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arjuna3110
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« on: June 26, 2005, 09:44:16 AM »

Dear Orthodox Readers.

Hi !  I’m thinking about converting to Orthodoxy, and I have many questions.  I humbly ask for your responses.

I am posting my questions here and at the Orthodox forum at www.belief.net because I want to get a better sense of just what I would be getting myself into if I became an Orthodox.  I want to find out as much as I can before beginning the process of conversion. 

Some of my questions are controversial.  I apologize if I cause any offence.  Everyone likes to talk about the good points about their religion, but I need to know about the bad points too before I make my decision.   

Before I post my questions, I should share a little background.  I live in the United States, and I am mostly interested in learning about Orthodoxy as it is in the United States.   I am Roman Catholic.  However, over the last year or so, I have become very interested in Orthodoxy.  In short, I think the Orthodox do a better job of staying focused on the goal of Christianity: becoming holy (theosis).  I also think they have done a better job at preserving faith, liturgy and tradition.  I have attended Orthodox Divine Liturgy; I pray the Jesus Prayer; I have spoken with Orthodox priests; and I have read some basic books on Orthodoxy (for example, Timothy/Kallistos Ware’s “The Orthodox Church” and “The Orthodox Way”; the Pilgrim’s “The Way of the Pilgrim” and Vladimir Lossky’s “Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church,” among others.)  Overall, I find Orthodoxy to be a powerful and truthful and beautiful religion.

That said, here are my questions. 



(A)  There seem to be four main faults, which I have noticed, with Orthodoxy in the U.S.:

1.  Over-Attachment to Ethnicity
I understand that many Orthodox in America want to preserve their ethnic heritages.  However, it seems that some parishes or cliques keep Orthodoxy as only a way to retain their native ethnicity. 

2.  Anti-Semitism
It seems that Eastern Europeans can tend to be anti-Semitic, and that can be seen among some Orthodox of Eastern European ethnicity.

3.  Bickering over the Calendar
I don't pretend to understand this one.  From what I can understand, the Orthodox Church used one calendar in the past, and then an updated calendar (the Julian?) was introduced, and some people are very upset about this.

4.  Phariseeism
Many Orthodox are balanced in the practice of their faith.  Others --who seem to be pretty vocal on the internet-- are fanatics about performing things in exactly the "right" way.  I have especially noticed this online in posts by the "ROCOR."  (In fairness, the ROCOR seem to genuinely believe that they are preserving critically important religious behaviors.)

Is this list right?

Am I leaving anything out?



(B)  Do the Orthodox in the U.S. have any big problems looming on the horizon, such as the Catholic Church’s priest-abuse scandal?



(C)  Are there many homosexual clergy (priests and monks) in the Orthodox Church?
In the Catholic Church in the U.S., it seems that perhaps 30 - 40% of clergy might be gay.



(D)  How are Orthodox seminarians financially supported?  Entirely on their own?  Mostly on their own but with financial aid?  By the Church (parish? bishop? patriarchate?)?



(E) How are Orthodox priests financially supported? From their parish?  bishop?  patriarchate?



(F) Are Orthodox priests financially supported enough to support themselves? 



(G) Are Orthodox priests financially supported enough to support a family?



(H) Are there different requirements for  --and impediments to-- ordination to the priesthood in the differing Orthodox jurisdictions operating in America?  Where are these listed or posted or published ?



(I)  What are the demographics of Orthodox in the U.S.?
It seems that ethnic parishes of immigrants are dying out as the immigrants assimilate, but it also seems that the OCA and the Antiochian Patriarchate are growing in the U.S. from conversion.  Are there any sources, especially online, for Orthodox demographics?



(H)  Do you think that the Orthodox Churches and Roman Catholic Churches will soon reunite?
Personally, I hope they do NOT.  Their theologies and personalities are too different.  However, especially on the Catholic side, there seems to be a push for “reunion now.”



(J)  What are the three things you like most about being Orthodox?



(K)  What are the three things you like least about being Orthodox?



(L)  Aside form the standard things (prayer, talking with a priest, visiting Divine Liturgy, etc.), can you offer any advice (including books or websites) for potential converts ?



Again, I apologize for any offense.  I just want to know what I would be getting myself into if I converted to this religion.  Everyone likes to talk up the good points of their religion, so I would really appreciate any candid remarks on the bad parts of this otherwise beautiful religion.

Thank you, any of you, who respond.



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« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2005, 11:33:40 AM »

Hi Arjuna! Nice to see you again!

1.  Over-Attachment to Ethnicity
I understand that many Orthodox in America want to preserve their ethnic heritages.  However, it seems that some parishes or cliques keep Orthodoxy as only a way to retain their native ethnicity. 

There are some. There are people who are culturally Orthodox like there are people who are culturally or familially Roman Catholic. How many? Definitely a minority. And within any parish that has people who find the social club more important than the faith, there are plenty of people who have a simple, true faith. Maybe I'm too far from the problem, but I find there are less and less who hold to the church as a social thing as more and more people become Orthodox.

2.  Anti-Semitism
It seems that Eastern Europeans can tend to be anti-Semitic, and that can be seen among some Orthodox of Eastern European ethnicity.

I've never experienced this from anyone in Orthodoxy. I'm sure it's possible. Never encountered it, so I can't imagine it's one of our top problems.

3.  Bickering over the Calendar
I don't pretend to understand this one.  From what I can understand, the Orthodox Church used one calendar in the past, and then an updated calendar (the Julian?) was introduced, and some people are very upset about this.

The Orthodox Church has some teachings about dating Easter. There is the Gregorian Calendar, and the Julian Calendar, both named for the people who sponsored their creation. Neither is perfect. Most churches in the US use a modified Gregorian Calendar, which corresponds with the calendar as you know it. The modification includes keeping the Churches way of calculating Pascha, so there's no real reason not to use either calendar. I happen to like the modified Gregorian because thats the one our culture uses. Anyway, I imagine it is a problem for some people, especially the ones who like to talk about it on the internet, but to the regular Orthodox Christian it doesn't matter much.
http://www.antiochian.org/date-of-pascha.html

4.  Phariseeism
Many Orthodox are balanced in the practice of their faith.  Others --who seem to be pretty vocal on the internet-- are fanatics about performing things in exactly the "right" way.  I have especially noticed this online in posts by the "ROCOR."  (In fairness, the ROCOR seem to genuinely believe that they are preserving critically important religious behaviors.)

It seems about right. For a website that contains many of these fanatics who are very vocal and are, thankfully, a small minority. http://www.euphrosynoscafe.com/forum/
If anything there gets you hot under the collar, you're in good company. I can't imagine being one of those people, but they do exist.



(B)  Do the Orthodox in the U.S. have any big problems looming on the horizon, such as the Catholic Church’s priest-abuse scandal?

There is a scandal happening in the Jerusalem patriarchate. look it up here and you'll find it. There also was just a Romanian priest who crucified and killed one of his nuns in an attempt to exorcise her. These are our horrors.


(C)  Are there many homosexual clergy (priests and monks) in the Orthodox Church?
In the Catholic Church in the U.S., it seems that perhaps 30 - 40% of clergy might be gay.

Like I said there, I don't know any. I would assume some are. If any are actively pracaticing homosexuals, then they're operating against what their Church teaches. Not too much of my business!

(D)  How are Orthodox seminarians financially supported?  Entirely on their own?  Mostly on their own but with financial aid?  By the Church (parish? bishop? patriarchate?)?

There are 4(?) Orthodox seminaries in the US. Someone told you about Holy Cross. St. Vladimirs offers as much support to their seminarians as they can like any graduate school. Most parishes help sponsor their seminarians, but financial aid usually comes the same as any graduate school--in a variety of ways. We have 4 seminarians from my church (although 3 just graduated!) and we supported all of them, mostly with book funds.

(E) How are Orthodox priests financially supported? From their parish?  bishop?  patriarchate?

I only know about supply priests--those who have secular jobs, became priests, and serve by helping out whenever a priest with a parish needs to travel or take a vacation. They are paid "per service."

(F) Are Orthodox priests financially supported enough to support themselves? 

Mostly? Yes.

(G) Are Orthodox priests financially supported enough to support a family?

Mostly? Yes. But they're like teachers--we should be paying them a lot more.

(H) Are there different requirements for  --and impediments to-- ordination to the priesthood in the differing Orthodox jurisdictions operating in America?  Where are these listed or posted or published ?

Ususally required is study in a seminary, procession through the ordained offices (you're a deacon first), and the permission of the bishop. No idea where the "rules" are posted.

(I)  What are the demographics of Orthodox in the U.S.?
It seems that ethnic parishes of immigrants are dying out as the immigrants assimilate, but it also seems that the OCA and the Antiochian Patriarchate are growing in the U.S. from conversion.  Are there any sources, especially online, for Orthodox demographics?

Dont know, maybe someone else does. there are new converts every year in my parish, plus new babies Smiley

(H)  Do you think that the Orthodox Churches and Roman Catholic Churches will soon reunite?
Personally, I hope they do NOT.  Their theologies and personalities are too different.  However, especially on the Catholic side, there seems to be a push for “reunion now.”

Nope, don't see it coming any time soon, barring the work of the Holy Spirit.

(J)  What are the three things you like most about being Orthodox?

Church
Church
Church

(K)  What are the three things you like least about being Orthodox?

Feeling sanctimonious at times.
Being treated like crap from others
knowing what I have been given and knowing my responsibility (also my joy)


(L)  Aside form the standard things (prayer, talking with a priest, visiting Divine Liturgy, etc.), can you offer any advice (including books or websites) for potential converts ?

There's a book by Clark Carlton --what every RC should know about the OC. It might be useful?




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sin_vladimirov
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« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2005, 11:46:00 AM »

Firstly, welcome to OC.net.
I will try to answer your questions, as best as I can.


Lord have mercy.





Some of my questions are controversial.  I apologize if I cause any offence.  Everyone likes to talk about the good points about their religion, but I need to know about the bad points too before I make my decision.
You can ask whatever you like, there is nothing offensive in asking. We certainly have nothing to hide.   



Quote
1.  Over-Attachment to Ethnicity
I understand that many Orthodox in America want to preserve their ethnic heritages.  However, it seems that some parishes or cliques keep Orthodoxy as only a way to retain their native ethnicity. 

That is true. Church in the west is mainly "ethnic". Unfortunately that will probably not Change today, but you do not have to be a Serbian or Greek to be Orthodox. Who ever says that should be publicly flogged. LOL. I agree with your statement, but please try to understand the reasons for this. It is who brought the Orthodoxy to the New World! We can not, nor we wish too, hide from that. Some people are very wrong in making it more important that really is, but at the same time, you should not allow this to stop you from partaking the Body and Blood of our Lord. We are working on it. Many are aware of it, but things do take time. Most of the Churches are still recovering 50-90 years of unprecedented suffering under communism. Please bear with us.

Quote
2.  Anti-Semites
It seems that Eastern Europeans can tend to be anti-Semitic, and that can be seen among some Orthodox of Eastern European ethnicity.
I really think this is a wrong impression. You can access the files of Vad Yashem and you will find that Orthodox never prosecuted Jews. Some Fathers did hold a grudge but that was many years ago. Also, we never killed Jews for the reasons that the west did, that is to say, as Orthodox we never killed Jews period. You can access the files of Vad Yashem and see for yourself. Also Encyclopedia Hebraica has many articles that you should read. On this I can not agree. I think that you have a wrong impression. A huge parts of Holy Land are under ownership of the Orthodox Church. Israeli Knesset (Parliament House) in on Greek land. I just think that relations between Jews and Orthodox should be observed through way Jews of Israel think of Orthodox Christians.

Quote
3.  Bickering over the Calendar
I don't pretend to understand this one.  From what I can understand, the Orthodox Church used one calendar in the past, and then an updated calendar (the Julian?) was introduced, and some people are very upset about this.
This is not divisive issue. We all celebrate THE DAY (Holy Pascha) at the same time. Calendar does not have any role in salvation and is nor dogmatic issue. Pascha is (canonic issue atleast). Of people who are bickering, they are doing that on their own guilt. Some certainly do it, but please trust me, those people just do not know anything else to argue about. Soon enough we will all use the same calendar. This is just IN-BETWEEN period, and "bickering" is what happens when weak people think that they know what is going on.

