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Author Topic: My Big Fat Greek Wedding  (Read 3121 times) Average Rating: 0
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timotheou
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« on: December 14, 2004, 11:19:54 AM »

Growing up Southern, I’ve always heard “normal Christianity” defined as “Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians,” or rather, “Bab-dists, Meth-dists, and Prebaterians.”  Yet the reality is, the Churches of Christ pulled up behind the Methodists LONG ago! The typical Southern state --- yes, I’d exclude Northern Virginia from that, and certainly Maryland --- is 40-50% Baptist, 5-10% Methodist, 5% Church of Christ, and, believe it or not, 5% Catholic. (Louisiana is “sui generis” --- southern Louisiana is the most Catholic place in the US!)

Here in Memphis, TN, we have a Hindu temple, 2 Buddhist temples, 3-4 mosques, a synagogue of every flavor (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Sephardic, Hasidic), 2 Unitarian churches, one of which has a panoramic view of the Mississippi River in case the sermon is boring, and a grassy lot that proclaims itself the site of a future Baha’i Worship Center. We also have a GOA, Antiochian, and OCA churches.

Just curious: What are these STRANG THINGS one sees in the South one doesn’t see up North? I’m not being facetious; I have no idea what these would be. Are we talking Orthodox churches here?

OF COURSE, the response I get when I tell people I’m Orthodox is “You’re Jewish?” I try to educate them by saying “No, Orthodox CHRISTIAN” but that goes nowhere. Being a convert, I fight those ethnic modifiers as hard as I can, Natasha, but ultimately I give in and say “I go to a Greek Orthodox church.” (I’m not Greek Orthodox; I’m Scotch-Irish Orthodox!)

When I told my parents I was converting, my Mom cried --- she was convinced I wanted to “become a Jew.” I quickly learned to describe it “old-fashioned Catholicism but without the Pope.” This works well enough for most conversations, by the way. Adding, “We have married priests, practice birth control, and can get divorced and remarried” scores points with Protestants and all but the most conservative Catholics. I also asked “Have you ever seen The Deerhunter?” until “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” came out. Both movies help provide a “visual.”

Anyway, once my parents realized I still considered myself a Christian, they were better, but not much. Neither spoke to me for three weeks. THEN they invited the minister over; I got into an argument with him. Eventually, they did the proper WASP thing, and refused to discuss the subject further. (As Will says on “Will & Grace,” WASPs do three things well: Keep retail afloat, make a good martini, and don’t discuss things that would upset anybody.) Oh, to get under my skin, my Dad will refer to Father Paul as my rabbi, but for the most part, my family acts as if I attend some Baptist church other than theirsGǪ albeit an eccentric one, with its own date for Easter.

When my Mom died, my priest visited the funeral home like any of my other friends. My family stared wide-eyed as he went up to the casket and instead of the obligatory “Doesn’t she look natural?” did his stavron and quietly said the Trisagion prayers, but they said nothing!
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« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2004, 12:46:15 PM »


"My Big Fat Greek Wedding," is one of the worst portrayals of Orthodoxy I have ever seen. A blind eye is turned to pre-Marital sex! Baptism is equated with becoming Greek! Pascha is made out to be a time for drunken revelry rather that the Joy and Praise of the Resurrected Lord! It may of been slightly humorous but it does nothing to promote Orthodoxy!


The point is Orthodoxy is not a joke.

No, Orthodoxy isn't a joke. However, let me point out that being Orthodox IS a big part of being Greek. America has an "implied religion" and not a declared national religion ie. Protestant Christian. whereas Greece has a national religion. Orthodoxy is a large part of the culture, contrary to America where Orthodoxy is not part of the larger culture. Orthodoxy is often associated with being ___ ethnicity. Unfortunate yes, however that's the way it is. American converts are a loud minority when in the grand scheme of things. The quieter majority of ethnic orthodox out number white american converts by a long shot.  Second,  I have seen MBFGW several times and do not recall anything to do with Pascha in the movie. The scene I recall is when the families meet for the first time and the parents get seriously trashed on Ouzo. MBFGW was not meant to be an accurate picture of the Orthodox church, it was merely portraying how Orthodoxy fits into an average semi relgious Greek family. 
« Last Edit: December 21, 2004, 12:14:24 AM by Pedro » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2004, 12:52:56 PM »

Well put, PhosZoe.
I recently re-viewed this movie and I was a bit confused. On my second viewing I got the distinct feeling that the infamous baptism scene I saw in the second was not the same scene I remember from my first viewing. Is this just me? Or has this scene been changed from the original release?

Demetri, (whose Greek family never served ouzo, maybe a little retsina...)
« Last Edit: December 21, 2004, 12:14:38 AM by Pedro » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2004, 01:04:47 PM »

Second, I have seen MBFGW several times and do not recall anything to do with Pascha in the movie. The scene I recall is when the families meet for the first time and the parents get seriously trashed on Ouzo.

