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Author Topic: Are converts "protestantizing" the Church?  (Read 23319 times) Average Rating: 0
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idontlikenames
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« on: February 03, 2005, 05:30:29 PM »

Hey...I just wanted to bring up two separate, yet related, issues.....

Does anyone ever feel that there is too much clickiness in Orthodox parishes? Like at my parish (this is why I am actually in the process of switching parishes), as soon as the after-liturgy coffee starts, it begins: the converts immediately go to the "convert tables" and the cradle-born (in this case, Lebanese) immediately go to the "cradle-born tables". It's like there's a spirit of elitism/chauvinism on the part of both parties. In fact, ever since I've converted (yes...so in some respects I'm a hypocrite), I have yet to talk to hardly any of the Lebanese people because as soon as I sit down, all the "fellow" converts flock to me...not giving me a chance to talk to anyone else.

Also.......does anyone ever feel that many of the converted Protestants never quite leave their Protestantism "at the door"? Like...a lot of the "white-isms" (like....first question: "What do you do for a living"?) which repulsed me from the Protestant Chuch land right here in the Antiochian Orthodox Church. Or....the surprisingly Zionist mindsets of people in the Orthodox church.

i even find that a lot of the "mariphobia" which is rampant in Protestantism is visibly apparent in converts to the Orthodox faith....like people who refuse to believe that St. Mary did not sin.

When I became Orthodox, I completely renounced everything which was Protestant in me.

What does everyone else think?
« Last Edit: February 04, 2005, 01:28:48 AM by Anastasios » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2005, 05:48:56 PM »

Quote
Does anyone ever feel that there is too much clickiness in Orthodox parishes? Like at my parish (this is why I am actually in the process of switching parishes), as soon as the after-liturgy coffee starts, it begins: the converts immediately go to the "convert tables" and the cradle-born (in this case, Lebanese) immediately go to the "cradle-born tables". It's like there's a spirit of elitism/chauvinism on the part of both parties. In fact, ever since I've converted (yes...so in some respects I'm a hypocrite), I have yet to talk to hardly any of the Lebanese people because as soon as I sit down, all the "fellow" converts flock to me...not giving me a chance to talk to anyone else.

I was going to an antiochian parish for awhile and never noticed anything like this.

Quote
Also.......does anyone ever feel that many of the converted Protestants never quite leave their Protestantism "at the door"? Like...a lot of the "white-isms" (like....first question: "What do you do for a living"?) which repulsed me from the Protestant Chuch land right here in the Antiochian Orthodox Church. Or....the surprisingly Zionist mindsets of people in the Orthodox church.

I don't see what the big deal is if people ask you what kind of work you do or other personal type questions. I get asked that all the time when I meet new people wether it's at church or meeting friends of friends. You have never asked anyone similiar type questions, seems pretty human to me. Also, you seemed fixated on the zionism hysteria, what's the big deal if some Orthodox think the jews deserve a small block of land?
« Last Edit: February 04, 2005, 01:29:22 AM by Anastasios » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2005, 05:52:09 PM »

Okay....maybe I gave some bad examples.....but the Ethiopian post made me do some thinking....

Do you think that maybe too many converts (of course, this would include myself) could make the Church go in the wrong direction?
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« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2005, 05:55:53 PM »

idontlikenames,

I agree. Smiley

In some of these parishes I feel like I'm visiting "All Saints of Middle Class America" from the Onion Dome.
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« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2005, 06:03:43 PM »


I don't see what the big deal is if people ask you what kind of work you do or other personal type questions. I get asked that all the time when I meet new people wether it's at church or meeting friends of friends. You have never asked anyone similiar type questions, seems pretty human to me.  


I think that's easy to say if you have a fancy or "successful" job.  but too often, the attitude behind such a question is, "Let's see what this peon does for a living.....if it's not something deemed 'successful', then I'm better than him."  Too many people think they are better than everybody else simply because of their status....EVEN IN THE CHURCH!!!!  It would be like if my first question to them was, "What is your IQ?"
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« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2005, 06:21:20 PM »

For me it's a couple of things. On a personal level it's sometimes difficult for me to relate to a Protestant convert who seems content to hold onto a lot of previous baggage. Protestantism always seemed hokey and contrived to me. Kind of a natural expression of Christianity mixing with American values. This baggage seems to linger if they've been brought into Orthodoxy through the writings of the ex EOC's or the more "modernist" theologians of our day. I think this can be attributed to the fact that in these writings, the primary focus is doctrine and historical and biblical arguments. There is no concept of Orthodox piety introduced to them through these writings. They don't seem to take much interest in the lives of the saints, relics, or just plain down to earth Orthodoxy. The basics of forming an Orthodox mind and heart.  Why no interest? I think it has to do again with their introduction to Orthodoxy. Many of these people were formerly appalled by the notion of venerating saints and relics, piety, asceticism, etc. Now, after reading the works of a modernist theologian who pays no real attention to these "details" of Orthodoxy, or who downplays their imporance as merely being a "cult of saints" which developed sometime after the acceptance of Orthodoxy by the State, these people can sort of overlook these things which they formerly disagreed with. 

