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Author Topic: Digital Screens: The Biggest Threat to the Future of the Orthodox Faith  (Read 624 times) Average Rating: 0
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HabteSelassie
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« on: November 04, 2012, 07:34:25 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

On several threads and topics lately we have been relatively discussing the future of our Orthodox Church.  Sometimes we are talking about converts issues, other times matters for cradle Orthodox.  Today during Divine Liturgy while praying, I had an epiphany.  Unfortunately I had been temporarily preoccupied with the behavior of my neighbor in the pew.  A woman was standing there next to me with her three young sons.  I know her, she is my age, and she is faithfully in attendance almost every Sunday, usually with at least 2 of her 3 kids in tow.  Her youngest is an infant around 4 months, her oldest a young boy of about 5 years old, and a little one in between who is 3.  Now, as many parents in churches, from Protestant to Orthodox to in between all over the world every Sunday, she let her older sons play video games on her iPad.  I understand this is a polite tactic to keep her children occupied so that they do not become a bother to other nearby parishioners.  I know she is very busy and quite literally has her hands full with so many children while having to more directly hold and care for the infant.  I feel her, for real. Kids grow up playing in the Church.  When I was a little boy at the Baptist Church, we were allowed to play quietly with toys during the service.  I can relate to the experience.  Further, as an adult, I know how hard it can be to mind for children, especially young ones in multiples.  HOWEVER that being said, we've lived on this earth for 250,000 years give or take a hundred thousand, and been a part of the Orthodox Church for going on 2000 years now, and more or less we've all survived just fine without distracting electronic gadgets and gimmicks.  

Something my priest mentioned at a committee meeting last week really touched my heart. The story my priest told me was about a bishop who had always taught that the Liturgy was made for children.  The icons, the candles, the incense, the chanting, the singing, the priests in their vestments, the people all nestled in their prayer shawls, the instruments, the architecture, the entire ambiance is traditionally inspiring and captivating for small children.  I can vouch for this, I have known several small children who love to get caught up in the Liturgy.  My own nieces, nephews, and god-children who are converts and cradles alike are generally very enthralled in the entirety of the Liturgy.  These do not need iPods.  They are taught by our parents, our families, our parish to enjoy the Liturgy.  There will be plenty of time to play afterwards.  We have 6 and half days a week for other things, the Liturgy is a priority.  

Children are literal sponges, they absorb by observation all of human culture, the fullness of the human experience.  They learn how to be a human by watching other humans, and in the Liturgy they learn how to be  Christian, and how to worship.  Even myself as a convert, learned so much simply by watching other people during Liturgy.  We learn from each other, as apparently many cradles in my parish tell me they too are often inspired to worship more deeply and thankfully by my presence there as a sincere and active convert.  I am always humbled and flattered by my parish.  However, if the small children are no longer watching the Liturgy, watching the people together in worship, how will they learn? So many of us, cradles and converts, have learned to be Orthodox by being an observant part of an Orthodox community.  If our children are not watching, what can we expect? I am not angry, hostile, or trying to condemn those parents who let their children play video games in the Church.  However, I am just realizing it is a self-defeating exercise.  These children will not adore the Church if they feel disconnected.  If they spend ages 3-8 playing video games instead of being absorbed in the worship experience, how will they ever prioritize worship in their future lives as older children and then as young adults? I can't blame video games for all our problems with a fleeing generation from Orthodox, but I think we should all set this example to make digital screens in the Orthodox Church the taboo we should all expect them.  We have to trust our children, and have Faith in our God while being willing to make that extra work to mind the children more carefully while also teaching and explaining what is going on at Liturgy, that these will find God themselves in the Church, the same way we all did, by trying our best to pay attention rather then be distracted.

Let us pray sternly about these crucial matters.

Stay Blessed,
habte selassie
« Last Edit: November 04, 2012, 07:37:08 PM by HabteSelassie » Logged

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Ashman618
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« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2012, 07:48:26 PM »

Off topic a bit I think digital screen iconostasis would be neet we could change the images according to the feast day, this is probably highly un-canonical though.
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HabteSelassie
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« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2012, 07:57:13 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Off topic a bit I think digital screen iconostasis would be neet we could change the images according to the feast day, this is probably highly un-canonical though.
angel
On our screen for the powerpoint during Liturgy sometimes there are full-screen Icons displayed, I must admit it is kind of nice to see such enlarged Icons and in HD no less..  By digital screens threatening Orthodox I didn't mean for when the Church uses TVs, projectors, or computers during Services or meetings, but rather when individuals use digital screens to tune themselves out of the Liturgy

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2012, 08:49:13 PM »

Do you guys feel that digital icons ruin the traditional painting and methods used by the Orthodox faith?

