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Author Topic: Russian/Greek Orthodoxy  (Read 4208 times) Average Rating: 0
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David Young
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« on: November 28, 2011, 01:47:00 PM »

My more immediate impressions of Orthodoxy come from our annual holiday in Greece and my many visits with work to southern Albania, but most of my reading (other than the early Fathers) comes from Russian Orthodoxy, because there seems to be more material translated from Russian than from Greek (or written in English by Russians than by Greeks). Are there differences in what is often today called "spirituality", what perhaps used to be called "piety" - maybe one could simply say ethos - between Russian and Greek Orthodoxy?
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« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2011, 08:11:50 PM »

In the Greek Church, six-inch leopard print heels and giant hoop earings are considered suitable attire for Liturgy.
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« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2011, 08:16:02 PM »

In the Greek Church, six-inch leopard print heels and giant hoop earings are considered suitable attire for Liturgy.

You obviously haven't been to any Russian churches.  laugh
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« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2011, 08:30:20 PM »

In the Greek Church, six-inch leopard print heels and giant hoop earings are considered suitable attire for Liturgy.

I am REALLY getting tired of these kind of comments about Greek parishes. Immodesty exists EVERYWHERE. As someone who has taught Sunday school in a Ukrainian parish, trying to get the girls and (their mothers) to realize how inappropriate this is gives you a whole new understanding of the plight of Sysyphus.

Some of the most caring, spiritual, and pious people I have met have been in Greek parishes, so David Young, please take akimori makato's comments with a grain of salt. 

In regards to the OP, as someone who's been around the many different styles of Orthodoxy within the US, here are my thoughts: I have heard it said that there is a greater level of piety within Russian parishes versus Greek, but I don't believe that to be true. After all, can any human read another human's heart? Can any human judge the love of God a person has based on their ethnicity? I think not.

Russians tend to be more demonstrative with their piety, and Greeks are more subtle with theirs. For example, when I visit the local OCA parish by me which is made up of mostly Slavic descendents, it is customary for people to make many bows and prostrations in front of all of the various icons in the parish while crossing themselves in a very large fashion. Since almost everyone in the parish does this, it's not done to show off, this is simply their custom.

When I visit a Greek parish, people tend to bow and prostrate less, and use smaller motions while crossing themselves.

Do I think the Russians love God more because they cross themselves in a larger fashion? No. I just think it's a cultural difference that cannot be explained. 
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« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2011, 08:48:48 PM »

Some of the most caring, spiritual, and pious people I have met have been in Greek parishes, so David Young, please take akimori makato's comments with a grain of salt.

Yes, please do. I was only joking (I hope that much is obvious?) and agree with everything Handmaiden has said above.
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« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2011, 03:38:46 PM »

Perhaps I should explain my question a little more fully, deeply, or clearly.

Maybe an illustration will help. If you read Anglo-Saxon Christian writings, you get a huge emphasis on creation, and on wonder and praise for creation - also on the theme of exile, and thus of logning for heaven. If you read Wesleyan writings, you get an ardour for holiness. If you read certain Calvinist writings (I think mainly of the perhaps regrettably named Strict and Particular Baptists) you get a deep trust in God's sovereignty and overruling care for his children. When you move on to the Primitive Methodists of the 19th century, you get expansive outward-looking evangelistic zeal. When you look at the early Moravians, an emphasis on the unity of various Christians, as well as a world-wide vision. The Welsh churches yearn for Revival and its overwhelming sense of God's ubiquitous presence, and look back to 1904, 1859 and earlier with longing.

What would I find special about real Orthodox Christian writers - and especially, what difference would I find between Russian and Greek? I am thinking about areas like prayer, mystery, growth in inner holiness... whatever. There lies the marrow of my question.
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« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2011, 04:11:35 PM »

Perhaps I should explain my question a little more fully, deeply, or clearly.

Maybe an illustration will help. If you read Anglo-Saxon Christian writings, you get a huge emphasis on creation, and on wonder and praise for creation - also on the theme of exile, and thus of logning for heaven. If you read Wesleyan writings, you get an ardour for holiness. If you read certain Calvinist writings (I think mainly of the perhaps regrettably named Strict and Particular Baptists) you get a deep trust in God's sovereignty and overruling care for his children. When you move on to the Primitive Methodists of the 19th century, you get expansive outward-looking evangelistic zeal. When you look at the early Moravians, an emphasis on the unity of various Christians, as well as a world-wide vision. The Welsh churches yearn for Revival and its overwhelming sense of God's ubiquitous presence, and look back to 1904, 1859 and earlier with longing.

What would I find special about real Orthodox Christian writers - and especially, what difference would I find between Russian and Greek? I am thinking about areas like prayer, mystery, growth in inner holiness... whatever. There lies the marrow of my question.

Mr Young, what differences you find will all depend on where you look. If you're reading the works of monastics you will find very few differences at all- the Russian practice is very much descended from the practices of Mount Athos, so you will read a lot about inner stillness, hard work, perseverance, chastity, etc.

Outside of the monasteries you will find greater variation in practice. From what I've seen here in the States the Russians tend to be a little stricter with the fasting rules, the Russian prayers during Confession are a little different, there are different hymns in the antiphons in the Liturgy, Russians like prostrations a little more often, though not during the epiclesis and Greeks like to kneel during the epiclesis. There will be some slight differences in what prayers you might find in the Prayer Books (the Russian ones tend to be longer). In short, the differences are much the same as the differences in Russian and Greek literature- Russians tend to be more austere and depressed while Greeks tend to be celebratory and lax, at least for the purposes of a simplistic generality.

Now, American Orthodox writers, whether of an Orthodox ethnic background or not, are turning out to be a whole different ball of wax.
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« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2011, 04:59:55 PM »

Russian writers tend to be much more literalistic and direct, while Greeks are normally more philosophical, which reflects their respective cultural traits. You will also find among Russians a much greater focus on external observances. If you attend a monastery on Mount Athos, you'll notice the sign of the Cross is made fairly infrequently during services and that there is little bowing and few prostrations. These things are reserved for the cells, where the monk prays in private and out of sight. From my personal experience, contrary to what most people say on this board, I've found that pious Greeks tend to observe fasting rules much more strictly than their Russian counterparts. Russians rarely abstain from oil (and especially not alcohol!) during days of strict fasting, and fish is often consumed on days where the rules do not permit this. Presumably, this has to do with the harshness of the Russian climate. During services, you will also find that Russians generally make less abbreviations to the Typikon. However, they also read and sing much quicker than in Greek churches, where things tend to be more elaborate. Quantity vs. quality.
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« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2011, 01:46:07 PM »

Russians don't open as many restaurants.
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« Reply #9 on: December 02, 2011, 02:17:34 PM »

From my personal experience, contrary to what most people say on this board, I've found that pious Greeks tend to observe fasting rules much more strictly than their Russian counterparts. Russians rarely abstain from oil (and especially not alcohol!) during days of strict fasting, and fish is often consumed on days where the rules do not permit this. Presumably, this has to do with the harshness of the Russian climate.
The Eastern Slavic fasting traditions differ from the Greek ones as you have seen.  Fish & oil are allowed.  It has always been that way if you go back to early days of Slavic Christianity and the Council of Vladimir of 1249.
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« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2011, 04:10:57 PM »

Putting your posts together, I think I can extract this (though you have also said more): Greek Orthodox are going to emphasise divine mystery and philosophy more, whilst Russian might seem more gloomy or sombre, perhaps for having endured the Stalin years and the rest of Communism. Greeks would look for God in the heights of glory and mystery, Russians would find him in the depths of prolonged suffering. But their doctrines are the same.

Have I made any sense of what you have suggested?
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« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2011, 04:27:53 PM »

You're on the right track.

The Russians of the 19th century seemed to consider themselves the heirs to the desert fathers.
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« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2011, 05:17:15 PM »

Putting your posts together, I think I can extract this (though you have also said more): Greek Orthodox are going to emphasise divine mystery and philosophy more, whilst Russian might seem more gloomy or sombre, perhaps for having endured the Stalin years and the rest of Communism. Greeks would look for God in the heights of glory and mystery, Russians would find him in the depths of prolonged suffering. But their doctrines are the same.

Have I made any sense of what you have suggested?


Pretty much, but the Russians were gloomy and sombre long before Stalin! Read (or re-read) some Dostoevsky (especially the Brothers Karamazov)!
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« Reply #13 on: December 03, 2011, 05:52:23 PM »

Putting your posts together, I think I can extract this (though you have also said more): Greek Orthodox are going to emphasise divine mystery and philosophy more, whilst Russian might seem more gloomy or sombre, perhaps for having endured the Stalin years and the rest of Communism. Greeks would look for God in the heights of glory and mystery, Russians would find him in the depths of prolonged suffering. But their doctrines are the same.

