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Author Topic: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?  (Read 41719 times) Average Rating: 0
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Jennifer
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« on: May 29, 2005, 01:53:37 PM »

I read over on the dreadful Indiana List something about 5 years being the average 'lifespan' of a convert.  I don't have any anecdotal evidence on this so don't know if it's true or not. 

If it's true, I wonder what happens.  Convert burnout? 

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« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2005, 01:55:27 PM »

I don't know, but I've heard the hard part isn't becoming Orthodox, it's remaining Orthodox.
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« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2005, 01:56:23 PM »

never heard this one.....what's the most common reason given?
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« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2005, 02:47:25 PM »

Check this out:
http://southern-orthodoxy.blogspot.com/2004/08/convert-frustration.html

Jennifer, I think you already used up your five years debating whether or not to enter the Church, so I would have no fear Smiley
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« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2005, 02:52:00 PM »

I am only hazarding a guess here.  It seems that it takes about 5 years to get settled in.  It would be interesting to see some statistics on marriage break ups (and relationships like them, cohabitation).  They say you only know someone when you live with him/her.  So, it seems that may be the factor at work here, it takes time.  You have heard the saying "the honeymoon is over" well I think that is what is at play.

Eventually anything in life it seems become an effort, it loses some of its attraction and we have to do it out of love and devotion or sense of duty, but not becuase we want to becuase I think we usually wont want to.
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« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2005, 03:54:19 PM »

I attend an OCA parish that is about 50% converts and 50% of people born and raised in the faith. I've been there for 10 years and I haven't lapsed. Most of our converts seem to last. However, we are a very welcoming, supporting, and loving parish. We rarely have feuds or infighting about anything. I think that helps a lot. We also use English as our liturgical language because we not only are 50% converts, but we have people of Greek, Romanian, Georgian, Carpatho-Russyn, Russian, and Bulgarian Orthodox backgrounds, and English seems to be a great unifying factor to hold us together. I have not seen a falling away of people after 5 years in my parish, but I am not denying it might occur elsewhere.
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« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2005, 10:57:36 PM »

I read over on the dreadful Indiana List something about 5 years being the average 'lifespan' of a convert. I don't have any anecdotal evidence on this so don't know if it's true or not.

If it's true, I wonder what happens. Convert burnout?



I think it is a matter of poor teaching and not making sure that they actually believe the dogmas and doctrines of the Church.  I think if they have doubts (especially strong doubts) about the dogmas and practices of the Church, they shouldn't be accepted into the Church yet.  I have to agree with some of the priests that discussed that issue. 
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« Reply #7 on: May 29, 2005, 11:03:48 PM »

My view of this is a bit different.  My parents converted to Roman Catholicism when I was a baby.  My father always says that he became a Christian after becoming a Catholic.  They joined the RCC before RCIA was standard.  They met with the priest a few times and were confirmed.  They had no real understanding of Roman Catholicism when they converted.  However, they've been Catholic now for almost 35 years.  My father is a very strong Catholic. 

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« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2005, 08:36:16 AM »

It's very easy to deceive yourself - to think you love someone, but what you really love is your ideas of them, or even less, the idea of loving them.

Is catechesis important?  Yes, obviously - this is how we obtain the beginings of faith, the "faith which comes by hearing."  But I think once the basics are in place (it's not necessary for everyone who converts to start off as some bookish lay-"theologian"), what should be all consuming is the building up of the prayer life and ascesis - both appropriate to where that particular person is at (it does no good for someone to try some lofty prayer rule, only to find they can't stick to it, and end up praying little or not at all - or to live monastic ascetic practices while still a layman, when even the most basic acts of charity are a still a struggle).

Thinking of my own experiences thus far, I can see how people fall away early on.  If they were fueled by enthusiasm, well that'll come to an end eventually ("the honeymoon is over!") and then they'll have problems.  Or perhaps they were not being honest with themselves, and did not deal with serious doubts they had early on - including, I think quite commonly, sincerely recognizing that the religion they left behind is in fact erroneous and that they converted to Orthodoxy for their salvation, and not because they're Byzantine fetishists.

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« Reply #9 on: May 31, 2005, 08:02:39 PM »

I'm not sure I buy the stats. 

How many leave after one year compared to those who remain for life?  What about those who repose after a year or two?  Does that count as "leaving Orthodoxy?"  How are they asking the question and to whom?  Are they counting the ones who joiced ROAC and the like or not? 

I'm not going to comment on an unverified statistic.  I may be trying to explain the reason for something that doesn't exist.
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« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2005, 06:29:40 AM »

May I suggest that one reason for converts not remaining may possibly be the 'experience centredness' of many people in the world today. When the glowing emotions of conversion are over they need much more than that to remain disciplined in asceticism and prayer. There are habits needing to be uprooted from the soul, and new ways to be learned in the heart. There is a need to catch fire with love for God. It seems to me personally that in the west the whole 'consumer' mentality has coloured the way we view everything, including church -are we worshippers or consumers?
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« Reply #11 on: June 15, 2005, 02:41:39 PM »

My spiritual father always said that it takes 10 years to become fully Orthodox.  Orthodoxy isn't legalistic. I think those that burn out have made it legalistic for themselves. We all sin. We all fall. We all do not observe all things Orthodox. I fall down. I get up and over  and over again.
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« Reply #12 on: June 16, 2005, 03:30:00 AM »

I read over on the dreadful Indiana List something about 5 years being the average 'lifespan' of a convert.ÂÂ  I don't have any anecdotal evidence on this so don't know if it's true or not.ÂÂ  

If it's true, I wonder what happens.ÂÂ  Convert burnout?ÂÂ  



Hi Jennifer, what is this terrible Indiana List, where can i read it?
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« Reply #13 on: June 18, 2005, 01:04:06 PM »

Hi Jennifer, what is this terrible Indiana List, where can i read it?
The dread Indiana list  Cheesy https://listserv.indiana.edu/archives/orthodox.html
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« Reply #14 on: December 07, 2006, 05:27:42 PM »

This list is very old as far as internet lists go... I think it goes back to the 80s.  But according to my friend, whom I consider an elder brother in the Faith, it has some of the best and some of the worst of Orthodoxy.  Anything you read there must be taken with a grain of salt.  Internet Orthodoxy is always perilous and no one should ever take much stock in it-- because it's not real.  Orthodoxy can't be lived out on the internet unless it's fake.
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« Reply #15 on: December 08, 2006, 12:38:19 AM »

I read over on the dreadful Indiana List something about 5 years being the average 'lifespan' of a convert.  I don't have any anecdotal evidence on this so don't know if it's true or not. 

If it's true, I wonder what happens.  Convert burnout? 



When you convert battle ensues. Give the devil his due.
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« Reply #16 on: December 08, 2006, 10:51:53 PM »

Wow, I know this is an old thread, but I'm a convert of 2 1/2 years and have thought of giving up Orthodoxy and doing something else or nothing else, and where would that leave me? I thought I would warm up to praying form prayers and praying with Icons and various other things, but when you have no people around you that you see practicing the faith outside of church, it's hard to press on. Especially when I feel like I'm praying to a wall. Every month I go to my Priest with a resolve to start again and yet it feels so foreign to me (I'm former evangelical). It didn't help that we had to move away from our original church, but my husband, who converted when I did, could take it or leave it. I didn't get to know any other Orthodox from the previous church because of my health problems, but man I'm struggling. I'm hoping to visit a monastery soon to spend some time away there and pray but I feel so lost-and to think, 30 years ago when I first gave my life to Christ I prayed fervently that I would be that "good soil" that the gospel speaks about. Oh well-
Sunny
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« Reply #17 on: December 11, 2006, 12:17:10 PM »

Wow, I know this is an old thread, but I'm a convert of 2 1/2 years and have thought of giving up Orthodoxy and doing something else or nothing else, and where would that leave me? I thought I would warm up to praying form prayers and praying with Icons and various other things, but when you have no people around you that you see practicing the faith outside of church, it's hard to press on. Especially when I feel like I'm praying to a wall. Every month I go to my Priest with a resolve to start again and yet it feels so foreign to me (I'm former evangelical). It didn't help that we had to move away from our original church, but my husband, who converted when I did, could take it or leave it. I didn't get to know any other Orthodox from the previous church because of my health problems, but man I'm struggling. I'm hoping to visit a monastery soon to spend some time away there and pray but I feel so lost-and to think, 30 years ago when I first gave my life to Christ I prayed fervently that I would be that "good soil" that the gospel speaks about. Oh well-
Sunny

Sunny,

I hear you.  I have had the same problem.  I believe that a lot of this depends on whether or not you are an extrovert or an introvert.  Some people need to be around other people, or to feel that they are a part of a community.  I am lucky that I do not.  To me, the Church as a body of Christ is real, and I am surrounded by "a cloud of witnesses" even when I am alone.  Even though I am 500 miles away from my parish, I don't really feel isolated because I know that God is with me, and my angel and the Saints pray for me.  I also know that I am in the prayers of my Priest.  Being an antisocial introvert, this is all that I need.  My wife, on the other hand, really needs a sense of community.  Isolation is very hard for her.  Also, I can deal with the abstract.  You are as real to me on the other side of this keyboard as though you were standing in front of me.  My wife always jokes about my "intenet friends".  Others need to have the physical interaction.  My friend, you are not lost.  God is always near, and he will never abandon his Children.  The Saints are with you.  The Angels and the heavenly powers.  If you are baptised Orthodox, and you believe in the Church's teachings, you are part of the Body of Christ.  Do not let the Devil take away what you have.  Even good soil must endure wind and rain and freezing.  And the good soil is of no use unless the plow has turned it over and disc has chopped it up to prepare for planting.  You will endure trial and tribulations.  You are at war with the Evil One, and he hates you as he hates your Lord and Master.  Do not become discuraged.  The victory has already been won.  We must, with God's help, hold on.
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« Reply #18 on: December 12, 2006, 01:02:00 AM »

Dear Punch,
Thank you for taking the time to send the words of encouragement!
Sunny
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« Reply #19 on: December 13, 2006, 12:20:12 AM »

Punch, what a post! Excellent! Thank you.
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« Reply #20 on: December 14, 2006, 02:19:33 PM »

I have heard the "5 year" rule as well, but in a slightly different context.  Many Protestants stay at their "megachurches" for only 5 years and then move on to a different church. 

I wonder just how effective the ministry is at these churches?  Are they really helping people?

If Protestants are switching churches every 5 years what does that say about what kind of churches they have?  No foundation? 

If anyone has any insight on these questions i'd love to hear from them. 
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« Reply #21 on: December 14, 2006, 03:21:56 PM »

I heard something similar...an Orthodox priest was driving somewhere with a parishioner, and they passed a megachurch.  "How many people do you think attend a church that size, Father?" said the parishioner.

"About 30,000, from what I hear.  Know how many will be attending there ten years from now?"

"No..."

"About 30,000.  And the majority of them will be completely different people."
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« Reply #22 on: December 15, 2006, 02:27:10 AM »

My experience of the evangelical churches and the megachurch type churches (25 years worth) was that almost all of it was focused on externals: getting healed, getting free of debt and getting prosperous, looking "spiritual", talking "spiritually", going up the church ladder;meaning working your way up to becoming a leader, recognized in the church for your spirituality. Preaching, ministry, bigger programs, bigger buildings, fame, accolades, etc.. The people follow their leader, whoever he may be, and if he is messed up he can mess up everyone under his authority. I think after a few years (or decades) of this when people see no real change in themselves or those around them, they become disillusioned, start to doubt whether God had called them, their faith either starts to break apart, or if they're stronger personalities they'll blame it on the church and look for another one in order to get into the 'real move of God.' Others' experiences may be different than mine, but that is what I saw and experienced. It can be quite disheartening, but it sure can keep you busy if busyness is what you want!
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« Reply #23 on: December 15, 2006, 12:18:08 PM »

Sunny,

What do you mean "it can be disheartening"??  Can you elaborate how you feel about the "mega-churches"??

This is something that has always interested me.  How is it that people can feel that they are a part of a church wich has 30,000 people in it at once?!? 

How long would you say it takes for a person to see the emptiness of that particular kind of church??
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« Reply #24 on: December 15, 2006, 12:33:46 PM »

This is something that has always interested me.  How is it that people can feel that they are a part of a church wich has 30,000 people in it at once?!?

I felt very much a part of the Church when I was at the Cathedral of Saint Paraskeva the New in Iasi. It wasn't the feast day of the Saint (on which there are hundreds of thousands), but there were easily 10,000 people there.

Of course, in an Orthodox Church without pews, the worshipping crowd has a particular and dynamic life of its own, as it moves for processions, shifts, kneels, bows, crosses, prays, approaches the Chalice. One becomes a praying cell in a larger organism – no longer a mere individual, even though one's personal identity remains intact in the presence of God.
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« Reply #25 on: December 15, 2006, 12:35:53 PM »

This is something that has always interested me.  How is it that people can feel that they are a part of a church wich has 30,000 people in it at once?!? 

How long would you say it takes for a person to see the emptiness of that particular kind of church??

I've often thought the same thing of Catholic churches, which tend to be huge also. The minimum in my area seems to have 2000 families per Catholic parish. How do you connect in a church like that, especially when they seemingly can't get out of Mass fast enough?
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« Reply #26 on: December 15, 2006, 01:09:02 PM »

Sunny,

What do you mean "it can be disheartening"??  Can you elaborate how you feel about the "mega-churches"??

This is something that has always interested me.  How is it that people can feel that they are a part of a church wich has 30,000 people in it at once?!? 

How long would you say it takes for a person to see the emptiness of that particular kind of church??

I can easily understand how Sunny feels about this.  I spent some of my time in these organizations, too.  I refuse to call them Churches.  Cults is more like it.  How long it takes to feel the emptiness depends much on where one is on their particular journey.  Religion is a lot like a book.  Some have a beautiful dust cover, but what is inside is junk.  If you understand liturature, you will quickly find this.  On the other hand, if you are trying to recoup the investment in the book, you may continue reading in the hope that it will get better.  I find the mega-cults to be much this way.  Very emotionally charged, but not real deep.  Like a really exciting dust cover on a bad book.  The Orthodox Church, as the body of Christ, is like the Gospel encased in a Jeweled cover.  But even if one cannot afford the gold and jewels for the cover and has a Gospel with only a plan binding, it still remains the Gospel inside.  This is the Orthodox Church for me.
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« Reply #27 on: December 15, 2006, 01:35:15 PM »

Quote
How do you connect in a church like that, especially when they seemingly can't get out of Mass fast enough?

Most Catholic parishes have multiple masses and people tend to usually attend the same mass each Sunday (or Saturday evening).  So even in a bigger parish, people tend to know a good chunk of people from their usual mass.  In my sister's case, there is a group of people that always work in a soup kitchen in the area together, always attend the same mass each Sunday, socialize with eachother etc.   If a person is willing a sense of community can be forged even in a larger Catholic parish.  
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« Reply #28 on: December 15, 2006, 03:25:34 PM »

I felt very much a part of the Church when I was at the Cathedral of Saint Paraskeva the New in Iasi. It wasn't the feast day of the Saint (on which there are hundreds of thousands), but there were easily 10,000 people there.

Of course, in an Orthodox Church without pews, the worshipping crowd has a particular and dynamic life of its own, as it moves for processions, shifts, kneels, bows, crosses, prays, approaches the Chalice. One becomes a praying cell in a larger organism – no longer a mere individual, even though one's personal identity remains intact in the presence of God.

I've never been in a church that big, with that many people.  I've always gone to small town churches.  I definately understand where you're comming from though.  I think there is a very good point to what you described.  If people live the "church life" or if they are working in the Liturgy, then there should be no problem to having millions of people at church. 

As for Catholics...

I wonder if there is a particular "life-span" for a Catholic and how many times they switch churches?? 
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« Reply #29 on: December 15, 2006, 04:10:38 PM »

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How is it that people can feel that they are a part of a church wich has 30,000 people in it at once?!? 

But don't the Orthodox believe that the Church triumphant is with you at each service? In that case, don't millions (or hundreds of millions) of people/angels technically attend each week? I know there's a huge difference, I'm just sayin' Smiley And don't get me wrong, I wouldn't choose to live in a city with as many as 30,000 people, let alone attending a Church with that many.
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« Reply #30 on: December 15, 2006, 05:19:34 PM »

You're totally right.  The thing is that its very different for a person to "know" that there are others around us, and for a person to "believe" that.  It takes a very special kind of humility and faith to really have a viable belief in those statements.  Not that i'm saying that they're not true, because they are.  Its just very hard to be at that level...at least for me. 

The interesting thing to me is that you're only going to hear statements like that at dinky little churches...probobly used for the same reason = to help people with their alienation/smallness.  Maybe i'm looking into it too much though... Undecided
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« Reply #31 on: December 16, 2006, 12:08:16 AM »

I would agree that some 'Christian' churches can be cultlike. Sometimes the members have been looking for a strong and charismatic leader that they can follow. They want to be told what to do and be fed  teachings because sometimes that's easier and less frightening. Then when they find out their leaders aren't all that they'd hoped, they become disheartened and discouraged. Sometimes they hang in there because they've invested time and years of their life in that church. Sometimes they get out and start looking-AGAIN. It doesn't really matter how big the church is in this instance.
I do sometimes look wistfully at the Catholic churches that seem to have so many more services and opportunities to be able to actually be in church. The days when churches are left open are gone I guess, especially in the cities. I love actually being able to be IN the church. Having no pews sounds awesome-a living, moving, organism. That paints quite a cool picture, though I'm older and I'd probably be the one looking for a seat!
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« Reply #32 on: December 16, 2006, 03:11:45 AM »

A few months ago a magazine that I read (though I forget which one) made exactly that argument: that these megachurches were cults. It described how they have a thousand-and-one groups to satisfy all needs (from child care to oil changes), how they become the center of a person's entire life and time (from worship to socializing to charity to sports activities for kids), and how the pastor have a lot of the qualities of cult leaders (charismatic, have a somewhat untouchable persona, can get people to do things they wouldn't normally do, can convince people to believe things they wouldn't normally believe, etc.)
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« Reply #33 on: December 18, 2006, 12:13:37 AM »

I am completing my 4th year of this journey (1&1/2 catachumen; 2&1/2 convert);
I had two strong periods of "buyers grief" where I wondered if I did the right thing and felt nostalgic about all things western in Christianity.

Part of it is the natural ebb and flow of making a change in one's life (and converting is one heck of a big change!); part of it comes from spiritual fatigue -- (as someone posted earlier) the necessary changes of sinful habits of the soul begin to challenge one's initial enthusiasm; part of it is real spiritual battle because (as another person posted) the enemy hates us and hates that a convet has found the true faith.

In my experience, the 2 & 1/2 to 3 yr. (in the total journey, not from chrismation) point is the critical period.
Work it out and you probably stay; don't work it out and by the end of 5 years, one is gone.
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« Reply #34 on: December 18, 2006, 06:25:21 PM »

Very interesting point...

I wonder how involved Orthodox priests are with converts and how much they are able to help them...??

I would think that there is a lot of involvement and help, but maybe there isn't....some priests are just too busy... Huh
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« Reply #35 on: December 18, 2006, 07:07:17 PM »

Some priests are better at it than others.  Some parishes have members who are more active in greating new people and assimilating them into parish life.

When a parish priest, deacons, and subdeacons are actively engaged in the stregnthening of the faith of the new convert, less convert stress hits thru the first five years. Regretfully some missionary focussed priests look for the convert number, watch them for about 6 months, and then abandon them and refocus on converting the world. The result is the five year convert die out.

In my observance, the most successfull parishes in retaining new converts teach pan-orthodoxy in the US (the blending of all cultures that a convert may run into---by doing this they never feel out of place as they move around and they view Orthodoxy as a world movement not as an ethnic expression). They have  parish laity who are called to fellowship and assist the new convert in assimilating into the parish (Godparents who are active with the convert work the best followed by a core group of fellowshippers who actively engage the new convert by asking them to fellowship opportunities, help them meet new people, and offer good orthodox reading material for support).

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« Reply #36 on: December 19, 2006, 02:19:59 AM »

This book seems to address a lot of this.  Not that I've actually read it--I'd like to--but the blurb in the link seems to fit this discussion.
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« Reply #37 on: December 19, 2006, 01:13:50 PM »

I loved how so many people said that this is  MUST READ for cradles...

What the heck does THAT mean?  I have to read this book in order to appreciate converts? 

Even if it isn't saying that, what IS it saying? 

Anyway...i'm not trying to deny that its useful or a fun read, I just didn't particularly like the commentary for the book. 
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« Reply #38 on: December 19, 2006, 05:02:59 PM »

I loved how so many people said that this is  MUST READ for cradles...

What the heck does THAT mean?  I have to read this book in order to appreciate converts? 

Even if it isn't saying that, what IS it saying? 

