.
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« Reply #91 on: August 12, 2004, 08:30:17 PM »

The OCA Romanian church here in Houston (*very* ethnic) does keep a strict separation of men and women on opposite sides of the church, whereas both ROCOR parishes here are very loose about who goes where, with the distribution of sexes being pretty much random.


The Greek Orthodox monastery at Kendalia, TX observes this practice.  It's the kind of thing that one may just quietly do in any parish without being "noticed" if one happens to agree with the custom.  

BTW, where in metro-Houston is the OCA Romanian parish?  All I knew about was the OCA mission in Spring/Humble area.  Thanks!
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« Reply #92 on: August 12, 2004, 08:43:53 PM »

And even with the Pater Imon there is no 100% agreed translation.  the HTM monastery prayerbook has their own translation as does ROCOR.  And some GOA (and other SCOBA priest too) will slip in "evil one."
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« Reply #93 on: August 12, 2004, 10:29:06 PM »

Quote
BTW, where in metro-Houston is the OCA Romanian parish? All I knew about was the OCA mission in Spring/Humble area.

It's St. Mary Magdalene, on Canino road, a little ways to the east of 45. They are currently worshipping in a modified trailer home, while preparing to build a proper church on the land they have purchased. And again, they aren't typical OCA, but are *Romanian* (as in, the priest doesn't even speak English. Very nice fellow, though). I've heard there are also two recently-formed patriarchial Romanian churches in the area, though I don't know where they are located. One was looking to purchase a grand old Episcopalian church building in Bellaire, but last I heard the deal had fallen through, unfortunately.
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« Reply #94 on: August 24, 2004, 09:04:06 AM »

I see  this issue is very important to those who have sent these posts.

I would like to give you my oppinion.

In our race to become more like this or that we are forgeting the most important race, to become Godlike.

Brothers and sisters of the Holy Militant Church, the Bride of our Lord, it is your views that will kill others. Same, it is their views that will kill you. Do not do act so it is offensive to anybody, do not do anything in spite of anybody, it will not be Christlike.

What you wear is not a question of an Orthodox nature. It is legalism of the blind not a lithurgical, heavenly song and meaning of Orthodoxy that you talk about.

"Ethnic Orthodoxy" is like a root of your tree. But just like the tree grows the way it will and not like the root wants, so should you. Do not make people angry, but in the same time do not let, old (cradle) Orthodox dictate some things that are not their to dictate.

Listen to the council and compare it with the science of salvation. Cathecumen and convert knows more than many of the old (cradle) faithful. Growing in the fighting Church is not equal to wearing country clothes or ethnic uniforms. It is much more.

Talk to the priest about your problems, and find someone who will support you in faith and living (according to the Right Glory) who will be your elder and teacher in customs. In brotherly love make evil comments pass you.

Do not forget the pain of the old, the many suffering and deaths, the poverty and starvation of the root that you are growing from. It will be unfair. And what kind of tree would be ungrateful to it food giver. At the same time rejoice in your own discovery. It is on salvation of your souls that Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal has shown to you what is secret to many.

In previous days it was job of the old (cradle) Orthodox to keep the Right Glory safe and keep it for the future. Now,you are the future. You are the new Orthodox and it your job to show the Right Glory to the world.

American Orthodox Church is your cradle now. Make old customs new and show them to blind and thirsty and hungry in the desert of the new world.

May God bless you all.
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« Reply #95 on: September 06, 2004, 11:14:25 AM »

In my limited experience, the converts are the ones who want to wear scarves, discard the pews and electric organ,  grow beards on the priests, etc.  It's the cradle Orthodox who are wanting to modernize.  As a convert myself,  I did some reading on Orthodoxy before I attended my first Divine Liturgy and had certain expectations which were not exactly met at the parish I eventually joined.  We have pews, etc.  For about a week I entertained the idea of letting this bug me, but I decided phooey.  It's the Church and I am a grateful newcomer.  Who am I to complain?  And if I want to participate in Orthodoxy-to-the-Max there's a wonderful congregation of converts an hour's drive away where the women all dress like Bulgarian peasants.  This is also very very wonderful.  But I don't live near enough to that church to participate fully,  so I joyfully continue where I'm at,  beardless priest and all.  I think full participation is more important than fretting over pews and beards.