Have I made any sense of what you have suggested?


You summed it up rather well.  Russians are much different people than Greeks, in as much as someone who grew up in the USA are much different than people who grew up in Mexico.  But we are all people, nations are man-made, borders are imaginary lines that turn brothers into enemies.
Not withstanding, I do enjoy my pysanky and wooden clappers on Good Friday.. 
Come to where I live, it's only sunny 65 days of the year and see if people are excited and easy going. 
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« Reply #14 on: December 04, 2011, 01:22:58 PM »

You summed it up rather well.  Russians are much different people than Greeks,...  it's only sunny 65 days of the year

Your posts are helpful, folk. It seems to me that Greeks inhabit a land of warm sun, turquoise sea, abundant wine, honey, olive oil, and women whose beauty was renowned before the Greeks even arrived in Greece; whereas Russians (quite apart from Stalin, the KGB etc) live in a land of vast tundra, snow, cold and dark forests. Presumably history and geography, whilst not effecting doctrine, have affected the ethos, the "feel", of their Orthodoxy.

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« Reply #15 on: December 05, 2011, 12:18:57 PM »

You summed it up rather well.  Russians are much different people than Greeks,...  it's only sunny 65 days of the year

Your posts are helpful, folk. It seems to me that Greeks inhabit a land of warm sun, turquoise sea, abundant wine, honey, olive oil, and women whose beauty was renowned before the Greeks even arrived in Greece; whereas Russians (quite apart from Stalin, the KGB etc) live in a land of vast tundra, snow, cold and dark forests. Presumably history and geography, whilst not effecting doctrine, have affected the ethos, the "feel", of their Orthodoxy.


Stalin was Georgian.  Look at the culture, church and people of Georgia.  I'd rather live in Georgia than Greece.  Please let's not stoop to ethnic stereotypes.
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« Reply #16 on: December 08, 2011, 09:45:53 AM »

You summed it up rather well.  Russians are much different people than Greeks,...  it's only sunny 65 days of the year

Your posts are helpful, folk. It seems to me that Greeks inhabit a land of warm sun, turquoise sea, abundant wine, honey, olive oil, and women whose beauty was renowned before the Greeks even arrived in Greece; whereas Russians (quite apart from Stalin, the KGB etc) live in a land of vast tundra, snow, cold and dark forests. Presumably history and geography, whilst not effecting doctrine, have affected the ethos, the "feel", of their Orthodoxy.


Stalin was Georgian.  Look at the culture, church and people of Georgia.  I'd rather live in Georgia than Greece.  Please let's not stoop to ethnic stereotypes.

I don't think that's what he was getting at. Certainly, different cultures have different lenses through which they view life (your very native tongue affects the way you think); it has nothing to do with stereotypes.
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« Reply #17 on: December 08, 2011, 11:40:00 AM »

I don't think that's what he was getting at... it has nothing to do with stereotypes.

Thank you: you are quite right. To give another illustration, if you go back 180 years, the Primitive Methodists and the Wesleyan Methodists held the same doctrines, but their ethos was different. Similarly I suspect Russian and Greek Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #18 on: December 18, 2011, 10:37:57 PM »

Putting your posts together, I think I can extract this (though you have also said more): Greek Orthodox are going to emphasise divine mystery and philosophy more, whilst Russian might seem more gloomy or sombre, perhaps for having endured the Stalin years and the rest of Communism. Greeks would look for God in the heights of glory and mystery, Russians would find him in the depths of prolonged suffering. But their doctrines are the same.

Have I made any sense of what you have suggested?


David:  I think you are dealing in stereotypes and generalities here. I've been a member of a Russian Orthodox Church for 15 years, and the Russians I know I would not describe as gloomy or somber people.  If anything, they have quite varied personalities.  Some are very warm and affectionate and out-going.  Others are a bit more quiet and reserved until they get to know you.  Some are very polished and refined people and well-educated.  Others are manual laborers and barely speak any English. They smile, they laugh, they get sad just like regular Americans do.  While they do come from a different culture than I do ( I am an Anglo American and English is my native language), I can't say that they are that different from me. Other than the language difference between us, I have always found it very easy to relate to the Russians in my parish.  I have found that on the whole, they tend to be very pious people and they take their Orthodoxy seriously.  But a lot of them have a great sense of fun too, esp. at holidays. They also tend to be very hospitable people, and are quite willing to share whatever they have with you, esp. their food, drink and fellowship.  They almost never bring up the subject of Russian history with me, but if I bring it up they are very eager and DELIGHTED to share with me the history of their country. They are the same way about the Russian language.  They speak Russian amongst themselves, but if I sit down at the table with them they will switch to English so that I don't feel excluded.  There were a number of us  (Americans)in the choir that wanted to learn how to sing services in Slavonic and when our Russian parishioners found out about this, they were quite moved. It really touched them that we cared enough to do that.  I have found the Russian people I know at church to be very down-to-earth, humble, pious and very willing to treat everyone like a family member.  Gloomy is a word I just don't associate with Russians. 

I will say that for me personally, after I converted to Orthodoxy, it has been easier for me to get to know Russians than it has been to get to know Greeks. I found the Russians more direct, more affectionate, and more excited about getting converts.  The Greeks I've met were more cautious about receiving converts and a little more cold and distant in the beginning.  However, I found if I persisted with the Greeks, they began to drop some of their reserve and become more welcoming and familiar with me.  At risk of having other Orthodox criticize me here, I would say my experience of the Greek Orthodox is that they can be a bit clannish and suspicious of outsiders at the beginning. However, if you persist you can indeed chip away at the "Byzantine ice" that some people experience.  What really worked for me with the Greeks, was when I took an interest in their history.  I began reading about the Turkish yoke and the forced expulsion of the Greeks from Asia Minor in the 1920s.  I suddenly found MANY Greeks that eagerly wanted to share their stories with me. Most of them still had grandparents that lived through the period and remembered it well. I also took an interest in the Greek language and got some Greek Orthodox friends of mine to teach me the Lord's Prayer and the Nicene Creed in Greek.  They were really impressed that I wanted to learn their language. I have also sung in Greek Orthodox choirs and had some of their chanters teach me some Byzantine chant.  One I did these things, I found that the Greeks really opened up to me and accepted me as one of their own, no longer just a "convert" but a real fellow Orthodox Christian.

I took me a while, but now I really appreciate the Russianess of the Russians, the Greekness of the Greeks and the Americaness of the Americans.
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« Reply #19 on: December 18, 2011, 10:42:38 PM »

Putting your posts together, I think I can extract this (though you have also said more): Greek Orthodox are going to emphasise divine mystery and philosophy more, whilst Russian might seem more gloomy or sombre, perhaps for having endured the Stalin years and the rest of Communism. Greeks would look for God in the heights of glory and mystery, Russians would find him in the depths of prolonged suffering. But their doctrines are the same.

Have I made any sense of what you have suggested?


David:  I think you are dealing in stereotypes and generalities here. I've been a member of a Russian Orthodox Church for 15 years, and the Russians I know I would not describe as gloomy or somber people.  If anything, they have quite varied personalities.  Some are very warm and affectionate and out-going.  Others are a bit more quiet and reserved until they get to know you.  Some are very polished and refined people and well-educated.  Others are manual laborers and barely speak any English. They smile, they laugh, they get sad just like regular Americans do.  While they do come from a different culture than I do ( I am an Anglo American and English is my native language), I can't say that they are that different from me. Other than the language difference between us, I have always found it very easy to relate to the Russians in my parish.  I have found that on the whole, they tend to be very pious people and they take their Orthodoxy seriously.  But a lot of them have a great sense of fun too, esp. at holidays. They also tend to be very hospitable people, and are quite willing to share whatever they have with you, esp. their food, drink and fellowship.  They almost never bring up the subject of Russian history with me, but if I bring it up they are very eager and DELIGHTED to share with me the history of their country. They are the same way about the Russian language.  They speak Russian amongst themselves, but if I sit down at the table with them they will switch to English so that I don't feel excluded.  There were a number of us  (Americans)in the choir that wanted to learn how to sing services in Slavonic and when our Russian parishioners found out about this, they were quite moved. It really touched them that we cared enough to do that.  I have found the Russian people I know at church to be very down-to-earth, humble, pious and very willing to treat everyone like a family member.  Gloomy is a word I just don't associate with Russians. 

