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Author Topic: Christian Culture  (Read 4910 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: March 05, 2005, 02:45:52 AM »

I decided to start a new thread as an off shoot from another thread that I found very interesting:

GreekisChristian posted that Greek culture needs to be preserved and offered the conclusion that the continued use of Greek as a liturgical language is a means to achieving that. 

It is interesting that I agree a part of Hellenism needs to be presvered - but I think the Greek language is only the superficial part of the Christian Hellenism that we ought to preserve.  For example many English only parishes and monasteries have preserved the Christian culture such as the St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood or the convent of Saint Paisius in Safford, AZ... many English language missions (for example this one http://www.dormitionorthodoxchurch.org/index.aspx

I have also been to parishes that use 90% Greek yet have no real palpable feeling of Christian Hellenism - there is a disdain for the concept of hierarchy, a lot of people showing up late (i.e there around the great entrance! - with sometimes no one for the start of Orthros), no women with covered heads, an open disdain for monasticism etc. 

I am also familar with a monastery in America that uses all Greek and is overflowing with Christian Hellenism.  Interestingly enough though language is not what they see as the binding force of Christian Hellenism - they support English missions and such.

Basicly I think obvious pastoral discretion should be used in terms of liturgical language.  For instance in the GOA parish that is closest to my house I can bet that tomorrow for -ê-Ã -ç++-â+¦+¦+¦+¦-ä++ that almost if not every person will be Greek, probably older and many of them immigrants from Greece.  The obvious thing to do is use Greek.  But on an average Sunday there will be a mixture of immigrants, 3rd and 4th generation "ethnics" and converts.  The use of some Greek is good IMO, but not so much so that the younger people and converts are hopelessly lost.  I guess I am equally alarmed by those that want completely suppress Greek, Slavonic etc. as those who want to drive out the usage of English. 

I think the best way to be linquisticly in America is for all seminaries to require priests to take at least basic Slavonic and Greek and to have flexibility.... back when I used to help out more with chanting at a GOA parish we would litterally be deciding how much Greek to English to use as we went depending on the current congregation present.  But I do think that the promotion of monasticism is the best way to preserve Christian Hellenism.  It was largely monasticism that kept Orthodox Culture alive under the turks, they will keep Orthodoxy alive as we a a small minority in the diaspora.  There are many grace filled spiritual fathers and mothers in this country.  The little sub cultures that surround monasteries of faithful lay people very strong groups that have a great Orthodox ethos.  These are the types of familes that get together with other Orthodox familes during the week and sing the paraklesis to the Theotokos or other prayers at home and really form a Christian community feeling.  In the past 100 years there has been a very strong monasticism in Greece, with many saintly Elders... that is to whom we should turn to preserve Christian Hellenism as that is the inner essence and core of their spiritual life - not their mere external language.

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« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2005, 03:03:45 PM »

I do not know that 'Christian Hellenism' can be seperated from Greek/Russian/Serbian/et cetera culture as simply as many here would like it to be. Christianity is a way of life, one that is not only limited to the metaphysical sphere, it cannot be reduced to a few dogmas and ideals, it requires a complete culture and an all encompassing Weltanschauung that governs both secular and religious elements of life. It took countries like Russia and Serbia Hundreds of Years of cultural development in a Homogeniously Orthodox Society to develop a such an Orthodox Christian Culture, it is not something that happened overnight with academics listing the 'essential' elements of Orthodox culture and trying to implement it in some scheme of social engineering; unfortunately I fear this is what we are trying to do here in America. Should we eventually have an American Orthodox Culture? I hope to God we do; however, it seems to me that we are trying to artifically force the issue; why do we expect a small minority population in a pluralistic society to accomplish the development of the aforesaid culture in 30 years when it took homogenious Orthodox nations centuries? Patience is called for. Furthermore, while strong Christian devotion is very important for our spiritual life, if our 'Orthodox Culture' is focused on nothing else and does not have a scope beyond religious issues it will be unable to sustain a large society for a prolonged amount of time, the culture must cover both religious and secular issues and people.

Concerning Language in particular, ideally the issue should be mute, we should be able to use Greek, Slavonic, Arabic, and English interchangabely in our services without concern. What makes it an issue is the politics behind it; those deeply connected to an Orthodox culture want the Traditional language of that Culture to be used, often, though not always, they also grew up with that being the liturgical language they heard in Church (far less often is it also the langauge that they spoke). On the other side are mostly converts, and some people of Orthodox ethnicities who are rebelling against their cultural identity, these are people who take a millitant anti-greek stance, often with the public excuse of needing to 'understand' the services, but if you talk to them or get to know them it usually becomes evident that more often than not they simply hate the culture behind the language, thus learning to hate the language as well. Then some, such as myself, become defenders of the traditional language and culture in the Church because we are worried about what this latter group, unopposed and unchecked could do to the Church. Slowly as an American Orthodox culture develops it will replace the cultures of the various ethnicities, far before that (even now) english becomes the predominate liturgical language in this Country (though we must be sure that the introduction of english is neither scandalous to the ethnic group nor also causing the introduction of an american weltanschuung into the Church), but this is something that we should approach slowly and cautiously, over Centuries (yes, those 100 year groupings of time), rather than trying to change the face of Orthodoxy in this country within the lifespan of one Generation.

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« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2005, 01:08:21 AM »

Insofar as the language that is used for liturgies, I have a friend who is Greek and was raised in the GOA and still attends church, but he is always complaing about how his church is using more and more English and he feels that Greek should be used, exclusively. He has often told me about how he dislikes going because of this and one GOA church that I visited a looonnggg time ago used nearly 100% Greek that I recall - even the sermon was in Greek and he didn't care for this church because they "weren't Greek enough".

I just thought it was interesting because I am always hearing about how young Orthodox people crave more English and that they cannot grasp the liturgy and so they don't get anything out of it. I know that my priest has received several calls from parishioners of Greek churches, wondering to know if we used English and that because we do, they were planning on making a visit.

So, maybe my friend is just one of the few and far between young people, I dunno...

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« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2005, 01:40:44 AM »

Insofar as the language that is used for liturgies, I have a friend who is Greek and was raised in the GOA and still attends church, but he is always complaing about how his church is using more and more English and he feels that Greek should be used, exclusively. He has often told me about how he dislikes going because of this and one GOA church that I visited a looonnggg time ago used nearly 100% Greek that I recall - even the sermon was in Greek and he didn't care for this church because they "weren't Greek enough".

I just thought it was interesting because I am always hearing about how young Orthodox people crave more English and that they cannot grasp the liturgy and so they don't get anything out of it. I know that my priest has received several calls from parishioners of Greek churches, wondering to know if we used English and that because we do, they were planning on making a visit.

So, maybe my friend is just one of the few and far between young people, I dunno...

In Christ,
Aaron

I think sometimes when people speak in general terms about "what young people want" they're really saying what they want.  For example, plenty of young people attend traditional Roman Catholic Masses and no one today speaks latin.  The RC thought they had to change everything to keep the young people.  They changed everything and still lost the young people.  And 30 something years later, young people are drawn to an ancient liturgy in a language they don't understand. 

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« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2005, 02:13:30 AM »

Quote
It took countries like Russia and Serbia Hundreds of Years of cultural development in a Homogeniously Orthodox Society to develop a such an Orthodox Christian Culture, it is not something that happened overnight with academics listing the 'essential' elements of Orthodox culture and trying to implement it in some scheme of social engineering; unfortunately I fear this is what we are trying to do here in America.

But in Russia, Serbia, Romania, Georgia etc. they managed to develop an Orthodox Culture without the Greek Language.  I ask the question... Does the Saint Herman of Alaska brotherhood, The Holy Cross Hermitage, the convent of Saint Paisius that all use English... do you they not have an Orthodox culture?  Saint John of San Francisco also promoted Liturgies in vernacular languages - did he have no concept of Orthodox culture?

The bottom line is that monasticism, asceticism and piety are the guardians of Orthodoxy - not language.  That is why I find in ironic that many of those in the GOA that I see clamoring for more Greek to preserve their "heritage" are also the ones who revile Elder Ephraim (who has done the most in the GOA to preserve true Orthodox culture), hate monasticism, rail against traditionalism and whine that the GOA's already buthcered services are too long.   

If a parish uses Greek and supports monasticism and traditional Orthodoxy - that is wonderful, I would find it it be most likely a very nice parish.  If they use Greek and do niether...I wouldn't attend.  Greek really has nothing to do with it. 
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« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2005, 03:01:45 AM »

Quote
The bottom line is that monasticism, asceticism and piety are the guardians of Orthodoxy - not language.  That is why I find in ironic that many of those in the GOA that I see clamoring for more Greek to preserve their "heritage" are also the ones who revile Elder Ephraim (who has done the most in the GOA to preserve true Orthodox culture), hate monasticism, rail against traditionalism and whine that the GOA's already buthcered services are too long.   

That's really wierd because my ex-girlfriend who is greek and her friends at the Greek Orthodox Church in Sacramento could have cared less about being Orthodox let alone wether the liturgy was done in greek or english for that matter. I was protestant at the time and attended the Liturgy with her on many occasions with her family. It was weird because her and some of her friends at the church were also into that "goth" stuff which I found to be really dum to say the least  Grin... I had never heard of Orthodoxy at the time and it struck me as being so drastically different at the time I just did not know what to think about it and really didn't ask to much questions. Looking back now I can see what you mean why some of them would hate monasticism, traditionalism etc. because I remember such statements from her and her clueless friends that they only beleived in half of what thier church taught (I never asked what they meant by this) and it was more of a way to keep thier culture going here in this country. They must have had the RC syndrome of poor catechesis or something was in the water because they sure acted like a bunch of dunces. 
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« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2005, 04:05:58 PM »

Arystarcus,

Your friend isn't all that unique, he's probably in the majority, the radical pro-english crowd tends to be a small, but vocal, minority...at least in the GOA, I can't really speak for other jurisdictions. Most people in the Church, youth and elderly alike, seem quite content with traditional customs and usages.



+¥+¦+¦-ä+¼-ü+¦++-é,

The situation is different, Orthodoxy came to the Slavs in a different way than it came to the Americas. The Slavs embraced Orthodoxy, and allowed their Culture to be Hellenized and Christianized; in America, for the most part, the Culture that was already here rejected Orthodoxy, and rather than changing their culture to become Christian, tried to change Greek/Russian/et cetera culture to become more American, thus Orthodoxy came to the vast majority of the Americas as a Chaplaincy: outposts of Christian thought and belief in a hostile and heathen society. Thus, since the society has not changed, we should not embrace it and introduce their customs into our Churches; this was not the case with the Slavs. Ultimately changes, of any sort, should come slowly and only after great consideration, what is see is as a problem is not the use of English per se, but rather the willingness to not only embrace but also encourage radical and rapid change in matters of Culture.

