Wow - I go away to summer camp for 5 weeks of work and a jewel of a thread like this starts? And now that I am hopping in so late in the game, there is far too much to respond to on my current energy level (I love working at the Summer Camp, but for about a week after it's over I am completely sapped of all my energy).
Let's dig in, shall we?
- GiC sounding like a
pretentious, pompous a**?
Right. So my dear friend GiC is confident in his opinions and very direct. Sometimes that comes off as arrogant and pretentious. He can sound that way conversationally, too. It is not out of his personal ego or a need to "stir the pot," but again out of a confidence in his positions (of course, when he wants to stir the pot, he does so quite well).
He is also not ethnically Greek; while he has adopted a love for Greece, he also uses Greek in a classical way (Romiosini, as Fr. John would rather have it). Anyway, this discussion is inconsequential to the matter on the Subject line.
- Papism. Misnomer. In fact, many of the lay people in the GOA are rather the opposite; more Protestant than anything else (as was pointed out earlier by Silouan). They have been influenced by the "American Spirit" and the circumstances in which the GOA grew (which were quite different than the other jurisdictions). Many of the people are true congregationalists; a modified form of this position could be quite useful (as my Metropolitan is quick to point out, the fullness of the Church exists within the local parish when the members are present for the Eucharist with the blessing of the Bishop) but the extreme form that can often be found is quite harmful. GiC, on the other hand, is a fan of the Canonical Tradition of the Church, which leaves many more rights and responsibilities in the bishops and the EP than are exercised currently.
- Anti-Tradition. Wow, where did this come from? I don't know too many who are so strongly anti-monastic or whatnot. Of course, my Metropolis of the GOA was the first to integrate Monastic communities in the Post-HTM era, and now we have 4 communities and 2 monastic institutions (organizations run by individual monastics in the area of service to the poor). The problems we come across in the GOA are 1) lack of exposure to "traditional Orthodoxy", and 2) an all-too-cemented connection to the present secular culture through materialism (regardless of wealth and/or social status). This is why you have people who don't know/care about headscarves, and/or namedays/Slavas/etc, the list goes on. Part of it is that the people are not as quick to pick up practices that are not culturally popular; this is not a situation unique to the present time. Remember, the Church was much smaller before St. Constantine; after the Edict of Milan, there was a sudden explosion in Church membership - go figure, the real believers were okay, but now you have an influx of people who are Christian because its okay to be, and because it is now increasingly popular.
- Nationalism / Ethno-centrism. There are elements of both, but not majorities of either, in the GOA. Okay. You do have parishes who want only "Greeks" to attend. Of course, if you know Greeks, then you know why I put that in quotation marks - because "Greek" depends on where you're from. Many of the Southern Greeks think the Northerners are Bulgars and Albanians; Some in the West think that the Chians are Turks. There are "Greeks" who will not like people whose ancestors are from a village only 20 miles from their own. The Greek City-State lives on in the modern day amongst the dispersed Greeks (mainly those who came to this country 20-60 years ago, and have somehow formed their own village-cliques here that have nothing to do with "real" Greek culture in Greece).
But here's the rub with both angles: nationalism isn't dominant, because we don't live in Greece, and the people don't want to live in Greece, and they don't want their church controlled by Greece. They know "Greece" is nearly a third-world country over 75% of its land-mass. They know that the government is corrupt. And the people do accept as "Greek" those who are from areas that are not within the current political boundaries (like Asia Minor Greeks or Cypriot Greeks). There's more nationalism here amongst the non-ethnic groups that insist that we sever all administrative and ecclesiastical ties with the "Old World" because they are 1) Out-of touch or 2) Not operating in our best interests. And the real definition of Phyletism is the notion that the Church should be administratively split along Nationalistic boundaries.
Ethno-centrism is closer to the truth, but that exists in pockets where the focus is on the maintenance of ethnic identity. I could give anecdotal evidence of how "widespread" this mindset is: in Cleveland we have 4 parishes; 1 is classified as ethno-centric, 1 as moderately accepting, and the other 2 as very accepting. Within our Metropolis as a whole, the parishes that are not "ethno-centric" in their worldview outnumber the ones that are; in fact, the "ethno-centric" parishes often have reputations amongst the other parishes for their "hospitality." Of course, you will have more "ethno-centric" parishes in areas with higher concentrations of Greeks (like Chicago, NY, Boston).
Wow, I'm getting tired and far too belligerent for my own good. Good night all, and maybe I'll get back to this later.