I will say that for me personally, after I converted to Orthodoxy, it has been easier for me to get to know Russians than it has been to get to know Greeks. I found the Russians more direct, more affectionate, and more excited about getting converts.  The Greeks I've met were more cautious about receiving converts and a little more cold and distant in the beginning.  However, I found if I persisted with the Greeks, they began to drop some of their reserve and become more welcoming and familiar with me.  At risk of having other Orthodox criticize me here, I would say my experience of the Greek Orthodox is that they can be a bit clannish and suspicious of outsiders at the beginning. However, if you persist you can indeed chip away at the "Byzantine ice" that some people experience.  What really worked for me with the Greeks, was when I took an interest in their history.  I began reading about the Turkish yoke and the forced expulsion of the Greeks from Asia Minor in the 1920s.  I suddenly found MANY Greeks that eagerly wanted to share their stories with me. Most of them still had grandparents that lived through the period and remembered it well. I also took an interest in the Greek language and got some Greek Orthodox friends of mine to teach me the Lord's Prayer and the Nicene Creed in Greek.  They were really impressed that I wanted to learn their language. I have also sung in Greek Orthodox choirs and had some of their chanters teach me some Byzantine chant.  One I did these things, I found that the Greeks really opened up to me and accepted me as one of their own, no longer just a "convert" but a real fellow Orthodox Christian.

I took me a while, but now I really appreciate the Russianess of the Russians, the Greekness of the Greeks and the Americaness of the Americans.
My experience has been that there are two types of Greeks, those who don't care if you are not Greek, and those for whom it makes all the difference in the world (although I've gotten by in Greek and know a lot of their history, so I've never dealt with them from scratch, as it were).
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« Reply #20 on: December 19, 2011, 03:52:53 AM »

Russian writers tend to be much more literalistic and direct, while Greeks are normally more philosophical, which reflects their respective cultural traits.

Yes. Golden age Russian writing and philosophy evolved within their intellectual class, who had a gestalt view of themselves and their lives. Religion and philosophy was inseparable from their greatest literature and their moral codes. Greece has a very long history of philosophy, intellect, cultural evolution, etc...whereas most of the culture we know as Russian was solidified in their post-nomadic crunch from 1400 onwards. This accounts for the cultural differences and perhaps the relaxation that people associate with Greeks.
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« Reply #21 on: December 19, 2011, 07:07:18 AM »

A lot of the perception that the Russians are stricter, in my opinion, derives from the fact that the Russian Church Abroad was a "traditionalist" Church up until recently. Therefore, they kept more of the older, stricter piety than the "modernist" churches, like the New Calendar Greek Church. But I've been to Greek Old Calendar churches, like St Mark of Ephesus in Roslindale, MA, and they are on the whole just as strict and pious as the Russians, e.g. standing through the whole Liturgy. St Markella's in Astoria is a bit of an oddball, since most of the congregation there are former New Calendarists, so they're somewhat less strict, e.g. in the formality of their dress for liturgy, whether the women cover their heads, not standing through the whole service etc. The older Old Calendarist core of the congregation I observe to be more strict, e.g they're the ones who make a real effort to make it in time for Sunday morning Orthros, or at any rate before the Liturgy begins, to stay on their feet as much as they can bear, and so on.

Aside from this, there are some real differences in the two traditions. E.g. the Greeks have a custom of kneeling through the whole Epiclesis on weekdays, while the Russians stand and make a prostration at the end. But these are fairly minor differences. Someone noted that in fact the Russians have for a long time observed the traditional fasting rules more laxly, e.g. the ban on oil is mostly a dead letter even in very pious households. Again, the perception that the Russians are stricter in fasting seems to come from the fact that they remained more traditional in general, and therefore continued to observe the fast days long after most Greek New Calendarists stopped doing so.
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« Reply #22 on: December 19, 2011, 08:17:44 AM »

Yes, stopping fasting and no headcoverings. All that is due to the calendar change.
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« Reply #23 on: December 19, 2011, 08:46:43 AM »

Yes, stopping fasting and no headcoverings. All that is due to the calendar change.

I didn't say the calendar change caused that, at least not directly. I'm just observing that the churches which adopted the calendar change tend to have innovated in other ways, as well. Hardly a controversial observation.
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« Reply #24 on: December 19, 2011, 05:15:19 PM »

Russian writers tend to be much more literalistic and direct, while Greeks are normally more philosophical, which reflects their respective cultural traits.

whereas most of the culture we know as Russian was solidified in their post-nomadic crunch from 1400 onwards. This accounts for the cultural differences and perhaps the relaxation that people associate with Greeks.
don't you mean from the time of Peter the great onwards?
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« Reply #25 on: December 19, 2011, 06:57:13 PM »

You summed it up rather well.  Russians are much different people than Greeks,...  it's only sunny 65 days of the year

Your posts are helpful, folk. It seems to me that Greeks inhabit a land of warm sun, turquoise sea, abundant wine, honey, olive oil, and women whose beauty was renowned before the Greeks even arrived in Greece; whereas Russians (quite apart from Stalin, the KGB etc) live in a land of vast tundra, snow, cold and dark forests. Presumably history and geography, whilst not effecting doctrine, have affected the ethos, the "feel", of their Orthodoxy.



While this as an important difference between them, the same comparison is bein g made by Southern Italians about the Northern Italians, comparing them to the "dark and gloomy" Germans! One cannot really compare Russians on the one hand with another ethnic group on the other. There are "reform" Russians (the Paris School) that has lead a renaissance in the Liturgical life of the Church, particularly in regard to frequent communion and confession practice. They are in marked contrast to Russians to have kept to the pre-1917 Russian practices regarding Confession and Communion. I suggest you read the writings of Father Alexander Schmemann for the former and any ROCOR catechism for the latter. Surprisingly, in both groups you will find a deep commitment to pass on the deposit of faith unchanged from one generation to another, but the Paris School referred back to earlier practices as it believed the 1917 Russian practices to have been tainted by Roman Catholic influences. You will also find the same level of reverence and awe for the Lord' body and blood. Same sort of divisions also exist in the Greek worlds, as they have had their own Eucharistic renaissance.

The biggest difference that I see in Orthodoxy is perhaps a reaction to the calamities that befell Her in Russia and other countries under Godless Communism; the march of Islam and its pernicious influence around the Mediterranean; the dispersal of Orthodox people all around the world; and the consequent exposure to heterodox POVs. Thus, I see a difference between the haves and the have nots  from a perspective of those Orthodox who are properly catechized and those who are not; those who take advantage of materials available to them (Holy Scriptures, writings of the Fathers, theological works, etc.) and those who either do not have access or interest; those who have pastors who have advanced theological education versus those whose priests only have rudimentary preparation; and, those who are fortunate to be worshiping side by side coverts to Orthodoxy from various backgrounds versus those who are in a cradle cocoon. You will see a greater tendency in the first group to use both mind and spirit in worship and personal piety. However, I cannot say the intensity of worship and depth and breath of personal piety is determined by any of the differences that we have seen explored on this thread.
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« Reply #26 on: December 20, 2011, 02:12:43 PM »

A lot of the perception that the Russians are stricter, in my opinion, derives from the fact that the Russian Church Abroad was a "traditionalist" Church up until recently.

Someone noted that in fact the Russians have for a long time observed the traditional fasting rules more laxly, e.g. the ban on oil is mostly a dead letter even in very pious households.

Maybe you don't know this but the use of olive oil through Russia and Belarus and Ukraine throughout history was rare.  In Ukraine sunflower seed oil has always been popular and oil made from other sources we don't see as common in North America such as walnut oil and so on.  For your information the banning of oil was never enforced by the Eastern Slavic Orthodox Churches.
 You are making assumptions that the same rules apply throughout all the variopus Orthodox churches.
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« Reply #27 on: December 21, 2011, 07:17:17 AM »

A lot of the perception that the Russians are stricter, in my opinion, derives from the fact that the Russian Church Abroad was a "traditionalist" Church up until recently.

Someone noted that in fact the Russians have for a long time observed the traditional fasting rules more laxly, e.g. the ban on oil is mostly a dead letter even in very pious households.

Maybe you don't know this but the use of olive oil through Russia and Belarus and Ukraine throughout history was rare.  In Ukraine sunflower seed oil has always been popular and oil made from other sources we don't see as common in North America such as walnut oil and so on.  For your information the banning of oil was never enforced by the Eastern Slavic Orthodox Churches.
 You are making assumptions that the same rules apply throughout all the variopus Orthodox churches.

Yes, that's what I said. Why are you insinuating that I wasn't aware the Slavs, or at any rate the eastern Slavs in Russia, didn't observe the ban against oil, when that is precisely what I wrote in the post you quoted?