Also, I do believe the woman is doing wrong by giving her son games in the church.

At 5 years old, he's old enough to try to pay some attention.  I know I had to.  I know many 5 year olds have had to for a couple thousand years. Smiley

I got whooped if I misbehaved.

At 5 I saw plenty of EO services too, as my family was VERY MUCH in the church.  Lots of monasteries and clergy came by the house.
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« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2012, 08:51:03 PM »

OO lesson learned: you can't put christmas lights on your icons and plasma screens above your iconostasis and expect the parishioners to not be corrupted Wink
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« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2012, 09:00:48 PM »

Do you guys feel that digital icons ruin the traditional painting and methods used by the Orthodox faith?

Reply: Yes.

Also, I do believe the woman is doing wrong by giving her son games in the church.

Reply: I support you there, she is not doing her son any favours.

At 5 years old, he's old enough to try to pay some attention.  I know I had to.  I know many 5 year olds have had to for a couple thousand years. Smiley

Reply: Indeed.

I got whooped if I misbehaved.

At 5 I saw plenty of EO services too, as my family was VERY MUCH in the church.  Lots of monasteries and clergy came by the house.
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« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2012, 09:06:45 PM »

Could not agree more, its gotta be hard for a child to lay aside all cares of life when he/she's trying to level up their Pokemon.
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« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2012, 09:21:16 PM »


Also, I do believe the woman is doing wrong by giving her son games in the church.


You got that right.  There was some problem here years ago when I did not want the kids even to be playing games or texting in the hall after Liturgy--I wanted them interacting with each other.  No problems ever since, bless the Lord.
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« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2012, 09:31:23 PM »

The physical nature of the church is really important in my estimation.  I feel electronic version would make icons just another image, just like the ones on tv, able to be dismissed or ignored as just pictures and not a representation of a larger reality.

My son was a video game junky but we had no problems during services, he was taught there was a time and place for games, church was not one of them.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2012, 09:33:09 PM by soderquj » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2012, 11:16:51 PM »

Children are literal sponges

Are you sure about that?

That said, I agree that we should keep screens out of church. We spend too much time staring at screens as it is (hey, I'm doing it now).
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« Reply #10 on: November 04, 2012, 11:45:38 PM »

How soon can I login to the Online Orthodox Church?
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« Reply #11 on: November 05, 2012, 12:05:40 AM »

Agreed completely, Habte. Most of our little children (we don't have many, maybe 4 or 5 on a good day) are very well-behaved, or at least very responsive to the shushing of the grandmas and aunties of the church. Sometimes, though...they'll have toys, and they'll get too loud with them. Then abouna will step in: "Ya welad...we are in church. Can you behave yourselves in front of Jesus? Behave yourselves." That gets them to drop the toys and face front real quick! One thing I have also noticed: They love, absolutely love, the prostrations. It is fantastic. They can be restless to the point of driving their poor mother crazy, but when the time for the prostrations comes, they cannot do them fast enough! Also crossing themselves during the 41 Kyrie eleisons, giving the sign of the peace, etc. Anything physical. Kids have the energy...you just gotta focus it, and not into video games!
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« Reply #12 on: November 05, 2012, 01:11:46 AM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Please forgive me if my rant exaggerated the problem.  This is not an Oriental problem, this is not a majority of the children in the parish at all, but it happens often enough for me to take notice.  I am sure that inevitably as they get a bit older other folks around will politely give them that nudge in the back, let alone the scorn of an angry and indignant grandmother Wink

My hope is that these become further in decline, my fear is that these become more frequent in current generation of small children and busy parents.

This doesn't occur, even if infrequently, in anyone else's parish?  I am in a ridiculously disciplined, mercilessly well-behaved parish full of very conservative folks so I really couldn't imagine this is unique in the Orthodox in America world  police

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #13 on: November 05, 2012, 01:12:10 PM »

I have seen toys, but no video games or phones being used as a distraction during services.
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« Reply #14 on: November 07, 2012, 01:28:29 PM »

Habte, blessings.
I think you may be judging the woman too harshly. Have you ever managed three children in church, especially a well disciplined one? I'm not saying that she should be.giving her child a game to play with, but the children are IN church. This is a task of difficult proportions, and since you make no mention of a husband or father I can only assume that there is none that attends.
This being the case, does the grace of the Holy Spirit permeate the temple and everything in it? I believe it does.
I have been a member of several parishes and the ones that are the most difficult when raising children, are those parishes which wish to keep kids quiet. The easiest ones are those where my children are treated like family, allowed to crawl on the floor (no pews or play room) and parishioners take it upon themselves to assist us with holding them, showing them the icons, and bringing them up to venerate or receive blessed bread.

