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Author Topic: Orthodoxy is a cult??  (Read 11236 times) Average Rating: 0
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zebu
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« on: December 12, 2005, 02:14:03 AM »

My grandparents think that the Orthodox Church is a cult, primarily because I have to be baptized to become Orthodox(even though I was baptized as an infant in the Episcopal Church).  My mom also is begining to wonder if the Orthodox Church is a cult, since I go to church every Sunday, have so many catechesis classes, and because I am being baptized.  I think a lot of the strictness of Orthodoxy is what makes her think that, like how Orthodox have so many fast days.   It really hurts, to hear that my family thinks the church I am joining is a cult.  Today she was lamenting to my dad about "Where did we go wrong? Both our kids are in cults(my sister is not exactly in a cult, but she is a bit overzealous in her Acoholics Anonymous- she to meetings at least once a day and will miss family gatherings, like my cousin's wedding last summer, because she is afraid to miss meetings)!" Has this happened to anyone else? What can I do to make them see that Orthodoxy is not a cult??? I already explained that the Orthodox church is the original church, that it has existed since the time of Christ, and thus it is not some new group founded two weeks ago by some random guy.  And I told them exactly what my priest told me to tell them when they ask why I have to be baptized.  If anyone has any advice, please do tell me........
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« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2005, 02:21:45 AM »

I would just make a very rational argument with them. Have them define what they think a cult is, and then show them Orthodoxy is not that. Remember to mention that Orthodoxy is not legalistic, which is probably among their concerns. Also show them that this is an ancient faith, and a large group. That should help allay fears.
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« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2005, 04:47:31 AM »

I think that as your family sees you grow in Orthodoxy, they will see that Orthodox Christianity is simply an ordinary human life lived in an extraordinary way.
Our spiritual life is hidden, we don't talk about our fasting, we don't talk about our prayer rule, we don't dress in extraordinary ways (just modestly), we don't do things before the eyes of others, we just quietly get on with it.
So I think, less talk about Orthodoxy and more loving as an Orthodox Christian. Be the first to help with the dishes and cleaning; buy that little gift for Grandma or Grandad if you see it and you know they'll like it, so they know that you were thinking of them......
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« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2005, 09:21:27 AM »

My take on this Zebu is that this is an emotional issue not something you can argue rationally. So my advice is in the love camp. Love them! The "where did we go wrong question" doesn't fly in my camp. This to me implies that you and your sister are some kind of freaks. You're not!  You're two people finding your way in life. Oh, by the way, remember you are not alone. You have your parish family, the saints who have gone on before us and your cyber family. Us!

Dan
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« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2005, 10:28:24 AM »

I think this is really tough, because it appears as though your parents may have already made up their minds.

Truth be told, they may never be convinced that Orthodoxy is NOT cult.  Ozgeorge gave some good advice and hopefully as they watch you grow in Orthodoxy, they will see this is not at all a cult.  I also think George's take on not talking about fasting and prayer (at least for a while) is a good thing.

Generally, people fear the unknown and I think that is what your parents are afraid of right now.  I was raised in the Orthodox Church, so to an extent that is all I know, but to your parents, they may see these long bearded Priests in "funny clothes", with a congregation that crosses themselves incessantly and think we're a bunch of wackos.

I think an immediate attempt to explain why we do what we do, would be counterproductive.

Don't your parents know any other Orthodox Christians?  What about Nick, the local Greek diner owner?  Or how about Vladimir, the Russian guy that lives down the street, or better yet, David, the 4th generation American dentist whose father converted 40 years ago?

I think, if they had some exposure to some "everyday" and "ordinary" OC's, they would feel much better.  Good luck.
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« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2005, 11:48:26 AM »

Well,

 There is also the fact that  not all Orthodox jurisdictions would ask you to be rebaptized (OCA, Antiochian)
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« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2005, 12:15:20 PM »

Don't your parents know any other Orthodox Christians?ÂÂ  What about Nick, the local Greek diner owner?ÂÂ  Or how about Vladimir, the Russian guy that lives down the street, or better yet, David, the 4th generation American dentist whose father converted 40 years ago?

Or Prince Charles, that British guy who is in the news all the time along with his wife, deceased wife and sons.  He visits Orthodox churches and even the Holy Mountain.
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« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2005, 12:16:36 PM »

Well,

 There is also the fact thatÂÂ  not all Orthodox jurisdictions would ask you to be rebaptized (OCA, Antiochian)


Could you clarify what you mean, as I am reading your post in several ways.  Regardless of whether an Orthodox jurisdiction allows reception by economy, the Church this fellow is joining is going to baptize him.  Seems like just the facts of the case, and something his parents will just have to accept.

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« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2005, 12:29:57 PM »

Or Prince Charles, that British guy who is in the news all the time along with his wife, deceased wife and sons.ÂÂ  He visits Orthodox churches and even the Holy Mountain.

Or that politician guy, George Stephanopolous - who's father is an Orthodox Priest.  Can't think of any "normal looking" public figures, but....