The ban on oil is a dead letter in the Slavic churches, presumably because by "oil" they understood specifically "olive oil" (does Greek perhaps use different words for olive oil and other kinds of oil?). I've heard it argued that really the ban on oil ought to apply to all vegetable oils, since the point behind the rule is that foods cooked with any kind of oil are richer and therefore unsuitable for strict fast days, but in practice this does not seem to be what has been observed. This might be evidence that in fact the ban on olive oil was never just about the richness of the food, but because olive oil in particular was a symbol of rejoicing, and for that reason was unsuitable for strict fast days. Other kinds of vegetable oil do not have the same symbolic significance. Likewise, the ban on wine may have more to do with its significance as a symbol of joy, rather than merely the presence of alcohol, since in practice Slavs have been permitted to drink alcoholic beer on fast days.
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« Reply #28 on: December 21, 2011, 08:30:41 AM »

A lot of the perception that the Russians are stricter, in my opinion, derives from the fact that the Russian Church Abroad was a "traditionalist" Church up until recently.

Someone noted that in fact the Russians have for a long time observed the traditional fasting rules more laxly, e.g. the ban on oil is mostly a dead letter even in very pious households.

Maybe you don't know this but the use of olive oil through Russia and Belarus and Ukraine throughout history was rare.  In Ukraine sunflower seed oil has always been popular and oil made from other sources we don't see as common in North America such as walnut oil and so on.  For your information the banning of oil was never enforced by the Eastern Slavic Orthodox Churches.
 You are making assumptions that the same rules apply throughout all the variopus Orthodox churches.

Yes, that's what I said. Why are you insinuating that I wasn't aware the Slavs, or at any rate the eastern Slavs in Russia, didn't observe the ban against oil, when that is precisely what I wrote in the post you quoted?

The ban on oil is a dead letter in the Slavic churches, presumably because by "oil" they understood specifically "olive oil" (does Greek perhaps use different words for olive oil and other kinds of oil?). I've heard it argued that really the ban on oil ought to apply to all vegetable oils, since the point behind the rule is that foods cooked with any kind of oil are richer and therefore unsuitable for strict fast days, but in practice this does not seem to be what has been observed. This might be evidence that in fact the ban on olive oil was never just about the richness of the food, but because olive oil in particular was a symbol of rejoicing, and for that reason was unsuitable for strict fast days. Other kinds of vegetable oil do not have the same symbolic significance. Likewise, the ban on wine may have more to do with its significance as a symbol of joy, rather than merely the presence of alcohol, since in practice Slavs have been permitted to drink alcoholic beer on fast days.

My dear Jonathan

Allow me to clarify a few things mentioned in your post:

As someone who has been Orthodox for the better part of fifty years, and with great experience of both Greek and Slavic forms of Orthodoxy, I can say categorically that the Slavic approach to oil-free days is no different to that of the Greeks. Oils is oils - whether olive, vegetable, sunflower, or whatever. I also know that the abstention from wine or any other alcohol tends to be far more likely to be absolute among Slavs than amongst Greeks.

On the matter of oil (olive or otherwise) being a symbol of rejoicing, this, from my experience, is a modern shibboleth. Any oil, be it olive, seed, etc, has the ability to make food more palatable, through frying, or by coating baked lenten food, or in other ways of cooking. The Russians who might have rightly been given some laxity in consuming oil during fasting periods would be those in particularly isolated and barren areas, such as near the Arctic Circle, and Siberia. Otherwise, the Russians are no different to the Greeks in forgoing all oils on appointed lenten days.
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« Reply #29 on: December 21, 2011, 09:53:16 AM »

It was a shock to discover, when I moved from the Serbian to the Russian Church, that the Russians have extended the "No Wine" to include "No Beer and No Spirits."   

Is this normal?  Or is it part of some puritanical New World thing which interprets "wine" as meaning "anything with alcohol"?  Is this an innovation?  Or is it also followed back in the home countries?

During the very cold mornings during the Great Fast in Serbia after 5 freezing hours of services and prostrations in the monastery's stone church, the morning glass of warm slivovitsa was very welcome before we had to go to our "obediences" in the monastery, in the cow shed or whatever.
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« Reply #30 on: December 21, 2011, 11:19:44 AM »

A lot of the perception that the Russians are stricter, in my opinion, derives from the fact that the Russian Church Abroad was a "traditionalist" Church up until recently.

Someone noted that in fact the Russians have for a long time observed the traditional fasting rules more laxly, e.g. the ban on oil is mostly a dead letter even in very pious households.

Maybe you don't know this but the use of olive oil through Russia and Belarus and Ukraine throughout history was rare.  In Ukraine sunflower seed oil has always been popular and oil made from other sources we don't see as common in North America such as walnut oil and so on.  For your information the banning of oil was never enforced by the Eastern Slavic Orthodox Churches.
 You are making assumptions that the same rules apply throughout all the variopus Orthodox churches.

Yes, that's what I said. Why are you insinuating that I wasn't aware the Slavs, or at any rate the eastern Slavs in Russia, didn't observe the ban against oil, when that is precisely what I wrote in the post you quoted?

The ban on oil is a dead letter in the Slavic churches, presumably because by "oil" they understood specifically "olive oil" (does Greek perhaps use different words for olive oil and other kinds of oil?). I've heard it argued that really the ban on oil ought to apply to all vegetable oils, since the point behind the rule is that foods cooked with any kind of oil are richer and therefore unsuitable for strict fast days, but in practice this does not seem to be what has been observed. This might be evidence that in fact the ban on olive oil was never just about the richness of the food, but because olive oil in particular was a symbol of rejoicing, and for that reason was unsuitable for strict fast days. Other kinds of vegetable oil do not have the same symbolic significance. Likewise, the ban on wine may have more to do with its significance as a symbol of joy, rather than merely the presence of alcohol, since in practice Slavs have been permitted to drink alcoholic beer on fast days.

My dear Jonathan

Allow me to clarify a few things mentioned in your post:

As someone who has been Orthodox for the better part of fifty years, and with great experience of both Greek and Slavic forms of Orthodoxy, I can say categorically that the Slavic approach to oil-free days is no different to that of the Greeks. Oils is oils - whether olive, vegetable, sunflower, or whatever. I also know that the abstention from wine or any other alcohol tends to be far more likely to be absolute among Slavs than amongst Greeks.

On the matter of oil (olive or otherwise) being a symbol of rejoicing, this, from my experience, is a modern shibboleth. Any oil, be it olive, seed, etc, has the ability to make food more palatable, through frying, or by coating baked lenten food, or in other ways of cooking. The Russians who might have rightly been given some laxity in consuming oil during fasting periods would be those in particularly isolated and barren areas, such as near the Arctic Circle, and Siberia. Otherwise, the Russians are no different to the Greeks in forgoing all oils on appointed lenten days.

I'm sorry to oppose your venerable fifty-year authority in these matters, but the observance is nowhere near as absolute as you assert. My impression is that you are simply repeating Fr Alexander Lebedeff's arguments on the matter, without even giving him the courtesy of a citation. He is of the opinion that "oil" means all vegetable oil, but I know Orthodox who have lived their whole lives in both the Greek and Russian traditions, and they believe oil only refers to olive oil. I also know lifelong Orthodox who would be more inclined to agree with you. All this shows is that there are various ways to interpret the ban on "oil". Perhaps abstinence from all oil is the better practice, since it is the stricter, but I think we would have to agree that, if you need to use oil, it would be better to avoid olive oil and use some other kind. And certainly from my observation of how actual, normal Orthodox people observe these rules in practice, foods containing vegetable oils not made from olives, such as peanut butter, are allowed on non-oil days.

I know a hieromonk who attended Jordanville seminary, and he tells me they even served fish(!) on Wednesdays and Fridays (maybe not in Lent). So I'm not at all convinced by your claims that the extremely strict practice you advocate is universally observed, even by "traditionalists".
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« Reply #31 on: December 21, 2011, 11:30:52 AM »

I know a hieromonk who attended Jordanville seminary, and he tells me they even served fish(!) on Wednesdays and Fridays (maybe not in Lent). So I'm not at all convinced by your claims that the extremely strict practice you advocate is universally observed, even by "traditionalists".