Troubling also is when this mindset starts to overtake the services. I've seen long time Protestant converts try to do readings in a "non traditional way", kind of like a Catholic priest saying the Mass, ..or like a parent reading to their little kid. I suppose he thought it was more natural to do it this way, and who needs all this ceremony anyway? Fortuntely someone asked him to read it like an Orthodox Christian. The guy read again like  Protestant and the book was taken from him.
You also see this Protestant "we want equality" with the clergy mindset. Meaning, let me make prostrations in the Church when the priest does, and let me say his "amens", and let me call him Fr. Billy because "he's just a sinner like me!".  This isn't an Orthodox concept of laity/clergy roles.

Just some ramblings.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2005, 06:23:32 PM by Bogoliubtsy » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2005, 07:40:42 PM »

IDLN,
It seems to me (who am no expert) that if your parish encourages, teaches the ascetic foundations of Orthodoxy i.e. fasting, regular communion, alms  giving, minding your own business etc.. then you will gradually lose your Protestant mindset.  It takes time and not everyone in the parish has to be doing it, but it should be at least taught and the priest should be an ascetic priest.  Otherwise you have, as a ROCOR bishop, once said - an Orthodoxy that is simply 'Protestantism with incense'.

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« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2005, 07:52:53 PM »

I have just started going to church. I have been to the Greek Church here, and a few of the many Catholic ones. The CAtholic ones seem to be very "Ethnic" one is almost all Italians, another is the same way but with Anglos or Hispanics (or Latinos?). The Greek one is almost all Greek except for the people that the Greek people have married. I have not noticed anything "non Orthodox" about them (the converted people) they are all very nice even though I am not Greek (hehe) I mean, they're Americans...I notice them saying very American things. I do not think it is very Protestant though. There is only an old, old Lebanese couple there and I have only spoken to them a few times so the Arabs are not rushing together there and the Greeks...wel they are the majority there so they're going to be together no matter what I guess. As a convert I would say to try to go out and connect with the Lebanese folks at your church and "work the room' if you will. Break the cliques. You'll make new friends and bring the parish closer together.
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« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2005, 11:10:53 PM »

Does anyone ever feel that there is too much clickiness in Orthodox parishes? Like at my parish (this is why I am actually in the process of switching parishes)

First of all brother I would just say don’t switch Churches just to escape clicks. You will probably find them everywhere you go and end up totally frustrated. The grass doesn’t get greener until people water it like they are supposed to. You can escape cliquishness simply by refusing to belong to any.

Another thing, don’t be so hard on cradle-born Orthodox for simply clinging to their cultural traditions. If there is one thing I notice from converts is for them to many times demand that ethnics stop being ethnic and drop things that have sustained them forever. I mean why should an elderly grandmother from Lebanon be expected to start reading the Psalms and the Liturgy in English?

[This part was edited and seems awkward so I am re-writing it minus “American Political” references so my point is preserved]

There are some who try to put a political spin on Orthodoxy’s conservative stand on traditionalism and try to derive from it some kind of political conservatism. Just ignore that. It is just the wishful delusions of some converts who ludicrously believe that Orthodoxy has anything to do with the right wing ideology that they brought with them from Protestantism.

Orthodoxy is socially and culturally conservative. She is conservative because she is traditional and sticks with the "faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3)." She is conservative because she does not remove the ancient landmark which the fathers have set (Prov 22:28). She is socially, culturally, and spiritually conservative not politically conservative. She is conservative because she is traditional and sticks with the "faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3)." She is conservative because she does not remove the ancient landmark which the fathers have set (Prov 22:28). So long as you hold to that conservatism you can swing as far to the left on anything else and still be an Orthodox. [All of my examples of right wing politics were edited out].
 
Just keep in mind when the Church opposes liberalism it is social liberalism best exemplified by moral relativism. It is not liberalism like the civil rights movement (of which the ideological ancestors of modern political conservatives shamefully opposed while it was happening).

It is perfectly fine to be on the political right and still be an Orthodox but it is dishonest to pretend that to be one you must be the other.

Things that I have noticed with former Protestants are:

1.   The old "Church hoping" of the Protestant days becomes the jurisdiction hoping of Orthodoxy. I was embarrassed when I went to one Antiochan Church last December that had an entirely convert congregation. The Priest told us how the congregation is now half of its former size. Apparently some of the convert Priest wanted to have things their way like Burger King. The Arab Bishop said no so they told him to “hop in the lake” and then split off. They opened up another “holier than thou” Orthodox Church right down the street. Tell me how that is different from a Protestant minister having a scriptural interpretation difference with the head pastor and then deciding to break and start up his own Church down the street with its own interpretation. I have NEVER seen or heard of something like that happening except where converts are many in number.

