Sorry to rehash an old thread, but I've been real busy of late and have been meaning to come back to respond to some of the follow up post since I posted here last.
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.
Alright, how much you wanna bet that there have been way more problems with 'ethnic' priest, especially coming out of St. Vlad's that have been disciplined in some manner or another? I can't help but notice and hearing about so and so priest was disciplined this month or removed from his parish because of some misconduct, most of the time it's not 'convert' priest tearing up their parishes. Also, why do the big shots coming out of these places like St. Vlads last like an average of 5 years? You never hear of that happening to convert priest for the most part, they seem to stick around for the long haul. The typical response I hear all the time from people criticizing converts is the Ben Lomond debacle, but that's small in comparison to what I stated above. Another OCA parish just closed down in Kansas City, we received many good icons from them. My priest said something recently about these 'problem' priest that caught my interest. People can spend years and years building up a church, but one bad priest can almost literally destroy a parish overnight by misconduct. It also doesn't help if your hierarchs have no vision for the Church in America, thus the declining numbers we are seeing. (Although I do really love my Archbishop Job...
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.
SouthSerb99, thanks for your response & I apologize for this late one in return. The problem I have with some of the 'ethnics' are the same problems I have with protestants. When I hear that some people in our parish would leave in a heartbeat if a Greek or Russian Church opened down the street is disturbing to me. I myself would prefer to be Antiochian, but there's no way in hell I would leave my OCA parish if an Antiochian Church opened down the street. I think a big part of being Orthodox is commitment to your priest and church family which is something foreign to the protestant world. There are people I run across of different ethnic backgrounds that simply won't come to the only Orthodox Church in our area because it's not "their people's" church, so they rather not attend at all....
On a side note, I always loved Serbian iconography & Church's. The most beautiful Orthodox Church I have ever been in was the Serbian Church in Sacramento where I used to live. The people were great also. OB was just there the other week and took a bunch of pictures. We are planning on building and Orthodox temple within the next 5 years and are favoring a cross between byzantine and Slavic influences in the architecture.
Mor Ephrem stated:
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.
I agree, my experience is mostly among the slavic groups and the Greeks. I don't know much about the Indian Church at all, so you are probably right in what you are saying. I just hope that enough immigrants are coming from India in order to sustain your Church going population unless you are doing some kind of outreach outside your community. It's a different story for example among the Greeks. You can walk into any Greek Church and see a sea of gray hair. Allot of the younger people simply aren't that interested in attending church having experienced this first hand when I dated a Greek girl for a few years. I would think it would be hard for some of these Church's to keep their doors open down the road unless they do something to keep the younger generations (Liturgy in English is a good start) interested or do some evangelical outreach in the greater community.
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.
Well, it would be good if most Orthodox knew just the most fundamental tenets of the faith. Afterall, we our the true faith! Just look at all the heretics that are ready with an "apologia" themselves that Paul himself said we all should have in order to defend the faith. What good is it being Orthodox if we don't really know what we are worshipping for? I agree with you to the extent that mere 'facts' does nothing for our salvation and it's the heart God looks at, but at the same time it's good to know atleast a little bit so we can adequately explain it to heretics or inquirers.
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.
Yes, I have heard many people say this in which I respond, " So, does that you mean you also don't want to have relations with your spouse accept once or twice a year because you don't want to take him/her for granted? " What's the difference between that & Eucharist? It doesn't make sense for anyone to seperate themselves from Christ in abstaining from the Eucharist that long. I guess I can understand that some people take it that seriously, but on the other hand Christ commanded that everytime we gather together to break bread & drink wine in remembrance of him.
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 fascilities 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?
There is a problem with all these 'slavic' protestant type church's you speak of. I have come across many myself and I'm amazed at the ignorance they display towards the Orthodox Church. I have heard many of them associate the Orthodox Church with being "communist" or in bed with dicatator so & so. Many will also say that the priest are bad (which means they smoke & drink which makes them evil
), or they say stupid things like the Orthodox sleep around allot, drink & are not good Christians. Better yet is that the Orthodox are idolaters...
I don't know where they get such silly things, it must be the idiots in some of the protestant deneminations feeding them such BS. The thing I find humerous are that these same 'protestant' communities have had problems with their own people staying clean so to speak. I even have seen one of these churches build a fence around the parking lot because they were having problems with their own youth stealing cars from the parking lot....but oh no those Orthodox people are of the devil........
Just look at the strife & turmoil in these ethnic protestant churches compared to a humble and meek spirit found amongst those in any Orthodox parish. It's funny because I have come to know an 'ethnic' protestant family that have started to attend our parish recently. I really sense they are fed up with the 'ethnic protestants' they have been around and the constant divisions occurring and it's apparent they are trying to escape that. It's weird because they are really apprehensive about anything Orthodox and have stated some of the BS I have heard others like them say about Orthodoxy, but at the same time God may be working on their hearts because they keep showing up for Liturgy despite their reservations. They have commentented a few times about the meekness of the people they see at our parish and they actually come to worship and not to be seen!
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! I wanted to criticize them for not knowing a few of those words in Arabic, but resisted.
Well, why should they? We are in America, not Lebanon. What were all these people suppossed to do in the late 80's & early 90's? It's easy to to say they should just go to the Greek Church, but what's the point if you don't understand what's going on? Also, it wasn't that long ago where it would have been difficult for that amount of converts to just attend ethnic parish's. I don't think the ethnics would have welcomed them in the first place and it would have been a bad situation for the Americans. It's good that Met. Philip had the evangelical zeal of the Apostles to take a chance on these people for the bigger purpose of the salvation of their souls, because afterall we know that the apostles never met anyone half way....
....they just waited for people to come to them & then told them they had to do so & so if they wanted to be Christian & maybe even learn a different language....