Probably that cradles don't usually know what converts have to go through and give up in order to become Orthodox, and that many times we converts are met with impatience and indifference to our struggles and baggage...a sort of, "Whatever, get over it, fall in line" kind of mentality.

Again, that's from other reviews I've read...wouldn't know personally...
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« Reply #39 on: December 19, 2006, 07:04:39 PM »

I loved how so many people said that this is  MUST READ for cradles...

What the heck does THAT mean?  I have to read this book in order to appreciate converts? 

Even if it isn't saying that, what IS it saying? 

Anyway...i'm not trying to deny that its useful or a fun read, I just didn't particularly like the commentary for the book. 
Maybe, one of us "cradle" Orthodox should write a sequel to this book called, Growing Up Under the Onion Dome - Growing Up In the Orthodox Church and Why I Still Go To Church.  It could include chapters titled:
-No, we're not "just like the Catlicks"
-But our ancestors have been doing this for over 1000 years
-I know you read it on the internet, but...
-Dealing with converts

And maybe, just maybe, one of the reviewers will write, "A must read for all converts to the Orthodox Church."
 Smiley Wink Cheesy Grin
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« Reply #40 on: December 19, 2006, 07:34:13 PM »

Quote
And maybe, just maybe, one of the reviewers will write, "A must read for all converts to the Orthodox Church."

Actually, I do think such a book would be good.  Perhaps a two part book: Part A explaining cradles to converts and Part B explaining converts to cradles.  There is a huge culture gap between the two groups and both could benefit from greater understanding of the other. 
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« Reply #41 on: December 19, 2006, 07:42:55 PM »

Probably that cradles don't usually know what converts have to go through and give up in order to become Orthodox, and that many times we converts are met with impatience and indifference to our struggles and baggage...a sort of, "Whatever, get over it, fall in line" kind of mentality.

Again, that's from other reviews I've read...wouldn't know personally...

Get over it. I've even been told that on this board when talking about one of my challenges adapting to Orthodoxy. http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,10273.msg139436.html#msg139436 Understanding from both sides is needed.
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« Reply #42 on: December 19, 2006, 08:06:35 PM »

Marat,

You have been told "to get over it" on a subject, also concerning Converts, etc. 

That doesn't necessarily mean that you have to accept that answer/response.  Also, in all honesty that's not the best answer ever.  Just because people don't know how to deal with others doesn't mean that we have to take that to heart...

I agree that understanding from both sides is needed...wholeheartedly! 

The tricky thing is how that actually plays out...whether or not either side is willing to "give up" what is necessary, or "change" or whatever you want to do...

Just a some thoughts... Smiley
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« Reply #43 on: December 19, 2006, 08:49:41 PM »

There is a huge culture gap between the two groups

Not in all places.

I also don't see what it is about the convert experience that requires a book be written about it.

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« Reply #44 on: December 20, 2006, 12:37:52 AM »

I haven't read that book; but I'm on their mailing list and when I read the reviews, I thought it poked the necessary fun at and tweaked the nose of BOTH cradles and converts, but I may be wrong.

It's like the early Church: Jewish and Gentile.
They both needed each other. Stay all Jewish and all Christianity was was a sub-culture of Judaism. Throw away the Jewish roots and eventually the Gentile converts become gnostics, docetists or another esoteric mystery religion.

Especially in the United States: Stay ethnic Orthodox and when the last Orthodox kid to fully assimilate into North American secular culture stops attending Liturgy, blow out the candles and turn out the lights. Throw out the ethnic cradles and become another protestant sect, this time with robes, candles and incense.

Obviously, this is a bit of a simplification. But I hope everyone gets my general drift that we need each other and have been Providentially brought together by Christ. So we gotta make it work!
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« Reply #45 on: December 24, 2006, 12:20:51 AM »

Back to the original question......

Most people join and stay with a church due to social reasons. Theology, may get people "in the door" but they stay when they become part of a family. The key to keep people in the church is to make deep and long term relationships. The "problem" that often occurs with Orthodox converts is that they make deep friendships at the parish they converted to, but when they move, they may not find such a place. It also doesn't help that our liturgical traditions can very so much not only between jurisdiction,but between parishes of the same jurisdiciton.

I will never forget this one person I met. She converted into a "convert" Antiochian parish in California. She moved to Canada and attended an Antiochian parish - It was ethnic and cradle and very different from her experience. The closest "english" parish was an old calender OCA parish. The traditions, services, music and atmosphere of the place was completely foreign to her. So, now she attends a "vanilla" mega church (but doesn't take communion so she hasn't aposticized or so she says) and when she travels to Californian to visit friends, she goes back to her church.

This problem of different praxis among Orthodox parishes (which is not found in say, Catholic parishes) is an important stumbling block to keeping converts in Orthodoxy.

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« Reply #46 on: December 27, 2006, 04:51:55 AM »

I can only speak for myself and I think that I have said this somewhere berfore. My families' roots in Orthodoxy go back a millenium not five years. Orthodox yesterday, Orthodox today, Orthodox forever. That said I think I am going to go and log on to the Euphronious Cafe web site.
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« Reply #47 on: December 27, 2006, 11:07:47 AM »

I can only speak for myself and I think that I have said this somewhere berfore. My families' roots in Orthodoxy go back a millenium not five years. Orthodox yesterday, Orthodox today, Orthodox forever. That said I think I am going to go and log on to the Euphronious Cafe web site.

If it's the forum I think you mean, that should be loads of fun - the converts who've joined true-believer sects can tell you, a Serb with a thousand years of being Orthodox behind you, that you're not really Orthodox! Enjoy. Unless the similarly named Euphronious Café is a new one I've never been to.
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« Reply #48 on: December 27, 2006, 11:17:25 AM »

Young Fogey:

Thank you for that enlightening comment!!!  Grin
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« Reply #49 on: December 27, 2006, 07:41:21 PM »

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My families' roots in Orthodoxy go back a millenium not five years. Orthodox yesterday, Orthodox today, Orthodox forever.

So? 

My family's roots in Catholicism go back a millenium. 
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« Reply #50 on: December 27, 2006, 11:22:13 PM »

So? 

My family's roots in Catholicism go back a millenium. 

There is nothing wrong with having a little pride in your family's history. I'm proud to be a convert, or in the process of being a convert. I've found the truth on my own instead of being born into it. While I'm happy with that, I would still love to have my whole family in the church as he does.
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« Reply #51 on: December 27, 2006, 11:26:48 PM »

Well put, Marat.                       Juliana Smiley
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« Reply #52 on: December 28, 2006, 12:09:51 AM »

There is nothing wrong with having a little pride in your family's history. I'm proud to be a convert, or in the process of being a convert. I've found the truth on my own instead of being born into it. While I'm happy with that, I would still love to have my whole family in the church as he does.

I'm proud of my family having been Catholic---even the English and German sides---for many centuries (my German family fled to Hapsburg Germany in the 16th century after the Dutch Protestant revolt in the Netherlands). I'm also proud of being a convert after my father left the Church and brought us up Baptist. Wink
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« Reply #53 on: December 28, 2006, 12:19:17 AM »

I'm proud of my family having been Catholic---even the English and German sides---for many centuries (my German family fled to Hapsburg Germany in the 16th century after the Dutch Protestant revolt in the Netherlands). I'm also proud of being a convert after my father left the Church and brought us up Baptist. Wink

You get the best of both sides then. Hopefully your father came back too.
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« Reply #54 on: December 28, 2006, 12:29:53 AM »

You get the best of both sides then. Hopefully your father came back too.

No, he's still a hardcore Calvinistic Baptist. He doesn't know about me yet. One of these days he'll ask, and I will have to tell him.

The rest of my family is still Catholic, some of whom are very devout, and he gets along okay with them. But he may see me as an apostate because he raised me to be a Baptist.

I hope your family is taking your conversion well.
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« Reply #55 on: December 31, 2006, 01:27:59 AM »

I wonder what the difference would be for converts from a totally secular, pagan background?

Do they last 5, 10, 12 years? Or even less than protestant converts? I mean, they have no where else to go, so maybe they just stay.

I think the problem for protestant converts is that they have a generational connection to Christianity also.
If they leave Orthodoxy, it's to go back to some Western form of Christianity. It's like the Jews in the original Church going back to Judaism.

Not every one of us protestant convert comes from some independent congregation with a 30 year history.

My relatives have been either Lutherans or Presbyterians since the Reformation and they became Protestants after generations of being Catholics. I may not have been Orthodox for a thousand years (generationally speaking), but I would daresay I have been Christian for a thousand years (again, generationally speaking), perhaps longer. 

The Orthodox Church is the true expression of the Christian Faith but there is an historic legacy with some dignity, authenticity and integrity in the West as well. That is a centrifugal (I know I spelled that wrong) force that is hard to resist at times of loneliness, doubt or nostalgic moments. I think converts that pass the five year mark should get a few props.
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« Reply #56 on: January 02, 2007, 01:18:34 AM »

I wonder what the difference would be for converts from a totally secular, pagan background?

Do they last 5, 10, 12 years? Or even less than protestant converts? I mean, they have no where else to go, so maybe they just stay.


I converted in 1998, having been brought up in a household with no religion whatsoever.  I am the only one in my immediate family who attends church of any kind.  I won't pretend that it has been a smooth journey, but I am intent on remaining Orthodox for the rest of my life.  So that's one person's perspective.   Grin
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« Reply #57 on: January 04, 2007, 01:28:43 AM »

Quote
I have to say, that this sort of thing has only happened online. In real life, the Orthodox I have met have been wonderful, welcoming and definitely haven't judged me as a "new Christian" struggling to shake off the dark effects of paganism. I have really appreciated their kindness.

That is curious as most of the negative experiences that I have had have been in real life.  As long as the ecafe and other zealot types are avoided online, the online Orthodox community is fairly nice - I think.

Quote
I have witnessed converts who have "become" Russian or Greek or whatever - and that's great for them.

To me this is most frustrating.  This isn't sustainable growth and normal people are going to convert to this.  I'm all for parishes being pastorally sensitive to the older generations, but there is really no excuse for keeping the Orthodox ethnic ghettos alive for future generations (and it is insane for converts to encourage such). 
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« Reply #58 on: January 04, 2007, 03:36:08 PM »

Get over it.

No, thanks.

Exactly.  A lot of converts get tired of being told their that their family history and heritage are completely meaningless and that they know nothing about Christianity since they didn't have the experience of growing up in an Orthodox family that probably went to church all of two times a year.  

Well said, indeed.  I echo the sentiment that a two-part book would be useful, one half for converts about cradles, and the second for cradles about converts.
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« Reply #59 on: January 04, 2007, 06:08:59 PM »

No, thanks.

Well said, indeed.  I echo the sentiment that a two-part book would be useful, one half for converts about cradles, and the second for cradles about converts.

I'm sorry, my post came across wrong to you. I wasn't telling you to "get over it" but only quoting from another poster which I including in my post. I only quoted that, and then told what I thought of that as an answer. I never meant to tell you to get over it because I knew from another post how it felt when someone did that to me. I'm sorry you took it wrong.
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« Reply #60 on: January 04, 2007, 08:31:30 PM »

Exactly.  A lot of converts get tired of being told their that their family history and heritage are completely meaningless and that they know nothing about Christianity since they didn't have the experience of growing up in an Orthodox family that probably went to church all of two times a year.   
And, us "cradles" get tired of hearing comments about Orthodox families going to church "all of two times a year".  If such were the case, there would be no Orthodox Churches to convert to!  I think sensitivity and respect needs to be shown by both groups towards each other.
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« Reply #61 on: January 07, 2007, 02:28:02 AM »

If such were the case, there would be no Orthodox Churches to convert to!  I think sensitivity and respect needs to be shown by both groups towards each other.
Absolutely agree.
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« Reply #62 on: February 12, 2007, 01:10:01 PM »

To me this is most frustrating.  This isn't sustainable growth and normal people are going to convert to this.  I'm all for parishes being pastorally sensitive to the older generations, but there is really no excuse for keeping the Orthodox ethnic ghettos alive for future generations (and it is insane for converts to encourage such). 

Respected Νεκτάριος, what you call an ethnic ghetto is most denigrating and insulting to people who treasure their God given ethnicity. God's Church is for people of every nationality, but are we the ethnic Orthodox, in who's cultures have originated many great saints and brilliantly gifted minds, to flush this all down the toilet for the sake of some Christified neo-Marxist cultural pseudo-ideology?

Our culture is a capsule which has perserved Orthodoxy for over a millenium, anyone who knows Greek, Russian, Georgian, etc. culture is well aware of the function the culture plays in helping preserve the Orthodox faith. It is no surprise that there are converts who find so much appreciation for these cultures that they wish to adopt them as their own.

Do we want to preserve this "ghetto" for future generations? OH YOU BET! Would we fight to keep it that way? YES! We Russians spilt much blood in the battle for our country from 1917-1921 in order to prevent our nation and people from being lobotomized by Marxists who promoted not only Godlessness but culturelessness. Now under the guise of Orthodoxy we're going to tell people to forget their native tongue, the tongue of the Optina Elders, of Feodor Dostoyevsky and Alexei Khomiakov? Who needs that? Who's asking us to pay such a high price? However mysterious God's will is, we know it is never God's will for us to sin. For a person to forsake their Orthodox ethnic heritage, a God given gift, is nothing less than a sin in my view.

I am sure we can get along all together, as others have mentioned, without making such crass decisions. But I can assure you of one thing, relations between converts and ethnic Orthodox are not going to improve if such propositions as yours become vocal.
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« Reply #63 on: February 12, 2007, 01:29:46 PM »

I really enjoy the Orthodox middle-eastern culture I grew up in but it is not the culture which preserved Orthodoxy. But it is Orthodoxy which shaped and preserved the culture.
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« Reply #64 on: February 12, 2007, 04:06:17 PM »

Kaminetz

Well said brother!

Tamara don't be so sure. Think of the great saints of Arab descent. They didn't just mystically remove themselves from their culture. Kaminetz brings up a good point. It was the Marxists who sought to eradicate cutlture. Converts yes, but a little respect with that conversion not just your money.
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« Reply #65 on: February 12, 2007, 05:06:41 PM »

Dan,

When Sts. Cyril and Methodias came to evangelize the Slavs they brought with them a Cyrillic alphabet, the Bible, and the services translated on day one. They did not bring the Greek culture to the Slavs.

Look what is happening to Europe. They are abandoning Christianity and in doing so the Europeans are slowly destroying the culture of each country. They may still speak Italian in Italy or Spanish in Spain but if things continue as they are one day each of European country will find their culture is gone and in its place will be the culture of Islam.

Sarah,

I agree with all you have written.
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« Reply #66 on: February 12, 2007, 05:54:06 PM »

I think what will make American Orthodoxy work is by taking the best of the cultural traditions brought to this country and making them mesh with the best things converts can bring to the church.  There’s no reason they can’t work hand in hand.  I can see if some parishes want or need to use another language to serve their congregation, but it must also be realized that comes with a cost.  Overall English over time will have to come to predominate (or Spanish I guess depending on where the parish is) in the U.S.

We have to deal with the fact that the cultural component can become destructive however (witness Ukraine), and that idealizing an Orthodox past is a huge mistake.
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« Reply #67 on: February 12, 2007, 08:22:25 PM »

Andrew has it right. The meshing together of the traditional Orthodox cultures and the newly Orthodox will result in the formation of an American Orthodox culture. Living the Orthodox life by attending the cycle of services, fasting, praying, etc. is what will shape Orthodoxy in America.
And yes, many of the those who come to Orthodoxy come from Roman Catholic and Protestant backgrounds. The strengths and characteristics of those traditions which work with Orthodoxy will be "baptized." We have to have some faith here everyone. If the Cross and Resurrection of Christ was strong enough to change the corrupt, hedonistic pagan Graeco/Roman culture then I think it is safe to assume Orthodoxy can baptize the heterodox cultures of those who join us.
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« Reply #68 on: February 12, 2007, 09:31:44 PM »

I think there is evidence that attempts to "mesh cultures together" may have actually failed in the past (eg Chalcedon). And the Church did not baptize all aspects of Greco-Roman culture. Some aspects had to be rejected (eg orgies, circuses).

Well, then what is a guide line or middle way between All of a culture and "It's all bad.  Become this other one."  I wonder.  I would surmise that something like "We (culture that is already EO) don't do that, so it's wrong." is not the right one and neither is "That is Our (culture that is not already EO) customs/culture/etc so it's all to be accepted".

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« Reply #69 on: February 12, 2007, 09:54:32 PM »

 Found this posted elsewhere and thought it seemed appropriate for here.

(Originally published here: http://www.oca.org/PDF/DOC-PUB/TOC/2006/NOV-DEC.pdf)


Converts & conservatives

Fighting spiritual fatigue

By Father Jonathan Tobias

One of the many reasons why I left the Protestant community for the Orthodox Church was the latter's conservatism. It wasn't the main reason, but it was certainly one of the important ones I suspect that the same goes for many of my fellow wayfarers -- the clump of ex-Protestants that streamed into Orthodoxy from the mid-1980s to 2000. Then, Orthodoxy had that hothouse spritz of the nouveau and exotic. Now, one can detect -- amongst the convert community -- a sort of fatigue setting in, seemingly from disenchantment.
 
Nevertheless, we are still conservative, and we are still true. The real enchantment obtains, despite the disappointments of the flesh. Orthodox Christianity, for all the apparent faults of the present community, is the reality of the Body of Christ. It is the revelation, and practice, of the Apostolic Church.

This next thing I suggest will sound a bit garish, so I beg your pardon in advance. Let me preface the offense with an avant-propos. Since I was allowed in the door (and I mean no irony here, because I really wanted in, and I was -- and remain -- happy that permission was granted), I have wondered why the Lord has beset the Orthodox Church with so many of us former evangelicals. Truth be told, we are not easy to manage or to get along with. Some of us have transmuted our Protestant legalism into Orthodox legalism. Others of us have retained our congregationalism, and have attempted to import guitars and pastoral-search committees. Still others have complained loquaciously about ethnicity and a Balkanized jurisdictional Bayou, despite the fact that this very mess was what brought them the Gospel in the first place.
 
So I asked God, "Why do You punish them with us? Wherever we go, we cannot let things alone: in our wake, we spread commissions, projects, marketing strategies, growth campaigns, and even blog sites. We don't know the ways of the old country, and we bumble and stumble every time we try to trill our r's. Why have You inflicted us on them?"

Indeed, we have even cajoled some of the "cradle" Orthodox (whatever that means!) into thinking that we are a blessing. Some time ago, I read, with a heavy squint, a nice eastern European lady suggesting that the Orthodox community should jettison its old world ways and learn from the ex-Protestants -- the sooner, the better. She extolled the converts' bent toward stewardship and community outreach and evangelistic programming.

How mightily we "converts" have talked our revivalist game, and have published our glossy pages, and have duplicated our cassettes and CDs, and have advertised the wondrous invention of this dispensation: the "workshop."
 
But there is something that the converts have brought to the Orthodox Church, like a dowry. Despite the WASP-y awkwardness and the ever-ready (and irritating) urge to smite custom into policies and agenda items, we do have our uses. We have come to be saved, first and foremost. Let us never lose sight of that brightness. But what can we bring, we poor bumpkins, to the Great House of the Ages?

We have come to help keep you conservative. For we are time travelers, arriving haggard from a possible, and sans-Tradition, liberal future. We saw what the liberalizing elite of a central administration can do to an entire denomination – no matter what the people in the pew want, or sing on a Sunday (after all, many Methodists still sing "Just as I am"). We know, first hand, what happens when a seminary (dressing up for the university) jerks theology out of headship, and shoves it under the tail of philosophy -- whether the tail belongs to the Arian hegemony of Tübingen, or the pandering crowd-control of the Fuller Institute. And even though we don't like to admit it, we know what happens, inexorably, when the canons mandating chastity and male ordination are shelved. Ask any Episcopalian, former or not.
 
We have witnessed the results of every heterodox departure, and we were blessed with big numbers at every liberalization of those stodgy rules. When tradition bound us, we paid obeisance to the bottom line: we adjusted, fudged, and dispensed with the old, and the bottom reared up, the people applauded, and we heralded ourselves as the anointed.

Sure, we had nice people, and a lot of our social needs were met. Sure, we had our thumb on the pulse of the market, we knew what people wanted (childcare, Starbucks in the Atrium, interest groups, no church on Christmas). Sure, we felt up-to-date and relevant. But we also felt devolved.
 
So here we are with our poor gift, but we often don't know what we have to give you -- you who are blessed more than we in the sheer fact that you are "cradle-born." I look up to you who are infant-baptized, chrismated in your godmother's arms, and taught the Sign of the Cross before you spoke. For you, Orthodoxy is second nature, if not the first, and don't you ever tell me again that I, as a convert, am better off because I am not like you. But help me, and the rest of us, give you what we have. Turn off our PowerPoint projectors. Drag us from our workshops and our book-signing tables. Don't listen to our nasal dismissals of all things ethnic. Overlook our boorishness.