-Xenia
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« Reply #96 on: September 06, 2004, 01:06:41 PM »

I have found the OCA to be very very strict in not allowing organs in our churches.  I cannot speak for the other Orthodox jurisdictions in this regard. In fact, if anyone knows of any OCA parish ANYWHERE that uses an organ to accompany the liturgy, please let me know. I don't think one exists. I've even asked some seminary professors at St. Vladimirs if they know of any OCA parishes that use organs, and they tell me they don't.  Now, on the other hand, you'll find plenty of OCA parishes that have pews.  I see absolutely no effort being made by OCA bishops anywhere to demand that parishes that have pews remove them.  Their presence seems to be accepted. However, that being said, there are still notable OCA parishes that do not have them and do not want them. Occassionally it seems that all over the country when a new OCA parish is built, some parish somewhere will still opt to not have pews.  Regarding bearded clergy, nearly all the new graduates I've seen from St. Vladimirs and St. Tikhon's generally have beards or at least goatees. However, occassionally there are clean shaven priests, and this doesn't seem to get anybody upset. Regarding the headscarfs, I asked my priest about this and I felt he gave a very diplomatic answer:  He has that women covering their heads in church is a most praiseworthy custom, based on an apostolic injuction. However, it is not dogma, and we must not go around passing out scarves demanding that all the ladies cover their heads.  Just my observations ....
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« Reply #97 on: September 06, 2004, 01:27:29 PM »

Although I prefer a Church without pews as it enables one to perform the proper ebiences and metanias, I was surprised to find that in Greece there are some churches with pews. I have seen pictures of them in Athens. They appear to be small chapels.

Any other feedback from the old country?

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« Reply #98 on: September 06, 2004, 02:34:35 PM »

Dear brothers and sisters,

is clothing an issue of salvation?

I was a Seventh day adventist (brrrr) in Serbia. Figure that, i took me to travel 10.000 miles from an "Orthodox" country and a roman-catholic priest to become an Orthodox, but I did.

Why am I saying this. SDA are very much THE PAIN IN THE BACKSIDE when it comes to "what Ellen G. White says" (she is their Little Light, a.k.a. PROPHET) and SHE SAID ALOT, about everything. Short skirts, and pants, food and science and so on... Brothers and sisters adventists are the worst when it comes to that. But some Orthodox come very close.

As far as I can see, the issue here is not SALVATION IN THE CHURCH but COSMETICS OF THE FAITH (that  idea of a material mind whose problem is WHAT ARE WE SUPPOSED TO LOOK LIKE rather then WHAT HAVE WE DONE ) and from these we got the good old issues like PEWS and ORGANS and BEARDS and so on.

I'll tell you this. These issues are issues of those people who know very little about the Faith, and who think that every member of our Church Triumphant, in every minute of his (or hers) life just thought about PEWS, ORGANS, SHORT SKIRTS and BEARDLESS PRIESTHOOD. Orthodoxy is not that.

If you have time to notice these things in the Church you are not serving.

A person comes to Orthodoxy from a dark world of heterodoxy and he already knows more about his or hers (new) faith than 10 milion serbs, I vouch for this. I am a serb and ill tell you that serbs could not tell you a difference between Creed without and with Filioque. 95% of them. And their priests do have beards, they do not have organs and their women do stand on a opposite side and pews.. come on:"we are not croats" (roman-catholics). I woud rather have 10 milion converts from protestantism in Orthodoxy who sing and dance in the Church around their pews lead by their beardless Priest, who was waxed 3 times-just to make sure, and WHO ARE CRYING BECAUSE THEY HAVE FOUND THE FAITH AND WHO READ AND PRAY AND KNOW, then.... whatever.