Quote
4.  Phariseeism
Many Orthodox are balanced in the practice of their faith.  Others --who seem to be pretty vocal on the internet-- are fanatics about performing things in exactly the "right" way.  I have especially noticed this on line in posts by the "ROCOR."  (In fairness, the ROCOR seem to genuinely believe that they are preserving critically important religious behaviors.)
I am former 7th Day Adventist, so for me in Orthodoxy just can not be any phariseeism. SDA are master pharisees. I am not sure, but it can be true that you view could be correct. It is our duty, however, to learn as much of the Right Faith on the Righ Way so we can give he Right Worship. Please, do not judge the Church by its members. We are all, and every one of us, sinners. Saints are in Heaven. We, on the other hand, are all bad. Also, there are many many many people who know their faith and who will guide you and help you struggle with them and they will with you. You should not let people ever be your reason to forgo the Truth. Also, we have to make a distinction between form and the Truth. I can not judge why people do things and say thing, but rest assured, form without faith is dead. Theology without praxis is a theology of demons. Only living faith can speak, faith that is just professed and not lived is as good as dead.

Quote
(B)  Do the Orthodox in the U.S. have any big problems looming on the horizon, such as the Catholic Church’s priest-abuse scandal?
I just can not comment on this. I do not know. In any way, what people in the Church do, they do for their salvation or punishment. I hope not, but devil is good at making people do wrong things. I am not Roman Catholic because I think that they do not posses the Truth, not because their priests did things which they did. For me, the Faith is what is important, I just can not judge actions of people. As far as "big problems looming" I for one, really do not know. I do not think so, but I can not make any firm comments either way. I do hope that Church is protected and that even gates of hell will not conquer Her, but how does that play out in real term I can not say.

Quote
(C)  Are there many homosexual clergy (priests and monks) in the Orthodox Church?
In the Catholic Church in the U.S., it seems that perhaps 30 - 40% of clergy might be gay.
I can not comment either way. I do not know any RC clergy full stop. Also, I do not know any Orthodox clergy that might be gays. 3 priests that I know have 13 kids in between them. Whether they are gay I do not know. I kinda do not ask people whether they are gay.

Quote
(D)  How are Orthodox seminarians financially supported?  Entirely on their own?  Mostly on their own but with financial aid?  By the Church (parish? bishop? patriarchate?)?
Do not know.

Quote
(E) How are Orthodox priests financially supported? From their parish?  bishop?  patriarchate?
(F) Are Orthodox priests financially supported enough to support themselves? 
(G) Are Orthodox priests financially supported enough to support a family?
All the priests that I know, work other jobs to support themselves and their families. (I do not know many priests, I spent 4 years in Saudi Arabia, and just came back to Australia a month and a half ago, so I do not speak for everyone, and if I do, it would be minority for sure).

Quote
(H) Are there different requirements for  --and impediments to-- ordination to the priesthood in the differing Orthodox jurisdictions operating in America?  Where are these listed or posted or published ?
I am not sure what you are asking here.

Quote
(I)  What are the demographics of Orthodox in the U.S.?
It seems that ethnic parishes of immigrants are dying out as the immigrants assimilate, but it also seems that the OCA and the Antiochian Patriarchate are growing in the U.S. from conversion.  Are there any sources, especially onon linefor Orthodox demographics?
I am not sure.

Quote
(H)  Do you think that the Orthodox Churches and Roman Catholic Churches will soon reunite?
Personally, I hope they do NOT.  Their theologies and personalities are too different.  However, especially on the Catholic side, there seems to be a push for “reunion now.”
I think never. The only way for return of RCC into the fold is negation of all heterodox doctrine that Latins aquired last 1000 years. In my oppinion that will not happen. Many RC will come over, so the "end result" is just as same. We do not accept "sister churches" theory that was formulated by RCC. Orthodox Churches do not have sister's that we are not in communion with. Whoever says otherwise is not confessing the right faith and should be corrected, whether Bishop or even Angel from the sky. We are One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. RCC is not and never will be. For all intense and purpose, we do not want re-union if that will mean any shift from the Orthodox Doctrine. It is not us that need revision. Again, I just can not see the arrogant little City ever repenting, they did not repent ever in last 1000 years, I do not think that they will do it now. Everything else is point scoring and pure hypocracy. Vatican can keep it. (Of course you will hear different answers from Orthodox People regarding level of hypocracy in Vatican and purity of its intentions, I for one am nor very Vatican friendly).

Quote
(J)  What are the three things you like most about being Orthodox?
I can go on and on. I am discovering things every minute that make me go WOW!! I am crying and laughing every second when presented with the depth and width of the Orthodox Faith and Glory of our God. The easiest way for me to explain to you is to tell you good old words: COME AND SEE.

Quote
(K)  What are the three things you like least about being Orthodox?
Honestly, there is not a single thing that I do not like about being Orthodox Cathecumen (soon to be "drowned"). We, the Church have problems, but we had problems since Pentecost. Church without problems is a dead Church. Our problems make us tougher.

Quote
(L)  Aside form the standard things (prayer, talking with a priest, visiting Divine Liturgy, etc.), can you offer any advice (including books or websites) for potential converts ?
http://www.fatheralexander.org/page6.htm
http://www.synaxis.org/
http://www.sthermans.ca/index.html
http://www.ecmarsh.com/lxx/
http://www.oca.org/
http://www.holytrinitymission.org/index.php
http://www.sfaturiortodoxe.ro/muzica.html
http://www.ancientfaithradio.com/
http://www.inbn.net/
http://www.eastern-orthodoxy.com/1111/index.html
http://goarch.org/
http://www.antiochian.org/
http://www.stots.edu/these_truths_we_hold.html
http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/
http://www.westsrbdio.org/links/index.html

Quote
Again, I apologize for any offense.  I just want to know what I would be getting myself into if I converted to this religion.  Everyone likes to talk up the good points of their religion, so I would really appreciate any candid remarks on the bad parts of this otherwise beautiful religion.
Thank you, any of you, who respond.
There is no need to apologise. I am sorry for not being able to give you long and detailed answers on all questions. You are most welcome to ask. You can not love what you do not know. And with Orthodoxy, the more you know the more you love.

I hope this will help a little bit.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2005, 08:35:12 PM by sin_vladimirov » Logged

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arjuna3110
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« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2005, 07:17:41 AM »

Thank you, Choirfiend, for responding to me twice (here and at www.belief.net) !  Than you, :-) again, for your words of wisdom !
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arjuna3110
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« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2005, 07:19:23 AM »

Thank you, sin_vladimirov, for your thoughtful and heartfelt responses !  God Bless you !
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« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2005, 07:49:32 AM »

You are very welcome.

Ask and ask some more. I do not know a lot. But I am sure that there is not a single reasonable question that brothers and sisters on this forum can not give some kind of Orthodox Answer.


God bless you to and all yours.
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« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2005, 02:23:15 PM »

Welcome, I don't claim to be an expert I'm just a garden variety believer.  Smiley I answered as best as I could.




(A)  There seem to be four main faults, which I have noticed, with Orthodoxy in the U.S.:

1.  Over-Attachment to Ethnicity

I understand that many Orthodox in America want to preserve their ethnic heritages.  However, it seems that some parishes or cliques keep Orthodoxy as only a way to retain their native ethnicity. 

As an ethnic and a convert, this makes me cringe. While I don’t like the cliques either but let me explain them. First, Orthodoxy was brought to America by Greeks, Serbians, Russians, Syrians, Egyptians, Ethipions… Need I go on? Not by the French, English or Irish which dominated American culture prior to the early 20th century. Less than 2% of the US prior to 1900 was Catholic and even fewer were Eastern Orthodox. The early 20th century brought  LOTS and LOTS of people of many different countries. Many settled in larger cities and worked in America’s booming factories during the industrial revolution. They built churches and their homes around the churches therefore creating “villages” and the church was the center of this village. There is a tendency to be somewhat clannish as these people were “marginal” to established white Americans. They were viewed as “unruly”; lazy, drunks, illegal aliens etc. In larger cities there were “Americanization” classes were these new arrivals were “taught” (*ahem* forced) to speak, act, look and be American. People could be fired for speaking their native language on the job.  So, in order to preserve their language and culture these people clung to their church and each other.
Sound familiar? Think about how some Americans view Mexicans. Same story different country.


2.  Anti-Semitism
It seems that Eastern Europeans can tend to be anti-Semitic, and that can be seen among some Orthodox of Eastern European ethnici
ty.

The root of the anti-semitism stems from “being Christian” vs “being Jewish” Jews do not believe in Christ. Period. Unfortunatly, many have taken this to new heights and have made a game of “blaming the jews” for every societal ill. By and large this is the opinion of small minded nationalists that show up to church twice a year if they are feeling especially pious.

3.  Bickering over the Calendar

I don't pretend to understand this one.  From what I can understand, the Orthodox Church used one calendar in the past, and then an updated calendar (the Julian?) was introduced, and some people are very upset about this.

Seriously, this is the world’s biggest non issue. The Serbian church follows the Julian calendar and we peacefully coexist with our Gregorian bretheran. I like buying my christmas  presents at half price.

4.  Phariseeism
Many Orthodox are balanced in the practice of their faith.  Others --who seem to be pretty vocal on the internet-- are fanatics about performing things in exactly the "right" way.  I have especially noticed this online in posts by the "ROCOR."  (In fairness, the ROCOR seem to genuinely believe that they are preserving critically important religious behaviors.)

Converts in general are more vocal than “ethnic” Orthodox. Former Catholics (in my experience) especially are into “rules” , “regulations” and “doing things right”. The general disorganization of the Orthodox church is perplexing to most Catholics who are accustomed to having a library of books, papers and other “things” that can prove or disprove virtually any teaching. If you are seriously looking to convert, learn to listen to your priest and take the other outside “stuff” with a grain of salt. 


(B)  Do the Orthodox in the U.S. have any big problems looming on the horizon, such as the Catholic Church’s priest-abuse scandal?

The scandals tend to be localized and small-this is sort of a blessing of being less “organized” than the Catholic church. The media has a harder time finding us and creating a scandal. We have our share of child molestors, drunks, abusers, thieves etc.  The Orthodox church is really good about weeding out those who cause scandal. Check out www.pokrov.com



(C)  Are there many homosexual clergy (priests and monks) in the Orthodox Church?

In the Catholic Church in the U.S., it seems that perhaps 30 - 40% of clergy might be gay.[/b][/b]

Gay priests-seeing that most are married. My uneducated guess would say about there are very few. I would venture to guess there is homosexual activity in some monasteries but I don’t have any statistics or knowledge to back that up.


(D)   How are Orthodox seminarians financially supported?  Entirely on their own?  Mostly on their own but with financial aid?  By the Church (parish? bishop? patriarchate?)?

Seminarians are supported by all of the above in one way or another.




(E) How are Orthodox priests financially supported? From their parish?  bishop?  patriarchate?


Parish mostly.

(E)   Are Orthodox priests financially supported enough to support themselves? 

Some are and some are not, this varies by city. My priest is comfortable that he does not work a secular job nor does his wife.



(G) Are Orthodox priests financially supported enough to support a family?
        My priest is well supported and his wife stays home with their three children.


(H) Are there different requirements for  --and impediments to-- ordination to the priesthood in the differing Orthodox jurisdictions operating in America?  Where are these listed or posted or published ?


I can honestly say, I’m not sure about this one. There are a few seminarians floating around this board who can answer this better than me.



(I)  What are the demographics of Orthodox in the U.S.?
It seems that ethnic parishes of immigrants are dying out as the immigrants assimilate, but it also seems that the OCA and the Antiochian Patriarchate are growing in the U.S. from conversion.  Are there any sources, especially online, for Orthodox demographics?


Ethnic parishes in larger cities with big concentrations of a certian ethnicity will probably never die out.Even though no one shows up to church on Sunday these larger parishes are VERY well supported (Because you gotta have a nice church to get married in  Roll Eyes ) because of the ethnic tie.  This will affect smaller cities where the ethnic population had more of a chance to assmilate with the local poplulation.

Here is the best website I found http://www.spiritrestoration.org/Church/Pastors%20Page/who_is_who.htm



(H)  Do you think that the Orthodox Churches and Roman Catholic Churches will soon reunite?
Personally, I hope they do NOT.  Their theologies and personalities are too different.  However, especially on the Catholic side, there seems to be a push for “reunion now.”


Yes, they are different culturally. Would it be nice to be united? Sure! Even with our personality differences. Would this happen in our lifetime, I seriously doubt it. Do you have the ability to check out an Eastern Catholic church in your city or town? I suggest you check out an Eastern Catholic church before making this call.


