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Author Topic: De-Mythologizing American Orthodox History  (Read 2123 times) Average Rating: 0
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Justin Kissel
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« on: July 28, 2005, 08:46:56 PM »

De-Mythologizing American Orthodox History, by Theophilus Eardwine

An intersting article. Thoughts?
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« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2005, 09:19:59 PM »

THOSE SNEAKY RUSSIANS!!!



LOL.
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« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2005, 09:24:18 PM »

Sneaky?  I'll take that as a compliment. I am going to be an attorney, after all. Grin
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« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2005, 09:28:12 PM »

LOL... JA NEZNAJEM, PAZHALOSNA!
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« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2005, 09:31:54 PM »

Okay, to wrench this back to being on-topic, I have to wonder what the historical practice has been regarding evangelizing a new land.  Could anyone fill us in on that so we can at least compare some?
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« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2005, 09:37:30 PM »

To be honest, I know the myth to be . . . mythological.  I'm not sure where the author is trying to go with this.

"All Orthodox churches in America had messed up and uncanonical allegiance to bishops."  Great!

I don't think the author's question, "but is it really the Orthodox tradition?" was answered.  I don't think he even attempted an answer.  What is canonical is what is at question here, not who peed on which tree first vs. who peed more on the trees fastest.

Neither is "we must come out of our factions and ghettos" a point of canonicity.  It's like saying, "after church everyone must abandon coffee and baklava for peanut butter cookies and Diet Coke."  FEH!

Everytime I read an Orthodox author use the term "ghetto" my skin crawls.  Yes, we need to unite and fix this stupid problem, but telling a Russian that liturgy has to be done in English and in these tones, or a Greek that the choir has to learn Slavonic and throw away all things Hellenic is not only silly and counterproductive, but it doesn't address the real issue: canonical unity.  That's canonical unity, not cultural unity.

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« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2005, 11:56:17 PM »

cizinec!
What's this? A voice of reason?

I must have logged on to the wrong forum; can't be... Smiley
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« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2005, 12:44:25 AM »

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I have to wonder what the historical practice has been regarding evangelizing a new land.

I don't want to sound like TomS here ( Grin), but usually missionary activity was linked with worldly circumstances. We consider Sts. Cyril and Methodius Orthodox saints, for instance, but they actually sought help from that dreaded Roman Church at a time when it was technically in schism, and had broken communion with the Local Church of Constantinople, who had sent these saints  to missionize the Moravians in the first place. St. John Chrysostom missionized many in Turkey, and I believe Georgia and Armenia, ordaining clergy for them and having texts translated into their tongue... but this happened because he was being sent into exile (though St. John had, admittedly, sent missionaries to various regions while he was Patriarch).

Bulgarian Prince Boris, when deciding who to allow into Bulgaria as missionaries and clerics (Constantinople or Rome), based his decision on things like which group would give Bulgaria an autonomous Patriarch the quickest. Prince Boris went back and forth a few times, before he finally made up his mind. The fact that Constantinople and the Byzantine army were right next door--and that the Emperor had threatened Bulgaria should they make the wrong choice--probably played some small part in who Bulgaria eventually chose.

Even if we consider the Scripture, when was it that the Jewish Christians started missionizing outside of Jerusalem? "And at that time there was a great persecution against the Church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles... Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word." (Acts 8:1, 4)

So I guess the answer, from what I understand, is that whoever gets there and is strong enough (either politically, militarily, or religiously) to keep their claim strong, gets to claim the fruits of God's work as their own (ie. they get to claim that they--and not those other people--were the instruments of God). Man, I sound cynical tonight!  Undecided
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« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2005, 01:28:50 AM »

I had it explained to me by an Hieromonk whom I respect greatly that Orthodox missionary work is nothing like heterodox.  It doesn't consist of printing of tracts proving Orthodoxy is correct etc.  It consists of sending people who are grace filled into a land to draw others towards the faith through grace.  For a good example of this read the biography of Fr. Cosmas of Grigoriou.