But let us instead warn you of the days to come, and the Number of the Beast.
 
Let us tell stories of fractured faith and smorgasbord creeds.
 
Let us recount tales of intellects gone awry when wrenched from apostolicity.
 
Let us sing the dirges of reformations that spiral down into existential skepticism and fundamentalist ghetto.
 
Let us prove the impossibility of belief, apart from apostolicity, in the Holy Trinity.

Let us catalogue the many phases of degradation resulting from anthropology automatized and atomized, shadowed from the light of ecclesial doctrine.
 
Let us carefully distinguish the difference between the conservancy of Holy Tradition (which is us), and the politics of conservatism (which is not necessarily us).
 
Let us discern the non-conservative, consumptive character that inhabits the core of both national socialism and multinational capitalism.
 
Let us remind you why we came, pounding on Noah's doors, as deluvian refugees.

And above all, let us, together, discover Orthodoxy as the stalwart redoubt of humanity against the approach of Leviathan. For it comes, its golden harbingers calling for license and leveling, and a negation of all custom and tradition, and an enthusiastic embrace instead of rational, totalitarian control.

(Fr. Jonathan is pastor of St. John the Baptist Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church, East Pittsburgh, PA and professor of pastoral theology at Christ the Saviour Seminary, Johnstown, PA.)  
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« Reply #70 on: February 12, 2007, 11:15:17 PM »

At its heart what's being talked about isn't a convert/cradle issue or a issue of Orthodoxy in America.  Really it's an issue of what tradition is.  It's either something that moves you forward in to the future or pulls you backward in to the past.  Some people want to go one way, some another.  It's an old issue.
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« Reply #71 on: February 13, 2007, 01:13:09 AM »

I think it should be remembered that other Christians are not *mere pagans* - much in Catholic and Protestant life has its ultimate origin in orthodox (yes, Orthodox Western) praxis. They don't always remember why they do something right, but they do some things right that aren't practiced in the East simply because it was impossible to do so under the Ottomans or Soviets. The West already had everything 'baptized' centuries ago - the customs aren't pagan now, they're just either obscured or warped needing only to be cleaned off and straightened out. What we have apart from Western Christianity is a parallel Western culture which the Western Christians have always been at war with (Orthodoxy is new to the fight.) That parallel culture is not really pagan, but post-Christian from a loss of faith.

Strange thing about those blue glass eyes - a Turk pinned one on my daughter once. So, a Turkish Islamic custom is acceptable because a minority of Orthodox also do it, while anything Western is suspect even if it is merely Christian? That's just wierd, IMHO. Tithing is a wierd thing to complain about - particularly as the only reason it fell away in the East is because the Government paid for everything from taxes. Taxes and tithes were merged - however, in most places in the world that circumstance does not exist for the Church. Someone has to pay for it, and it won't be the governments. That, and the practice of paying for sacraments is a bit too much like simony (at least enough to confuse those we are trying to bring from Heterodoxy to Orthodoxy.)

Also - the 5 year thing is a phenomenon only with *some* converts, not with all or most.
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« Reply #72 on: February 13, 2007, 10:07:03 AM »

Tamara, I think one of the most insightful things I read was Fr. Alexander Schmemann's statement to the effect that many in the Orthodox world lives in an illusion, and accept the illusion as reality.  It is obvious we are seeing that here.

So maybe we shouldn't be surprised if there is a five year lifecycle for some converts, and maybe we should be surprised that anyone converts at all.
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« Reply #73 on: February 13, 2007, 11:46:32 AM »

Veniamen:  Very good article!   Wink

I would like to weigh in, I think that people covert (and many cradles renew their faith) despite all of the political wranglings, infighting and other garbage that can be found in Orthodoxy. (Actually its in all churches but non-Orthodox churches seem to do a better job of hiding it under a smiley face  Lips Sealed) God's grace is greater than our feeble attempts.

I would like to say that I believe some fall away because they impose a legalism on Orthodoxy, brought in from their former faith expression. Orthodoxy becomes a burden under legalism and that should not be.
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« Reply #74 on: February 13, 2007, 05:37:41 PM »

Let's not forget that Sts. Cyril and Methodias had to provide an alphabet to the barbarian Slavs and yet they still did not have to hellenize them in order to evangelize them. And while the average American is not a well-read intellectual, most can read at high school level of comprehension. There is no need to russify Americans so they can become Orthodox. It took the Russians time to develop their Orthodox culture but they didn't need to borrow another Orthodox culture while their's was developing.

And please...let's also not live in a fantasy world of how wonderful it is in the Orthodox countries. We have sent American Orthodox missionaries to Albania and Romania to help those churches get back on their feet. Most of the middle-eastern countries are losing their populations to immigration. Greece is a nominalist Orthodox country that could probably use a few of our American missionaries. Russia and Greece have the highest abortion rates in the world. So please let's face reality as it is today and not live in the "glorious" past of the either empire. Reality is what Orthodoxy is all about. We must face our sins and failures daily as the Body of Christ. Any other type of "Orthodoxy" is a delusion that could lead us into an ethnic prelest nightmare.
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« Reply #75 on: February 15, 2007, 02:01:39 PM »

Due to the different versions of this topic, there has been a threeway split.  The original and interesting topic:
the jumping around of Converts should stay here.
-To follow the Thread of Orthodoxy and American culture please proceed to here http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,11103.0.html
- To follow thre Thread of Russian Orthodoxy and its Russification and its Orthodox Culture, please proceed to here:
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,11104.0.html
Please continue such conversations and thank you to those that brought it to our attention that the topics were going down different paths.  Thanks,
Daniel Global Moderator
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« Reply #76 on: March 20, 2007, 09:32:28 AM »

sunny, not sure if it means much or even if you will see this but I hope you stay within the safe fold of the Orthodox Church.

All, having attended many different places for periods of time  (plus other once offs here and there) including the famous Hillsong here in Australia, I must say that a large part of their attraction is entertainment. Many sell themselves on the band they have playing and will have somebody get up and talk about faith or tithing or perhaps a testimony of how God led them out of being a JW or an addict or something else (not seldom one may hear from former Roman Catholics). Some people talk about experiences which interest people too. I have twice heard different people speak about how God pushed them down and physically forced them to their knees so they would admit that they were a sinner who was wrong. (Whether God did these things or a devil or if it were perhaps a physical issue I do not know but this is what they said.) I have also heard from the former Imperial Wizzard of the KKK in the US.

In short, interest brings people into these places and after a while their interest wears thin and they see no point in staying.

A well-educated Orthodox Christian should know better than to leave due to lack of interest. The figure of a 5-year stay in Orthodoxy seems unlikely to me.

For me, the search for Truth has always been about just that. This is why I have been to so many different places and yet the answer was straight across the road from me since I was young (the people who lived opposite us for many years were Orthodox although we almost never saw them and we have both moved now).

Jennifer, may I please ask about how you considered Orthodoxy for 5 years? I have been considering Orthodoxy for about two years now and perhaps another six months if you go back to my initial contacts and I have found that some people try to pressure me into joining their particular Orthodox Church and quickly. Did you have any similar experiences if I may ask please? (If you like, start a new thread.)

Hope this wasn't too long.
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« Reply #77 on: March 20, 2007, 11:25:46 AM »

Good golly, Dantxny, when I saw your post above I though my eyes had gone on the blink with the light green letters on light blue.

Ebor
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« Reply #78 on: March 21, 2007, 07:05:39 AM »

Good golly, Dantxny, when I saw your post above I though my eyes had gone on the blink with the light green letters on light blue.

Ebor

I know! It's like some sort of color blind test.
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« Reply #79 on: March 21, 2007, 09:58:08 AM »

Quote
Good golly, Dantxny, when I saw your post above I though my eyes had gone on the blink with the light green letters on light blue.

Ebor

lol!  It's actually part of Father Chris's plan to take over the world.  If you can read those letters above, then you will be drafted into the Great Flying legions . . . or something like that.
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« Reply #80 on: March 21, 2007, 11:57:47 AM »

lol!  It's actually part of Father Chris's plan to take over the world.  If you can read those letters above, then you will be drafted into the Great Flying legions . . . or something like that.

Agent Dantxny! Ix-nay on the public talking of OC.net's iendish-fay an-play!  Cheesy
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« Reply #81 on: March 21, 2007, 12:17:36 PM »

Being slightly colour blind, I don't think dantxny's post is all that troublesome although it may be a little bright.
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« Reply #82 on: March 21, 2007, 01:02:09 PM »

Quote
The figure of a 5-year stay in Orthodoxy seems unlikely to me.

Ohh, it's not so impossible.  Cool
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« Reply #83 on: March 21, 2007, 01:17:28 PM »


Jennifer, may I please ask about how you considered Orthodoxy for 5 years? I have been considering Orthodoxy for about two years now and perhaps another six months if you go back to my initial contacts and I have found that some people try to pressure me into joining their particular Orthodox Church and quickly. Did you have any similar experiences if I may ask please? (If you like, start a new thread.)

Hope this wasn't too long.

IS,
Jennifer hasn't posted since July of last year, so I wouldn't expect her to follow up on your question.
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« Reply #84 on: March 21, 2007, 01:34:22 PM »

To go somewhat back to square one, to me there are a few basic things at work that I think are common factors in this issue.

-   Converts by nature have an “un-rootedness” about them.
-   Many converts are looking for something, and will move on if they’re expectations are not met or change (or both).

In the end what happens to someone probably has to do with their circumstances, their disposition and their reasons for converting.  People that I would consider “at risk” for jumping ship or burning out would be:

  • Those looking for the one true church.
  • Former Protestants who want Catholicism without the Pope and a Byzantine Disneyland of their own creation without any actual born Orthodox people around (beyond people who have adopted their agenda anyway).
  • Spiritual dilettantes for whom Orthodoxy is just another rung on the ladder of esoteric and exotic belief systems.
  • Fundamentalists who really, really want purity and will willingly go anywhere to find it (multiple times if needed).

Some of these of course have the potential to overlap.  I only have direct personal experience with people who fit in to the first three, but I do believe the fourth exists.
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« Reply #85 on: March 21, 2007, 01:57:18 PM »

Interesting  presentation Welkodox, perhaps that is why there are those who are more attracted to specific  jurisdictions of Orthodoxy in the US.  I think I could find  converts of different sortings being found  or likely to clump in specific jursidictions.
a) Type one-Those looking for the one true church. Most likely to initially go to the Greek Orthodox with a later transfer to ROCOR or possibly ROCA.
b) Type Two - Former Protestants who want Catholicism without the Pope and a Byzantine Disneyland of their own creation without any actual born Orthodox people around (beyond people who have adopted their agenda anyway). Most likely to go to the Antiochian jursidiction , HOCNA, or perhaps an old calendar jurisdiction.
c. Type Three -Spiritual dilettantes for whom Orthodoxy is just another rung on the ladder of esoteric and exotic belief systems.Most likely to go to a Monastic based setting first, notably not affiliating with the jurisdiction but with the monastery itself---these folks have problems  affiliating or becoming active in Parish style orthodoxy.
d. Type Four (I have seen these Welkodox) Fundamentalists who really, really want purity and will willingly go anywhere to find it (multiple times if needed). ---This person often is also looking for the One True Church---not finding any jurisdiction "pure enough" may go the route from SCOBA jurisdiction to ROCOR--- to old calendarist---to very small independent Orthodox jurisdictions with  very few parishes and claiming themselves to be the remnant  True Church.

The fact is that converts who become active in their parish, attend both the  the liturgical and social activities of the parish, have the greatest likihood of making it in the Orthodox Church.  Those who like to feel special or "elect" have the greatest opportunity to continue their wanderings and be unhappy wherever they are.

Thomas
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« Reply #86 on: March 21, 2007, 02:11:57 PM »


The fact is that converts who become active in their parish, attend both the  the liturgical and social activities of the parish, have the greatest likihood of making it in the Orthodox Church. 

Wisdom! Let us be attentive!

Because our faith is relationship oriented, it only makes sense that a person will find more spiritual fulfillment by living their life within the community than by only coming to the church once in a while. It is by engaging in relationships with others in our church home that we fulfill all that God knows we can be, which helps us to keep coming back.
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« Reply #87 on: March 21, 2007, 02:15:52 PM »

Quote
Because our faith is relationship oriented

One of the reasons why I think those who marry in to Orthodoxy are the least likely to drop out.
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« Reply #88 on: March 21, 2007, 02:22:42 PM »

Wisdom! Let us be attentive!

Because our faith is relationship oriented, it only makes sense that a person will find more spiritual fulfillment by living their life within the community than by only coming to the church once in a while. It is by engaging in relationships with others in our church home that we fulfill all that God knows we can be, which helps us to keep coming back.

I think this is an important point to bring up to those who claim that faith is a "private" issue, especially those who are in the public eye.  If faith is relational in nature (as I do believe it is), it can never be a "private" issue.  Pope Benedict XVI wrote as much in the recent Sacramentum Caritatis .  I don't mean to sound judgemental, but it seems to me that for those who push the whole "faith is a private matter" thing are those to whom faith in the Church is really not that important, at least not as important as they say it is to them.  Something always seems to trump faith in such an attitude.
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« Reply #89 on: March 21, 2007, 02:38:31 PM »

Quote
It is by engaging in relationships with others in our church home that we fulfill all that God knows we can be, which helps us to keep coming

I agree, but many people who fall out are probably among the most “engaged”.  I know of two priests who fell out of Orthodoxy, and there is no more being engaged in the church than that.  Certainly many convert heavy parishes are among the most engaged and active parishes, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t in danger of sliding off the edge.  Either individually or as a whole.

I still would agree the main thing is that it is about relationships and actions above all else.  The church isn’t a mental exercise or a debate society.  One thing I did notice in the past is the armchair theologians were usually not the ones involved in doing the dirty work of running things.
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« Reply #90 on: March 21, 2007, 02:51:14 PM »

One thing I did notice in the past is the armchair theologians were usually not the ones involved in doing the dirty work of running things.


I remember my father saying much the same thing about our RC parish growing up.  There was a very small but vocal minority who complained about everything, from liturgy to the weekly BINGO game to the way the lines in the parking lot were drawn.

None of them were even marginally involved in running the parish.
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« Reply #91 on: March 21, 2007, 02:52:05 PM »

I agree, but many people who fall out are probably among the most “engaged”.  I know of two priests who fell out of Orthodoxy, and there is no more being engaged in the church than that. 

First off, I wasn't saying that a guarantee of staying with in the Church is being engaged...I was just saying it sure helps!  Wink

And secondly...just because you're a priest doesn't necessarily mean that you are de facto engaged. Loneliness and isolation within the priesthood happens, which is why I am such an advocate of the Orthodox clergy in a city getting together regularly---to help combat these feelings.

It's not that we clergy are exclusive or elitist--- heaven forbid! It's just that the role of the clergy can be isolating, and only other clergy truly understand this and can help other clergy through these times.


BTW--Mission priests truly are called to that work, as they may not be able to have that face-to-face contact that is needed among other clergy. That is why I hold them in such high esteem!
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« Reply #92 on: March 22, 2007, 09:05:39 AM »

Overnight this turned into a great thread. Welkodox, Thomas, Schultz, FrChris, all great reads.

I guess one challenge now is, how to keep the converts as well as the cradle and I would agree that regular attendance at liturgies as well as social events is most conducive. I have encountered the reclusive convert who forever reads books and then complains that no one reaches out to him in fellowship. (He left an Antiochian parish for a GOA church).
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« Reply #93 on: March 22, 2007, 12:05:23 PM »


Please allow me to join the conversation, since I am one of those 5-year converts.

Quote
I would agree that regular attendance at liturgies as well as social events is most conducive. I have encountered the reclusive convert who forever reads books and then complains that no one reaches out to him in fellowship

If what I've quoted above is the consensus, that involvement is, while not a sure remedy, at least the best remedy, then what would you (plural) suggest if:

1) The convert lives too far away from his/her parish to regularly attend services, much less social events?

2) The convert is reclusive or in some way put ill-at-ease when it comes to social interaction, such as when s/he does manage to attend services and social events?
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« Reply #94 on: March 22, 2007, 12:33:37 PM »

Tuesdayschild:

First - Welcome!  Lips Sealed

1) There are many cases of Orthodox beleivers who live far from a local parish and I do not think much of what was posted here on this site would pertain to these brothers and sisters. There was a post on another thread that quoted St. Raphael of Brooklyn who stated that in this case the believer or believers could hold morning reader's services in lieu of liturgy.

2) In the second case, some people are naturally shy and or awkward socially, but I have encountered several people like this who have not lost their faith or commitment. The individual in question was awkward socially, but also had a chip on his shoulder. I and many others spoke to him often and reached out to him.  This type of person is forever seeking and finding fault and is in the minority.

Lastly, some, I myself, am often more comfortable reading in books, but Orthodoxy by its very nature is something to be experienced to be lived both individually and in community.
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« Reply #95 on: March 22, 2007, 02:32:16 PM »



1) The convert lives too far away from his/her parish to regularly attend services, much less social events?

2) The convert is reclusive or in some way put ill-at-ease when it comes to social interaction, such as when s/he does manage to attend services and social events?


1.One item that I am noticing---since my parish stretches is approximately 200 miles wide and 140 miles across, which is nothing compared to some parishes out West---is that the Orthodox who live within 40 miles of each other tend to cluster together for gatherings, Bible Study, etc. This then becomes the nucleus for a chapel and/or parish n the future, btw. This becomes a social circle that helps to foster their growth, etc.

2. In cases of being shy and a private person, often they tend to make a few very good friends  instead of a wide number of acquaintances. There's nothing wrong with either approach as both 'methods' permit a person to engage in relationship with others but in different ways.
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« Reply #96 on: March 22, 2007, 03:19:05 PM »

aserb wrote in reference to tuesdayschild -
Quote
1) There are many cases of Orthodox beleivers who live far from a local parish .... St. Raphael of Brooklyn ... stated that in this case the believer or believers could hold morning reader's services in lieu of liturgy.

Which is a situation we have been in recently. However, unless a bishop approves, or a member is already at least an acolyte or reader, the services cannot be publicly offered - only privately as a family. Of course, anyone that is tonsured or ordained is done so *for* a parish - so, I'm not sure what the answer is in that case. It is particularly difficult if the move is across diocesan boundaries to an area far from any existing work (or at least, works that care about converts) - it presents great difficulties in getting to know any bishop, or to have even clergy visit.

I am a little worried about the stereotypes being foisted out there about myriad 'types of converts' especially as relating to jurisdictions, and being 'type cast'. As with individuals, moves across jurisdictions are complicated issues and not normally done out of spite. Most importantly, laity do not *belong* to jurisdictions but to the Church. Without ethnic 'bloodties' the loyalty is to the Church itself and not to jurisdictions. Jurisdictions are the abnormality for ecclesiology, and unless one has been ordained then one is not 'of' a diocese. Changes for laity, of course, have to be done with care towards one's relationship with a confessor, spiritual director/father and also towards pragmatism. Even having said that, there is a diversity *within* jurisdictions and one can find large groups in each jurisdiction opposite of the stereotypes being presented here.
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« Reply #97 on: March 30, 2007, 01:56:56 PM »

As a convert, I was fortunate in that the first parish I was a member of was very welcoming toward me.  The person who introduced me to Orthodoxy has a family who all attend the parish and who served as my 'gateway' into parish life.  I soon got involved with the choir and that helped a great deal.

I struggled (and still do) in my current parish (which I joined after moving) because I had no "ins," so to speak.  My introverted nature took over and I spoke very little to anyone outside Father.  This is exacerbated a bit because I am the only Orthodox member of my family.  It has been a struggle to integrate myself into the life of my current parish, but I have found that any efforts I do make are met very positively.  So basically, I get out of it what I put into it.
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« Reply #98 on: March 31, 2007, 11:39:05 AM »

I appreciate the replies to my question.  If I cannot make it to a service, I can pray at home privately or gather with others who likewise have difficulty making it to services.  If I am shy, I should not feel pressured to make a lot of friends.  Instead, I should try to make just a few (perhaps deeper) friendships.  All of these suggestions make good practical sense.  I think they are well summarized by the last comment, "I get out of it what I put into it." 

On reflection, I wonder if this is as it should be.  By this I mean, how does this distinguish an Orthodox parish from any other Christian church or a fraternal society or, for that matter, a bowling team? 

It is possible that I have unrealistic expectations of the Church, though I think I am only expecting the local community "to meet me where I am" or "to meet me halfway" or some other cliche that doesn't describe a situation wherein, despite the priest's "welcome home" at my chrismation, I feel like I could just drop out and no one would notice.  After considerable time and sincere effort I am left wondering why I want to continue trying so hard to make something work that is yielding fewer and fewer benefits.