(J)   What are the three things you like most about being Orthodox?
1.   Knowing that this is the true faith
2.   I feel like I’ve come home
3.   I am able to live my faith by demonstrating rather than distributing “tracts” or shoving my beliefs down someone’s throat.


(K)  What are the three things you like least about being Orthodox?

         1. White convert antics
         2. I have a sister who is gay and I struggle with the church teachings on homosexuality.


(K)   Aside form the standard things (prayer, talking with a priest, visiting Divine Liturgy, etc.), can you offer any advice (including books or websites) for potential converts ?

•   Don't over do trying to be accepted by the larger ethnic group. Also understand that they probably won't go out thier way to be nice to you. Accept that you will always be an outsider as will your children.
•   The convert population is louder but smaller than the ethnic population.
•   Avoid Frank Schaeffer and his awful books
•   Be prepared to be uncomfortable with yourself. The church will not change or bend for you.
•   Accept disorganization.


[/list]


Websites
http://www.frederica.com/
« Last Edit: June 28, 2005, 03:01:36 PM by PhosZoe » Logged
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« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2005, 02:35:41 PM »

""(C)  Are there many homosexual clergy (priests and monks) in the Orthodox Church?
In the Catholic Church in the U.S., it seems that perhaps 30 - 40% of clergy might be gay.[/b][/b]

Gay priests-seeing that most are married. My uneducated guess would say about there are very few. I would venture to guess there is homosexual activity in some monasteries but I don’t have any statistics or knowledge to back that up.""

I would strongly disagree with that but would agree there is no evidence to support such a claim. Monasteries are not receptacles for homosexual brethren. I'm sure there might be some homosexuals who are monastics just the same as there are homosexual doctors, teachers, librarians, cops, and Starbucks clerks.  Monasticism is not an escape route form dealing with sexual urges of any sort. And any sort of sexual activity taking place at a monastery both goes against the entirety of monasticism and would, I believe, be quickly rooted out and condemned by both the hierarchy and anyone in monastic life. If you've ever spent any time at any one of the monasteries in our country, I think you would soon agree.
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« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2005, 02:57:45 PM »

""(C)  Are there many homosexual clergy (priests and monks) in the Orthodox Church?
In the Catholic Church in the U.S., it seems that perhaps 30 - 40% of clergy might be gay.[/b][/b]

Gay priests-seeing that most are married. My uneducated guess would say about there are very few. I would venture to guess there is homosexual activity in some monasteries but I don’t have any statistics or knowledge to back that up.""

I would strongly disagree with that but would agree there is no evidence to support such a claim. Monasteries are not receptacles for homosexual brethren. I'm sure there might be some homosexuals who are monastics just the same as there are homosexual doctors, teachers, librarians, cops, and Starbucks clerks.  Monasticism is not an escape route form dealing with sexual urges of any sort. And any sort of sexual activity taking place at a monastery both goes against the entirety of monasticism and would, I believe, be quickly rooted out and condemned by both the hierarchy and anyone in monastic life. If you've ever spent any time at any one of the monasteries in our country, I think you would soon agree.

Seraphim Rose was gay.

Besides, monastics are human with human urges and I'm sorry but you put a bunch of people of the same sex in a contained space...   I would not go as far to discount that homosexual activity doesn't or never happened in monstaries. Yes, those who are in violation would probably be dealt with promptly.  Based on my own monastary visits I would also agree that it probably doesn't happen very often.
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« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2005, 03:19:02 PM »

Like I said, there can be homosexual monastics the same as any other calling. It's not that I dont think any monastic is gay; it's that I dont think gay people become monastics any more often than heterosexual people become monastics.  I think your assumptions about putting a "bunch of people of the same sex" together are faulty. I believe monastics know and respect their vows in the very great majority. People are capable of anything, so has some monastic violated their vows with either sex? I'm sure it's happened. Do I think it's a phenomenon that's even statistically measurable? No. Monastics are normally people of very great faith and very great humility. I don't think there's much sexual activity happening at any level in our monasteries.
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« Reply #10 on: June 28, 2005, 04:00:34 PM »

Quote
Like I said, there can be homosexual monastics the same as any other calling. It's not that I dont think any monastic is gay; it's that I dont think gay people become monastics any more often than heterosexual people become monastics.  I think your assumptions about putting a "bunch of people of the same sex" together are faulty. I believe monastics know and respect their vows in the very great majority. People are capable of anything, so has some monastic violated their vows with either sex? I'm sure it's happened. Do I think it's a phenomenon that's even statistically measurable? No. Monastics are normally people of very great faith and very great humility. I don't think there's much sexual activity happening at any level in our monasteries.

Just a thought,

Wouldn't a monastery be the best place for a person who struggles with homosexuality or any sexual sin? There they can do battle with the flesh and the passions and live a life of simplicity (in a manner of speaking) and devoted to prayer.

Robert.
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« Reply #11 on: June 28, 2005, 04:32:10 PM »

Well, here comes your disagreements. Wink  I'll just comment on the ones I have a problem with or would like to clarify.





2.ÂÂ  Anti-Semitism
It seems that Eastern Europeans can tend to be anti-Semitic, and that can be seen among some Orthodox of Eastern European ethnici
ty.

The root of the anti-semitism stems from “being Christian” vs “being Jewish” Jews do not believe in Christ. Period. Unfortunatly, many have taken this to new heights and have made a game of “blaming the jews” for every societal ill. By and large this is the opinion of small minded nationalists that show up to church twice a year if they are feeling especially pious.
Just like to add that I think this happens, unfortunately, quite frequently with Arab Christians (especially Palestinian Orthodox).  I think the root of this is rather obvious to anyone who watches the news.  For example, someone who posts here who is of Arab descent, I've heard his parents make disparaging remarks about Jews and he kinda of has as well (more referring to them in mass back in the Mid-East), but he himself actually has some Jewish acquaintances that he is friendly with.


3.ÂÂ  Bickering over the Calendar

I don't pretend to understand this one.ÂÂ  From what I can understand, the Orthodox Church used one calendar in the past, and then an updated calendar (the Julian?) was introduced, and some people are very upset about this.

Seriously, this is the world’s biggest non issue. The Serbian church follows the Julian calendar and we peacefully coexist with our Gregorian bretheran. I like buying my christmasÂÂ  presents at half price.
One of the biggest issues with the "New Calendar" or Revised Julian Calendar is how/why it was implemented.  Most would say that it was implemented for faulty Ecumenical reasons, hence the reaction from internet armchair theologians and many more traditional minded.  IMO, I agree with them in principle, but disagree with their reaction - the importance really is overblown.

(B)ÂÂ  Do the Orthodox in the U.S. have any big problems looming on the horizon, such as the Catholic Church’s priest-abuse scandal?

The scandals tend to be localized and small-this is sort of a blessing of being less “organized” than the Catholic church. The media has a harder time finding us and creating a scandal. We have our share of child molestors, drunks, abusers, thieves etc.ÂÂ  The Orthodox church is really good about weeding out those who cause scandal. Check out www.pokrov.com
I think that proportionally, there is a lot less in the Orthodox Church.  Keep in mind that www.pokrov.com is a personal site by a few people who have been hurt, but have elevated this activism to a vendetta and self-proclaimed watchdogs.  What appears at first to be a good idea, actually goes overblown - they think that they need to be answered to.


(C)ÂÂ  Are there many homosexual clergy (priests and monks) in the Orthodox Church?

In the Catholic Church in the U.S., it seems that perhaps 30 - 40% of clergy might be gay.[/b][/b]

Gay priests-seeing that most are married. My uneducated guess would say about there are very few. I would venture to guess there is homosexual activity in some monasteries but I don’t have any statistics or knowledge to back that up.
I was about to let this slide until I saw PhosZoe's comments.  I think her clarification in her exchange w/ choirfiend says things much better.



(E) How are Orthodox priests financially supported? From their parish?ÂÂ  bishop?ÂÂ  patriarchate?


Parish mostly.

(E)   Are Orthodox priests financially supported enough to support themselves?ÂÂ  

Some are and some are not, this varies by city. My priest is comfortable that he does not work a secular job nor does his wife.
These are about the same.  Usually each parish council decides.  Pretty much agree with what the others said.

(J)   What are the three things you like most about being Orthodox?
1.   Knowing that this is the true faith
2.   I feel like I’ve come home
3.   I am able to live my faith by demonstrating rather than distributing “tracts” or shoving my beliefs down someone’s throat.
Ditto.


(K)ÂÂ  What are the three things you like least about being Orthodox?

  ÃƒÆ’‚  ÃƒÆ’‚  ÃƒÆ’‚  ÃƒÆ’‚ 1. White convert antics
  ÃƒÆ’‚  ÃƒÆ’‚  ÃƒÆ’‚  ÃƒÆ’‚ 2. I have a sister who is gay and I struggle with the church teachings on homosexuality.
Ditto (1).
"Ethnic ghettos"
The hyperdox.


(K)   Aside form the standard things (prayer, talking with a priest, visiting Divine Liturgy, etc.), can you offer any advice (including books or websites) for potential converts ?

•   Don't over do trying to be accepted by the larger ethnic group. Also understand that they probably won't go out thier way to be nice to you. Accept that you will always be an outsider as will your children.
•   The convert population is louder but smaller than the ethnic population.
•   Avoid Frank Schaeffer and his awful books
•   Be prepared to be uncomfortable with yourself. The church will not change or bend for you.
•   Accept disorganization.


[/list]
I must disagree regarding Frank Schaeffer.  I read Dancing Alone and found it spot on in most cases.  His writings may sound like that of an Angry White Republican, but I think it is father like son in this case (his dad was some protestant minister).  I think his is a needed voice.


arjuna,
You sound rather well informed.  Keep it up.  And you are very tactful with your questions as well.

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« Reply #12 on: June 28, 2005, 05:01:21 PM »

Just a thought,

Wouldn't a monastery be the best place for a person who struggles with homosexuality or any sexual sin? There they can do battle with the flesh and the passions and live a life of simplicity (in a manner of speaking) and devoted to prayer.

Robert.
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Monasteries are the place for those who want to living a life of prayer and devotion to God. Whatever spiritual battles they face are secondary. Monasticism is not an escape, and anyone who wanted to become a monastic to escape something will find they face the same battles no matter where they go.
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« Reply #13 on: June 28, 2005, 06:34:29 PM »

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Monasticism is not an escape, and anyone who wanted to become a monastic to escape something will find they face the same battles no matter where they go.

But would you not agree that some battles are bigger than others and some require more aggressive attention?

Robert
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« Reply #14 on: June 28, 2005, 07:28:42 PM »

Yes, but people can address those battles in any number of ways; monasticism would not be the right path for anyone struggling with any battle unless they were drawn to living the monastic life instead of living in the world.
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« Reply #15 on: June 29, 2005, 12:39:55 AM »

I must disagree regarding Frank Schaeffer.  I read Dancing Alone and found it spot on in most cases.  His writings may sound like that of an Angry White Republican, but I think it is father like son in this case (his dad was some protestant minister).  I think his is a needed voice.

Not me.  I think his is a voice that needs...to go.  I think it's interesting that several folks I know--not just picking on you here, Elisha--bemoan "convert antics" and convert bickering but just love Frank.  I DON'T get it.  Having read Dancing Alone (it nauseated me) and having heard him speak in public twice, I get the feeling that he is mostly interested in hearing himself talk, amusing himself all the while with how superior he is to the rest of the degenerate American culture just because he's Orthodox.

Same goes for Dr. Clark Carlton, but instead of railing on American culture, he likes to slam Protestants and Catholics as pretty much know-nothings (he seems almost gleeful about this in person). 

Sorry to be so negative, Arjuna, but these two guys are pretty much given over to "convert antic"-driven polemics which throw their writings WAY out of balance.  Books I WOULD recommend are:

The Mountain of Silence : A Search for Orthodox Spirituality by Kyriacos C. Markides
The Orthodox Church and The Orthodox Way by Bp KALLISTOS (Ware)
Anything by Metr. ANTONY (Bloom)...especially his stuff on prayer
Fr. Alexander Schmemman's The Eucharist, For the Life of the World, Great Lent, O Death, Where is Thy Sting?
The Apostolic Fathers

As to the other two questions that piqued my interest:

3 things I like most about Orthodoxy:
1) The simple, childlike approach to (both in dogma and in reality, when one is partaking of) the Eucharist.
2) The received tradition; no longer are we trying to "figure it all out" by gleaning stuff from this or that text.  Our tradition is what we've received it as, full stop.
3) The communion of the saints--this refers both to the union of those around me when we partake of the Eucharist, and of the wonderful assurance that those holy ones who've passed on are pulling for me.