Tell them to rent The Deer Hunter and My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
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« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2005, 01:00:51 PM »

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There is also the fact that  not all Orthodox jurisdictions would ask you to be rebaptized (OCA, Antiochian)

This is true, but in cases where the person is converting from a non-orthodox community, (i.e. Buddist, Muslim...) a baptism is required. Also, I know a couple where the wife was raised with no religion. Baptism was required of her. I know of another situation where the convert was a former Episcopalian but was baptized by a woman priest. He was required to be baptized . These were both converts to the Antiochian diocese.

SouthSerb had some good advice. There are many Orthodox living every day normal lives. If you live in an area with many Orthodox, i.e. mid-west US cities this is easier.
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« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2005, 02:13:30 PM »

I'd tell them that Orthodoxy is the cult that Jesus Christ started. hehehe  My mother is constantly saying how much she wishes she had taken me to church more when I was younger.  Her logic is that I am only Orthodox because I don't know much about the Bible.
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« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2005, 02:19:56 PM »

Isn't Queen Elizabeth's husband (Prince Philip, is it?) Orthodox - there's an example of a normal, run of the mill guy who became Orthodox!  Wink

The only real way that you can prove to them that Orthodoxy isn't a cult is by living a life of Love, and witnessing the gospel to them... when they see that you're not waiting for a comet or drinking kool-aid, then they'll come around.
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« Reply #12 on: December 12, 2005, 02:27:23 PM »

I'd tell them that Orthodoxy is the cult that Jesus Christ started. heheheÂÂ  My mother is constantly saying how much she wishes she had taken me to church more when I was younger.ÂÂ  Her logic is that I am only Orthodox because I don't know much about the Bible.

Simple... take 4 or 5 passages that you like best, memorize them and repeat them constantly, offering your personal interpretation for each passage.  You'll have her convinced you know something, in no time!  Wink
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« Reply #13 on: December 12, 2005, 02:29:43 PM »

when they see that you're not waiting for a comet or drinking kool-aid, then they'll come around.

WHAT??  We're not waiting for a comet???  I'm out.  That's it, this is the straw that broke the camel's back.

No comet and no kool-aid, sheesh.  This is not what I signed up for. Tongue
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« Reply #14 on: December 12, 2005, 04:32:57 PM »

Isn't Queen Elizabeth's husband (Prince Philip, is it?) Orthodox - there's an example of a normal, run of the mill guy who became Orthodox!ÂÂ  Wink

No, he isn't.  He was born as Prince Philip of Denmark and Greece, to Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice of Battenburg.  As far as I know when he married Princess Elizabeth he was Anglican.  I have not found anything as to if his parents were religious, but his mother *did* become an EO nun in her later years.

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« Reply #15 on: December 12, 2005, 04:43:36 PM »

Writing as a parent, how have things you did changed?  Do you live and home with your parents doing the cooking? If so, how do you let them know about any fasting? Do you not take part in things/activities that you used to?  How things are done is important, especially when dealing with family, I think.  It is *not* totally out of line for parents to be concerned about a child changing churches.  I have read a number of books on cults and there *are* behaviour changes and patterns that are common.  And often cults *do* work to keep the "believer" different from how they were in the past as this can tie them to the cult and break the bonds with family and friends. 

I would suggest that they are *concerned* about a child that they have raised and loved and his welfare.  They don't know much about EO, so they're not sure if it's alright or going to have their son showing up on the news.  It *has* happened before. 

Ebor
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« Reply #16 on: December 12, 2005, 05:42:00 PM »

I want to second what a number of others have said about living the Christian life, and loving your parents and grandparents.

I am much older than you, Zebu, but I am a little like you in that I am the only one in my family who is Orthodox (though I think my daughter may be coming around).  At any rate, one thing I DON'T do is get preachy with the other family members, or make a big deal about fasting.  For example: if my wife labors over a meal and serves meat on a fast day, I don't tun my nose up at it (which she would find highly insulting).  I eat some of the meat without worrying about it, and keep my mouth shut.  This was done on the advice of my spiritual father.  Fasting is important, but if it engenders hostility or disharmony, then it is missing its objective.

One of the things that made me comfortable when I first visited an Orthodox church was how much it was like other churches, apart from the theology.  There was a common area (parish hall, fellowship hall, whatever) where everyone met after the service; there was a youth group, senior's group, ladie's group, men's group; all the normal things any other church might have.  Perhaps if your parents and grandparents were to visit and see how completely normal it all is they would feel better.

Besides, I don't know what they're so upset about.  After all, it is a well-known fact that Episcopalians perform infant sacrifices and hold orgies at their church services...  Wink
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« Reply #17 on: December 12, 2005, 05:51:17 PM »

Ebor  & Zebu

I am sure his parents (your parents) are concerned, but give him the respect of sitting down and listening to him, hear him out. I too am a parent. (I gather that this has not occurred) After you hear him out get some literature on the church. Visit the church and don't visit it with a judgmental attitude. if your parents are high Episcopal it may seem a little more familiar. If they are evangelical Episcopal, well good luck.


