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Author Topic: Converts: Do people think you're weird?  (Read 3308 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: December 30, 2011, 05:16:17 PM »

How do people react when they find out you converted to a relatively obscure religion like Orthodoxy? Are you seen as some kind of weird religious fanatic?
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« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2011, 05:23:32 PM »

People think that I am weird, but it has nothing to do with me being a convert.
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« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2011, 05:25:04 PM »

I can't recall any negative comments over the years. A Protestant friend wanted to know if I was still "digging into God's word" or something along those lines. My grandmother confusedly thought that Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic were the same. But I guess that's not about being considered weird or strange. The only time I can think of was when my mom and stepfather and I were at my apartment and a priest was saying some prayers, and when he offered the cross for veneration my mom and step father were a bit confused and seemed uncomfortable with the idea. The didn't make any negative comments, and haven't since then, though I've never asked them what they thought of it either.
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« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2011, 05:27:56 PM »

Yes, in my case.
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« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2011, 05:28:33 PM »

I'm with Punch  ... most just consider it the 'norm' for me, since I usually never apply to the common thought of things, anyway.  
« Last Edit: December 30, 2011, 05:37:18 PM by quietmorning » Logged
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« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2011, 05:34:10 PM »

I don't know if "weird" is the word I would use.  Some people think it is curious and/or wrong. 
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« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2011, 05:54:01 PM »

Outside of this forum, I don't think very many people know that I am a convert.  The only people in RL that actually know I am a convert are those that were around when I did convert.  I dislike the label of 'convert'.  The only people that ever ask me if I am a convert are converts and it makes me really uncomfortable.  IMO, it is an unnecessary label that can cause division and stunted spiritual development.  That said, those that were around when I did convert didn't have much to say about it.  Some people were curious about it and asked a lot of questions.  My parents found out about a month before I was baptized and didn't have much time to think about it.  They struggled with it, not because they were opposed to it, but because they didn't understand it.  My parents are OK with it now.  They occasionally even attend Church with me.  My mother actually holds me accountable.  She usually calls me on Saturdays and reminds me that going to Vigil is important.  She also frequently asks when my last Confession was and chastises me if she feels it has been too long.  I don't think people think I am weird because I don't talk about it much and when I do, I kind of stick to the basics and avoid those exotic Orthodox distinctives. I think most people just think I am some form of Roman Catholic.  

Edit: I think people think I am weird not necessarily because I am Orthodox, but because I am a practicing Christian.  In my line of work, observant Christians are especially rare and more often than not viewed with suspicion. 
« Last Edit: December 30, 2011, 06:03:38 PM by Ionnis » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2011, 06:00:49 PM »

yes. it's not always easy, but God makes me more humble and accepting of others, so i welcome the challenge of always having to defend my faith.
makes me very glad i took 2 years to make the decision; by then i had an answer to most of the objections, and those around me had to accept that i had been 'going to that church' for a while but had not grown horns or been stuck by lightning from heaven for my ' orthodox heresies'
 Wink

how about u , william?
i think that people are easy on you at this stage, it won't be so bad for you if/when you become orthodox, so don't be too worried about it.
God will give u the resources to deal with whatever opposition you face.
i haven't been beaten, starved or left out in the cold, so i suffer nothing compared to many Christians throughout the world who suffer for their faith.
may God give us the strength and the honour to take part in Jesus' sufferings as much as we are able.
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« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2011, 06:09:44 PM »

that's interesting about yr mum, ionnis, what are her beliefs?
i also avoid the term convert, unless you want to say i converted from Christianity to Christianity.
i did convert from athiesm as a small child. that had a profound effect on my life (i was never alone since as God helped me in many ways through the troubles of my school life). when i became orthodox, then i found the depths that i had been looking for all my life.

going to church had almost always left me wanting more and feeling we had finished too early (even the 2 hour charismatic services with the 50 minute sermons!), then i realised that i was missing the proper repentance, worship of God, reverence and the proper use of the sacraments.
it's like i found a well full of water when i converted to Christianity, then when i took my first orthodox communion, it was like standing under a never ending water fall.

the other thing that orthodoxy has is the right teaching that it will be very hard and the tools to keep up a good spiritual life (the theology, prayer books, regular repentance and confession, and especially the sacrements.
so may God guide you and give you the courage you need to keep searching for the depths you need.
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« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2011, 08:25:43 PM »

I'm with Punch  ... most just consider it the 'norm' for me, since I usually never apply to the common thought of things, anyway.  