3 things I dislike most:
1) Lack of awareness of missionary responsibility.  "Apostolic" means missionary.  Domestic or foreign, I don't care; let's just go and offer those who don't know about Christ's true Church at least one chance to "come and see."
2) Lack of biblical literacy on the lay/parish level.  We wrote the thing, for cryin' out loud.  Let's breathe this in as much as possible!
3) Dead ritual.  Don't get me wrong; I'm the LAST person you'll find who'll advocate liturgical change.  I love the liturgy; nothin's wrong there.  What bothers me is rote recitation, bored looks from parishoners, halfhearted participation (with impatient glances at watches, chatting in the back, and rolls of the eyes) in what is undoubtedly the most beautiful expression of love for and communion with God I've ever known.  This is a chance to pass through this life and unite it with the life to come, if only for a moment.
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« Reply #16 on: June 29, 2005, 04:37:38 PM »

Not me.  I think his is a voice that needs...to go.  I think it's interesting that several folks I know--not just picking on you here, Elisha--bemoan "convert antics" and convert bickering but just love Frank.  I DON'T get it.  Having read Dancing Alone (it nauseated me) and having heard him speak in public twice, I get the feeling that he is mostly interested in hearing himself talk, amusing himself all the while with how superior he is to the rest of the degenerate American culture just because he's Orthodox.

Well said... and I completely agree.

Let me clarify for Elisha.

I don't think he is a good read for someone who is new to the faith  I read Dancing Alone when I was a new convert and was very put off by his overtly smug and superior attitude towards Western culture. It colored my world view of converts and made me assume that all converts shared his attitude. Finally, as someone who had little to no exposure to Evangelical thought I simply could not relate to him. Dancing Alone, while not on my top 10 list of books to read is worth a read after living as an Orthodox Christian for a while. Seeing that Arjuna is Catholic, I don't think this would be a good book to start out with.



edit: for misspelled word.






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« Reply #17 on: June 29, 2005, 05:16:56 PM »

Pedro and PhosZoe,
OK.  I see your points, but I still don't think the Shaeffer and Carlton books are throw aways - just maybe not the best choices for arjuna.  I've never hear the two speak, but I believe you guys.  I definitely could see Frank's "angry white republican"-like rantings in Dancing Alone, but don't think his message is all that different from Fr. Seraphim Rose's "Death to the World!" like messages.  I know a few who Frank's writings would really appeal to.  I'm surprised that Carlton seems smug, because I didn't feel that from reading his books - although he might be a little harsh.  I still think his books have an appropriate audience though.  And for the record, I just read Dancing Alone recently and the Carlton books over the last few years and I've been Orthodox since '87 now.
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« Reply #18 on: June 29, 2005, 05:51:44 PM »

Pedro writes:

[3 things I dislike most:
1) Lack of awareness of missionary responsibility.ÂÂ  "Apostolic" means missionary.ÂÂ  Domestic or foreign, I don't care; let's just go and offer those who don't know about Christ's true Church at least one chance to "come and see."]

Most Orthodox Catholic countries have been under the yoke of either the Moslems or communists and have been both restricted and not completely free to evangelize either in their own country or elsewhere. Look at Orthodoxy in both Turkey and the Holy Land. As far as here in the west, suggest you take a look at the OCMC website which shows a very active missionary approach -

http://www.ocmc.org/

Orthodoc

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« Reply #19 on: June 29, 2005, 07:25:21 PM »

A really good book in  my opinion is called "Thirsting for God in a land of shallow wells." by Matthew Gallatin.

Matthew is a former Calvary Chapel pastor who is now Orthodox. He is his very firm in his convictions, yet, very compassionate with the non- orthodox.

I myself do enjoy Frank Schaeffer, when I read dancing alone, it was dead on in many areas.

I also like Carlton (I believe his name is) and to the one who said they believed that Frank and Carlton treated Catholics and Evangelicals as no-nothings...well, that may be your opinion. But have you read or heard what Catholics and Evangelicals think about you? I have seen where both authors give credit where credit is due. But the fact is someone has to be right and someone will have to be wrong and either the Catholic and Evangelicals are correct and you are wrong, or you are correct and they are wrong. Some one will get their toes stepped on.

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« Reply #20 on: June 29, 2005, 07:59:28 PM »

A really good book inÂÂ  my opinion is called "Thirsting for God in a land of shallow wells." by Matthew Gallatin.

Matthew is a former Calvary Chapel pastor who is now Orthodox. He is his very firm in his convictions, yet, very compassionate with the non- orthodox.


While I do like this book, I think it is almost patronizing in its simplicity.  It targets the non-Denom/Evangelical types if you ask me.
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« Reply #21 on: June 29, 2005, 08:50:38 PM »

Quote
While I do like this book, I think it is almost patronizing in its simplicity.  It targets the non-Denom/Evangelical types if you ask me.

Some need meat, others need milk. Have you read any of the books popular in the Non-Denom/Evangelical world? They couldn't handle a book by Ware or others. Sadly we need to teach up and meet people where they are. I like how he does not use any Ortho-language (Praxis etc etc) but speaks to them on their own level. The book was not meant for the Orthodox already, it was for the non-orthodox.

Robert
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« Reply #22 on: June 30, 2005, 07:40:02 AM »

Interesting . . .  all of your responses.  I sincerely thank you, and I hope more will be coming.

Here is why the gay clergy issue is so important to me:  it is indicative of whether clergy are in control of their passions and thus are at least rudimentarily capable of teaching how to become holy.

Allow me to explain. 

On the one hand, it is obvious and ok that some clergy are gay.  Their witness at living a chaste lifestyle is very powerful. 

What shocks and worries me (and millions of other Catholics) is the apparently high number of Catholic clergy who are unchaste.  This came to light during the recent sexual abuse scandal.  It was bad enough to learn that a tiny minority of Catholic priests and other clergy were child molesters, i.e. pedophiles, and had sexually abused *thousands* of children.  It was unspeakably worse to learn that our **bishops** knew of this and tolerated this.  The Catholic bishops paid money for the silence to the victims of pedophile priests, and the Catholic bishops kept their pedophile clergy: often reassigning them to posts where they could (and did, and perhaps still do) prey on children again. 

(As an aside, I know that the Orthodox have problems with financially and politically corrupt bishops from time to time.  Frankly, I would *welcome* that level of corruption in my hierarchs, if that is the price to pay for not tolerating **child molesters.**  You Orthodox should count your blessings.   Your hierarchs are only corrupt; our Catholic hierarchs are, often, **depraved** --  because they tolerated child molesters among their clergy.) 

Amidst all that, it has come to light that many Catholic clergy are unchaste, that many Catholic clergy are gay, and many of them live an active gay lifestyle.  Indeed, it appears that Catholic *seminaries* in the 1970s and 1980s (at least in America) tolerated or encouraged sexually active lifestyles among the seminarians and (sometimes) the faculty: including the gay lifestyle. 

So, in short, it seems there has been **at least** a generation of Catholic priests who were supposedly celibate but who in reality were conditioned to accept sexual activity, especially gay activity, among its members: first in the seminary and then in the field and often tolerated by their bishops. 

This is pretty serious.  The Bible and Tradition condemn *any* sexual activity outside of marriage, and they especially condemn gay sexual activity.  Now, I'm all for "love the sinner, not the sin," but tolerating promiscuity among a supposedly celibate clergy -- especially  homosexual activity-- is a BIG problem.  How are these guys supposed to teach the rest of us how to be holy, if they cannot controltheir sexual passions? 

Yes, I have met many good Catholic priests; God bless them. 

But, after the recent scandals in the Catholic Church, I have to wonder who can be trusted.  That is especially true when the **hierarchy** seems to have been fully aware of this situation and yet tolerated it. 

If I can't trust my priests nor my bishops to teach me how to be holy, maybe its time I look to another Church. 

And that is why I am asking for candid responses from the Orthodox.  Are there similar problems among the Orthodox clergy, namely:  (1) sexual promiscuity, (2) gay sexual activity, (3) toleration of sexual immorality by the bishops? 

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« Reply #23 on: June 30, 2005, 08:14:08 AM »

I can see how your oppinion could be influenced by what happened in RCC last 5-10 years. It is amazing that only 15 years ago (or so) Sinead O'Connor nearly got killed for even trying to point out to the world towards what is going on (what went on in that time, I am not making a comment if it is still going on, as I do not know).

Anyway, I am sure, that some (Orthodox, if you can call them that, if the are doing that) priests are involved in some activity that is against what the Church stands for. Also, there could be bishops that are to certain extent or fully wrong in many a way. It is the nature of the man to when his connection with the God is not there, falls and does really bad things.

Again, I, personally, (as I have not been exposed to this crime) would not have problems being a Roman Catholic even with all the dramas around what went on, if I believed that RCC is the Church.
For me, it is not the actions of the people who lead the Church who are doing (teaching, performing, acting...) in wrong manner, but the teaching of the Church as whole. I believe that a principle of Catholicity is one of the main prerogatives of the Church, as well as her being One and Apostolic. That principle will allow for a person to relive his/hers trust into a single or even a large group of leaders of the Church. There were times when a huge number of the Bishops were heterodox (arians, iconoclasts... you name it). It is what the Church taught as a whole in every time and everywhere that guaranties her Orthodoxy. Not a single cross-section in one time.
I find RCC to be wrong in many a way. On many a level. Not being Catholic and Orthodox is one of those things, but there are many others for which I can not accept her as the Church.

Why am I saying this. If tomorrow, it becomes obvious that many Orthodox Bishops and Priest were doing evil and demonic things such as done by RCC leaders, I will be shaken, disappointed, but I would (and many others I believe) think of that as a "bad day in office", and we would pray to God to give us Bishops that are AXIOS (worthy). Because as a whole, Orthodox Church is the Church. We have not changed anything of matters of Doctrine from our Lord onwards, up until today (and God forbid that we change anything from now onwards). Actions of people in the Church are not the Church.

If every single orthodox fell away and became atheist, including all the clergy, and there was a single 12 yo girl from Sharamatzovosovoy in Russia who is truly an Orthodox, that girl is THE CHURCH.

I am Orthodox not because our clergy are all PhD's and speak like St. Chrysostom and care about people like St. Almsgiver... no! I am an Orthodox because we are THE ONE CATHOLIC AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH.

I am not sure if you will get what I mean.
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« Reply #24 on: June 30, 2005, 09:50:25 AM »

Orthodoc,

Quote
Most Orthodox Catholic countries have been under the yoke of either the Moslems or communists and have been both restricted and not completely free to evangelize either in their own country or elsewhere.

I use the same argument (rationale) when talking with non-Orthodox. But--speaking within the family here--isn't this argument somewhat inconsistent? At what point did we go from "the blood of the martyrs was the seeds of the faith" to "well they can't missionize because they have a heavy yoke"? I mean, imagine if the Christians had reacted similarly under the pagan Roman emperors, where would we be today? But so far from being suppressed by the Romans, we flourished and grew right under their noses, despite their best efforts to stop us.

Now, I see no problem with what ROCOR did. If that is the way Orthodoxy has to be spread, then that is ok. Jesus and his family fled to Egypt. St. Cyprian fled persecution and communicated as best he could via letters, until the situation changed. Athanasius--like ROCOR today--was hounded by critics as being cowardly for fleeing, and wrote an entire treatise in defense of such flight. But the point is, all of these people and groups did establish themselves in some alternative way (or waited for a future situation that allowed them to return to normal), and ended up having a significant effect on our religion, especially during the time that they lived.

I know that living under people hostile to your faith cannot be easy... but then, what does ease have to do with evangelization? Am I just missing it here? Do I sound like an arrogant fool who just doesn't get it?


PS. One answer occured to me as to why things are different now. During the Roman times, the Christian Church actually lost a large percentage of her members during persecutions: not from martyrdom but from turning away from the faith. The Church was willing to lose people, if it kept the Church itself strong. Then after the persecutions (and sometimes during), new people would join, so that by the time a new persecution started, the Church was larger than it was at the start of the previous persecution. That was in a culture where most people weren't Christian. I guess today we are talking about places where a significant portion of the population was Christian, and so the Churches wanted to preserve as best they could Orthodoxy, and keep as many of her children as possible. But... at some point, when your numbers are dwindling, a warning sign has to pop up, no?
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« Reply #25 on: June 30, 2005, 10:06:21 AM »

I still don't think the Shaeffer and Carlton books are throw aways - just maybe not the best choices for arjuna.