I have quite a few friends who are monastics in Russia and Ukraine. They do not observe those rules (i.e. oil) with any particular rigour in their monasteries. As for hierarchs in the Moscow Patriarchate, cheese, eggs, and fish are frequently found at the bishops' banquets on Wednesdays and Fridays - only meat cannot somehow be justified on fasting days. As one Russian priest told me, "the further up you go in the Russian hierarchy, the less the canons apply to you." In my experience at least, the popular notion that Russians are great ascetics and Greeks are lazy liberals is little more than fiction.
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« Reply #32 on: December 21, 2011, 12:10:36 PM »

Quote
I know a hieromonk who attended Jordanville seminary, and he tells me they even served fish(!) on Wednesdays and Fridays (maybe not in Lent). So I'm not at all convinced by your claims that the extremely strict practice you advocate is universally observed, even by "traditionalists".

Neither am I, both from personal experience and from historical experience.
I agree with the above quote and have observed it both at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordonville, USA and also in monasteries in Ukraine.

 Fish is not served in Lent on Fridays & Wednesdays but is eaten during Lent and always has been.  I believe it is even mentioned in the first Sobor proceedings we have on record: the Synod of Vladimir.

Plus, my family is and always has been Orthodox.  The eating of fish except on Fridays & Wednesdays has always been a part of Lent for the laity.
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« Reply #33 on: December 21, 2011, 12:42:33 PM »

Just found this article from April 11, 2011.  Unfortunately, I cannot find an English version:
http://www.interfax-religion.ru/?act=news&div=40259
11 апреля 2011 года, 10:24
Монастырские правила поста не обязательны для всех православных, отмечают в Русской церкви

Basically, a spokesman for the MP, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, Department for Church and Public Relations, states  that that the monastic fasting rules do not apply to non-monastics including the laity and clergy. In other words non-monastics eat fish during the Great Lent.  He also said that everyone is aware of this rule but some are trying to enforce the  strictest monastic rules on lay people.  Thus, he wanted to set the record straight.
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« Reply #34 on: December 21, 2011, 01:06:35 PM »

Quote
I know a hieromonk who attended Jordanville seminary, and he tells me they even served fish(!) on Wednesdays and Fridays (maybe not in Lent). So I'm not at all convinced by your claims that the extremely strict practice you advocate is universally observed, even by "traditionalists".

Neither am I, both from personal experience and from historical experience.
I agree with the above quote and have observed it both at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordonville, USA and also in monasteries in Ukraine.

 Fish is not served in Lent on Fridays & Wednesdays but is eaten during Lent and always has been.  I believe it is even mentioned in the first Sobor proceedings we have on record: the Synod of Vladimir.

Plus, my family is and always has been Orthodox.  The eating of fish except on Fridays & Wednesdays has always been a part of Lent for the laity.
A Greek priest who spent time on Mount Athos mentioned something in a talk about the Russian monks eating fish.  The Carpatho-Russian audience didn't seem to think it odd.
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« Reply #35 on: December 21, 2011, 03:14:29 PM »

My experience in the Serbian Church is like what is mentioned here.  Laymen and White Clergy are allowed to eat fish on any fast day other than strict fasts where nothing is eaten (Good Friday).  I have also noticed that there is a difference in wine and other spirits.  Oil is interpreted as olive oil (and olives themselves).  Like my Priest said, how do you eat nuts or most anything else without eating oil?  If I can eat peanuts and corn, why not oil made from them? 

Quote
I know a hieromonk who attended Jordanville seminary, and he tells me they even served fish(!) on Wednesdays and Fridays (maybe not in Lent). So I'm not at all convinced by your claims that the extremely strict practice you advocate is universally observed, even by "traditionalists".

Neither am I, both from personal experience and from historical experience.
I agree with the above quote and have observed it both at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordonville, USA and also in monasteries in Ukraine.

 Fish is not served in Lent on Fridays & Wednesdays but is eaten during Lent and always has been.  I believe it is even mentioned in the first Sobor proceedings we have on record: the Synod of Vladimir.

Plus, my family is and always has been Orthodox.  The eating of fish except on Fridays & Wednesdays has always been a part of Lent for the laity.
A Greek priest who spent time on Mount Athos mentioned something in a talk about the Russian monks eating fish.  The Carpatho-Russian audience didn't seem to think it odd.
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« Reply #36 on: December 21, 2011, 04:22:24 PM »

In Transylvania those that cared enough to keep the fast in the past before Communism kept it very strictly because of the generalized poverty. No fish (not very common, as see is far off, not many great rivers), oil even was scarce and made of pumpkin seeds. The staple food was potatoes, boiled beans, "mamaliga" and some sort of soup made with tomato juice and dried bread they mockingly called "stick soup", because it could as well have been made of the wooden, stick-like spoon used to stir it. That i know from grand-parents and their generation.
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« Reply #37 on: December 21, 2011, 04:38:22 PM »

Quote
My impression is that you are simply repeating Fr Alexander Lebedeff's arguments on the matter, without even giving him the courtesy of a citation.

Your presumption is mistaken, Jonathan. I have no need to cite Fr Alexander's arguments. What I expressed is from my own life, and the practice of generations of Orthodox around me, layman and cleric. There is no requirement for academic citation. I stand by what I wrote.
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« Reply #38 on: December 21, 2011, 04:52:03 PM »

A lot of the perception that the Russians are stricter, in my opinion, derives from the fact that the Russian Church Abroad was a "traditionalist" Church up until recently.

Someone noted that in fact the Russians have for a long time observed the traditional fasting rules more laxly, e.g. the ban on oil is mostly a dead letter even in very pious households.

Maybe you don't know this but the use of olive oil through Russia and Belarus and Ukraine throughout history was rare.  In Ukraine sunflower seed oil has always been popular and oil made from other sources we don't see as common in North America such as walnut oil and so on.  For your information the banning of oil was never enforced by the Eastern Slavic Orthodox Churches.
 You are making assumptions that the same rules apply throughout all the variopus Orthodox churches.

Yes, that's what I said. Why are you insinuating that I wasn't aware the Slavs, or at any rate the eastern Slavs in Russia, didn't observe the ban against oil, when that is precisely what I wrote in the post you quoted?

The ban on oil is a dead letter in the Slavic churches, presumably because by "oil" they understood specifically "olive oil" (does Greek perhaps use different words for olive oil and other kinds of oil?). I've heard it argued that really the ban on oil ought to apply to all vegetable oils, since the point behind the rule is that foods cooked with any kind of oil are richer and therefore unsuitable for strict fast days, but in practice this does not seem to be what has been observed. This might be evidence that in fact the ban on olive oil was never just about the richness of the food, but because olive oil in particular was a symbol of rejoicing, and for that reason was unsuitable for strict fast days. Other kinds of vegetable oil do not have the same symbolic significance. Likewise, the ban on wine may have more to do with its significance as a symbol of joy, rather than merely the presence of alcohol, since in practice Slavs have been permitted to drink alcoholic beer on fast days.

My dear Jonathan

Allow me to clarify a few things mentioned in your post:

As someone who has been Orthodox for the better part of fifty years, and with great experience of both Greek and Slavic forms of Orthodoxy, I can say categorically that the Slavic approach to oil-free days is no different to that of the Greeks. Oils is oils - whether olive, vegetable, sunflower, or whatever. I also know that the abstention from wine or any other alcohol tends to be far more likely to be absolute among Slavs than amongst Greeks.

On the matter of oil (olive or otherwise) being a symbol of rejoicing, this, from my experience, is a modern shibboleth. Any oil, be it olive, seed, etc, has the ability to make food more palatable, through frying, or by coating baked lenten food, or in other ways of cooking. The Russians who might have rightly been given some laxity in consuming oil during fasting periods would be those in particularly isolated and barren areas, such as near the Arctic Circle, and Siberia. Otherwise, the Russians are no different to the Greeks in forgoing all oils on appointed lenten days.

I'm sorry to oppose your venerable fifty-year authority in these matters, but the observance is nowhere near as absolute as you assert. My impression is that you are simply repeating Fr Alexander Lebedeff's arguments on the matter, without even giving him the courtesy of a citation. He is of the opinion that "oil" means all vegetable oil, but I know Orthodox who have lived their whole lives in both the Greek and Russian traditions, and they believe oil only refers to olive oil. I also know lifelong Orthodox who would be more inclined to agree with you. All this shows is that there are various ways to interpret the ban on "oil". Perhaps abstinence from all oil is the better practice, since it is the stricter, but I think we would have to agree that, if you need to use oil, it would be better to avoid olive oil and use some other kind. And certainly from my observation of how actual, normal Orthodox people observe these rules in practice, foods containing vegetable oils not made from olives, such as peanut butter, are allowed on non-oil days.

I know a hieromonk who attended Jordanville seminary, and he tells me they even served fish(!) on Wednesdays and Fridays (maybe not in Lent). So I'm not at all convinced by your claims that the extremely strict practice you advocate is universally observed, even by "traditionalists".