This is me as well. 
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« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2011, 08:32:34 PM »

People think that I am weird, but it has nothing to do with me being a convert.

Yeah, people thought I was weird long before I ever started looking into Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2011, 09:19:33 PM »

How do people react when they find out you converted to a relatively obscure religion like Orthodoxy? Are you seen as some kind of weird religious fanatic?

Good question, you know, I really don't know? You would have to ask them. They probably saw it coming for they already knew I was into church history for like years and years before I became Orthodox and so they probably wasn't surprised. But you would have to ask them, for I really don't know.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2011, 09:21:12 PM by jnorm888 » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: December 30, 2011, 09:22:13 PM »

EDIT--Edited because another post was edited  Grin
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« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2011, 09:22:27 PM »

Technically I'm not a convert, but am in the process of converting.  People have always thought I'm weird, but no one's thought I was a religious fanatic since the sixth or seventh grades, when I was still Evangelical (I had a habit of making Mormon missionaries look like quitters).  I suppose if I were more pious, and showed my Orthodoxy a little more, many people in today's world would think I was a religious fanatic because - increasingly - people abhor traditional morals and any sort of spirituality or religion that isn't all about themselves.  

I don't think that modern day America considering someone a religious fanatic is necessarily a bad thing.
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« Reply #14 on: December 30, 2011, 09:23:31 PM »

What will people think when they hear that I'm a Jesus freak?
What will people do when they find that it's true?
« Last Edit: December 30, 2011, 09:24:25 PM by Asteriktos » Logged
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« Reply #15 on: December 30, 2011, 09:25:42 PM »

i've gotten mostly neutral and positive reactions.
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« Reply #16 on: December 30, 2011, 09:28:40 PM »

EDIT--Edited because another post was edited  Grin

It's a bad habit I have due to shooting from the hip. I tend to make alot of mistakes. Another habit is my double or triple spacing and use of orange and red colors.
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« Reply #17 on: December 30, 2011, 10:13:45 PM »

I believe that only people that found my conversion weird were my Pentecostal parents. Other people probably deem Orthodoxy a lot more normal than Pentecostalism. Tongue
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« Reply #18 on: December 30, 2011, 10:17:25 PM »

Well if someone can teach me the Jesus prayer in Arabic or some other exotic language (exotic here in the west), I have a prayer rope. If some one can teach me that along with "Lord Have Mercy" which I can do 40 times in Byzantine style along with some prostrations, Im sure some people would think that would be quite strange.

Then after Im done I can yell "what are you looking at? Havent you seen true Christianity you bible thumping morons?" in an Indian (not Native American) accent.

That would be sublime...

 
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« Reply #19 on: December 31, 2011, 12:25:05 AM »

What will people think when they hear that I'm a Jesus freak?
What will people do when they find that it's true?

I love D.C. Talk; I hope they eventually come out of hiatus.
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« Reply #20 on: December 31, 2011, 01:05:41 AM »

What will people think when they hear that I'm a Jesus freak?
What will people do when they find that it's true?

I love D.C. Talk; I hope they eventually come out of hiatus.

I think they've passed "hiatus" by this point. Anything now would be a "reunion".
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« Reply #21 on: December 31, 2011, 03:55:58 AM »

What will people think when they hear that I'm a Jesus freak?
What will people do when they find that it's true?