So perhaps that explains the approach more common in Orthodoxy of letting circumstances and small scale conversions dictate a lot of missionary work.
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« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2005, 06:26:09 AM »

We consider Sts. Cyril and Methodius Orthodox saints, for instance, but they actually sought help from that dreaded Roman Church at a time when it was technically in schism, and had broken communion with the Local Church of Constantinople, who had sent these saints  to missionize the Moravians in the first place

Sts Cyril and Methodius were active in the 860s. That was two hundred years before the Great Schism.
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« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2005, 08:19:11 AM »

Cizinec. I love you. The voice of reason is here!  The article was most likely written by a convert who brought his former evangelical mindset to bear upon the Orthodox tradition. Canonical unity does not mean cultural unity.
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« Reply #11 on: July 29, 2005, 08:32:58 AM »

Yes, Cizinec gets it right on.  The whole idea is to bring about canonical unity with *respect* for cultural identities (ie: No Serb should be told to give up Slava for the sake of canonical unity).  Point being, both can be accomplished simultaneously.
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« Reply #12 on: July 29, 2005, 09:05:29 AM »

I have to wonder what the historical practice has been regarding evangelizing a new land.ÂÂ  Could anyone fill us in on that so we can at least compare some?

Ethnic Love Festivals.
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« Reply #13 on: July 29, 2005, 10:24:18 AM »

I had it explained to me by an Hieromonk whom I respect greatly that Orthodox missionary work is nothing like heterodox.ÂÂ  It doesn't consist of printing of tracts proving Orthodoxy is correct etc.ÂÂ  It consists of sending people who are grace filled into a land to draw others towards the faith through grace.ÂÂ  For a good example of this read the biography of Fr. Cosmas of Grigoriou.

To be blunt: your hieromonk is clueless.

Hidden in those statistics is some useful truth, but to pry it out one needs to first understand that the word "mission" has a double meaning, which I can best explain by looking at how things are structured in the Episcopal Church.

In ECUSA we have "parishes", "missions", and "chaplaincies". A parish is just what you think it is: a congregation with its own priest(s) that is self-supporting. A "mission" is like a parish except that it relies on the diocese for support. A chaplaincy lacks a specific congregation.

What these terms illustrate, through a little indirection, is that "mission" covers a variety of circumstances. Most commonly, at this time, it means the start of a new parish and not necessarily an attempt to convert the natives, as it were.

Looking at the stats in the article, and remembering that the Catholic Encyclopedia is biased to overemphasize the Russian church as Uniate sheep stealers, one fact jumps out: the Russian effort includes both kinds of mission work, but the Greek effort only includes the "new parish" type of mission. Those numbers in Alaska represent real C&M-type evangelism, just as the Episcopal diocese of Navaholand and the Presbyterian dominance of South Korea represent that sort of mission. Otherwise, the distribution of Orthodox churches in the country is closely tied to the distribution of Greeks and Slavs in the country.
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« Reply #14 on: July 29, 2005, 11:14:49 AM »

Yes, Cizinec gets it right on.ÂÂ  The whole idea is to bring about canonical unity with *respect* for cultural identities (ie: No Serb should be told to give up Slava for the sake of canonical unity).ÂÂ  Point being, both can be accomplished simultaneously.

This is not meant to be inflammatory in the least. I'm just pondering what you wrote, SS.

 As I was reading this, instances went through my mind from years of reading EO on-line, that some converts acted as though they had to *become* the ethnicity of whatever EO church they were joining, while almost erasing ethnic traditions of their own original group.  Then they wrote as though anything of their former life was somehow not acceptable to EO, or tainted being "western" or something like that.

Cultural Customs or identies are important to people.  How can those of countries/groups not "Byzantine"/EO etc be accepted as well?

Just a thought for discussion.

Ebor
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« Reply #15 on: July 29, 2005, 11:37:15 AM »

To be blunt: your hieromonk is clueless.

To be blunt:ÂÂ  You are either very rude or very classless.

Ebor,

  ÃƒÆ’‚ I don't think it is inflammatory at all an certainly fair game.  Admittedly, I have not been exposed to "converts" at my parish, so I don't have first hand knowledge about what you speak about.  Maybe you can offer some more specific examples.

  ÃƒÆ’‚  Furthermore, I personally think bringing in "other" cultural tradtions is excellent (as long as the specific tradition isn't in some way contradictory to the faith).

  ÃƒÆ’‚  For me, the only issue I have with cultural traditions, is when their importance starts to exceed the importance of the faith.  The example I used above (with regards to Slava), is a bad one, because Slava is intertwined between culture and religion.

