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Author Topic: Ethnically oriented missions and segregated churches  (Read 6160 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: March 01, 2005, 10:41:38 PM »

I've been told by a young man who tested his monastic vocation at the Brookwood monastery in the UK under Fr Alexis that it was a special joy to worship surrounded by icons of Saint Patrick and Saint Aidan, Saint David and Saint Columba, Brigid and Non, etc.

However, I would not think that these national Saints could displace the great Saints, the Church Fathers who are very much "international" Saints and who gave us so much doctrinal understanding and ascetic writings. Georgia for example places a great emphasis on Saint Nina and Saint David as does Serbia on Saint Sava and Saint Basil of Ostrog, but these Saints have not had a universal impact on Orthodox theology.
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« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2005, 07:46:51 AM »

I wonder...Do the proponents of an ethnic "American Orthodox" Church feel it is more meet and right to venerate  WAS0, WCO, WO* Saints in particular since the dominant "American" cultural milieu is Western European?  Wouldn't this type of veneration further the cause of American Orthodox identity in this country?  One might reasonbly argue that this would make the Orthodox Church more palatable to potential "real American" converts than "foreign" ethnicities such as: Russian, Greek, Serbian, Arab, etc.

I personally think this would go a long way in Eastern Rite missions...African saints for missions to African-Americans, Celtic/British saints for Anglos...my heart sinks as I realize that I don't think we have even one Hispanic Orthodox saint!   :'(

Well, otoh, there IS the Theotokos, seen everywhere in Spanish-speaking areas as La Virgen de Guadalupe, so that's a start even now in some Spanish-speaking parishes in Fla.
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« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2005, 08:42:34 AM »



African saints for missions to African-Americans, Celtic/British saints for Anglos...

I see where this is heading: African American Orthodox Churches for African Americans,  Celtic/British Orthodox Churches for Anglos, Hispanic Orthodox Churches for Hispanics, all of these on top of Greek Churches for Greeks, Russian for Russians, Serbian for Serbs...

Truly, this is the American Way! 

"It is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o'clock on Sunday morning, the same hour when many are standing to sing:  In Christ There Is No East Nor West."  ~Martin Luther King, Jr., Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story, 1958
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« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2005, 09:28:36 AM »

Now if we can only stop the Serbs from being Serbian, the Russians from being Russian, the Arabs from being Arab...then we can really get started on this "American Orthodox" thing.  "American" meaning of course: Celtic/British American, African-American, Hispanic American.


 Evil  Am I right?
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« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2005, 11:21:53 AM »

Now if we can only stop the Serbs from being Serbian, the Russians from being Russian, the Arabs from being Arab...then we can really get started on this "American Orthodox" thing.  "American" meaning of course: Celtic/British American, African-American, Hispanic American.

I think your point is well intended but difficult to imagine. 

I was born "Serbian" and therefore Christened in the SOC.  I was married in the SOC and intend on Christening my children in the SOC.

As a result, it is impossible to stop us Serbs from being Serbian, when that is what we are; "Serbian Orthodox".  Moreover, and correct me if I'm wrong, your position seems to be advocating for being "American" more than being "American Orthodox".

If that be the case, I couldn't disagree more.  I would NEVER raise my kids as Serbian Nationalists the same way I wouldn't raise them as American Nationalists, however, I would have no problem as raising them as "Orthodox Nationalists".
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« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2005, 01:31:33 PM »

"It is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o'clock on Sunday morning, the same hour when many are standing to sing: In Christ There Is No East Nor West." ~Martin Luther King, Jr., Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story, 1958

Well, you raise a good point. In an ideal world--and to a degree this is seen in Orthodox Churches with mixed ethnicities--we'd all worship together, regardless of ethnicity. But think about it: a parish is designed to serve primarily those in the surrounding neighborhood, right? At least, that's the ideal. Now, if a mission is established in North Fort Worth, it's going to be surrounded by mexicanos. Start one in the inner city, it'll probably be in a neighborhood that's predominantly black. While Dr. King had a sobering point, the segregation of churches wasn't solely due to choice (though this was the main reason); it was location, location, location.

Now if we can only stop the Serbs from being Serbian, the Russians from being Russian, the Arabs from being Arab...then we can really get started on this "American Orthodox" thing. "American" meaning of course: Celtic/British American, African-American, Hispanic American.

 Evil Am I right?

Ha, ha. Roll Eyes Wink laugh Anymore, it just comes down to "whom are we trying to reach? And which saints would most effectively reach out to these groups?"
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« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2005, 03:28:13 PM »

...my heart sinks as I realize that I don't think we have even one Hispanic Orthodox saint! :'(

Well, otoh, there IS the Theotokos, seen everywhere in Spanish-speaking areas as La Virgen de Guadalupe, so that's a start even now in some Spanish-speaking parishes in Fla.

Pedro,

Apostoliki Dianonia published in 2003 "Santoral Ortodoxo Espa+¦ol" or "+Ö+ú+á+æ+¥+Ö+Ü+ƒ +ƒ+í+ÿ+ƒ+ö+ƒ+P+ƒ +ú+Ñ+¥+æ+P+æ+í+Ö" in a blingual edition. I own a copy.

I understand that the Virgin of Guadalupe is honored as an authentic apparition by some Orthodox but it seems somewhat disputed since it happened in a purely RC context.   

I lived in south FL (that would be Miami to be precise) for 7.5 years and in that time AFAIK there was no Spanish-language Orthodox outreach, if so it didn't reach me. Now that has changed somewhat.

T
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« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2005, 10:23:12 AM »

This topic got me thinking a bit. I think maybe the most appropriate repsonse would be that in melting pot nations like the United States there should be Icons from all peoples where the light of Orthodoxy has reached in all Orthodox Churches on American soil. That's only fair as people from all nations have at one point have reached this land in hopes of carving a new life in America.
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« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2005, 11:44:41 AM »

Now if we can only stop the Serbs from being Serbian, the Russians from being Russian, the Arabs from being Arab...then we can really get started on this "American Orthodox" thing. "American" meaning of course: Celtic/British American, African-American, Hispanic American.


 Am I right?

=============

To classify yourself as an 'American Orthodox' is to do the very same thing you are condemning in your previous sentences.

What's the common thing amongst those who identify themselves as 'Greek Orthodox', 'Russian Orthodox', American Orthodox', etc.? It is the that in each case they are putting their ethnic identity in front of their religious identity. And it doing so giving it more importance. That's why we have the disunity we have today. We got in this mess because we began to put more emphasis on what came before the word 'Orthodox' in our religious identity than what comes after. Because of that there are those who would like to take our 'Catholicity' from us and rewrite history to the extent that they are the original 'Catholic Church' which we broke away from. The sad part is that there are Orthodox Catholics here and elsewhere that are more then willing to let them do it because they are more concerned with preserving the first word in the title rather than the last.

To me, the most cherished things in my life are 1) My God (religion), 2) My family, and 3) My country. In that order. And that's how identify myself. I would never think of classifying myself as an 'American Orthodox'. Because that is not what I am. I am an Orthodox Catholic who happens to be American.

Though I am very proud of my slavic background, it is definitely not more important, or even as important, as my religious identity. When, in 1988 I visited Russia and attended my first Divine Liturgy the beauty was such that I began to cry. I knew that I had returned to the roots that make me what I am today. An old Russian Baba was standing next to me and asked me why I was crying. I replied to her - "They are not tears of sadness but tears of joy. I cry because I realize here and now that though my heart is completely American, my soul is still Russian and devoutly Orthodox!" Even believing that I  still consider devoutly Orthodox Catholic rather than 'American Orthodox' or 'Russian Orthodox'.