I love D.C. Talk; I hope they eventually come out of hiatus.

I think they've passed "hiatus" by this point. Anything now would be a "reunion".

Technically they're still on hiatus, and they've gotten together and recorded a couple of tracks here and there, including one on a Kevin Max album.
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« Reply #22 on: December 31, 2011, 03:56:38 AM »

People think that I am weird, but it has nothing to do with me being a convert.
That line makes me like you as a person.
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« Reply #23 on: December 31, 2011, 08:38:28 AM »

In my case, generally people thought I’d been orthodox before I’ve converted, because I had been attending the orthodox services frequently, so only the closest friends and family know I’m a convert. However, I had some strange situations e.g. when I was setting the icon corner in my room, I was asked if I was organizing a chapel; one friend inquired “So, do you orthodox people believe in God?” or “Do you have Communion?”. Then I had to explain the Orthodox Church is the ancient one, which didn't cahnge antyhign in belief. There are also claims that all orthodox are Russians (or that others orthodox like Serbs have to listen to the Russian Patriarch – like the roman-catholic pope, because for them it’s unusual there is no a head of Church, of course they mean a man, not Christ). Another situation took place in the second week of Holy Pascha – we’re eating out and I asked a meal with meat so one of my friend was shocked “Dominika! What happened? You’re eating meat!” (not all of my friends can imagine that during fast to not eat meat at all). I think many people always considered me as a weird person and for some of theme the orthodoxy maybe is one of the proofs.
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« Reply #24 on: December 31, 2011, 08:47:12 AM »

Btw, what's the status of Orthodoxy in Poland? Are there any traditionally Orthodox minorities and what non-Orthodox people think of it?
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« Reply #25 on: December 31, 2011, 10:16:34 AM »

yes, there are traditionally Orthodox minorities. Even before the Second World War there was about 5 millions orthodox people! Of course , we should remember that the borders were diffrent. The biggest community of orthodox is in region called Podlasie. Earlier practically all of the inhabitants of it were orthodox, but there were some movementes and attacks that quiet a lot of people converted to roman catholicism. The last such big action took place just after the second world war. We have also quiet a lot of Lemkos, who sometiems are called in Poland "orthodox Gorals" (Gorals are specific Polish ethnic, the ethnic belonging of Lemkos I would say it's qutie complicated). Many members of Polish Orthodox Church are pure Polish, some of them of Belarus or Ukrainian origin, some of them (from Podlasie) call themself "Podlashuks". In earlier times some the greats families of Polish aristocracy were Orthodox,, so Orthodoxy in Poland always have been, but because of historical and political turbulences, now, after roman-catholics, we're the second biggest religious community in Poland. In Podlasie and Sough Poland for non-Orthodox it's normal that they have Orthodox neighbours, orthodox chapels and crosses close to the roads etc. But in central and west Poland people  often don't see the diffrence between Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic and don't know that in Poland there is the Autocephalus Polish Orthodox Church, which doesn't belong to Russian Patriarchate. Another phenomenon is that people who had orthodox ancestors, don't admit to it. However, thanks to God, more and more catholics in regions traditionally non-orthodox, convert to Orthodoxy. Ven the Polish media informs a little more e.g about the orthodox feasts and three tiems in year in Public TV there are tranmissions from Orthodox services: On Pascha, Christmas (old calendar) and the Divine Liturgy Transfiguarion of our Lord that is celebrated on the Holy Mountain Grabarka (it also becomes popular among some catholics to pilgrim to the Grabarka)
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« Reply #26 on: December 31, 2011, 10:42:37 AM »