2.   Everything is always of a polemical nature. Many times discussions are held within the context of what Protestants or Catholics believe and Orthodox do not. The basics of Orthodox spirituality are not as hot a topic as debating about how the Protestants are wrong about "real presence in the Eucharist."

3.   Dumping Sola Scriptura just to endorse sola father’s patristic texts. People start engaging in their own private interpretations of writings of the fathers and use it in polemics just like Protestants do with the Bible.

4.   Going out of their way to be anti-Catholic and distinguish nearly everything we do from Catholics. In reality this is just an extension of the anti-Catholic mindset present in Puritan derived American Protestantism.

5.   As for Zionism I concur. Many folks cant let it go. Just know that H.H. Pope Shenouda has denounced Zionism numerous times and most of the Orthodox bishops actually in Jerusalem have as well. BTW, Fr. Peter Gillquist from your juristiction has written a good pamphlet about Zionism.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2005, 02:58:10 AM by Aklie Semaet » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2005, 11:53:35 PM »

Just a few comments on this discussion:

I agree with Aklie Semaet in regards to "church hopping."  Many of the saints tell us that this mentality presents a grave danger to our spirituality.  God is very good at putting us where we need to be at a given moment in time.  It is much better to evaluate the situation and look for opportunities to deepen our faith by learning to love all people--even those annoying ones who divide themselves into cliques within our parish.  I have visited with many parishes over the years, and have seen the same manifestations at each, just in different flavors.  The only way to overcome it is by changing ourselves.  IDLN, I would recommend you stay where you are and become a catalyst for unity.  Make your own circle and draw them all in.  I have seen this work.

As far as these converts are concerned, we mustn't be so judgemental.  In truth, all of us are "converts" because none of us is born with a perfect faith.  As St Theophan the Recluse points out, each of us reaches a decisive moment in our lives, even those raised Orthodox, when we make the conscious decision to follow Christ.  And each of us carries baggage into our relationship with Christ.  For converts, it may be some Protestant misunderstandings.  For the so-called cradle Orthodox, it may be a need to place ethnic traditions and affiliations above Orthodoxy.  But we have so much to learn from one another.  The convert oftentimes brings an energetic zeal to the Church, sadly missing in many old ethnic parishes like my own.  I've seen this zeal inspire the cradle Orthodox to be more active, read the Bible more, and reach out to evangelize others.  But the converts also learn much from the cradle Orthodox, inspired by Old World traditions rooted in hundreds, even thousands of years of Orthodoxy.  Your example of veneration of Mary, the Saints and their relics is a good example: cradle Orthodox take this for granted, accepting the validity of this piety without question. 

Orthodoxy is not about extremes.  There is a balance that exists.  The only admirable extreme in Orthodoxy is the sort of maximalism revealed in the saints and witnesses to the faith who suffer all things out of love for both God and their fellowman.

As for the comments on Orthodoxy and politics, I feel it is hightime we dismiss this false dialectic between conservativism and liberalism, rigorism and license.  Orthodoxy is none of these things.  It is about traditionalism, a living Tradition, which is the life of the Spirit flowing through the Church and revealing Her to be the Body of Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.  And I feel we need to stop taking our queues from the non-Orthodox.  Separated for so long by such a theological and liturgical gulf, they have become very different from us in many ways.  If we believe we follow the unadulterated faith of the Apostles, Martyrs, Fathers and Saints, then we should be influencing them, not vice versa.  But of course, I never view this as a justification for polemics.  Love and humility--everything hinges on this summit of the virtues.

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« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2005, 12:08:15 AM »

Amen!  I have learned much from the two adult cradle Orthodox at our little mission.  Both of them are good, strong Orthodox people, even if they are cradle.  One is of Greek descent and the other is of Ukrainian descent.  Our third cradle Orthodox was the only one in her family born cradle Orthodox.  She's 8.  We even learn from her too. 
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« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2005, 12:35:36 AM »

As for the comments on Orthodoxy and politics, I feel it is hightime we dismiss this false dialectic between conservativism and liberalism, rigorism and license. Orthodoxy is none of these things. It is about traditionalism, a living Tradition, which is the life of the Spirit flowing through the Church and revealing Her to be the Body of Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever. And I feel we need to stop taking our queues from the non-Orthodox.

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« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2005, 02:34:11 AM »

What do you do about cradle Orthodox who act like converts?

There was a guy at my parish who was born into an Armenian Orthodox family, but at some point joined a oneness pentacostal church.  He went back to the Armenian church I think because he wanted to get back in touch with his roots.  His beliefs, however, were still very pentacostal.   Among other things, he thought the belief in the Holy Trinity was stupid. He said Christ is God the Father in the flesh, who is the same as the god of Islam and modern day Judaism.  I had trouble understanding this, but it is what he believed.  He also used to make fun of fasting and tradition and would say incredibly insulting things about the Holy Mother of God (whom he did not consider holy.)

