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Author Topic: Ethnicity of a differnt sort  (Read 8925 times) Average Rating: 0
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Silouan
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« on: September 04, 2005, 02:18:33 AM »

Of late there has been a great deal of bashing of the GOA (and Greeks).  While most of this is quite valid it is missing the bigger picture in some respects. 

For example without Archbishop Anastasios and other Greek missionaries the Orthodox Church of Albania would not be undergoing the rebirth it is today (and I might add the assistance of the Ecumencial Patriarchate was instrumental in this as well).  Then there are the African missions in which Fr. Kosmas of Grigoriou of blessed memory laboured to establish.  So despite rampant secularism and their battles with communism the Greek Church has still worked to maintain missionary work.  The hesachastic revival on the Holy Mountain is even starting to bear fruit in America and elsewhere outside of Greece as well.

To the main point I wanted to bring up (and am curious if other have had similar experiences).... there is a certain type of culture present in American "mission" parishes, particularly in Antiochian parishes and to a lesser extent in the OCA (ROCOR has its own sort of strange converts - but that is another thread entirely!).  My experience in the Antiochian parishes here has been it feels very WASP except with icons and incense (and Eastern - Rite Protestantism almost).  The reason I felt this was the blatant anti-catholic bitterness that exists in many protestants was very present.  I felt it strange that so many people asked me what I was before I was Orthodox and then was met with the "oh - you were CATHOLIC?!" response.  Then there were the snide sort of "Now you venerate the Theotokos rather than worship her" remarks.  I almost felt I was amongst the side of my family that was Missouri Synod Luthuren (since then they have all died) that were amazingly anti-Catholic.  To be honest I did not feel home at all in this mileu.  The major problems with these parishes that are made up of mostly former protestants that I have noticed is that the outreach is Catholics is not very great, but also the outreach to non- churched Americans is even worse.  The only people they really reach out to is conservative protestants that are disenfranchised with the growing liberalism within their own demonination.  For the average American that is nominally religious, or for the devout non- Christians (and devout RCs) there is just as much of an ethnic/cultural gap between an English usage mission parish than an ethnic parish.

Personally speaking I found my niche in a Greek parish -I've had ups and downs there- but overall I have prospered there.  It did take extra work on my part to fit in, but for me (and other converts) a very ethnic parish has worked out quite well.  I realize it is probably not the ideal for missionary work in America, but it is something.   
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« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2005, 08:46:53 AM »

Of late there has been a great deal of bashing of the GOA (and Greeks).  While most of this is quite valid it is missing the bigger picture in some respects.

You make a good point re: the continued missionary effort in Albania.  Also of note is the missionary work in Africa through the (Greek) Patriarch of Alexandria.

Quote
My experience in the Antiochian parishes here has been it feels very WASP except with icons and incense (and Eastern - Rite Protestantism almost).  The reason I felt this was the blatant anti-catholic bitterness that exists in many protestants was very present.  I felt it strange that so many people asked me what I was before I was Orthodox and then was met with the "oh - you were CATHOLIC?!" response.  Then there were the snide sort of "Now you venerate the Theotokos rather than worship her" remarks...The major problems with these parishes that are made up of mostly former protestants that I have noticed is that the outreach is Catholics is not very great, but also the outreach to non- churched Americans is even worse.  The only people they really reach out to is conservative protestants that are disenfranchised with the growing liberalism within their own demonination.  For the average American that is nominally religious, or for the devout non- Christians (and devout RCs) there is just as much of an ethnic/cultural gap between an English usage mission parish than an ethnic parish.

Well, I'd take issue with the label "Eastern-Rite Protestantism," as you probably could have guessed, but my experience in Antiochian and OCA parishes may not be like yours.  I HAVE been to the Antiochian parish in Scottsdale, AZ (how near that is to you in AZ I don't know), but it, like the AOAA parish in which I was chrismated, is comprised mostly by folks of Syrian/Lebanese stock.  There were plenty of us converts in Tulsa's St. Antony's (from ORU, mostly), but even among us there wasn't too much of an anti-catholic thing that I picked up.  Most of the heterodox-bashing was directed at charismaticism, out of which most of us converts had come.

Your assessment of the "targets" of these formerly-Evangelical converts, however, is, I think, right on the money.  Good for you to notice this.  Until we get it in our heads that mission work IN ITS TOTALITY means reaching out not only to those who already have rich theological backgrounds but also to those who've not darkened a church's door in years (as well as figuring out exactly how to do the latter as Orthodox), we will not really be where we need to be in terms of missionary effort.
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« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2005, 05:14:05 PM »

Interesting you mention the Scotsdale Parish (about 45 minutes from my house, 30 if I'm driving!) as I've has some interesting "experiences" there.  But there have been some changes there and at the AOAA mission (which was actually shut down for a time) - so actually things are getting better.  The main issue was a small group of converts attempting to overthrow the parish council. 

I think the problem is much smaller in the OCA probably becuase they still keep more of their russian heritage intact and have a strong monastic presence.  One of my closest friends was an OCA monk (with a blessing he moved to Mt. Athos).  But I have expierenced the problems in smaller doses there.

It is an interesting topic.... and hopefully by the time I get back to the states in five years or so there will be more missionary work directd across the board. 



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« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2005, 05:37:29 PM »

Sad that having found the Truth some appear not to have understood the message. What people were is no longer important. It strongly suggests that they have have been received yet not developed an Orthodox mind-set.
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« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2005, 10:56:36 PM »

Of course there are going to be problems wherever you go. I have to wonder about allot of the 'ethnics' at my parish that I have heard would abandon our church in a heart beat if there happened to be a Greek or Russian church in town. That sure sounds like a 'protestant' mentality to me if I've ever seen one. I have heard our priest say at our men's group that there are Greeks in our city that won't attend our parish because it's not Greek Orthodox, so they don't attend church at all since we are the only Orthodox church in town...Talk about pride... Roll Eyes

One of the problems I see in the Church and the reason we currently can't unite is due to people putting their ethnicity above that of their Christian faith. It's my experience so far that people coming from protestant backgrounds make much better Christians than that of the ethnic orthodox themselves. I even see it here on this forum where the majority of the people came from similar backgrounds & then converted to Orthodoxy.Why aren't there more ethnic Orthodox here? I don't understand this because these people have had the Orthodox faith for generations, but yet they treat it like some kind of cultural get together. I really don't think anyone here should be bashing the Antiochians or OCA converts because we are the one's picking up the slack. It's disturbing to see the amount of parishioners declining in number and parishes closing down in all branches of Orthodoxy here. The only one growing right now are the Antioch's and some pockets of convert OCA parishes. For the first time in Orthodoxy, soon we will have our own version of the bible due to the hard work of converts like Father Gilquest and Fr. Ballew and other great accomplishments. You guys can cry all you want about some 'percieved' problems with converts, but keep in mind down the road when most of the ethnic parishes close their doors that's all you may have left.

Also, what's an "Orthodox' mindset? I don't know anyone that is Orthodox, but I know of people trying to BECOME Orthodox. It's a mistake to say these people are MORE Orthodox because of their ethnicity or what they were born into. I get the feeling the way some of you talk here is that being at a convert parish means you are less Orthodox. 
 
By the way for all you Greeks out there, were you aware that many of your mission parishes in Africa clap their hands and bang on drums during Liturgy? Just wanted to let you know so that it will give you a heart attack... Grin How "protestant" of them!
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« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2005, 11:33:36 PM »

It's my experience so far that people coming from protestant backgrounds make much better Christians than that of the ethnic orthodox themselves.

Wow.  Some of the things I read here leave me speechless. 
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« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2005, 12:12:25 AM »

It's my experience so far that people coming from protestant backgrounds make much better Christians than that of the ethnic orthodox themselves.

Interesting observation. So according to you, St John of Shanghai and San Francisco, St Theophan the Recluse and St John of Kronstadt were not particularly stalwart Christians. Is that correct? Currently oh... I suppose if I think hard and long enough I can come up with a few names like: Fr Roman Bragga, Fr Thomas Hopko, Fr John Myendorff (well... he's gone now) who I guess would also not rate much given the fact that they did not come from Protestant backgrounds. I just want to make certain I understand you correctly.

Quote
I even see it here on this forum where the majority of the people came from similar backgrounds & then converted to Orthodoxy.Why aren't there more ethnic Orthodox here?

Well... there could be many factors that would partially answer your question (i.e. possibly converts have a greater need to talk about their new-found faith more often in an attempt at playing "catch-up" and so they populate forums which provide them with that environment) but I seriously doubt that a lack of commitment to Christ is one of them.