Leave them alone.

It is their Church too.

When all of you greeks and serbs and russians and others received the Holy Faith from the Holy Apostles and their followers, YOU HAVE ALL DEVELOPED YOUR OWN traditions. Look at the CALENDER, SLAVA'S and so on. And nobody is going to criticise you because you did it. It is your light and your right. If it is KATHOLIC (according to the whole) and if it is APOSTOLIC and if it is in the RIGHT GLORY then it is  CHURCH.

With or without beards and pews and organs....

Orthodoxy is KATHOLIC not greek or serb or russian. It is COSMIC. It is bigger then your village. Much bigger. Grow up... all of you. Not much time left.

Maranatha!

God bless.

It is easy to be a critic (see.. look at me).
It is hard to be a follower. (again see and look at me).

I would say that it is not my intention to offend anybody, but, that is just futile. Just watch me being called croat/turk/chechen scum. But hey, it had to be said.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner. I beg you.








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« Reply #99 on: September 06, 2004, 03:13:46 PM »

It seems to me that the perpetual question of former Protestants is that if it is not a question of "salvation" leave it alone. How I do tire of hearing that.
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« Reply #100 on: October 12, 2004, 10:58:00 AM »

As a Christian who fellowships in a Protestant traditions, I am so glad to read that Orthodoxy is more than ethnicity; scarves; and pews where people can sit instead of stand.  As I journey toward understanding Orthodox Christianity, the focus of the Church has got to be about "going into all the world and proclaimin the gospel."  It is not a gospel of pews; beards; ethnicity or scarves, but it is the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ - "for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son - that whoever would believe on Him would not perish, but have eternal life."  

When the world sees us as Christian warring against one another over such minor issues, it lessens our effectiveness when we speak about the love of God and love of the brethren; when we speak about God's work of salvation through the sacrifice of His Son; when we speak about being filled with the Holy Spirit in order that we might live a holy and righteous life; when we tell them that going to services and partaking of the Eucharist brings about a difference in our lives.  Can they see that difference when they hear us warring over issues that Christ Jesus did not war about.  We must be careful not to become like the Pharisees, when Jesus said "you tithed your dill, mint & cumin, but you have left the greater and that is love."  

When Christ established the church, it was not about ethnicity, though I value and cherish the diversity of cultures I experience here as an American citizen.  Our relationship with the Living God annot be rooted in these concerns; for if we find ourselves bantering about these things, we as Christians (Orthodox and/or Protestant) cause the world to look at us with questioning eyes.  Much like in Jerusalem, the war over who will open or close the door at the birthplace of Christ!  Different factions of Orthodoxy at war with one another over who closed the door.  Lord Jesus help us!

Scripture tells us "you will know mine by the love they have for one another."  I am not talking about compromise with the world or this world's system, but as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, and faith in our Heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit, I would encourage us all to "seek those things which are above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God the Father".  I am often challenged to seek God in prayer and intercession about "what is important to You? "  

I don't have all the answers, only God does.  At best we seek to walk in oneness with God and with one another in order to more effectively reach those who are outside the covenant family of God.

God's blessings be with you,
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« Reply #101 on: October 12, 2004, 11:30:10 AM »

HKelly,
Welcome to the board.  If I may ask, how did you find it?

Looking at your first paragraph where you said that "the focus of the Church has got to be about "going into all the world and proclaimin the gospel."", I refer you to the thread called "How to witness correctly?" or something similar.  It was being discussed somewhat last week.  Again, welcome.
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« Reply #102 on: October 12, 2004, 06:00:39 PM »

One of the things that I just love about the Orthodox church here in the USA is that most of them are small and very personal.  This I like.  As for pews, yeah, some have, some dont have.  Pews used to bother me but that was because I was new to Orthodoxy.   I still have a problem with attending Liturgy in some Greek churches with organs but this is their tradition (small t).  I do like the Greek festivals though.  You can have those mega-churches, give me the sweet secluded chapels any day.