The problem with zionism in certain Protestant denominations is that it can be extreme in a way which I think would make most Jews uncomfortable.  This guy, for instance believed that the only way to receive God's blessing was to support the utter destruction and extermination of the Palestinians.  He actually believed that the killing of Palestinians was pleasing to God--even ones who were peaceful.

Needless to say, this guy was not too popular.  He eventually left, I think over the issue of fasting before Communion. 

Whew!  It feels good to get this off my chest.  May God forgive me for being judgemental, but sometimes it helps to vent.
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« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2005, 02:51:15 AM »

Pop Quiz

There have been literally dozens and dozens of schisms and divisions in Orthodoxy in the 20th century. Name 3 that had crazy converts behind them? You have 1 minute. Smiley

Answer: So what groups who split off* had those zany, super-correct converts at the helm? Either ROAC? Nope. Any of the mulitiple ROCiEs? Not as far as I know. Any of the many GOC's? Nope. Any of the Matthewite groups? Not as far as I know. TOC? Nope. And we might go on, but does anyone see a pattern here? I'm not saying that converts are angels, mind you. Certainly, generally speaking, we tend to be a little off regarding the proper praxis and mindset for the first decade or two. Nonetheless, this thread seems very unreflective of reality--despite some poster's proclamations about needing "balance" and so forth.

EDIT -- PS. I don't mean to criticize the original question, or the first responses, which I thought were insightful. It was only after while that things started to go downhill...

EDIT2 -- PSS. * Just to clarify, when I say "split off" I don't mean to imply that these groups were in the wrong. It would just have taken too much time to word it differently considering how confusing the situations are.
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« Reply #14 on: February 04, 2005, 03:01:04 AM »

Needless to say, this guy was not too popular. He eventually left, I think over the issue of fasting before Communion.

It always cracks me up how people can't seem to just wait until lunchtime one day a wee. 

Aklie,
I'm pretty sure many of us know which group you are talking about in your bullet point #1.  Yes they made a mistake, but it was made, and now everyone needs to move on.  I think they'll be find though - even if their journey was ill advised.

Paradosis,
You quote balance as if it is a perjorative.  I hope you're being sarcastic.  Of course reality isn't the ideal, but that's why balance is preached - because it is the narrow path that is preached.  It's just that many times this path is SO narrow that it is hard to keep your balance (no pun intended) and stay on it!
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« Reply #15 on: February 04, 2005, 03:02:42 AM »

I put balance in quotes because the person who mentioned it was the most unbalanced poster on this thread. He also spoke of too much polemics, when he was the most polemical on the thread! Smiley Balance on the royal road is a good thing... I just didn't see much balance in the discussion after the first responses.
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« Reply #16 on: February 04, 2005, 03:26:29 AM »

What do you do about cradle Orthodox who act like converts?

The same thing you would with convert Orthodox that act like converts. Tell them to chill out and direct them to the Priest for guidance.

Paradosis,

While all schisms are sinful and bad there is a profound difference between a split that happens over historical political reasons (Like ROCOR being separate from the MP, how could it have been otherwise the Stalinists were trying to destroy the Church in Russia) and the Church I described for instance. The division in Indian Orthodoxy cannot be reduced to someone telling his Bishop that his beard is not long enough and to go jump in the lake. The problems in the Antiochan Church definitely have to do with zealous converts.

Of course converts cannot be blamed for every problem in the western Orthodox Churches.
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« Reply #17 on: February 04, 2005, 02:39:19 PM »

The Zionism discussion that was a part of this thread has been moved (to the best of my ability) to the Free-For-All Forum under the title "Christian Zionism."  If you want to keep that discussion going, continue it there.  Keep the discussion about convert influence going (it's an interesting one), but the Zionism thing is out of place for this forum.

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« Reply #18 on: February 04, 2005, 02:50:47 PM »

I would like to add this part back in  (with edits) because it addresses the next up post:

What do you mean by "act like converts"  that makes no sense.  You can tell just by how a person looks and or acts that they are not cradle born?  Is there an invisible "not greek" stamp on my forehead or something? Ok, maybe..lol! Yes you will get some who wonder whay you are there, you will get snobs and cliques and such...but gee...thats what humans do...*shock*  But i have to say the older parish members havent been at all snobbish to me.  Maybe i am just lucky, but i prefer to think that would be the norm.

Like i said elsewhere, Scripture and Tradition....it is a package deal.
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« Reply #19 on: February 04, 2005, 03:33:00 PM »

Thanks, aurelia! I was actually hoping you'd do that!

Now...as for the actual topic at hand:

Does anyone ever feel that there is too much clickiness in Orthodox parishes?