Quote
I really don't think anyone here should be bashing the Antiochians or OCA converts because we are the one's picking up the slack. It's disturbing to see the amount of parishioners declining in number and parishes closing down in all branches of Orthodoxy here. The only one growing right now are the Antioch's and some pockets of convert OCA parishes.

I agree that we should not be bashing our brothers and sisters and that includes our cradle brothers and sisters. As for the claim that only the Antiochians are pockets of convert OCAers are growing right now... where exactly did you get this idea? I'm not saying I disagree but I'd like some substantial evidence other than your say-so. Thanks.

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« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2005, 04:45:50 AM »

Quote
Of course there are going to be problems wherever you go. I have to wonder about allot of the 'ethnics' at my parish that I have heard would abandon our church in a heart beat if there happened to be a Greek or Russian church in town. That sure sounds like a 'protestant' mentality to me if I've ever seen one. I have heard our priest say at our men's group that there are Greeks in our city that won't attend our parish because it's not Greek Orthodox, so they don't attend church at all since we are the only Orthodox church in town...Talk about pride...

One of the problems I see in the Church and the reason we currently can't unite is due to people putting their ethnicity above that of their Christian faith. It's my experience so far that people coming from protestant backgrounds make much better Christians than that of the ethnic orthodox themselves. I even see it here on this forum where the majority of the people came from similar backgrounds & then converted to Orthodoxy.Why aren't there more ethnic Orthodox here? I don't understand this because these people have had the Orthodox faith for generations, but yet they treat it like some kind of cultural get together. I really don't think anyone here should be bashing the Antiochians or OCA converts because we are the one's picking up the slack. It's disturbing to see the amount of parishioners declining in number and parishes closing down in all branches of Orthodoxy here. The only one growing right now are the Antioch's and some pockets of convert OCA parishes. For the first time in Orthodoxy, soon we will have our own version of the bible due to the hard work of converts like Father Gilquest and Fr. Ballew and other great accomplishments. You guys can cry all you want about some 'percieved' problems with converts, but keep in mind down the road when most of the ethnic parishes close their doors that's all you may have left.

Also, what's an "Orthodox' mindset? I don't know anyone that is Orthodox, but I know of people trying to BECOME Orthodox. It's a mistake to say these people are MORE Orthodox because of their ethnicity or what they were born into. I get the feeling the way some of you talk here is that being at a convert parish means you are less Orthodox. 

By the way for all you Greeks out there, were you aware that many of your mission parishes in Africa clap their hands and bang on drums during Liturgy? Just wanted to let you know so that it will give you a heart attack...  How "protestant" of them!
 

Great post. I have pretty much come to the same conclusions myself. The people that are always criticizing converts should take a look at themselves first. Like you said, nobody cam claim to be "fully" Orthodox in less they have achieved theosis. As my priest always says, everyone should always remember that they are a catechumen of the Church. It doesn't matter if you were born into it or just converted, we are all on the same path of becoming "Orthodox." The people that claim to have some kind of moral highground because they were born into it or their family have been Orthodox for generations don't have one leg to stand on because they will also have to face the judgement of Christ one day just like everyone else will. I don't buy the whole "they are just protestants with icons and incense" for one second. Most of the protestants that I have heard of converting for the most part have spent many many years in careful study and prayer before accepting ALL the beliefs of the Orthodox Church. The Evangelical Orthodox took it very slow over a period of fifteen years before they even considered coming over to the Orthodox Church. This shows good intent and a heartfelt conversion into the Church.  I also have never heard of any convert going out of their way to bash the Roman Church. Most people from protestant backgrounds that came to the conclusion that protestantism was false took a look at both the Roman Catholic & Eastern Orthodox Church before deciding that one of them was correct.  Most of what I hear from converts    are lots of funny jokes and stories about protestants so far. 


Quote
Wow.  Some of the things I read here leave me speechless.

So what, are you just as offended at the persistent 'convert' bashing that has occurred on this board from time to time? It's just an opinion, just as those that have problems with converts have their opinions also.

Quote
Interesting observation. So according to you, St John of Shanghai and San Francisco, St Theophan the Recluse and St John of Kronstadt were not particularly stalwart Christians. Is that correct? Currently oh... I suppose if I think hard and long enough I can come up with a few names like: Fr Roman Bragga, Fr Thomas Hopko, Fr John Myendorff (well... he's gone now) who I guess would also not rate much given the fact that they did not come from Protestant backgrounds. I just want to make certain I understand you correctly.

Orthodoxbagpiper & I attend the same OCA church and let me just say on his behalf that is not what he meant at all.  He more than likely was referring to his experience so far with the common layman. ( I know for sure because he really loves the saints, church fathers, says the daily offices everyday and goes to vespers throughout the week and never misses Divine Liturgy) We both have noticed a very lackadaisical attitude with the 'ethnic' Orthodox. Everything from missing Liturgy frequently, showing up late all the time, not participating in Church functions etc..The people that really pick up the slack and get things done in the parish seem to be the converts. This has been my experience not only at this parish but also at a Serbian Parish I used to attend before I moved and a Greek Parish (I was not Orthodox yet) when I was in highschool and dated a Greek Orthodox for a few years. Don't even get my started on the Greeks either. I don't know if it was just my girlfriend and her some of her friends at that parish, but a doorknob had more spirituality... Roll Eyes . The one good thing about the Greeks is that they do know how to party, we sure had some wild times.... Grin

Quote
I agree that we should not be bashing our brothers and sisters and that includes our cradle brothers and sisters. As for the claim that only the Antiochians are pockets of convert OCAers are growing right now... where exactly did you get this idea? I'm not saying I disagree but I'd like some substantial evidence other than your say-so. Thanks.


I can't provide any evidence that I know of, but just what I have heard my priest say which sounds credible because he stays in regular contact with Bishop Job who would probably have the 'hard' numbers. I have heard him say on a few occasions that the OCA overall is declining in membership, except the one bright spot for us is that convert parishes in some pocket areas (like the midewest) are growing. The other jurisdictions are not seeing any growth either (except for the Antiochians) because they really don't evangelize to Americans to have missions or to sustain the current membership they have now. Unless they engage in evangelism, it's only a matter of time before most ethnic parishes have to close their doors. It's already happening as we speak. I have heard of this happening  in Orthodox strongholds such as Eastern Pennsylvania and Ohio. I think the problem is that 2nd & 3rd generation 'ethnics' pretty much have an American identity and that even their Church seems foreign to them. This was a constant complaint I was hearing from the younger Greeks I used to hang out with that they couldn't understand the service and many of them really didn't seem interested in Church. 





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« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2005, 08:17:53 AM »

There is so much in the services, the Scriptures and the writings of the Fathers but carping about each other, what profit in this?

I have met great love and support from people from a great many backgrounds, etchnic and linguistic origin. Equally I have met those who - on the surface at least- leave me wondering what they do come for. No single group or collections of groups in my experience is free of those who may be a 'pain' to others. However, I am sure that I too am a distraction or temptation for others and am therefore loath to make judgements which may be, first, subjective, and, second, a means for avoiding looking into own soul.

The tendency of exiles and expatriates to cling to 'outposts' of 'home' is not limited to Orthodox Christianity or to places of worship.

However, I recall voicing some of these thoughts and being gently reproved by a monk who said who knows at what point when one of these will be so touched he or she will be moved to repentance. A harsh and judgemental comment or reaction may drive such a one away and would I like to be responsible? The rebuke left me with much to think about.

Perhaps it would be profitable for readers of this thread to read the following from this month's edition of The Shepherd, published by the monastic St Edward Brotherhood

www.saintedwardbrotherhood.org

PRACTICAL TIP

We have dedicated the "From The Fathers" section of this issue and main article to the Orthodox understanding of the reading of the Scriptures, but it may be well to remind readers that should also read spiritual writings, primarily those of the Fathers that explain the Scriptures tous, their commentaries and sermons, but also the lives of the saints and other instructive works. Nowadays, it seems that many of us fall into one of two great temptations with regard to spiritual reading. Many neglect the reading the Scriptures and other spiritual works altogether, and so their church practice simply becomes a following of certain rites, regulations and observances, but they are hardly nourished by it at all, and become, as it were, starved by their "Orthodoxy." Others do read church things, but confine themselves to news and views, contentions and disputes (how many of you, for instance, turn first to the news sections in this sad little rag?). Thus they come to know the arguments about everything, can become adept at judging everything and everyone, and can have an opinion on everything that happens in the Church and indeed throughtout the world, but similarly they are not interiorly nourished. Our minds need to be fed and they need to be fed with the good wholesome food of the teachings of the Scriptures and the Fathers. This spiritual nourishment does not just appear in our minds and hearts; just as we need to eat to fill our bellies, so everyday we need to read spiritually profitable works to nourish our hearts and minds.

