I think you miss the point that Orthodoxy has always been enculturated. That is why there is a Coptic Orthodox Church.
With due respect, Father, I thought my whole post was a question about how it should
be enculturated, not a denial that it is. Perhaps it didn't read that way. I apologize for being unclear.
I also think that you are being too negative, and a little unfair, about what an American Orthodox Church does look like and should look like. Who is suggesting that it should encompass Purpose Driven Life and Evangelical songs?
Huh? I am certainly not suggesting anything of the kind. I am recalling observations made by Aidan (post #32) and Brigidsboy (post #34) about what already goes on
in some churches, and saying that it shouldn't be this way.
If I am British, as I am, then why should I not worship God as an Orthodox Christian in my own language, and with appropriate music? This has been the universal practice of Orthodoxy, EXCEPT when it comes to the West in modern times. Orthodoxy is properly respectful of culture. I am not sure why you think that is a problem?
I feel like you and I have been over this territory many times, Father. Of course you should worship in your own language, but
in a manner that is consistent with Orthodoxy. You (and most of the peoples of Europe, I'd suspect) are blessed to have authentic Christian traditions dating back to the very early church from which you can draw on in order to call the people back to their Orthodox roots, which are after all at the very heart of European Christian culture. America is different. Most of the country was settled by men and women of other persuasions, whose descendents by and large will not be moved by appeals to St. Athanasius' time spent in exile in Belgium or what have you. They would likely look at that and say "What does Belgium have to do with me?" This country understands Christianity to whatever extent it does almost entirely in Protestant and/or post-modern terms, so there is a lot that the average Christian is comfortable with that is not acceptable within Orthodoxy (and here I am not getting up on my high horse, but repeating what I was told in a conversation just last week with an elder of the church here in Albuquerque). I suppose you could call it a problem of rootlessness, but it seems much more severe here in America as there are precious few shrines to visit, few monasteries, few organizations or ensembles committed to reviving ancient chant forms, etc. So if it seems like I am a bit more negative than you, it is hopefully a reflection of the serious appraisal of the state of Christianity in this country. We have a lot of work to do. We don't have a native Orthodoxy save what the Russians brought to my home area, and to a few of the native people (Tlingit people and others).
If there is a Coptic Orthodox Church then there should be an American Orthodox Church. The problem is when a Church from one culture insists that its language and music must be privileged, when in fact this was not what happened in its own history. Why does the Coptic Orthodox Church not use Armenian Chant, or vice-versa? Why then should Western Orthodox not be able to use Western music?
be able to. I am arguing that what they shouldn't be able to do is bring whatever it is they thought Christianity was into the church with very little oversight, all in the name of being comfortable or supposed cultural sensitivity. If we have to create a new church, let it be with its own chant in its own language, not a reflection of the Protestant and increasingly secularized Christianity that has ruled much of this country for centuries. Are we "Americans" first, Orthodox second? No, and there needn't be any sharp divide there, either. You can be both, but that doesn't mean that the church should mirror wider society when wider society is so often against the Orthodox faith. That's my only point. We should be changed by our struggle within the church, not struggling to change the church to suit us.
Once again, it is unfair to suggest that enculturation must lead to evangelicalism. It is unfair to suggest that there should be a Church culture for every minority culture in the US. But there could very reasonably be a Spanish speaking community, and an English speaking community. I am not sure why the fact that clearly you appreciate Coptic chant and Arabic, which is a blessing to you, means that there is something wrong with the majority of Western folk who don't.
Father, I'm part of that Spanish-speaking community. There's no divide here. I can walk and chew gum (as the American saying goes), and for those who can't, let them just walk. That's fine. But let us strive to be Orthodox in all things. If having a Spanish-speaking community in the Coptic church or any other church means that some cultural aspects that would otherwise be unacceptable ("evil eye", el cucuy) are accepted, then isn't that doing a disservice to the missionary effort? I would be against it. I would hope that everyone would be against it. Similarly with the majority of Western people. We can't just let everything
in the name of letting everyone
in. Music, of course, is a bit of a grey area, if you will, as there is often more trouble in the associations
of particular forms than in their content. I once got into a very interesting discussion with a Roman Catholic about the permissibility of the "Mariachi Masses" that you sometimes see in Mexico. While there is perhaps nothing inherently unorthodox about the guitar or the fiddle (it depends on who you ask, I guess), my RC friend maintained that as the context for the use of such ensembles is a worldly one, they ought to be avoided in the church lest we bring worldliness in with them. I'm still not entirely sure how to take that argument (after all, don't things evolve away from worldliness, as the things of this world that may be baptized are baptized?), but I think that absent solid Orthodox teaching first
, such permissiveness is likely to lead to some wrong ideas about just what we're doing in the church. Y'know, like how some people argue that dancing should be permitted in all churches because the Ethiopians have something in their tradition that outsiders would call dancing. This forgets that the Ethiopians are first and foremost Orthodox. The key is always in being first and foremost Orthodox. Proper musical forms should, at least in theory, follow, once the people understand what it is for (i.e., the theology to be expressed through it).
I am not sure why you speak as if it was not absolutely clear that there is a tradition of Orthodox Chant in the West? Why speak as if it is something I have made up? Why speak as if every Orthodox group that is trying to engage with English speaking people is doing something wrong? I don't want anyone in my congregation to have to learn Coptic or Arabic to be Orthodox, am I an evangelical or deficient in some other way?
Father, forgive me, but I don't understand what you are referring to here. Do you mean my other post where I asked you about the Orthodox tradition in the British isles? I know that it is not possible to convey tone through the internet, but that was really just a question. I didn't have ulterior motives in asking it. Like I specified in that post, I asked because I didn't know, because my focus as far as Europe is concerned is on other areas (Spain and Portugal, mainly). I did not mean even for a second to suggest that you are making anything up, or any of the other things you apparently think I suggested through that question. It was really just a question because I didn't know, and I have read posts from you that mention it but didn't talk about what exactly it is. I am sorry if I offended you in some way with my question; that was not at all my intention. You have information I was curious about, that's all.
Orthodoxy should be open to people of all backgrounds. In my own British Orthodox congregation this is the case. I have had English, Egyptian, Syrian, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Indian, French, Greek, Russian, Romanian, Latvian, Bulgarian and Italian. But we all worship in the language of England, which is where we all are, and we all use a simple chant that is Western, could be improved, but is appropriate to our situation. I don't see how any other situation is tenable outside of recent immigrant communities.
I am in agreement with you, Father. I am writing about the situation in America, which I am not sure is entirely comparable to the situation in England, for reasons I have given earlier in this reply.