Oil in Serbian monasteries....

Olive oil is distinguished from other oils.  On days when oil is forbidden it is olive oil which goes off the menu.  Vegetable oils may be used on those days but not when preparing for Holy Communion.  
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« Reply #39 on: December 21, 2011, 05:03:59 PM »

Quote
I know a hieromonk who attended Jordanville seminary, and he tells me they even served fish(!) on Wednesdays and Fridays (maybe not in Lent). So I'm not at all convinced by your claims that the extremely strict practice you advocate is universally observed, even by "traditionalists".

Neither am I, both from personal experience and from historical experience.
I agree with the above quote and have observed it both at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordonville, USA and also in monasteries in Ukraine.

 Fish is not served in Lent on Fridays & Wednesdays but is eaten during Lent and always has been.  I believe it is even mentioned in the first Sobor proceedings we have on record: the Synod of Vladimir.

Plus, my family is and always has been Orthodox.  The eating of fish except on Fridays & Wednesdays has always been a part of Lent for the laity.

That makes no sense to me.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's better to not fast than to fast legalistically.  But why does every official Orthodox fasting calendar I've ever seen prohibit fish during Lent if it's so common?
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« Reply #40 on: December 21, 2011, 05:34:28 PM »

Quote
I know a hieromonk who attended Jordanville seminary, and he tells me they even served fish(!) on Wednesdays and Fridays (maybe not in Lent). So I'm not at all convinced by your claims that the extremely strict practice you advocate is universally observed, even by "traditionalists".

Neither am I, both from personal experience and from historical experience.
I agree with the above quote and have observed it both at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordonville, USA and also in monasteries in Ukraine.

 Fish is not served in Lent on Fridays & Wednesdays but is eaten during Lent and always has been.  I believe it is even mentioned in the first Sobor proceedings we have on record: the Synod of Vladimir.

Plus, my family is and always has been Orthodox.  The eating of fish except on Fridays & Wednesdays has always been a part of Lent for the laity.

That makes no sense to me.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's better to not fast than to fast legalistically.  But why does every official Orthodox fasting calendar I've ever seen prohibit fish during Lent if it's so common?

+ 1

This thread reminds me why I shouldn't read OC.net during fasting seasons.
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« Reply #41 on: December 21, 2011, 05:54:22 PM »

There has always been diversity in fasting customs.  It varies from the monasteries of Syria to the monasteries of the Russian forests.  It varies from town to town, and individual to individual.   There is an overarching pattern but it is variable to some extent.  
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« Reply #42 on: December 21, 2011, 06:12:15 PM »

There have always been diversity in fasting customs.  It varies from the monasteries of Syria to the monasteries of the Russian forests.  It varies from town to town, and individual to individual.   There is an overarching pattern but it is variable to some extent.   

As well it should be.  If God was that interested in the particulars of New Testament fasting, he would have had Paul or one of the other Apostles write "The Second Book of Leviticus". 
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« Reply #43 on: December 21, 2011, 11:39:36 PM »

There have always been diversity in fasting customs.  It varies from the monasteries of Syria to the monasteries of the Russian forests.  It varies from town to town, and individual to individual.   There is an overarching pattern but it is variable to some extent.   

As well it should be.  If God was that interested in the particulars of New Testament fasting, he would have had Paul or one of the other Apostles write "The Second Book of Leviticus". 
SCORE! Grin
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« Reply #44 on: December 30, 2011, 06:08:18 PM »

As well it should be.  If God was that interested in the particulars of New Testament fasting, he would have had Paul or one of the other Apostles write "The Second Book of Leviticus". 

I like it!
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« Reply #45 on: December 30, 2011, 06:22:25 PM »

augustin717, i made mamaliga this fast! ('polenta' to west europeans) it goes very well with beans and cabbage.
and i laughed at the 'stick soup'; did they stir it with the mamaliga stick? (which is a bit like a spoon) that would definately give it a strange taste! i have found a large wooden salad fork is the best alternative for stirring mamaliga as i can't find a mamaliga stick in my country.

as for oil, somehow we copts are lax about oil as well, as we only exclude olive oil.
but i can't imagine eating fish in lent! a few people do that, but generally we try to avoid it.
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« Reply #46 on: December 31, 2011, 06:31:52 AM »

One of you - I forget who - recommended The Mountain of Silence by Markides. Thank you: I now have a copy, and look forward to reading it.
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« Reply #47 on: December 31, 2011, 07:04:27 AM »

One of you - I forget who - recommended The Mountain of Silence by Markides. Thank you: I now have a copy, and look forward to reading it.
It was me! I'm so glad to hear it! Do pm me your thoughts on the book when you are through. I can't wait to hear what you think of it!
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« Reply #48 on: December 31, 2011, 08:26:09 AM »

As of the topic, I've heard a claim that Russian Orthodoxy tends to be more skeptical on various religious experiences and miracles than Greek Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #49 on: December 31, 2011, 11:05:30 AM »

Quote
I know a hieromonk who attended Jordanville seminary, and he tells me they even served fish(!) on Wednesdays and Fridays (maybe not in Lent). So I'm not at all convinced by your claims that the extremely strict practice you advocate is universally observed, even by "traditionalists".

Neither am I, both from personal experience and from historical experience.
I agree with the above quote and have observed it both at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordonville, USA and also in monasteries in Ukraine.

 Fish is not served in Lent on Fridays & Wednesdays but is eaten during Lent and always has been.  I believe it is even mentioned in the first Sobor proceedings we have on record: the Synod of Vladimir.

Plus, my family is and always has been Orthodox.  The eating of fish except on Fridays & Wednesdays has always been a part of Lent for the laity.

That makes no sense to me.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's better to not fast than to fast legalistically.  But why does every official Orthodox fasting calendar I've ever seen prohibit fish during Lent if it's so common?

What about the stattement from the MP which says the Russian tradition IS to eat fish during Lent?
Also as for calendars it depends which ones you are looking at and in which languages.  Every calendar I have seen has a Fish outlined in red for all days of Lent except Wednesdays and Fridays and for every Wednesday and Friday for non Lenten periods which means you eat fish on those days and not meat.
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« Reply #50 on: December 31, 2011, 12:40:34 PM »

There have always been diversity in fasting customs.  It varies from the monasteries of Syria to the monasteries of the Russian forests.  It varies from town to town, and individual to individual.   There is an overarching pattern but it is variable to some extent.   

As well it should be.  If God was that interested in the particulars of New Testament fasting, he would have had Paul or one of the other Apostles write "The Second Book of Leviticus". 
It's called "the Pedalion."
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« Reply #51 on: December 31, 2011, 12:43:23 PM »

augustin717, i made mamaliga this fast! ('polenta' to west europeans) it goes very well with beans and cabbage.
and i laughed at the 'stick soup'; did they stir it with the mamaliga stick? (which is a bit like a spoon) that would definately give it a strange taste! i have found a large wooden salad fork is the best alternative for stirring mamaliga as i can't find a mamaliga stick in my country.

as for oil, somehow we copts are lax about oil as well, as we only exclude olive oil.
but i can't imagine eating fish in lent! a few people do that, but generally we try to avoid it.
I used to horrify my outlaw relatives by eating soupy mamaliga sweetened with sugar.  Never could get into the lumpy stuff with cheese.
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« Reply #52 on: December 31, 2011, 01:00:30 PM »

Quote
I know a hieromonk who attended Jordanville seminary, and he tells me they even served fish(!) on Wednesdays and Fridays (maybe not in Lent). So I'm not at all convinced by your claims that the extremely strict practice you advocate is universally observed, even by "traditionalists".

Neither am I, both from personal experience and from historical experience.
I agree with the above quote and have observed it both at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordonville, USA and also in monasteries in Ukraine.

 Fish is not served in Lent on Fridays & Wednesdays but is eaten during Lent and always has been.  I believe it is even mentioned in the first Sobor proceedings we have on record: the Synod of Vladimir.

Plus, my family is and always has been Orthodox.  The eating of fish except on Fridays & Wednesdays has always been a part of Lent for the laity.

That makes no sense to me.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's better to not fast than to fast legalistically.  But why does every official Orthodox fasting calendar I've ever seen prohibit fish during Lent if it's so common?

What about the stattement from the MP which says the Russian tradition IS to eat fish during Lent?
Also as for calendars it depends which ones you are looking at and in which languages.  Every calendar I have seen has a Fish outlined in red for all days of Lent except Wednesdays and Fridays and for every Wednesday and Friday for non Lenten periods which means you eat fish on those days and not meat.
IIRC the Russian tradition is to treat fresh-water fish as being equal to shell-fish in the level of fasting restrictions. The reason I've heard is that more landlocked Russians (especially peasants) had access to fresh-water fish while shell-fish and salt water fish were a rarity and expensive, where the Greeks could easily obtain either fresh or salt-water and had an abundance of shell-fish for fasting purposes.