So let me step back from my original question and pose a new, more fundamental one:  What is reasonable for a convert to expect from the Church, especially where the Church manifests as the local parish?
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« Reply #99 on: April 01, 2007, 07:11:13 PM »

1) I believe that the convert can expect from the church the sacraments.
2) From the parish - community. One should expect  a community of  prayer and support of others in the community when asked by the convert for it. If that is not forthcoming from the parish, I would  talk with the parish prIiest and deacon about your needs and feelings of lack of support from the community.  In most cases  I have seen Father,once aware of your concerns, can then identify and talk with people in the parish he feels would be helpful for you.  It could be that widow who is elderly and not someone that you think would be a supporter but that you learn that her daily and even hourly prayers are being said for you.  It could be someone you need to reach out to in service so they can become part of your life. As the old TV show use to say "Father Knows Best", ask your pastor.

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« Reply #100 on: April 01, 2007, 08:54:05 PM »

I appreciate the replies to my question.  If I cannot make it to a service, I can pray at home privately or gather with others who likewise have difficulty making it to services.  If I am shy, I should not feel pressured to make a lot of friends.  Instead, I should try to make just a few (perhaps deeper) friendships.  All of these suggestions make good practical sense.  I think they are well summarized by the last comment, "I get out of it what I put into it." 
Welcome tuesdayschild. I'm pretty fortunate that we have a parish 2 min. away from our home. If you have dishnetwork sat tv. They broadcast the lituragy live on the Greek channel antenna. It's brodcasted from a church in NYC. The name of the church escapes me right now. Most of the lituragy is in english.
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« Reply #101 on: April 02, 2007, 11:50:46 AM »

It's brodcasted from a church in NYC. The name of the church escapes me right now.

That would be the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity.

Even easier (and cheaper) than watching the Liturgy on a satellite channel would be to watch one of the many, many webcasts of services in Orthodox Churches from all over the country. One can find a priest/preacher/choir/language mix that one finds suitable and can thereby get a taste of Church and pray along, etc.

Of course, the Cathedral broadcasts all of its services on its Web site, available here: http://www.thecathedral.goarch.org/

Another Greek Church, St. Barbara's, has an extensive program of web broadcasting: http://www.saintbarbara.org/

And, finally, the Orthodox Christian Network broadcasts the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom live each Sunday morning. Broadcast from St. Demetrios in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida the Divine Liturgy can be heard live from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Eastern at http://www.myocn.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=76&Itemid=113

There are, of course, many more...A couple of other options are listed here: http://goarch.org/en/chapel/live.asp
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« Reply #102 on: April 02, 2007, 12:04:11 PM »

Indeed, the webcasting faculty is one that the Birmingham, AL Cathedral should be implementing by the end of the year as part of our Outreach ministry to shut ins and the Orthodox-curious. This Cathedral has cost estimates to put inthe cameras and servers needed to have this all set up.

And although while we're in search of funding, we probably won't be making annual "Fr Chris' Liturgical Blooper Reels" to fund the project...but maybe pirated videos will be found somewhere... Wink
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« Reply #103 on: April 03, 2007, 05:54:22 AM »

And although while we're in search of funding, we probably won't be making annual "Fr Chris' Liturgical Blooper Reels" to fund the project...but maybe pirated videos will be found somewhere... Wink
LOL Cheesy You know, that's not a bad idea!
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« Reply #104 on: April 03, 2007, 06:27:59 AM »

My favorite liturgical blooper is one we heard at the Bridegroom service, Sunday night - instead of ' For as he had not been slave to the pleasures of the Egyptian women', in the Kontakion "Jacob lamented the loss of Joseph.."  the reader said 'the European women'. We got a wee bit of a laugh out of that.
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« Reply #105 on: April 03, 2007, 09:31:33 AM »

Just a side comment (not meant to start a new topic): Aristuble, your quote from Overbeck as your byline, that is referring to why he strove to create or restore an Orthodox Western Rite, isn't it?

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« Reply #106 on: April 10, 2007, 05:28:25 PM »

It is referring to the restoration of Orthodoxy in the West (or the West into Orthodoxy), yes - not simply a rite, but the Western part of the Church. It comes from an apologetic book written towards Roman Catholics and Anglicans in England, that was also published and distributed in Russia. The book is now available as pdf on Google books for anyone who wants to read it. And yes, he does write of our reasons for being Orthodox (along with Abbe Guetee - the first Orthodox to translate the Gallican rite for Orthodox, as Overbeck did for the Roman rite.) Another quote I like to use:

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"No Intercommunion but Reunion, Reunion with the Orthodox Catholic Church, a Reunion annihilating Schism and Heresy, Romanism and Protestantism, unbounded Tyranny and unbounded Liberty, a Reunion illustrating the great Gospel-principle: "The Truth shall make you free!"
- John Joseph Overbeck DD, 'Catholic Orthodoxy and Anglo-Catholicism' 1866
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« Reply #107 on: June 15, 2007, 10:14:02 AM »

Dear All,
I have to say it-sometimes you men are hysterically funny! And it's really funny because you're not trying to be funny! Anyway--
I like the comment that what you can expect from the church is the Sacraments. What a true statement!
We have moved alot in our lives and so were continually having to find new (protestant) churches before becoming Orthodox. I am shy but with a devout bent and always lamented that I could never find other Christians that actually wanted to TALK about God. Thinking Orthodoxy would change that, was I ever surprised to find that it's STILL next to impossible to find anyone willing to talk about God or what they're learning from a book, or about their daily life as an Orthodox Christian. To get involved in parish life as it is in this country generally means joining Philoptochos (for eg.) or volunteering for festival work, or other ethnic stuff, and oh please, oh please can we watch one more Hellenic film? I so love those! (NOT)
I miss the Bible studies we used to have as an Evangelical. The conclusions might not have been spot on according to Orthodoxy, but at least people were trying and desiring to read and understand God's Word.
Tuesday's child,
I have come to the conclusion that I can't expect anything from the church EXCEPT the sacraments. Just being involved in church activities that really have nothing to do with Christianity doesn't do it for me. To say you get out of it what you put into it is true only to a point. I wish I had an answer for those of us who would like Christian communication with others-a sense of community based on a love of Christ. My priest has had no answer for me  concerning this and he laments about it as well. I would rather go to church and clean and paint and move chairs and try to commune with God while I serve in that way. I try to know Him in my heart and maintain that place of peace within. I try not to expect others to be kind or even to say hello to me. Perhaps God is wanting some of us to be hidden in Him and unnoticed? I have felt many times that if I disappeared no one would notice. Whether it's my fault or not that this is true I personally just have to go to the Lord and try to accept my situation as allowed by God-for whatever reason. If I'm really communing with the Lord I just try to extend a kind word, a smile, or give my attention to an elderly parishioner who seems lonely. Loneliness is hard.
Sorry I'm rambling again.
Sunny
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« Reply #108 on: June 15, 2007, 10:46:29 AM »

Sunny,

I am providing  two of the quotes I think you were reading and misunderstanding
from myself  the following with some change in formating that may may the point clearer:
"1) I believe that the convert can expect from the Church the sacraments.
2) From the parish - community. One should expect  a community of  prayer and support of others in the community when asked by the convert for it."

The purpose of the Church is to provide the sacraments (no one but the Church can provide the Sacraments) as way to enter Theosis and eternal life with Christ.  The parish provides "Community" ie mutual support of each other through prayer, education, etc. One may be an isolated Orthodox Christain  but it is to the Church that we must go to recieve the sacraments---the food for our soul.  It is to the individual parish that we achieve community , which is what you were speaking of when you talking about "willing to talk about God or what they're learning from a book, or about their daily life as an Orthodox Christian".  I have found these things in every parish/mission I have been a part of, I am sorry you have not. I reside over 50 miles from the nearest Church yet  my wife and children have missed very few Sundays services, special seasonal services, and partake frequently from the sacraments. We form our own community as well in the domestic church, we hold family Bible Studies , share our testimonies of what God has done in our life with each other and neighbors.

Father Chris, a Greek Orthodox Priest and moderator on this forum wrote:
"1.One item that I am noticing---since my parish stretches is approximately 200 miles wide and 140 miles across, which is nothing compared to some parishes out West---is that the Orthodox who live within 40 miles of each other tend to cluster together for gatherings, Bible Study, etc. This then becomes the nucleus for a chapel and/or parish n the future, btw. This becomes a social circle that helps to foster their growth, etc.

2. In cases of being shy and a private person, often they tend to make a few very good friends  instead of a wide number of acquaintances. There's nothing wrong with either approach as both 'methods' permit a person to engage in relationship with others but in different ways."

This also addresses some of your concerns.

In Christ,
Thomas
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« Reply #109 on: June 15, 2007, 12:25:14 PM »

I don't know, but I've heard the hard part isn't becoming Orthodox, it's remaining Orthodox.

After the years of reading, visiting, heart-wringing, the loneliness of being alone as the Orthodox person in a family, town or community (George in another thread made a good point), and after paying a lot of ca$h for the ga$  Shocked  to make the trips to Orthodox places:  I hope that if I do ever become Orthodox I won't quit.  For me, this period of discernment and trying it out is (hopefully) my period of testing. 

Personally, I fantasize about living less than 35 miles away from an Orthodox parish.    Cool
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« Reply #110 on: July 09, 2007, 11:03:39 AM »

Had this (rather long) article sent to me and thought it good to post in here:

ON BECOMING AND REMAINING AN ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN
A Talk given at the Orthodox Pilgrimage to Felixstowe (England)  in August 2001
INTRODUCTION
We sometimes hear people talking about how they came to join the Orthodox Church. Although each story is interesting and may even be extraordinary, I think that the stories of how people remained faithful Orthodox Christians despite temptations may be more helpful. As it is written in the Gospels: 'In your patience possess ye your souls'.
Moreover, I have called this talk not, 'On Joining the Orthodox Church', but, 'On Becoming and Remaining an Orthodox Christian'. For joining the Orthodox Church or becoming a member of the Orthodox Church, which is concerned with external changes, is not at all the same as 'Becoming an Orthodox Christian', which is all about internal changes. And remaining an Orthodox Christian is even more important, which is why I have devoted three times as much time to it here as to becoming an Orthodox Christian.

ON BECOMING ORTHODOX
CONVERSION AND INTEGRATION
Let us define our terms by talking of a number of words which are used in this context. First, there is the useless phrase 'born Orthodox'. This does not exist. Nobody is 'born Orthodox', we are all born pagans. That is why we first exorcise and then baptize. More acceptable are the terms, 'born to an Orthodox family' and 'cradle Orthodox'. It is interesting that people who condescendingly use terms such as 'born Orthodox' call the children of 'converts', 'converts'. In fact of course in their incorrect language, the children of 'converts' are 'born Orthodox'!
Then there is the word 'convert'. When people say that they are converts, I first ask them: 'Converts to what?' To Greek folklore? To Russian food? To Phariseeism? To nostalgia for old-fashioned Anglicanism or Catholicism? To an intellectual hobbyhorse of syncretism?
True, in one sense we are all always converts because we all have to be converted to Christ constantly. That is the sense of Psalm 50 (51). The Prophet David too was converted, 'born again', after his great sin. Unfortunately, the word convert is generally used not in this spiritual sense, but in a secular sense.
I hope that when people call themselves 'converts', it means that they are converted to Christianity (which is the correct word for Orthodoxy). I also hope that when they say that they are 'converts', it means that they were received into the Church very recently. Sadly, I must admit that this is not always the case. Over the years I have met people who joined the Orthodox Church ten, twenty, thirty and more years ago, and they are still 'converts' and even call themselves 'converts'. And this even among some clergy, prematurely ordained.
This is quite beyond me, for it means that even after years of being nominal members of the Orthodox Church, they still have not become Orthodox Christians, they still have not integrated the Church, they still have not grown naturally into Orthodoxy, and still do not live an Orthodox way of life, they still have not acquired that instinctive feel for Orthodoxy, which means that Orthodoxy is their one spiritual home, that it is in their bones and blood, that they breathe Orthodoxy, because their souls are Orthodox. They are suffering from the spiritual affliction of 'convertitis'. They have remained neophytes. They have only achieved what the Devil wanted them to achieve - to be incomplete. This is why Russians, punning on the Russian word 'konvert', which means an envelope, quite rightly say about some converts: 'The problem with the 'konvert' is that either it is often empty or else it often comes unstuck'.
There can be many reasons for the state of convertitis. It may be that people joined the Orthodox Church and then had no parish to go to, at least with services in a language they could understand. For example, I have met people who have been Orthodox for forty years but have never been to an Easter Night service in their own language! I have met people who have been Orthodox for five years and have never been to an Easter service at all, because their local Orthodox community only has ten Liturgies a year on Saturday mornings! I have met people who have been Orthodox for sixty years and have never been to Vespers or a Vigil service! In other words, such people have never had the opportunity to learn and integrate. Unfortunately, however, there are also other reasons why people do not integrate into the life of the Church.
REASONS FOR CONVERSION
In principle, clergy should only receive people into the Orthodox Church for positive reasons. The fact is that there are people who wish to join the Orthodox Church for negative reasons, for instance, out of spite for a denomination or a clergyman. This is psychology, not theology, and at that, neither very healthy, nor very Christian psychology.
I remember how in the 1970's the now Bishop Kallistos told me how a group of converts had asked him to write a book denouncing all the heresies of Anglicanism. The converts in question, and they were indeed converts, were all of course ex-Anglicans! They had not understood that their motivation all came from their personal psychological problems, their reactiveness, which they were masking behind their emotional zeal. Quite rightly, Bishop Kallistos refused to write something negative. In any case, no Orthodox would have bought the book because it could only possibly have been of interest to ex-Anglican neophytes. That was one book less to be pulped.
Usually, a priest can find out whose motivation for wishing to join the Orthodox Church is negative simply by waiting to see if these people come to church services. Usually these super-zealous people who love reading about the Faith or talking about the Faith on chatlines or elsewhere, are the very people who are absent from church services. Their zeal is all in their heads or in their emotions, not in their hearts and souls and therefore not in their life and practice.
Then there are the people who have been attracted to the Church through a discovery on holiday. I call these people 'Holiday Orthodox'. Their attraction is often not actually to Christ, but to a foreign and exotic culture - the more exotic the better. Living very humdrum lives, the Orthodox Church gives them something to dream about, usually their next holiday in Crete or wherever. Again, a priest can easily find out if their interest is serious by seeing if they come to church services. Generally, they do not, because they are not on holiday! Unfortunately, some of these people have been received into the Church by undiscerning priests in their holiday destination, be it Romania, Russia, Greece, Cyprus, Mt Athos or wherever. Knowing nothing about the Orthodox Faith, they then turn up on your doorstep and you have to explain to them that although they are members of the Orthodox Church, they have not actually become Orthodox. Often, in any case, such people may well phone you but never actually come to a church service, because they lapse before they get round to attending church.
Then there are the people who come with their own agenda, often 'know it alls', who have read every book under the sun, but still have no idea of the letter A of the Christian ABC. And they come with demands which they wish to impose! 'Yes, I want to join the Orthodox Church, but only on condition that it has first been 'reformed' and 'modernised''! 'Yes, this is good, but I want to add in some Western hymns before the Canon'!, or 'I will only join the Orthodox Church when it has the same Easter as my Aunt Susan who is a Methodist'!, or 'Everything is perfect except that you use too many candles. Take away the candles and I will join the Orthodox Church'. 'I will only be Orthodox if you have an icon of St Francis of Assisi'! 'I will join the Orthodox Church on condition that everybody votes New Labour and goes on holiday to Tuscany'! These are perhaps extreme examples, but they are all real examples. They are all examples of a lack of humility. No priest should receive such people into the Church for the simple reason that they do not love and accept the Church and Her Master Christ.
There is only one criterion for entering the Orthodox Church and that is because you are convinced that it is for your personal salvation, for your spiritual survival, because it is God's Will for you, because you know that this is your spiritual home and that, whatever the cost, you can never be anything else.