From the August, 2005, issue of The Shepherd
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« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2005, 08:42:17 AM »

Stephen,

    Thank you.  That made a lot of sense.

OB,

     I suppose I'm one of those cradle Orthodox you speak about.  At times, I suppose I may have been guilty of some of the things you so state, but I'd like to think (or maybe pray is a better word) that I and most people in my "Serbian" Orthodox Parish are above empty nationalism (or even phyletism).

      I actually look forward today whan all Orthodox Christians in North America worship in one house.  I think my entire family feels the same way.  I think there is some truth in what you say, but I also think there is far too much generalizing.  I think a cradle Orthodox who would leave your parish on a whim (to join an ethnic Church), is not a very good Orthodox Christian (in general) and shouldn't be a taint on his ethnic group, rather a question about his personal committment to the faith.

      I was once told that many in the "ethnic" Churches refer to their respective Church as "going to the Serbian Church, Greek Church, Bulgarian Church etc..."  Personally, I've never encountered that, but I was specifically told (here) by another Serbian Orthodox member, that he hears this sort of stuff all of the time in his Serbian ORTHODOX Parish.  To me, there is no such thing as the "Serbian Church".  If I believed there was, I wouldn't be so adamant about posting events regarding Kosovo.  I do so, because I've always felt that those are Orthodox Churches being destroyed, not Serbian Churches.

     My point is, you can find a bit of everything everyhwere.
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« Reply #10 on: September 08, 2005, 09:55:08 AM »

Slightly off the theme but still related to "ethnicity" but not at all controversial.
In my dealings, incidently as a cop, I came into daily contact with drivers of all ages, lots of young people, recent immigrants for the former USSR and to a lesser extent Romania and Bulgaria, who didn't have a clue what the Orthodox Church is in America, and I don't meant the OCA.  I have tried speaking to these folks in their languages and find they either came here already corrupted by the "evangelicals" in the Old Country or were proselytised in the US by various "pentecostal" churches, some of them quite large with services or whatever they do in their own languages.  its wierd to wish a Russian or Ukrainian working man "Christos voskrese" and get a blank stare back or even a look of hostility. Now someone is reaching out to these people and offering them a social life and fellowship, youth groups, fun things for teenagers.  Also noticed was a lack of morality on the part of these "new christians" who's young people have a tendency to think of cars as a source of money - other people's cars! That's right, we have a very large "russian" car theft 'mafia" in the area.   We have literally thousands of them in the Seattle area but on the other hand I can only see a handfull of new faces in the local churches from Europe.  The main growth as this thread points out is from American converts.  So who is dropping the ball here?  Maybe the indigeonous Orthodox Churches need to learn something from these people!
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« Reply #11 on: September 08, 2005, 10:06:50 AM »

I was once told that many in the "ethnic" Churches refer to their respective Church as "going to the Serbian Church, Greek Church, Bulgarian Church etc..."ÂÂ

Not only that, but one of guys in the Slavic Chorus (about 3rd generation Ukrainian) told me a few years ago that when he was going to St. Nick's (the OCA cathedral in DC) he went to one of the local Ukrainian churches, and someone there asked him, "Why are you ging to that RUssian church?"

(pause for effect)

His father was a deacon at St. Nick's!
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« Reply #12 on: September 08, 2005, 10:23:37 AM »

Quote
We both have noticed a very lackadaisical attitude with the 'ethnic' Orthodox.

Correction. What you have noticed is a lackadaisical attitude among some cradle Orthodox with whom you are familiar. That is an extremely small sampling to be making rather sweeping accusations, don't you think.

Quote
Everything from missing Liturgy frequently, showing up late all the time, not participating in Church functions etc..The people that really pick up the slack and get things done in the parish seem to be the converts. This has been my experience not only at this parish but also at a Serbian Parish I used to attend before I moved and a Greek Parish (I was not Orthodox yet) when I was in highschool and dated a Greek Orthodox for a few years.

Ah, so it becomes clearer now. You're just a young man with very limited experience and yet you are willing to make public statements condemning others, most of whom you've never met. I see. Have you any idea what sort of lives these people live? Perhaps they don't commit the sin of going online and publically condemning their brothers and sisters. Has that ever occurred to  you? You say it has been my experience and I say, what experience... a few years?

 
Quote
Don't even get my started on the Greeks either. I don't know if it was just my girlfriend and her some of her friends at that parish, but a doorknob had more spirituality... Roll Eyes . The one good thing about the Greeks is that they do know how to party, we sure had some wild times.... Grin

Why not start on the Greeks? And while you're at it, demonstrate the sort of love you have for the Albanians, Russians, Ukrainians and a host of other "ethnics" who not only know how to party, but kept the faith alive through countless centuries so that wet behind the ears converts could diss them for their not measuring up to their expectations.
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« Reply #13 on: September 08, 2005, 10:56:50 AM »

Slightly off the theme but still related to "ethnicity" but not at all controversial.
In my dealings, incidently as a cop, I came into daily contact with drivers of all ages, lots of young people, recent immigrants for the former USSR and to a lesser extent Romania and Bulgaria, who didn't have a clue what the Orthodox Church is in America, and I don't meant the OCA.

Bergschlawiner,

     While I was still in college I had a class (Slavic Studies) with a Serbian girl that had moved from Banja Luka (present day Republika Srpska) just a few years before I met her.  We had classes twice a week and sat next to each other.  On December 17, we had a class (I think it was a Monday) and as we were packing up to leave, she said to me, "see ya Wednesday".  I told her that she wouldn't see me Wednesday, because it was my Slava (St. Nicholas).  She replied "sta je Slava" (what is Slava)??  I went  Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked

     Was it possible there was a Serb on the planet that didn't know Slava?  Evidentally yes.  We then proceeded to have coffee over the subject and she told me how she had never been Christened and never been to Church.  Apparently her father was a pretty prominent member of the communist party in the region and towed the line.

     Although I don't think her situation was the norm, it certainly (and sadly) exists.  Since that time, I have met several "new comers" from Serbia who had a similar story. Conversely, I have also met several who have been devout and very committed to the Church.  I think that the communists really did have a negative impact (as far as faith is concerned) on many of the people coming from former "Eastern block" nations.
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« Reply #14 on: September 08, 2005, 11:08:38 AM »

In Slovakia they kept name days but tried to change the dates that the names were commemorated to cut the connection with Church.
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« Reply #15 on: September 08, 2005, 11:27:53 AM »

Wow.ÂÂ  Some of the things I read here leave me speechless.ÂÂ  

As untactful/poorly worded as his statment was, maybe you should consider the context of how he said it or even ask him to clarify before feeling shocked.  He didn't make that statement without reason.
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« Reply #16 on: September 08, 2005, 12:49:51 PM »

Most of the protestants that I have heard of converting for the most part have spent many many years in careful study and prayer before accepting ALL the beliefs of the Orthodox Church. The Evangelical Orthodox took it very slow over a period of fifteen years before they even considered coming over to the Orthodox Church. This shows good intent and a heartfelt conversion into the Church.ÂÂ  
Sorry, but here is where I call BS.  How well do you know the former EOC leaders?  Have you even met any of them?  Do you know many of their people/parishoners?  I've known those leaders all my life (Frs. Ballew, Sparks, Braun, Gillquist and others), as I grew up in the Isla Vista parish.  As great of a story as it may have sounded in print (Becoming Orthodox, etc.), it is rather whitewashed.  Part of the reason why it took so long (15 years as you say) is that they wanted to become Orthodox on their own terms.  Do you know that many of the leaders called themselves Bishops?  I would say that the majority of the former EOC/AEOM parishes are just now, over the past 5 years or so starting to "get it".  I'm rather close with many both still in those parishes, people that once were and not currently (like me) and even those that were never part and were Orthodox prior to the movement with more of an outside perspective.  The "Protestant w/ Incense and Icons" charge is not without merit.  Those parishes were VERY insulated, even rather cultic in nature even up to the late 90's.  When I moved away in '95, I even had someone in my parish tell me to find an Anglican church if I couldn't find an Orthodox parish.  The mentality up to recent was that to leave your (AEOM) parish was to leave the church.  The known Orthodox world was Isla Vista, Ben Lomond, Eagle River and a few other places.  Everywhere else was "those Greeks or Russians" and no attempt to even educate oneself about other Orthodox.  Even though things are MUCH better in those parishes then in past years, there is a historical basis for these accusations.  I love all of the people dearly, but I'm not going to pretend that it was some utopian journey. 