Concerning the Ephramite Monasteries, I, and many in the GOA along with me, will give them a lot more respect and consideration when they learn the virtue of Obedience towards their Bishop, these monasteries have the reputation they do because of their own activities, it's not a conspiracy against either them in particular or monasticism in general.
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« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2005, 06:31:54 PM »

Gospodii Pomilui if this is the future of the GOA. 
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« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2005, 10:58:33 PM »

I would agree that monasticism is "a" guardian of Orthodoxy - but it is not intended nor well-suited to be an ambassador of Orthodoxy to the world - that's not what it was instituted for.  The priests, bishops, deacons, and laymen in the world are to be Orthodoxy's ambassadors, baptizing the culture instead of rejecting it outright, and taking that which is good in the world (there always has to be something; if we claim there is nothing redeemable in the culture we border on heresy) while rejecting that which opposes Christ.

For the monks, its a different story - their unique way of life and calling to prayer requires a different relationship with the world and a different outlook on culture.  When the boundaries are respected, they can act at times like the guardians of the Church; when they overstep the boundaries, they can act at times like the greatest of heresiarchs (those who start heresy).  They're not always right (as some would claim), not always wrong (as others, notably +IAKOVOS, former Archbishop of America, would claim).

If we truly need the monasteries to be the biggest force in keeping a traditional Orthodox culture in this country, we are in deep trouble - true Orthodox culture is nurtured in the "Church of the home" - the birthplace of monks, nuns, priests, and laypeople.  The monasteries should be able to act as an important aid, guide, measure, and rule, but they shouldnt have to act as the major guide.  That's where we get into trouble, with communities like HTM in Boston, where disobedience to one's hierarch, with elders who would disregard the writings of the fathers and the canons to push their own agendas above all do indeed push them away from the mainstream, and often will hurt people more than help.  (Of course, they do well in promoting some parts of Orthodox culture - iconography and music in english, for example).  They just lack the "full package," which is what monasticism is supposed to strive for.
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« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2005, 01:14:03 AM »

Quote
I would agree that monasticism is "a" guardian of Orthodoxy - but it is not intended nor well-suited to be an ambassador of Orthodoxy to the world - that's not what it was instituted for. The priests, bishops, deacons, and laymen in the world are to be Orthodoxy's ambassadors, baptizing the culture instead of rejecting it outright, and taking that which is good in the world (there always has to be something; if we claim there is nothing redeemable in the culture we border on heresy) while rejecting that which opposes Christ.

I guess that just depends on personal experience.  My visits to monasteries happened before I converted to the Orthodox faith.  For me they put into palpable form what I had read in books about Orthodoxy.  Without haveing seen Orthodox monasticism I do not think I would have converted.  The other factor that played a large role in my conversion and introduction to Orthodoxy were the writtings of Father Seraphim of Platina - I have spoken to many converts with the same feelings.  I think Father Seraphim is a great example of how monasticism in America can take on a missionary character. 

Quote
If we truly need the monasteries to be the biggest force in keeping a traditional Orthodox culture in this country, we are in deep trouble - true Orthodox culture is nurtured in the "Church of the home" - the birthplace of monks, nuns, priests, and laypeople.

I agree entirely actually.  But it has been my experience that the families that actually create and live a church of the home style of life are heavily influenced by monasticism.  Most Christian families run sort of like a monastery - daily common prayer, common meals and each person having their "obediance" (i.e school and chores for the kids, work for the parents).  There is not nearly the dichotmy between family life and monastic life as some people claim.  Greece in recent times has been especially blessed with Elders such as Frs. Porphyrios (who did a lot of work in particular at promoting family life, and helping larger familes), Philotheos Zervakos, Amphilochios of Patmos and Elder Iakovos of Evia.  All of these had a great number of lay spiritual children and promoted the family life. 

Quote
That's where we get into trouble, with communities like HTM in Boston, where disobedience to one's hierarch, with elders who would disregard the writings of the fathers and the canons to push their own agendas above all do indeed push them away from the mainstream, and often will hurt people more than help.

The ROCOR was right in deposing those at HTM.  But they are hardly a normal monastery... Those living a genuinely monastic life such as Fr. Seraphim Rose warned of the HTM schism long before it happened.  His writtings on the topic are very fascinating and spiritually beneficial.

Out of curiosity have you read the book by St. Justin Popovich "Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ"? 
Many of his writtings of ascetism (and how all: lay, clergy and monastics) are called to an ascetical life, are very good and illustrate what I have been (poorly) trying to say about the role of Monasticism in the Church. 
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« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2005, 09:08:36 AM »

I am a convert to Orthodoxy and live in South Africa. I came to know Orthodox worship through the Slavic Liturgy, although I follow with an English Liturgy book. Our new Russian Priest is all for an English Liturgy on Saturday mornings once a month. I don't mind the idea, but I recognize that the Parish and Church were built up by immigrants, and we new English converts have no right to demand anything from them.
The Russians had a hard enough time from the Patriarch of Alexandria to have the church built at all, though the Serbs now have their own Church as well.
I do see though at the website of our local Metropolitan H.E. Met. Seraphim, that there is a survey of language usage in the Liturgies of all our local churches; Greek, Russian and Serbian - whether we want them in English or not.
There is an English Only mission here, and I feel that those who want English should go there. Ethnic Mother Tongue Liturgies should be preserved in the Churches built by the Immigrants.

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« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2005, 09:15:29 AM »

"Christian Hellenism" transcends all linguistic barriers.  It is just as easily expressed in Slavic, Arabic, English or Chinese as in Greek. 
 Christian Hellenism = Orthodox Christian dogmatics.

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 In a handwritten address found among his papers after his death, [Father Georges] Florovsky spoke about a "theological will" which he did not complete, but which would have included three main points, which effectively summarize his thought:

 1. Orthodox theology must be a historical theology. Christians do not believe in ideas, but in a Person, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior who is a historical Person. Our God is the God who acts, who has acted in history, from the creation of man, who is still acting, and who will act at the end of time. Theology is the study of divine acts.

 2. In studying the Acts of God, we see 'the scandal of particularity," that is to say, salvation has come "from the Jews" and has been propagated in the world through the medium of Hellenism. To be a Christian means to be a Greek, since our basic authority is forever a Greek Book, the New Testament. The Christian message has been forever formulated in Greek categories. The old Hellenism was dissected, baptized, regenerated, converted to become the Christian Hellenism of our dogmatics--from the New Testament to St. Gregory Palamas in the fifteenth century, and even to our own times. One cannot revert back to Hebraism or even to preChristian Hellenism, and all attempts to reformulate the historical dogmas of the undivided Church in categories of modern philosophies should be resisted as misleading and fruitless.

3. Theology must be carried out not merely to satisfy our intellectual curiosity, but in order to live, to have life abundantly in the Truth of God, which is not a system of ideas, but a Person--Jesus Christ. In this task the Fathers of the Church can be only sure and safe guides.

 (From: http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0354/is_1_45/ai_99699590/pg_8)

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« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2005, 01:26:40 PM »


There is an English Only mission here, and I feel that those who want English should go there. Ethnic Mother Tongue Liturgies should be preserved in the Churches built by the Immigrants.

Kolya

I am not against having ethnic parishes, but this blanket statement seems to go against the pattern established by the Apostles and the Orthodox missionaries of the past.  If one stubbornly sticks to Slavonic or something else in an area where immigration stops, as it eventually will, one will see the effect; for comparsion look at Pennsylvania where the vast majority of Orthodox second and third generations don't even go to Church!

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« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2005, 02:15:06 PM »

[grammar police]The term is 'moot' NOT 'mute'.[/grammar police]
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« Reply #14 on: March 07, 2005, 02:42:13 PM »

Quote
The bottom line is that monasticism, asceticism and piety are the guardians of Orthodoxy - not language.

Half true.


Quote
true Orthodox culture is nurtured in the "Church of the home" - the birthplace of monks, nuns, priests, and laypeople

Look!  The other half!.

Truth is, if we had the latter, we'd have the former.  I lament the lack of monasticism in the Americas.


Anastasios,

When immigration stops I'll eat my hat.    Grin

Concerning the lack of folks going to church in PA, this phenomenon is found in all the churches in PA, regardless of the use of a liturgical language. 
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« Reply #15 on: March 07, 2005, 02:52:57 PM »



I am not against having ethnic parishes, but this blanket statement seems to go against the pattern established by the Apostles and the Orthodox missionaries of the past. If one stubbornly sticks to Slavonic or something else in an area where immigration stops, as it eventually will, one will see the effect; for comparsion look at Pennsylvania where the vast majority of Orthodox second and third generations don't even go to Church!

Anastasios

I think that one of the best examples of this is my (OCA) parish. My parish was founded in 1932 as (I think) the first Orthodox parish north of San Francisco in the bay area. Around 20 years ago, there was a split in the mentality of the leadership with some of the converts, the priest and many of the old Russians regarding language, customes and even how potential new converts were to be 'dealt with' (as if they should be allowed - which I hope all of us think is absurd). A lot of those Russians left to start their own parish, under ROCOR (i.e. OC, Slavonic, etc.) while the continuing OCA parish gradually moved toward English and a much more welcoming attitude toward other ethnic groups (and of course WASPy Americans if you will). Also around this time, our parish had a huge influx of Eritreans due to political amnesty. (The older Eritrean adults have been received by Confession & Christmation while the current priest alone, only a priest for around 6 years, has baptized >50 children himself.) What exists today is the current OCA parish that is multi-ethnic, mainly English language (a smattering of Slavonic and Greek), growing and vibrant compared to the nearby ROCOR parish that is filled with an aging old Russian population. The old spats have cooled over the recent years, but the fact remains that the long term viability of the ROCOR parish is on shakier ground than the "younger" OCA parish. From what I hear, I would definitely consider my OCA parish on the more conservative side.
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« Reply #16 on: March 07, 2005, 03:04:48 PM »

Anastasios,

When immigration stops I'll eat my hat. Grin

Concerning the lack of folks going to church in PA, this phenomenon is found in all the churches in PA, regardless of the use of a liturgical language.

Yes, BUT....when I visit Russian, Greece, etc. I don't expect them to use English for me.  Why should immigrants expect their language here?  They aren't going to get jobs, get their mail, interact with everyone on a daily basis in their language?  Granted that there isn't much of a reverse emigration to those countries from here (of Orthodox anyway) and I agree that on a pastoral basis in certain areas it is good to have those ethnic 'mission' parishes (e.g. San Fran Russian missionary Deanery District in the OCA), but the majority of ethnics who speak the local language, they shouldn't have a problem with English Liturgical usage in church.  Those that immigrate that are nominal (or don't go to church) - that is their problem for saking their own heritage/spirituality.  If they were serious about it, they would look up and find their local Orthodox church.
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« Reply #17 on: March 07, 2005, 04:01:55 PM »

There was a time when I had a lot more patience for the idea of the Church being a "preserver of culture"; however, having seen the vibrance of communities using the vernacular of the lands they are situated in, I know that this is where the future of Orthodoxy is - not in misusing Churches as  museums for a culture which will (I hate to say it folks) slowly be forgotten as the children assimilate and "blend in" to the land of their birth, and of their future children's birth.

The unfortunate assumption here is that second and third generation "ethnics" are even conversant in their "ethnic languages" - which is often not true.   The identity which we should be focusing on is ultimatly one rooted in a spiritual identity - and that's something that trancends any particular time or place.