ON REMAINING ORTHODOX
ATTACHMENT TO EXTERNALS
Recently a priest who has received people into the Church for the last twenty years told me that the list of people whom he has received and who have lapsed is much longer than the list of those whom he has received and who have persevered. That priest is relatively cautious about receiving people, but I know two other parishes where the list of the lapsed is at least twenty times as long as the list of the perseverers. In those two cases, I must admit that it is the policy of those parishes which is to blame. Turn up once and ask and they will automatically receive you into the Church without instruction within two weeks.
But why then do people give up practicing the Faith which they have chosen to belong to of their own free will? If we look at this question, perhaps we can learn some lessons which are useful for ourselves and which can help us remain faithful Orthodox.
First of all, we have to watch ourselves. What are we actually attached to in the Church? There are people who say: 'It was so wonderful in church today! The singing was so wonderful, the incense smelt so good!' Words like those make me think that this person is unlikely to come again. Such people seem to have a fire inside them which flares up in a burst of enthusiasm and excitement. But like all fires which flare up, they then burn out leaving just cold ashes. This attachment to secondary externals and exotica is dangerous, because we are failing to see the wood for the trees.
The attachment to externals can extend to foreign clothes, language, food and folklore. I remember in one Russian church in Belgium, you immediately knew who the converts were; the men had nineteenth-century Russian peasant beards and the women wore dowdy long skirts and seemed to be wearing tablecloths on their heads. You knew who the Russians were because they dressed normally. In a Greek church here, there were two priests, a Greek and a convert. You immediately knew who the convert was because he wore huge wide-sleeved robes and an enormous chimney-pot on his head. The Greek just wore an undercassock.
In another Russian church, the Russians always spoke about singing, Christmas and Easter, but the 'converts' (and that is what they were) spoke about 'chanting' and 'The Nativity' and 'Paskha'. One real Russian, born in the Soviet Union, told me rather cruelly how he liked the convert in his parish because 'he makes me laugh with all his folklore'. Misguided zeal is always ridiculous. Zeal must be channelled in order to achieve something positive.
I have a Greek-Cypriot friend, born and raised in London, who told me that his favorite dish is steak and kidney pie, and how it was the first thing he would eat at Easter after the fast was over. I asked him if he ever ate at a Greek restaurant. He answered: 'Oh no, that's only for English people'. He also told me how in London at Cypriot weddings the guests have a custom of pinning banknotes to the clothes of the new couple as a form of wedding present. When for the first time he saw a wedding in the real Cyprus when he was about 25 years old, they did not do this. Why? Because they had stopped doing it in the 1960's, looking down on it as a sort of primitive, peasant custom. In other words they stopped doing it after most of their fellow Greek-Cypriots had emigrated to London, but the ones in London had kept the old 1950's practice. And then converts wanted to imitate this dead custom.
On this subject, I recently met another 'convert' who had just come back from a holiday in Greece and talked about it with great enthusiasm as a 'holy land' with all 'holy people', because 'Orthodox people are holy'. Well, I can only presume that he had spent the whole time in excellent monasteries - not all monasteries are excellent, by the way. I would recommend that such people go and visit Greek prisons. They are full of Orthodox - Orthodox thieves, murderers, rapists, pimps, extortioners. You name it, they are all Orthodox! You see, human nature is the same the world over.
What I am saying is that if we attach ourselves to externals, then we should first ask ourselves: What externals are we attaching ourselves to? If we do not use our discernment, we can look very silly indeed. All externals are only natural if they reflect what is inside us. If Orthodox Christianity is inside us, then our externals will be those of any Orthodox Christian. We should certainly make a habit of visiting other Orthodox parishes, countries where there are many Orthodox churches, observing and feeling our way towards authenticity. The worst thing is little closed communities of 'converts' who never see anything else. They can end up practising things which exist nowhere else on earth, and yet they think that they are 'more Orthodox' than anyone else! Humility is once again the solution to this illness and humility starts with realism, not with fantasy. No spirituality has ever been built on fantasy. Without sober humility, there is always illusion, which is followed by discouragement and depression. This is the spiritual law.
Seeing the reality of Orthodox churches is an excellent remedy for the illness of fantasies. Remember that some Orthodox churches are State Churches, many others have State Church mentalities… our religion is the religion of the Incarnation. What other people think and do is none of our business, our task is the salvation of our own souls.
On this subject, one of the main reasons why some converts do not stop being converts and so do not become Orthodox is because they do not have a job. The need to earn your daily crust, to be with other people, is an excellent way for people to start living (as opposed to just thinking about) their Faith. This can avoid what is called the temptations from the left and the right. Temptations from the left are laxism, weakness, compromise, indifference. Temptations from the right are censorious judgement of others, the stuck-up zeal of the Pharisee, 'zeal not according to knowledge'. These temptations are equally dangerous and equally to be combatted. Both waste an enormous amount of time and energy on sideshows like the discussion of irrelevant issues like ecumenism, rather than praying. Being in society is the way in which we can get to know ourselves, see our failings and avoid being sidetracked into theoretical concerns.
SUPERFICIAL INTEREST
Some people can be so full of themselves! Some people can be very self-important and very puffed-up. They will first tell you - if you let them - their detailed life-stories and then all the latest gossip about Priest X, Bishop Y, and then Jurisdiction Z. Even though they do not know the ABC of the children's Faith. The thing is though, that Christianity, and that is what we are about, is about none of these things. If you don't have contact with reality, then you will never learn about real things. Church life is not about any of that nonsense. There is nothing so boring as discussing the personalities and activities of various clergymen or laymen, except of course sin, because sin is always boring, always the same thing. Ask anyone who hears confessions.
Church life is about: Who will make the coffee? Who will do the washing-up? Who will do the flowers? Who will cut the grass? Who will bake the prosphora? Who will clean the toilets? St Nectarios performed the latter task when teaching in Athens, even though he bore the mighty title of 'Metropolitan of Pentapolis'. So why should we object? It is after all one of the first obediences given to novices in monasteries.
Of course, these are not the main tasks in Church life. Let us go on:
Church life is about: Who will learn to sing? Who will stand at all the church services? Who will keep all the Church fasts? Who will read their morning and evening prayers every day? Who will prepare themselves properly for confession and communion? Who will read the daily Gospel and Epistle readings?
And actually, if you want the blunt truth, which will shock some 'converts':
Church life is also about: Who will pay the bills?
Yes, Church life is about commitment, the one thing which is so missing in our present-day luke-warm, indifferentist British culture. Being a Christian, and I remind you again, that is all that the word 'Orthodox' means, is very difficult. Nobody, from Christ down, ever said anything else. Without commitment, we will never remain Orthodox. Being a Christian is about loving God and loving our neighbour. If we are not prepared to even try and do that, then there is no point anyway. Unfortunately, some people think that being an Orthodox Christian - that's a tautology, I know - is not about loving God and loving our neighbour. They think that it is about reading books, having opinions, condemning others, eating weird food, being intolerant, or dressing strangely. Our Lord never said any of that. He said: 'Behold, I give you a new commandment, love one another'.
The fact is that all Christians were once Orthodox Christians, but most of them could not take it and they fell away. Orthodox Christianity is not about being received into the Orthodox Church and then saying: 'That's it, I've done it'. It is about entering the Arena, it is about being on the Cross. So often I have heard from Anglicans: 'I know Orthodoxy is the real thing, but I could never do it'. I suppose that at least has the merit of honesty. I always think of the words of that righteous priest, Clement of Alexandria, in the third century: 'If a man is not crowned with martyrdom, let him take care not to be far from those who are'.
The solution is to read St John's Gospel, to establish a prayer routine. 'The Kingdom of Heaven is taken by force', says the Gospel.
NOSTALGIA
Nostalgia is defined as attachment to the past. It is not Christian, however natural and human we all find it to indulge ourselves from time to time. The problem with it is that it distracts us from living in the present reality which is what we are supposed to do.
Some people for example will tell you that they cannot remain Orthodox because it means no longer doing what they used to do - going to the pub on Saturday nights, not eating roast beef on Sundays during the fasts. Others will tell you that they find kissing icons, relics and priests' hands (and even taking communion) unhygienic - they never used to do it. One wonders why such people bothered in the first place.
Yes, I understand the problems of mixed marriages, the dietary problems, the problem of visiting relatives who are not Orthodox, the problem of calendars. Here there are two things. First of all, the Church is not a stick to discourage us. But often people do make sticks for their own backs. If we are visiting a relative during the fast and they offer us non-fasting food, the Church does not tell us to be self-righteous prigs and refuse. It tells us to be humble. Some say: 'I can't eat that because I am holy'. Oh yes, we've heard that sort of thing if not in words, then in spirit. If your wife's Uncle Fred is desperately ill in hospital and desperately lonely and the only solution is to visit him on a Sunday morning, then the Church tells us to go and visit him. This is preferable to refusing to take your wife because you need the car to go to 'my church' and then having a family row. Common sense and discernment in our choices are essential.
As regards, mixed marriages, discernment is vital. I have seen Orthodox 'converts' pester and pester their spouses into becoming members of the Orthodox Church. The result is always negative. On the other hand, I have seen people wait patiently for ten, twenty, thirty years, without even mentioning the possibility of joining the Orthodox Church, and then the other spouse spontaneously asks to join. They have been converted by the Christian example of patience of the other spouse.
In the smaller English parishes of the Orthodox Church, some of the problems of isolation encountered by many who join the Orthodox Church have been overcome, at least in part. If you go to what I call the 'State Church parishes', you do not often find coffee or tea provide afterwards, or a talk. Conversely, most of the English churches have church halls. Here after a Liturgy or after a weekday service, isolated Orthodox of whatever origin, can meet. One person who came her from Eastern Europe seeing this said: 'Here it is like the Early Church'. Of course, she did not mean that we are 'holy' or something like that, what she meant was that our community is close, we all know each other
And this is not in any way to say that here it is 'better' than in Eastern Europe; it is simply that we have to have a community, with a church hall, with coffee and tea, because otherwise we cannot survive as a tiny minority group confessing spiritual values in the vast spiritual desert of modern Britain. This is our survival, this is our substitute family and community in today's fragmented, individualistic, consumerist and communityless society. It is not necessary in some parts of Eastern Europe, because everyone is Orthodox, the Orthodox community is all around you. But that is not the case here.
CONFESSION
Now I come to a very particular problem which concerns especially the contemporary English, and especially, Anglican character. The ambient Protestant culture in Britain for at least the last six generations has made people very 'uptight' and reserved, which actually is a form of pride. Confession, an important sacrament in the Orthodox Church, is very difficult for many English people to face. This is why in less uptight Protestant cultures, like in the 'shrink-riddled' USA, although people do not go to confession, they go to their therapists. There they can say everything and, since they are paying, they can be told that they are very good people. Confession is different from that. This is a delicate question and I think it is good to talk about your reservations with a priest outside confession before ever you do go to confession. Get to know one another first. Here there are a number of things to understand:
First, no confession is to a priest. It is to God in the presence of a priest who is supposed to try and give some helpful advice.
Most priests will have no objection to you confessing to another priest, outside your own parish. Some will even rejoice that you do so! Find the right confessor for yourself. If they live some way away, give them your confession by telephone, e-mail or letter. They will reply and then take the absolution from your local priest who knows about this arrangement. It is a solution used by the priest's wife and children. It could be for you.
Finally, as I have already said, there is nothing so boring as sin. I am always surprised when people come to confession and expect me to remember their last confession. I always forget boring things. One of the best confessors I ever met was almost totally deaf. After I had said my piece, most of which he had not heard, he gave me some of the best advice I have ever received.
PERSONALITIES
It is inevitable that you will not get on with everyone in your parish all the time. Such is human nature. But it is not a reason for walking out, slamming the door, not remaining Orthodox. Perhaps you are spending too much time at church outside the services? Yes, we do have coffee and tea after the service, but you are not obliged to stay. Some of the best Orthodox do not! Perhaps your relations with the other parishioners are too close? Are these people you would be with in any other situation? If you have no interest at all in common, other than having a common faith, why spend so much time with them? Spending too much time with people with whom you have little in common in terms of character and tastes is a recipe for friction. After all, you're not married to them.
And the same goes for your relationship with the priest. You may have something in common in personality. But perhaps not. Perhaps you find him 'not monastic enough' or perhaps you find him 'too liberal', or perhaps just plain boring. Well, going to church is not about having a close relationship with the priest and buying the same breakfast cereal as he does. Frankly, if you know what he eats for breakfast, you probably know him too well.
Another area of friction in parish life is meetings and parish councils. Well, in most Orthodox parishes these occur once a year, after a Sunday Liturgy, during Lent. And yet I have heard of some convert groups constantly meeting, once a month or even more, discussing the same old things. This is something that comes from Anglicanism, not from Orthodox practice. Frankly, that sort of life is almost incestuous, too close for comfort. Discussion of minutiae is not only boring but also a waste of time. Worse still, some people get involved passionately and attach themselves to details. I shall always remember one person, a University Professor, at a parish meeting about twenty-five years ago who stated that if the church ceiling was repainted blue, he would never set foot in church again.
Well, he didn't. He died soon afterwards.

CONCLUSIONS
What will you remember from this talk? I hope the following;
We come to the Church and we remain in the Church in order to save our souls, and nothing else. Church is not a hobby, a game, a private interest, a pretence, or even a community. It is our soul's salvation. We achieve this by first being ourselves and then being the best of ourselves. If there is anything else, it is all secondary. We must never lose this perspective. If we do, then we are out of perspective and on our way out of the Church.
In order to save our souls, we first have to know ourselves, searching out and discovering our own faults, sins and failings. Then we have to take issue with them and fight, however slowly and weakly, and begin to tame them and never give up this battle. We will know when we are not doing this, it is when we start dwelling on the faults of others.
If our personal pride is hurt in the course of Church life, thank God. That is what we are there for, to become humble.
Thank you for listening.
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« Reply #111 on: July 09, 2007, 11:25:18 AM »

Sunny,

I'm also very shy and usually am the awkward one standing by the window alone at coffee hour!  Not always, there are two or three very nice people who always make an effort to say hello Smiley.  I think I briefly toyed with the fantasy of finding a whirlwind of fellowship and friends and single Orthodox men (apparently more rare than unicorns), but was soon disabused of my daydreams.  It's hard, and I empathize greatly!  Sometimes I wonder if my shyness is me being sinful (although it feels involuntary), or if it's the cross I have to bear.  Anyhoo, each week at Church I try to go a little further out of my comfort zone with people I haven't met, but it can distract me from the services so I don't push it too far.  Finding youngish Orthodox people to talk about the faith with has been difficult; I haven't met anyone at Church younger than 50...
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« Reply #112 on: July 09, 2007, 11:37:12 AM »

I haven't met anyone at Church younger than 50...

Other than clergymen I'm not sure whether there is anyone at our Mission older than 50 (except one person who turned 50 not long ago). There could well be but there are mostly families with children, mostly younger. Think I'm the only single person over 18 there but that's quite fine with me.
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« Reply #113 on: August 09, 2007, 08:02:50 PM »

Didymus, thanks for posting that article!  I've been wondering recently, Am I doing the right thing?  Should I remain Protestant or become Catholic?  Will I fall away in 5 years?  But upon reviewing the article, I see that I'm in my Orthodox parish for the right reasons.  It also reassured me that I needed to leave a certain other Orthodox forum, at least for a while, because it was encouraging me to have "convertitis."
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« Reply #114 on: August 10, 2007, 08:42:47 AM »

Welcome Nyssa, I hope you will be posting more here!

Thomas ,
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« Reply #115 on: August 10, 2007, 07:35:54 PM »

There is another Orthodox Forum!?  Shocked
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« Reply #116 on: August 11, 2007, 08:31:41 AM »

Welcome Nyssa!
Have to say: Love the moniker!
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« Reply #117 on: August 12, 2007, 08:05:35 AM »

Hello Nyssa. Welcome.  Smiley  I've been a visitor to the other Forum.

Ebor
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« Reply #118 on: August 12, 2007, 08:15:22 AM »

Didymus, thanks for posting that article!  I've been wondering recently, Am I doing the right thing?  Should I remain Protestant or become Catholic?  Will I fall away in 5 years?  But upon reviewing the article, I see that I'm in my Orthodox parish for the right reasons.  It also reassured me that I needed to leave a certain other Orthodox forum, at least for a while, because it was encouraging me to have "convertitis." 

Welcome Nyssa.  Glad you've been able to find our site helpful and edifying.  We've got great people posting here, so enjoy, and contribute whatever you can.
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« Reply #119 on: August 12, 2007, 08:46:07 AM »

Welcome Nyssa

Pardon my ignorance, but where is the other forum?
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« Reply #120 on: August 13, 2007, 07:56:44 PM »

I'd rather not say.  Smiley
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« Reply #121 on: August 13, 2007, 08:51:47 PM »

There are no other forums, he was just pulling your leg. Smiley There was once a forum called Byzantines.net, but the mighty OC.net swallowed 'er up whole!
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« Reply #122 on: August 13, 2007, 09:48:46 PM »

There are no other forums, he was just pulling your leg. Smiley There was once a forum called Byzantines.net, but the mighty OC.net swallowed 'er up whole!

Tut, tut. Let's not be solipsistic.  Wink I know of other EO fora, if you'll take my word for it. 

Ebor
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« Reply #123 on: August 13, 2007, 11:51:34 PM »

Aww, but now there's gonna be a mass exodus, if you go tellin' people about other sites!

And...  Embarrassed Cheesy ...I gave the wrong website above, it was actually byzantines.org. Ironically, I had to look up 2002 thread at another of those supposed Orthodox forums (Mo Nachos) to figure out where I'd gone wrong.
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« Reply #124 on: September 07, 2007, 09:36:39 PM »

I am about to leave for vacation and have been pondering my lifr in Orthodoxy since my return five years ago. Prior to that I was involved in Evangelical churches. At this point I am burned out on Orthodoxy. It's not the fasting or following a liturgical calendar. It's not the liturgy or having to go to confession. It's not the theology or belief system or almsgiving, I have no qulams nor questions and implicitly accept it all.  ITS THE PEOPLE!

I have sojourned in three Orthodox parishes so far and have never encountered such back biting, petty arguements, lax attitudes, sniping, put-downs of others, internal politics, money griping, bad mouthing priests and other clergy, etc., etc. I never encountered this in Evangelical circles. Maybe it existed there but if so they did a good cover up. I struggled with Evangelical belief systems (there are several varieties) but never in all honesty with the people.

Maybe this is why converts leave after five years. They're fried.

I've actually been taking a break from all churches and have come to enjoy peaceful, B/S free Sunday mornings reading the paper and lingering over breakfast.

I have not gone for good, and will be Orthodox till the day I die, but I neede a break.

Thoughts?
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« Reply #125 on: September 07, 2007, 09:57:44 PM »

I have not gone for good, and will be Orthodox till the day I die, but I neede a break.

Thoughts?

I attend Liturgy at a monastery, and like all monasteries, it sometimes attracts "interesting" people and groups, so there is a sort of "core Community" and then there are the "temporary Communities", often consisting of Orthodox who are discontent with their own Parish in Sydney, and who come to the monastery as a sort of "protest" against their Priest or Parish Council. Sometimes, this can cause an "ill wind" to blow through our Monastery Commuunity for a while. At times like this, I don't stay after the Liturgy. I walk in at the start of Orthros, and walk straight out to the car at the end of Liturgy with my Antidoron, and drive away.
The Liturgies and Services of the Church are, I think, designed to show us the correct way we are to behave towards one another and towards others, and I've been to too many "coffee hours" and "trapezas" which manage, in the space of half an hour, to undo any good achieved by the Liturgy. I often think coffee hour should be banned and trapeza be held in silence while a reading from the Fathers takes place. This is the practice in Athonite monasteries, and I think there is much wisdom in it!
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« Reply #126 on: September 07, 2007, 10:26:55 PM »

  ITS THE PEOPLE!

I have sojourned in three Orthodox parishes so far and have never encountered such back biting, petty arguements, lax attitudes, sniping, put-downs of others, internal politics, money griping, bad mouthing priests and other clergy, etc., etc. I never encountered this in Evangelical circles. Maybe it existed there but if so they did a good cover up. I struggled with Evangelical belief systems (there are several varieties) but never in all honesty with the people.

Maybe this is why converts leave after five years. They're fried.

I've actually been taking a break from all churches and have come to enjoy peaceful, B/S free Sunday mornings reading the paper and lingering over breakfast.

I have not gone for good, and will be Orthodox till the day I die, but I neede a break.

Thoughts?
Hi Aserb,

I suppose if I had to endure all that to the same extent, I'd probably get fed up pretty quick too. I can empathize with your situation, but allow me to try and give you some encouraging words. If you leave the Orthodox Church, you're going straight to Hell!! No, no, I'm only joking with you...you'll make some pitstops along the way...  Cheesy (still joking..)

I've been Orthodox for several years now and some of the newness has began to wear off with me as well. I haven't gone thru what you've listed to the same extent as you have, but I think we all go thru it, to some extent. I would ask yourself 'what was it that brought me back to the Church'? Reflect on that for a while. Also, didn't you say that your wife isn't Orthodox? Could she be influencing your decision a little? Forgive me for sticking my nose where it doesn't belong, and please don't think you have to answer that on the forum. I just know that spouses definately influence each other. Maybe you both are still hurting from your friendship loss? Something like that can definately make a person want to give up. Something else that you might consider while on vacation; could God be sending you all these 'problems' in order that you might learn something? In other words, is He trying to get your attention?

And I wouldn't for a moment forget about Satan; old Scratch as we say down here.  Wink He'd do anything to get some distance between you and God. He's had thousands of years to figure out all our weaknesses and exploit them to his benefit.
 
Finally, (and I'm always reminding myself of this), the Church is chocked full of liars, thieves, manipulators, backstabbers, fornicators, etc.. In other words- sick people. Of which you and I are members too. Jesus didn't come to for those who are well but for the sick who need healing.

 I didn't mean to ramble on, but I do hope that something I said helps you out. I'll be praying for you. And have a great vacation!!   

 In Christ,
 Gabriel
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« Reply #127 on: September 08, 2007, 12:37:42 AM »

I am about to leave for vacation and have been pondering my lifr in Orthodoxy since my return five years ago. Prior to that I was involved in Evangelical churches. At this point I am burned out on Orthodoxy. It's not the fasting or following a liturgical calendar. It's not the liturgy or having to go to confession. It's not the theology or belief system or almsgiving, I have no qulams nor questions and implicitly accept it all.  ITS THE PEOPLE!

I have sojourned in three Orthodox parishes so far and have never encountered such back biting, petty arguements, lax attitudes, sniping, put-downs of others, internal politics, money griping, bad mouthing priests and other clergy, etc., etc. I never encountered this in Evangelical circles. Maybe it existed there but if so they did a good cover up. I struggled with Evangelical belief systems (there are several varieties) but never in all honesty with the people.

Maybe this is why converts leave after five years. They're fried.

I've actually been taking a break from all churches and have come to enjoy peaceful, B/S free Sunday mornings reading the paper and lingering over breakfast.

I have not gone for good, and will be Orthodox till the day I die, but I neede a break.

Thoughts?

Take a break but not too long. You mentioned you lived in the old country Wink  so I am assuming you might have more options with Orthodox churches. I know you said you have belonged to three churches but have you visited all of the ones close to your home? Perhaps you might even think to drive further out. We pass three Orthodox churches on our way to church every Sunday because we wanted to find a place that had people who were loving and kind. It is worth the 45 minute drive every week.
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« Reply #128 on: September 08, 2007, 01:07:07 AM »

We pass three Orthodox churches on our way to church every Sunday because we wanted to find a place that had people who were loving and kind. It is worth the 45 minute drive every week.

Tamara,
I'm sure there are many loving and kind people at the parishes you pass.  It would be better to say that you just feel more comfortable or prefer the people at the parish you attend.
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« Reply #129 on: September 08, 2007, 01:15:54 AM »



I have sojourned in three Orthodox parishes so far and have never encountered such back biting, petty arguements, lax attitudes, sniping, put-downs of others, internal politics, money griping, bad mouthing priests and other clergy, etc., etc. I never encountered this in Evangelical circles. Maybe it existed there but if so they did a good cover up. I struggled with Evangelical belief systems (there are several varieties) but never in all honesty with the people.



Thoughts?

I know exactly where you stand. After coming to Australia from Europe, my father just had enough of orthodoxy because of those exact reasons. To be straight up and down, I remember when I was about 8 or 9, we were at church and afterwards the church members would get together and do what serbs do - drink, gossp, eat and eat. Being a kid, I was climbing on a tree, and my father heard it exactly, the priest saw me climbing the tree and swore at me in a pretty rude way in Serbian, about my mother. I mean, what example is that for anyone? I could go on.

I guess we've come to these times where the true believers are left and scattered and we must be strong, though at times it seems much easier to quit.
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« Reply #130 on: September 08, 2007, 02:00:49 AM »

Tamara,
I'm sure there are many loving and kind people at the parishes you pass.  It would be better to say that you just feel more comfortable or prefer the people at the parish you attend.

You are right Elisha. There are loving and kind people at the other parishes. And its not that we prefer the people at our parish more than the others. What we prefer is the general sense of community that is lacking in the other parishes. Does that make more sense?
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« Reply #131 on: September 08, 2007, 03:34:19 AM »

You are right Elisha. There are loving and kind people at the other parishes. And its not that we prefer the people at our parish more than the others. What we prefer is the general sense of community that is lacking in the other parishes. Does that make more sense?

MUCH.

I would say more thought that you observe a better sense of community at your parish then the others.  It is more about trying to tactfully explain an opinion from what your experience as opposed to state a fact that you could actually be mistaken on because you just see something differently or don't have all the information.
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« Reply #132 on: September 09, 2007, 09:00:41 AM »

MUCH.