I think its awesome she even gets three kids to church every Sunday, especially with an infant. Why don't you stop worrying about how digital screens will end Orthodoxy as we know it and try helping her out. How a bout praying for her family, giving the kid a prayer rope so he can fiddle with that instead or taking the middle one off her hands and showing them the icons?

The parishes that thrive and become backbones of communities are the ones that have multiple generations of families. That happens by other parishioners making young families welcome to attend despite the natural distractions children present.

Churches aren't meant to be museums of liturgical exactitude, but hospitals and a place of rest for the sick and weary.
You know, I bet that kid is still hearing the liturgy.

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« Reply #15 on: November 07, 2012, 01:49:42 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Habte, blessings.
I think you may be judging the woman too harshly. Have you ever managed three children in church, especially a well disciplined one? I'm not saying that she should be.giving her child a game to play with, but the children are IN church. This is a task of difficult proportions, and since you make no mention of a husband or father I can only assume that there is none that attends.
This being the case, does the grace of the Holy Spirit permeate the temple and everything in it? I believe it does.
I have been a member of several parishes and the ones that are the most difficult when raising children, are those parishes which wish to keep kids quiet. The easiest ones are those where my children are treated like family, allowed to crawl on the floor (no pews or play room) and parishioners take it upon themselves to assist us with holding them, showing them the icons, and bringing them up to venerate or receive blessed bread.

I think its awesome she even gets three kids to church every Sunday, especially with an infant. Why don't you stop worrying about how digital screens will end Orthodoxy as we know it and try helping her out. How a bout praying for her family, giving the kid a prayer rope so he can fiddle with that instead or taking the middle one off her hands and showing them the icons?

The parishes that thrive and become backbones of communities are the ones that have multiple generations of families. That happens by other parishioners making young families welcome to attend despite the natural distractions children present.

Churches aren't meant to be museums of liturgical exactitude, but hospitals and a place of rest for the sick and weary.
You know, I bet that kid is still hearing the liturgy.


Our children are allowed to quietly wander around the Sanctuary during Liturgy, most of the parish are family or close enough friends to mind each others children, they even sometimes playfully go up to the priests during parts of the Liturgy where the clergy come out of the Altar.  The priests generally are playful in their response and are quick to kindly bless these folks even in the middle of Liturgy.  I again mentioned that my rant may have exaggerated the scale of this problem, and further, I conceded that raising children in bundles can be challenging, however spiritually, I feel from the experience of most of the children in our parish do not need video games to remain well-behaved and further that our children, even as toddlers, are primarily interested in the Liturgy rather than playful distractions. 

I apologize sincerely if I came across as harsh, scathing or judgmental to this woman and her children or any other folks who do similar.  My beef is not her, its the video games in Church in general. As again, I am not saying this a majority situation, rather I pray it never gets that way Smiley

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #16 on: November 07, 2012, 01:56:50 PM »

While I let my son play with a tablet, we don't bring it to church.  It is only books, and usually religious-themed ones.
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« Reply #17 on: November 07, 2012, 01:58:33 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

While I let my son play with a tablet, we don't bring it to church.  It is only books, and usually religious-themed ones.

That is a delightful compromise, at our next Sunday School committee meeting I will bring it up if we can offer or recommend any religious APPS/TEXTS we can recommend for those folks who do use tablets and smartphones with their children Smiley

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #18 on: November 07, 2012, 03:22:00 PM »

As I just wrote in another thread, I believe that God is capable of bringing good out of the bad. I would not be in the process of converting to Orthodoxy were it not for the Internet, so "digital screens" can serve a purpose and that's something I think we all have to remember. If they've distracted people from the Truth they've also succeeded in bringing many people, myself included, to the Truth.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2012, 03:24:02 PM by NightOwl » Logged
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« Reply #19 on: November 09, 2012, 04:58:12 AM »

As I just wrote in another thread, I believe that God is capable of bringing good out of the bad. I would not be in the process of converting to Orthodoxy were it not for the Internet, so "digital screens" can serve a purpose and that's something I think we all have to remember. If they've distracted people from the Truth they've also succeeded in bringing many people, myself included, to the Truth.

This is during the Divine Liturgy. Put it away. Plain and simple. Is it gonna be more work for you? Yeah, but not as much in the long run, and its not like they couldnt do this before TVs, Computers, and IPads.
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« Reply #20 on: November 09, 2012, 05:28:07 AM »

There are but three fairly modern inventions which should be placed in an Orthodox parish.  Heating, air conditioning and deodorant (just in case).  Outside these three things, all else can stay outside.
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