Well, yeah, but welcome to the human race, sadly. :- It just comes from the fact that birds of a feather really DO flock together. It's more comfortable and natural (the conversation, that is), so it just tends to happen that way. When it leads to never talking to anyone ELSE, it's a bad thing, imo.

i even find that a lot of the "mariphobia" which is rampant in Protestantism is visibly apparent in converts to the Orthodox faith....like people who refuse to believe that St. Mary did not sin.

Yeah, I had some issues with this myself, as recent as this past summer (there's a thread somewhere that I started all about this). I think this is something priests who catechise converts need to be made more aware of. A lot of Protestants (myself formerly included) were brought up on verses like Romans 3:23, "For ALL have sinned," etc. It grates on them a lot to think that--for no good reason, in their minds--Mary is somehow the exception to what God intended as a hard-and-fast rule. Perhaps it'd help if it were also mentioned that although Hebrews 9:27 says that it is appointed unto men once to die--assuming this means ALL men--Enoch and Elijah were, for reasons God only knows, exempted from this rule. So Mary didn't sin, fine. She was still corrupt by nature and was going to die because of her inheritance of ancestral sin, just like the rest of us. Because of that, she too fell short of God's glory and was in need of a Savior, which she bore.

So...perhaps a more tailor-made catechism is in order...

First of all brother I would just say don’t switch Churches just to escape clicks. You will probably find them everywhere you go and end up totally frustrated. The grass doesn’t get greener until people water it like they are supposed to. You can escape cliquishness simply by refusing to belong to any.

Niiiiiiiiice. Afro Good stuff.

Things that I have noticed with former Protestants are:

1.   The old "Church hoping" of the Protestant days becomes the jurisdiction hoping of Orthodoxy.

AMEN. Oh, this just makes me sick! I really think we need one, unified Orthodox jurisdiction in America...yes, for the canonical reasons, but perhaps even MORE so for the practicality of NOT being able to just switch bishops if you don't like so-and-so's method of reception, acceptance of calendar, method of chanting, choice of music, style of temple, or anything else. We as Orthodox converts just need to learn to take our medicine and deal with what we just DON'T like instead of running away.

2.   Everything is always of a polemical nature. Many times discussions are held within the context of what Protestants or Catholics believe and Orthodox do not. The basics of Orthodox spirituality are not as hot a topic as debating about how the Protestants are wrong about "real presence in the Eucharist."

Yep. How easy it is to get fixated on "how right we are now" and "how blind they still are."

3.   Dumping Sola Scriptura just to endorse sola father’s patristic texts. People start engaging in their own private interpretations of writings of the fathers and use it in polemics just like Protestants do with the Bible.

Man, I wish somebody had warned me about that big loophole when I converted! How much easier (and healthier, really!) would it be to just trust the bishop whose job it is to guide you in the new faith and just live it?! That's Orthodoxy. There's a reason the bishops and priests will be judged more severely than the laity...we're not supposed to preoccupy ourselves too terribly much with all of the controversial stuff!

4.   Going out of their way to be anti-Catholic and distinguish nearly everything we do from Catholics. In reality this is just an extension of the anti-Catholic mindset present in Puritan derived American Protestantism.

Agreed. We are obviously closer to the Catholics in practice and worship than dang near anybody in the Protestant world. Splitting hairs and yelling about them is silly.

Thanks for that great post, Aklie.
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« Reply #20 on: February 04, 2005, 04:01:33 PM »

I'm fairly new to this message board, I've been reading it through for a couple of weeks and have yet to post, but I thought I'd weigh in on this issue.

While it is certainly true that converts do bring baggage with them into the Orthodox Church, it is by no means the only way such baggage enters into the Church, nor is it the predominate way. Converts are often attracted to Orthodoxy because it offers them a cultural experience outside the American norm and are often willing to conform to the cultural norms of the Church they joined, but their American mindset is rarely abandoned. What causes greater problems (i.e. protestantization) is the general cultural influence of the West in general, and the United States in particular. This effects both convert and ethnic orthodox alike, perhaps having a greater impact on the ethnic Orthodox on account of their failure to realize and guard against this tendency -- the problem is not converts or 'cradle' Orthodox, the problem is Americans, regardless of how many generations ago their ancestors came to this country, and from which country they came.

America has a mindset of 'rugged individualism' which came from large open spaces and the era of 'Manifest Destiny;' a mindset which has become an integral part of American religion: Jewish, Moslem, Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox. This mindset tells us that we can all be our own lords, our own theologians, our own Patriarchs, Bishops, Priests, Popes, Pastors, Rabbis, Imams, et cetera. It is the mindset that has created reformed Judaism, liberal Islam (not that these two are bad things, or at least they're than what they started with (for the very reason that they're watered down)), but it also created thousands of Protestant denominations from the small handful that came out of the Reformation, it is the mindset that gave rise to the modern individualistic Catholic Church in the United States, which is a thorn of anti-traditionalism, disobedience, and at times schism, in the side of the Papacy, and this is the mindset that leads to the forming of numerous schismatic orthodox churches, over minor and irrelevant squabbles about politics and pietistic issues of insignificant popular custom.