The Church is not meant to be an ethnic social club. Though there is nothing wrong with keeping the beautiful tradions handed to us. But it is God that comes before all.

Orthodoc

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« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2005, 12:24:31 PM »

Orthodoc,

   Well said!!
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« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2005, 01:07:44 PM »

To me, the most cherished things in my life are 1) My God (religion), 2) My family, and 3) My country. In that order. And that's how identify myself. I would never think of classifying myself as an 'American Orthodox'. Because that is not what I am. I am an Orthodox Catholic who happens to be American.

Though I am very proud of my slavic background, it is definitely not more important, or even as important, as my religious identity.

Absolutely.  Excellent.
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« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2005, 01:42:28 PM »

Uh-oh. I'm about to get into trouble again.

Quote
What's the common thing amongst those who identify themselves as 'Greek Orthodox', 'Russian Orthodox', American Orthodox', etc.? It is the that in each case they are putting their ethnic identity in front of their religious identity.

I don't think that is true in every case, nor would I be willing to concede that was the case for the majority. I'm not Serbian and don't claim to be, yet I call myself Serbian Orthodox. Why do I call myself that? Because I experience Orthodoxy and live my Faith the way it was handed down to me by the Serbian Patriachate and the Serbian people.

At home I listen to John Prine, Fred Eaglesmith, etc. and not Ceca. When my wife cooks we have Slovak and American food. When I cook we have Okie food. We aren't ethnic wannabes, but we follow the practices of our Serbian Church, which brough us the True Faith.

I will concede that there are a lot of folks who come to our churches for the purposes of continuing their ethnic traditions without regard to the faith.  That is a tremendous problem, but I don't think that's the only barrier to pure Orthodox unity in the Americas.

Give it some time and you'll see the "social and ethnic club" folks forced to find their space elsewhere.  Especially with some pesky EvProts sneaking in!
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« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2005, 03:00:42 PM »

Uh-oh. I'm about to get into trouble again.

Nope, at least not from me.  I think there is a lot of merit to what you say.... AND I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU KNOW CECA.... SERB WANNABE!!! Wink Evil
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« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2005, 03:19:00 PM »

[Why do I call myself that? Because I experience Orthodoxy and live my Faith the way it was handed down to me by the Serbian Patriachate and the Serbian people.]

Your faith is identified by the doctines and dogmas that define it. Within Orthodoxy those doctrines and dogmas are the same throughout. That is what makes us Orthodox Catholic. It is both tradition (small 't') and culture that determine how we express that 'faith'. When we identify our religious preference we should be defining it by the doctrines & dogmas we, as Orthodox Catholics, believe, uphold, and protect rather than what cultural context we chose to express them in.

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« Reply #14 on: March 03, 2005, 03:47:29 PM »

[Why do I call myself that?  Because I experience Orthodoxy and live my Faith the way it was handed down to me by the Serbian Patriachate and the Serbian people. ]

Your faith is identified by the doctines and dogmas that define it.  Within Orthodoxy those doctrines and dogmas are the same throughout.  That is what makes us Orthodox Catholic.  It is both tradition (small 't') and culture that determine how we express that 'faith'.  When we identify our religious preference we should be defining it by the doctrines & dogmas we, as Orthodox Catholics, believe, uphold, and protect rather than what cultural context we chose to express them in.

Orthodoc


...and to add to what he says, the ethnic identifier should be a footnote ONLY.  Otherwise, we are still in the same cycle of having our churches lumped into the ethnic social club/ghetto by the American non-Orthodox that we want to evangelize. 
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« Reply #15 on: March 03, 2005, 07:31:17 PM »

I KNEW we were going to get into the small 't' nonsense again.

I don't like to repeat myself over and over again, but . . .


Quote
Your faith is identified by the doctines and dogmas that define it.  Within Orthodoxy those doctrines and dogmas are the same throughout.  That is what makes us Orthodox Catholic.  It is both tradition (small 't') and culture that determine how we express that 'faith'.  When we identify our religious preference we should be defining it by the doctrines & dogmas we, as Orthodox Catholics, believe, uphold, and protect rather than what cultural context we chose to express them in.

You miss my argument!  I'm not saying that we should believe, uphold and protect a cultural context. 

You are absolutely correct when you say we are identified by doctrines and dogmas.  But you've missed a vital piece:  praxis.

Different Orthodox traditions have integrated the daily life of the believer with the Faith. By picking and choosing what one will and will not follow can and probably will affect one's ability to live according to the Faith. You can't just pick and choose what practices you are and aren't going to follow by classifying them as "small 't'" and "big 'T'" traditions. That's the Protestant mindset! The individual believer knows best! If I accepted this small 't' theory, would we then have to go through tradition after tradition classifying them? Who would do that?  The individual, the parish . . .?  Who gets to pick which one is which?

If you go to an Antiochian church, you should follow their praxis. If you or the priests aren't, YOU are missing out!

*I* chose to go to a Serbian church when there is an Antiochian, Greek and OCA church here. So now that I am there I live my faith the way the Church has developed in that setting so as not to lose anything the fullness of the Tradition has to offer. The fullness of the WHOLE tradition. We don't get to classify the uncomfortable or "fureign thangs" as "small 't'" and ignore them.

For instance, if my family chose to ignore Slava, an important part of the Faith in practice in the Serbian tradition, with what will we replace it?  We could celebrate name days, but that is not something done in our parish.  We could invent our own familial, more American event.  What would that do for us spiritually?  Now I may be speaking to deaf ears here because you may have no personal experience with the Serbian slava, but for those who have experienced the celebration of another family's Slava or celebrated one themselves, they will understand the connection of the daily life and faith of the believer to this practice.  It's not an "ethnic" party.

Elisha,

It's not about footnotes or even familial lineage.  It's about PRAXIS.  By saying "Serbian Orthodox" we say Orthodox as lived in "this" way as opposed to another.  It's not about exclusion, it's about the practical execution of our faith.  Whether you like it or not, your church has some form of standard praxis.  Without it we'd be only theology, doctrine and dogma.  The big "T" Traditions of praxis help and show us how to live that life.

Those "T"s ain't little.
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« Reply #16 on: March 03, 2005, 07:42:21 PM »

Ooh, and Orthodoc and Elisha,

I'm not mad.  I'm just passionate about this issue.

Elisha,

I realized I didn't address a part of your argument.  It was concerning evangelization and the ghettoization of our churches. 

I think that is a serious problem in the more established areas (East and West coasts, Chicago, etc.).  However, I think that many converts are more attracted to the more defined praxis of Orthodoxy found in churches older than the OCA.  For the Americans that want nothing to do with the ethnic groups, the OCA really needs to step up to the plate.

All in all I think our evangelization will be more limited by our lack of monasteries than the view that Orthodoxy is too "ethnic."
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« Reply #17 on: March 03, 2005, 10:49:39 PM »

Cizinec,
I'm not quite getting what you are saying, but from what I think you're saying I think I both agree and disagree.