I would say more thought that you observe a better sense of community at your parish then the others.  It is more about trying to tactfully explain an opinion from what your experience as opposed to state a fact that you could actually be mistaken on because you just see something differently or don't have all the information.

Just as others may visit a parish once and extrapolate out the problems in that one parish as representative of the problems of a whole archdiocese because it is quite clear that one can't possibly have all the information about an archdiocese from visiting one or two parishes. I see your point. Tactfullness is very important when one is going to make observations about parishes in the various jurisdictions. Thanks, I will remember what you have said in the future.
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« Reply #133 on: September 09, 2007, 07:08:22 PM »

A Serb,

I have been in those situations and my best option was to go to services and leave immediately after the services.  In this manner I am not part of the gossip and the divisive discussions.  Sadly, I found this to be a problem in most evangelical and other churches as well. I just chalk it up to  our sinful state and seek to avoid it.  I try not to miss the litugy as it feeds my soul and helps me make it through another week.

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« Reply #134 on: September 09, 2007, 11:26:10 PM »

I have been in those situations and my best option was to go to services and leave immediately after the services.

I wish I had seen this advice about 100 years ago!  Sigh.   Wink

As a former American Baptist, now Orthodox convert, I've been down the route of back-biting, gossiping, under-cutting, etc., etc., etc. while at the AB church.  Sadly, as part of the "leadership" and hoping to be part of the solution, it was draining, fruitless, and nearing emotional abusive.  It was definitely spiritually exhausting and caused me to nearly turn my back on God and His ways.

In came Orthodoxy.  Or I should say, in came God who introduced me to St. Athanasius.    Smiley  Now that I am approached my third anniversary in the Orthodox Church (Sept. 14 - Elevation of the Holy Cross), I promised God, myself and my spiritual father that I would NOT get involved in ANY of that kind of stuff again.  If it means going to services and leaving, then that is what I shall do.

My husband has a saying, "If mankind is involved, it will be messed up."  In large part, he is right.  When I feel the heat rising in myself, I step away.  Even if it means stepping out of the choir and standing elsewhere for a time.

People are people no matter what crowd you stand in.  The person I must take care of is myself.  As St. Seraphim of Sarov says, "Save yourself and thousands shall be saved around you."

A Serb, don't stop going to Liturgy.  It is the place where you will be healed.  Just ignore the people around you, concentrate on God and praying to Him.  Let Him take care of the wing-nuts.

Just a thought.  YMMV.

Humbly in Christ, Athanasia
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« Reply #135 on: September 09, 2007, 11:27:30 PM »

I wish I had seen this advice about 100 years ago!  Sigh.   Wink


Um, just how old are you?  Wink
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« Reply #136 on: September 09, 2007, 11:27:54 PM »

Thank you, Trudy.  Great practical advice for pretty much anyone.
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« Reply #137 on: September 09, 2007, 11:57:21 PM »

Quote
don't stop going to Liturgy.  It is the place where you will be healed.  Just ignore the people around you, concentrate on God and praying to Him.  Let Him take care of the wing-nuts.

While everybody seems to be giving this advice it seems sort of artificial.  Should a person in such a case still receive communion at this parish - after all such a person has isolated himself and judged himself better than the rest of the parish.  If you do this, you end up really cutting yourself off from the Orthodox world - i.e over time almost none of one's friends are Orthodox and one only really knows a handful of Orthodox people anymore and them only in passing.  To say that one actually part of any Christian community is a fallacy.  So I am not so sure this is the best advice to give people.  Really, it is only a short step away from no longer attending liturgy and praying typica at home instead.  Which in turn is only a short step from simply not doing anything at all.     
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« Reply #138 on: September 10, 2007, 12:56:12 AM »

Quote
I am about to leave for vacation and have been pondering my lifr in Orthodoxy since my return five years ago. Prior to that I was involved in Evangelical churches. At this point I am burned out on Orthodoxy. It's not the fasting or following a liturgical calendar. It's not the liturgy or having to go to confession. It's not the theology or belief system or almsgiving, I have no qulams nor questions and implicitly accept it all.  ITS THE PEOPLE!

I have sojourned in three Orthodox parishes so far and have never encountered such back biting, petty arguements, lax attitudes, sniping, put-downs of others, internal politics, money griping, bad mouthing priests and other clergy, etc., etc. I never encountered this in Evangelical circles. Maybe it existed there but if so they did a good cover up. I struggled with Evangelical belief systems (there are several varieties) but never in all honesty with the people.

Maybe this is why converts leave after five years. They're fried.

I've actually been taking a break from all churches and have come to enjoy peaceful, B/S free Sunday mornings reading the paper and lingering over breakfast.

I have not gone for good, and will be Orthodox till the day I die, but I neede a break.

Thoughts?

Friend,

I have struggled with this question many times in my own life.  I know that it is hard to worship in such environments.  But above everything else, remember you come to the church to encounter Christ directly, and to be transformes.  Concentrate on your own path, and others will follow by the light Christ gives you by example, if He so wills it.  Live your life as a Christian as best you can.  Talk to your priest, confess, partake of the sacraments, and when you encounter such malicious things, turn away.  Remember that we must not become overly occupied by others opinions and problems with whatever is happening.  God will handle it in His time.  Concentrate on Him, and all will be well with you.  And if it still is too much, then find another Orthodox Parish that will help you on your path.  In the end it's all about Jesus.

Peace
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« Reply #139 on: September 10, 2007, 01:01:47 AM »

While everybody seems to be giving this advice it seems sort of artificial.  Should a person in such a case still receive communion at this parish - after all such a person has isolated himself and judged himself better than the rest of the parish.  If you do this, you end up really cutting yourself off from the Orthodox world - i.e over time almost none of one's friends are Orthodox and one only really knows a handful of Orthodox people anymore and them only in passing.  To say that one actually part of any Christian community is a fallacy.  So I am not so sure this is the best advice to give people.  Really, it is only a short step away from no longer attending liturgy and praying typica at home instead.  Which in turn is only a short step from simply not doing anything at all.     
In a sense, you're quite correct. But I took his meaning differently; I interpreted it as him being depressed and despondent and, above all, hurt to the point of him questioning much. And who would want to hang around people that talk about you behind your back? If someone's gonna talk about me behind my back, they're gonna do it long distance 'cause I ain't hanging around to subject myself to it.
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« Reply #140 on: September 10, 2007, 07:52:13 AM »

While everybody seems to be giving this advice it seems sort of artificial.  Should a person in such a case still receive communion at this parish - after all such a person has isolated himself and judged himself better than the rest of the parish.  If you do this, you end up really cutting yourself off from the Orthodox world

Please note, I indicated that I promised "my spiritual father" which indicates (though I will admit, not clearly) that I had (and continue to) speak with him about my sin of judging others and pride.  Therefore, if my spiritual father determines that I ought not to receive communion because of my sin, then I will of course obey that.

One does not undertake this type of practice, even if temporarily, without one's spiritual father's guidance. 

Thank you for the opportunity to clarify what I said.

Athanasia
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« Reply #141 on: September 10, 2007, 08:35:44 AM »

While everybody seems to be giving this advice it seems sort of artificial.  Should a person in such a case still receive communion at this parish - after all such a person has isolated himself and judged himself better than the rest of the parish.  If you do this, you end up really cutting yourself off from the Orthodox world - i.e over time almost none of one's friends are Orthodox and one only really knows a handful of Orthodox people anymore and them only in passing.  To say that one actually part of any Christian community is a fallacy.  So I am not so sure this is the best advice to give people.  Really, it is only a short step away from no longer attending liturgy and praying typica at home instead.  Which in turn is only a short step from simply not doing anything at all.     

Actually Νεκτάριος , everyone giving this advice seems to have had to face this issue in their own life and are sharing how they survived this situation. It is very appropriate to share one's own experience with their own struggles at the  5 year "lifespan" and how they survived---this is one of the purposes of the Convert Issues Forum---the sharing of information and experiences to help the convert continue their growth.

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« Reply #142 on: September 10, 2007, 11:41:27 AM »

Quote
It is very appropriate to share one's own experience with their own struggles at the  5 year "lifespan" and how they survived---this is one of the purposes of the Convert Issues Forum---the sharing of information and experiences to help the convert continue their growth.

Thank you for confirming that sharing my own personal experience was within the scope of this forum's purpose. 
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« Reply #143 on: September 10, 2007, 04:39:36 PM »

I have sojourned in three Orthodox parishes so far and have never encountered such back biting, petty arguements, lax attitudes, sniping, put-downs of others, internal politics, money griping, bad mouthing priests and other clergy, etc., etc. I never encountered this in Evangelical circles.

Pshhh...  Roll Eyes

(...not at your feelings, aserb, but at remembering my own experiences, this was my immediate response...)

I feel blessed to have been raised in three very sane, very biblically sound (as far as that goes in Evangelicalism -- Trinity, Incarnation, Virgin Birth, Physical Death & Resurrection of Christ, etc) churches growing up, but I swear...any "back biting, petty arguments, lax attitudes, sniping, put-downs of others, internal politics, money griping, bad mouthing priests and other clergy" that I have found in Orthodoxy (and I have found it here) has been 1) expected, due to the Church's being populated by humans, and 2) liveable, since my experiences in those (mostly) nurturing churches were also, sadly, fraught with all those same things.  One church I attended was quite a bit worse in that area than any Orthodox parish I've ever been to, but even there I found genuine, caring community and folks wanting to serve the Lord.

I guess the key is not simply to "press on, do your own thing, forget everybody else, just do the sacraments," and the like, but also to find the good in every parish.  So you don't get along with the Matushka and her clique?  Find folks in coffee hour you can relate to, if at all possible.  Painfully shy socially?  Offer to clean up quietly in the kitchen or hall -- or maybe the nave -- after service/coffee hour.  Unsure of your place?  Talk to Father, see if there's some niche that needs a volunteer.

While this won't solve the problems of all the -- pardon me -- CRAP that exists in every parish (crap that, unfortunately, hinders many parishes' sense of mission), it will provide an opportunity for you to engage in community (do I sound PoMo yet?) in spite of those who would otherwise make it miserable for you.

Oh...and, pray for those who make it miserable for you.  You know, while you're praying for yourself...  Wink
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« Reply #144 on: September 10, 2007, 07:56:58 PM »

Friend,

I have struggled with this question many times in my own life.  I know that it is hard to worship in such environments.  But above everything else, remember you come to the church to encounter Christ directly, and to be transformes.  Concentrate on your own path, and others will follow by the light Christ gives you by example, if He so wills it.  Live your life as a Christian as best you can.  Talk to your priest, confess, partake of the sacraments, and when you encounter such malicious things, turn away.  Remember that we must not become overly occupied by others opinions and problems with whatever is happening.  God will handle it in His time.  Concentrate on Him, and all will be well with you.  And if it still is too much, then find another Orthodox Parish that will help you on your path.  In the end it's all about Jesus.

Peace

I'll second that.  Several weeks ago, I asked an elderly gent at my parish why more people don't show up every Liturgy.  He said that they get too concerned about what so-and-so is saying and doing, and then decide they won't show up.  He wonders, aren't they concerned about their salvation?  That should be what matters, not what so-and-so has said about them.

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« Reply #145 on: September 11, 2007, 04:10:34 AM »

Well, all discussion on this topic makes me think. I have been circling around reception into the Orthodox Church for about 3 years. I have so much to sort through; baggage from my Evangelical church past, Orthodox who warn me against other Orthodox, clergy who warn me off other clergy, the nationalist focus of some churches, etc. Even another forum where the church I sometimes attend is classed as a non-church.
It has been a very long road for me with many obstacles in the way.

I hope to still get there.

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« Reply #146 on: September 11, 2007, 08:27:42 AM »

I  have had a Spiritual Father once who  told me to remember the Church is like a hospital for sinners. Everyone there is ill with sin.  It is there that the medicine of  the body and blood of our Savior is  given, there that restorative therapy and teaching is done.  Like a hospital there are various levels of illness  and one must remember that whether one is in isolation or active public wards it is the medicine of Holy Communion that heals, the restorative therapy offered by the Holy Spirit manifested thru the  reception of the  daily hours, services, Readings, and Godly Sermons, and the Nursing by our fellow Christians that will eventually leads us to the Health and Theosis. This allegorical advice was helpful when I ran into the gossip spreaders.

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« Reply #147 on: September 12, 2007, 09:18:41 AM »

THank you all for your responses. I feel your prayers. I'll be in touch

Dan
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« Reply #148 on: September 14, 2007, 07:12:28 PM »

I realize you just signed off - let me have a word!

All these feelings amount to one thing I always recommend to people: more frequent confession.  Lay all your thoughts out, sinful or not, and let the priest sort them out.  Kind of like dividing lots (as in gambling sticks) - except the priest will mystically pick out the sins and give you back the good thoughts.
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« Reply #149 on: December 21, 2007, 07:38:22 PM »

Wow -well today is the day!!!

Today (Sat 22nd Dec) at 3:30pm Adelaide time I am to be baptised into the Russian Orthodox Church. I am taking the name Grigori, or Gregory, after St. Gregory Palamas.

It's just so wonderful after such a long time to be finally taking the step. I have had much support of recent months, from my Godparents and Fr. Peter. This is the end of a long search and the beginning of a new yet not new journey.

Thank you all for the feedback over the months, both direct and indirect, to all my questions.

Please pray for me.

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« Reply #150 on: December 21, 2007, 07:42:25 PM »

Many years!
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« Reply #151 on: December 21, 2007, 08:19:21 PM »

My view of this is a bit different.  My parents converted to Roman Catholicism when I was a baby.  My father always says that he became a Christian after becoming a Catholic.  They joined the RCC before RCIA was standard.  They met with the priest a few times and were confirmed.  They had no real understanding of Roman Catholicism when they converted.  However, they've been Catholic now for almost 35 years.  My father is a very strong Catholic. 



Its a process of growth and understanding. It really never stops. The more you know the more you want to know more. The process of becoming Orthodox is a life long process of developing a closer relationship with God, being more Christlike in all you do. A form of Theosis.

I converted in 2000 and I had doubts at the beginning of my journey but I am now well fixed on the right path and really havent looked back.  This is what is meant by a firm conviction of belief.  One cannot have one foot in one faith and the other in another and still find peace in both.  It cant be done.  You have to cling to one and let go of the other.  I had some baggage from my former faith which I had to discard along the way.  I think I have been able to do that.

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« Reply #152 on: December 21, 2007, 11:01:42 PM »

Many years!

Thank you
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« Reply #153 on: December 22, 2007, 12:48:47 AM »

I don't know if the phenomen is true or has merit, but I would guess there are a few reasons why it might be.

- One is the phenomenon of serial seekers.  Here today, gone tomorrow.

- Secondly the possibility of conceptualization of the church in idealistic terms ("it's the church of the New Testament!"), and realization that the on the ground reality doesn't match the ideal (or even come close).

- Another is Evangelicals who don't stop being Evangelicals and think they know how to be the church better than the people already in it.

- The path to holiness/path to perdition effect, i.e. talking about growing in Orthodoxy, the journey of theosis, etc., etc.; but really only becoming more prejudiced, cranky and argumentative.  This one seems especially to manifest in an antagonistic attitude towards Catholics and Catholicism, but can really just be all around nastiness.

Lastly, nothing makes me want to pluck my eyeballs out more than reading a convert polemics (Catholic ones too).  The worst are convert Catholics vs. convert Orthodox ones, though like car crash its hard not to look sometimes.

Many converts are nice and well adjusted, but a good many are the worst possible representatives of the faith the chose.  I guess there is irony in that.
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« Reply #154 on: December 22, 2007, 01:43:34 AM »

aserb,

I always like honest thoughts like you have expressed.  And I commend you for it.

But allow me a little criticism even though I am not yet Orthodox (but have been evangelical and Catholic).

I am about to leave for vacation and have been pondering my lifr in Orthodoxy since my return five years ago. Prior to that I was involved in Evangelical churches. At this point I am burned out on Orthodoxy. It's not the fasting or following a liturgical calendar. It's not the liturgy or having to go to confession. It's not the theology or belief system or almsgiving, I have no qulams nor questions and implicitly accept it all.  ITS THE PEOPLE!

I can relate to this, as can most of us.   But, really, if we withdrew everytime our feelings got hurt, there would be no community at all.   Human beings, even Orthodox, are imperfect.   

Quote
I have sojourned in three Orthodox parishes so far and have never encountered such back biting, petty arguements, lax attitudes, sniping, put-downs of others, internal politics, money griping, bad mouthing priests and other clergy, etc., etc. I never encountered this in Evangelical circles. Maybe it existed there but if so they did a good cover up. I struggled with Evangelical belief systems (there are several varieties) but never in all honesty with the people.

Maybe this is why converts leave after five years. They're fried.

Or as AMM says, maybe they are serial seekers. Like David Bryan, my experience with evangelicals has been, at times, just as bad if not worse as you are describing.   To me, one of the appeals of Orthodox is its acceptance of reality, while Protestantism especially evangelicals have this ideal (spiritual community) that people never reach.   They become discouraged and . . .

Quote
I've actually been taking a break from all churches and have come to enjoy peaceful, B/S free Sunday mornings reading the paper and lingering over breakfast.

. . . like you they become withdrawn.  I know Protestants who for years have been telling me, maybe next week
I'll put my paper away and return.    and like you they say . . .

Quote
I have not gone for good, and will be Orthodox [or in my case, Christian] till the day I die, but I neede a break.


What does Revelation say about lukewarm?

I love that Divine Liturgy (Orthodox) is not mandatory as is mass (Catholic) or optional as are services (Protestants).
Please listen to a podcast on Ancient Faith Radio called The Illumined Heart about Mystery and Sacrament (by Dr. Eve Tibbs).   The gist is that Divine Liturgy mystically feeds us, we need it for spiritual good health.  Praying at home alone or, as you do, read the paper, are no substitutes.  If you can't deal with the social issues, at least attend Divine Liturgy and run out of the doors afterwards.

Finally, instead of withdrawing, why don't you confront those who are doing all these bad things?  Oftentimes,
they don't even realize it.  They may even appreciate it.  I've said to gossipers (and I have been guilty myself)
"I don't think this is appropriate."  The conversation stopped and we moved on. 

Don't be a spiritual girlie man.  If you see problems, work for change.  The road to salvation is a bumpy one. I love the Sunday papers, football, and Meet the Press.  But, am I really going to say to Peter at the Pearly Gates that I couldn't go to church because of them (especially in an age of videorecording)?  Is some backbiting and gossiping any real suffering compared with what the saints went through? 

Submitted with love and concern.
 
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« Reply #155 on: December 22, 2007, 03:00:43 AM »

If you can't deal with the social issues, at least attend Divine Liturgy and run out of the doors afterwards.

What for?  It would simply be a charade to receive communion in such a state. 

Quote
Don't be a spiritual girlie man.  If you see problems, work for change.  The road to salvation is a bumpy one. I love the Sunday papers, football, and Meet the Press.  But, am I really going to say to Peter at the Pearly Gates that I couldn't go to church because of them (especially in an age of videorecording)?  Is some backbiting and gossiping any real suffering compared with what the saints went through?

People in such a situation don't stay home because they prefer the Sunday paper.  For me at least, it becomes a question of ethics.  What is normative and acceptable ethically in many Orthodox communities is always surprising to me.  Of the truly Christ-like people that I know and interact with on a daily basis, none of whom are Orthodox.  So after awhile there is a certain lack of authenticity to the whole spiel.   
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« Reply #156 on: December 22, 2007, 03:31:11 AM »

What for?  It would simply be a charade to receive communion in such a state. 
   

Don't be quite so sure.  There are a few in my parish who are rather pious, but not social types and thus don't stick around much to have lunch/coffee afterwards.  I wouldn't dare say what they are doing is a charade.  For many others though, I would have to agree.
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« Reply #157 on: December 22, 2007, 03:45:22 AM »

People in such a situation don't stay home because they prefer the Sunday paper.  For me at least, it becomes a question of ethics.  What is normative and acceptable ethically in many Orthodox communities is always surprising to me.
Read my entry, or even the part you quoted above, again.  I didn't say that they prefer the Sunday paper. What you seem to be saying is you are ethically superior to others in your church and therefore, can't associate with them.  Imagine if Jesus had this attitude.  The church is a place for sinners.

Secondly, I repeat, if you see a problem in your church, work to fix it.  Withdrawing doesn't help anyone.

What aserb seems to be asking is is it okay to continue as I am now--staying at home and reading the paper.  What I am saying is I have seen this happen to people of other faiths more than once.  They withdraw and never go back.

Quote
  Of the truly Christ-like people that I know and interact with on a daily basis, none of whom are Orthodox.  So after awhile there is a certain lack of authenticity to the whole spiel.   

I am sorry to hear this.  In my short experience in Orthodoxy, I have seen much authenticity in Orthodox, much more than in my life as an evangelical.


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« Reply #158 on: December 22, 2007, 04:28:40 AM »

Don't be a spiritual girlie man.

