Author Topic: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?  (Read 56935 times)

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Offline Schultz

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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« 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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Offline FrChris

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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« 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!  ;)

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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Offline aserb

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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« 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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Offline tuesdayschild

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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« 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?

Offline aserb

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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« Reply #94 on: March 22, 2007, 12:33:37 PM »
Tuesdayschild:

First - Welcome!  :-X

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.
Save us o' Son of God, who art risen from the dead, as we sing to thee Alleluia!

Offline FrChris

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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« 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.
"As the sparrow flees from a hawk, so the man seeking humility flees from an argument". St John Climacus

Offline Aristibule

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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« 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.
"We must begin at once to "build again the tabernacle which is fallen down, and to build again the ruins thereof, and to set it up;" for HE WHO GAVE THE THOUGHT IN OUR HEART HE LAID ALSO THE RESPONSIBILITY ON US THAT THIS THOUGHT SHOULD NOT REMAIN BARREN." - J.J. Overbeck, 1866

Offline cholmes

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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« 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.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2007, 01:57:54 PM by cholmes »

Offline tuesdayschild

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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« 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?

Offline Thomas

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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« 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.

Thomas
« Last Edit: June 15, 2007, 10:33:03 AM by Thomas »
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Offline Tzimis

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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« 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.

Offline pensateomnia

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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« 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
« Last Edit: April 02, 2007, 11:54:49 AM by pensateomnia »
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Offline FrChris

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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« 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... ;)
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Offline ozgeorge

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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« 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... ;)
LOL :D You know, that's not a bad idea!
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Offline Aristibule

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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« 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.
"We must begin at once to "build again the tabernacle which is fallen down, and to build again the ruins thereof, and to set it up;" for HE WHO GAVE THE THOUGHT IN OUR HEART HE LAID ALSO THE RESPONSIBILITY ON US THAT THIS THOUGHT SHOULD NOT REMAIN BARREN." - J.J. Overbeck, 1866

Offline Thomas

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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« 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?

Thomas
« Last Edit: April 03, 2007, 09:31:56 AM by Thomas »
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Offline Aristibule

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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« 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:

Quote
"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
"We must begin at once to "build again the tabernacle which is fallen down, and to build again the ruins thereof, and to set it up;" for HE WHO GAVE THE THOUGHT IN OUR HEART HE LAID ALSO THE RESPONSIBILITY ON US THAT THIS THOUGHT SHOULD NOT REMAIN BARREN." - J.J. Overbeck, 1866

Offline sunny

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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« 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
« Last Edit: June 15, 2007, 10:16:09 AM by sunny »
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Offline Thomas

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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« 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
« Last Edit: June 15, 2007, 12:17:52 PM by Thomas »
Your brother in Christ ,
Thomas

Offline Jonas Suender

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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« 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$h for the ga$  :o  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.    8)
« Last Edit: June 15, 2007, 12:27:39 PM by Jonas Suender »

Offline Didymus

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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« 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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Offline catechumen07

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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« 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 :).  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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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« 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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Offline Nyssa The Hobbit

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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« 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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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« Reply #114 on: August 10, 2007, 08:42:47 AM »
Welcome Nyssa, I hope you will be posting more here!

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Offline Αριστοκλής

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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« Reply #115 on: August 10, 2007, 07:35:54 PM »
There is another Orthodox Forum!?  :o
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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« Reply #116 on: August 11, 2007, 08:31:41 AM »
Welcome Nyssa!
Have to say: Love the moniker!
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Offline Ebor

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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« Reply #117 on: August 12, 2007, 08:05:35 AM »
Hello Nyssa. Welcome.  :)  I've been a visitor to the other Forum.

Ebor
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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« 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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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« 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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Offline Nyssa The Hobbit

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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« Reply #120 on: August 13, 2007, 07:56:44 PM »
I'd rather not say.  :)
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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« Reply #121 on: August 13, 2007, 08:51:47 PM »
There are no other forums, he was just pulling your leg. :) There was once a forum called Byzantines.net, but the mighty OC.net swallowed 'er up whole!

Offline Ebor

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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« Reply #122 on: August 13, 2007, 09:48:46 PM »
There are no other forums, he was just pulling your leg. :) There was once a forum called Byzantines.net, but the mighty OC.net swallowed 'er up whole!

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

Ebor
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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« 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...  :-[ :D ...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.

Offline aserb

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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« 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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Offline ozgeorge

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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« 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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Offline GabrieltheCelt

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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« 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...  :D (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.  ;) 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
« Last Edit: September 07, 2007, 10:27:15 PM by Jibrail Almuhajir »
"The Scots-Irish; Brewed in Scotland, bottled in Ireland, uncorked in America."  ~Scots-Irish saying

Offline Tamara

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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« 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 ;)  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.

Offline Elisha

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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« 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.

Offline prayingserb

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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« 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.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2007, 01:19:18 AM by prayingserb »

Offline Tamara

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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« 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?

Offline Elisha

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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« 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.

Offline Tamara

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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« 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.

Offline Thomas

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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« 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.

Thomas
Your brother in Christ ,
Thomas

Offline Trudy

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Re: 5 Year 'Lifespan' of a Convert?
« 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.   ;)

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.    :)  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
He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?  Micah 6:8