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Author Topic: Top Reasons People Leave Orthodoxy  (Read 2680 times) Average Rating: 0
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Gamliel
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« on: October 20, 2012, 01:33:46 PM »

If this has already been discussed, perhaps someone can point me to a thread:  I have read that there are inquirers who come into Orthodoxy and silently leave through the back door after a while.  I was wondering what the main reasons were?  I joined a Greek Orthodox Church a few years ago.  The two negatives I had were:

1.  Learning the Divine Liturgy
2.  Feeling less acceptance since I was not Greek.

    Eventually I asked enough about the Divine Liturgythat someone stood by me and showed me when we read the hymns in our bulletin and then get back to our liturgical book, so the first problem is taken care of.  Sometimes I still struggle with the 2nd one.
I am not asking this for myself, but because we have a new inquirer.  I am taking steps so that he will not go through the 2 negatives I did, but I was wondering what other reasons were for leaving Orthodoxy?
« Last Edit: October 20, 2012, 01:34:21 PM by Gamliel » Logged
WeldeMikael
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« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2012, 01:38:06 PM »

Ethnicity and language ?
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« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2012, 04:05:40 PM »

Unrealistic expectations based on too much heady reading coming into the Church.
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« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2012, 04:12:31 PM »

Unrealistic expectations based on too much heady reading coming into the Church.

+1
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« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2012, 04:15:41 PM »

Unrealistic expectations based on too much heady reading coming into the Church.
I'm glad you brought this up, because before I went to my first Divine Liturgy, I read Federica Matthews Green's points on what the Orthodox Church does, incense, people kissing and venerating icons, etc. It was all this mystical stuff.

That didn't happen at all on my first Liturgy. I was very dissapointed.

Until I found out I was in an WRO parish. laugh
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« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2012, 04:19:50 PM »

They don't kiss icons or use incense in the WR?
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« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2012, 04:25:40 PM »

Although I find a lot of the other stuff on that website a little on the questionable side, I think this is well worth a read.
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« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2012, 04:38:14 PM »

Unrealistic expectations based on too much heady reading coming into the Church.

+1

+2
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« Reply #8 on: October 20, 2012, 04:39:58 PM »

They don't kiss icons or use incense in the WR?
No.
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« Reply #9 on: October 20, 2012, 04:43:27 PM »

A feeling of being completely overwhelmed with what is required - especially during Lent.  For me it was very good for people to tell me that I've entered into the rabbit hole and it just keeps going and going . . .to take it very slow.
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« Reply #10 on: October 20, 2012, 05:36:11 PM »

They don't kiss icons or use incense in the WR?

Remember, the West didn't go through the severe periods of iconoclasm that the Byzantine East did. IIRC, much of the modern practice of venerating icons started as a reaction to the iconoclastic heresy.
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« Reply #11 on: October 20, 2012, 05:59:48 PM »

They don't kiss icons or use incense in the WR?
My parish uses incense.
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« Reply #12 on: October 20, 2012, 06:09:37 PM »

No pews.
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« Reply #13 on: October 20, 2012, 07:19:32 PM »

Quote
IIRC, much of the modern practice of venerating icons started as a reaction to the iconoclastic heresy.

Nonsense. Icons have been made and venerated since the dawn of Christianity.
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« Reply #14 on: October 20, 2012, 07:21:43 PM »

Quote
IIRC, much of the modern practice of venerating icons started as a reaction to the iconoclastic heresy.

Nonsense. Icons have been made and venerated since the dawn of Christianity.
Even in Judaism, no?
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« Reply #15 on: October 20, 2012, 07:23:50 PM »

While this won't apply to all who leave Orthodoxy - and it may only apply to a small handful - there are many who leave for the same reason that people leave other churches: spiritual apathy and allowing the soil of our hearts to become hazardous to the seed of the Word which was planted in them.
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« Reply #16 on: October 20, 2012, 07:35:49 PM »

Some leave because they have been trained to be consumers of religion, and while Orthodoxy is pretty neat for a while, it doesn't work on a consumer model in the long term.
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« Reply #17 on: October 20, 2012, 08:18:33 PM »

Quote
IIRC, much of the modern practice of venerating icons started as a reaction to the iconoclastic heresy.