Not sure if others think that I am weird since no one has expressed it to me, but I do get an occasional look that could be interpreted as that.  Hopefully my outward actions do get their interest. Like those neighbors that see me leave my house every Sunday morning. Or when I leave the house for weekday or Saturday services. And those who see the icons and Cross nearby the front door. Maybe those who see me crossing myself in public places. (I chuckled when a waitress said that we "Good Catholics" after seeing us cross ourselves before eating.) Sometimes when folks notice that my actions are different than the "norm", it provides an opportunity to invite them to Church. Like another poster, my father is an evangelical, and he comes across as weirder than I ever could. (I am in no way implying that all evangelicals are weird, just my father.) My girlfriend was born into Orthodoxy, so she is happy that I joined the Church, and hopefully she doesn't think that I am weird.
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« Reply #27 on: December 31, 2011, 12:44:23 PM »

I haven't really gotten any comments from people thinking I'm weird. For most of them Orthodoxy is totally off their radar so they're more curious than anything.

Usually I'll get a handful of comments like:

"Orthodox-- are you Jewish?"
"So, you're like... a Catholic, right?"
"I've never heard of the Orthodox Church."
"Russian Orthodox? You're not a Russian!"
"So, you've gone over to the dark side."- From a good Catholic friend of mine.  Cheesy

There is a cafe in the building I work in and one of the workers finally noticed I hadn't ate meat or dairy since the Nativity fast began and he asked me: "Are you a vegetarian now?" He was genuinely interested in Orthodoxy and asked if I was born into the Church or came into by myself, and wanted to know about the fasting and feast days, etc. That's my favorite response to get.
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« Reply #28 on: December 31, 2011, 12:47:34 PM »

One guy I work with thinks I'm a religious fanatic because I sometimes post quotes from the Fathers on my facebook account.
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« Reply #29 on: December 31, 2011, 12:49:39 PM »

I was a nutbag before coming Orthodox. Converting was just the icing on the cake. I also get the "Are you Jewish?!" thing a lot. My Sicilian facial features don't assuage those assumptions. Wink

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« Reply #30 on: December 31, 2011, 01:15:12 PM »

Usually I'll get a handful of comments like:

"Orthodox-- are you Jewish?"
"So, you're like... a Catholic, right?"
"I've never heard of the Orthodox Church."
"Russian Orthodox? You're not a Russian!"
"So, you've gone over to the dark side."- From a good Catholic friend of mine.  Cheesy

Cheesy Hahaha.  I love these. 
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« Reply #31 on: December 31, 2011, 01:59:21 PM »

How do people react when they find out you converted to a relatively obscure religion like Orthodoxy? Are you seen as some kind of weird religious fanatic?

Most just insider weirdness par for the course for me.   laugh
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« Reply #32 on: December 31, 2011, 02:16:15 PM »

At the risk of repeating other posters' comments about preOrthodox weirdness, let's put it like this- before becoming Orthodox I had a 12" mohawk and often wore bondage pants. If anything I've become more normal.

Though I do have an uncle who believes me to still be weird because I wear a fedora, am fairly libertarian (my family is strict Republican), and practice Orthodoxy, he dresses like its still the 80s, shaves his body hairless, and gets manicures. Weirdness is relative(s).
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« Reply #33 on: December 31, 2011, 03:28:03 PM »

I'm only an "inquirer" but I get mostly neutral reactions from close friends when I tell them about my interest in Orthodoxy. Haven't told my family yet. I'm guessing most of them will be confused more than anything, considering they're very religiously liberal.
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« Reply #34 on: December 31, 2011, 04:33:15 PM »

How do people react when they find out you converted to a relatively obscure religion like Orthodoxy? Are you seen as some kind of weird religious fanatic?

I was seen weird before, but there have been negative remarks by a few.  Apparently, it is said by my friends that if I start dressing as an Eastern Monk they are going to do an intervention. 
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« Reply #35 on: January 01, 2012, 01:31:18 AM »

You know, for all you people who have experienced many instances of people assuming you were becoming a Jews, I have a funny story to tell.