Quote from: Orthodox Bagpiper
For the first time in Orthodoxy, soon we will have our own version of the bible due to the hard work of converts like Father Gilquest and Fr. Ballew and other great accomplishments.
And what is wrong with the Psalter put out by Holy Transfiguration or St. Vlad's?  What about the version put out by Holy Apostles Convent (I think that's what it's called)?  I've heard a lot of good things about it.  Although I think the result of the LXX project will be a huge improvement over the OSB, I'm still skeptical.  If this was SCOBA backed, then I would have a little more faith.  Don't get me wrong, I think in a strict evangelical sense that the former EOC leaders have done a great job, but many people idolize them more than what is healthy.
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« Reply #17 on: September 08, 2005, 03:19:41 PM »

To add on to Elisha's comments: I've known the Matthewes-Greens for years and years, and I've gotten to see their new parish change from a refugee mission church to a more-or-less normal Antiochian parish. And there's been a lot of transition; their liturgy is very much changed from the "Russian-lite" liturgy of the first few times I was there, though I suspect that the Russian cast to the music will always remain.

In practice there will always be a huge difference between someone who moves, as an adult, from one Christian tradition to another, and someone who is simply raised in a single tradition. The difference is most pronounced when someone moves from strong commitment in one tradition to strong commitment in a different tradition on the basis of that very commitment, because of teh rejkection of the old church that it entails. I hate to say this, but Frederica M-G's writings show this very prominently. She overcompensates for being an (ex-)Episcopalian.
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« Reply #18 on: September 08, 2005, 07:35:59 PM »


We both have noticed a very lackadaisical attitude with the 'ethnic' Orthodox. Everything from missing Liturgy frequently, showing up late all the time, not participating in Church functions etc..

I'll let your own words be the response for this.  "The people that are always criticizing converts should take a look at themselves first."  Perhaps the 'ethnic' folks don't want to hang out with people who think that they're not good Christians because they don't have a Protestant background? 

Quote
I can't provide any evidence that I know of, but just what I have heard my priest say which sounds credible because he stays in regular contact with Bishop Job who would probably have the 'hard' numbers.

I guess that ARCHbishop Job isn't quite up to snuff according to you and OB since he's a 'cradle' Orthodox. 

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« Reply #19 on: September 08, 2005, 09:08:41 PM »

[I guess that ARCHbishop Job isn't quite up to snuff according to you and OB since he's a 'cradle' Orthodox. ]

If i remember correctly, Archbishop Job is also a convert.  Think he was either Roman Catholic or 'Eastern Catholic under papal authority'.

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« Reply #20 on: September 08, 2005, 09:19:16 PM »

[I guess that ARCHbishop Job isn't quite up to snuff according to you and OB since he's a 'cradle' Orthodox. ]

If i remember correctly, Archbishop Job is also a convert.  Think he was either Roman Catholic or 'Eastern Catholic under papal authority'.

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No he's always been Orthodox.  Diocese of the Midwist

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« Reply #21 on: September 08, 2005, 09:22:18 PM »

The contrast between real life and the internet never ceases to amaze me.  Some of my best friends at seminary are converts to Orthodoxy from Protestant backgrounds.  They have a real love for their new faith, and a respect for the good things given to them by their old faith.  Others are "cradle".  They too have a real love for their faith, which their families have clung to for many decades and centuries, with some of them having kept it from the time St. Thomas the Apostle brought the Gospel to our Indian shores.  Admittedly, both groups have problems, and if I had to simplify them, I'd say cradles need to learn to open up more to those "outside" in order to proclaim the Gospel, and converts need to learn to chill and be humble.  But I don't like to simplify.

Having said that, I am going to be a little "not nice"... 

It's my experience so far that people coming from protestant backgrounds make much better Christians than that of the ethnic orthodox themselves.

As an ethnic Orthodox, I think this is BS (propriety, and our filters, prevent me from saying it the way I'd like to say it).  Better Christians?  Judging from some of the Orthodox converts from Protestant backgrounds here, I'm not impressed with your Christianity. 

Quote
I even see it here on this forum where the majority of the people came from similar backgrounds & then converted to Orthodoxy.Why aren't there more ethnic Orthodox here? I don't understand this because these people have had the Orthodox faith for generations, but yet they treat it like some kind of cultural get together.

Hmm, why aren't there more ethnics here?  Probably because, unlike WASP's whose families have been sufficiently well-established in this country and so don't have all that much to struggle against (comparatively speaking), the ethnics who come over from the "old countries" with the Orthodox faith people like you convert to have to struggle against all sorts of things.  They need to become proficient in the English language if they weren't already.  They need to find a job.  They need to support their families with that job, as well as pay all the bills.  They need to overcome various biases they encounter in the work place and socially.  They need to send their kids to school, where the kids face various obstacles, and then they have to deal with that over the years in such a way that they can keep their kids on the right path instead of allowing their kids to hang out with the "wrong crowd" (which is probably full of WASP twerps who weren't raised right by their families) in the name of being accepted and then turn out just as bad.  Often, the "ethnic" parish is the only place they can go where they feel they are understood and accepted.  When you have that much on your plate (and really there's more that could be said), you don't have time to tool around on the internet talking about how the local [name your SCOBA jurisdiction of choice] parish is bad for not drawing the curtains and closing the doors at the proper moments in the Liturgy, or which prayerbook has the best translation, or if headcoverings are optional, or how the Republican party platform aligns best with Orthodoxy, or how Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Star Trek, Moby, hip hop, and God knows what else are able to communicate the Gospel to our generation.  These people worry about life; in comparison, you worry about trifles. 

You sound like someone who's never been lived in an all-ethnic parish.  I was raised in one.  I know these people; I'm one of them.  Typically, they have to deal with real life, but they salt it all with prayer: spontaneous prayer in the morning and in the evening, often coupled with praying privately the Offices of the Church, at least in part.  They pray with their families at night, and read the Bible together.  Their difficult lives don't afford them the luxury of being able to learn Koine Greek so as to understand the New Testament better, or having time to read St. Basil's complete works.  They pray, they work, they celebrate the sacraments, they encourage one another in their struggles, and when a genuinely interested American comes to visit and maybe even join the Church, they welcome them warmly.  Sounds kinda like the Book of Acts, my friend. 

But go ahead, tell me that converts from Protestantism to Orthodoxy make better Christians, and I'll tell you about my mother, who worked 12-hour shifts as an RN every weekend for years while her kids were in school so that she could be home more often for them after her husband and their father died.  She sacrificed more than you could imagine so that she could provide for her kids, and especially for me--she's sent me to college and now seminary on her own money so that I won't be in debt when I set out to serve the Church.  But because she's an ethnic Orthodox who for years chose to work on the weekends and be off Monday through Friday rather than go to Sunday Liturgy, I suppose you are a better Christian.  (Hint: her life is liturgy.) 

The kind of nonsense quoted above really infuriates me.  I hold no contempt for the poster, and ask his forgiveness if I've offended him, but I do think he needs to think a little more deeply about this stuff before he generalises.               
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« Reply #22 on: September 08, 2005, 09:41:03 PM »

I think that what OB wrote is one of the most offensive things that have ever been written here.  (excluding, of course, the ramblings of trolls)  We've all had our differences with each other here.  We don't all agree on politics or on ecclesiology but for the most part, we don't cross that line of writing that we're "better Christians" than other Orthodox. 

I'm having a hard time believing that an Orthodox Christian could even write such a thing. 

The ugliness of such a statement is a warning to all of us converts.  It also lends credence to the 'convert bashing' by cradle Orthodox. 

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« Reply #23 on: September 08, 2005, 09:51:26 PM »

No he's always been Orthodox. Diocese of the Midwist

Jennifer,

The article you linked to does not say anything about whether or not Archbishop Job was a "cradle" - it just mentions his home parish.

Regardless, Bob is correct - His Eminence, Archbishop Job was raised in the Byzantine Catholic Church and was received into Orthodoxy in his teens.

In Christ,
Aaron


[I guess that ARCHbishop Job isn't quite up to snuff according to you and OB since he's a 'cradle' Orthodox. ]

If i remember correctly, Archbishop Job is also a convert. Think he was either Roman Catholic or 'Eastern Catholic under papal authority'.

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« Reply #24 on: September 08, 2005, 09:56:52 PM »

Jennifer,

The article you linked to does not say anything about whether or not Archbishop Job was a "cradle" - it just mentions his home parish.

Regardless, Bob is correct - His Eminence, Archbishop Job was raised in the Byzantine Catholic Church and was received into Orthodoxy in his teens.