I don't think that comment is appropriate. aserb's spiritual state is a matter that is not in the realm of public concern, but rather that of a spiritual father. Notwithstanding the fact that you are a catechumen, I don't think anywhere here is qualified to pass judgment on where another stands in the Faith.
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« Reply #159 on: December 22, 2007, 05:24:12 AM »

I've found this thread interesting... As a visitor to two EO parishes, who keeps coming back for the past two years,  I've had to tell myself:  Just because the people are so lovely and friendly, you can't just make this huge leap... Got to keep investigating, reading, studying... 

From the older bearded guy who slipped a piece of the bread into my hands, when I was too confused to go up after the service and receive it, because I thought it was the eucharistic bread (be patient with me, I don't know what it's called), to the ones who quietly handed me books open to the liturgy when I stood there at Vespers wondering what was going on...  there are some pretty welcoming and kind people in Orthodoxy, from my experience as a seeker, anyway.  This is from both Greek Orthodox and also Antiochian perspective.

I know there are troublemakers in any church, but there also exist a small core of people who love God and are there every time the doors open, because they figure that's where He is.  I seem to have run into them.  You've just got to, I don't know, find them. 
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« Reply #160 on: December 22, 2007, 05:42:35 AM »

Maybe my post was kind of off topic or tangential. What I meant to express was that if I were to join this Church, I wouldn't be leaving in 5 years or whatever, because the people were cold and standoffish, quite the opposite. 

Actually, I think becoming an Orthodox Christian is like getting married. It's for life, right? Which is why I'm still checking it out.
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« Reply #161 on: December 22, 2007, 08:52:17 AM »

A perfect analogy. The Church is often referred to as the Bride of Christ, and many of St. Paul's guidelines for marriage are based on the relationship between Christ and His Church.

Take your time; there's no rush. The Church will be there if/when you're ready.
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« Reply #162 on: December 22, 2007, 10:45:46 AM »

I don't think that comment is appropriate.

Sorry, ukiemiester (and aserb) that was a provocative comment.  Please also note my post also noted
that is was submitted with love and concern.

Quote
aserb's spiritual state is a matter that is not in the realm of public concern, but rather that of a spiritual father.

Am I not supposed to be concerned, only his spiritual father?

Quote
Notwithstanding the fact that you are a catechumen, I don't think anywhere here is qualified to pass judgment on where another stands in the Faith.

Oh please, aserb asked for our thoughts. Are we supposed to give comments only when we agree?  As I said in my second comment,  I have seen multiple times people who said they are taking a break from church that never go back.  Giving an opinion is not "passing judgment." 
       
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« Reply #163 on: December 22, 2007, 10:50:29 AM »

Sometimes you need a break to sort things out, which has nothing to do with being a convert.
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« Reply #164 on: December 22, 2007, 10:58:27 AM »

texasgypsy,

Isn't this a refreshing change:

A perfect analogy. The Church is often referred to as the Bride of Christ, and many of St. Paul's guidelines for marriage are based on the relationship between Christ and His Church.

Take your time; there's no rush. The Church will be there if/when you're ready.

I was at an evangelical service once when the guest preacher made "an altar call"  then a minute or so
later actually said, "Come on, I don't have all day."    One minute that would change an entire life, and this pastor
is so impatient that he doesn't want wait for longer than that.   You won't see such nonsense in the Orthodox Church.  Keep reading, keep talking, keep praying--that's what I'm doing.

Your fellow Orthodox seeker,
trifecta

  
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« Reply #165 on: December 22, 2007, 11:25:05 AM »

Sometimes you need a break to sort things out. . . .

Yes, this can be true.  But withdrawal is a risky strategy.  I have seen in friends' lives people go from taking a break, to getting to love their Sunday mornings, to feeling less comfortable with Christians, to feeling that "I just don't feel comfortable in church anymore," to worse.

I might add that "sorting things out" takes action, not passivity.

Okay, I've said enough.  Thanks for reading.   
 

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« Reply #166 on: December 22, 2007, 01:16:33 PM »

"Put not your trust in princes and sons of men, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth, and all his plans perish." (from an antiphon of the Divine Liturgy)

Over the years I have sadly had to learn and relearn this message. Orthodoxy is a struggle to the death for everyone in the community of the faithful, but it is also each individual's relationship with God alone that is at stake. There are all sorts if human foibles that cause disillusionment with leaders and followers, so I must learn to keep focused on God, and let the things of the world go. That can even mean letting go of my own preconceived ideas of what I should be doing for the church and others. Does that make sense? I could tell a story about my own conversion, parish conflict, etc. but in the end I would have to come back to how are things between me and God, and all conflicts aside, that's where the focus needs to remain- working on salvation, one prayer at a time. In trying to talk statistics of apostasy etc., there is not likely to be help for my own salvation, or anybody else's.  Just my two cents.

Reader Joseph-James
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« Reply #167 on: December 22, 2007, 02:32:04 PM »

^^^^   Good post!. Also, FYI - update to y'all. The break is over and I'm back. So save a spaec on the floor or move over in the pew.
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« Reply #168 on: December 22, 2007, 03:59:59 PM »

Weclom bak.
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« Reply #169 on: December 24, 2007, 01:51:56 AM »

Secondly, I repeat, if you see a problem in your church, work to fix it.  Withdrawing doesn't help anyone.

Just an observation:  I've seen plenty of postings telling Anglicans/Episcopalians "Get out.  Leave. Don't stay.  Don't try to fix it."  Interesting how things can be applied.

(Not referring to you personally, Trifecta, I assure you)

Ebor
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« Reply #170 on: January 02, 2008, 12:23:45 AM »

The break is over and I'm back. So save a spaec on the floor or move over in the pew.

Glory to God.
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« Reply #171 on: January 02, 2008, 01:22:14 AM »

aserb,

I think us former EvProts like to be uber involved.  I was getting tired and stretched out.  I was seeing everybody else's faults and I decided to take a break.  I sing in the choir, but that's about it. 

My priest thought it was great and doesn't ask me to "volunteer" extra time.  A lot of the problems went away as soon as I stopped worrying about them.  If someone says something bad about the priest, I just leave.  If someone says something bad about the bishop, I change the subject.  If someone says something bad about me, I agree.  If someone says something bad about my wife, I run for the hills, cuz momma probly heard it too.

I also think saying the Jesus Prayer helps. 

That's my two cents.  Pass the slivo!
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« Reply #172 on: January 02, 2008, 09:17:51 AM »

Wow -well today is the day!!!

Today (Sat 22nd Dec) at 3:30pm Adelaide time I am to be baptised into the Russian Orthodox Church. I am taking the name Grigori, or Gregory, after St. Gregory Palamas.

It's just so wonderful after such a long time to be finally taking the step. I have had much support of recent months, from my Godparents and Fr. Peter. This is the end of a long search and the beginning of a new yet not new journey.

Thank you all for the feedback over the months, both direct and indirect, to all my questions.

Please pray for me.



May God Grant You MANY YEARS!!!!!

Congratulations! Welcome Home!

Thomas
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« Reply #173 on: January 02, 2008, 09:33:44 AM »

Cizinec:

Thank you brother. Good and timely advice.

The slivo is good.
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« Reply #174 on: January 07, 2008, 08:27:25 AM »

Just an observation:  I've seen plenty of postings telling Anglicans/Episcopalians "Get out.  Leave. Don't stay.  Don't try to fix it."  Interesting how things can be applied.

(Not referring to you personally, Trifecta, I assure you)

Ebor

No offense taken, Ebor.   I like a provocative question.

There are two ways to answer it.  Firstly, the one that can be true of any church (or organization or marriage, for that manner).  There comes a time when enough is enough.  The 491st time.  After trying everything else, there
comes a time when you just split.   Of course, that should be after trying everything else.

Second is unique to Orthodoxy and Catholicism.  We believe our church is the only church established by Jesus Christ.  I think the reason that Protestants split so much is their allegence is not to the church but to their own beliefs.  It seems to me that the unifying factor of the Anglicans is connection to the British Empire.  To sever from the  British Empire is no big deal, but to sever from the church of Christ takes more certainty in judgment.

Finally, okay, we want you in our church, so we point out the problems in yours.  Smiley
   
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« Reply #175 on: January 07, 2008, 12:13:37 PM »

Ebor and trifecta,

Secondly, I repeat, if you see a problem in your church, work to fix it.  Withdrawing doesn't help anyone.
Just an observation:  I've seen plenty of postings telling Anglicans/Episcopalians "Get out.  Leave. Don't stay.  Don't try to fix it."  Interesting how things can be applied.

Well said, both of you.

I think that if I were Anglican, I would leave. As a Catholic, however, I've never felt that the problems in Catholicism were bad enough to necessitate my 'doxing.

Maybe "bad enough" isn't the right phrase. The situation with the filioque, for example, is definitely pretty bad. But it just isn't the type of problem that would make me leave the Catholic Church: it isn't a heresy (from my point of view, that is -- I realize that many of you disagree with me), etc.

What's more, I wouldn't discourage, per se, anyone who was considering joining the Catholic Church, but I would advise them to be aware of just how bad the situation is that they're getting themselves into. Sticking with the same example, I would say that potential Catholic-converts should be aware not only of the prevalence of the filioque, but also of the hard-hearted attitudes that Catholics typically have of it. (I really cringe, for example, every time I hear one of my fellow Catholics say "Why do the Orthodox make such a big deal over the way we say the creed? It's just one word different!" Roll Eyes)

Hope I'm making sense. Cool

God bless,
Peter.
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« Reply #176 on: January 07, 2008, 12:31:14 PM »

P.S. Perhaps a good sum-up of what I'm saying is that there's a middle-ground between "If you see a problem in your church, work to fix it." and "Get out.  Leave. Don't stay.  Don't try to fix it." Specifically,  the position I take toward the Catholic Church is "Think twice about joining, but don't leave if you're already in."
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« Reply #177 on: January 08, 2008, 06:26:38 AM »

Specifically,  the position I take toward the Catholic Church is "Think twice about joining, but don't leave if you're already in."

Wow, PJ, that is not exactly a ringing endorsement, but it kind of makes sense to me  Smiley
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« Reply #178 on: January 08, 2008, 08:58:08 AM »

Wow, PJ, that is not exactly a ringing endorsement, but it kind of makes sense to me  Smiley


No, I suppose not. Shocked

(Still, if you compare it to an Anglican priest telling his fellow Anglicans to "get the hell out" ... )
angel

If you want to view it in a more positive way, you could replace "Think twice about joining" with something like "Be aware of what you're getting into before you join". (Although, in a way, I actually think the negative connotation of "Think twice" is rather appropriate.)

God bless,
Peter.
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« Reply #179 on: January 08, 2008, 02:54:59 PM »

What's more, I wouldn't discourage, per se, anyone who was considering joining the Catholic Church, but I would advise them to be aware of just how bad the situation is that they're getting themselves into.

Anyone who is going to convert to anything should be aware, to the extent possible, of the negatives present in the prospective church they are considering.  I think hopefully that would cut down on any 5 year expiration dates.

Ultimately though, one should leave or convert for a very simple reason, and that is you accept what the church in question teaches and not what you perceive its problems to be.  Catholicism has lots of problems, Orthodoxy has lots of problems and both have many good aspects to them.  They do have different dogmatic positions though, and that is where ones decision should be made.
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« Reply #180 on: January 08, 2008, 10:04:52 PM »


What's more, I wouldn't discourage, per se, anyone who was considering joining the Catholic Church, but I would advise them to be aware of just how bad the situation is that they're getting themselves into.

Along the lines of "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God", I suppose.
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« Reply #181 on: January 08, 2008, 11:29:42 PM »

Along the lines of "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God", I suppose.

Not exactly what I had in mind.  laugh Grin Cheesy

As I admitted earlier, "think twice before joining the Catholic Church" does have a certain negative connotation. Thing is, if you try too hard to avoid that negative connotation, you might end up with a triumphalistic connotation instead: e.g. "We're right to say the creed with the filioque-insertion, but some people might find that hard to accept."  
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« Reply #182 on: January 09, 2008, 10:32:21 AM »

"As I admitted earlier, "think twice before joining the Catholic Church" does have a certain negative connotation."

Speaking as one who has been there and returned to Orthodoxy, I can say that there ARE perils in migrating to the Catholic Church. There are many doctrinal differences as well as daily customs which fly in the face of accepted orthopraxis. Among Eastern Catholics there ARE some who sincerely try to live up to the intent of JP IIs encyclical "Orientale Lumen", which encouraged the eastern churches to take back their heritage instead of trying to be roman wannabies. Unfortunately, most do not, relying instead on strict adherence to nearby hierarchical authority for their marching orders whether they are consistent with papal recommendations or not.

I still love the people, of course. I just couldn't swallow all the RC stuff- like papal infallibility, Immaculate Conception and other unilaterally-decided dogmas, mortal sin, lax fasting, lack of minor orders except as a step to Holy Orders, few married priests, and so on.
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« Reply #183 on: January 09, 2008, 01:28:20 PM »

Joseph-James,

I don't know whether you feel like sharing, but if you do I'd be interested to hear which Catholic Church you belonged to. (Going by what you said, I'm guess it was one of the EC Churches.)

God bless,
Peter.
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« Reply #184 on: January 09, 2008, 07:34:10 PM »

(PJ, it was the Byzantine Catholic Church in America, sometimes referred to as Ruthenian.)
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« Reply #185 on: January 15, 2008, 03:14:52 PM »

No offense taken, Ebor.   I like a provocative question.

There are two ways to answer it.  Firstly, the one that can be true of any church (or organization or marriage, for that manner).  There comes a time when enough is enough.  The 491st time.  After trying everything else, there
comes a time when you just split.   Of course, that should be after trying everything else.

Indeed. Then it might be the case of one person's "enough" is not the same as anothers perhaps. But it seems like someone telling an Anglican "leave. Give up." might not have  an idea of what would be "enough is enough" for the other.

Quote
Second is unique to Orthodoxy and Catholicism.  We believe our church is the only church established by Jesus Christ. 

Yes, I know. I think I've written of the umm clash of two claiming a unique property.    Since I am neither EO nor RC I do not believe that principal.

Quote
I think the reason that Protestants split so much is their allegence is not to the church but to their own beliefs.

Well, one can read of the causes of historical splits for many groups.  In the case of some of the instances in the Reformation, the ummm unfortunate occurances/corruptions in some places and persons in the RC did not go with what Christians/the Church was supposed to be.  So for some Protestants the RC was not "the church" of Christ but had stopped acting as followers of Jesus. 

Quote
  It seems to me that the unifying factor of the Anglicans is connection to the British Empire.  To sever from the  British Empire is no big deal, but to sever from the church of Christ takes more certainty in judgment.

Most of the Anglicans in the world are not part of the British Empire anymore.  Some Churches in the Communion never were, such as the one in Japan.  Anglicans do not believe that they are severed from the church of Christ either but are part of it.

Quote
Finally, okay, we want you in our church, so we point out the problems in yours.  Smiley

 Smiley  Well, *why* do you want us in your church?  and then again, not being in my Church is it possible that what you see/know of problems may not be all of the situation? 

How would it feel when/if Anglicans pointed out problems in your Church and told you "It's hopeless.  Get out. Leave.... and come join us."?  It might not go over well is my guess.

Ebor
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« Reply #186 on: January 15, 2008, 10:25:40 PM »

Hi Ebor,

and then again, not being in my Church is it possible that what you see/know of problems may not be all of the situation? 

That's true. And even if we (somehow) did understand your Church's problems better than you do, we couldn't expect you to take our word for it.

How would it feel when/if Anglicans pointed out problems in your Church and told you "It's hopeless.  Get out. Leave.... and come join us."?  It might not go over well is my guess.

Ebor

Well ... I would disagree with you, but I wouldn't be surprised or bothered by your maintaining that position. (BTW, I may be in danger of seeming hypocritical in advising you to leave Anglicanism, seeing as I myself admit that there are some not-to-be-taken-lightly problems in the Catholic Church, and yet don't have any intention to leave her.)

God bless,
Peter.
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« Reply #187 on: January 15, 2008, 10:59:51 PM »

http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/illuminedheart

See 'Is There A “Revolving Door” In The Orthodox Church'
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« Reply #188 on: January 16, 2008, 11:18:43 AM »

Hi Ebor,

That's true. And even if we (somehow) did understand your Church's problems better than you do, we couldn't expect you to take our word for it.

Well, that makes you different, and more thoughtful on this, then some that I have read.  There are people who seem to be quite sure that they understand the problems in the Anglican Communion better and that we should accept their authority on declaring it hopeless or lost because they are in the One and Only Church(tm).   Undecided   I will  confess to finding such attitudes umm less then likely to convince me and in fact more likely to  be rejected.

Quote
Well ... I would disagree with you, but I wouldn't be surprised or bothered by your maintaining that position. (BTW, I may be in danger of seeming hypocritical in advising you to leave Anglicanism, seeing as I myself admit that there are some not-to-be-taken-lightly problems in the Catholic Church, and yet don't have any intention to leave her.)

Again here is a difference in you then. (and I do not consider you hypocritical I assure you).  There are people who would be quite highly upset and surprised to be told that.  They would take great offense, I think, at what they would percieve as an 'attack' on their Church. 

I think that it is very good that we can have such a discussion btw.  Smiley

Ebor
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« Reply #189 on: January 17, 2008, 07:11:53 AM »

Smiley  Well, *why* do you want us in your church? 

I want everyone in my church (even though I have changed church affliations Smiley). 

Quote
and then again, not being in my Church is it possible that what you see/know of problems may not be all of the situation? 

I agree with Peter's comments here.  True, I don't know the inner workings in your church, but negative information is not always reported in church documents (and this definitely includes my church as well). 

I tell Protestants who are offended by the fact that the Orthodox Church claims to be the one church to think of our claims of Christianity (and Ebor, I am not saying you fall into this category).  We say our faith is superior to non-Christian religions, including ones we don't know that  well.  So a Muslim can say "You have never been in our faith, so you shouldn't say anything to convert us."  Why do we use different standards for other religions than we do our own (Christianity, that is)?

Quote
How would it feel when/if Anglicans pointed out problems in your Church and told you "It's hopeless.  Get out. Leave.... and come join us."?  It might not go over well is my guess.

True, my first reaction is likely to be negative, as was my initial reaction to the O church's claim to be the one, true church.  But I prefer to know the facts and even serious opinions from honorable people, even if I disagree.
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« Reply #190 on: January 17, 2008, 09:29:29 AM »

Are we getting off topic here? Please try to stay within the confines of the topic---Five year lifespan of a convert.

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« Reply #191 on: January 17, 2008, 11:26:55 AM »

Mr. Nassif in the interview I posted basically says the issue is in the Orthodox Church, many people have lost focus on Christ.
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« Reply #192 on: January 17, 2008, 02:03:30 PM »

I listened to Mr. Nassif's interview and found it quite informative, unforetunately I did not finish it. I have to say that I agree that there is a loss of focus on Christ (allthough in all fairness that could happen in any church - Evangelical included). But, I think that some get distracted by the icons, sacraments, etc., instead of seeing that these are meant to lead us to Christ and God not distract. Also, some get disenhearted with the fasting guidelines. All this in my opinion points to improper or inadequate catechesis. To this I lay responsibility on the priest; yet, the flip side is also found in desire to learn/grow. If one is eager enough there are more than enough resources in books as well as visits to monastaries, etc.
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« Reply #193 on: January 19, 2008, 11:51:48 PM »

Well, I am happy to report that on New Year's Eve, 2002 I began reading At the Corner of East and Now. On Jan. 26, 2003 I attended my first Orthodox Divine Liturgy, so I have made it 5 years!   police
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« Reply #194 on: January 20, 2008, 12:07:11 AM »

Congratulations are then in order, BrotherAiden! Many more years!
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« Reply #195 on: January 20, 2008, 12:19:51 AM »

Second is unique to Orthodoxy and [Roman] Catholicism.  We believe our church is the only church established by Jesus Christ.  I think the reason that Protestants split so much is their allegence is not to the church but to their own beliefs.

I agree! It's why the Orthodox understood and respected Pope Benedict when he repeated the teaching that Rome is the one true church; liberal Protestants were put out.

It seems to me that the unifying factor of the Anglicans is connection to the British Empire.  To sever from the British Empire is no big deal, but to sever from the church of Christ takes more certainty in judgment.

Japan is an exception. For the most part the Anglican Communion is co-terminous with the old empire and yes, now that the empire has broken up (and been replaced by the Protestant US, indifferent to Anglicanism), the contradictory beliefs of its various churchmanships - Catholic, Central, Evangelical and Broad (liberal) - are breaking up Anglicanism.
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« Reply #196 on: January 20, 2008, 01:08:26 AM »


Japan is an exception. For the most part the Anglican Communion is co-terminous with the old empire and yes, now that the empire has broken up (and been replaced by the Protestant US, indifferent to Anglicanism), the contradictory beliefs of its various churchmanships - Catholic, Central, Evangelical and Broad (liberal) - are breaking up Anglicanism.