Of all the people who I've mentioned my becoming Orthodox to, probably three have had any notion in their minds of what it was.  Of them, one was a cousin of mine, who is only 12.  Anyways, he actually asked me if it was Eastern Orthodoxy that I was joining.  It took me a second to respond because I'd never expected that he would have thought of the right thing, right away.
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« Reply #36 on: January 01, 2012, 01:46:05 AM »

bondage pants

LOL
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« Reply #37 on: January 01, 2012, 08:46:33 PM »

Weird? I certainly hope so! After becoming Orthodox, changing from reluctantly attending our former church, to going every chance I get...from barely remembering to pray at meals and bedtime, to striving to pray constantly...from fumbling with interpreting scripture on my own to speaking boldly from what I've learned from those within the Church...just to name a few things! Yeah they think I'm "weird" and I'm proud to say it. Smiley
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« Reply #38 on: January 01, 2012, 08:51:12 PM »

Well the Bible does call Christians "a peculiar people" (Tit. 2:14; 1 Pet. 2:9)  Wink  Tongue
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« Reply #39 on: January 02, 2012, 12:03:22 AM »

People think that I am weird, but it has nothing to do with me being a convert.

Same here.   Cheesy
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« Reply #40 on: January 02, 2012, 12:49:36 PM »

How do people react when they find out you converted to a relatively obscure religion like Orthodoxy? Are you seen as some kind of weird religious fanatic?

Most people here where I live hardly ever heard what the Orthodox Church is, so some think that it is weird...
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« Reply #41 on: January 02, 2012, 02:49:40 PM »

Most folks I meet, when they find out I'm Orthodox, don't say anything. They don't seem to care. I get very few people asking me questions, arguing or even making comments. I live my life and they live theirs. That's all. These are mostly folks I meet at work and such, since I'm not really involved in any other "religious" groups outside of regular parish life, so most people I interact with aren't even practicing any faith or are just as quiet about it as I am.

However, people I knew before I converted have had reactions, though they're mostly positive. My closest friends and I talk relatively frequently about religion (we did before I converted and we're all some form of Christian) and they really like Orthodoxy, though they're still asking questions and testing waters.

My family doesn't really care, since they're only culturally Christian and don't practice themselves. The only religious relative I have is an uncle who is a Protestant minister. He's unsure about what he thinks, though he likes a lot about Orthodoxy he's weary of what he calls the "trappings" (icons, vestments, incense, liturgy, etc.) since he comes from a very low-church charismatic background where anti-Catholicism runs deep. I think he's gaining an appreciation though, and we also talk religion just about every time we see each other. I also had a Protestant girlfriend around the time I converted and she was leery of it. Her mother was particularly critical due to an anti-Catholic bias. We broke up before I converted, and there was more to it than my conversion. I also hooked back up with an old youth minister of mine from high school (Southern Baptist) who stopped talking to me as soon as he heard I was converting. I haven't heard from him since.

So, reactions vary. On the whole though, my religion doesn't affect how people perceive me on a daily basis. I'm just a guy, living my life and being me...and no one seems to really give it any deep thought.
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« Reply #42 on: January 02, 2012, 05:07:44 PM »

Most folks I meet, when they find out I'm Orthodox, don't say anything. They don't seem to care.
This, mostly.

Or they say, "Oh, like Catholic?"

Or they say, "Ok, I can see you doing that."

When enrolled at a Baptist school I had a few people ask me some general questions about the difference between Byzantine and Coptic Christianity, but mostly they just shrugged. My family definitely falls into the I-can-see-how-that-fits-you-but-it's-not-my-thing-so-let's-not-talk-about-it-except-when-you're-having-a-child-baptized camp.
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« Reply #43 on: January 03, 2012, 12:58:16 PM »

People think that I am weird, but it has nothing to do with me being a convert.

Yeah, people thought I was weird long before I ever started looking into Orthodoxy.

Same here. Old friends just tend to roll their eyes and sigh, "There she goes again."
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« Reply #44 on: January 03, 2012, 01:03:33 PM »

No, but my family that do know are burning with questions, but wont ask.
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