No, Orthodoc and I are NOT missing your argument.  Yes, praxis is vital, but it is just a flavor within Orthodoxy that can vary greatly.  What do you say to the Arab or Russian family that attends your Serbian parish since it is the local Orthodox church?  Do they drop their namesdays and make up a Slava?  Should they learn how to make sarma?  I don't think so.  What we are taliking about is Orthodoxy in America.  I'm sure there probably IS a problem with a lax of praxis in many OCA parishes in metro areas on the East Coast and other places, but I assure you that many of the OCA parishes around where I am in NorCal are on not quite so lax in their praxis (not that we all couldn't step it up though).  As an aside, I think many of the Antiochian and GOA parishes (especially GOA - see the "Take back the GOA!" quote of others on this board) are the ones to point to.  What to do about the culture/praxis of Orthodoxy in America is a big question, but just because your Archdiocese has an ethnic connotation to it doesn't mean you entirely follow the traditional praxis of that diocese how it is in the old country - this isn't the old country!  You need to attend to the needs, pastorally speaking, of your parish makeup while also being welcoming and evangelize the non-Orthodox.  At my OCA parish, we have Russians, Eritreans (a lot), American converts (probably the biggest makeup after Eritreans), Serbs, Romanians, Greeks and a few others.  Yes, we have somewhat of a Russian flavor, but our music is very diverse and our priest is very attentive to the cultural needs of each group.

But finally, again, having the ethnic identifier IN FRONT of your Orthodoxy is really a disservice in a missionary/evangelistic sense.  Call yourself St. Sava Orthodox Church (and in smaller font, Serbian Archdiocese or whatever), the rest as Orthodoc said.
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« Reply #18 on: March 03, 2005, 11:17:44 PM »


Cizinec:

Is there any particular reason why you feel that if you don't identify yourself within an ethnic context you will lose the cherished traditions and practices of that particular ethnic identity?  In your case, the beautiful and cherished customs and traditions of the Serbian christians.  Why is it so important to be identified as a particular ethnic group here in the U.S.?

I belong to an OCA parish which incorporates Orthodox from every ethnic background within Orthodoxy.  As well as a nice percentage of converts from various ethnic and religious backgrounds.  This includes Serbs as well.  Our priest utilizes the traditions and practices of all the various ethnic groups to meet the needs of the people.  This includes the Serbian Slava.  There is only one practice he refuses to do and that is the Greek practice of rubbing the baby down with olive oil prior to baptism.  And that's because he admits that he is afraid the oiled baby will slip from his hands while being immersed!  He likes to kid that he is preparing the baby for baptism rather than a roast!  other than that, he honors every tradition within Orthodoxy!

My parish is an  OCA parish that is identified as St Stephen's Orthodox Catholic Cathedral.  That title in no way excludes any Orthodox tradition or practice.  Rather it incorporates the traditions and customs of all of Orthodoxy.  The exclusion of an ethnic identity does not mean excluding any particular ethnic practice.

I am having a forty day memorial service for a Roman Catholic nun who was a supporter of our parish for the thirty years of its existence this Saturday.  She had a better attendance record at our church than many of our own parishioners.  Never missed an Akathist, Vespers, and came very Sunday to pray and light candles on her way to Mass.  She belonged to a Roman Catholic order that took care of troubled teenage girls.

After the Parastas, there will be a luncheon in her memory where there will be traditional food (including Koliva & Bulgarian Feta) etc. brought by the various ethnic groups that also loved and respected her. We as Orthodox Catholics will honor her memory along with the nuns from her order that attend. That's what being an Orthodox Catholic is!  It incorporates all!

Orthodoc
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« Reply #19 on: March 04, 2005, 01:15:50 AM »

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I am having a forty day memorial service for a Roman Catholic nun who was a supporter of our parish for the thirty years of its existence this Saturday.  She had a better attendance record at our church than many of our own parishioners.  Never missed an Akathist, Vespers, and came very Sunday to pray and light candles on her way to Mass.  She belonged to a Roman Catholic order that took care of troubled teenage girls.

Orthodoc,

I remember your talking about this much beloved nun previously on the forum and I am sorry to hear of her passing.

May her memory be eternal.

Vechnaya Pamyat!

In Christ,
Aaron
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« Reply #20 on: March 04, 2005, 08:46:53 AM »



Orthodoc,

I remember your talking about this much beloved nun previously on the forum and I am sorry to hear of her passing.

May her memory be eternal.

Vechnaya Pamyat!

In Christ,
Aaron

Thank you.  Please remember Sister Mary Holy Spirit who passed away January 24th in your prayers.

A Roman Catholic nun who loved the Orthodox Catholic faith.  She was proud of the fact that she was annointed with the Holy Myrrh from the skull of Saint Panteleimon by an Orthodox priest.  In fact she had it put in her medical records because she went into remission for over a year and the pain went away immediately after she was annointed.

She will be greatly missed by those in my parish who knew and loved her.  Including myself.

Orthodoc
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« Reply #21 on: March 04, 2005, 09:36:31 AM »

For Columba--

This icon of Saint Columba is the work of Maria Elchaninova-Struve in Paris, the daughter of Fr Alexander Elchaninov who wrote "Diary of a Russian Priest." I can send you an image with better definition if you like.

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« Reply #22 on: March 04, 2005, 02:05:44 PM »

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Do they drop their namesdays and make up a Slava?  Should they learn how to make sarma?

Easy question, verbose answer.  I’m breaking it down to make it easier to follow and more convenient to pick at my thinking. 

Intro:

This question has been raised before!  My first point, before answering your questions, is that Slava is not equivalent to sarma.  One is a holy, Serbian Tradition that integrates the life of the Church with the life of the believer and unites the entire family in the Orthodox Faith.  Sarma is a traditional food of ethnic Serbs.  The two questions are not equal, and I’m not suggesting that you were making them to be.

1.  Concerning dropping namedays, the answer is usually no.  While I am not free to drop the parts of Serbian praxis I find uncomfortable, I can still maintain the traditions I brought with me to the Serbian church with the help of my priest and community. 

e.g. My wife is an ethnic Slovak.  She celebrates namedays and still does.  Christmas at our home has a decidedly Slovak flavor.  The food we make is Slovak, the songs we sing are Slovak or American, but we follow all the guidelines of Serbian praxis.  Yes, we go to church and sing Oj Badnjace!  Everything we do regarding the faith is discussed with our priest and is integrated into our church.

2.  Concerning sarma, one does not have to know how to cook sarma in order to practice Orthodoxy in our daily lives in the way we have been taught by our Serbian Church (praxis).  Praxis has nothing to do with diet, except when one does and does not fast and what foods are involved in the fast.  Personally, I prefer my wife’s holupki to sarma.

3.  I don’t think you quite understood what I was getting at when I mention the OCA.  I did so out of a great deal of respect and not in a pejorative way.  The OCA has a very important role.  I think the OCA is working out the integration of the mess in the Americas in a way that no one else can.  What you are describing is part of what the OCA *must* do. 

a.   I don’t think the OCA has developed a complete “praxis” yet and that is part of this great struggle.  America will develop a very unique approach to praxis, a praxis that I will never see completed (for instance, consider the Romanian churches here).  What that means to me as a member of the Serbian Orthodox Church is that y’all (sorry, but English needs a distinct second person plural) have a “freedom” in praxis that would be harmful in a Serbian Orthodox setting. 

e.g. You don’t have to celebrate Slava or namedays.  For my family, without this tradition our family will have an irreparable gap in our praxis.

b.    What that means for y’all in the OCA is that your “freedom” of praxis requires a vigilance to ensure you have a complete praxis that integrates Orthodox doctrines and dogma completely to your daily lives, but, because you are so focused on developing praxis, you have fewer problems understanding its meaning and importance.

c.   We have to be extremely vigilant in following our praxis because it is very easy for us to surrender to dead traditionalism and not to the living Tradition of our church.  That’s why I’m so adamant about maintaining full praxis within “classical” Orthodox traditions because if you tell these folks that something isn’t important then they’ll drop it and five other things. 

e.g.  Dropping the Slava would do tremendous harm to Serbian Orthodox families and to Serbian Orthodox churches.  Oftentimes the conversion of traditionalism to living tradition is how we reinvigorate stagnating parishes.