Nonsense. Icons have been made and venerated since the dawn of Christianity.

Did anyone say otherwise?  He only said that much of the current EO practice with regard to icons was a reaction to iconoclasm, not that there was no veneration before hand.
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« Reply #18 on: October 20, 2012, 08:24:06 PM »

I know for a fact that one of the reasons they made me wait for three years now to get chrismated is I'm not Greek.

Also, #3: my mother won't shut up.
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« Reply #19 on: October 20, 2012, 09:32:51 PM »

I’ve been Orthodox for two years now, and inquirer a year prior to that.  In honesty, I don’t go to Liturgy as often as I should, but I see no reason to leave.  If I ever thought it a possibility, I would never have joined.  The only place to go from here is to the Roman Catholic Church, which I could not do and feel right about the move, or go back to being Protestant, which will NEVER happen.

I suppose, by guessing, the main reason people leave is because they don’t submit themselves properly and remain “in the flesh”.  After some time, they decide what they want is more important than what they should be doing or how they should be living.  In the end, that is usually the choice one faces, God or self.  Sadly, more and more people are choosing self.
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« Reply #20 on: October 20, 2012, 09:43:35 PM »

Unrealistic expectations based on too much heady reading coming into the Church.

+1

+2

+3
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« Reply #21 on: October 20, 2012, 09:52:43 PM »

People thinking they are more Orthodox than everyone else. I've seen this happen way too often.

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« Reply #22 on: October 20, 2012, 10:09:28 PM »

People thinking they are more Orthodox than everyone else. I've seen this happen way too often.

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I suspect that is a condition not unique just among us Orthodox when it comes to religions.
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« Reply #23 on: October 20, 2012, 11:29:10 PM »

Nobody tells them that Orthodoxy is a marathon, not a sprint...
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« Reply #24 on: October 20, 2012, 11:34:12 PM »

They don't kiss icons or use incense in the WR?
No.

WRO church and monastery I visited did.
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« Reply #25 on: October 20, 2012, 11:37:27 PM »

+4

There should be strict enforcement of the canon requiring a catechumen to attend 3 parish council meetings before chrismation.
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« Reply #26 on: October 20, 2012, 11:40:40 PM »

They don't kiss icons or use incense in the WR?
No.

WRO church and monastery I visited did.
Hmm interesting. Where is the WRO monastery, in Pennsylvania?

But my parish does not use incense and you dont see veneration of icons.
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« Reply #27 on: October 20, 2012, 11:55:46 PM »

+4

There should be strict enforcement of the canon requiring a catechumen to attend 3 parish council meetings before chrismation.

Then they would understand the difference between canon law and 'cannon' law!   Wink
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« Reply #28 on: October 20, 2012, 11:59:18 PM »

But my parish does not use incense and you dont see veneration of icons.

Orthodoxy without icon veneration?? IS OUTRAGE!! I'm not kidding. So what saint or feast is commemorated on the first Sunday of Lent in your parish?
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« Reply #29 on: October 21, 2012, 12:18:21 AM »

+4

There should be strict enforcement of the canon requiring a catechumen to attend 3 parish council meetings before chrismation.

"You want to turn them into atheists?"

"That would require them serving on the parish council."
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« Reply #30 on: October 21, 2012, 12:27:30 AM »

They don't kiss icons or use incense in the WR?
No.

WRO church and monastery I visited did.
Hmm interesting. Where is the WRO monastery, in Pennsylvania?

But my parish does not use incense and you dont see veneration of icons.

WRO practice varies widely parish to parish.

The monastery was Christminster in Hamilton, Ontario.

It could be the icons are venerated in a different way--prayer before them, bowing, showing reverence and respect other than kissing, per se.

The pious practices of the Western Orthodox from the first millenium haven't all been passed down to the Roman Catholics and Anglicans who then later became WRO. And many feel awkward taking up practices with which they are unfamiliar. There is also a lot of sometime nasty back and forth in and outside of WRO.