Does that mean there is "no room" for the ethnic parish?  Of course not.  As an immigrant to the country which I now have citizenship (Canada), I'm sensitive to those ties.  But let's face it, that is the past - a past we should honour, but one which will become increasingly less meaningful as the blood and culture of the "mother land" thins and successive generations issue from us.

After all, what is supposed to be our "first love"?  What about the "great commission"?  Well, nothing is going to happen in that department, so long as people rationalize transforming the gospel into some form of ethnic specific "judaism" - a religion for the ethnically born, but for few if any others (save if you happen to marry one of us.)  It's really a miracle of grace that people are becoming Orthodox in many places, because I think in a lot of cases it's quite in spite of a lot of people in the Church; one can only imagine what could be possible, if people in the Church (that includes the laity) were actually interested in pursuing the real possibility of an "Orthodox America".

And I'm sick of hearing that the attitude I'm putting forward is a so called "western" (as if that were a bad thing) or worse yet, "Protestant" one.  Tell it to the Holy Apostles in all ages - to Sts.Peter and Paul, or Kyrill and Methodios perhaps.  While Orthodoxy doesn't seek out "cheap"/superficial conversions through emotional/materialistic trickery, it certainly seeks converts (ideally the whole of mankind, actually)- and historically even at the price of a lot of martyric bloodshed.  I'm ashamed at myself, as much as anyone else over this, btw.

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« Reply #18 on: March 07, 2005, 04:52:00 PM »


Concerning the lack of folks going to church in PA, this phenomenon is found in all the churches in PA, regardless of the use of a liturgical language.

Not necessarily true. The Antiochians seem to be growing in PA, and the OCA parishes that have switched to English seem to have stablized. The ethnic ones are the ones dying off, it seems to me.

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« Reply #19 on: March 07, 2005, 07:36:36 PM »

The ethnic ones are the ones dying off, it seems to me.

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Further evidence that supports my anecdote.
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« Reply #20 on: March 08, 2005, 12:34:39 AM »

There is alot of discussion about American Churches attracting people to 'Orthodoxy.' But what hasn't been addressed is whether it is the responsibility of Americans to Convert to Orthdoxy, or Orthodoxy to convert to Americanism. We must ask ourselves about these people who will only attend English Liturgies and Americanized 'Orthodox' Parishes, these people who have a radical and violent reaction against Ethnic elements in Orthodoxy, have they truly converted to Orthodoxy or have they simply found another 'social club,' sort of like their former baptist Church, but with some more bells and whistles to keep their attention. I consider this attempt to divorce Orthodoxy from Orthodox Culture to be very dangerous to the Church, Orthodoxy is not an academic exersize, as I've said before, it's not just having the Right Dogmatic Beliefs, it's a way of life, it's a cultural mindset...a mindset that is consonant with Greek or Russian Culture, but incompatable with American Culture. The issue here is not statistics about parish growth, but what it means to be Orthodox.
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« Reply #21 on: March 08, 2005, 12:40:20 AM »

greekischristian,

I think you are referring to a specific type of extremist convert. For instance, I have been arguing for English and enculturation but I currently attend an all-Greek parish. I know many others in similar situations. Not all of the people who want English are xenophobes who can't appreciate a little of the Old world, etc.

I don't think Orthodoxy is incompatibly with American culture any more so that it was originally incompatible with Slavic pagan culture. Some things came some things had to go, some things stayed the same. You're right, it DOES take 100's of years--but the Orthodoxification of American culture won't happen at all if we don't get more English to pollinate the American culture.

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« Reply #22 on: March 08, 2005, 09:13:12 AM »

greekischristian,

Quote
There is alot of discussion about American Churches attracting people to 'Orthodoxy.' But what hasn't been addressed is whether it is the responsibility of Americans to Convert to Orthdoxy, or Orthodoxy to convert to Americanism

I think the question you are posing is as fair as asking an American, or a Canadian, or a Frenchman, etc. to convert to "Hellenism" or to become a "Russophile" as a pre-condition to their hearing and accepting the Gospel.

19  For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more.
20  To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews; to those under the law I became as one under the law--though not being myself under the law--that I might win those under the law.
21  To those outside the law I became as one outside the law--not being without law toward God but under the law of Christ--that I might win those outside the law.
22  To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
23  I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. (1st Corinthians 9:19-23)

Quote
We must ask ourselves about these people who will only attend English Liturgies and Americanized 'Orthodox' Parishes, these people who have a radical and violent reaction against Ethnic elements in Orthodoxy, have they truly converted to Orthodoxy or have they simply found another 'social club,' sort of like their former baptist Church, but with some more bells and whistles to keep their attention.

I think it would be fairer to ask whether those who have a "radical and violent reaction" against Churches celebrating services at least in part (or some of the time) in the vernacular of the lands they are situated in, are the ones treating the Church as a sort of "social club" with some smells and bells.

Generally those who convert to Orthodoxy (at least for reasons other than marriage) do so out of conviction.  IOW, if they didn't want to be there, they wouldn't be; for them there's no possibility of it being an "accident of birth".

Quote
I consider this attempt to divorce Orthodoxy from Orthodox Culture to be very dangerous to the Church, Orthodoxy is not an academic exersize, as I've said before, it's not just having the Right Dogmatic Beliefs, it's a way of life, it's a cultural mindset...a mindset that is consonant with Greek or Russian Culture, but incompatable with American Culture.

This is the same rationale used by the early Judaizers - "it's ok if you want to join us...but first, become a Jew".  Obviously the culture from which missionaries come is going to rub off in some wise on the sensibilities of their converts - the marks of semitic culture are still apparent to this day in all flavours of "apostolic" Christianity (for lack of a better term), as are qualities specific to Byzantium in what became a distinctly "Slavic" Christianity.

As Anastasios has rightly pointed out, the various Slavic cultures (and earlier, those of the Romans, whether eastern or western) did not start out "Christianized" either.

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« Reply #23 on: March 08, 2005, 05:00:20 PM »

I think the question you are posing is as fair as asking an American, or a Canadian, or a Frenchman, etc. to convert to "Hellenism" or to become a "Russophile" as a pre-condition to their hearing and accepting the Gospel.

I dont expect the American, or Canadian, or Frenchman to Give up their Culture and 'convert' to Hellenism, but I do expect them to embrace an Orthodox Culture, and allow it to influence their life. Does this mean that they have to abandon the culture they were born into? No, of course not. Does it mean that they should respect and appreciate Orthodox Culture, and recognize it has many important elements for a Christian life lacking in their own? Yes.

Concerning the words of Paul, he was speaking on a personal level, about what extents he goes to inorder to spread the Gospel, he's not telling the Church to change to conform to society. Are we to infer from his statement that he is telling the Church to be both under the law and not under the law? For that is the conclusion if you take the approach that this passage is an instruction on how the Church is to form its Doctrine and Culture.

I think it would be fairer to ask whether those who have a "radical and violent reaction" against Churches celebrating services at least in part (or some of the time) in the vernacular of the lands they are situated in, are the ones treating the Church as a sort of "social club" with some smells and bells.

Generally those who convert to Orthodoxy (at least for reasons other than marriage) do so out of conviction. IOW, if they didn't want to be there, they wouldn't be; for them there's no possibility of it being an "accident of birth".

While it is true that those who convert to Orthodoxy do so out of conviction, I often wonder if this conviction is always for Orthodoxy and the Truth. Too often have I heard arguments from converts who use a few proof verses and out-of-context quotes from the fathers to contest a custom or doctrine that the Church has accepted for well over a millinium. So while there is a conviction of something when one Converts, often these converts just find Orthodoxy closer to their beliefs than either Catholicism or Protestantism, and rather than comming into the Church, and letting it change them, and accepting the Church's grace in Humility, they come into Orthodoxy trying to change the elements of the Church that dont fit nicely with their beliefs and preconceived notions of how the Church should be.

There is another advantage that those born into an Orthodox Culture have over we converts. While most converts came to Orthodoxy on account of either an academic acceptance of Orthodox Dogmatics or Ecclesiology or after having an attraction to our ancient services and customs, those who are born into an Orthodox Culture come to the Faith by far more natural means, it is simply part of their life, part of their world view, part of their identity. Moreover, this also sheds some light on why certain Orthodox, especially those who are from an ethnicity that is Predominately Orthodox, react the way they do to the loss of their Language in the Church; for Language is an integral element of Culture, thus it is part of their life, world view, and identity, when the language is Changed, they suffer a loss of culture, a loss of identity, yet one more sphere of their lives that our Materialistic culture has inflitrated, they are alienated in their own Church. Can language change? Yes, just as culture changes: slowly, and with time, as the Orthodox Culture adjusts to the new circumstances it finds itself in; and, of course, the rate of change will vary with each parish (but I'm talking about maintaining the status quo until a consensus, not majority opinion, is reached).

An example of this that recently came to my attention is in England, where Orthodoxy is considerably more ethnic than in America, a certain, fairly ethnic, parish that had previously had all Liturgies in 95% to 100% Greek, introduced a Sunday Liturgy, predominately in English, once a month. This was done primarily for the benifit of the second and third generation children of immigrants, the idea was approved by the Archbishop for a six month trial, at the end of which the situation can be evaluated. Because there was a consensus on this issue, and the way the issue was approached, the problems that ensued were minimal, with very few complaints, and this even had the support of the most Greek members of the Parish, who were actually from Greece. I, of course, cannot speak for them, but I would guess that the change was accepted and even embraced by nearly the whole parish because it was not made in a threatening manner, the goal wasn't to eliminate Greek Language or Greek Culture from the Parish by any means, no one was trying to 'Anglicize' the parish, there were no hidden agendas, and no one (i.e. converts) trying to undermine the Greek elements of the Parish; but, rather, there was a concensus to help educate the Children of the Parish. If it accomplishes such a goal, and does not cause division in the Parish, then great; if it fails to accomplish anything or does cause division, the situation would need to be re-evaluated. This is the manner in which change can be made, slowly, with the primary concern being the maintaining of the flock, and the prevention of scandal.

This is the same rationale used by the early Judaizers - "it's ok if you want to join us...but first, become a Jew". Obviously the culture from which missionaries come is going to rub off in some wise on the sensibilities of their converts - the marks of semitic culture are still apparent to this day in all flavours of "apostolic" Christianity (for lack of a better term), as are qualities specific to Byzantium in what became a distinctly "Slavic" Christianity.

As Anastasios has rightly pointed out, the various Slavic cultures (and earlier, those of the Romans, whether eastern or western) did not start out "Christianized" either.