4.  I also mentioned the “Coastal” churches with reference to the older ethnic churches that have become social clubs and add Orthodoxy down to the bottom of their ethno-social list of importance.  I did not mention them to discuss or deride the OCA churches. 


Orthodoc,

I call myself Serbian Orthodox because my patriarch is Patriarch Pavle, I was brought into Orthodoxy under this patriarchate and I follow Serbian praxis.  It has nothing to do with my ethnicity.  Those monikers concern praxis and, sometimes, identification of canonicity. 

It is helpful when I visit an Orthodox church to know what to expect.  There are certain things in the praxis of a church that alter certain actions when we go into that church.  Some find the crossing of arms (sometimes hands) or the placing of hands in pockets to be very disrespectful.  Some bow and cross and different times, some have differences in the liturgy.  When I go to an Antiochian church, I usually know how to act and what to expect.  If I were to go to, say, a Ukrainian church I would make absolutely certain that my wife does not forget her scarf. 

When I see “St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church” I know I can go check to make sure this is really an Orthodox Church and not some other group.  When I see “St. Olga’s Ukrainian Orthodox Catholic Church” I have to do some checking.  Is this Byzantine Catholic?  Is this some other group?

I hate to think of the holy practices of St. Sava and his successors as a flavor at Baskin Robbins.  I think it’s much more than that.

Okay guys, pick away!  I look forward to hearing your corrections, rebuts and arguments!
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« Reply #23 on: March 04, 2005, 06:09:31 PM »



e.g. Dropping the Slava would do tremendous harm to Serbian Orthodox families and to Serbian Orthodox churches. Oftentimes the conversion of traditionalism to living tradition is how we reinvigorate stagnating parishes.


Cizinec, I absolutely agree with you. We have literally hundreds of new immigrant families from Serbia in this city. Most are from a non-believing background. The re-introduction of Slava as a family custom is playing a vital role in rekindling an interest in Orthodoxy and their commitment to learning about it and practicing it.
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« Reply #24 on: March 04, 2005, 06:50:42 PM »

[e.g. Dropping the Slava would do tremendous harm to Serbian Orthodox families and to Serbian Orthodox churches. Oftentimes the conversion of traditionalism to living tradition is how we reinvigorate stagnating parishes.]

Yes, stagnating parishes that become ethnic social clubs rather than houses of God.

You have yet to describe how taking an ethnic identity from your religious identity will lead to
disintegration of the traditional customs you love and cherish!

Is it more important for you to be Serbian or Orthodox? You live in America.

You seem to have a misguided opinion of praxis.

From 'The Complete Book Of Orthodoxy' -

Praxis - from the Greek, it means the active practice of virtue and HOLY TRADITION!

Yes, once again we come back to the big 'T' and the little 't'. What you are giving as examples is not Holy Tradition, it is national traditions (customs).

You seem to put more importance on the outward appearances of the religion than the inward structure of the religion.

[When I see “St. Olga’s Ukrainian Orthodox Catholic Church” I have to do some checking. Is this Byzantine Catholic? Is this some other group?]

A simple call to the church would give you your answer. I know of no 'Byzantine Catholic' or 'Ukrainian Catholic' Church that uses Orthodox in its official title. Though with the way they change their identity every twenty years or so, that may come in the future. Especially since they are now being misguided into believing they are 'Orthodox In Communion With Rome'. Once again, a simple call with one or two questions will give you the answers.

You have yet to justify how keeping an ethnic identity in your religious makeup will effect changes on how you worship in any way, shape, or form.

[It is helpful when I visit an Orthodox church to know what to expect. There are certain things in the praxis of a church that alter certain actions when we go into that church. Some find the crossing of arms (sometimes hands) or the placing of hands in pockets to be very disrespectful. Some bow and cross and different times, some have differences in the liturgy. When I go to an Antiochian church, I usually know how to act and what to expect. If I were to go to, say, a Ukrainian church I would make absolutely certain that my wife does not forget her scarf.]

There is an Orthodox saying - "When we are in Church we are in our Fathers house. Therefore we should be comfortable enough to feel relaxed enough to worship as we please. We are not regimented as in western churches. No matter what Orthodox Church you are in no one will even notice how many times you make the sign of the Cross or when. If they do, then they are not there to worship but to gossip or observe others. All the wrong reasons.

Personally, it's one of the things I love best about Orthodoxy.

I know of very ethnic parishes where the practices vary depending on what part of Europe the founders came from.  And I would be willing to bet you also find that within Serbian Churches also.

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« Reply #25 on: March 06, 2005, 07:27:24 AM »

Quote
You have yet to describe how taking an ethnic identity from your religious identity will lead to
disintegration of the traditional customs you love and cherish!

That's because I never argued that taking (or not taking) an ethnic identity from religious identity will lead to
disintegration of the traditional customs I love and cherish.

Praxis isn't intellectual theology. Praxis connotes the idea of doing or acting. Notice it is the ACTIVE PRACTICE OF VIRTUE *and* holy Tradition. My view of praxis sees both sides of that equation. Praxis is the active living of theology.


Quote
Yes, once again we come back to the big 'T' and the little 't'. What you are giving as examples is not Holy Tradition, it is national traditions (customs).

No, I'm talking about the way my church lives theology. The living of the faith is as equally required as the intellectual acceptance of the faith. Once again, I believe you are mixing apples with oranges. You are equating Slava with sarma. I'm sure you know that most anthropologists see almost all of Orthodoxy as a "national custom."

Concerning my "Ukrainian" example, there are so many "jurisdictions" claiming that title I'm surprised I even need to defend its use as an example.

Yes, there are variances in practice in Serbian churches, usually relating more to Americanization than anything else.

Once again, it appears that our differences lie in the definition of praxis. You seem to think it is an intellectual adherence to a belief only and that actual practices aren't involved. I think you are wrong and the very meaning of the word "praxis," even as used in your own definition, demonstrates this fact.
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« Reply #26 on: March 06, 2005, 10:25:12 AM »

I really think we're all talking past each other.  Lemme see if I've got the two sides right here:

We're talking about ethnic modifiers.  One side sees them as something that is clearly distinct from the Faith, having nothing (ultimately) to do with the doctrines of the Faith and pretty much interchangeable with other national customs.  The other side sees them as useful reference points for people to know exactly how they can expect to see the Faith lived out and, while the Serbians/Syrians/Ukranians etc. recognize that other forms of praxis exist, the praxis of each individual jurisdiction is seen to have been infused with holiness because of its involvement with Holy Tradition.

However...both side knows that there are purely cultural aspects of parishes that result from the Faith's being labeled according to ethnic modifiers--sarma, baklava, Serbian or Arabic language classes, for example--and yet neither side is claiming that these are in any way comprable to things that are and have always been meant to be a method of expressing Holy Tradition--things like Slava or namesdays, which honor the Tradition of the intercession of the saints.