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« Reply #103 on: October 12, 2004, 09:42:15 PM »

Hi Elisha:

Thanks for the welcome.  Proclaiming the gospel (or telling others about Christ Jesus and His atoning work is the mandate that all in the Body of Christ have--whether it is one-on-one, or in a congregation setting--sharing Christ with others is a work we all have in common.  There are many ways of sharing the gospel--I am a volunteer Prison Chaplain at the local Men's Jail.  I also witness through sharing the love of Christ with others; praying for others; visiting the sick; or just being there to share someone's story over a cup of coffee.  One thing that is important is that all we do be bathed in prayer and reflect the love of God toward a world that is in darkness.  

Since today was my first day in the forum, I am not aware of your comments from last week.  Having taught evangelism/outreach, I am sure that there are many insights we can share with one another.

Again, thank you for your welcome.  I am looking forward to learning more about Orthodox Christianity as I travel this Christian journey.

God's grace be with you,
« Last Edit: October 19, 2004, 02:32:45 AM by HKelley » Logged
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« Reply #104 on: October 20, 2004, 02:28:53 PM »

Some of these things, like beardless clergy, were in the West even before the schism, so I don't really see any grounds for opposing them.  To my knowledge, the tradition of not having pews/chairs goes back to the beginning, because it was thought disrespectful to sit in the presence of God and such. (correct me if I'm wrong), so that seems to me anyway to be more important to leave unchanged.  Head scarves, of course, are in the Bible itself, so I don't see any way to justify abandoning that tradition.  I think it's a matter of studying the traditions and seeing which ones are permanent and universal, and which ones are particular, and being careful to never change the former, and to only change the latter when necessary.
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« Reply #105 on: October 20, 2004, 03:01:59 PM »

I think it's a matter of studying the traditions and seeing which ones are permanent and universal, and which ones are particular, and being careful to never change the former, and to only change the latter when necessary.

I agree with you, though this is much easier said than done...and therein lies all the trouble.
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« Reply #106 on: October 20, 2004, 03:15:43 PM »

Quote
Some of these things, like beardless clergy, were in the West even before the schism, so I don't really see any grounds for opposing them.  To my knowledge, the tradition of not having pews/chairs goes back to the beginning, because it was thought disrespectful to sit in the presence of God and such. (correct me if I'm wrong), so that seems to me anyway to be more important to leave unchanged.  Head scarves, of course, are in the Bible itself, so I don't see any way to justify abandoning that tradition.  I think it's a matter of studying the traditions and seeing which ones are permanent and universal, and which ones are particular, and being careful to never change the former, and to only change the latter when necessary.

Good points Penelope, especially over such trivial things as bearded/non - bearded clergy. Ohh yea, I'm also allergic to pews. I'm kind of a stickler on that one.

In regards to the girl alter services, as I said before it's very dangerous because you could be setting them up for failure. Once some of them get a taste of being up there & serving, they may want to take it further.
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« Reply #107 on: October 20, 2004, 05:19:00 PM »

I agree with you, though this is much easier said than done...and therein lies all the trouble.
That's true enough, but I get the feeling often that a lot of times people don't even try to make the distinction, but just rather take up their accustomed position on the traditionalist/modernist continuum, then proceed to shout slogans at each other.
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« Reply #108 on: October 20, 2004, 05:22:39 PM »

There is also a historical sense of tradition. Something may have only come into use very late but may be a legitimiate development of the Holy Spirit.