I remember this coming up at the OCA parish I was attending last Lent (our interim priest recommended not distinguishing between salt and freshwater and just going with fish in general). The person asking about it was an old baba who had grown up with the fresh-water is ok rule.
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« Reply #53 on: February 06, 2012, 10:49:51 AM »

Thought you good people might like this picture I came across.
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« Reply #54 on: February 06, 2012, 11:11:38 AM »

You summed it up rather well.  Russians are much different people than Greeks,...  it's only sunny 65 days of the year

Your posts are helpful, folk. It seems to me that Greeks inhabit a land of warm sun, turquoise sea, abundant wine, honey, olive oil, and women whose beauty was renowned before the Greeks even arrived in Greece; whereas Russians (quite apart from Stalin, the KGB etc) live in a land of vast tundra, snow, cold and dark forests. Presumably history and geography, whilst not effecting doctrine, have affected the ethos, the "feel", of their Orthodoxy.



to be fair, the Russian's have their fair share of beautiful women... Wink
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« Reply #55 on: February 06, 2012, 11:18:11 AM »

to be fair, the Russian's have their fair share of beautiful women... Wink

I do not think I have ever seen a Russian woman - but at a pavement table outside a taverna in Greece, one has to remind oneself that the creatures walking past are human, and not goddesses. (Er... but we're getting off the point  Wink.)
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« Reply #56 on: February 06, 2012, 11:58:10 AM »

You summed it up rather well.  Russians are much different people than Greeks,...  it's only sunny 65 days of the year

Your posts are helpful, folk. It seems to me that Greeks inhabit a land of warm sun, turquoise sea, abundant wine, honey, olive oil, and women whose beauty was renowned before the Greeks even arrived in Greece; whereas Russians (quite apart from Stalin, the KGB etc) live in a land of vast tundra, snow, cold and dark forests. Presumably history and geography, whilst not effecting doctrine, have affected the ethos, the "feel", of their Orthodoxy.



to be fair, the Russian's have their fair share of beautiful women... Wink

Good thing I'm in ROCOR where the mandatory headscarf and dresscode is still followed or those long legs and hair would be quite the stumbling block for me!  Grin

I think the Orthodox world in general has by far the most beautiful women out of any other countries and who are not afraid to actually be women.






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« Reply #57 on: February 06, 2012, 12:56:06 PM »

the mandatory headscarf and dresscode is still followed or those long legs and hair would be quite the stumbling block for me! 

There is such a dress code also in the stricter Baptist churches here in Britain, but girls are still well able to combine looking coy with coquettish in most alluring ways. Also, I have had the absurb experience of speaking in a rather stern Baptist church, where a group of Dutch teenagers, who did not understand English, were visiting. Having discussed in some disquiet whether it would be all right for a woman to interpret me into Dutch, that is, that it would not be a woman preaching, and having after some hesitation said it would be acceptable, the minister allowed the proceedings to get started, and in trooped the teenage girls, heads piously covered as by the rule, but wearing - I ought not to say 'delightfully', but certainly very - short skirts.

What daft rules people dream up in church! (Not including head-covering of course, which can be argued from Corinthians.) And how easy it is to follow the letter of a rule, and yet do violence to its spirit! (Methodist preachers used to be forbidden to wear white hats: where did they get that from in the Bible?)

But I suspect we have wandered into a different theme from (or 'than' as you Americans say) the contrast between Russian and Greek Orthodoxy!  Wink
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« Reply #58 on: February 21, 2012, 12:02:12 AM »

Thought you good people might like this picture I came across.


Thank you.  I like that quite a lot. 
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« Reply #59 on: February 21, 2012, 04:16:36 PM »

i've just now noticed ialmisry's polenta with sugar!
 Shocked
though i did once try leftover maize starch with sugar and it was great, so i suppose it's the same, just don't tell any romanians u did it. lumpy with cheese is equivalent to the scots 'only' eating porridge made with water and salt, not sugar.
 Wink
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« Reply #60 on: February 21, 2012, 06:45:24 PM »

Good thing that I spend all of my time on the altar side of the Iconostasis.  I, too, have found that women from the Orthodox world have been endowed with a natural beauty, and they know full well how to present it.  Interestingly, even the women I have seen in the ROCOR that stop just short of wearing burquas seem to still look beautiful.

You summed it up rather well.  Russians are much different people than Greeks,...  it's only sunny 65 days of the year

Your posts are helpful, folk. It seems to me that Greeks inhabit a land of warm sun, turquoise sea, abundant wine, honey, olive oil, and women whose beauty was renowned before the Greeks even arrived in Greece; whereas Russians (quite apart from Stalin, the KGB etc) live in a land of vast tundra, snow, cold and dark forests. Presumably history and geography, whilst not effecting doctrine, have affected the ethos, the "feel", of their Orthodoxy.



to be fair, the Russian's have their fair share of beautiful women... Wink

Good thing I'm in ROCOR where the mandatory headscarf and dresscode is still followed or those long legs and hair would be quite the stumbling block for me!  Grin

I think the Orthodox world in general has by far the most beautiful women out of any other countries and who are not afraid to actually be women.







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« Reply #61 on: March 08, 2012, 06:28:52 PM »

Considering I do not attend an ethnic Church from either side nor have I ever visited their native countries, everything I say should be taken with a grain of salt because it is simply based on what I have observed from the few individuals who are Greek and Russian in my OCA parish. Anyway, now that the theological differences have been answered, judging from externals I would say that the Russian people I have observed in my Church seem very concerned with piety and being humble, they'll usually talk to anyone who is willing to talk to them. On the other hand, I've noticed that the Greeks may be a bit more weary to outsiders, but once you break the ice they'll accept you as practically a part of their family and treat you like so, both in good ways and bad ways! For example, many of them will hug and greet you nicely, offer you foods and invite you to gatherings, but at other times they will scold you if you forget to tuck your shirt in, or make you get them a cup of coffee etc. More among the older Greek women, I still respect them though and I know that their intentions are good. They aren't doing this to take advantage of me, but they are doing it because they consider me to be a son or grandson, and they are treating me like one. I don't have as much experience with Greek men though as I do with Russian men; most of the Greeks in my Church are elderly women, while most of the Russians are middle-aged men and their wives.
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« Reply #62 on: March 08, 2012, 06:34:51 PM »

I think the Orthodox world in general has by far the most beautiful women out of any other countries and who are not afraid to actually be women.

I would have to agree with this man; at least in terms of the Russian immigrant women I've seen in America since I've never actually been to any slavic country. Anyhow, turning women into a commodity may be a bit harsh. Each of those beautiful Greek and Russian women you all see all have an individual personality and are unique in their own way, some rotten and some amazing; just as in every women or man for that matter of any cultural background. Generalizing each of them because of their looks is a bit immature, and indeed, if I condemn you guys for it I also condemn myself because I too am prone to doing this.
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« Reply #63 on: March 08, 2012, 08:39:52 PM »

to be fair, the Russian's have their fair share of beautiful women... Wink

I do not think I have ever seen a Russian woman - but at a pavement table outside a taverna in Greece, one has to remind oneself that the creatures walking past are human, and not goddesses. (Er... but we're getting off the point  Wink.)

now you have...

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« Reply #64 on: March 09, 2012, 04:16:47 AM »

now you have...

Wow! Thank you. Changing "out of" to "along with" I'd agree with the quotation below:

Quote
I think the Orthodox world in general has by far the most beautiful women out of any other countries and who are not afraid to actually be women.

Most young missionaries to Albania fairly soon marry an Albanian woman. One Kosovan pastor I know well, whose father was an imam, was genuinely made to think seriously about Christianity when he was fairly young, because his Moslem mother went covered, whilst the beauty of the women of the Catholic minority (4%) was visible, and it began to seem wrong to him that his mother's beauty, created by God, should be hidden away. Later of course much more serious religious questioning arose before he turned to Christ, but this was part of its genesis. But the heart of the matter - again from the above quotation - is "women... who are not afraid to actually be women", for I believe that Western men in Japan are similarly smitten.


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« Reply #65 on: March 10, 2012, 01:14:13 AM »

the most beautiful women [...] who are not afraid to actually be women.