Do not both sides agree that praxis

  • is defined as "the active practice of virtue and Holy Tradition" and
  • is seen through different customs within different jurisdictions and yet these customs thereby have been incorporated into Holy Tradition?
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« Reply #27 on: March 06, 2005, 09:43:39 PM »

Well, Pedro, I would agree.   Grin

I would have to insist on the idea that these practices are incorporated into and not merely permanently attached to Holy Tradition.  In other words, it is how our daily lives are fused to the "concepts" of The Faith.
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« Reply #28 on: March 06, 2005, 10:54:59 PM »

Quote
However...both side knows that there are purely cultural aspects of parishes that result from the Faith's being labeled according to ethnic modifiers--sarma, baklava, Serbian or Arabic language classes, for example--

an interesting aside: my OCA parish, which caters to many Georgians, Russians and Romanians (as well as a large handful of converts), and has services mostly in English w/ some of those 3 languages used for litanies and special services when appropriate (i.e. a Georgian wedding w/ all Georgian people is served in Georgian), has announced that it will have ESL classes on Saturday afternoons for any parishoner interested - i assume it is geared towards the adults, since the children must be getting ESL in their public schools. i found this interesting because 1) my mother teaches ESL and i wondered who would be teaching the classes (a volunteer position, i presume), and 2) that apparently there is a demand for this, otherwise why offer the service?

not sure how this works into the discussion, but i thought it was interesting Smiley
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« Reply #29 on: March 06, 2005, 11:59:34 PM »

[Do not both sides agree that praxis
is defined as "the active practice of virtue and Holy Tradition" and
is seen through different customs within different jurisdictions and yet these customs thereby have been incorporated into Holy Tradition?]

Yes. But where we disagree is what 'Holy Tradition' is.Cizenic writes.."Once again, it appears that our differences lie in the definition of praxis. You seem to think it is an intellectual adherence to a belief only and that actual practices aren't involved. I think you are wrong and the very meaning of the word "praxis," even as used in your own definition, demonstrates this fact."

Cizenic, (in spite of the fact that Scripture speaks of two types of tradition: human tradition (traditions of men) and apostolic tradition (traditions of Scripture/Holy Tradition), is either unable or unwilling to admit this is so. On one hand, Christians are warned not to be decieved by the traditions of men (Col 2:9). On the other hand, Christians are commanded to "keep the traditions as I have delivered them to you"  [Holy or Scritural Tradition] 1 Cor 11:2).

Scriptual examples of both types of tradition -

Traditions of men -

Matt. 15:2,3

Mark 7:9

Col 2:8

Apostolic Tradition-

I Cor. 11:2

Phil. 4:9

2 Thess. 2:15

2 Thess 3:6

Historical Dictionary Of The Orthodox Church -

Holy Tradition (as used in conjunction with praxis); In the Orthodox Church "Holy Tradition" signifies the Christian faith and that which enables and expresses it: worship (sacraments and liturgical offices), the Scriptures, the writings of the Church Fathers, the decrees of the Ecumenical Councils , and the witness of the lives of the saints.

Holy Tradition (with a capital "T"), which is connected to praxis, is to be distinguished from tradition (with a lower case "t") or custom. Customs and/or tradition are the different bodies of behavior and attitudes that have accompanied Holy Tradition down through the ages, but that are themselves necessarily bound to time and place, and may even obscure Holy Tradition.

Customs like Cisenic gives (Serbian Slava) are 'traditions of men' more commonly identified as Church customs rather than than the 'Holy Tradition' we are discussing here. They are not the 'Holy Tradition' associated with praxis.

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« Reply #30 on: March 07, 2005, 08:18:58 AM »

Well, your selection of support is quite revealing.  You list these as examples of "both types of traditions."

Mathew 15 deal with traditions being followed that violate the commandment of God.  Is that what your little t traditions are?  I hate to reuse this example, but since I have been . . . is the celebration of Slava really a tradition that falls under this verse?  I don't think that's what you're trying to say.

Mark 7 deals with the same type of "traditions" being discussed in Matthew 15.  Your verse says, " . . . Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition."  Is that what you mean by little t tradition?

Collosians 2 is dealing with false teachers who teach something other than the True Faith.  The "traiditions of men" are the traditions in opposistion to the teachings of God.  I don't think that's what you really mean when you are talking about small t traditions.  The cited verse says, "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."  I certainly don't thin that the celebration of Slava does that. 

I don't have time this morning to address the rest of your citations.

I would like to add that I think that you may beleive that I am confusing praxis and Holy Tradition.  I am not saying that praxis is Holy Tradition, but I am saying that without praxis Holy Tradition is, for lack of a better word and with limited time, mute.

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« Reply #31 on: March 07, 2005, 11:56:58 AM »

It seems to me that the real problem is that America doesn't have any cultural identity in the sense that a Serb or Greek or Russian has. There is nothing American that can be incorporated into the formation of an American Orthodoxy the way that there were Slavic things used in the formation of a Slavic Orthodox churches. In particular Onion domes are a quick example of a form of architecture incorporated into Orthodoxy. In St.Gregory the Dialogist's pastoral letter to St.Augustine of Canterbury he wrote that the old pagan temples merely needed to have the idols thrown out and have the temple consecrated as church for it to be made proper for the serving of Mass. Basically he was saying that their culture needed to be incorporated into the practice of the Faith. America has no culture to incorporate. We have no distinct architectural forms suitable for churches. We really have nothing that is culturally identifiable as American.
For this reason I think ethnic churches are actually more appealing to some people because it offers more in the way of having distinct cultural identity that has been united to Orthodoxy for hundreds of years. It gives a better structure for how to live your life because you have the example of many Orthodox from that ethnicity. If you simply join an all convert parish, a phenomena prevalent in the AA and OCA, well at least those are the only two jurisdictions in which I have heard of such a thing, the people are really out there and seem to need some support. I remember a visiting priest at the mission I attend asking us at the end of liturgy if it was our tradition to venerate the Cross at the dismissal!!! I was shocked. I mean why would you not venerate the cross at the dismissal? I assume that since he asked that there are some convert parishes that don't venerate the Cross for fear of germs. It makes me wonder if they have stopped kissing the priests hand in asking for a blessing. Perhaps such things are considered small-t and therefore you can take them or leave them?
cizinec I do get what your saying. I think that there is a certain feel or spirit within Orthodoxy as it is practiced by Serbs, Greeks, Russians, etc. that is hard to give up particularly when there seems to be no positive benefit in giving it up. I am thinking particularly of Jordanville which still has services in Church Slavonic. I really can't blame them. They want to keep Old Russia alive and what's wrong with that? They certainly are not compromising the faith! To be honest I really feel quite ambivalent about this whole topic because of studying of history and the fact that I read the prayer on St.Patricks breastplate alongside my Jordanville Prayerbook when I say my morning prayers. And I am ethnically German-Ashkenaz Jew-Native American! Go figure.

I think it is time that this discussion gets stepped up a bit. What about Liturgy? I mean shouldn't American Orthdoxy be predominantly Western Rite? After all this country is largely Western European.
Orthodoc should it matter to someone whether they attend a Western Rite or Eastern Rite church? Some of the Western Rite churches use only Latin in the Mass. I bet that would be pretty hard for a Serbian family to be asked to accomodate.
Personally I call myself Greek Orthodox because I am in the AA which is part of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch. I have been a catechumen for over a year now and am thoroughly used to the Eastern Rite praxis. However if necessary I would have no qualms over attending Mass at a Western Rite church, but don't ask me sit down during certain parts or to make the sign of the cross differently.
I think I am coming back to Irish Hermit's point. I do not think any saint has only national significance. St.Patrick's Confession is good for all Orthodox to read. And the lives saints from anywhere are important as they applied dogmatics, they teach us how we should live our Orthodox Faith and that has no cultural boundary. Now of course I expect Russian to be more into St.Vladimir than a Greek but what Orthodox is not happy to hear the story of his conversion and that of Old Rus?
I agree that some Fathers are more important for dogma and therefore have the same veneration in all jurisdictions but ultimately I think that all saints are of international significance.
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« Reply #32 on: March 07, 2005, 01:49:25 PM »

Sabbas:

Good response. You write -

[I think that there is a certain feel or spirit within Orthodoxy as it is practiced by Serbs, Greeks, Russians, etc. that is hard to give up particularly when there seems to be no positive benefit in giving it up. I am thinking particularly of Jordanville which still has services in Church Slavonic. I really can't blame them. They want to keep Old Russia alive and what's wrong with that? They certainly are not compromising the faith!]