The issue with the Jews was actually a matter of Incarnational Theology and Soteriology, and the subsequent relevance of the Mosaic Law: Acts 15:1 ('And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.') demonstrates a doctrinal dispute, not merely an issue of Culture. A doctrinal statement is not the issue being considered here, a way of life is: No one is saying, 'except ye learn greek ye cannot be saved;' what is, however, being said is that Hellenism has a special relationship to Christianity that cannot be found in American 'culture.' Also, I will add that Hellenism, like Semetic Culture, has a relationship to Christianity that no other Culture can ever enjoy: it was Greek Language, Greek Thought, and Greek Philosophy that was used to define the fundamental doctrines of our faith, and it was Greek Culture that was used to propagate it throughout the world. And while it is true that no people or culture are completely deprived of grace, I do believe that the individualistic American society and culture are further from Christianity than either pagan Greek or pagan Slavonic cultures were when Christianity came to them. Our culture, on top of being individualistic, tends to propagate a rationalistic weltanschuung that is both less accepting of and less consonant with the precepts of our Orthodox Faith.
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« Reply #24 on: March 08, 2005, 07:23:06 PM »


While it is true that those who convert to Orthodoxy do so out of conviction, I often wonder if this conviction is always for Orthodoxy and the Truth. Too often have I heard arguments from converts who use a few proof verses and out-of-context quotes from the fathers to contest a custom or doctrine that the Church has accepted for well over a millinium. So while there is a conviction of something when one Converts, often these converts just find Orthodoxy closer to their beliefs than either Catholicism or Protestantism, and rather than comming into the Church, and letting it change them, and accepting the Church's grace in Humility, they come into Orthodoxy trying to change the elements of the Church that dont fit nicely with their beliefs and preconceived notions of how the Church should be.


Is it really your place to "wonder" this about us converts?  Forgive me for saying this, but I sense a certain kind of 'judgmentalism' in your posts.  I think you've overly generalizing about people who support the use of english in the liturgy.  I refer to your posts about the "radical" pro-English people who hate ethnicity, etc. 

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« Reply #25 on: March 08, 2005, 07:58:44 PM »



Is it really your place to "wonder" this about us converts? Forgive me for saying this, but I sense a certain kind of 'judgmentalism' in your posts. I think you've overly generalizing about people who support the use of english in the liturgy. I refer to your posts about the "radical" pro-English people who hate ethnicity, etc.

I totally agree. Greekchristian, was the Greek culture always an Orthodox one? No, it wasn't. The only way that it became Orthodox is that the Church transformed it by adopting the parts of the language and the culture that were compatible with Orthodoxy and discouraging the parts of them that were not compatible with Orthodoxy. That is never going to happen here in the US or Canada if the churches don't do this. They will always be at odds. Also, if God had wanted us to be like a certain ethnic group (be it Greek, Eastern European, or one of the Semitic peoples), He would have made us that to begin with. For me to try and be Russian is not being true to what God created me to be. Besides which, I can't be Russian. I can try to put on a good act, but I will never be Russian.

I have no problem with any ethnic groups. In fact, I am very interested in other cultures and their customs, but to try and force people to become those things in order to be an Orthodox Christian is ridiculous. Isn't that exactly what Paul confronted Peter about? Peter thought that gentiles should have to adopt all the Jewish customs and practices in order to become a member of the Church, while Paul didn't think gentiles should have to do that. The Church came around to Paul's view.
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« Reply #26 on: March 08, 2005, 08:25:57 PM »

Is it really your place to "wonder" this about us converts? Forgive me for saying this, but I sense a certain kind of 'judgmentalism' in your posts. I think you've overly generalizing about people who support the use of english in the liturgy. I refer to your posts about the "radical" pro-English people who hate ethnicity, etc.

If you read my post, you will see that I qualify such statements (and if the statement isn't qualified, I probably just forgot, for very few generalizations are universally true), for example in the one you alluded to I said: 'I often wonder if this conviction is always for Orthodoxy and the Truth.' Moreover, my observations are not only from my own experiance, but also from my discussions with many other people, Greek, Russian, Serbian, Romanian and convert, and both laymen and clergy, and both from the Americas and from the Old World, on the issue; furthermore, these are not judgements so much as observations.

Finally, even if these are judgements, I feel free to make them, as I too am a Convert, and I include myself in these Judgements. Looking back at the time I was converting to Orthodoxy, and when I had just converted, I could probably find most of these problems, which I now acknowledge as errors, in myself. And even today I acknowledge that I am, for better or worse (probably the latter), an American by birth, and an Anglo-Saxon Protestant Individualist by upbringing and culture, which has, in the past, and at times still continues to, introduce experiances and conceptualizations into my ethos that are inconsonant with Orthodoxy. Thus, I, like all converts, need to be very careful of the baggage we bring into the Church (for, unfortunately, we all bring baggage of some sort with us (this statement is intended to be unqualified)), always trying to conform ourselves to the Church of Christ, and not trying to conform the Church to ourselves and our American world view.

Concerning the 'radical Pro-English crowd,' they are the ones I view as the greatest threat, as they are the ones who do not care what damage they cause, as long as they get their way. However, making radical changes with good intentions can still lead to devastating results; thus the point I have been emphasizing: while change may be good and appropriate, it should be taken slowly and with patience, and approached cautiously. I do not want to see the OCA's Mass and Rapid Americanization of the Church in the 1970's happen in the GOA.
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« Reply #27 on: March 08, 2005, 08:44:55 PM »

katherine 2001,

If you read the message to which jennifer was responding, you would see that I answered all the concerns you posted there, especially in reference to the dispute between the Jews and the Greeks, which was doctrinal, about Incarnational Theology and Soteriology and the Law of Moses.

Refering specifically to the confrontation between Sts. Peter and Paul in Galatians 2, the issue is demonstrated to be doctrinal and not cultural in nature. First, in verse 14 when Paul talked to Peter, he said to him, 'If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?' The first condemnation being that St. Peter held others to standards he did not even try to uphold, but in verse 16 St. Paul made clear that he was not condemning St. Peter for not living by the law for he stated in reference to the Law of Moses, 'Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.' Thus we see that the real problem was that St. Peter had cast doubt on the Salvific Nature of Christ's Ministry, and had contradicted the Churches Incarnational Theology by his actions (as well as being hypocritical). As nobody is making Dogmatic statements in regard to the Necessity of becomming Greek to be saved, nor denying the influence of the Incarnation of Christ; but, rather, I am simply making observations on the importance and significance of Greek culture to Christianity, and about the depravity of American 'culture;' it would seem that this dispute between the Jews and Gentiles (or, more to the point, the Keepers of the Law of Moses and the Keepers of the Law of Christ, as I am sure that there were both Jews and Gentiles on each side of the Argument) is of no relevance to the issue at hand.
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« Reply #28 on: March 08, 2005, 09:01:00 PM »

GreekChristian, this is what you wrote that 'rubbed' me the wrong way. 

"these are people who take a millitant anti-english stance, often with the public excuse of needing to 'understand' the services, but if you talk to them or get to know them it usually becomes evident that more often than not they simply hate the culture behind the language, thus learning to hate the language as well."

That's a pretty strong statement IMHO.  Yes, it's true that generalizations are sometimes true.  I'm certainly guilty of generalizing myself.  However, I think it's wrong to 'generalize' to this degree.  You simply don't know that people who are "militantly anti-Greek" (I'm assuming that's what you meant) hate Greek culture. 

I also think your crack about the OCA is a bit uncharitable too.  IMHO the OCA is a lot stronger than the GOA.  Although it's never a good thing to pit jurisdictions against each other. 

I think it would be just as easy to 'overgeneralize' by saying that converts who become more Greek than the Greeks hate their native culture.  You might wonder about my 'sincerity' in choosing Orthodoxy and conversely I might wonder about your seeming 'disdain' for your native American culture.  Maybe those ethnic Greeks who "militantly" want an english only language subconsciously hate Greek culture and maybe you're trying to 'play' Greek because you subconsciously hate American culture.  Putting aside the merits of American culture, it's not psychologically healthy to have 'disdain' for one's people. 

I'm overgeneralizing here about you just as you overgeneralize about them. 

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« Reply #29 on: March 08, 2005, 09:45:57 PM »

"these are people who take a millitant anti-english stance, often with the public excuse of needing to 'understand' the services, but if you talk to them or get to know them it usually becomes evident that more often than not they simply hate the culture behind the language, thus learning to hate the language as well."

That's a pretty strong statement IMHO. Yes, it's true that generalizations are sometimes true. I'm certainly guilty of generalizing myself. However, I think it's wrong to 'generalize' to this degree. You simply don't know that people who are "militantly anti-Greek" (I'm assuming that's what you meant) hate Greek culture.

Perhaps that is a Generalization, but I have yet to meet one person, or discuss the issue with one person who is able to convince me otherwise. You should also note that I'm not refering to people who simply prefer the Liturgy to be in English, but the true radicals who I've known to walk out of services because they are in Greek, or refuse to go to Church for that reason. These tend to be the people who are offended when they see a Greek flag flying, are upset by the Church putting on a Greek Festival or Greek Dancing, and speak out publicly about the evils of Kolyva. (Also, you're correct about the typo...I, did not previously notice it, and edited it in my original post to avoid confustion.)

I also think your crack about the OCA is a bit uncharitable too. IMHO the OCA is a lot stronger than the GOA. Although it's never a good thing to pit jurisdictions against each other.

Concerning my statement about the OCA, it could be considered a good thing or a bad thing depending on your perspective. I've talked with many in the OCA who view it as a great thing; however, I, and many in the GOA with me, have a less gracious view of the event.

I think it would be just as easy to 'overgeneralize' by saying that converts who become more Greek than the Greeks hate their native culture. You might wonder about my 'sincerity' in choosing Orthodoxy and conversely I might wonder about your seeming 'disdain' for your native American culture. Maybe those ethnic Greeks who "militantly" want an english only language subconsciously hate Greek culture and maybe you're trying to 'play' Greek because you subconsciously hate American culture. Putting aside the merits of American culture, it's not psychologically healthy to have 'disdain' for one's people.

I have not tried to hide my dislike for America and her Culture; however, this should not be blamed on the Greeks or on Orthodoxy, for my opinion of America was quite low before I ever even considered converting to Orthodoxy, though I will admit that since I have converted to Orthodoxy, no one has given me any pressing reason to all of a sudden take up blind patriotism and love for our depraved culture. Moreover, in a couple of my postings under the thread 'A Statement of Serbian Bishop ARTEMIJE on Ecumenism' about a week ago, I actually made the argument that most Converts do have a disdain for the orginization they came from; a disdain, however, that has many manifestations, a dislike of culture may be one...others may be a dislike of certain people, et cetera.
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« Reply #30 on: March 09, 2005, 12:02:41 AM »

Jennifer, good post again.  Considering people on this board have often complained about American culture and don't think it can ever be adapted to be Orthodox, maybe you are making a good point.  When people do become more ethnic Russian, Greek, Arab (fill in the blank with whatever ethnic group is appropriate), are they rejecting their own culture?  Has it occurred to you that a person who has lived in this country their entire life may know English much better than they do the language of their ancestors because they have grown up here.  The first part of the liturgy especially (the Liturgy of the Word) is for teaching the people.  If I don't understand the language it is being presented in, I'm not going to learn anything.  If you notice, on Pentecost, the Holy Spirit allowed the people there to hear what was said in THEIR OWN LANGUAGES. 

