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Author Topic: Too much vs. too little  (Read 486 times) Average Rating: 0
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Peter J
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« on: July 25, 2012, 04:32:29 PM »

That's unfortunate.  I was lucky in that the couple who became my sponsors (godparents) did not shovel out more than I can handle at a time.  Whenever you feel up to it again, you could try just going to the Liturgy and appreciating the Liturgy for what it is.  And perhaps get out of coffee hour if that is where people are throwing too much at you.  Perhaps you can listen to some Internet Ligurgies after taking a break?

I have a question that is partly inspired by the above post, but since it isn't really related to the thread that post came from (the "Backing off" thread) I felt it best to start a new thread for it.

Those of you are looking into Orthodoxy (or who did so once upon a time), have you ever had an encounter with Orthodox where you felt the problem was not a matter of "too much" but rather "too little"?

I've had both, but I think mostly the "too little" kind. I can recall only one encounter that saw as "too much". (About 6 or 7 years ago I visited a certain local Orthodox parish several times. Each time I saw and spoke with a certain elderly man -- an usher, I think. He was helpful and pleasant; but I found it a bit odd when, one day after a few words of small talk, he said "So when are you going to join the Church?" So that's my one "too much" experience -- if it should even be called that, I'm not too sure anymore -- amongst a lot of "too little" experiences.)
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Peter J
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« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2012, 04:56:45 PM »

Clarification: I don't mean to imply that looking into Orthodoxy is always either a “too much” or a “too little” experience; by no means. I'm just saying that, out of those two types, I think the latter is more common. A number of times when I've spoken with Orthodox about their beliefs, I've gotten a reaction to the tune of “What does any of this have to do with you, a Roman Catholic?”
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« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2012, 04:45:10 AM »

I never had either experience, I'm happy to say. Maybe I've been lucky but the priests, deacons and monks I spoke to always seemed happy to help and unwilling to push, which was perfect. As to lay people, I probably had more mixed experiences but I never really treated them as indicative of Orthodoxy (and to be honest I can't think of any that particularly stand out) so much as of the individual person, but then again I'm relatively shy so I wasn't exactly seeking out lay people to talk to about things. I'd have been more than happy, early on, if the only one I ever spoke to was the priest.

James
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katherineofdixie
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« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2012, 09:29:44 AM »

Please, cut us Orthodox who try to befriend and respond to visitors/newcomers a little slack. We're not trained psychotherapists or mind-readers. We're just normal folks - some more friendly and outgoing than others. Some of us, like myself, are painfully shy and find speaking to newcomers very difficult. Others, like my husband, view total strangers as dear friends whom they just haven't met yet.
How the heck are we supposed to know the exact level of social interaction/information that visitors/newcomers want?

 Huh
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Peter J
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« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2012, 10:55:49 AM »

Hi Katherine.

Please, cut us Orthodox who try to befriend and respond to visitors/newcomers a little slack.

This is just the sort of misunderstanding I was trying to avoid when I added this "clarification", a half-hour after starting the thread:

Quote
Clarification: I don't mean to imply that looking into Orthodoxy is always either a “too much” or a “too little” experience; by no means. I'm just saying that, out of those two types, I think the latter is more common.

Anyhow, I think I should -- and do -- cut people a little slack. Conversely, I think you guys generally cut inquirers a little slack; but that doesn't mean there aren't times when Orthodox can be a little too quick to respond to an interested non-Orthodox with "Why would you want to ask that?" or "What does that have to do with anything?" etc.
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katherineofdixie
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« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2012, 02:17:28 PM »

And another thing.... Grin

(aren't you glad you started this thread?)

If you're referring specifically to this forum, it is often difficult to discern/judge the sincerity/intent of the questioner or newcomer. We don't have any body language or other cues to help us. So sometimes it's perfectly ok to ask for more information/intent/clarification. If nothing else, it helps you form a coherent responsive answer. For example, do they really just want to know why we call our priests "Father" or are they really looking to demonstrate to us just how superstitious, ignorant and unChristian we are?

And of course, some of us (for example, me) are just theological smartypants who enjoy showing off. Nobody else will discuss theology with us.
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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2012, 02:23:19 PM »

If you are asking about how people deal with you when you aren't Orthodox, I've not had many extreme experiences in either direction. I had a wonderful catechist/godfather, but that doesn't really count as it was his job/duty to make sure I had whatever help I needed in assimilating and learning. Though he was a really helpful guy and I think he would have talked to me even if he hadn't been asked to do so by the priest. It's odd that I can't think of anything, as between the time I first stepped foot in an Orthodox Church, and the time I got chrismated, was about a year and a half, spread across three parishes (I moved during that time). Ahh well. Guess PA just has great people!  Grin
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« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2012, 12:12:06 AM »

It depends too, on what you're talking about. If I had a Roman Catholic ask me about The Calendar Issue™ I'd begin to explain maybe, but I'd be curious as to why that is their first question. If I had them start espousing an opinion on it, or get even passionate about it, I'd respond exactly (perhaps/hopefully with more tact) as you said; "What does this have to do with you, a Roman Catholic?" The same if I felt they were prying to deeply into problems of ethnicism, liberalism in certain renowned parishes, actions of bishops, problems in the OCA, etc. It would be, in my mind, exactly as if some stranger began to tell me their opinion on the inner conflicts of my immediate family. "Why is this your business?" "Why have you come to me just to rant about something that doesn't concern you?"

I might respond similarly (but with a completely different attitude) if I was asked questions about my faith from someone who wasn't interested in it, or was only interested in it as a way to argue me into their religion (which is something I've gotten from Roman Catholics often: "Tell me what you believe so I can tell you why you're wrong and why the pope is the answer to all your problems.") Sometimes, depending on my attitude, I might just not be interested in getting into it, especially if I know the person is firmly and happily in their own religion and am genuinely confused as to why they're asking me about mine. Those cases are rare because I am the type who asks just out of curiosity and am willing to extend the same to others, but sometimes I know the person, and I know they don't care, and aren't interested, so why are they asking this?

You might not (probably aren't) any of the above, and there are a million other reasons why someone might brush you off (think it's only for Greeks/Russians/Serbs/Bulgarians/etc., have never met a convert and don't know anybody who would be interested, don't know the answer so they answer badly rather than not at all, the list goes on and on. Really, I think whether you're going to get too much or too little depends more on the individual you're talking to, their perception of what's going on, their attitude in life and that day, and everything else than whether or not they're just Orthodox.
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Peter J
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« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2012, 07:58:26 AM »

Good post, Joseph. Yes, I know what you mean -- I've witnessed inquirers acting that way too, e.g. expecting to always get answers to their questions but being quite unwilling to answer others' questions. Yet another reason that I qualify my statements as Orthodox are sometimes too quick to .... Smiley
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« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2012, 10:17:01 AM »

Since I can and frequently do go on and on, I usually ask my questioner, "How much do you want to know?"
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"If but ten of us lead a holy life, we shall kindle a fire which shall light up the entire city."

 St. John Chrysostom
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