Where does this 'giving up' anything come from? I don't understand how some of you tie the exclusion of an ethnic identity in front of your Orthodox Catholic identity as meaning you have to 'give up' or forfeit anything in the practice of your national customs or traditions! It's like saying if you change the name of your parish from St Sava's Serbian Orthodox Church to St Sava's Orthodox or Orthodox Catholic Church you have to stop praticing the tradition of the Slava. That's ridiculous.

You are right in saying America doesn't have a distinct culture but that doesn't mean that a united Orthodox Church here in America can't be a combination of all the beautiful traditions and customs within Orthodoxy worldwide. Who the heck cares whether you put Kielbassa or fried chicken in your basket to be blessed at Pascha. Or even if you take a basket to be blessed at Pascha. They are the 'traditions of men' rather than the 'Holy Traditions (Apostolic Traditions) we are talking about.

[Orthodoc should it matter to someone whether they attend a Western Rite or Eastern Rite church? Some of the Western Rite churches use only Latin in the Mass. I bet that would be pretty hard for a Serbian family to be asked to accomodate.]

Personally, I'm against the western rite within Orthodoxy. I see it as a reversed 'Unia' though it certainly wasn't created in the same way the 'Unia' was by any means. But that's my personal opinion. So I'll answer with - 'No it shouldn't matter'.

In many ways Cizenic reminds me of how so many Orthodox or exOrthodox (Including my sister) think. When I relate this story regarding my sister I honestly don't know whether to laugh or cry. But it is the perfect example of what Cizenics type of thinking does to Orthodoxy.

My sister was married in the Orthodox Church (which she would relate to you as the 'Russian Church'). She married a Lutheran and when the chidren came decided to go her husbands way because, after all, its all the same. We all pray to the same God.

When my father died she wanted a 'Russian Cross' so I gave her what some call the 'Orthodox Baptismal Cross' and others call the St Olga's Cross (my mothers name was Olga). Until this day she wears it constantly and very seldom takes it off. If someone points to it and asks if she is Orthodox she will say - 'Yes, I'm Russian'! Even though she converted to the Lutheran Church 40+ years ago.

She is a nurse and one day while attending to a patient a Protestant minister noticed her cross, pointed to it, and asked the above same question and got the same answer I conveyed earlier. It was during Lent and when he left he turned to my sister and said -"Well, I hope you have a wonderful Pascha!" Do you know what my sisters reply was? She replied, "Oh yes I just love that RUSSIAN BREAD!" Because to her Pascha is a round loaf of RUSSIAN BREAD, braided & with a RUSSIAN CROSS, to be put in a "RUSSIAN EASTER BASKET, and taken to a RUSSIAN CHURCH, to be blessed by a 'RUSSIAN PRIEST' on 'RUSSIAN EASTER'!
That is the result of being brought in an ethnic parish where the small traditions were taught rather than the faith. Where they were given more importance than the faith. Where it was more important to be 'Russian' than 'Orthodox'.

I have an aunt & uncle who were both Orthodox and had their three girls baptised in the 'Russian Church' and brought them up in the Episcopal Church because it's all the same. We all pray to the same God. The fact that none of them is Orthodox today is no problem for most of my family. Ya know why? Because all three can make beautiful 'Pysanky' and bake a beautiful Pascha bread which they take to Baba's Church (rather than their own) on Russian Easter! Instead of being taught the faith they were taught the customs and traditions. Which became more important than the faith because, after all, we all pray to the same God!

The ironic thing is that awhile back my sisters Lutheran Minister announced he was leaving because he was planning on converting to Orthodoxy and eventually becoming an Orthodox priest. He did convert and joined an Antiochian parish. Once when I spent a weekend with her we attended Liturgy at this Antiochian Church so my sister could visit with him. She missed him after he left. She was fully aware that this was an Antiochian parish.

But not too long ago she said to me on the phone - "I really miss Pastor ------- since he left to join the 'RUSSIAN CHURCH' and become a 'RUSSIAN PRIEST'! After 40+ years as a Lutheran she will still defend any derogatory statement aginst the 'RUSSIAN CHURCH'. But if someone made the same statements regarding the 'Orthodox Church' I doubt she would ever even open her mouth because she does not comprehend it's one and the same thing.

That is why I respond as I do. I learned the Orthodox faith on my own. Because of it I can distinguish the faith from the traditions. And can separate the two. Too many Orthodox can't!

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« Reply #33 on: March 07, 2005, 01:49:48 PM »

For the rest of my respnose . . .


I Cor. 11:2

Here St. Paul is telling the Corinthians to remember and keep the ordinances he delivered to them - to be followers of him as he follows Christ. It certainly sounds to me like he is emphasizing the importance of praxis as well as belief (how I gather you are defining "little’t’" and "big 'T'" traditions, respectively).

Phil. 4:9

“Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you." Notice St. Paul didn't say, "Those things, which you have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, as long as they relate to theology and liturgy, which is Big T Tradition and not to local praxis, which is little t tradition, do: and the God of peace shall be with you."

2 Thess. 2:15

“Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold to the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or epistle.” Once again, I don’t see the distinction from this verse.

2 Thess 3:6

“Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us." St. Paul isn't addressing the content of belief or liturgy here. He's addressing praxis (the living of the faith, not just the professed content of the faith and the communal expression of that faith) and saying that it is tradition that must be followed.


Quote
Historical Dictionary Of The Orthodox Church -

Holy Tradition (as used in conjunction with praxis); In the Orthodox Church "Holy Tradition" signifies the Christian faith and that which enables and expresses it: worship (sacraments and liturgical offices), the Scriptures, the writings of the Church Fathers, the decrees of the Ecumenical Councils , and the witness of the lives of the saints.

Holy Tradition (with a capital "T"), which is connected to praxis, is to be distinguished from tradition (with a lower case "t") or custom. Customs and/or tradition are the different bodies of behavior and attitudes that have accompanied Holy Tradition down through the ages, but that are themselves necessarily bound to time and place, and may even obscure Holy Tradition."


Customs like Cisenic gives (Serbian Slava) are 'traditions of men' more commonly identified as Church customs rather than than the 'Holy Tradition' we are discussing here. They are not the 'Holy Tradition' associated with praxis."

As discussed above, I don't think that Slava is a "tradition of men" as defined in Holy Scripture, since it is not opposing the teachings of God. Fr. Michael Prokurat's definition cited above does not even equate what he defines as “customs” to “traditions of men.” I'm sure that's not what you're trying to say. I am not opposed to calling it a holy custom that is unique to a particular church.

I would also like to point out that in my example of Krsna Slava I’m not saying it is Holy Tradition associated with praxis, I’m saying it is praxis associated with Holy Tradition.

If you would like, I can call this vital part of praxis “holy customs unique to a particular church.” That will, of course, not change my position that the holy customs of a particular church are not optional for the faithful of that particular church.