Are you accusing those who want to have services in a language they understand as rejecting other cultures because you have rejected your own?  In a way, isn't that like slapping God in the face by telling Him that you don't like where He put you and you don't like the time that He put you in?  Isn't it like telling God that He should have done things differently--that He somehow made a mistake?  I didn't think of this myself--I heard Mother Raphaela of Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery in New York State this weekend, and she mentioned this.  She says we often think that God can't expect us to become saints--look at the culture He put us in and the time that He has put us in.  Paraphrasing what she said, that ain't gonna wash come Judgment Day.  He has put us in the culture that we are in to transform it.  I imagine that the early Greek (again fill in the blank with the appropriate ethnic group) Christians felt the same way about their native cultures--that it was too late and too far gone to change it.  Thank goodness, they didn't give up on it and try to adopt Jewish culture instead, but kept working on transforming their own culture.   With God, all things are possible, including transforming our culture.
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« Reply #31 on: March 09, 2005, 12:59:53 AM »

Are you accusing those who want to have services in a language they understand as rejecting other cultures because you have rejected your own?

The 'I want to hear the services in a language I understand' argument is fundamentally flawed for the simple reason that there are translations of all the Services into English. The proper complaint would be, 'I'm to lazy to read the English services on my own, so I want the priest to change everything so I don't have to put any personal effort into learning about with God.' If we lived somewhere where three quarters of the population were illiterate, the issue about understanding the services, May be somewhat valid (though people can always be instructed by the homily), but it's not in America.

In a way, isn't that like slapping God in the face by telling Him that you don't like where He put you and you don't like the time that He put you in? Isn't it like telling God that He should have done things differently--that He somehow made a mistake?

Simply put, No. In the garden before his arrest our Lord said, 'O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.' Our Lord was clearly expressing the fact that he did not like what was to come, he did not look forward to his crucifixion, but he still followed the Will of his Father (Human Will following Divine Will, to use the doctrinal decrees of Constantinople III). Was Our Lord 'slapping His Father in the face' by expressing a dislike for the situation he was in? It would seem to me that the greater insult to God would be what you imply that you would want me to say to Him, 'God, you placed me in a sinful world, since you clearly wanted it thus, I will embrace this world and its ways; and when my neighbour mocks you, I will mock you, when he denies you, I will deny you, for that is our custom here.'

The fact that God placed me in a sinful world does not at all imply that he expected me to take up the ways of this world; so also, as I find myself in a sinful, decadent, individualistic, rationalistic, materialistic, atheistic culture, God does not expect me to embrace this culture. But though I do reject this culture, as I have stated before I would love to change it, I would love to change it to resemble an Orthodox Christian culture, to resemble Hellenistic culture. My elevation of Hellenic culture is not an abandonment of America nor a dismissing of a potential future American Orthodox culture; however, it is an uplifting of a standard, a measure by which American culture can be judged and a goal for American culture to strive towards.
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« Reply #32 on: March 09, 2005, 01:06:40 AM »

I just think that all sides of this argument are getting too bent out of shape. 

Look, if you don't want to have anything to do with the ethnic stuff, fine!  Don't do it.  If the ethnic stuff leads someone to the True Faith, who are you to demand that it be changed?  Some of you guys are in the OCA.  Deal with your problems there and don't worry about how "ethnic" you think my parish may be. 

Some of you guys are in the GOA or SOC or whatever.  If the OCA guys want to ban everything they think is "ethnic" fine!  Let them make their own decisions.  If they can bring Americans into the True Faith because these Americans are scared to death of, resentful to, or put off by our identification as being "ethnic", then who am I to complain?

I think the observation of those demanding a more active evangelization of America are absolutely right about that.  However, if you don't like the fact that I'm Serbian Orthodox and you think it makes me an unAmerican ethnic or sub-Orthodox while I'm a beer making, bluegrass loving, deer hunting Okie (my grandfather was the last one in our family to noodle, so I can't add that one)  . . . I'd better not finish that thought.

My old man's family has been in this country since the 17th century and half my mother's are Native American.  I didn't realize that I'm not an Okie or American anymore because I celebrate Slava and I'm now an uber-ethnic nut job trying to preserve dead cultures and ignore America because half our liturgy is in Slavonic.  What a bunch of trash. 

I think some of you guys on both sides need to cut out the stupid anecdotal "evidence" and start listening to each other.  Instead everybody here is going to see me arguing against them instead of seeing where we agree. 

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« Reply #33 on: March 09, 2005, 01:11:38 AM »

Dear greekchristian:

I know not your background, nor your cultural makeup, but I would like to say this: Xenophobia, in any form, is wrong.

I have many Greek friends who attend a church nearby and all are relatively sick of the closed manner in which the church opperates, and frequent my chuch quite often because of that. It's not that they dont understand Greek, or are not schooled in Greek culture, but when all one is exposed to is a grasping culturalism, one is suffocated, especially if one is a memeber of a diverse society as we are. They feel more at home at my church than the church they were raised in. They have spoken out against the very things you speak in favour of.

Greek culture, as any culture, in and of itself may be beautiful, but is not inherently Christian. Neither is American Culture. Neither is any. We were all pagans at one point in our history, and it took the advent of Christ's church in the countries to elevate us to uprightness. Europeans worshiped deities of wood and stone and sacrified animals and even fellow humans, sometimes infants to them before the advent of Jesus Christ. No culture is more righteous than another. No language greater than another. Not to say that they have no historic or functional value, nor that they should be alienated. But the one thing that the churches of the east have in common is that they were evangelised IN THEIR NATIVE TOUNGE. Specifically, the mother of us all was Judaism. From it we get our litugy, our eccelsiastical customs, our chant, the psalms, ect. Yet that arguement has already been made about what happend when Christian Jews thought to turn Gentiles into Jews, essentialy. It is a closed issue. God, in the end, does not see nationality,. colour, race, nation, nor only understand one language. Why should other be made to think so? And yet that is what alot of people get when they enter a service in a foreign language. They feel alienated and indeed, like they are the oddballs out. It is a shame that Orthodoxy has for so long remained so far from the grasp of the people of this land, but the cultural pockets do not help any. The continued segregation of the American peoples from orthodoxy is a tragedy, and one must use the lingua france of any place in order to get the message across.

Now, we may come form a "depraved" culture, but didn't we all? And what is so depreaved about it that it cannot be redeemed by Orthodoxy? And to this I do not speak of Hellenization, nor Russianization, nor Romainianization, nor Arabization, but the Orthodox Religion Itself! Yes, it cannot be done without the help of poeples form the native Orthodox cultures, but one should not be forced into a particular mindset that one culture is purely Orthodox and the other cannot be by rationalization. And what aspects of the culture do you speak of that are so horrid that they cannot be tollerated or changed in your eye? Is Christ or His Church limited? And does being from or ascribing to a particular culture prevent one from sin? No. Yes I see problems with American culture and what it's become, but I see the same around the world and in every nation and culture. And they are the same problems, manifested in the same ways. Here they may be more overt, but none are immune or incurable.

My two cents. Take em or leave em.

Ian Lazarus :grommit:          
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« Reply #34 on: March 09, 2005, 01:18:41 AM »

The 'I want to hear the services in a language I understand' argument is fundamentally flawed for the simple reason that there are translations of all the Services into English. The proper complaint would be, 'I'm to lazy to read the English services on my own, so I want the priest to change everything so I don't have to put any personal effort into learning about with God.' If we lived somewhere where three quarters of the population were illiterate, the issue about understanding the services, May be somewhat valid (though people can always be instructed by the homily), but it's not in America.

You seem to always attribute negative motives to those who disagree with you.  I hardly think that my wanting the liturgy to be a language I understand makes me "lazy." 

I also remind you that the tradition in the eastern Church has always been for the liturgy to be in the vernacular. 

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« Reply #35 on: March 09, 2005, 01:27:12 AM »

Look, if you don't want to have anything to do with the ethnic stuff, fine! Don't do it. If the ethnic stuff leads someone to the True Faith, who are you to demand that it be changed? Some of you guys are in the OCA. Deal with your problems there and don't worry about how "ethnic" you think my parish may be.

Those of us who are little put off by claims that the liturgy should only be served in Greek are not against the "ethnic stuff." 

For the record, I am not at all concerned with you "ethnic" your parish is.  I think ethnic parishes have a role in American Orthodoxy.  However, the insinuation that people who want english liturgies are "lazy" or "hate their ethnicity" which seems to be underlying GreekChristian's posts are a different matter. 

Quote
Some of you guys are in the GOA or SOC or whatever. If the OCA guys want to ban everything they think is "ethnic" fine! Let them make their own decisions. If they can bring Americans into the True Faith because these Americans are scared to death of, resentful to, or put off by our identification as being "ethnic", then who am I to complain?

I've never been to an OCA parish that wants to ban everything ethnic.  Where is this coming from? 

Quote
I think the observation of those demanding a more active evangelization of America are absolutely right about that. However, if you don't like the fact that I'm Serbian Orthodox and you think it makes me an unAmerican ethnic or sub-Orthodox while I'm a beer making, bluegrass loving, deer hunting Okie (my grandfather was the last one in our family to noodle, so I can't add that one) . . . I'd better not finish that thought.

I don't have a problem with your being Serbian Orthodox.  I have a problem with the insinuation that my wanting the liturgy at my parish to be in english makes me lazy.  I also have a problem with the insinuation that my culture (I'm a okie too, born and raised but have moved away) is no worthless that I have to chunk it and replace it with Greek culture or Serbian culture, or whatever. 

My parish is OCA and therefore has an Russian tradition.  I'm more than happy to adopt Russian customs because that's the praxis of my parish.  But I'll never be Russian. 

Quote
My old man's family has been in this country since the 17th century and half my mother's are Native American. I didn't realize that I'm not an Okie or American anymore because I celebrate Slava and I'm now an uber-ethnic nut job trying to preserve dead cultures and ignore America because half our liturgy is in Slavonic. What a bunch of trash.

Hey, me too.  I'm part Native American and my family's been in this country since before the Revolution.  I have no problem with your celebrating Slava or adopting a Serbian praxis. 

Quote
I think some of you guys on both sides need to cut out the stupid anecdotal "evidence" and start listening to each other. Instead everybody here is going to see me arguing against them instead of seeing where we agree.

You need to take your own advice.  I don't disagree with you.  I disagree witih GreekChristian's tone. 
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« Reply #36 on: March 09, 2005, 02:08:57 AM »

Rather than reply to perceived but not intended insults and rehash arguments that I have already presented two or three times on this thread, I propose we get to the bottom of this issue. The fundamental question, as far as I can tell, that we're dealing with indirectly yet have failed to actually address is, 'What does it mean to be an Orthodox Christian?'

What elements of our Church (Doctrines, Traditions, Customs, Cultures, Languages, et cetera) are essential and which are not. Or perhaps more to the point, can we take this Aristotelian approach and try to seperate Essence and Accident? Or is Orthodoxy unable to be categorized and reduced in this manner? Why?

I have alluded to this question many times in my posts, infact my answer to it has been at the heart of my posts. So I'd like to find out where everyone else is coming from in this regard, for until this question is addressed the Significance of Language and Culture cannot be.
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« Reply #37 on: March 09, 2005, 08:30:35 AM »

'What does it mean to be an Orthodox Christian?'