Perhaps the Empire needs to be revived! Shocked

But back to the topic: I would think that most converts have a '5-year-itch'.
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« Reply #197 on: January 20, 2008, 08:41:42 PM »


But back to the topic: I would think that most converts have a '5-year-itch'.


But think about it, how many converts to anything stay with it for 5 years or more:
people who go forward at a Billy Graham crusade
people who get on an exercise kick
people who quit smoking
people who get involved in things like the PTA or council meetings

To be honest, there were moments I wasn't sure I'd make it.
It is hard to convert - no one wants to give a convert that much credit.

Granted there are "professional" converts just like there are "professional" students and hypocondriacs

But it is hard to convert because you have to give up alot about yourself and former self-identity. And battling the self is one of the greatest battles of all. You reach points where you are nostalgic for things you never even cared about and sympathetic to things you once despised. Alot of self-deception takes place and self-delusional reminiscing when the going gets tough.

I'm not bragging, I count myself lucky and fortunate that the thought came to mind (which I think was from the Holy Spirit) that I would make a rule for myself, only one conversion per decade. Because if I make it 5 I will probably make it 10 and if I make it 10 there will be no more conversions (likely and hopefully).
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« Reply #198 on: January 21, 2008, 06:34:40 AM »


But think about it, how many converts to anything stay with it for 5 years or more:
people who go forward at a Billy Graham crusade
people who get on an exercise kick
people who quit smoking
people who get involved in things like the PTA or council meetings


Word!

Quote
To be honest, there were moments I wasn't sure I'd make it.
It is hard to convert - no one wants to give a convert that much credit.

I dunno.  The convert has a lot of responsibility IMHO.  People expect people to stick with their identity from birth.
The convert shoulders the responsibility of his beliefs, because they are indeed his, not his family's or culture's.
Moreover, people take a convert's words more seriously for the same reason.  He believes so much in what he has done to reject his family, friends, or culture.

To give a recent example, I saw Mitt Romney and his wife interviewed about their faith.  The wife (don't remember her name) had married Mitt, did some reading of her own while Mitt was on mission, and decided to convert from Episcopalian to Mormon.  Forgetting about the politics, I came away feeling better about Mitt than his wife.  I thought, Mitt is wrong, but at least he followed the duty of his church.  His wife, on the other hand, should have known better.


Quote

But it is hard to convert because you have to give up alot about yourself and former self-identity. And battling the self is one of the greatest battles of all. You reach points where you are nostalgic for things you never even cared about and sympathetic to things you once despised. Alot of self-deception takes place and self-delusional reminiscing when the going gets tough.


Exactly.
Being unbias is very difficult; returning to the familiarity of home is not.  But this is what the search for truth requires.

Quote
I'm not bragging, I count myself lucky and fortunate that the thought came to mind (which I think was from the Holy Spirit) that I would make a rule for myself, only one conversion per decade. Because if I make it 5 I will probably make it 10 and if I make it 10 there will be no more conversions (likely and hopefully).

Well, I just left Protestantism after more than 10 years, and converted to it before that.  The conversions stop when you find the truth; it's that simple.  If you don't find the truth (or compromise along the way), the process can go on for a lifetime.


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« Reply #199 on: January 22, 2008, 01:15:39 AM »

I appreciate your thoughts Trifecta
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« Reply #200 on: January 22, 2008, 10:41:47 AM »

I want everyone in my church (even though I have changed church affliations Smiley). 

Well, part of me wants to be umm 'difficult' and ask "Why?", but that's not part of the thread.  Smiley

Quote
I tell Protestants who are offended by the fact that the Orthodox Church claims to be the one church to think of our claims of Christianity (and Ebor, I am not saying you fall into this category).  We say our faith is superior to non-Christian religions, including ones we don't know that  well.  So a Muslim can say "You have never been in our faith, so you shouldn't say anything to convert us."  Why do we use different standards for other religions than we do our own (Christianity, that is)?

I assure you that I am very much aware of this and keep in in my mind with regards to treating others as I would wish to be treated and have for many years.
 Smiley


And just to thrash this post back on topic, I was not a cradle Anglican, but found that Church in my first college years and have been one for over 30 years.  So, that doesn't go with the 5-year rule.  Wink

Ebor
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« Reply #201 on: January 22, 2008, 11:32:31 AM »

And just to thrash this post back on topic, I was not a cradle Anglican, but found that Church in my first college years and have been one for over 30 years. So, that doesn't go with the 5-year rule.

All this time I thought you were. You learn something new every day.
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« Reply #202 on: January 24, 2008, 06:46:57 PM »

But it is hard to convert because you have to give up alot about yourself and former self-identity. And battling the self is one of the greatest battles of all. You reach points where you are nostalgic for things you never even cared about and sympathetic to things you once despised. Alot of self-deception takes place and self-delusional reminiscing when the going gets tough.

Well said, except I would add one qualification: it's hard to properly convert. I think a lot of people short-circuit the process in one way or another, thus greatly reducing the difficulty level. If you'll excuse me for using an example that has already been covered many times, I would point to the case of Scott Hahn: consider the immense difficulty he had in rejecting Protestantism, then consider the ease with which he rejected Orthodoxy. Roll Eyes

A guess that's actually kind of a dual-example.

God bless,
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« Reply #203 on: January 25, 2008, 08:23:37 AM »

Well said, except I would add one qualification: it's hard to properly convert. I think a lot of people short-circuit the process in one way or another, thus greatly reducing the difficulty level. If you'll excuse me for using an example that has already been covered many times, I would point to the case of Scott Hahn: consider the immense difficulty he had in rejecting Protestantism, then consider the ease with which he rejected Orthodoxy. Roll Eyes

A guess that's actually kind of a dual-example.

God bless,
Peter.
Dr. Hahn, in his piety and spiritual demeanor, would have made a perfect Orthodox Christian in terms of the mystical and ascetic prayer life and path of our faith; but he was/is also a high-octane academic theologian and that is far easier to find and to fit into in the RC church. He also was highly influenced by covenantal theology as a Reformed theologian (through Dr. Meredith Kline - memory eternal - at Gordon-Conwell Seminary) and there is a school of covenantal theology in RC thought. The whole idea of the covenantal theology's representational nature also is quite compatable with Augustinian doctrine regarding original sin.

But to this day, Dr. Hahn has great affection and is still influenced by the Eastern Fathers, especially the Syriac Fathers and refers to them often.
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« Reply #204 on: January 31, 2008, 03:11:08 PM »

I am a new convert. I came in last year but it took about 10 years for me to make up my mind on if I wanted to be Orthodox or not.

I can't speak for others but for me it's about the Mysteries(sacraments). Before I converted I had a hard time taking communion in Most Protestant Churches. My convictions just wouldn't let me. I was reading the Church Fathers and in turn they changed my mind about the sacraments.

But for other converts it could be for other reasons.


As long as I have a high view of the Sacraments and the Fathers of the Church then I see no need in going anywhere else.


Protestantland felt like Limbo for me. I had no place to go with the views I had about the Sacraments. I tried the ECUSA in 2003 because I knew that I needed to partake of the sacraments. But I never wanted to dig roots there because I was influenced by other more conservative Episcopal groups but non of them were in Pittsburgh at the time and when a couple of those conservative groups fell apart that's when I looked at the East again.

So if I leave the Parish I'm in now.........I will leave it only to join another Orthodox parish. But I'm fine where I'm at and I can always visit 100 other Orthodox churches in the area.



IF converts had a high view of the sacraments then that will limit where they can go. If they have a high view of the church then that will limit where they can go.....so teaching converts about the Orthodox Faith should help keep converts in the Orthodox Church.






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« Reply #205 on: January 31, 2008, 03:33:01 PM »

Nice contribution, JNORM888.

Thanks.
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« Reply #206 on: January 31, 2008, 04:54:19 PM »

^ I second that JNORMM. Sadly, you may find that many Orthodox are only going through the motions. It is refreshing to read your post.
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« Reply #207 on: March 06, 2010, 03:53:15 PM »

I think the supposed "5 year lifespan" is one of the things that terrifies me about actually going through with becoming Orthodox.  I was raised Protestant and felt a need to receive Communion, which happened rarely, if at all, and it seemed to me that Scripture supported the doctrine of the Real Presence in the Sacrament, and that it is indeed a Sacrament, not merely an ordinance or memorial.  After doing some reading I eventually spent some time considering the Episcopal church but the controversy there stopped me short.  I read more about Catholicism and Orthodoxy and came to believe that if Christianity is true either the Roman or Orthodox Church is correct and we (if we consider ourselves Christian) have a moral obligation to become Catholic/Orthodox.  So I became Roman Catholic, but have lapsed and feel at variance with some of the particularly Roman dogmas.  My time as an Orthodox catechumen has left me feeling more and more that Orthodoxy is right....but very difficult.  I am scared to death of more inner conflict and ending up apostate, and hearing of other "reverts" from the Orthodox faith makes me the more afraid.  I remember a few years ago an article entitled "An Orthodox Convert Reconsiders Evangelicalism" and thinking that a similar crisis might happen to me, especially when I know without doubt that I could never again accept the Protestantism of my youth (something that has caused no small amount of family turmoil): I would either end up agnostic or else a pitifully fearful "Christian".
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« Reply #208 on: March 06, 2010, 05:10:55 PM »

I think the supposed "5 year lifespan" is one of the things that terrifies me about actually going through with becoming Orthodox. 
Valdemarr, I was chrismated five years ago on Lazarus Saturday. For me it gets better and better as an Orthodox Christian. The gap just gets wider and wider between what I have now and what there is for me to go back to. Not a chance. My future is Orthodoxy. Get involved in your parish life. Attend services regularly. Follow your priest's instructions for a daily prayer rule and fasting. Always look forward to Pascha!
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« Reply #209 on: March 06, 2010, 08:21:37 PM »

I have been in the Church for over half a century and I had never heard of "the 5 year lifespan of a convert" until this thread. I have only known two converts that have left the Church and neither have completely abandoned the Orthodox Faith. There are many more cradles that have left the Church, IMHO.
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« Reply #210 on: March 06, 2010, 11:06:55 PM »

The only thing that has me worried is that I tend to move around a lot, with some areas I have (and possibly will have to again) lived being 2+ hours to the nearest Orthodox church.

If I ever have enough money I've got about 2 acres of land in one area that I would love to build an Orthodox chapel on (right next to the house I would build), though there is a question as to whether or not the local Baptists might take to their white-sheet ways were such a "Catholic" thing come to town.

(I am NOT making a dig at all Baptists in the sentence above. Sadly, certain movements are still going strong in certain areas of MS).

Of course I have the type of personality that's tempted to do such a thing just to INVITE the controversy.
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« Reply #211 on: March 07, 2010, 12:32:58 AM »

The only thing that has me worried is that I tend to move around a lot, with some areas I have (and possibly will have to again) lived being 2+ hours to the nearest Orthodox church.

If I ever have enough money I've got about 2 acres of land in one area that I would love to build an Orthodox chapel on (right next to the house I would build), though there is a question as to whether or not the local Baptists might take to their white-sheet ways were such a "Catholic" thing come to town.

(I am NOT making a dig at all Baptists in the sentence above. Sadly, certain movements are still going strong in certain areas of MS).

Of course I have the type of personality that's tempted to do such a thing just to INVITE the controversy.
I wouldn't let the fear of what might happen years in the future stop you from doing what you know is right at this moment.  What you worry may happen hasn't happened yet and may never happen.
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« Reply #212 on: March 07, 2010, 12:57:21 AM »

Actually, I'm looking at moving withing the next few weeks (March 26th).  Though my next stop is GA, not MS, and I have a church already lined up.  Turns out my youngest brother has started his journey into Orthodoxy as well (coincidentally, his first visit was Divine Liturgy the day following my visit to Saturday Vespers).  Also coincidental, his priest is the son of a Baptist pastor.  I'm quite looking forward to being able to attend church with family again.

I find it funny that time-wise I'll actually be closer to church in Georgia than here in Chicago.  The neighborhood I live in is 60 minutes away from any Orthodox church by public transit (and it's still a hike by car once traffic and parking is taken into consideration), while the town I'll be moving to has a church within 30 minutes.

I will miss the church I've been attending, but I can always hear Father Patrick on Ancient Faith Radio.  Although I'm sure my new priest will do just fine.  From what my brother tells me he sounds like a very wise man, though I might have to have a word with him about encouraging the kid's kilt-wearing.  I kid, mostly.

But you are quite correct, I really should not worry about things which may never happen.  It is but one of many things which I shall have to overcome.
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« Reply #213 on: March 10, 2010, 04:05:22 PM »

I remember a few years ago an article entitled "An Orthodox Convert Reconsiders Evangelicalism" and thinking that a similar crisis might happen to me, especially when I know without doubt that I could never again accept the Protestantism of my youth (something that has caused no small amount of family turmoil): I would either end up agnostic or else a pitifully fearful "Christian".

That article isn't about someone abandoning Orthodoxy, it's about someone coming to terms with their roots and not being such a critical and judgmental person,which is something many of us converts need to hear.



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« Reply #214 on: March 10, 2010, 11:54:59 PM »

Sometimes they come back.

I am a convert to Orthodoxy and was Chrismated into an OCA church in 1991. I was very active in the church and as I later moved from state to state and town to town, I continued to attend services regularly in the cities I moved to or where there was an Orthodox Church nearest to me, but eventually fell away. I blame only my own sorry sinful state of being for allowing myself to fall away from the true faith. Many years have gone by since I was in regular attendance but I always considered myself Orthodox and never even thought of going anywhere else. After all, how could anyone find any other form of worship equal to what we have been handed down to us through the Church; the Divine Liturgy, The Sacraments, the teaching of the Church, the Tradition, and the continuity with the Church Fathers. Thanks and Praise be to God, I am finally making my way back and it feels great to be back!

Again, I blame only myself for being away from God and the Church, but as a convert to Orthodoxy who became Orthodox in an all English parish made up of about 50% converts and 50% cradle Orthodox, as I moved around and went to other Churches I found language to be a barrier. I've been in OCA Churches that were 100% Old Church Slavonic, and Greek Churches that were either all Greek, or mostly Greek, and I remember one time going for coffee hour after the Liturgy in a Greek Church once where a little old lady came up to me and asked: "Are you Greek?" - No; "Are you married to one?" - No; "Then why are you here?" I know other people who have had almost this exact same experience in Greek parishes.

I speak only for myself, but I wonder if experiences like this may be a cause for a turn off (or falling away) for others? Language is an issue that needs to be addressed in the US. I understand the need that used to exist to use Church Slavonic or Kyrie Greek because the parish was established by immigrants from Russia, Greece, Serbia, or where ever, but the periods of heavy immigration from Russia and Greece are over and most are now 2nd, 3rd, and even 4th generation from their immigrant ancestors. If the Church is going to thrive in the United States, it must (in my opinion) address the issue of language and the language it needs to use here is English.

What do our Church Fathers say about language in the Church? The Apostles went out and spoke the Good News of Christ to the multitudes in their own language with the Grace of the Holy Spirit as recorded in Acts. Saints Cyril and Methodius didn't force the Rus to learn Greek or Latin. They created the Cyrillic alphabet and translated everything for them. Likewise I believe (please correct me if I'm wrong), Saint Tikhon of Alaska translated to the native Alaskan Indians into their language.

So I wonder if the reason some converts may fall away are due to this kind of stuff?

I love the Church and hope that all Orthodox in America can one day call themselves Orthodox of America and not just Orthodox in America and that we will find unity amongst ourselves so that we're not Greek Orthodox, or Russian Orthodox, or Serbian Orthodox, or what have you, but instead we can call ourselves just simply Orthodox Christians.

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« Reply #215 on: March 11, 2010, 12:17:44 AM »

Welcome to the forum!
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« Reply #216 on: March 11, 2010, 12:48:22 AM »

I remember a few years ago an article entitled "An Orthodox Convert Reconsiders Evangelicalism" and thinking that a similar crisis might happen to me, especially when I know without doubt that I could never again accept the Protestantism of my youth (something that has caused no small amount of family turmoil): I would either end up agnostic or else a pitifully fearful "Christian".

That article isn't about someone abandoning Orthodoxy, it's about someone coming to terms with their roots and not being such a critical and judgmental a-hole, which is something many of us converts need to hear.

Hear, hear! *applauds*

That article quelled any fears in my mind that I would ever return to the Baptist church. It also convicted me of the sinful, prideful judgmentalism that had infected my view of people around me. Thank God for that article, as it sure made this formerly-arrogant convert eat a slice of humble pie.

And welcome David! Excellent first post!
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« Reply #217 on: March 11, 2010, 07:15:53 PM »

a yes... I heard this in a sermon at church not to long ago.  Father said that about 5 years down the rode, you are used to the icons, the incense, and the "magic" has worn off.  that is why the hymn that is always playing in my head goes: "and blessed is he who keeps his faith forever "etc...

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« Reply #218 on: March 12, 2010, 12:30:30 AM »

Thanks for the welcome. Glad to be here.
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« Reply #219 on: March 12, 2010, 12:52:33 AM »

Welcome!
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« Reply #220 on: March 12, 2010, 06:55:00 AM »

Sometimes they come back.

I am a convert to Orthodoxy and was Chrismated into an OCA church in 1991. I was very active in the church and as I later moved from state to state and town to town, I continued to attend services regularly in the cities I moved to or where there was an Orthodox Church nearest to me, but eventually fell away. I blame only my own sorry sinful state of being for allowing myself to fall away from the true faith. Many years have gone by since I was in regular attendance but I always considered myself Orthodox and never even thought of going anywhere else. After all, how could anyone find any other form of worship equal to what we have been handed down to us through the Church; the Divine Liturgy, The Sacraments, the teaching of the Church, the Tradition, and the continuity with the Church Fathers. Thanks and Praise be to God, I am finally making my way back and it feels great to be back!

Again, I blame only myself for being away from God and the Church, but as a convert to Orthodoxy who became Orthodox in an all English parish made up of about 50% converts and 50% cradle Orthodox, as I moved around and went to other Churches I found language to be a barrier. I've been in OCA Churches that were 100% Old Church Slavonic, and Greek Churches that were either all Greek, or mostly Greek, and I remember one time going for coffee hour after the Liturgy in a Greek Church once where a little old lady came up to me and asked: "Are you Greek?" - No; "Are you married to one?" - No; "Then why are you here?" I know other people who have had almost this exact same experience in Greek parishes.

I speak only for myself, but I wonder if experiences like this may be a cause for a turn off (or falling away) for others? Language is an issue that needs to be addressed in the US. I understand the need that used to exist to use Church Slavonic or Kyrie Greek because the parish was established by immigrants from Russia, Greece, Serbia, or where ever, but the periods of heavy immigration from Russia and Greece are over and most are now 2nd, 3rd, and even 4th generation from their immigrant ancestors. If the Church is going to thrive in the United States, it must (in my opinion) address the issue of language and the language it needs to use here is English.

What do our Church Fathers say about language in the Church? The Apostles went out and spoke the Good News of Christ to the multitudes in their own language with the Grace of the Holy Spirit as recorded in Acts. Saints Cyril and Methodius didn't force the Rus to learn Greek or Latin. They created the Cyrillic alphabet and translated everything for them. Likewise I believe (please correct me if I'm wrong), Saint Tikhon of Alaska translated to the native Alaskan Indians into their language.

So I wonder if the reason some converts may fall away are due to this kind of stuff?

I love the Church and hope that all Orthodox in America can one day call themselves Orthodox of America and not just Orthodox in America and that we will find unity amongst ourselves so that we're not Greek Orthodox, or Russian Orthodox, or Serbian Orthodox, or what have you, but instead we can call ourselves just simply Orthodox Christians.



Καλώς ήρθατε Δαβιδ Λανιερ!
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« Reply #221 on: March 12, 2010, 10:42:22 AM »

Καλώς ήρθατε Δαβιδ Λανιερ!

Thank you!

I've never seen my name spelled in Greek before.  :-)
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« Reply #222 on: October 06, 2010, 10:28:35 AM »

I saw this comment on a blog post about the 2010 Census of Orthodox in America, but I thought the comment was more relevant to this thread:

Quote
A cradle who had spent a decent amount of time around converts once told me, "The last stage of conversion is when you realize you don't actually have to go to church if you're Orthodox -- so you stop going." I related this conversation to a fellow convert sometime later, who got a thoughtful look on their face and said, "You know, he's got a point there."
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« Reply #223 on: October 07, 2010, 10:25:14 AM »

When I catechized, My priest told me that "It is important to remember that if you fail to attend the Sunday Divine Liturgy for three Sundays in a row without good reason you have excommunicated yourself from the Church." I always thought that to be interesting that we are usually the real excommunicators not Church for we fail to go and be in communion (co-union) with the Church.

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