My bad...regardless, it must be hard for the "saviors of the Church," i.e. the Protestant converts to be under his authority given that he was never Protestant and could therefore never be as good a Christian as they are.   
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« Reply #25 on: September 09, 2005, 01:39:09 AM »

I think that what OB wrote is one of the most offensive things that have ever been written here.  (excluding, of course, the ramblings of trolls)  We've all had our differences with each other here.  We don't all agree on politics or on ecclesiology but for the most part, we don't cross that line of writing that we're "better Christians" than other Orthodox. 

I'm having a hard time believing that an Orthodox Christian could even write such a thing. 

The ugliness of such a statement is a warning to all of us converts.  It also lends credence to the 'convert bashing' by cradle Orthodox. 



Oh please.  Now you're just trying to be offended.  Disagree if you want, but "most offensive"?  Not even close.
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« Reply #26 on: September 09, 2005, 04:49:32 AM »

Quote
Sorry, but here is where I call BS.ÂÂ  How well do you know the former EOC leaders?ÂÂ  Have you even met any of them?ÂÂ  Do you know many of their people/parishoners?ÂÂ  I've known those leaders all my life (Frs. Ballew, Sparks, Braun, Gillquist and others), as I grew up in the Isla Vista parish.ÂÂ  As great of a story as it may have sounded in print (Becoming Orthodox, etc.), it is rather whitewashed.ÂÂ  Part of the reason why it took so long (15 years as you say) is that they wanted to become Orthodox on their own terms.ÂÂ  Do you know that many of the leaders called themselves Bishops?ÂÂ  I would say that the majority of the former EOC/AEOM parishes are just now, over the past 5 years or so starting to "get it".ÂÂ  I'm rather close with many both still in those parishes, people that once were and not currently (like me) and even those that were never part and were Orthodox prior to the movement with more of an outside perspective.ÂÂ  The "Protestant w/ Incense and Icons" charge is not without merit.ÂÂ  Those parishes were VERY insulated, even rather cultic in nature even up to the late 90's.ÂÂ  When I moved away in '95, I even had someone in my parish tell me to find an Anglican church if I couldn't find an Orthodox parish.ÂÂ  The mentality up to recent was that to leave your (AEOM) parish was to leave the church.ÂÂ  The known Orthodox world was Isla Vista, Ben Lomond, Eagle River and a few other places.ÂÂ  Everywhere else was "those Greeks or Russians" and no attempt to even educate oneself about other Orthodox.ÂÂ  Even though things are MUCH better in those parishes then in past years, there is a historical basis for these accusations.ÂÂ  I love all of the people dearly, but I'm not going to pretend that it was some utopian journey.ÂÂ  


Allot of what you are saying maybe correct. Before I moved, I attended St. Athanasious in Sacramento for a few years which came from the EOC. Father Ballew is the priest at that parish and he was one of the 'main' leaders I guess you could say of the EOC before they came over into Orthodoxy. From the time that I was there, going to church functions plus a bible study at Fr. Ballew's house, I never really encountered anything that struck me as being not Orthodox. I was quite impressed by the amount of knowledge that Fr. Ballew possesed, especially when it came to theology. Out of the many conversions I had with him, I do recall him saying some of the things you have said about some people in the EOC and the 'cultish' like behavior. He did say that some chose not to convert to Orthodoxy also. By and large though, many of of those that saw Orthodoxy as the true faith did convert over without much problems at all. He said that after more than a decade of study & prayer that he felt that there was no other choice than Orthodoxy because he came to the conclusion it was the Church. I never had any problems with any of the people at that parish either. No one ever did anything for me to raise an eyebrow or question what they were doing or saying. Everyone seemed pretty 'average' from what I could tell. I haven't also noticed anything out of the ordinary at Orthodoxtv.net where you can watch alot of sermons puallott by Fr. Gilquest. & others. From what I can tell, the people that have converted over have done so many wonderfull things for Orthodoxy in America. If there are some negatives, the good they have done by far outweigths it.

Quote
guess that ARCHbishop Job isn't quite up to snuff according to you and OB since he's a 'cradle' Orthodox.ÂÂ  


Actually, Archbishop Job rocks! He has a great vision for the American Church like a few of his other counterparts in the OCA and many in the AOA. Sadly, I don't feel the same for Met. Herman. I think there's a problem when your Met. visits Moscow much more than say Chicago. I think there are good reasons for the declining numbers in the OCA, but this isn't the place to get into that.

Quote
As an ethnic Orthodox, I think this is BS (propriety, and our filters, prevent me from saying it the way I'd like to say it).ÂÂ  Better Christians?ÂÂ  Judging from some of the Orthodox converts from Protestant backgrounds here, I'm not impressed with your Christianity.ÂÂ  


Just from experience at a few different parishes (and having visited a Serbian & Greek the past years) I would have to agree with OB. I'm not saying it's true, but that's just my personal experience. I'm sure there are tons of 'stellar' ethnic Orthodox out there, but at the same time you have to question why are the 'numbers' declining in ethnic parishes & some have already closed down that couldn't sustain membership. Now compare that to convert parishes who have seen study growth throughout the years. Also, just from being around enough 'ethnic' Orthodox it's something that seems to ring true for me. Why is it I always find myself explaining the most basic things about Orthodoxy to people that have been Orthodox alot longer than me? It's happened too many times to be a coincidence and question why that is. As an example, I remember meeting up not too long ago with a Russian girl and her friends for vespers at a ROCOR Church in San Francisco and she was telling me how her grandad help build that Church and how they have been Orthodox forever, but when IÂÂ  started to talk about Liturgy, theology, saints of the church I was just met with blank stares the whole conversation. At the greek parish I used to attend before I was even Orthodox (my girlfriend at the time was greek), I noticed many Greeks would come in late, then when it was time to take Eucharist, the only people that would go up were the kids. Are these people like to 'good' to go up & take the body & blood of Christ? I don't want anyone to think I'm trying to bash these people, but this is just what I have observed over the years. I'll also say I have seen many ethnics with much greater faith than I could ever achieve whom have done such great things for the church. I'm not trying to be 'against' ethnics either, I really love everyone at my Parish that I have come to know real well, both convert and ethnic.


Quote
Hmm, why aren't there more ethnics here?ÂÂ  Probably because, unlike WASP's whose families have been sufficiently well-established in this country and so don't have all that much to struggle against (comparatively speaking), the ethnics who come over from the "old countries" with the Orthodox faith people like you convert to have to struggle against all sorts of things.ÂÂ  They need to become proficient in the English language if they weren't already.ÂÂ  They need to find a job.ÂÂ  They need to support their families with that job, as well as pay all the bills.ÂÂ  They need to overcome various biases they encounter in the work place and socially.ÂÂ  They need to send their kids to school, where the kids face various obstacles, and then they have to deal with that over the years in such a way that they can keep their kids on the right path instead of allowing their kids to hang out with the "wrong crowd" (which is probably full of WASP twerps who weren't raised right by their families) in the name of being accepted and then turn out just as bad.ÂÂ  Often, the "ethnic" parish is the only place they can go where they feel they are understood and accepted.ÂÂ  When you have that much on your plate (and really there's more that could be said), you don't have time to tool around on the internet talking about how the local [name your SCOBA jurisdiction of choice] parish is bad for not drawing the curtains and closing the doors at the proper moments in the Liturgy, or which prayerbook has the best translation, or if headcoverings are optional, or how the Republican party platform aligns best with Orthodoxy, or how Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Star Trek, Moby, hip hop, and God knows what else are able to communicate the Gospel to our generation.ÂÂ  These people worry about life; in comparison, you worry about trifles.ÂÂ  


Well, I don't think the Greeks have it too hard. Many of them were pretty well off at the parish my ex-girlfriend went to, probably even more so than your average american. At the Serbian parish I attended often most of the people seemed to be doing very good for themselves also. I'm not sure what kind of 'ethnic' parish you are refering to, there of course will be differences accross 'ethnic' lines depending on the group and how recent they have come here. I would think maybe some of the newer arrival's in the Russian & Romanian communties may have many obstacles to overcome like you describe. I've never had that much experience being in a Russian or Romanian church, so I really can't say for sure. Your explanation does make sense though why many would not participate in a forum like this due to those issues.