What elements of our Church (Doctrines, Traditions, Customs, Cultures, Languages, et cetera) are essential and which are not. Or perhaps more to the point, can we take this Aristotelian approach and try to seperate Essence and Accident? Or is Orthodoxy unable to be categorized and reduced in this manner? Why?

Galatians 3:28 (New International Version)
28There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Does that answer your question? Why make it so difficult?

I'm half American, and half South African (Which parts were half British and half Dutch). I live in South Africa, and my mother tongue is English. I used to be a Protestant Christian, but have been converted and worship in a Russian Orthodox Church (MP) using the Slavonic Liturgy, under the sponsorship of the Patriarchate of Alexandria. I follow the Divine Liturgy in my Jordanville Prayerbook.

After DL we all have coffee hour with the Russian immigrants and the South African converts. (Of whom some speak Afrikaans at home) When we go home, we each follow our own traditions; make meals the way our mama's taught us. But when we worship together, we are a United Catholic and Apostolic Orthodox Church.

"What is important?" you ask. After all that I've mentioned above, I'd say Doctrines and Holy Traditions. The rest is a cultural mix one would find appropriate for the Parish's location in the world.

Kolya


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« Reply #38 on: March 09, 2005, 09:54:18 AM »

No, you haven't exactly answered my question, though you hinted towards an answer to my question was about the Accidents and Essences of Orthodoxy, and if the distinction can actually be made. You seem to be implying it can, though I would find problems with this Aristotelian Metaphysic. What do you mean by 'Holy Traditions' that is not included in what you seem to be refering to as Accidental Customs? And why are these unnecessary? There are many more questions I have about the metaphysic you're implying, but let's start here. Regarding Galatians iii. 28, it's refering to an Eschatological reality, it's not trying to address the issue of Essences and Accidents.
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« Reply #39 on: March 09, 2005, 10:54:38 AM »

Jennifer,

Sorry if I sounded like I was talking about you.  I'm not really referring to the liturgical language issue.  That issue has been around for a very long time in Europe as well. 

However, there has been a trend on this board (and other boards, for that matter) to bifurcate people.  One is either "ethnic" or "Protestantized".  I use those two words in a pejorative sense.  I think both terms, as generally used by the protagonists of both sides, are uncharitable and inaccurate. 

If you were a member of ROCOR, SOC, GOA, or the like, I would agree with greekischristian (GIC).  However, you are going to an OCA church (yes?) and I think your complaint is absolutely valid. 

Personally, I find singing the liturgy in Slavonic, which I have been studying enough to know what I am singing, takes my mind out of the common use of language and reminds me that I'm doing something more important.  This is possible in English as well.  Attend a traditional Anglican church.  If I went to an OCA church I would expect the liturgy to be in English, but then I would expect to hear Romanian in a Romanian Orthodox church and, I gather, that isn't always the case.

I should have known from the quality of your posts that you were from Oklahoma.    Grin
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« Reply #40 on: March 09, 2005, 11:14:21 AM »

[The 'I want to hear the services in a language I understand' argument is fundamentally flawed for the simple reason that there are translations of all the Services into English. The proper complaint would be, 'I'm to lazy to read the English services on my own, so I want the priest to change everything so I don't have to put any personal effort into learning about with God.' ]

Do you go to church to read or do you go to church to pray and worship? Language is the gift God has given us to communicate with one another as well as with Him.

Seems like whenever I attend a Liturgy in a Greek Church I see the vast majority of their youth with bored looks on their faces who haven't the slightest idea when to make the sign of the Cross, bow, or participate in the Liturgy in anyway. They just stand with this 'Is it over yet?' look on their faces. Maybe they are too busy reading to understand they are expected to take part in it rather than READ ABOUT IT!

I once took a took a tour of a Greek Church during their local festival. The person giving the tour was only able to answer 50% of the questions asked. When someone asked him why he was Orthodox his answer was -"Because I am Greek and Greeks are Orthodox!" Other that he could add nothing! How sad!

One of the local Greek Churches has a sign outside which reads - Divine Liturgy.....10:00 A.M Communion 11;15 A.M. When do you think most of the people show up?



May I remind greekischristian that Phyletism was condemned as HERESY by a local council held at Constantinople in 1870. Its decision has been accepted by all local Orthodox Churches.
      
[I've never been to an OCA parish that wants to ban everything ethnic. Where is this coming from?]

Neither have I Jennifer, neither have I. It's just an excuse usually used by 'ethnics' that somehow feel threatened when one speaks about making Christ the main focus instead of beloved traditions, customs, and dancing!

 
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« Reply #41 on: March 09, 2005, 11:32:51 AM »

Quote
It's just an excuse usually used by 'ethnics' that somehow feel threatened when one speaks about making Christ the main focus instead of beloved traditions, customs, and dancing!

By straw futures now!  The straw man plant is running full speed.

What a load of bull.  You've never heard me argue that folk dancing should take the focus and not Christ.  I've never seen that stupid argument on this board.
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« Reply #42 on: March 09, 2005, 01:17:33 PM »

cizinec,
Orthodoc was being just as tongue in cheek per you posting as a disclaimer that you use "ethnic" or "Protestantized" in a pejorative sense.  Settle down.

greekischristian,
So, how are the people supposed to know what the teachings for that day are since the moveable Tropar, Kontakia, Prokeimena and verses during the Beatitudes (if your parish does them - most probably don't, or if it's not in your Church's rubrics) by following along in a service book?  They don't have any of this.

Orthodox,
"One of the local Greek Churches has a sign outside which reads - Divine Liturgy.....10:00 A.M  Communion 11;15 A.M. "  Wow.  That is so sad.
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« Reply #43 on: March 09, 2005, 01:37:03 PM »

As someone who used to frequently attend the traditional latin Mass, I see the 'benefits' of a liturgy in its original form/language.  However, I would argue that the latin Mass has an altogether different 'form' than the Divine Liturgy.  I never minded following along with my missal during Mass.  It wasn't hard to learn the Mass.  It took me a few times and I got it.  Children used to follow along with the missal before Vatican II so I think anyone can use the missal to understand the latin Mass. 

However, the Divine Liturgy is much more 'participatory' (admittedly a bad term, cringing now while thinking about how liturgists use that term).  For those of you unfamiliar with the latin Mass, tt a high Mass, the choir/congregation doesn't completely follow along with the priest.  There's a real disconnect there between the role of the priest and the congregation.  There isn't the idea of the people needed to 'answer' with Amen.  I given that 'disconnect' it makes more sense to have the liturgy be in a langauge that people don't understand.  But the DL is different in that the people aren't chanting the Creed while the priest has already recited the Creed and moved on to the next important part.  I think that means that the DL is meant to be understood by the people.  It's not just a 'show.'  Does that make sense? 

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« Reply #44 on: March 09, 2005, 02:12:22 PM »

About the issue of liturgy and language, I was checking out the bulletin of a local ethnic parish that has two liturgies on sunday.  One in the english and the second in the native language.  According to the bulletin, almost half of the attendees at the english liturgy communed while only 4 out of almost 200 attendees at the ethnic language liturgy communed.  According to its website, it looks like this parish does a good job of maintaining the culture but it's missing something if no one communes.  And yes that's very 'american' of me but I think what Fr. Schmemann wrote about frequent communion is right.  I also note that St. John of Kronstadt promoted frequent communion too. 

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« Reply #45 on: March 09, 2005, 02:26:23 PM »


This topic reminds me of a true story I just heard about.  There is a Deacon who was born and raised in Russia and still has a very distinct Russian accent.  Not too long ago he was serving with one of the Bishops and read the Gospel.  After the Liturgy a lady went up to him and stated how beautiful he read and how good it was to hear the Gospel in Slavonic once again!  Only problem was he read it in English!

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« Reply #46 on: March 09, 2005, 03:39:11 PM »

THAT wins "Post of the Day" award... :thumbsup:
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« Reply #47 on: March 09, 2005, 04:34:31 PM »

Let's see,

When you're at the services, just worship God, and no you dont need to Understand the Prayers that are being said on your behalf inorder for them to have a benifit, God understands them just fine. If you want to learn the dogmatics that are Contained in the Hymns, there are many English Translations out there; let me know what hymn you desperately need to read for your salvation, and I'll point you to it in English (I believe there may be a few verses here and there out of the Meanion from Smaller Saints that haven't been translated, but they are few and far between...of course, this would make it difficult to do the services in English on these saints' days)

Also, communion line statistics don't tell me anything, a healthy spiritual life cannot be determined by statisitical analysis. Frequent communion can be just as dangerous as, if not more dangerous than, infrequent communion; have these people who go up to take communion every sunday properly prepared? Did they go to Vespers the night before, read compline with the pre-communion prayers, read that morning's pre-communion prayres, and go to orthros like they should? Not to say that these are absolute legalistic requirements, but it is an indication of what one should do to prepare to partake of the Body and Blood of Christ. For we all know that if one does not properly prepare themsleves for the Eucharist, it is not a benifit, but a detriment, to them: they do not partake unto life eternal, but unto hell and damnation.

Finally, no one seems to be addressing the heart of the issue which I presented in my previous two posts; what is Essential and what is Accidental to Orthodoxy, and more importantly, Can we even make such a Distinction?

I fear we are simply discussing the Accidents of the Issue, ignoring the Essence. Wink
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« Reply #48 on: March 09, 2005, 05:08:19 PM »

I still have no idea why English is so irredeemable, or corrupt, or distasteful, or just plain "icky" that it has to be avoided in favor of Greek, even when that means a large portion of the people will have no idea what they're praying.  Even if they don't have to understand it and just worship, what we pray is what we believe.  If we have no idea what we're praying during Liturgy, how are we supposed to have any idea what we believe?
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« Reply #49 on: March 09, 2005, 05:22:26 PM »

When you're at the services, just worship God, and no you dont need to Understand the Prayers that are being said on your behalf inorder for them to have a benifit, God understands them just fine. If you want to learn the dogmatics that are Contained in the Hymns, there are many English Translations out there; let me know what hymn you desperately need to read for your salvation, and I'll point you to it in English (I believe there may be a few verses here and there out of the Meanion from Smaller Saints that haven't been translated, but they are few and far between...of course, this would make it difficult to do the services in English on these saints' days)

Of course, we don't have to understand the liturgy but understanding it is a good thing.  The liturgy is the best teacher of our faith. 

Quote
Also, communion line statistics don't tell me anything, a healthy spiritual life cannot be determined by statisitical analysis.

It's true that the spiritual life cannot be determined by statistics but these statistics do indeed tell us something.  4 out of 200 people communing is a problem.  According to the bulletin about 50 of the attendees were children,presumably many of them below the age of 7.  That means that they should have communed. 

Quote
Finally, no one seems to be addressing the heart of the issue which I presented in my previous two posts; what is Essential and what is Accidental to Orthodoxy, and more importantly, Can we even make such a Distinction?

It's impossible to separate the "essentials" from the "accidentals."  The western churches are wrong when they try to remove religious imagery and traditional chant, believing them to be meaningless.  We can't separate our emotions from our intellect.  That's why your point about not needing to understand the liturgy is correct.  If we were traveling in a foreign country, we wouldn't stay home from liturgy because we don't understand the language.  However, I would argue that you are attempting to separate the essential from the accidentals by relying on that argument.  Sure we don't *need* to understand.  It's not "essential" but the contrary, not needing to understanding, isn't "accidental" either. 