If one goes to the old world they see, with few exceptions (e.g. the 'True' orthodox Church of Greece (one of the more westernized of the Orthodox Countries, with strong modern democratic influences)), Orthodox Christianity as a natural element of their culture, the concept of breaking from the Church and forming their own sect is completely foreign and incomprehensible -- inconsonant with their traditional Orthodox views. To these faithful Orthodoxy is more than a religion, mindset, or worldview: it is a way of life. The Church cannot exist apart from their cultural experience; however, the Church is the defining element of their Culture. The problem in this country is that to maintain the orthodoxy of the Church, we need a solid cultural connection, not just a philosophical or theological one; unfortunately, this connection is tending to be replaced by the American pseudo-culture of individualism.

I say this as an American of many generations, and as a convert to the Orthodox Church, aware not only of the baggage I brought to the Church, but also of the even more damaging influence of American ‘culture’ and destruction of traditional Orthodox Cultures.
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« Reply #21 on: February 04, 2005, 04:59:08 PM »

Some very nice points in there, greekischristian  Smiley
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« Reply #22 on: February 06, 2005, 03:08:49 PM »

I've been looking over this and I am wondering, is there some kind of prejudice against converts?  I am nto trying to get off topic or be disrespectful if I am comming off as that but, I have just noticed that a lot of Orthodox refer to converts to Orthodoxy as, well, just that, a convert.  Now, I am not a convert, but if, by God's grace, I become one, am I always going to be thought of as "a convert" and never a "true" Orthodox Christian?  Sorry if this question is neive.  God Bless.
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« Reply #23 on: February 06, 2005, 04:51:41 PM »

There is a story of a brother (monk) who went on a pilgrimage, and he, came to a community.  It happened that he found love (=coffee hour after church) and sat at table to eat with the brethren. But some said: "Who brought this stranger here?" And they said to him: "Get out of here." The brother rose and went.  But others were sorry, and went and called him.  And afterwards someone asked him, saying: "What did you think in your heart when you went out and came back again?" The brother said to them: "I resolved in my heart to be like a dog which, when it is chased, goes away, and when it is called, comes." - The Paradise of the Desert Fathers

There you have it, the greatest Christian virtue... I wish I could be treated despitefully like a convert, but alas I’m not oneGǪ

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« Reply #24 on: February 06, 2005, 06:18:46 PM »

Though about a third of my family is Orthodox, and I'm of slavic ancestry, I'm a convert myself. Of course I have no issues with converts, and neither should any Orthodox Christian! My problem comes with those converts who are unwilling to change some essential things, or who wish to "reform" the Church and bring it in line with their baggage.
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« Reply #25 on: February 06, 2005, 08:13:28 PM »

One of the biggest carry-over issues that I see is the obsession with eschatology, particularly the kind that completely forgets the rest of the world in perspective and centers on the west as if everything in the Apocalypse was written with us in mind.
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« Reply #26 on: February 06, 2005, 09:42:40 PM »

One of the biggest carry-over issues that I see is the obsession with eschatology, particularly the kind that completely forgets the rest of the world in perspective and centers on the west as if everything in the Apocalypse was written with us in mind.

We should indeed be obsessed with eschatology, but in an Orthodox manner.  Protestants tend to view eschatology in terms of "endings" only.  In our faith, the first things become the last things.  Eschatology is as much about the present as it is about the end.  We step into the "end times"--the final Parousia--every Divine Liturgy.  We are taught by the Fathers to keep constant vigil, like the wise virgins in the parable: "Behold the Bridegroom cometh in the middle of the night."  We are called to redeem the time by transforming every moment into the kairos, the opportune moment.  This can only be done by keeping a constant remembrance of Christ in our mind and heart.  In other words, we lift our sous up to Him, constantly standing before His throne as if this moment were the last.

As with most Protestant baggage, it is not so much a total error, but rather an over-emphasis on one aspect.  By reorientating formerProtestants toward right eschatology, we can win them over to an Orthodox mindset.

In Christ,
--o amartolos
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« Reply #27 on: February 06, 2005, 10:16:55 PM »

For the record, I meant no disrespect to converts when I wrote of a cradle Orthodox "acting like a convert."  In fact, I am a sort of convert myself.  Since my dad is not Armenian, I was raised in the Sunday School of his Presbyterian church.  However, whenever I was with my mom's parents, I got plenty of exposure to the Armenian church and grew to really love it.-As a young adult, I was chrisimated.