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« Reply #66 on: March 10, 2012, 03:30:12 AM »

Most Greek women in America are not among the most beautiful in the world.  For instance, virtually every one of them that I have seen feels the need to have the same disturbing hair style, wear excessive amounts of makeup, and wear clothing that is not exactly becoming of a woman.  I can think of one counter-example though.
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« Reply #67 on: March 10, 2012, 04:55:15 AM »

Most Greek women in America are not among the most beautiful in the world.  For instance, virtually every one of them that I have seen feels the need to have the same disturbing hair style, wear excessive amounts of makeup, and wear clothing that is not exactly becoming of a woman.  I can think of one counter-example though.

Well beauty is subjective and it is only natural for the people of a certain area to adopt the cultural standards and trends of beauty of wherever they are living, so maybe you simply prefer Greek women who live by the cultural standard and trend of beauty in their native country of Greece, whereas the immigrants over here are adopting the standards of America.
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« Reply #68 on: March 10, 2012, 11:28:25 AM »

Greek women in America ... virtually every one of them that I have seen ... disturbing hair style, ... excessive amounts of makeup... clothing that is not exactly becoming of a woman. 

Horrible! But less temptation for us blokes.

Didn't we ought to be discussing religion?  Wink Well, Luther said, "...und doch war die Frau die Krone der Schôpfung", so perhaps we might tell ourselves we are.
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« Reply #69 on: March 10, 2012, 11:33:32 AM »

it is only natural for the people ... to adopt the cultural standards and trends of beauty of wherever they are living,

Your phrase only natural may be saying more than you realise, for nature is fallen, and western society is in disintegration and decay and a strong slide away from God. If what they are doing in pursuing strange trends of beauty is taking them further from what God made in creation, does this not say something about them spiritually? (Not that we blokes are any better of course.)
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« Reply #70 on: March 10, 2012, 04:58:02 PM »

Your phrase only natural may be saying more than you realise, for nature is fallen, and western society is in disintegration and decay and a strong slide away from God. If what they are doing in pursuing strange trends of beauty is taking them further from what God made in creation, does this not say something about them spiritually? (Not that we blokes are any better of course.)

You may be right, Mr. Young. I never looked at it that way; now I've got some food for thought. As a westerner I'd have to agree with you about the deterioration of western society, however, I would also ask, is eastern society really any better? Maybe in certain ways, but I have no doubt that societies in the east are just as bad as the west, albeit in different ways perhaps. Maybe the issue comes in following any standard or trend that is not from God.
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« Reply #71 on: March 10, 2012, 06:03:46 PM »

is eastern society really any better?

I have never been out of Europe, though I have looked across the bridge that takes you to Turkey. I think the difference is this, that we in the West have known God's blessing over many centuries and have deliberately turned away from Him and proudly or carelessly contemned and dismantled our Christian heritage. I have a personal theory that those whom God has raised high in gracious blessing, when they fall they fall lower than others. In my view, one aspect of the disintegration of society is that women turn away from the femininity God bestowed upon them; at the same time men turn away from manliness - each resisting the God-given nature and rôle. The things we have discussed in recent posts on this thread, albeit somewhat humorously, are in fact just one symptom among many of a broad and deep problem, as men, women, youngsters, families, churches and governments lose their bearings and press on further and further into godlessness.
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« Reply #72 on: March 10, 2012, 11:15:51 PM »

now you have...

Wow! Thank you. Changing "out of" to "along with" I'd agree with the quotation below:

Quote
I think the Orthodox world in general has by far the most beautiful women out of any other countries and who are not afraid to actually be women.

Most young missionaries to Albania fairly soon marry an Albanian woman. One Kosovan pastor I know well, whose father was an imam, was genuinely made to think seriously about Christianity when he was fairly young, because his Moslem mother went covered, whilst the beauty of the women of the Catholic minority (4%) was visible, and it began to seem wrong to him that his mother's beauty, created by God, should be hidden away. Later of course much more serious religious questioning arose before he turned to Christ, but this was part of its genesis. But the heart of the matter - again from the above quotation - is "women... who are not afraid to actually be women", for I believe that Western men in Japan are similarly smitten.

Of course, the most beautiful Orthodox woman we know of to be:



 angel
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« Reply #73 on: March 11, 2012, 10:02:35 AM »

I suspect, if we went among Russian Baptists, that we would find a beauty similar to that among Russian Orthodox.
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"But if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you are not consumed by one another." Galatians 5.15
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« Reply #74 on: March 11, 2012, 10:51:00 AM »

I suspect, if we went among Russian Baptists, that we would find a beauty similar to that among Russian Orthodox.

A town not too far from me has 5,000 plus Slavic recent immigrants.  The Russian Baptist church brings people over, gives them jobs and housing, helps get them on their feet.  The Orthodox church is three miles and in town and a handful of Russians attend.  The Russian Baptist church has, as I have heard, over 1000 families as members.
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« Reply #75 on: March 11, 2012, 01:11:49 PM »

I suspect, if we went among Russian Baptists, that we would find a beauty similar to that among Russian Orthodox.

A town not too far from me has 5,000 plus Slavic recent immigrants.  The Russian Baptist church brings people over, gives them jobs and housing, helps get them on their feet.  The Orthodox church is three miles and in town and a handful of Russians attend.  The Russian Baptist church has, as I have heard, over 1000 families as members.
I have seen that happen with Ukrainian Pentecostals: with the help of Pentecostal funding they bring over working-class Pentecostals.  But the next generation goes to university, joins the local university Ukrainian Students Club at university and starts questioning their faith and starts knocking on our church doors.
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David Young
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« Reply #76 on: March 11, 2012, 01:41:35 PM »

the next generation ... starts questioning their faith and starts knocking on our church doors.

They are questioning their faith - as perhaps we all do at different stages of our development - but are they not also searching into their ethnic and cultural roots, the world of their grandparents?
« Last Edit: March 11, 2012, 01:42:52 PM by David Young » Logged

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« Reply #77 on: March 11, 2012, 05:47:37 PM »

the next generation ... starts questioning their faith and starts knocking on our church doors.

They are questioning their faith - as perhaps we all do at different stages of our development - but are they not also searching into their ethnic and cultural roots, the world of their grandparents?
Maybe: what I noticed was an intellectual questioning.  These are young people who came over sponsored with their parents as young children and then at university age started to question the simplicity of the faith in the Pentecostal Church they attend.  They find that we Orthodox can provide answers different from the stereotypes of Orthodox Christianity provided by their Pentecostal pastors.
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« Reply #78 on: March 12, 2012, 08:27:01 AM »

we Orthodox can provide answers different from the stereotypes of Orthodox Christianity provided by their Pentecostal pastors.

I have been pondering this post for a couple of days, and it has produced a number of thoughts. Why would Pentecostal pastors give their protégés a distorted picture Orthodoxy?

One possible explanation is that they do it knowingly, deliberately and (one might even say in some cases) cynically, so as to divert their people from inquiring further into Orthodoxy. I cannot assert that this does not happen.

On the other hand, maybe some of them have known Orthodox individuals or churches which have earned the twisted stereotype of your Faith. Let me illustrate. Take us Baptists - American, British, and Russian. I do not doubt that on essentials we are in substantial or full agreement; but in ethos we can vary widely. Orthodox in the southern States who post here give a very different picture of Baptist ethos from what they would be likely to find in most churches in Britain, and I have no reason to doubt the portrayal. Indeed, my Bible Baptist friend from southern California who is over here pastoring a nearby church quite openly says that I would not be acceptable in a lot of churches in the States (though he has me preach at his church here). Further, I have heard it told that in Germany, Russian Baptists (no doubt Auslandsdeutsche) who have left the Soviet Union since 1991 and settled in Germany cannot settle in German churches and instead set up Russian Baptist churches. This does not even consider the Black churches.

Similarly, there must surely be a wide range of depth, understanding, practice, piety and ethos in various Orthodox churches. Even in Albania, in one town a previous (visiting) bishop cursed us publicly from the Orthodox pulpit, but a later, resident bishop welcomed me with coffee, cognac and friendliness, wished me blessing in (as he put it) "the Lord's vineyard", and gave me a book as a parting gift. Whether of the twain embodied the real Orthodoxy to which I should respond? And should I believe the deeply Christ-centred writings I enjoy from some Russian Orthodox writers, or should I believe the Albanian priest who could go no further than telling me that he hopes Jesus portrays the character of God?

It is possible - and we are bidden in scripture to hope and believe all things (1 Cor. 13) - that the Pentecostal pastors to whom you refer have only met the less noble forms of Orthodoxy and are sincerely warning their young people off for that reason.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2012, 08:28:22 AM by David Young » Logged

"But if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you are not consumed by one another." Galatians 5.15
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