Quote
I think that what OB wrote is one of the most offensive things that have ever been written here.ÂÂ  (excluding, of course, the ramblings of trolls)ÂÂ  We've all had our differences with each other here.ÂÂ  We don't all agree on politics or on ecclesiology but for the most part, we don't cross that line of writing that we're "better Christians" than other Orthodox.ÂÂ  

Jennifer, lol....one of the most offensive? It's an opinion, I don't see you jumping up and down when people have bashed converts calling them "protestants with incense & icons." I guess we all choose what offends us, I could see how a convert coming to this board could be turned off by Orthodoxy by such language. It goes both ways here, unless you don't beleive in a 'diversity of opinions.'
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« Reply #27 on: September 09, 2005, 07:26:34 AM »

Allot of what you are saying maybe correct. Before I moved, I attended St. Athanasious in Sacramento for a few years which came from the EOC. Father Ballew is the priest at that parish and he was one of the 'main' leaders I guess you could say of the EOC before they came over into Orthodoxy. From the time that I was there, going to church functions plus a bible study at Fr. Ballew's house, I never really encountered anything that struck me as being not Orthodox. I was quite impressed by the amount of knowledge that Fr. Ballew possesed, especially when it came to theology. Out of the many conversions I had with him, I do recall him saying some of the things you have said about some people in the EOC and the 'cultish' like behavior. He did say that some chose not to convert to Orthodoxy also. By and large though, many of of those that saw Orthodoxy as the true faith did convert over without much problems at all. He said that after more than a decade of study & prayer that he felt that there was no other choice than Orthodoxy because he came to the conclusion it was the Church. I never had any problems with any of the people at that parish either. No one ever did anything for me to raise an eyebrow or question what they were doing or saying. Everyone seemed pretty 'average' from what I could tell. I haven't also noticed anything out of the ordinary at Orthodoxtv.net where you can watch alot of sermons puallott by Fr. Gilquest. & others. From what I can tell, the people that have converted over have done so many wonderfull things for Orthodoxy in America. If there are some negatives, the good they have done by far outweigths it.

Though I don't purport to be an Expert on the EOC, the little I do know about the problems in Ben Lomond would make the title of 'Eastern-Rite Protestant' more than fitting. But with that said, I won't paint them all with such a broad brush, perhaps the other former EOC parishes have become Orthodox than the majority of the Ben Lomond sect.
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« Reply #28 on: September 09, 2005, 08:48:40 AM »

OB & Nacho,

    I've been thinking about this thread for a bit and I was curious about something.  OB mentioned that he knows some "ethnics" that would up and leave his parish if say there was a "Greek", "Russian" or "Serbian" Orthodox Church accessible to them.

     My question is.... are you more offended that they would leave your "American" Church for their  "ethnic" Church or are you offended that they are "parish hopping" (for lack of a better phrase).

     Is it that you could possibly be tainted with "American Phyletism" as some "ethnics" are tainted?  Please don't take this as an accusation, but more so an inquiry or observation.

     I know many in my ethnic community (Serbs) who put there ethnicity WAY ahead of their faith.  I've never considered myself a part of that group, although to be completely honest with you, I would say that I feel Orthodox first, Serbian second, American third.

     That might stem from the close ties between being raised Serbian Orthodox, but whatever the reason, I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I've always felt more comfortable in a group of Serbian Orthodox Christians, than say a group of WASPs. 

     Now something tells me, both OB and Nacho (and maybe many others) would probably have a problem with how I feel.  If so, I think it probably has more to do with personal American Nationalism, which to me, is akin to the "ethnic" matters they speak about. 

      For example, I think we can all agree of the "American" role in Kosovo.  What is being done to OUR Orthodox Churches in Kosovo, with the consent (one explicit, one implicit) of two Administrations is horrendous.  Would you speak out against both?  Would you speak out about a horrendous policy, which directly impacts OUR faith?  I hope the answer would be yes.  I think if you can't or you won't, you are probably just as guilty of what you claim you see among us "ethnics".

     Just an observation.

     BTW, may grandfather came to the USA in 1925 [alone] and settled in Pittsburgh.  He often told me about how he was called names like wet-back and grease-monkey by WASPs (I am generalizing here - I'm sure it wasn't every WASP and not only WASPs), but the point is, that because he couldn't speak English and worked in steal mill, he was relegated to being with his own.  In fact, the racism he faced was so bad, he left Pittsburgh to settle in Toronto (where he was told they were much more tolerant).  Toronto proved to be slightly better.

     While in Toronto, he and two others, organized and financed the construction of the first Serbian Orthodox Church in Canada.  His "connection" to his ethnicity was something which was predicated more so by others, rather than of his own choosing.  I think simplifying the "ethnic" question, as you have, neglects many aspects of the ethnic experience in the west.

Take care.
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« Reply #29 on: September 09, 2005, 09:07:00 AM »

I may have a slightly different take on the "ethnicity" thing.  Here in my part of the US, in my neighborhood originally (decades ago) we had two kinds of people: Caucasian protestants and Caucasian Roman Catholics.  The US being the melting pot that it is, however, our neighborhood has become quite diverse over the years and we find it fascinating to share each other's backgrounds and especially food!.

Of course, I can't fix a haggis to feed to the parishioners of my parish church (Greek Orthodox), and in fact, I doubt I'd try to serve anybody any haggis (especially if I prepared it!), but the nearby OCA priest, who plays the bagpipes, might try it, although he's Russian, and the Greek Orthodox priest, who is worried we'll lose our individual notions of paradosis [culture and tradition], is an admirer of bagpipe music and even possesses a full Scottish regimental uniform befitting his former rank in the Greek Air Force (it was a gift of a British officer friend of his).

So, I guess all I can say is, Let's mingle! Cool

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« Reply #30 on: September 09, 2005, 09:17:41 AM »

Of course, I can't fix a haggis to feed to the parishioners of my parish church (Greek Orthodox), and in fact, I doubt I'd try to serve anybody any haggis (especially if I prepared it!),

Ah ha, my old Scottish soccer coach used to tell us (after a loss), he'd need to feed us some haggis to "toughen" us up a bit!  This was usually followed by a 5 minute tirade about our team playing like we were wearing skirts (not kilts) and an inordinate amount of expletives!  Wink
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« Reply #31 on: September 09, 2005, 09:50:13 AM »

Just from experience at a few different parishes (and having visited a Serbian & Greek the past years) I would have to agree with OB. I'm not saying it's true, but that's just my personal experience. I'm sure there are tons of 'stellar' ethnic Orthodox out there, but at the same time you have to question why are the 'numbers' declining in ethnic parishes & some have already closed down that couldn't sustain membership. Now compare that to convert parishes who have seen study growth throughout the years.

There's more to ethnic than Serbian and Greek, and there's more to ethnic than what you find at "a few different parishes".  If numbers are declining in the former communities, that's one thing, but it's quite a leap to suggest that applies to ethnics generally.  The Indian Church in this country has seen considerable growth, and we've only been here since the 1970's.  I think the same could be said about the Copts.   

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Also, just from being around enough 'ethnic' Orthodox it's something that seems to ring true for me.

I doubt "enough" is actually enough for you to make the generalisations you do. 

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Why is it I always find myself explaining the most basic things about Orthodoxy to people that have been Orthodox alot longer than me? It's happened too many times to be a coincidence and question why that is. As an example, I remember meeting up not too long ago with a Russian girl and her friends for vespers at a ROCOR Church in San Francisco and she was telling me how her grandad help build that Church and how they have been Orthodox forever, but when I  started to talk about Liturgy, theology, saints of the church I was just met with blank stares the whole conversation.

Define "most basic things".  The theological formation of cradle Orthodox is often no more than what they hear at Liturgy and Sunday School in their youth.  They don't have Clark Carlton, Peter Gilquist, Alexander Schmemann, etc. on their shelves, let alone time to read them.  Heck, probably many don't feel they have the intellectual capacity or enough of a command of the English language to grasp some of that stuff.  I know several like that.  They can't explain how the Trinity is one ousia and three hypostases, but they live the Orthodox life in spite of that.   

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At the greek parish I used to attend before I was even Orthodox (my girlfriend at the time was greek), I noticed many Greeks would come in late, then when it was time to take Eucharist, the only people that would go up were the kids. Are these people like to 'good' to go up & take the body & blood of Christ?

In the entire history of the Church, people who did not receive the Eucharist often did so because they felt themselves unworthy.  Did this fact not show up in your post-conversion research?  Why do you assume it is because they think they're "too good"?  I think this reveals your bias against ethnic Orthodox and the superiority with which you endow converts.  I know people who don't receive more than once or twice a year, but when they do, it is with full preparation, and they receive It with greater spiritual benefit than I who receive at every Liturgy. 

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I don't want anyone to think I'm trying to bash these people, but this is just what I have observed over the years. I'll also say I have seen many ethnics with much greater faith than I could ever achieve whom have done such great things for the church. I'm not trying to be 'against' ethnics either, I really love everyone at my Parish that I have come to know real well, both convert and ethnic.