Actually, the point of my earlier post--and I think someone else touched on this also--is that it is not exclusively the fault of converts if we find our churches becoming more Protestant, etc.  The fact is that here in the United States, we are surrounded by a culture that is shaped by Protestantism and, to an extent, Catholicism.  I find that with respect to my own church it is cradle Orthodox who introduce, or who want to introduce, innovations which they have seen over at their friend's Protestant or Catholic church.

Armenian churches here in the United States have organs.  The one at my church is so loud, you often can't hear the choir.  This was not introduced by converts--the Armenian Church actually has very few converts.  This was introduced by cradle Orthodox, who wanted our liturgy to sound more like the services at the Catholic and Protestant churches.

Sometimes I think the people at my church have a sort of inferiority complex.  Like the Catholics and Protestant are "big time" and we are a "small time" church that has to keep up.  I  often hear people born and raised in our church commenting on how entertaining the services are at the local Evangelical church and how nice and short the masses are at the Catholic church down the street.  I don't think it ever occurs to them that we are doing things the right way and it is not necessarily better to have a short, entertaining service, just because our friends' churches are doing things that way.

I also now and then hear people born and raised in my church talking about the rapture, or commenting on how it is wrong to venerate the Cross, or the Mother of God, etc.ÂÂ  Again, these are not converts.ÂÂ  These are cradle Orthodox who have been visiting a local Protestant Bible study.

I also see people in my church genuflecting, Catholic style.ÂÂ  Again, not converts, just people who have spent more time at a Catholic Church because it is closer to their home or their services are shorter.
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« Reply #28 on: February 07, 2005, 08:41:40 AM »

"Again, not converts, just people who have spent more time at a Catholic Church because it is closer to their home or their services are shorter. "

Interesting!  I myself have to travel almost 1/2 hour..and i know of one family that drives 1 1/2 hours not only on Sunday, but thee tiomes a week so their kid can go to Greek School!  We get lots of people that sort of wander in between the start of the liturgy and the time of Communion (and as Fr says, if you dont make it in by then what is the point?).  I can see in on respect occasionaly going to a chiurch that is closer, i mean if you have to drive three hours on sunday that is a haul especially with kids, but i hate to say it --it also just seems lazy to complain about the service length, then why are you going anywhere at all? 

As for entertainment value... Huh  I've been to a couple of Evangelical Baptist churches, one i got invited to for easter last year when i was stilllooking for a spititual home, and quite  frankly itfreaked me out to see the Pastor playing the drums up on the stage next to the pulpit.  I was actually freaked out by the whole service, and left as fast as I could without being rude to the family that invited us.  I am plenty "entertained" byt the Orthodox service, i love the choir, they are excellent, I love to see the icons, and just waliking into Church givesme a great feeling of peace, and that is entertainment enough for me.
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« Reply #29 on: February 07, 2005, 03:08:18 PM »

Why is it that at least once per quarter we have a convert bash?

At my Serbian Orthodox Church the majority of parishoners who have the "Orthodox" mindset are the converts. Most of the cradle folks are immigrants who grew up under communism. Who sings in the choir (and mostly in Slavonic and Serbian)? Who cleans up? Who defends the priest when some of the parishoners attack him? Who takes the time to go to study classes? Who spends more time reading about the faith? Who do you see at confession every week? In our parish it's usually the converts.

Who shows up at Easter and Christmas and that's it? Who asks to rent the church for parties during Lent? Who goes jurisdiction hopping when the Bishop tells a group of people they can't overrule the priest? In our parish it has been the cradlers.

I could go on, but I don't need to. There is at least as much "protestantizing" from cradlers as from converts. The converts I know have usually lived protestantism, made a decision to get out of it and tread gently where they don't know the Orthodox way. I love to hear the cradlers come in with quotes from TV preachers in order to argue with our priest, who they treat with disdain.

We have a lot of fantastic cradlers at our church . . . and a lot who have caused mega trouble. I just get sick of hearing what the "converts" are doing to "our" church. It's Christ's Church.

Tune in next quarter for "Are converts too ultra-traditionalist?"

EDIT:  As for zionism, I'm not sure what you mean.  Do you mean the right of the State of Israel to exist?  I have noticed that our Serbian church is a lot more friendly to Jewish issues.  I think that's because the Serbs, Jews and Romany were all put in the same concentration camps by the same groups of people.  I've never heard any of these issues discussed by converts.
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« Reply #30 on: February 07, 2005, 03:09:16 PM »

Though about a third of my family is Orthodox, and I'm of slavic ancestry, I'm a convert myself. Of course I have no issues with converts, and neither should any Orthodox Christian! My problem comes with those converts who are unwilling to change some essential things, or who wish to "reform" the Church and bring it in line with their baggage.