Yeah, they're not worthless, but I'm a big believer in tone being just as important as (if not more important than) what's being said.  These guys fail that test big time, and consequently severely hurt their own witness.

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"I definitely could see Frank's "angry white republican"-like rantings in Dancing Alone, but don't think his message is all that different from Fr. Seraphim Rose's "Death to the World!" like messages."

Right; I really don't have THAT much of a problem with his message, but again, it's the tone I strongly object to.  One can make a strong, persuasive point without coming across as a jerk who's gleeful at the shortcomings of other groups.

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I'm surprised that Carlton seems smug, because I didn't feel that from reading his books - although he might be a little harsh.ÂÂ  I still think his books have an appropriate audience though.

His books were written for intellectual evagelical Protestants in an appeal for them to turn to the Orthodox faith, and, as such, can find a receptive audience.  But they do little to convince Roman Catholics (as he never was one, he really doesn't know how to talk to educated RCs--Michael Whelton's Two Paths does a better job of dealing with RC issues, by the way).

An example of how I've lost respect for Carlton:  He came to the DFW "Festival of Orthodoxy" last February and just ripped into Satisfaction Atonement as "the worst heresy the Church has ever seen," or something like that.  Then, when an attendee who obviously subscribed to this belief--don't know what he was, but he sounded evangelical--gave a reasonable, eloquent objection to Carlton's oversimplified comments, he was summarily dismissed in a most patronizing manner; Carlton didn't really answer the question point-by-point, but said--addressing the rest of us with this guy still right there--that "these people" just take metaphors too far concerning God's wrath...I'd be surprised if the man who made the comment ever gives Orthodoxy another look.

A really good book in  my opinion is called "Thirsting for God in a land of shallow wells." by Matthew Gallatin.

Matthew is a former Calvary Chapel pastor who is now Orthodox. He is his very firm in his convictions, yet, very compassionate with the non- orthodox.

I agree; his tone is much warmer, more attractive (and courteous) to those outside the Faith.  That having been said, my problem with Galletin is not so much the simple approach to his own Faith (we are, after all, told to be childlike) as it is his overly-simplistic treatment of evangelical protestantism.  He was 7th-Day Adventist, which differs quite a bit from most mainstream Protestants.  He seems to lump all Protestant experience together, not really doing it justice, as it is quite the diverse grab-bag of beliefs.

And OrthRob, you said you liked Galletin's compassion towards the non-Orthodox, then you say the following:

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But have you read or heard what Catholics and Evangelicals think about you?...the fact is someone has to be right and someone will have to be wrong and either the Catholic and Evangelicals are correct and you are wrong, or you are correct and they are wrong. Some one will get their toes stepped on.

...or we're both wrong.  That's also a possibility.  And someone will have to hear something they don't like (i.e., "We're the one, true Church").  If we hide behind "sticking to the facts" and just "telling it like it is" we can conveniently forget that we are to "speak the truth in love" and always, always watch our tone (there I go again!  Wink).

Most Orthodox Catholic countries have been under the yoke of either the Moslems or communists and have been both restricted and not completely free to evangelize either in their own country or elsewhere. Look at Orthodoxy in both Turkey and the Holy Land. As far as here in the west, suggest you take a look at the OCMC website which shows a very active missionary approach -

http://www.ocmc.org/

Orthodoc

Oh, I thank God for OCMC.  And the IOCC.  And projectmexico and the orphanage in Guatemala.  Actually wanting to do something short-term with the former later on, once my daughter gets a little older.  I lament, though, that there's not more of a push on the parish level to do more, both domestic and foreign, to bring the all-holy Body and precious Blood of our Lord to folks who are languishing and perishing without it.  And yes, we're not supposed to judge the eternal destinies of individuals, I know, I know, but one thing that characterized the Church of the NT and of the first few centuries was missionary zeal.  I think that needs to be rediscovered in the Church; we need to remember who we are.

As for Turkey and the Holy Land, I would ask this: where is the determined focus of the Church in these areas like we had within the ancient Roman Empire?  We were hardly free to practice or spread our faith, yet it spread like wildfire.  Why?  Because the Church was aware that She had a life-giving message that was worth the lives of individual laity and clergy to spread to other people, that people would, in fact, perish without this life-giving message and Sacrament. ÂÂ

Further, what of the perseverance of the faith under the Soviet yoke?  Yes, there were some unfortunate concessions those in high places made to the godless regime, but many Orthodox under communist rule in Russia and the communist bloc risked their necks to continue and spread their faith--so much so that, after the fall of communism, the Church emerged still strong and viable.  Why are we using persecution as an excuse for not evangelizing?  It seems that such situations are when the Church, through the blood of the martyrs if necessary, is most effectual.

(Heh...I see Paradosis and I are on the same wavelength... Grin)
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« Reply #26 on: June 30, 2005, 10:18:18 AM »

Please allow this (unofficially) ex-Protestant, Orthodox inquirer to chime in...

RE:  Dancing Alone
I thought the book was correct in many of it's observations, but it was very repetitive in its polemics.  Therefore, this would not be my first choice for an inquier, but it's still okay.

RE: Clark Carlton
I actually thoroughly enjoyed his "Faith" series, and got more out of those books than those of Bishop Kallistos Ware (though I though they were alright).  I guess its because I have a very similar Southern Baptist background to Dr. Carlton.  He can be polemical, but not as much as Frank Schaeffer IMO.

RE: Thirsting for God in a Land of Shallow Wells
This is probably my favorite book geared towards Protestant inquierers and I've read it several times.  (If only my wife would read it!) I suppose I can see how some might think it's "patronizing in its simplicity", but I think Gallatin does a good job with his analogies and illustrations answering Protestant objections to the Orthodox way of doing things.

RE: Alexander Schmemman
I've read only one of his books, For the Life of the World, and I thought it was excellent.  It's relatively short in length, but very deep.  I highly recommend it.

BTW, I second Pedro's recommendation of Michael Whelton's Two Paths.

At any rate, I myself (with my family) am still in denomination "limbo".  I've looked at the claims of Rome and the counterclaims of Orthodoxy and found the latter to be more honest with the historical data overall.  Also, I'd be lying if I said I'm not bothered by the whole RC priest scandal. ÂÂ

Please pray for us as I seek as a family to come to the place where we can worship God in Spirit and in Truth.
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« Reply #27 on: June 30, 2005, 12:09:55 PM »


-------------------------------------------

Originally posted by sin_vladimirov:

“I can see how your opinion could be influenced by what happened in RCC last 5-10 years.

[ . . . ]

I, personally, (as I have not been exposed to this crime) would not have problems being a Roman Catholic even with all the dramas around what went on, if I believed that RCC is the Church.

For me, it is not the actions of the people who lead the Church who are doing (teaching, performing, acting...) in wrong manner, but the teaching of the Church as whole. I believe that a principle of Catholicity is one of the main prerogatives of the Church, as well as her being One and Apostolic.

[ . . . ]

Why am I saying this. If tomorrow, it becomes obvious that many Orthodox Bishops and Priest were doing evil and demonic things such as done by RCC leaders, I will be shaken, disappointed, but I would (and many others I believe) think of that as a "bad day in office", and we would pray to God to give us Bishops that are AXIOS (worthy). Because as a whole, Orthodox Church is the Church. We have not changed anything of matters of Doctrine from our Lord onwards, up until today (and God forbid that we change anything from now onwards). Actions of people in the Church are not the Church.

If every single orthodox fell away and became atheist, including all the clergy, and there was a single 12 yo girl from Sharamatzovosovoy in Russia who is truly an Orthodox, that girl is THE CHURCH.

I am Orthodox not because our clergy are all PhD's and speak like St. Chrysostom and care about people like St. Almsgiver... no! I am an Orthodox because we are THE ONE CATHOLIC AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH.

I am not sure if you will get what I mean.”


---------------------------------------------




Yes, I do get what you mean. 

I used to believe that the Catholic Church was just fine, even if some of its members were evil, because it is “the one true church.”  I don’t believe that any more because it doesn’t correspond to reality. 

Yes, there are many good Catholics (and Protestants).  The Roman Catholic Church has many good priests, many good laypeople,  most of my family and many of my friends.  It is the first place I learned about Jesus and the first place I received the Eucharist.  I love much about the Catholic Church and many of the people who compose it. 

Nevertheless, there is a history of serious problems in the Catholic Church.  The current pedophilia scandal is just the latest problem.  Five hundred years ago, the Protestant Reformation happened, in large measure, in response to centuries of institutional corruption in the Catholic hierarchy.  Three hundred years before that, the Catholic Church sanctioned the Fourth Crusade of 1204 and the sundering of the Byzantine Empire  About the same time (the 1200s), the Catholic hierarchy  began the Inquisition.  Etc.

Our Catholic leaders tell us: “Don’t be too upset about the current pedophile scandal; the Church has endured evils before, and it will endure this as well.”  I say:  Endured?  Produced is the more accurate word.  Those evils were mot foisted upon us; we Catholics generated those evils. 

Something is wrong with the Roman Catholic Church.  When I look at what is going on now, and when I look at what has happened in the past, I must conclude there is something fundamentally wrong with the Catholic Church.  It is NOT just individual people choosing to be sinful.  There must be something seriously and fundamentally wrong with the Roman Catholic Church if it repeatedly produces depravity of the scope and magnitude that I described, over centuries.

The test has been run and the data is in.  For the first 1000 years, when Western Christianity was basically Orthodox, Western Christianity ran basically well.  However, for the last 1000 years (since, roughly, the West gave up being Orthodoxy), the Catholic Church has produced a lot of goodness but also a lot of badness.  In the last 1000 years, the West has produced the crusades, the inquisition, persecution, corruption and, most recently, priests who seduce and rape small boys and bishops who cover it up.  Oh, and it also managed to be so corrupt that HALF of its members rebelled and started their own churches, the Protestants.  Sadly, they did so by giving up most of the sacraments and tradition.  Yes, during the last 500 years, the Catholic Church has succeeded in converting Latin America and parts of Asia to the Gospel.  However, especially in Latin America, the evangelical and Pentecostal Protestants seem to be making significant inroads.  Etc.  The unavoidable conclusion is that Roman Catholicism has produced stunning successes in the last 1000 years, but it has also produced stunning failures and evils in the last 1000 years; and those failures and evils are so fundamental in nature as to belie the very structural and theoretical and theological basis of that Church.

What happened?  Why was Western Christianity doing reasonably well during its first millennium and then failing so much and so often during its second millennium?  How did Western Christendom go from holiness to crusades, protestants, pedophiles and kumbaya? 

The West stopped being Orthodox.  That is the only conclusion  that I have been able to draw.  The failures and evils of Western Christianity are not solely the result of people making evil choices.  They represent and are symptoms of a fundamental loss of the fullness of the faith.  Hence, perhaps we Catholics don’t have bad individuals in a fundamentally good form of Christianity.  Perhaps we Catholics have a fundamentally flawed or bad form of Christianity. 

Hence, I am interested in becoming Orthodox.  This not just a curiosity born from studying history.  My Church produced priests that could seduce and rape small boys.  My Church produced bishops that could cover it up.  My Church has, simultaneously, increasing talk of being loving but scandals like these and insipid liturgy and overly intellectual theology and bishops who close viable parishes and so on.  My church --the one I am living in today-- is a mess.  And so, I have asked myself:  Is there a better way to be a Christian?  Is there a better way than being Roman Catholic?  Is there a way that has scripture and sacraments and tradition?  The answer that I have found seems to be: Yes.  there is the Orthodox Church.     


Allow me to be plain about why I am interested in perhaps converting to the Orthodox Church.  I am fed up with being a Catholic.  I like more about Orthodoxy than I dislike about it. 


1.  I’m fed up with being Catholic. 

A big part of that is my DISGUST over the priest abuse scandal. 

Another big part of that is forgetting theosis.  In the Catholic Church, there is the watered down liturgy, the watered down praxis, the lack of insisting on personal asceticism, and, overall, forgetting that the goal of the Gospel is theosis.  I am fed up with the Catholic Church either becoming the latest denomination of liberal Protestantism or trying to go back to the 1950s (if not the 1200s).  Either way, liberal or conservative, there is emphasis on the externals; there is not emphasis on interior transformation: metanoia and theosis.