Regarding what I wrote earlier about your "tone," I understand that you didn't intend to insult people who disagree with you but your posts seem to have an attitude about the militant "pro-english" crowd that I find distasteful.  It seems to me that you are overly negative about them, unwilling to admit that they can be motivated by positive things.  Hence we have you describing them as lazy and hating ethnicity, etc. 

I would suggest, and really I try to from psychoanalyzing people on-line but I can't help myself now, that your negative attitude towards them is based on your negative attitude towards your native culture.  You are an American therefore your disdain for our culture is unfortunate.  They are people that you come from.  They formed you.  There are unfortunate things in our culture but it's still who you are.  Disdain for it is in a way, disdain for yourself and your people.  I think once you work out your relationship to where you come from, you'll better understand those within your church who want english liturgies.  I'm think you're at seminary training to be a priest.  Is that right?  If so, then I'm a little disappointed that your mentors haven't 'confronted' you about this disdain before.  I think it's probably an indication that they themselves have the same problem. 

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« Reply #50 on: March 09, 2005, 06:19:41 PM »


Finally, no one seems to be addressing the heart of the issue which I presented in my previous two posts; what is Essential and what is Accidental to Orthodoxy, and more importantly, Can we even make such a Distinction?



What's Essential is proclaiming the Gospel. What's Accidental is Greek culture.
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« Reply #51 on: March 09, 2005, 06:24:02 PM »

greekischristian,
Two separate issues (although they are intertwined) - Culture and Language.

1) Culture - what it seems to me you actually disagree with is not American "Culture" per se but the increasingly secular, carnal and materialistic mentality purveying America or to be more accuarate, much more present in "the West" as opposed to "the East". I don't think anyone here would agree with you more that this is very tragic and abhorrent, BUT, and this is a big BUT, it can easily be sepated from what American "Culture" really is. I would even say that what you object to is not actually American culture or more that it is a separate entity that is denigrating the culture. There is a former CSB (Christ the Saviour Brotherhood) parish in town under the Bulgarians. They are very pious people, but yet appreciate many cultures (not saying that being pious doesn't allow this). Some of their younger people sing Bluegrass "spiritual" tunes at their Friday night "Cafe" at their bookstore. I've heard one of their priests say several times that "Bluegrass music is Orthodox music". A bit of a stretch, but the mentality is probably correct.

2) Language - there is absolutely no (credible) evidence you can provide why English (or another vernacular) is wrong for the Divine Liturgy. If we are in fact seriousness about our Salvation, then I vehemently disagree and iterate that it is necessary that we are able to understand the Divine Liturgy. While it is good and to attend and just worship God, it is comparitively much more efficacious to our Salvation to be able to understand what the teachings, what the prayers and hymns are and why. The priest doesn't preach for the sake of having to give a homily; he doesn't exhort the choir to annunciate and sing properly for the sake of beauty. It is for the benefit of the congregation to understand the prayers and teachings. Even though there is theology in the tones themselves, it is purely of a secondary nature. Otherwise, there would be no need for the words themselves and one would just announce (Troparion Tone 5: This is the meaning) and just sing "La" or whatever. Everything is God's creation and thus there is beauty in everything. Language is no different. Just because it was roots in "the corrupted West", doesn't mean that anything associated with it is irredeemable.
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« Reply #52 on: March 09, 2005, 07:00:36 PM »

I'm afraid I have to side with the "language is a functional element" side on this one. 

On the one hand, if the people don't understand what is going it becomes dead noise.  On the other hand, language and ethnic identity can be used to pull people who would otherwise be lost into the Truth.  Each priest in each eparchy in each patriarchate has to make that balance work.  It's a balance that has to be kept and I think it is counterproductive for us to second guess that judgement.  For one person, there may be too much Greek.  For another person too much English.  That is one reason we have so many jurisdictions in the Americas:  we have wildly different spiritual needs.  Personally, I like having both options available and I wish both sides would see the need for the other.

Unfortunately, it is apparent that neither side ever will.
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« Reply #53 on: March 09, 2005, 07:51:31 PM »


Unfortunately, it is apparent that neither side ever will.

I think that is probably only true of the "extremists" on each end, fortunately.  Too bad they exist.
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« Reply #54 on: March 09, 2005, 08:54:59 PM »

I would really like to add my 2 bucks (forget $.02) to this thread, but someone has got to define this "American culture" in the first place. Outside of liturgical language, I don't see where this undefined quantity/quality even relates.
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« Reply #55 on: March 09, 2005, 09:03:57 PM »

It's impossible to separate the "essentials" from the "accidentals." The western churches are wrong when they try to remove religious imagery and traditional chant, believing them to be meaningless. We can't separate our emotions from our intellect. That's why your point about not needing to understand the liturgy is correct. If we were traveling in a foreign country, we wouldn't stay home from liturgy because we don't understand the language. However, I would argue that you are attempting to separate the essential from the accidentals by relying on that argument. Sure we don't *need* to understand. It's not "essential" but the contrary, not needing to understanding, isn't "accidental" either.

I agree that the necessity to understand the faith and understand the liturgy is an essenital, for I agree that the distinction between Essence and Accident cannot be made; however, it also follows that the maintaining of Orthodox Cultures are equally essential; yet I will go even further and say that Orthodoxy being relevant to every culture is an essential, for it is part of the missionary work of the Church. The issue about understanding I believe has been settled because English translations exist, thus even if the Liturgy is in Greek, you can still understand what it says because you can have a copy of it in English (or numerous other languages) infront of you. The second issue is a bit more tricky, how to keep Orthodoxy Greek, and make America Orthodox. This will, of course, require some Hellenization of America, just as the Slavic cultures were Hellenized; however, just as the slavic cultures did not have to be completely usurped by Hellenic culture, neither does America. Ideally, in time Orthodoxy will become American as America becomes more Orthodox, and the two events should happen at roughly the same rate. My objection is not to the fact that there should eventually be and American Orthodoxy, my objection is to trying to create an American Orthodoxy before there is an Orthodox America. The issue does not need to be forced, if we live our lives in a Christian manner, the difficulity will eventually take care of itself. But perhaps that's asking a bit too much out of the Orthodox in this Country (or any country for that matter).

Regarding what I wrote earlier about your "tone," I understand that you didn't intend to insult people who disagree with you but your posts seem to have an attitude about the militant "pro-english" crowd that I find distasteful. It seems to me that you are overly negative about them, unwilling to admit that they can be motivated by positive things. Hence we have you describing them as lazy and hating ethnicity, etc.

About my tone, it is, well, polemic, like this entire thread. But you will notice that keeping with good debating form, none (hopefully, or at least very little) of my polemic language has been directed towards anyone in particular, I try to avoid the use of the second person. If I attack a group that you Identify yourself with, try defending them in the third person, or if you want to make it clear that you identify with that Group, use the first person, but defend the posistion, my tone is not the issue. With this said, I have found myself attacked many times on this thread, with people using the second person singular, I try not to take offence, and I endeavour to address the issues, not the insults. In debate it is not good form to take offence from an argument, for taking offence, and especially arguing based upon that offence, can often be viewed as, or construed to be, an acknowledgement of the merit of the other person's arguments and a lack of confidence in, and inability to defend, one's own (not that I'm accusing you of this, or even saying that it's always true, just that this is often how it is viewed in matters of debate and rhetoric). My appologies if my statement has sounded harsh, for it's not intended in that manner, it is simply intended to portray how I view debate, why I use the language I do, and the detriment in going off on tangents of an accidental nature. (I bring up essence and accident, and now I find myself sticking it everywhere...lol)

I would suggest, and really I try to from psychoanalyzing people on-line but I can't help myself now, that your negative attitude towards them is based on your negative attitude towards your native culture. You are an American therefore your disdain for our culture is unfortunate. They are people that you come from. They formed you. There are unfortunate things in our culture but it's still who you are. Disdain for it is in a way, disdain for yourself and your people. I think once you work out your relationship to where you come from, you'll better understand those within your church who want english liturgies. I'm think you're at seminary training to be a priest. Is that right? If so, then I'm a little disappointed that your mentors haven't 'confronted' you about this disdain before. I think it's probably an indication that they themselves have the same problem.

Ah, about my psychological profile, first let us deal with the particulars, then we can address the issue in general. 'You are an American therefore your disdain for our culture is unfortunate. They are the people that you come from...' How did we jump from a dislike of Culture to a dislike of people? Next, since the reason I have previously given for my dislike of American culture is the fact that it is materialistic, individualistic, greedy, selfish, and in general sinful; thus using the hypothesis derived from my opinions and statements (it is my psychological profile, after all) American culture = sin. Accordingly with this small piece of information that you left out let me reconstruct your statement. 'You are a sinner (member of a culture of sin) therefore your disdain for sin is unfortunate. Sinners are people that you come from. They formed you. There are unfortunate things in our culture (sin) but it's still who you are. Disdain for sin is in a way, disdain for yourself and your people.' Now, if you want to discuss the legitimacy of my belief that American culture is sinful, that's another issue entirely, which I am willing to debate. As far as my understanding people who want english-only, I do understand them, for I confess to having been one of them at one point, but since then I've had a bit more experiance and have become better read, and I have since re-evaluated my stances on some issues; hopefully I will soon have the chance to spend some time in Greece pursuing a degree or two, which will allow me to have an even better experiance on which to base my beliefs about the relationship between Culture and Orthodoxy.

Now, for the more general response I promised, while I will confess to a 'disdain' for American culture, this should not be viewed an abandoning or complete rejection of American culture. In Psalm 5:5 david says of God, 'The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity;' what is this hatred of which David speaks? Surely it's not a desire to completely destroy them, for God, as the source of all, can bring all things into and out of existance at will, and if He willed their destruction, it would be so. Rather, this hatred is actually an element of God's Love, He does not want to see these people cease to exist, but to see them turn back to Him: a destruction, or 'putting off' of the 'old man,' so that the Person may be brought to repentance. By analogy, I wish to see the destruction of individualist, materialist, capitalist, selfish, greedy, arrogant, and generally protestant elements of American culture, what virtues are these vices to be replaced with? The answer to this question is why I hold up Traditional Orthodox Culture as the Standard I do, they are something to strive towards, and something to fill the cultural voids when they form with the destruction of these vices. I am not trying to cease to be an American, I'm advocating the creation of an America that doesn't make me hang my head in shame when I'm forced to acknowledge that I am an American.
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« Reply #56 on: March 09, 2005, 09:07:58 PM »

What's Essential is proclaiming the Gospel. What's Accidental is Greek culture.

I can't say that I agree with your Aristotelian Metaphysic, but for the sake of argument let's go with it for a bit. Is Greek culture alone accidental, or is culture in general accidental?