The truth is, icon veneration in the East, while it existed certainly, is not heavily documented prior to the seventh century. At that time, icons became more and more popular. There were several abuses that were downright iconolatry, like scraping off the paint and putting it in the chalice, etc. Iconoclasm, to end the abuses, moved against icons altogether. It was the iconocdules who brought out the Orthodox position--against heresy of iconoclasm and against abuses.

Since iconoclasm didn't affect the West to the same degree, Western Orthodox veneration of images didn't take on the same overt forms it did in the East. There was, IIRC, veneration of the cross at many times, and an icon of Christ in the Mass, but other than that, they made images, prayed before them, and treated them with respect, but did not necessarily kiss them. Also, many of them were on the walls. I'm not sure your average Western Orthodox of the first millenium had icons in his home. He may not have even had a cross. But this did not stop him from venerating the cross--making the sign of it on his body and on the ground during prostrations.
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« Reply #31 on: October 21, 2012, 12:27:55 AM »

edit: i think i misread that
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« Reply #32 on: October 21, 2012, 12:34:32 AM »

But my parish does not use incense and you dont see veneration of icons.

Orthodoxy without icon veneration?? IS OUTRAGE!! I'm not kidding. So what saint or feast is commemorated on the first Sunday of Lent in your parish?
Well we don't have a first Sunday in Lent, since we have Ash Wednesday.

IT would be the Sunday after Ash Wednesday, same as for the Eastern Rite, since their Lent begins on Monday before Ash Wednesday. Centuries ago in the West, the clergy started lent on Monday, and the people on Wednesday, or so I read somewhere. The WR has different set up for Sundays preceeding and in Lent, and a different lectionary.
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« Reply #33 on: October 21, 2012, 12:37:10 AM »

Sorry I misread LBK, I thought she said Lent starts on Sunday for us. My bad.

EDIT: To answer your question, I don't know.
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« Reply #34 on: October 21, 2012, 03:06:46 PM »

One reason converts leave is because they weren't looking for the right thing to begin with.
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« Reply #35 on: October 21, 2012, 04:28:23 PM »

They don't kiss icons or use incense in the WR?
No.

I went to a few that did. Huh
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« Reply #36 on: October 21, 2012, 04:32:18 PM »

Remember, the West didn't go through the severe periods of iconoclasm that the Byzantine East did. IIRC, much of the modern practice of venerating icons started as a reaction to the iconoclastic heresy.
True to an extent.

However,

Kissing/prostrating practices of reverence are rather greek and middle-eastern as well. And the Western Church is western.
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« Reply #37 on: October 21, 2012, 04:53:19 PM »

#1) They come from a prosletyzing Protestant family and Orthodoxy makes them a stranger from their family so they leave it.

#2) The amount of Church attendance required. People want a lazy, minimalist religion where all they have to do is 'love Jesus' and go to Church once a week for an hour. But Orthodoxy is an entire lifestyle that requires constant fasting, attending Church all of the time, multiple times a week sometimes, and when you are at Church, you have to really dedicate yourself and participate opposed to just sitting down and hearing a sermon.

#3) They cannot find an Orthodox Church close enough to them, so they eventually just burn out from lack of guidance and start attending the local Protestant and/or Roman Catholic Church and eventually fall into those crowds.

#4) Too much uncertainty about what happens directly after we die. This honestly frightens me more than anything.

#5) They meet a mate who belongs to another religion and/or other form of Christianity and they become tempted to leave Orthodoxy to make their mate happy and/or make things simple for their children so that two parents don't have different beliefs.