Fr. Michael Prokurat's definition of Holy Tradition(as used in conjunction with praxis) is, IMHO, unbalanced in that it warns of "customs" obscuring Holy Tradition, but does not point out that completely ignoring them can and most likely will do the same.

Also, history demonstrates that customs can and often do break beyond the bounds of time and place. If that were not the case Krsna Slava would not be celebrated by anyone in the Americas. I’m not trying to be argumentative, sarcastic or ironic; this appears to me to be an obvious flaw in this definition. Considering Jaroslav Pelikan’s definition and discussion of living tradition in “Vindication of Tradition,” I would argue that, to a large extent, that is the power of traditions (holy customs, etc. etc.). I would agree that some holy customs are bound to a church, but many transcend mere zeitgeist, which is what his definition as quoted here appears to say. Perhaps he is attempting to speak to traditionalism in which the object (the Faith) of the tradition (holy custom, etc. etc.) has been lost and the tradition is mindlessly continued outside its proper “place”; i.e. the signifier becomes the signified.
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« Reply #34 on: March 07, 2005, 02:00:52 PM »

Orthodoc,

The problem you are discussing is one where the signifier becomes the signified.  Calling "dead traditionalism" (the dead faith of the living) a synonym of tradition (the living faith of the dead) is the same error. 

I'm not arguing for dead traditionalism in which the practice is separated from the reality to which it points, but for a living tradition.


Sabbas,

I'm not sure if I completely agree with you concerning "American" culture.  There are architectural and other types of forms that are unique to regions.  I can certainly see a "Texas" or "American Southwest" form of Orthodoxy coming into existence.  Outlook, celebrations, etc. would all be included.  That is, *if* the region converted to the True Faith.  I think the same is true of the Pacific Northwest, etc.  It would take time to develop.

I completely agree that this explains why we have so many jurisdictions here.
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« Reply #35 on: March 07, 2005, 02:05:32 PM »

Orthodoc,

Sorry, not the same error.  A different one.
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« Reply #36 on: March 07, 2005, 02:46:41 PM »

[I am not opposed to calling it a holy custom that is unique to a particular church. ]

Which is my point all along.  Holy Tradition encompasses the entire Orthodox Catholic Church, not a particular one.  That is what distinguishes  Holy Tradition from a holy custom.

[Orthodoc,

Sorry, not the same error.  A different one.]

Huh?HuhHuh

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« Reply #37 on: March 07, 2005, 02:55:10 PM »

Orthodoc,

As long as you aren't trying to cut out the necessity of following the holy customs (traditions) of a member of a particular church, then I think we agree on this point.  Of course that takes us to the second area of discussion and the use of "ethnic" monikers on churches.

On my second post I was correcting an error in my first.  It wasn't improtant.
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« Reply #38 on: March 07, 2005, 03:00:49 PM »

[Also, history demonstrates that customs can and often do break beyond the bounds of time and place. If that were not the case Krsna Slava would not be celebrated by anyone in the Americas. ]

Suppose the priest in your Serbian Orthodox Church refused to perform the Krsna Slava but the priest in the Eastern Rite papal Catholic or the Latin Rite Church at the other end of town agreed. Would you then give up your Orthodoxy to join the Unia or the RCC?

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« Reply #39 on: March 07, 2005, 03:42:11 PM »

Orthodoc I am just curious as to why you are opposed to the Western Rite? There is no way the Western Rite can be revived? While I agree that in the AA the Western Rite has seemed bent on bringing in many post-Schism practices of Roman Catholicism, pews and I've heard organs mentioned which seems like it would destroy the beauty of Western chant. However I am all for the revival of pre-Schism Western Orthodoxy just as St.John of San Francisco was.



Also I wanted to say that I am truly sorry to hear about your sister. People really need to be catechized and know their faith. I was just saying that Jordanville wants that Old Russia feel at their monastery. I think that just as many Americans are attached to English so are many of the Russian monks attached to Church Slavonic. Possibly because English doesn't sound right to them? I really wouldn't know because I don't speak Russian. I just know that Fr.Seraphim in becoming Orthodox in the 1960's had to learn Church Slavonic and eventually came to speak Russian just as good as English and the other languages he was fluent in. He came to love Old Russia under the Tsar and the monastery he and Fr.Herman set up utilized Russian architecture and Russian style Icons. However he also, along with St.John, promoted the celebration of the Liturgy in English. It is a rather interesting story if you ever read his biography. I suppose that is how I feel about it. I like the cultures which have been united to Orthodoxy for centuries and see this even in their customs. Yet on the other hand I do see your point that sometimes people care more about their customs and ethnicity than Orthodoxy. Which was tragically the case when many in the Russian community of San Francisco chose to attend a masquerade ball instead of attending the Glorification of St.John of Kronstadt which St.John had been promoting and seeking for several years. It broke his heart and angered him that his own Russian community didn't even care enough about this revered Russian Saint to even attend his Glorification.
But ultimately I think if America is ever going to become Orthodox in a big way the American Orthodox people are going to need customs which they can hold in common. What I am saying is the common believer who has trouble reading Theological books needs customs to help them live their faith and learn to pray as often as possible and understand to Whom they pray and why. But I agree this can never replace good Catechesis.

Quote
I'm not sure if I completely agree with you concerning "American" culture. There are architectural and other types of forms that are unique to regions. I can certainly see a "Texas" or "American Southwest" form of Orthodoxy coming into existence. Outlook, celebrations, etc. would all be included. That is, *if* the region converted to the True Faith. I think the same is true of the Pacific Northwest, etc. It would take time to develop.

While I agree with you to an extent I think you are most right when you say it would take time to develop.
Let me tell you about where I live and the customs we have.
I live in rural East Iowa in small German-American town of about 3500. Most of the people are descended from immigrants from Schleswig-Holstein. My family is composed of East German Jews and Northern Germans for the most part. A common German tradition that has been dying out is to have feasting on Sunday after church which usually includes a lot of beer drinking. It is also common for Germans to go for walks in the wilderness outside town after having a big Sunday lunch partly to aid digestion; German food tends to be pretty heavy. I am really skeptical about how easily these customs could ever be incorporated into Orthodoxy. But then you see my point: these are not American customs but are customs brought over from Germany. You see it is really hard to say what is American because often it turns out to be Spanish, Hispanic, German, Irish, etc. I suppose there is a Southwestern architechtural style that could be incorporated but still it would take time for me and especially ethnic Orthodox to get used to it. I recently saw pictures of a ROCOR church in the Southwest that was Pueblo style. While there is nothing really wrong with that I just think it seemed a bit odd. Once again like you said it will take time.
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« Reply #40 on: March 08, 2005, 01:51:47 PM »

Orthodoc,

First I'd like to say that this scenario is fairly difficult to imagine. For the sake of argument I'll adrress it.

If my Serbian priest refused to assist us in celebrating Slava I would contact our bishop. Our bishop would be none too pleased, but, for the sake of argument I will assume he said, "so what." I would then seek guidance as to how I could celebrate this to the best of my ability without the priest's help, as is done by many Serbs who do not have priests or nearby Orthodox churches.

I would not disobey my bishop and go outside the church. What good does it do to celebrate a meaningless holiday? Krsna Slava points to something greater than Krsna Slava.


Sabbas,

Concerning the ROCOR church you mentioned, sometimes parts of church design which is nontraditional are affected by local issues. The materials available and affordable may have pushed this design. Heat is a major issue and efficient cooling is important. An onion dome is hardly necessary in the desert, as I doubt snow will cause a weight problem on a dome.