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« Reply #109 on: October 20, 2004, 06:38:51 PM »

I don't have time to read through all the posts to see if someone has added the same two cents that I am about to, so forgive if this is repetitive.
It is not true the Pews and Beardless preists are not traditionaly orthodox. If one were to travel in Southern Poland, Slovakia (OCA homelands) or in Greece you would find that most churches in these traditionaly Orthodox Lands have pews. Some of them even have pews and tables laid out in front of them. Check out http://www.oca.org/pages/events/2004/09.September/0918CzechLands/0925KosiceSlovakia-LiturgyBpJan/images/DSC_0052.jpg

With regard to beards, you will find many beardless priests throughout Slovakia, Poland and Ukraine. In the case of Slovakia and Ukraine there is definitely a Uniate influence. But in Poland there has never been a strong Uniate presence, save the Lemko and Boyko regions, and still you will find many beardless priests.
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« Reply #110 on: October 20, 2004, 10:43:02 PM »

I think it's a matter of studying the traditions and seeing which ones are permanent and universal, and which ones are particular, and being careful to never change the former, and to only change the latter when necessary.

One tricky part of this is checking on oneself so that the reasoning is not holding to a view of "I like this so it must be Universal".  

It can be a strong temptation to think that one's own likes/dislikes/tastes are The Law Of the Universe (TM)

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« Reply #111 on: October 20, 2004, 11:23:16 PM »

I don't have time to read through all the posts to see if someone has added the same two cents that I am about to, so forgive if this is repetitive.
It is not true the Pews and Beardless preists are not traditionaly orthodox. If one were to travel in Southern Poland, Slovakia (OCA homelands) or in Greece you would find that most churches in these traditionaly Orthodox Lands have pews. Some of them even have pews and tables laid out in front of them. Check out http://www.oca.org/pages/events/2004/09.September/0918CzechLands/0925KosiceSlovakia-LiturgyBpJan/images/DSC_0052.jpg

With regard to beards, you will find many beardless priests throughout Slovakia, Poland and Ukraine. In the case of Slovakia and Ukraine there is definitely a Uniate influence. But in Poland there has never been a strong Uniate presence, save the Lemko and Boyko regions, and still you will find many beardless priests.
Weird...
In Poland I remember everyone distingushed the orthodox priests as the ones with the long beards and Russian accents[most Catholic priest IN Poland wear cassocks]? Well perhaps this was of my closed experience with Orthodoxs,because the city I lived had only one orthodox church  and it was the only orthodox church in the whole province[1,250,000 people live here and only about 50,000 are noncatholic!!].
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« Reply #112 on: October 20, 2004, 11:55:56 PM »

While it is true that a large majority of the priests do have beards it is certainly not true that a beardless priest is extraordinary. Further, I lived in Poland for more than 6 years and even taught at the Orthodox seminary in Warsaw. I don't know any Orthodox Pole who has anything close to a Russian accent. Most priests in the Orthodox Church in Poland do not even have a solid command of the Russian language.

Out of curiostiy where in Poland were you living. The majority of Orthodox in Poland are in the North-East of the Country with the County seat of Bialystok being the capital of Orthodox Poland where 45% of 350.000 people are Orthodox.
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« Reply #113 on: October 21, 2004, 07:11:19 AM »

If I  have not done so already, let me state that I am very glad to have your participation on the OC.net forum.
You are filling in a large void in our representation.

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« Reply #114 on: October 21, 2004, 07:27:30 AM »

Demetri, Thank you. I am rather new to such forums and I must say I am a bit overwhelmed by all the posts and the depth to which people presents their ideas. I simply will never have enough time to get as technical as some do. My initial impression is that there are so many people posting that I can't imagine there being a void of anything on this site. What sort of void do you find here? Thanks again for the comment.
In Christ
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« Reply #115 on: October 21, 2004, 04:16:55 PM »

While it is true that a large majority of the priests do have beards it is certainly not true that a beardless priest is extraordinary. Further, I lived in Poland for more than 6 years and even taught at the Orthodox seminary in Warsaw. I don't know any Orthodox Pole who has anything close to a Russian accent. Most priests in the Orthodox Church in Poland do not even have a solid command of the Russian language.