Another big part of my dissatisfaction is feeling like an alien in my own church.  When I go to Mass, it is liturgically such a **step down** and, frankly, it just seems so **odd** anymore -- compared to my experience with Orthodox Divine Liturgy.  The latter feels like genuine and accurate worship; the former does not. 



2.  I like more about Orthodoxy than I dislike about it.

What I dislike about Orthodox I already listed in a previous post:  Over-Attachment to Ethnicity, Anti-Semitism, Bickering over the Calendar and Phariseeism.

Here is what I like about Orthodoxy:

2.A  The Orthodox remember the Holy Spirit.  The Orthodox did not accept the filioque; hence they remembered the independence and unique nature of the Holy Spirit.  Hence too, they remembered the unique role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church, namely . . .

2.B  The Orthodox remember theosis.  The point of the Gospel is not just to be “saved.”  The point of the Gospel is to become holy.  For years, I had wondered “what next?” after repentance.  In other words, what is the point, what is the purpose of the time between conversion and going to heaven?  What are we supposed to be doing?  The Protestants often don’t have answer; and they often resort to re-creating the conversion experience through “revivals” and so on.  The Catholic Church offers vague talk about growing in our love for God and neighbor, but it offers little more than externals:  external piety (for conservatives) or external works of mercy (for liberals).  It is the Orthodox who actually have the answer:  theosis.  The point of life is to become holy.  Christ came to bridge the three-fold gap between God and Man since Adam’s sin:  nature, sin and death.  Christ bridged the gap of nature by His Incarnation.  He bridged the gap of sin by His suffering and death on the Cross.  He bridged the gap of death by His Resurrection.  That is salvation.  But, it didn’t end there.  The Gospel continued.  The Holy Spirit had sent Christ in His Incarnation.  Now, Christ breathed the Holy Spirit on the Apostles; and Christ ascended into Heaven and the Holy Spirit descended.  As Bishop Ware observed, the point of Christ’s Incarnation was Pentecost, and the point of Pentecost is to enable us to more fully participate in Christ’s Incarnation.  We are not just to be saved.  We are saved by Christ in order to be made Holy by the Holy Spirit; and we are made Holy by the Holy Spirit so as to be ever more united to Christ; and thereby we are raised from the level of man to the level of God: to share / partake/ commune with the life of the Trinity.  Folks, I never KNEW that stuff till I started reading about Orthodoxy.  Theosis was so mind-boggling to me.  It is the answer to the question that I yearned to ask but which I did not know how to ask.  Looking at Catholicism, it is there too: but dimly, in the lore of certain saints or the lives of humble souls, but it is not often stated and it understood even less.  In contrast, the Orthodox Church **starts** with theosis as the WHOLE POINT of the Gospel.  In silence and in stillness, Orthodoxy says that there is one essential thing:  direct, conscious, living union with God.  That is theosis, and Orthodoxy remembers it and starts with it.  Then, Orthodoxy concentrates on **how** to practice and achieve theosis.  That, in turn made me eager to know more, namely . . .

2.C  The Orthodox preserve the means of theosis.  Theosis is a three step process, with the steps often happening simultaneously:  (1) exterior righteousness, (2) interior purity and (3) selfless love.  Or, to put it another way theosis is  (1) keeping the commandments, (2) rooting our vices and acquiring the virtues and (3) living the Eucharist in the fullness of our lives.  The Catholics don’t teach that; of, if they do, it is muddled and often lost amidst the external piety of the conservatives, the external works or mercy of the liberals, and the boredom or ignorance of the folks in the middle.  The Orthodox, however, seem to remember the process of theosis VERY clearly; and, they seem to keep their focus upon it.  Hence, the Orthodox actually practice prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  Hence, the Orthodox have conserved a liturgy which actually makes sense and which can be highly effective at raising people’s hearts to God.  Hence, the Orthodox have preserved a way of life where all of life can be made sacred.  That is probably because . . .

2.D  Orthodoxy is apophatic, not cataphatic.  From what I can tell the main men for setting the tone of Western Christianity are Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and Martin Luther.  In Orthodoxy, the main men seem who set the tone seem to be Dionysius the Aereopagite, John Chrysostom, and Gregory Palamas.  The West tries to label and describe and understand everything about God.  For the West, theology is a matter intellectual endeavor about God.  The East tries to unknow in order to know, to participate, and to be still in the Light and Life of God.  For the East, theology is a matter of direct, personal experience of God.  In fact, the difference between West and East can be summarized like this:  Western religion is about God, Eastern religion is of God.  The West is cataphatic because it tries to know God in our terms.  The East is apophatic because it recognizes that God is totally beyond our minds, words and understanding; and so it tries to set aside all that and to instead to accept God on His terms.  Both systems can produce holiness.  However, it the apophatic system that seems to be both more accurate and more effective -- precisely because it seems to better allow God to be God.  The Gospel is ultimately a Mystery which we are invited to partake of: starting now and growing now, and foretasting forever.  The East seems to understand that better, and it seems to live that better, than the West.  Hence . . .

2.E  Orthodoxy has more intellectual freedom than the Western forms of Christianity.  In Western Christianity, theology *is* intellectual.  Hence, if a person’s ideas about God are wrong, the person’s salvation is wrong.  In Orthodoxy, theology is direct, personal experience of God.  Ideas are nice, but only a bare minimum (as expressed by the 7 ecumenical councils and the Tradition) are necessary.  People are free in Orthodoxy to speculate and to wonder and so on because intellectual endeavor is not the basis of salvation in Orthodoxy.  Christ’s grace is the basis of salvation in Orthodoxy.  As a result  . . .

2.F  Orthodoxy has more collegiality than Western Christianity.  There is a willingness to agree to disagree after accepting the 7 ecumenical councils and the Tradition.  There seems to be tolerance among the Orthodox jurisdictions, and no one patriarch is head of the whole Church.  Instead, Christ is the head of the whole Church and the Holy Spirit is the life and light of the whole Church.  Orthodoxy seems to be more organic than Western Christianity because it seems to be less structured, less legalistic and less defined than Western Christianity, because it seems to be more spiritual.  And thus . . .

2.G  Orthodoxy does the little things right.  Orthodoxy understands, like the West used to understand, that most of life is composed of the little things; and (thus) the little things of life shape and embody much of the rest of life.  So, for example, Orthodox priests actually dress as priests: instead of wearing clothes that laymen wear.  Orthodox worship is actually reverent and unchanging -- because the Living Truth it points to, Jesus Christ, is the same today, yesterday and tomorrow.  Orthodoxy gives a standard for people to live by, without spelling out every single detail, and expects people to live that standard.  There is plenty of compassion; there is economia; but there is also that standard: and it is hard, and it is every day, but it is effective, because it transforms every day and all of the person into a more Christ-like person.  Theosis isn’t an impossible goal or a myth for Sundays and holidays or an unfortunate holdover form a medieval past.  Theosis is the point and the practice of every day in Orthodoxy.

Now, all of that looks REALLY GOOD to me.  It makes me want to join up.  However, I am painfully aware that there is no perfect Church.  I also realize that what I just wrote about is the very best of Orthodoxy.  Hence, I’m trying to learn --offline as well as online-- what orthodoxy is **really** like. 

Do the Orthodox really try to practice theosis? 

If yes, I want to join. 

If not, if most Orthodox are just going through the motions, dimly or half-consciously, I’ll stay in my own religion and practice theosis on my own.

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« Reply #28 on: June 30, 2005, 12:41:25 PM »

Arjuna,
Interesting post.  That seems to basically sum up my observations regarding some of the differences between Orthodoxy and "Western" Christianity.
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« Reply #29 on: June 30, 2005, 01:47:01 PM »

"If not, if most Orthodox are just going through the motions, dimly or half-consciously, I’ll stay in my own religion and practice theosis on my own."

No maliciousness meant here--but then you'd just be your own little sect, same as any protestant. We are corporate beings, made for relationships with God and with others. You must be in a relationship with those with whom you commune. Fully be RC, or OC, or Pentecostal---but don't try to do it on your own. We fall alone, but are saved together.

Orthodoxy teaches what is true. Whether or not people follow it is up to them, but doesn't stop the Truth from being true.
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« Reply #30 on: June 30, 2005, 01:55:07 PM »

Woa.

Maybe we should just print out arjuna's latest post in a pamphlet and we can all go home.  That was an excellent post...and you're not even a cathechumen yet!
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« Reply #31 on: June 30, 2005, 02:00:46 PM »

Quote
Do the Orthodox really try to practice theosis?

If yes, I want to join.

If not, if most Orthodox are just going through the motions, dimly or half-consciously, I’ll stay in my own religion and practice theosis on my own.

Arjuna,

Coming from a Roman Catholic background, I agree with and sympathize with a lot of what you wrote in your last post. Something I have found in Orthodoxy though, in reference to your question above, is a reminder of the parable about the speck of sawdust in my neighbor's eye when I have a plank in my own. Basically, each person has to answer the question, "Am I trying to practice theosis?" for himself before he should be concerned with the extent to which his neighbor is doing the same. It has been such a huge lesson in humility for me, which I was in much need of and continue to be every day. A "little things" (to use your term above) example of this that has developed naturally in liturgical praxis as a result of this is the fact that everyone faces forward towards God during worship, including the clergy - a sign that we are all there not to look at each other but to face God and get closer to Him - even the clergy are not above this need. So, to answer your question - it is very possible that there are people in Orthodoxy who are "just going through the motions, dimly or half-consciously," but it is more possible that they are all doing a better job of it than I am. The Orthodox Church still, despite this, provides the means with which to achieve theosis, period. It is each person's responsibility to step up and take advantage of those means for their own salvation - all God can do is open the door.

In my personal experience though, I am acutely aware every time I am in service (whether it be vespers, vigil or Divine Liturgy) that I am surrounded by people who are striving to be holy and one with God, and as a result I feel deeply connected to them, and in this way we are a community that supports one another towards theosis, which is a blessing.

As Choirfriend wrote:

Quote
We fall alone, but are saved together.

I couldn't agree more.

In Christ,
Donna Mary
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« Reply #32 on: June 30, 2005, 10:00:39 PM »

Orthodoxy teaches what is true. Whether or not people follow it is up to them, but doesn't stop the Truth from being true.

Good call, CF.  Arjuna, you had said that one of the things you had grown discontent about with the RCC was that you thought they no longer taught theosis in the Church.  Let me assure you that it is taught.  Heck, it's the only way we know how to be saved!  You'll never get past the problem, though, of some folks coming to church and not wanting to take the lessons to heart.  Regardless, the problem of not hearing theosis preached and given the opportunity to fully achieve it is resolved by coming to Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #33 on: June 30, 2005, 10:17:11 PM »

Well, Arjuna what can I say to that?

You said things that I did not even think of.

In my wish to help you, you helped me. A lot.

Also, what others have said.
That is it.
I got nothing to add.


It is amazing how we find out things.....
Thank you all very much.







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« Reply #34 on: July 01, 2005, 09:46:11 AM »

Thank you, all of you, sincerely, for your time and your responses and for your kind words.  I have a lot to think about.

Chiefly, I have to consider the nine points which I made in my last post: the nine things which I like about Orthodoxy.  How can these truths be made available to the rest of the U.S. ?

Put another way:  How can theosis be revived in the West? 

How can theosis be revived in the U.S.?  There are about 300 million people in America.  From the statistics that I have seen (at www.adherents.com), the Orthodox are only 1% of the American population.  That is about 3 million people.  From other statistics online, Roman Catholics are about 23% of the American population.  That is about 70 million people. The rest of the population is about 220-230 million people, for a total of about 300 million people in the U.S.

How can 3 million Orthodox evangelize 297 million other people?  The Orthodox are small in number; they are struggling with losing people to ethnic assimilation and (simultaneously) gaining people through conversion; they have competing jurisdictions; from what I hear, they are not financially rich;  and, from what I hear, there is a priest shortage.  Indeed, from what I hear, some Orthodox priests must work outside jobs to support themselves.  How is this tiny population that is faced with such problems going to evangelize the 70 million Roman Catholics and the 230 million or other people in the U.S. ? 