  ÃƒÆ’‚  For Serbs, the Slava will always be vital, because it represents are enlightenment to Our Savior.  Our Slava represents our acceptance of Jesus and Orthodox Christianity as a whole.
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« Reply #16 on: July 29, 2005, 01:30:17 PM »

OK, then let me try it again, with more explication.

Those of us who pay attention to the actions of Protestant missionaries see that what they did over a century ago looks remarkably like what the Eastern missionaries were doing over a millenium ago. Or maybe what the Roman Catholics were doing two centuries back. The conversion of Russia is parallelled by conversions in Africa, South America, and parts of the Far East (notably Korea); Anglicanism is now majority non-white; I don't know about Catholicism, but it wouldn't surprise me if the same were true in its case.

Indeed, the whole issue with the tracts represents a present that is totally at variance with the monk's statement. Mainline churches-- and I'll definitely include the Orthodox in this-- have basically signed on to a mutual nonagression pact. Evangelicals and non-denominational Baptists have not signed up and in fact take an extremely aggressive approach, even targeting their own people. Whether tracts are a good tactic or not is an issue of its own; my take is that they could be good, but most of the tracts are not good. At any rate, the newfound aggressiveness in American Orthodoxy, such as it is, seems to emanate particularly from Protestant converts whose main target is the churches they have forsaken.

Bigger issue: If Cyril and Methodius are the models for missionaries in the East, then there's a big problem. There largely aren't pagan lands left where nobody has heard of Jesus and where it suffices to convert the power center in order to convert the country as a whole. The USA, in particular, isn't that place. The faith of politicians and the upper class-- or even of movie stars-- lacks the power to convert others; most of the country already considers itself Christian.
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« Reply #17 on: July 29, 2005, 01:45:48 PM »

I have been exposed to converts in my parish and yes, some "feel" as if they have to take on the cultural traditions of the Orthodox, but they are not forced to. This is their own decision. My parish is in the suburbs and since the Orthodox are a minority the church has a cultural mix: Serbs, Russians, Arabs, Greeks and the convert ethniciities which are mainly from western Europe.
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« Reply #18 on: July 29, 2005, 04:58:44 PM »

CRCulver

Quote
Sts Cyril and Methodius were active in the 860s. That was two hundred years before the Great Schism.

Well that would be a great point, except that I was talking about the Photian schism. My point was that St. Photius and the Patriarchate of Constantinople sent Sts. Cyril and Methodius out to missionize, and then these two saints were summoned, and went for help, to a Church (Rome) that was not in communion with the original Church who had sent them (Constantinople). Orthodox Christians accept that St. Photius was in the right and Rome in the wrong in that particular case, thus the reason that I said that Rome was in schism. I would say that this was a pretty important schism, considering that it produced councils which the Catholics consider Ecumenical and which the Orthodox consider authoritative/binding Smiley
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« Reply #19 on: July 31, 2005, 02:53:22 AM »

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Bigger issue: If Cyril and Methodius are the models for missionaries in the East, then there's a big problem. There largely aren't pagan lands left where nobody has heard of Jesus and where it suffices to convert the power center in order to convert the country as a whole. The USA, in particular, isn't that place. The faith of politicians and the upper class-- or even of movie stars-- lacks the power to convert others; most of the country already considers itself Christian.

That is actually what I was more or else saying, Keble.  That in general most conversions to Orthodoxy come from experiencing something positive from the Orthodox Church - I know of families that converted because one member was healed through a saint, or somebody was drawn to Orthodoxy spirituality and liturgical worship etc.  Very few convert solely by looking at dry facts.  I know several people (in real life, not the internet) that think that objectively Orthodoxy is correct, but see no reason to convert to it.

Regarding paganism etc. -  The pagan tribal mentality of those Christianed in first milenium living outside the Roman empire is definetly not the same as today (i.e if the chief converted that would basicly mean the whole group converts, whereas if President Bush converted we'd say who cares).  Yet it is not entirely different either.  Someone that is Catholic or Protestant in name only that converts to Orthodoxy may have as much real experience with Christianity as a Germanic or Slavic Pagan had.  Even as a former Catholic (who was a daily mass attendant when my schoool schedule allowed, and always a daily rosary prayer), converting to Orthodoxy was a tremendous transformation. 
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