Out of curiostiy where in Poland were you living. The majority of Orthodox in Poland are in the North-East of the Country with the County seat of Bialystok being the capital of Orthodox Poland where 45% of 350.000 people are Orthodox.

I lived in Wojewodzstwo Swietokrzyskie[stare Kieleckie] in the capital of the province Kielce . I also know Podlasie is the center of OC in Poland. Bialystok has 350,000 people? This I have never heard. THe maximum I know of is 150,000. Anyways Poland should include more Orthodox becuase Bialorus and  Ukraina-west of the Dnieper- are truly parts of the Corona Regni Polonia-Crown of the Polish Land and still have large Polish minorities.
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« Reply #116 on: October 23, 2004, 02:16:15 PM »

I am attending a Serbian Orthodox church that just had its hundredth anniversary.  The priest has a very short beard, the whole church has pews, and no women ever wear headscarves.  All the men and women sit together.  I would say the church is made up mostly of Serbians born in America, with a few converts.
This is the only Orthodox church I have ever attended, so I don't know any different.  However, when they recently had their 100th anniversary celebration and three Bishops visited, and many other priests, most of them had long beards and wore clothes that looked very 1800s.

I have to say, I don't think this church is any less traditional due to lack of facial hair or old fashioned clothes!
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« Reply #117 on: October 23, 2004, 06:10:09 PM »

There is also a historical sense of tradition. Something may have only come into use very late but may be a legitimiate development of the Holy Spirit.

Anastasios
But don't you think that if a late development was guided by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit can just as easily guide the Church away from that development again?
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« Reply #118 on: November 11, 2004, 09:31:09 PM »

I wonder when we stand before God, will the issue be if the beard was long or short, or none at all; of if one sat and did not sit; or did she have a scarf!!  Lord help us if we find ourselves with such concerns.  I can almost understand why the apostle Paul took the stand he did when questioned about women with their heads covered.  In 1 Cor. 11:17 you hear Pauyl say "But in giving this instruction, I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse."    They came together with a judgmental attitude.

When we focus so much on the 'dill & mint issues" we lose sight of that which Christ Himself felt important:  Issues of compassion, righteousness, love and holiness.  And these are just a few.  
I have witnessed something very interesting in the church - when we move from listening to the Holy Spirit, Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition, we find ourselves fighting over the minutia issues and stop seeking the larger Kingdom picture.  

I think of the scripture when Jesus asks:  "I pray when I return I find faith."  If we are nitpicking one another, where is the faith.  The God who has created us, and fashioned us after His image wants us to operate at another level--not pettiness--not bickering--not hassling--not insensitivity--not unloving--not pretentious--not arrogant, but walking in a manner that fully pleases Him.

Oh that the love of God "shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit; may His love in us abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment so that we may approve the things that are excellent in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ."  Philippians 1:9

Whether you grow a long beard, or I choose not to wear a scar (knowing that my hair was given to me as my covering)--may Christ find us in oneness, empowered by His Spirit, laying hold of that which Christ Himself has apprehended for us!!!!  Let us learn how to love one another, care for one another, and walk in those ways that please our Heavenly Father.  May we come to know what He has called us to do, and be found doing it when He returns. May we hold fast to the truths of His Holy Scripture; His precepts and His principals.  Hold fast to the writings of the patristic fathers that are consistent with Holy Scripture.  May we learn to walk upright before Him, always giving Him praise & thanksgiving for His goodness-His grace-His love-His provision-His care.   May we come to know (experientially)  Him, for He delights in His people knowing that He is the God who exercises lovingkindness, righteousness and truth in the earth.  May we grow to be so sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, that our steps, as well as our stops be ordered by God.  

I thank my God in all my remembrance of His people, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for every Christian from every tribe, tongue and nation of people.   I pray that we will learn not to judge one another, for Christ is able to help each one of us to stand.  

"Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever.
Amen"

Elder Helen Kelley
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