Concerning essentials, is only the Proclamation of the Gospel Essential, or is the Gospel itself also an Essential? Are Dogmas and Traditions simply Accidents, wich can be altered as necessary to fulfill the only great essential: the proclamation there of?
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« Reply #57 on: March 09, 2005, 09:16:53 PM »



What's Essential is proclaiming the Gospel. What's Accidental is Greek culture.

When I became an Orthodox Christian, I stopped believing in accidents/coincidences, particularly as they relate to the fulfillment of the Gospel. 

Be careful about what you deem to be non-essential:

"They carry a vessel of very precious liquid; all fall down, all kiss and adore the vessel containing this precious life-giving fluid. And then, suddenly, people stand up and begin to cry: You blind! Why do you kiss the vessel? It is only the live-giving fluid contained in it that is precious; only the contents is precious and not the container; but you are kissing glass, simple glass; you adore the vessel and the glass, ascribing all the holiness to it, and you are forgetting about the precious fluid that it contains. You idol-worshipers! Throw away the vessel and break it. Adore only the life-giving fluid, and not the glass!

And the glass was broken, as we read further in Dostoevsky's parable, and the life-giving fluid, the precious contents, is poured out on the earth and disappears into the earth. They have broken the vessel and lost the liquid. What miserable, unhappy, benighted people! exclaims Dostoevsky as he ends his parable."

 - Fr. Victor Potapov (http://www.stjohndc.org/stjohndc/English/Command/9111.htm)

An Athonite Elder said:  "These days we try to become righteous with very little effort.  We have abandoned tradition.  We do not look to those at the top, and how they came in first in the race.  We see only those who came last."

"Last", my friends, that's us,  American converts in our (truly) barbarian land.  We're young Orthodox in young American Orthodox parishes and we presume to think that we do not need our Elders, the very ones who brought Holy Orthodoxy to us in the sacred vessels of their tradition? I'd much rather take chances with the "precious life giving fluid" brought to me in their sacred vessels than with a leaky american fastfood styrofoam box any day.






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« Reply #58 on: March 09, 2005, 09:35:46 PM »

Two separate issues (although they are intertwined) - Culture and Language.

Are they? I've met many Greeks (and even many english-only advocates) who would disagree.

1) Culture - what it seems to me you actually disagree with is not American "Culture" per se but the increasingly secular, carnal and materialistic mentality purveying America or to be more accuarate, much more present in "the West" as opposed to "the East". I don't think anyone here would agree with you more that this is very tragic and abhorrent, BUT, and this is a big BUT, it can easily be sepated from what American "Culture" really is. I would even say that what you object to is not actually American culture or more that it is a separate entity that is denigrating the culture. There is a former CSB (Christ the Saviour Brotherhood) parish in town under the Bulgarians. They are very pious people, but yet appreciate many cultures (not saying that being pious doesn't allow this). Some of their younger people sing Bluegrass "spiritual" tunes at their Friday night "Cafe" at their bookstore. I've heard one of their priests say several times that "Bluegrass music is Orthodox music". A bit of a stretch, but the mentality is probably correct.

I use the term American 'Culture' lightly, you'll often seem put culture in quotation marks or add the prefix pseudo- to it. The actual cultural developments of America are minimal, even bluegrass is simply modern folk music which was almost entirely derived from English and Irish ballads (all of which I quite enjoy, btw, though I would cringe to see someone try to work it into the Divine Liturgy). Generally what I do refer to when I mention American culture is one of the more (if not the most) important aspect of culture, namely the weltanschuung that the culture espouses; as the weltanschuung will ultimately influence all other aspects of culture, from music and art to language and even food. Thus my objections to American culture are objections to the American mindset, with the acknowledgement that the weltanschuung will eventually (if it hasn't already) affect everything else that can be grouped under the title of 'culture.'

2) Language - there is absolutely no (credible) evidence you can provide why English (or another vernacular) is wrong for the Divine Liturgy. If we are in fact seriousness about our Salvation, then I vehemently disagree and iterate that it is necessary that we are able to understand the Divine Liturgy. While it is good and to attend and just worship God, it is comparitively much more efficacious to our Salvation to be able to understand what the teachings, what the prayers and hymns are and why. The priest doesn't preach for the sake of having to give a homily; he doesn't exhort the choir to annunciate and sing properly for the sake of beauty. It is for the benefit of the congregation to understand the prayers and teachings. Even though there is theology in the tones themselves, it is purely of a secondary nature. Otherwise, there would be no need for the words themselves and one would just announce (Troparion Tone 5: This is the meaning) and just sing "La" or whatever. Everything is God's creation and thus there is beauty in everything. Language is no different. Just because it was roots in "the corrupted West", doesn't mean that anything associated with it is irredeemable.

I dont recall saying that English is 'wrong' for the Divine Liturgy; I have, however, said that I have a preference for Greek and I have also objected to those who claim Greek is 'wrong' for the Divine Liturgy; furthermore, I have implied, if not explicitly stated, that rashness and radical change is wrong, patience is a great virtue, and should be used, along with caution, when making any changes lest one creates a Scandal in the Church, which we can observe to have happened. I have already stated that as everything is translated into English, anyone is free to read the theology of the Hymns at anytime they wish, even following along during the Divine Liturgy (why not sing them to yourself while the Cantor is singing in Greek/Slavonic/Serbian/et cetera), so I will not go further into that. However, I would like to address the statement 'he doesn't exhort the choir to annunciate and sing properly for the sake of beauty;' why else, if not for the sake of beauty, should the chior (hopefully cantor(s), but that's a different issue) sing properly? If the point was simply to get the theology out, why not just read they hymns? I shall conclude with a portion of the Russian Primary Chronicle, which implies that it was beauty, not theology, that converted Russia to Orthodoxy:

'When we journeyed among the Bulgars, we beheld how they worship in their temple, called a mosque, while they stand ungirt. The Bulgarian bows, sits down, looks hither and thither like one possessed, and there is no happiness among them, but instead only sorrow and a dreadful stench. Their religion is not good. Then we went among the Germans, and saw them performing many ceremonies in their temples; but we beheld no glory there. Then we went on to Greece, and the Greeks led us to the edifices where they worship their God, and we knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth. For on earth there is no such splendour or such beauty, and we are at a loss how to describe it. We know only that God dwells there among men, and their service is fairer than the ceremonies of other nations. For we cannot forget that beauty. Every man, after tasting something sweet, is afterward unwilling to accept that which is bitter, and therefore we cannot dwell longer here.'
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« Reply #59 on: March 09, 2005, 09:51:32 PM »

Language and culture are easily separable; look at all the different cultural groups that use (more or less) the same English.  And when it comes to understanding, what are the numbers involved?  How many Orthodox people are there still in America (or in my case Canada) who don't speak English?  Contrast that to people who don't speak Greek or Slavonic or whatever else.  This is not only converts and the children of converts; this is the children of the "ethnics" as well.  So basically the only argument against the use of English is that the old languages are more "beautiful" or "elevated" or "Orthodox".  Firstly, this argument is a priori rather sketchy; it's a lot like Muslims who claim that Arabic is far and away the greatest language ever, whereas in actual fact its appeal is largely due to its exotic nature.  This is not the way the writers of the New Testament operated.  They wrote in Greek, because it was an international language, and they didn't even use the literary form of the language; they wrote it in the words of the common people.  Anything that isn't "beautiful" when put in words the common people can use and understand isn't "beautiful" at any deep level to begin with.  I trust no one here has such a low opinion of the Orthodox liturgy!
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« Reply #60 on: March 09, 2005, 10:40:56 PM »

I am afraid my contribution here will not agree with anyone else above.  However, when greekischristian avers that "Orthodoxy (or Christianity) is Greek" in so many words he is absolutely correct. Whether that follows through to involve what should constitute "American Orthodoxy" (if that ethnic moniker can be defined) is debatable.
When one hears the term "Greek" Orthodox the natural inclination is to assume that one (or all ) of the Hellenic Orthodox Churches is being referenced. This is not true any more than assuming that "Roman" Catholic applies always to only the Church of Rome and not to all churches in the papal communion.
Christianity was born in a world thoroughly Hellenized by Alexander long before the Roman Empire. In fact this Hellenized empire not only included all of the eventual Roman areas of the middle east and north Africa, but even further - all the way into the Bactrian regions of Afghanistan and northern India. Greek, the Koine (common) language developed from Ionan Greek with input from the local regions, was the common language.
Without doubt the Apostles spoke and used Aramaic but they fully understood the Greek of the day as did the scribes to whom the gospels were dictated. One can add to the Greek of the New Testament the Greek of the Septuagint.
The early Church Fathers co-oped or borrowed  terms from Hellenistic philosophy to initially explain and define Christian theology, especially to the gentiles-the Greeks and Hellenized peoples (those gentiles first being evangelized in Antioch). Surely Aramaic was used but the overwhelming literature defining Christianity was Greek. I am certain St. Paul and St. Andrew used Greek in Anatolia and Greece. Rome used Greek for its first 250 years. Christianity was DEFINED in Greek in language, theological concept, and practise.
The Coptic language adapted the Greek alphabet and imported Greek words outright in order to explain theology.
The Cyrillic alphabet is an adaptation of the Greek.
Like it or not Christianity is indelibly marked as Greek. Greek, not in some Hellenic hegemony, but Greek in expression. I am certain (Demetri waxes heretical here) that if the Tibetans had been the "chosen people" then the Lord would have revealed His Church there in the "fullness of time"and the same Truth would still prevail and we would have some Tibetan langauge to complain about. But it did happen so.
On this very forum today there are several threads questioning various passages in the New Testament and the Septuagint. Everyone has scrambled for their favorite translation. Doesn't that alarm anyone but me? If I am not mistaken but isn't Russian AND Slavonic mandatory at ROCOR theological schools and monasteries? Why no complaints here?
I could probably argue that language played a very large part in the post Chalcedon schism - from both sides.
Blessed Augustine's lack of Greek helped an abasement of his thought that later was a factor in the Great Schism.
Whether or not the GOA parish in your city uses Greek or English matters not a wit in defining "American" Orthodoxy. Loss of Greek fluency would be tragic however to all of Orthodoxy. In point of fact no ethnic-based church here in the US seems to comfortably adapt to anythng but the traditions of its mother church. ANY change is automatically deemed a 'protestanizition' even if it has nothing to do with 'protesting'. We each guard our small 't' traditions as if they were something Orthodox in themselves. I wonder if a generic Orthodoxy can exist. The closest I might be able to think of would have been the vagante Evangelical Orthodox Church before the Antiochians took them in. I was aghast when I read how Patriarch Demetrios of Constantinople treated them and it took a long time for me to realize that he just did not know what to make of them (sad).
If I had my choice I would like to see Greek preserved and liturical Greek taught in our GOA monasteries, Greek used in our metropolitan cathedrals, and English used in any parish where it is not outright opposed by the congregation itself and modern Greek available as a course in the parish. (I'll wager there would be surprises as to the choices made).
As I see no "American" culture to promote in any church I would like to see SCOBA demand that all Orthodox parishes change their signage to state:
 St SSSSS Orthodox Catholic Church
(OCA, GOA,  AA, or whichever jurisdiction)
{Greek, or Greek/English, or Slavonic/English} in tiny letters.


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