I think that is a great example of how these things move out of necessity. Eventually people in the Southwest may begin to look at that church design as being "the way Orthodox churches look."


Concerning Western Rite Orthodoxy,

I still can't understand what's wrong with it. Orthodox before the schism used a Western liturgy and for the Western churches who want to rejoin Orthodoxy, so why would we require them to be Constantinopilan when they weren't before and we didn't have a problem with it? We're not trying to set up a reverse unia. We're not trying to effect unity with Roman churches against the will of Rome. How could Rome really complain without disbanding the unia first? Well, I guess anybody can complain about anything.
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« Reply #41 on: March 08, 2005, 02:58:56 PM »

Orthodoc,

    I think the story of your sister is tragic and happens all to often (I think once is all to often), but having said that, I still think your anecdotal account is not indicative of "ethnic" parishes in sum... at least not anecdotally.

    I was born and raised in the Serbian Orthodox Church.  Being Serbian to me is VERY important, but easily secondary to being Orthodox.  My immediate family have been taught (through the church) to defend Orthodoxy from challenge, as opposed to only defending Serbian Orthodoxy.

    Does my parish priest often ask for prayers specific to "Serbs" around the world?  Sure, but I don't think he has ever put being Serbian before being Orthodox.  Moreover, each member of my family has "other" Orthodox churches closer to our homes than the SOC,  and while we don't go to those churches for mass, we certainly support fundraisers, festivals and cultural events related to those churches.  To me, that is supporting the overarching faith.

    Now, I'm not saying my family is indicative of the norm, I'm just not sure that your experience (with your sister) is anymore indicative than mine.  Maybe it is specific to the individual Parish...but I would argue that would be more of a problem with the Priest than the faithful.
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« Reply #42 on: March 08, 2005, 03:26:37 PM »

I think this an excellent article http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/general/cultural_par.aspx that expresses why that Orthodox spirit seems to permiate certain ethnicities and why it often makes more sense to maintain that ethnicity when living in secular America.

I think it is good to keep in mind that Western Orthodoxy is Orthodox and not just some Orthodoxisized Roman Catholicism or Anglicanism. Here is a good page that shows what pre-Schismatic Western Orthodoxy looked like: http://www.odox.net/Liturgy-Western-Culture.htm and keep in mind Southern Italy was under the Patriarchate of Constantinople until the Middle Ages. What I am trying to say is that with the falling away of the Roman Patriarchate a false dichotomy was created in which there is a Western or Latin Christianity and an Eastern or Greek Christianity. The truth is that up until a thousand years ago there was no difference, with the notable exception of the Carolingians who started the split as I see it. During this time there was a form of Western Iconography, though not as refined or developed as that of the Eastern Roman Empire which includes Italy; look at Ravenna! I also think Fr.Seraphim of Platina's intro to Vita Patrum gives a lot of good information on this as well. What I am saying is that a revived Western Orthodoxy would not look Roman Catholic at all if done faithfully according to pre-Schism West and it could use the form of Iconography found in Eastern Orthodoxy.

What I was trying to point out is that in pre-Schism times if you moved from Greece to Northern Italy you had to get use to a different Liturgy. Is it right that Roman Catholics and Protestants of Western European heritage should use the Eastern Rite when there is a Western Rite? I really don't know what to think.
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« Reply #43 on: March 08, 2005, 05:09:13 PM »

Glory to Jesus Christ!

I am honored to be a Ukrainian Orthodox monk.  I'm proud of our Ukrainian traditions, but being American-born I am extremely blessed because of all the Orthodox Saints of North America.  These holy hierarchs, clergy, monastics and laity, by their lives have laid the foundation for the Orthodox church in North America.  I must tell you when we commemorate All Saints of Ukraine on the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost, I also chant during the Hours the tropar to All Saints of North America.  As I do a reader's vigil service, at home, on that Saturday night, I combine both into one service.  'm an Orthodox Christian first, and then American of Ukrainian/Polish descent.  All these shape who I am and with the grace of God lead me to Him.
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« Reply #44 on: March 08, 2005, 09:28:58 PM »

SouthSerb99 writes:


[Moreover, each member of my family has "other" Orthodox churches closer to our homes than the SOC, and while we don't go to those churches for mass, we certainly support fundraisers, festivals and cultural events related to those churches. To me, that is supporting the overarching faith.]

Hopefully, since you are Orthodox as well as Serbian, you attend 'Divine Liturgy' rather then Mass  which is strictly Roman Catholic terminology to describe their main worship service. It is used neither by Orthodox Catholics or Protestants to describe any of their worship services.

All my non Orthodox friends and neighbors financially support the various Greek, Russian, Albanian fundraisers, festivals, and cultural events also.  Does that make them some type of  Orthodox?  I also support the local Roman Catholic and Protestant fundraisers.  Does that make me either Protestant or Roman Catholic? 

Your example is a perfect example of how those of us with an ethnic priority mindset contribute to the concept that we are not the same Church with the same doctrine that some outsiders have of us.  And see unity and support in terms of financial contributions made by social interaction rather than religious interaction.

 [Now, I'm not saying my family is indicative of the norm, I'm just not sure that your experience (with your sister) is anymore indicative than mine. Maybe it is specific to the individual Parish...but I would argue that would be more of a problem with the Priest than the faithful.]

I related the personal story of my sister to bring out a point.  It is neither indicative of my family, the parish I was raised in, or the priest.  It is indicative of, and can be found in every Orthodox Catholic parish that identifies itself by its ethnic origin rather than its religious beliefs. I bet even your own does.  Ask your family and fellow parishioners what type of church they go to and chances that very few will say 'Orthodox' or 'Orthodox Catholic' as opposed to Serbian.  Even those that are second and third generation American born go to the Serbian Church rather than the Orthodox Church..

[I must tell you when we commemorate All Saints of Ukraine on the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost, I also chant during the Hours the tropar to All Saints of North America. As I do a reader's vigil service, at home, on that Saturday night, I combine both into one service. 'm an Orthodox Christian first, and then American of Ukrainian/Polish descent. All these shape who I am and with the grace of God lead me to Him.]

Good for you Father!  That is the way it should be! 

The 40th day Memorial Service for Sister Mary Holy Spirit was held in our Chapel after the Divine Liturgy on Saturday.  It was attended by the only two elderly nuns left from Sister's Order (one is 89).  They came along with the head nun of the 'Mother House' (at least that's how she identified herself).  After Church prior to the meal in Sister Mary Holy Spirit's honor, she asked if I would give her a tour of the our main Church.  After the tour she asked if we were 'Russian Orthodox' or 'Greek Orthodox' (she was from Ireland).  I replied that our parish consisted of Orthodox Catholics from all of the national backgrounds along with a impressive number of converts from many faiths.  Because of that, we prefer to identify ourselves by our religious identity rather than any ethnic identity.  As they have  already done here, we are also trying get away from the Italian Catholic, Irish Catholic, mind set.  She agreed.

I presented all of them with a small Icon of the Blessed Mother in rememberence of Sister Holy Spirit.  And also gave them a large hand made Bulgarian Icon of the 'Our Lady Of Vladimir' for their Chapel.  That was the Icon Sister MHS prayed in front of every Sunday on her way to Mass.

They were so impressed with the handout I gave explaining the meaning behind the Memorial Service and the Koliva.  Sister Maria (the head) asked for an extra copy to send to Rome. Sister Maria told me that when she notifed Rome of our intent to have the 40th day for Sister MHS, Rome  replied that they were well aware of Sister MHS ties and love for St Stephens. And some of you think I'm anti papal Catholic!

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