Here is the rub:  I myself would probably be very happy as an Orthodox, but what about the rest of my people?  How are they going to learn about theosis?  What about the 297 million non-Orthodox people in the U.S.?  What about my 70 million fellow Roman Catholics in the U.S.?  They are not going to become Orthodox.  (Indeed, most of them don't know of the *existence* of Orthodoxy.)   If American Catholics have stayed Catholic despite the pedophile priest scandal, etc., they are probably going to remain Catholic for the rest of their lives.  How can they be taught or reminded of theosis? 

In short, I am facing two questions:

(1) Is it possible to achieve theosis outside of the Orthodox Church?

(2) If yes, should I stay in the Catholic Church to help my fellow Catholics learn and practice theosis?

Obviously, I have to answer these questions myself.  But, these are the questions that I am facing. 

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« Reply #35 on: July 01, 2005, 10:36:45 AM »

In short, I am facing two questions:

(1) Is it possible to achieve theosis outside of the Orthodox Church?

Well, yessssss... Undecided...but I wouldn't bank on it by any means.  If theosis is a wandering through the desert of this life to prepare for the Promised Land, then doing this outside the nourishing sacraments of the Church would be like hoping for an oasis when you could have your supply of water right there the whole time.

Quote
(2) If yes, should I stay in the Catholic Church to help my fellow Catholics learn and practice theosis?

As you say, you have to answer these questions yourself.  My opinion is that you should not.  In Orthodoxy you will hear stressed time and again that, if you yourself are not achieving theosis, you're not going to do anybody else any good at all.  My advice (which is worth about what I'm charging you for it!  Grin) is to convert (obviously), then make a point to maintain the relationships with your friends.  And not just as a means to convert them; they'll see through it and, I'm sure, deserve better than that.  But as you work out your salvation with fear and trembling in a place that can actually get you where you're wanting to go and wanting them to go, it can serve as a witness to them of how things are different for you now.

My $0.02.
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« Reply #36 on: July 01, 2005, 10:40:38 AM »

Arjuuna, you have had an excellent series of posts!

Quote
How can 3 million Orthodox evangelize 297 million other people? The Orthodox are small in number; they are struggling with losing people to ethnic assimilation and (simultaneously) gaining people through conversion; they have competing jurisdictions; from what I hear, they are not financially rich;  and, from what I hear, there is a priest shortage.  Indeed, from what I hear, some Orthodox priests must work outside jobs to support themselves.  How is this tiny population that is faced with such problems going to evangelize the 70 million Roman Catholics and the 230 million or other people in the U.S. ? ÂÂ


All that you wrote is true, with the possible exception that there are less than 3 million Orthodox in the US. But how often has God chosen the younger brother instead of the older and more powerful? Does the Lord always choose the path that 'makes sense' to us in the world, or does He act in a way we label as 'paradoxical'?

My answer is that 'with the Lord, all things are possible'.

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I myself would probably be very happy as an Orthodox, but what about the rest of my people? ÂÂ How are they going to learn about theosis? ÂÂ What about the 297 million non-Orthodox people in the U.S.? ÂÂ What about my 70 million fellow Roman Catholics in the U.S.? ÂÂ They are not going to become Orthodox. ÂÂ (Indeed, most of them don't know of the *existence* of Orthodoxy.) ÂÂ  If American Catholics have stayed Catholic despite the pedophile priest scandal, etc., they are probably going to remain Catholic for the rest of their lives. ÂÂ How can they be taught or reminded of theosis? ÂÂ

How are 'the rest of your people' (by which I mean the rest of the world, not just Roman Catholics) going to learn about theosis? My best answer is for you to live a life of theosis, serving as an example (or, witness or martyrika) to them.

You seem to give up hope on Catholics who stay with their church despite their current problems. Well, I believe that we as humans are created to live a life of holiness; this purpose runs deep inside every person on the planet. If people witness those who are living such a life, others will join them. What seems hopeless will become a trickle, and then a flood.

Quote
In short, I am facing two questions:

(1) Is it possible to achieve theosis outside of the Orthodox Church?

Hmmm....that is the question, isn't it? I'm a convert, so my answer to this question is obvious. However, I suggest that you should pray and read, especially where the Church has spoken regarding the importance of Truth, and living your life of theosis within the Church.

Quote
(2) If yes, should I stay in the Catholic Church to help my fellow Catholics learn and practice theosis?

I think the answer to the first question will also answer this one.

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« Reply #37 on: July 01, 2005, 12:20:28 PM »


In short, I am facing two questions:

(1) Is it possible to achieve theosis outside of the Orthodox Church?

(2) If yes, should I stay in the Catholic Church to help my fellow Catholics learn and practice theosis?

Obviously, I have to answer these questions myself.  But, these are the questions that I am facing. 



Hi Arjuna.  Good questions.  As a recent convert from the RC, I'll jump in.  I believe that it's possible to achieve theosis outside of the Orthodox Church, e.g. we know where the Church but not where the Church is not.  RC saints such as St. Therese surely obtained theosis.  Plus as a former RC I should say that authentic western spirituality is about theosis.  The emphasis is different than in the east but there are real similarities.

There are pockets of Roman Catholicism these days where the people are learning about theosis.  The words used are different but it's still theosis. For example, there are Roman Catholics who are taught to fast regularly.  When I was still an RC, I attended a parish (not trad but conservative) where people knew about theosis.  The priest never used the term theosis and he wasn't educated in patristics but he'd figured it out on his own.  I always tell him that he prepared me for Orthodoxy. 

As for your own personal situation, if you believe that Orthodox is the true Church, you have no choice but to convert because it's a very serious sin to remain willfully outside of the Church.  But it's a more difficult question if you believe that the Church encompasses both the RC and Orthodoxy. 
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« Reply #38 on: July 03, 2005, 10:11:48 PM »

I wouldn't consider either Schaffer or Carlton to be good reads for a Roman Catholic convert to Orthodoxy.  I have both books .  I have read them and because of them I was turned off to Orthodoxy at the time that I read them.  Both are way too polemical for the Catholic reader.  One must approach Orthodoxy out of love and a conviction that it is the True Church.  I would suggest reading "Not of This World" by Monk Christian Damascene.  This book is long but it details Fr. Seraphim Rose's search for the True Church better than Schaffer and Carlton do.

Rob
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« Reply #39 on: July 07, 2005, 10:22:44 PM »

Well, I think I have turned a corner.

I think I finally understand how Orthodoxy can be the best form of Christianity.ÂÂ  Here is what I posted at another online forum, after I had posted here and read your responses.ÂÂ  

In Orthodoxy, there is no difference between mysticism and theology. In Orthodoxy, the whole point of Christianity is the direct, personal experience of God by partaking of His Trinitarian life. That is because God is utterly beyond us, yet God loves us so much that He comes down to our level in order to raise us up to His level: starting now and foretasting forever. It is the process of salvation and sanctification that is worked by God with our active co-operation. That is theosis. That is also theology. For the Orthodox, knowledge of God can only be learned by direct, personal experience of God by partaking of His Trinitarian life. Hence, for the Orthodox, theosis is theology.

Indeed, if the word “orthodox” is properly understood --as correct knowledge of God that only comes from experience of God-- then theosis is Orthodoxy. And, anything less than Orthodoxy is less perfect or less complete theosis. To the Orthodox, Orthodoxy is theosis is theology.

In sum, the issue between us is not which text to look at, nor which logical proposition is sound, etc. The issue between Western Christians and Orthodox Christians is our fundamentally different understandings of theology. Both agree that the word “theology” means “knowledge of God.” Hence, the core question is: How do we know God? How do we understand theology? Western Christians (Catholics and Protestants) have a fundamentally cataphatic answer. Namely, Western theology is ideas about God. Orthodox Christians have a fundamentally apophatic answer. Namely, God is utterly beyond our ideas, but He nevertheless shares His life with us. Hence, Orthodox theology is direct, personal experience of God by partaking of His Trinitarian life. In other words, Orthodox theology is a process, theosis, that produces experiential knowledge of God by partaking of His Trinitarian life.


If you are interested in the entire quote, it is at http://www.byzcath.org/cgibin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=4;t=001404;p=2ÂÂ  My user name there is "harmon3110."ÂÂ  If you are interested in the entire thread, it is at http://www.byzcath.org/cgibin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=4;t=001404;p=1ÂÂ  

Otherwise, I'm going to post here the posts that I made at that other forum.  There are six posts which I reproduce here, and they are lengthy.  Thank to anyone who actually wades through them.

Finally, I made an appointment tonight with an Orthodox priest to meet him next week and to talk about Orthodoxy and possible conversion.ÂÂ  I do not want to rush into this.ÂÂ  Also, I have obligations which could require me to remain Catholic through the end of this year or so.ÂÂ  And, I should really spend a year visiting an Orthodox parish and trying to live the religion before I jump into anything. So, I'm not rushing into this.ÂÂ  On the other hand, it dawned on me that I have been thinking about becoming Orthodox, off and on, for the last 10 years (at least).ÂÂ  Maybe it's time that I to just do it.

Thank you for all your help and prayers.
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« Reply #40 on: July 07, 2005, 10:38:37 PM »

(first post by arjuna3110/harmon3110 on Orthodoxy from another forum)

In another thread , Apotheoun wrote:

quote:
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My intention in becoming Byzantine Catholic was not to "ape" Orthodoxy; rather, my intention was and is to be fully Orthodox. Communion with Rome does not require Latinization; in fact quite the contrary, it requires vigilance on the part of Easterners in order to avoid precisely that outcome.
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I genuinely and respectfully ask the following questions, and I humbly thank anyone who cares to respond:

1. Do you consider communion with the bishop of Rome as a part of being fully Orthodox?

2. How do you reconcile Orthodox theology with loyalty to the bishop of Rome, on those points where Orthodox theology is different from Latin theology (e.g., the filioque, collegiality, created/uncreated grace, etc.)?

3. Do you share the view of some persons that the Eastern Catholic Churches have a vocation of being a bridge of reunion between the Roman Catholic Church and Orthodox Churches? Or, do you think the Eastern Catholic Churches were simply a product of history that now (via the Balamand Declaration) are being "swept under the rug" by Pope and Patriarchs in order to further their desire for communion between Roman Catholics and Orthodox?

4. How can theosis be revived in Western Christianity, if most Westerners will not (in all likelihood) convert to Orthodoxy or the Eastern Catholic Churches?

5. Is artificial birth control a test for whether people will practice personal asceticism and, hence, theosis? If so, is fidelity to the papal / patristic teaching on artificial birth control critical for the genuine practice of theosis?
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« Reply #41 on: July 07, 2005, 10:40:53 PM »

(second post by arjuna3110/harmon3110 on Orthodoxy from another forum)



I suppose I should answer my own questions . . .



quote:
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1. Do you consider communion with the bishop of Rome as a part of being fully Orthodox?
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Ideally, yes; realistically, no. There is an imperfect choice currently of papal monarchy or Orthodox collegiality.



quote:
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2. How do you reconcile Orthodox theology with loyalty to the bishop of Rome, on those points where Orthodox theology is different from Latin theology (e.g., the filioque, collegiality, created/uncreated grace, etc.)?
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I don't know. I used to blithely think that Western and Eastern theology could be reconciled easily. Now, I'm not so sure because (1) the Western and Eastern systems are so different and (2) West and East have such different *concepts* of theology itself. (I know some will disagree, but I still think that Orthodoxy is more apophatic and mystical whereas Catholicism is more cataphatic and intellectual.)



quote:
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3. Do you share the view of some persons that the Eastern Catholic Churches have a vocation of being a bridge of reunion between the Roman Catholic Church and Orthodox Churches? Or, do you think the Eastern Catholic Churches were simply a product of history that now (via the Balamand Declaration) are being "swept under the rug" by Pope and Patriarchs in order to further their desire for communion between Roman Catholics and Orthodox?
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I am cynical about the Balamand Declaration. In it, I think the Vatican effectively declared the Eastern Catholic Churches to be expendable in order to achieve closer relations with the Orthodox Churches. I don't think they are a bridge to reunion, although they might be a bargaining chip. In the meantime, I think the Eastern Catholic Churches are acting as a kind of bridge for some Catholics to learn about Eastern Catholicism and Orthodoxy and vice versa.



quote:
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4. How can theosis be revived in Western Christianity, if most Westerners will not (in all likelihood) convert to Orthodoxy or the Eastern Catholic Churches?
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I don't know. That is the real question in my mind. In one sense it would be simple: preach the Gospel, by word and especially by example. In other words: keep the commandments, root out vice and acquire virtue, love with the selfless love of the Eucharist. It's pretty simple. Yet, the challenges are very hard. Prayer, fasting and almsgiving have gone radically out of style in Western Christianity. I think Myles was right, in a post he made some time ago, that solution is saints: people who first worked on themselves and thereby were then able to help others -- i.e., along the lines of Jesus' parable about the talents. But, it is also possible that sustained sanctity is impossible anymore in Western Christianity because it is no longer Orthodox. I honestly do not know.



quote:
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5. Is artificial birth control a test for whether people will practice personal asceticism and, hence, theosis? If so, is fidelity to the papal / patristic teaching on artificial birth control critical for the genuine practice of theosis?
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I'm wondering if this might be true. I have written in other threads that I admire the Orthodox position of allowing artificial birth control as a matter of economia. However, most Orthodox (it seems) ignore their Church's teaching: that asceticism and self-control are supposed to be the rule and artificial birth control is only supposed to be an *exception* to the rule. In other words, it seems that the Orthodox use birth control like anyone else. And, Catholic or Orthodox, I wonder if boils down to the same thing: those who are serious about sanctity keep the teaching as best they can, and those who aren't serious about sanctity blow off the teaching.
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« Reply #42 on: July 07, 2005, 10:43:51 PM »

(third post by arjuna3110/harmon3110 on Orthodoxy at another forum)


quote:
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 (originally posted by harmon3110) But, it is also possible that sustained sanctity is impossible anymore in Western Christianity because it is no longer Orthodox. I honestly do not know.
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(response by Myles) Are you being serious? [ . . . ] Are you trying to infer that St Terese of Liseux was not consistently holy or perhaps St Edith Stein or perhaps the late great John Paul II?
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(my response to Myles' response)


No, I don’t mean that. Clearly they were holy people.