Fair enough, but your observations lead you to unwarranted conclusions.  I try not to generalise about white people, although from my observations much of what I am led to conclude seems true enough.  But that's a different thread.  Tongue


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Well, I don't think the Greeks have it too hard. Many of them were pretty well off at the parish my ex-girlfriend went to, probably even more so than your average american. At the Serbian parish I attended often most of the people seemed to be doing very good for themselves also. I'm not sure what kind of 'ethnic' parish you are refering to, there of course will be differences accross 'ethnic' lines depending on the group and how recent they have come here. I would think maybe some of the newer arrival's in the Russian & Romanian communties may have many obstacles to overcome like you describe. I've never had that much experience being in a Russian or Romanian church, so I really can't say for sure. Your explanation does make sense though why many would not participate in a forum like this due to those issues.

The Greeks and Serbs you've encountered probably don't have it too hard, but ask yourself how they got there.  The "average American" doesn't have as many forces to struggle against in order to get to the place where those Greeks and Serbs are, and so he's in no rush to get there, and consequently may not make as much of an effort.  The ethnics work hard to compensate, and God blesses them to enjoy the fruits of their labour.  What they do after that is another story, and maybe that's where you take issue, but that's not simply an ethnic problem.  "Hollywood" is not that ethnic, for example. 
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« Reply #32 on: September 09, 2005, 09:55:34 AM »




To the main point I wanted to bring up (and am curious if other have had similar experiences).... there is a certain type of culture present in American "mission" parishes, particularly in Antiochian parishes and to a lesser extent in the OCA (ROCOR has its own sort of strange converts - but that is another thread entirely!).  My experience in the Antiochian parishes here has been it feels very WASP except with icons and incense (and Eastern - Rite Protestantism almost).  The reason I felt this was the blatant anti-catholic bitterness that exists in many protestants was very present.  I felt it strange that so many people asked me what I was before I was Orthodox and then was met with the "oh - you were CATHOLIC?!" response.  Then there were the snide sort of "Now you venerate the Theotokos rather than worship her" remarks.  I almost felt I was amongst the side of my family that was Missouri Synod Luthuren (since then they have all died) that were amazingly anti-Catholic.  To be honest I did not feel home at all in this mileu.  The major problems with these parishes that are made up of mostly former protestants that I have noticed is that the outreach is Catholics is not very great, but also the outreach to non- churched Americans is even worse.  The only people they really reach out to is conservative protestants that are disenfranchised with the growing liberalism within their own demonination.  For the average American that is nominally religious, or for the devout non- Christians (and devout RCs) there is just as much of an ethnic/cultural gap between an English usage mission parish than an ethnic parish.

Personally speaking I found my niche in a Greek parish -I've had ups and downs there- but overall I have prospered there.  It did take extra work on my part to fit in, but for me (and other converts) a very ethnic parish has worked out quite well.  I realize it is probably not the ideal for missionary work in America, but it is something.   

I can't comment on the Albanian church, as I don't know much about it.

I know exactly what you mean about Eastern Right Protestantism. Personally,while I converted as an adult I am second generation Serbian. I grew up going to church occaisionally with my dad or my grandparents. I was familiar with the "bells, smells and icons" prior to converting. I take issue with the WASP-A-TUDE that assumes that everyone who is a convert must have been a bible bangin' Baptist or generically Presbysterian. I often pulled out my "ethnic trump card" to shut people up. At the mere mention of "Serbian" they would scatter like mice.   I would agree with you that there is a gap in communication to RC's and to the Novo pecene such as myself. While baptism erases sin, it doesn't quite change peoples attitudes, experiences or beliefts. These behaviors and beliefs are difficult to "make go away" all at once.

I have my own baggage to get over as I spent my unbaptized youth and early 20s playing with tarot cards and Betty Crocker "magic", I have revealed this to few people IRL as you can imagine what sort of interesting reactions I have had. I still have a hard time with hardline Evangelical Christians as I developed a real hatred towards "christians" in general and assumed that all christians were a bunch of greasy headed, southern accented, blowhards in polyester suits. I attended a largely convert parish where the priest was a convert from the Assembly of God (I think) whe he would give a homily sometimes he woul revert back to a (for a lack of a better word) hillbilly delivery of his homily. I had to try very hard not to shut him down and would make myself listen.

It's been two years since my conversion and I have softened up a bit on these people. In addition, I have since relocated and found myself in a Serbian Orthodox parish and feel for the first time since my conversion that I am being well ministered too.
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« Reply #33 on: September 09, 2005, 09:59:22 AM »

SouthSerb99, as proper penance for misusing the true name of Pontian coffee, I have just been inducted (honoris causa )into our local Pontian Society and my friend who is a member of said society suggests that anyone who makes idle jokes about the wearing of the kilt be sent on an educational trip to the Evzone Zone.

Best wishes,

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<still worried that "Fr. Vasiliy"â„¢ may have sin_vladimirov keeping an eye on my typing>ÂÂ  Sorry for cross-post!  [Edited to close parens]
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« Reply #34 on: September 09, 2005, 12:41:09 PM »

Allot of what you are saying maybe correct. Before I moved, I attended St. Athanasious in Sacramento for a few years which came from the EOC. Father Ballew is the priest at that parish and he was one of the 'main' leaders I guess you could say of the EOC before they came over into Orthodoxy. From the time that I was there, going to church functions plus a bible study at Fr. Ballew's house, I never really encountered anything that struck me as being not Orthodox. I was quite impressed by the amount of knowledge that Fr. Ballew possesed, especially when it came to theology. Out of the many conversions I had with him, I do recall him saying some of the things you have said about some people in the EOC and the 'cultish' like behavior. He did say that some chose not to convert to Orthodoxy also. By and large though, many of of those that saw Orthodoxy as the true faith did convert over without much problems at all. He said that after more than a decade of study & prayer that he felt that there was no other choice than Orthodoxy because he came to the conclusion it was the Church. I never had any problems with any of the people at that parish either. No one ever did anything for me to raise an eyebrow or question what they were doing or saying. Everyone seemed pretty 'average' from what I could tell. I haven't also noticed anything out of the ordinary at Orthodoxtv.net where you can watch alot of sermons puallott by Fr. Gilquest. & others. From what I can tell, the people that have converted over have done so many wonderfull things for Orthodoxy in America. If there are some negatives, the good they have done by far outweigths it.

Nacho,
So you think if you asked the cult leader if he runs a cult he would admit it or even realize it?  C'mon, you have more sense than that.  Again, when did you start attending St. Athanasius in Elk Grove?  Remember, they have (technically speaking) been Orthodox since '87.  The others have addressed your other points to my satisfaction.

An additional comment.  I find it rather ironic that the former EOC leaders and the Antiochian Hierarchy can get along so well considering their divergent political mentalities.  There former EOCers are largely of the rightwing Republican mentality while most of the Arab populaion is Anti-Republican (as opposed to Democrat) due to the Republican Zionist tendencies.
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« Reply #35 on: September 09, 2005, 02:42:28 PM »

 Roll Eyes since this is a "free for all" there is one more thing interesting that I'd like to add about our very large non-orthodox CIS immigrant groups in the Seattle area.  About 2 years ago one of these slavic pentecostal churches in Tacoma either just built or renovated their large building with the addition of a golden onion dome and cross - article didn't say or imply 3-bar cross.  Well an opposition group in the church took it upon themselves to destroy the dome and cross and were arrested.  Their defense was that the church had no right to display the "hated" symbol of oppression from their homeland, i.e. a Russian if not Orthodox appearing dome and cross.  I'm telling you, in my travel around the area I know of at least 4 or 5 of these big, big pentecostal churches with signs in Russian outside just like the American non-denominational churches with big meeting halls, classroom and recreation facilities and large parking lots.  If I go to one of our churches downtown I have to hope to find a parking spot on a nearby street.  I wonder if these people, mostly very simple working types, were lower class people in the Europe who were proselytised in Russia before they came here or what?  Anyone else noticed this in their areas?
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« Reply #36 on: September 09, 2005, 02:57:05 PM »

Roll Eyes since this is a "free for all" there is one more thing interesting that I'd like to add about our very large non-orthodox CIS immigrant groups in the Seattle area.ÂÂ  About 2 years ago one of these slavic pentecostal churches in Tacoma either just built or renovated their large building with the addition of a golden onion dome and cross - article didn't say or imply 3-bar cross.ÂÂ  Well an opposition group in the church took it upon themselves to destroy the dome and cross and were arrested.ÂÂ  Their defense was that the church had no right to display the "hated" symbol of oppression from their homeland, i.e. a Russian if not Orthodox appearing dome and cross.ÂÂ  I'm telling you, in my travel around the area I know of at least 4 or 5 of these big, big pentecostal churches with signs in Russian outside just like the American non-denominational churches with big meeting halls, classroom and recreation facilities and large parking lots.ÂÂ  If I go to one of our churches downtown I have to hope to find a parking spot on a nearby street.ÂÂ  I wonder if these people, mostly very simple working types, were lower class people in the Europe who were proselytised in Russia before they came here or what?ÂÂ  Anyone else noticed this in their areas?