Only thing regarding Pascha in that movie was the woman trying to teach the guy to say "Christos Anesti" and respond with "Alithos Anesti".  I guess it was just "the season".
« Last Edit: December 21, 2004, 12:14:50 AM by Pedro » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2004, 01:20:50 PM »

The problem with MBFGW is that it makes Orthodoxy look like a Greek thing. Christianity is for all people! If non-Orthodox see the movie and a man is referring to his baptism as his becoming Greek rather than his becoming an Orthodox christian it's confusing.
The scene where the husband, forget his name, messes up saying Hristos Aneste! saying churistos anesteh is the Pascha scene, which is what is so bad about it! there is nothing Christian about what is shown just a family party and red eggs!
My point was obvious: the movie does more to make Orthodoxy look like just another national form of Christianity the same as the Church of England.
What if someone who is non-Orthodox sees the movie, starts looking to discover the True Church and never looks at Orthodoxy because they assume it's just some Greek thing?
Don't get me wrong I have the utmost respect for Greek Traditions in local churches the same as I respect the local tradtions of Romanians, Serbs, etc. I just think the film makes Orthodoxy look like just another denomination that is tailored to Greeks alone. And there is still the issue of making sex before marriage look okay. What Orthodox Christian would ever think such a thing is okay? It's awful.

By the way I come from an ethnic German-Jewish background but I never took faith so lightly that I considered it just another part of culture.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2004, 12:15:02 AM by Pedro » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2004, 02:01:30 PM »

The problem with MBFGW is that it makes Orthodoxy look like a Greek thing. Christianity is for all people! If non-Orthodox see the movie and a man is referring to his baptism as his becoming Greek rather than his becoming an Orthodox christian it's confusing.
The scene where the husband, forget his name, messes up saying Hristos Aneste! saying churistos anesteh is the Pascha scene, which is what is so bad about it! there is nothing Christian about what is shown just a family party and red eggs!
My point was obvious: the movie does more to make Orthodoxy look like just another national form of Christianity the same as the Church of England.
What if someone who is non-Orthodox sees the movie, starts looking to discover the True Church and never looks at Orthodoxy because they assume it's just some Greek thing?
Don't get me wrong I have the utmost respect for Greek Traditions in local churches the same as I respect the local tradtions of Romanians, Serbs, etc. I just think the film makes Orthodoxy look like just another denomination that is tailored to Greeks alone. And there is still the issue of making sex before marriage look okay. What Orthodox Christian would ever think such a thing is okay? It's awful.

By the way I come from an ethnic German-Jewish background but I never took faith so lightly that I considered it just another part of culture.

The movie is titled "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"? not My Great Big Fat Orthodox Christian Wedding. Point being the movie is a silly romantic comedy and should be treated as such, it's not a documentary on the Orthodox Church directed by Timothy Ware. Yes, it is one sided it's written by a Greek and to an extent for Greeks.

Maybe you didn't take your faith lightly but sad to say there are people who do take thier faith and thier ethnic background for granted. 
« Last Edit: December 21, 2004, 12:15:14 AM by Pedro » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2004, 02:12:28 PM »

I do see what your saying and I did find the movie funny, especially the father saying every word has a Greek root behind it.
It just seems like one more thing to give people a negative view of Orthodox. Some assume that since Russians have a tradition of heavy drinking that Orthodoxy is a religion for a bunch of boisterous drunks. Then some hear about pogroms and Siberia and assume Tsar-martyr Nicholas II was just some despotic tsar and that it's awful we venerate him as a saint. That's where I'm coming from.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2004, 12:15:26 AM by Pedro » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2004, 02:25:38 PM »

Quote
I do see what your saying and I did find the movie funny, especially the father saying every word has a Greek root behind it.


Interestingly that actor is the only cast member actually from Greece.

That was a nice touch. I also liked his eccentricity of using Windex for everything - subtle and endearing, not just an ethnic joke - and that the movie made fun of the WASPs as much as the Greeks, and in so doing like at the party/ouzo scene made the Greeks look good in comparison, and the yiayia's fear of the Turks was poignant if you know the history, actually a subtle Orthodox point in the movie.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2004, 12:15:38 AM by Pedro » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2004, 04:19:32 PM »

What bothered me the most about MBFGW was that they translated "Christos anesti! Alithos anesti!" as "Happy Easter" and not as is actually is: Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen! If they had done just that, it would have shown the Christian roots of Greek culture so much better.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2004, 12:15:50 AM by Pedro » Logged
timotheou
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« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2004, 07:28:50 PM »

PS

Esp. the witness of the 20th century saints in Russia, "of whom the world was not worthy," who experienced uncontainable joy and peace in the midst of prison cells and labor camps.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2004, 12:16:01 AM by Pedro » Logged
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