What I mean is this. The Gospel is something more simple, more pure, and far more good than Catholic papism and its intellectual arguments.

The Gospel is Jesus, who saves us. The Gospel is the Holy Spirit, who sanctifies us. The Gospel is the Father, who created us and to whom we can return if we are saved by His Son and sanctified by His Spirit. The Gospel is a Mystery that cannot be grasped by the human mind but which can, by God’s uncreated grace, be accepted by the human heart. Theology is not a matter of the mind. Theology is the direct, personal experience of God. Theology is not a life of obedience to the pope. Theology is the mystery of participating in the life of the Trinity.

The Catholic Church has often forgotten this because it stopped being Orthodox. It insisted that the pope was greater than the other patriarchs and that the pope could change the creed. The change itself --the filioque-- had the effect of forgetting the uniqueness of the Holy Spirit. He became, in effect, a byproduct of the Father and the Son; He is no longer regarded a truly unique Person. Hence, the Holy Spirit’s truly unique role in the life of the Church --theosis--- was also largely forgotten. Western Christianity became more and more an imitation of Christ: however Christ happened to be interpreted in the Catholic Church by whatever was the dominant school of thought or the popular form of piety. The Orthodox Church, in contrast, did not change. Orthodoxy preserved salvation by Christ and sanctification by the Holy Spirit.

These perspectives really are different, and it was the Catholic Church that changed its faith from Orthodoxy.

The East really is apophatic because it starts and stays with the premise that the Gospel is a mystery: the mystery of participating in the life of the Trinity.

The West really is cataphatic because it insists on intellectually defining and arguing everything about the Gospel. And that is proven every time I bring up this point online. On Orthodox forums, the answer is an understanding agreement. On Catholic forums, the answer is forceful, detailed intellectual argument to show that the East is just as cataphatic as the West.

With all due respect, Myles, you just don’t get it. Neither you, nor the professor who writes under the screen name “Pseudo Athanasius,” nor “Gaudior” nor so many of the posters at this forum gets it.

Perhaps the only one at this forum who gets it is Dan Laufler. He once wrote that he is not Orthodox because he loves the pope, and that he is not Roman Catholic because it is boring, and that he is therefore Eastern Catholic. He and perhaps Alice and a few others: they seem to get it.

Myles, you are smarter than I am and you are more learned than I am. You and the others can quote Thomas Aquinas all you want; and you will make wonderful intellectual arguments that are cogent and logical and that come to nice, tidy conclusions that support your points.

But, you are missing the point: Holiness isn’t an idea. Holiness isn’t obedience to the pope. I have tried to live like that, but it revolts my very being. And that is because I can sense --I can feel-- I can experience -- I know -- that holiness is GOD and living in union with God. Holiness is a matter of the heart and thence the rest of our being.

The Catholic Church, God bless it, so often tries to put God into an intellectual box that is kept under papal lock and key. Some people manage to become quite holy anyway, and thereby the Catholic Church has done much good and it has produced many saints. Yet, the Catholic Church seems to miss the point of the Gospel so often because it seems to try to hold the ocean of God’s grace and mercy in its fists of mind and power -- instead of receiving the ocean of God’s grace and mercy with the open hands of the heart.

There is a reason that the Protestants were successful: 500 years ago and today. The simple Truth of the Gospel is freeing.

And, there is a simple reason that I am only a hairbreadth away from becoming an Orthodox Christian. The Gospel is freeing because it is unchanging. The Gospel is not a concept, nor an argument, nor obedience to the pope. The Gospel is the Mystery of participating in the life of the Trinity. And the more I discover Orthodoxy, the more I find something closer and truer to the Gospel.

It was a mistake for me to come back to this Catholic Forum after my break last week or so ago. Catholics, Eastern or Western, really do tend to be the same. Catholics really do tend to see the Gospel in terms of concepts and obedience to the pope and, hopefully, the Eucharist.

I have tried to be Catholic, but it increasingly recoils my being. I don’t hate the Catholic Church --which is my mom and my family and my friends and so on. Instead, I feel that I cannot fit into the Catholic Church anymore. I feel like an alien in the Catholic Church. For Catholics, the Gospel is intellectual concepts and obedience to the pope and, maybe, the Eucharist. For me, the Gospel is living in union with God. For me, the Gospel and the Eucharist and the liturgy and prayer and daily life are all the same thing. For me, the Gospel is a Mystery which changes the heart, then the rest of the person, and then the rest of society. And I want that Mystery because the Truth of GOD is bigger than any human mind and any bishop. I want the Mystery of GOD, not the arguments and not the pope and least of all Thomas Acquinas. I want the Mystery of God because the I want the Truth of GOD: directly, purely, unchangingly.

I’m not going to quit the Catholic Church now or suddenly. Perhaps I am wrong; perhaps I am missing something. And, I have obligations to perform. But, I am a hairbreadth away from becoming Orthodox; and I am waiting and praying and discerning.
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« Reply #43 on: July 07, 2005, 10:46:29 PM »

(fourth post by arjuna3110 / harmon3110 on Orthodoxy at another forum)



-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by Myles:
If I am interpreting you right then you are accusing me of having nothing more than an intellectual faith [ . . . ]
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I am not accusing you of that, Myles. From both our public posts and our private messages, I know very well that you [have] a deep love for the LORD based upon your deep, personal experience of Him. If you think I accused you of that, or if that is what my words (unintentionally) amounted to, I deeply, deeply apologize. You have been a true friend and true gentleman.

Here is my grievance: not with you but with the whole Catholic mindset. What is ultimately a Mystery --the Triune God sharing His life with us-- is so often in Catholicism reduced to intellectual propositions and obedience to the bishop of Rome. I have tried to live my faith that way, but it revolts my being. In contrast, Orthodoxy starts with a Mystery, and it stays with a Mystery, and it tries to live the Mystery. In short, I find that Catholicism does not agree with me, but Orthodoxy (the more I learn about it) seems to be what I have been looking for my entire life. It's a better fit: at least for me, perhaps for others.

Now here (to be honest) is what I'm not sure of: I don't know if that is because Orthodoxy is actually closer to the Truth or whether is a better vehicle to the Truth for me with my personality. I'm also not sure how pure my motives are: whether I am genuinely trying to get closer to the Truth or whether I am just trying to do what feels good to me. Is Orthodoxy really God's will for me, or is it my selfish will for me, or is the choice between Catholicism and Orthodoxy one of those things where God is leaving me free to choose between two equal optioons. These are the things that I have to dsicern. I also have some personal obligations, which I have shared with you but which I do not wish to share in public, that require me to stay Catholic for the immediate fuutre.

So, that is what is vexing me; but I'm not jumping ship just now; and I deeply apologize if I offended you.
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« Reply #44 on: July 07, 2005, 10:49:54 PM »

(fifth post by harmon3110/arjuna3110 on Orthodoxy at another forum)



Myles, here is my take on the Catholic mindset:
--theology that is religious philosophy
--obedience to the pope
--sometimes, devotion is to the Eucharist

As I wrote above, the first two points revolt my entire being because I find God to be utterly beyond mere human philosophy and institutions.


Here is my take on what you posted:



quote:
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Originally posted by Myles:
This is the mindset of the Roman Catholic Church in my experience. That God who needs nothing and who wills nothing came to earth and died for us and chose to remain with us through sacramental grace. Most especially in the sacrament of His body and blood.
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And there is no mention of the Holy Spirit. In Orthodoxy, Christ came to repair the capacity for man to be united with God, and the Holy Spirit came to sanctify us.



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This God gave us a highly structured and organised Church to make that life easy for us, better. He gave us priests to do all the hard work for us and guarantees on what to believe by giving us the hierarchy. All we need do is obey with open hearts and the relationship of love deepens and the power of God in the soul strengthens.
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My friend, now it is my turn to ask aloud: Are you serious?



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To know and live this is Catholicism.
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Sadly, often yes. Happily, there are many Catholics who find the simple truth of the Gospel and live it in their lives.



quote:
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If we
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we?



quote:
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defend the Papacy tooth and nail its because of what it is: God's own creation. That cannot be doubted, time and time again I have been drawn into arguments about whether or not Rome has primacy of jurdistiction on this board and time and time again I have won and I refuse to concede regardless of what that costs to myself.
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Won? Myles, what have you won? Belief in the papacy is a matter of faith. People either believe in it as the Catholic Church teaches, or they don't. Well, I don't. The same is true for millions of Catholics. The same is also true for millions of other Christians. Your arguments at this forum, which you claim to have won, are hollow victories. I still don't believe in the papacy. I have tried. I even have managed to convince myself on occasion. But, experience convinces me otherwise; and I find the Orthodox view of the papacy to be more accurate.



quote:
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Ultimately every single question you just asked is irrelevant.
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I disagree, for obvious reasons.



quote:
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Catholicism and Orthodoxy are not equal options nor do they claim to be. Both claims to be right and in such a conflict the evidence for both cases must be weighed up and impartially approached.
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And that is precisely what I am in the process of doing. Just remember, reasonable minds can take the same evidence and come to different conclusions . . . usually by what factors are given the most weight. I will not try to speak for you personally.

I will speak for myself. Truth Is. It is God. It is utterly beyond the capacity for the human mind to apprehend. However, by the grace of God, Truth can be received by the heart. Hence, I look for a Church which treats the Truth apophatically, mystically, practically. Increasingly, I think the Orthodox Church does a better job of that than the Catholic Church.

As for the Eastern Catholic Churches, they have been interesting to me; but I have come to two conclusions about them. First, they are probably going to dwindle away in the U.S. (unless Dan Lauffer is right). Second, they are, ultimately, Catholic and not Orthodox. They do and say and think some things that are Orthodox, but they love the pope and they follow him.



quote:
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 The mystery is always present it is up to the man to realise it and live it.
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Absolutely. And I increasingly think that the Orthodox do the best job of that because they start with the Mystery and stay with the Mystery and they do not try to box the Mystery into human intellectual arguments or papal decrees. The Orthodox let the Mystery be the Mystery that It Is, and they try to live in ever greater harmony and union with it.

For me, the issue is coming down to this:



quote:
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I struggle with the teachings of the Church
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So do I. I have been for the last 21 years.

For the last 10 years, at various points, it has been in the back of my mind to become an Orthodox Christian.

That has increasingly been on my mind for the last year. Hence, I have been here at this forum wondering and learning if it is possible to be Catholic and Orthodox. And, as I mentioned above, the answer is no. Either a person is Catholic (Eastern or Western) or an Orthodox. And, I still find myself wanting to be Orthodox rather than Catholic.

And it's finally dawning on me: If I like and agree with the Orthodox Church more than any other church, it's time for me to convert to the Orthodox Church.

I'll wait to make my decision till at least the end of this year: in order to truly weigh this and with an open mind.

Myles, I want to thank you for a vigorous debate.

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