That is scaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrry.
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« Reply #37 on: September 09, 2005, 06:48:30 PM »

It is interesting to see how this has all spun off from my orginal post.

It seems to me that Pedro (and others) did understand exactly what I meant in saying that many Orthodox groups that market themselves as convert friendly are more accurately former evangical convert friendly. 

The entire convert vs. ethnic debate is quite frustrating.  The ethnics that aren't good enough for the converts are the reason there are even Orthodox churches in America to convert to.  They put forth the money, time, work etc. to establish and mantain parishes long before the large waves of converts starting coming over.  As for the supiority of converts, we need not look past our own message board to find a doutbing Tom among us.  The major monastic communities in America were all ethnic in their creation - St. Tikhon's, Jordanville, St. Herman's (which had an ethnic co-founder and was supported by the highly ethnic ROCOR) and St. Anthony's.  All of this and the Antiochians aren't even sure if monasticism is in their vision of the American Church...Obviously converts bring a good zeal to a community.  The high number of converts that go on to become priests and monastics testifies to the wealth they bring to the Church - even on the holy mountain the real gems of many communities are their German, French, American, Czech etc. monks.  To undervalue the roles of either converts or ethnics is a giant waste.

But my intent in posting what I did was to show that many convert parishes are in the same level of complacency and ethnicism that the ethnic Orthodox they are said to have.  There is more to ministering to American than speaking Enlgish.   
   


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« Reply #38 on: September 09, 2005, 07:22:44 PM »

There is more to ministering to American than speaking Enlgish.  ÃƒÆ’‚  

One last polemical comment:
I got the notion from some of these Antiochian friends that ANY non-English is inappropriate - as if it's too hard for them to learn Lord Have Mercy and a couple hymns in another language! Roll Eyes  I wanted to criticize them for not knowing a few of those words in Arabic, but resisted.
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« Reply #39 on: September 09, 2005, 10:12:41 PM »

And they'll know we are Christians by our love... by our love... and they'll knowwwwwwwwwww, we are Christians, by our love." Wink
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« Reply #40 on: September 10, 2005, 04:02:08 AM »

Boy I'm a latecomer but what a good topic you bring up. StepheG's answer was the best. We are imperfect. Lord Have Mercy on us all (Convert & Cradle alike.)

Mor

I enjoyed reading your story. God Bless your mother. It reminds me of a line that I read from a convert that went along the lines of somehow the early Orhtodox immigrants to the U.S. dropped the ball by not evangelizing for Orthodoxy. My grandfather (memory eternal) came to the U.S.  from Serbia in 1904 having lost everything in that country he and his family had to start over. They did not know the language or culture of this country, had to work grueling hours in factories and before unions were treated little better than slaves.  They too did not have the luxury of studying Koine Greek, nor did they have time to go door to door to say "Hey wanna come to my church?" If they did they could not communicate it or would have been met with resistance.  But they kept the faith and passed it on. The impudence of this convert to suggest or imply that my ancestors were less "Christian."

God bless Mor.
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« Reply #41 on: September 10, 2005, 04:08:17 PM »

God bless Mor.

Thanks.  God bless his mother and you, sir. 
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« Reply #42 on: September 10, 2005, 04:20:38 PM »

My grandfather (memory eternal) came to the U.S.  from Serbia in 1904 having lost everything in that country he and his family had to start over. They did not know the language or culture of this country, had to work grueling hours in factories and before unions were treated little better than slaves.  They too did not have the luxury of studying Koine Greek, nor did they have time to go door to door to say "Hey wanna come to my church?" If they did they could not communicate it or would have been met with resistance.  But they kept the faith and passed it on. The impudence of this convert to suggest or imply that my ancestors were less "Christian."

God bless Mor.

My great-grandparents and their siblings and extended family had the same factory situation, coming to the US around the same time. They worked dying garments in a factory 6 days a week, at least 12 hours a day. Last year I asked my uncle(actually a cousin once removed, but he's older so I call him uncle), "what church did they go to around here(kind of near westchester county, ny)?" His reply: "Church?! They didn't have time for Church. They had to work!"

I'm sure they could have found time for Church, but on the whole chose not to go. A priest would try to visit my family after liturgy on Sundays..driving from westchester(yonkers i think) to visit for dinner. The point remains the same though- the immigrants had a different experience and learning the finer points of theology in order to evangelize in the "new world" wasn't on the top of their list of things to do. Learning English was hard enough.
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« Reply #43 on: September 10, 2005, 04:44:11 PM »

<But my intent in posting what I did was to show that many convert parishes are in the same level of complacency and ethnicism that the ethnic Orthodox they are said to have.  There is more to ministering to American than speaking Enlgish.   > Ok we don't run Campus for Christ campaigns or Christ is Supreme inspirational conferences.  But the saints, it seems are often unnoticed. I'm not agin getting out there and proclaiming Orthodoxy, but I don't think an Evangelical approach is going to work in the same way. Perhaps we'll give it try here ...on the other hand we''ll get accused of going ecumenical...nah! we'll give it a go.

Our local Slavic Full Gospel Swingers are selling their 4 million complex to move into bigger premises.  Their office furnishings and decor are on a par with Microsoft.  Our scruffy store room/office would probably entitle us to welfare.
   
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« Reply #44 on: September 10, 2005, 06:11:45 PM »

American Orthodox think that their churches are ethnic...well you should come to Canada and see how its like up here. In my fairly large suburban city we got almost every ethnic jurisdiction of both EO and OO churches and let me tell you they are rarely at peace with each other.

The Serbs come to our Greek parish once a year for Liturgy and vice verca...the Copts and the Greeks are always arguing and bickering....so are the Greeks and the Macedonians, the Macedonians and the Serbians...whats new?

As for us being rich...seriously, we just finished the interior dry walls of our parish and transformed it from being an ugly warehouse to a beautiful byzantine building without icons...and it took us a decade to do so... the ethnic Arab Antiochians a block away don't have a parish yet. They worship in a Baptist church for the time being. The Serbians recently got their magnificent yet tiny church built and so did the Macedonians. My parents worked their ***** off to get to where are and we are not particularly distinguished ppl in my city just the average car n house owning family.

If you think the U.S has a problem with ethnic-versus the caker folk  (excuse my lingo) then again you should seriously come check out our churches. We have like 1 OCA non-ethnic church about an hour away from downtown toronto...and thats all. We get non-ethnics come into our parishes all the time and walk out not knowing what they just experienced and so sometimes they never come back again. At my catholic school, everyone says i go to the greek church...

It's really sad. I can't walk into the local Serbian church without getting stares because I do not speak Serbian. The same applies for the Ukrainians and what not. But at the end of the day I still feel one with these ppl because they've gone through the same crap as we haveto get to where we are today. It's really easy for a convert to criticize the church. You didn't need to build a church, you didn't need to pay for vestments and icons of the church. You didn't need to learn english meanwhile working like a dog to support your family in a strange land. My grandparents had to do all that stuff back in the 1950's and more. So before you criticize how bad we are because we worship in another language like Greek, Arabic, or Serbian, you should just take a moment and think about all that and cut us some slack. And if you don't like it you can always change...no not change churches. We generally don't show non ethnics the door to kick them out. Ratherm you  should opt to change such as asking the priest to include some english or have an english liturgy once a month.

My parish has been up and running for a decade now and we have lots of english...ok our chanters only chant in greek but for a decade of 1st generation greeks thats pretty good if I say so myself. BTW, the Arab Antiochians do the same and aso do the Serbians...

And since this is bash your neighbour time...might as well join the food fight. I am not too crazy about the non-ethnic antiochian or oca parishes which has no ethnic vibe. When I go to these churches, I sometimes feel as dry as a piece of toast. Their services are in english, but they don't welcome me, they are rather cold and proud that they are converts and know o so much about the Orthodox church. You know what else, non- ethnics always tend to bring their protestant baggage and bring it to the altar instead of leaving at the baptismal font. O forgive me for critizising but these ppl have almost no filoxenia or what we'd call hospitality. You know how many times we "ethnic" ppl have been made fun of going to "american orthodox" parishes for being ethnic or not having the best sermons or what not.

And as for sermons, other than Gilquist and a few others, I honestly don't find a big difference between their sermons and protestant or american catholic sermons....if u wanna hear a real sermon you go down to St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox church in Ft. Lauterdale (sry bout the spelling) and listen to Fr. Chris. Or you might want to stay away from THAT parish...God forbid you find anything good in a Greek church! let alone any of those cheezy ethnic parishes.
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