Yes, this is the key. It is not really a matter of converts per se, as much as it is a matter of vainglory. People should not be seeking to transform the Church to make it more palatable to themselves in light of their baggage and what they are used to. Instead they should allow the Church to transform them. I would argue that a thoroughly "protestantized" Church would no longer be Orthodox.

greekischristian - Fantastic post, and welcome to the boards. I agree with your ananlysis 100%. The Western/American "individualism" that you described so eloquently has no place in the Body of Christ. The idea of a Christian saying, "Its just me and my Jesus, God is no respecter of persons, so the bishop and everyone else can go hang themselves while I work out my own salvation" is thoroughly alien and antithetical to authentic Othodox Christianity.
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« Reply #31 on: February 07, 2005, 05:11:46 PM »

Why is it that at least once per quarter we have a convert bash?

I don't know, but I appreciate the post cizinec. As to your question:

Quote
EDIT: As for zionism, I'm not sure what you mean.

Don' worry 'bout it...and, actually, now that I come back to it, I see you've already posted on that thread, and that it's (finally!) been closed.
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« Reply #32 on: February 07, 2005, 05:16:58 PM »

OK so now it's obvious that anyone, cradle or convert, can be doing this "protestantising" of churches, so there's no need for anyone to rag on either type. Both are full members of the same church. If they are attempting for some reason to transform the church instead of having the church transform them, as others have said, we have to ask why. Vainglory has been mentioned. I don't understand, don't priests teach against this type of stuff? Don't they speak up and educate their parishoners? If one is a true and obedient member of the Church, this should be natural, and every member should know and understand the church's teachings.

A/K
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« Reply #33 on: February 07, 2005, 05:19:25 PM »

OK so now it's obvious that anyone, cradle or convert, can be doing this "protestantising" of churches, so there's no need for anyone to rag on either type.  Both are full members of the same church.  If they are attempting for some reason to transform the church instead of having the church transform them, as others have said, we have to ask why.  Vainglory has been mentioned.  I don't understand, don't priests teach against this type of stuff?  Don't they speak up and educate their parishoners?  If one is a true and obedient member of the Church, this should be natural, and every member should know and understand the church's teachings.

A/K

AK eh? AK47 klaklaklaklakalak
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« Reply #34 on: February 07, 2005, 05:21:23 PM »

My dear esteemed administrator,

Please lay off the alcohol for the remainder of the day.

Sincerely yours,
Anastasia/Kim (A/K) Tongue
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« Reply #35 on: February 07, 2005, 05:22:47 PM »

I even changed my avatar for you.

AK

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« Reply #36 on: February 07, 2005, 05:23:27 PM »

Who says it's alcohol?  Grin
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« Reply #37 on: February 07, 2005, 05:23:45 PM »

I've officially hijacked this thread.

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« Reply #38 on: February 07, 2005, 05:24:23 PM »

With my AK47 nonetheless.

Call in the Army I must be a terrorist.
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« Reply #39 on: February 07, 2005, 05:27:56 PM »

The terrorist's code name?

CodeMaster.

(See?  You ain't so shlick...)

Bryan/Peter (B/P...you know...like the gas station...hee hee!  Tongue)
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« Reply #40 on: February 07, 2005, 05:28:44 PM »

r0bb0c0p:

R/C

RC Cola or Roman Catholic
your pick
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« Reply #41 on: February 07, 2005, 05:34:19 PM »

At least you don't have a Pro-Abortion politician coming to your local GOA church this week like I do to give a talk on politics and Greeks.
 (and he isn't even greek!)



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« Reply #42 on: February 07, 2005, 06:02:51 PM »

On the main topic of this thread there are "prostentantized" ethnic and convert jurisdictions, look at the GOA and Antiochians in America.  There are also both converts and cradles in traditional jurisdictions, and in synods that are dubious in their standing.  So in the end the point is that convert vs. cradle just isn't a big issue. 
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« Reply #43 on: February 07, 2005, 06:09:22 PM »

On the main topic of this thread there are "prostentantized" ethnic and convert jurisdictions, look at the GOA and Antiochians in America.

I'd appreciate it if you'd qualify this, so it won't just sound like a blind attack.

Would you be referring to the AOAA's lack of monasticism, the use of pews and organs,  the rogue GOAA parish councils that want to veto the priest/bishop, and/or the push to call heterodox sacraments "valid" as is?

If so, yeah, I can see how those would be issues that would cause concern...but I wouldn't call them thoroughly protestantized...there are some amazingly traditional parishes within these jurisdictions.
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« Reply #44 on: February 07, 2005, 06:33:01 PM »

Yes, Pedro this is what I am to refering to within the GOA and AOAA :
Quote
Would you be referring to the AOAA's lack of monasticism, the use of pews and organs, the rogue GOAA parish councils that want to veto the priest/bishop, and/or the push to call heterodox sacraments "valid" as is?

The point being that both converts and cradles do that and to single out either group is not true.

I think the best role model for bridging the gap between converts and cradles is Fr. Seraphim Rose.  He deeply loved the Russian culture and Orthodox heritage, but he also wasn't afraid to push for English serives and English language Orthodox literature. 
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