#6) No one at their Church is nice to them. Let's be honest, those Evangelical/New Protestant Churches that we love to mock so much put us to shame when it comes to kindness and welcoming new comers. I'll admit, I have never had a problem with this at my Church (Possibly because I attend an OCA Church which is the most 'Americanized'), but I have heard of many negative experiences people have had with other Orthodox Churches both from fellows at my Church from people on this website. These happy, American, potentially convertsky fellows enter their local Orthodox Church expecting to be welcomed with open-arms by happy, jolly folks. But all they find is a dead place with a bunch of quiet, somewhat rude people staring at them negatively, talking about them in their native tongue, ignoring them and making them feel unwelcomed. People have spiritual needs, they need to see kindness and be welcomed, and if we as the Orthodox--the 'light of the world'--cannot satisfy those needs for them, then I am afraid we are in a really bad situation.
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« Reply #38 on: October 21, 2012, 05:39:01 PM »

Although I find a lot of the other stuff on that website a little on the questionable side, I think this is well worth a read.

Yes that's a good article, and one I read whenever I need a sobering reality check. Smiley

On the OP's question - there's probably many reasons people leave Orthodoxy.  I think the best way to apostate-proof yourself is take it slowly; attend and become involved with a local Orthodox church, or if that's not possible, find and keep in contact with a priest and/or other Orthodox Christians in your country; ease into Orthodox life (prayer rule, fasting, etc), gradually, with guidance from a priest or other clergy; read the basics first (e.g. Met. Kallistos Ware's books, Didache and other early patrisic writing, Bible) before more mystical and advanced tomes like the Philokalia. Discussion forums like this are useful for learning, discussing issues and meeting other Orthodox Christians, but don't depend on them as your main go-to source and point of contact.  Enjoy your inquirer and catechumenate period - it can be a time of much frustration and testing, but what you learn and experience will strengthen your relationship with God and bear much fruit in your Christian walk from here on in.
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« Reply #39 on: October 21, 2012, 05:46:12 PM »

+4

There should be strict enforcement of the canon requiring a catechumen to attend 3 parish council meetings before chrismation.

"You want to turn them into atheists?"

"That would require them serving on the parish council."

lol...I'm about to attend my first one soon, can't wait! Grin  They can't be any worse than any other hobby/sport-based committee meeting I've experienced....
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« Reply #40 on: October 21, 2012, 07:11:44 PM »

While this won't apply to all who leave Orthodoxy - and it may only apply to a small handful - there are many who leave for the same reason that people leave other churches: spiritual apathy and allowing the soil of our hearts to become hazardous to the seed of the Word which was planted in them.

I just want to note that I appreciate your posts on this forum and sometimes (not often) I disagree with them.
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« Reply #41 on: October 21, 2012, 10:26:39 PM »

So this question is asked to Orthodox Christians in the Faith Issues section where people who have "somewhat" or "entirely" left Orthodoxy can't speak of why they left Orthodoxy without getting a spooky big green warning.

The funny thing is, nobody comes close to mentioning anything theological, things that bishops do, and the blame is placed solely on those who leave.

By the nature of the question asked placed in a moderated section on this board, you will only get biased answers.  If you really want to know the answers without bias, you should ask on other sections of this board.

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« Reply #42 on: October 21, 2012, 10:48:50 PM »

They don't kiss icons or use incense in the WR?
No.

I went to a few that did. Huh
I don't think St. Marks here in Denver does it either. Both my church and St Marks converted to Orthodoxy, I think mine was originally a Lutheran church is why my priest said in my catechism. In any case our mass is very reminiscint of pre-Vatican II Trindentine Mass.

Although I love our small parish, I wouldn't recommend a WRO parish to someone newly inquiring into Orthodoxy incase of Romephobia.
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« Reply #43 on: October 22, 2012, 09:50:34 AM »

Some leave because they have been trained to be consumers of religion, and while Orthodoxy is pretty neat for a while, it doesn't work on a consumer model in the long term.

Excellent point.
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« Reply #44 on: October 22, 2012, 10:13:09 AM »

Some leave because they were baptized and christmated without repentance, and when it became clear that they would have to either embrace a lifestyle centered around their sinful passions, or a lifestyle centered around Christ, they chose their passions over Christ.

Similarly, people may leave because they expected instant theosis following reception into the Church.  They may have acquired information about Orthodoxy, but failed to acquire the virtues and to actually engage in spiritual battle.  So, disatisfied at their lack of deification after X number of years of merely external adherence to Orthodoxy, they left what they never knew and gave up what was never theirs.
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