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« Reply #18 on: December 12, 2005, 05:53:41 PM »

Besides, I don't know what they're so upset about.ÂÂ  After all, it is a well-known fact that Episcopalians perform infant sacrifices and hold orgies at their church services...ÂÂ  Wink

Why do I *always* get the commedians?  Wink

We do not. The Altar Guild would highly disaprove of having to get blood out of the Fair Linen. Grin

Ebor
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« Reply #19 on: December 12, 2005, 05:58:44 PM »

EborÂÂ  & Zebu


Umm, Aserb?  I was writing as *A* parent, not Zebu's parent.  I have 3 of my own and was working on imaging how Zebu's parents may look at things.  Sorry if I was being confusing.

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« Reply #20 on: December 12, 2005, 07:29:19 PM »

Thanks for all your replies!
I guess I really can see why my parents would be worried.ÂÂ  If I were them I probably would be.ÂÂ  

Well,

 There is also the fact thatÂÂ  not all Orthodox jurisdictions would ask you to be rebaptized (OCA, Antiochian)

Actually, the jurisdiction I am being baptized in is the OCA.ÂÂ  And no, I am not some crazy convert who demanded to be baptized, in our diocese all Protestant converts are supposed to be baptized unless it presents a "stumbling block"(whatever that is supposed to mean).ÂÂ  

Writing as a parent, how have things you did changed?ÂÂ  Do you live and home with your parents doing the cooking? If so, how do you let them know about any fasting? Do you not take part in things/activities that you used to?ÂÂ  How things are done is important, especially when dealing with family, I think.ÂÂ  It is *not* totally out of line for parents to be concerned about a child changing churches.ÂÂ  I have read a number of books on cults and there *are* behaviour changes and patterns that are common.ÂÂ  And often cults *do* work to keep the "believer" different from how they were in the past as this can tie them to the cult and break the bonds with family and friends.ÂÂ  

I would suggest that they are *concerned* about a child that they have raised and loved and his welfare.ÂÂ  They don't know much about EO, so they're not sure if it's alright or going to have their son showing up on the news.ÂÂ  It *has* happened before.ÂÂ  

Ebor
Yes, of course I live at home(I'm 17). Actually, because of their crazy work schedules, I am normally the one who does the cooking, and then everyone just eats it whenever they are home.ÂÂ  And yes, I cook meat and such for them on fasting days, I just don't eat it myself.ÂÂ  Generally, they aren't too aware of my fasting, I don't talk about it much, and it isn't very difficult to hide since we almost never eat together.ÂÂ  Though obviously in long fasting periods, like the one we're in now, I have to tell them because I need them to buy special food that I can eat, which they are fine with.ÂÂ  As for not participating in family activities...my parents work a lot, hence, not so many family activities in the first place.ÂÂ  Though when things do come up, of course I go them...and yes, I ate meat on Thanksgiving....

Quote
I think that as your family sees you grow in Orthodoxy, they will see that Orthodox Christianity is simply an ordinary human life lived in an extraordinary way.
Our spiritual life is hidden, we don't talk about our fasting, we don't talk about our prayer rule, we don't dress in extraordinary ways (just modestly), we don't do things before the eyes of others, we just quietly get on with it.
So I think, less talk about Orthodoxy and more loving as an Orthodox Christian. Be the first to help with the dishes and cleaning; buy that little gift for Grandma or Grandad if you see it and you know they'll like it, so they know that you were thinking of them......

I do need to remember those things, and I try to.ÂÂ  The thing is though, for the most part I do help out around the house a lot, and I am almost never asked to do any of it.ÂÂ  And what is strange is that you'd think they would think Orthodoxy is more normal, given that since I started going to the Orthodox church, I have started doing things that I had not done during my Catholic "phase", like listening to secular music...And I have never talked about my prayer rule with them.ÂÂ  They do think the icon corner is a bit odd though.ÂÂ  But I think they have figured out what I am doing when I have my door shut immediately after waking up and before going to bed, and I think they think it is too long.ÂÂ  

Quote
Don't your parents know any other Orthodox Christians?ÂÂ  What about Nick, the local Greek diner owner?ÂÂ  Or how about Vladimir, the Russian guy that lives down the street, or better yet, David, the 4th generation American dentist whose father converted 40 years ago?
My mom's boss is Greek Orthodox.ÂÂ  But he is not exactly a shining example of Orthodoxy...being a drunk who beats his wife and hardly ever goes to church. My dad has a Russian Orthodox friend from work, and she's really nice.ÂÂ  Maybe that's why my dad doesn't think Orthodoxy is a cult(maybe I wasn't clear, it's my mom who thinks it is a cult, not my dad).

Both my parents have been to Orthodox church services, my dad has been once with me to a different parish, and my mom has been three times to my parish.ÂÂ  The strange thing is, my dad absolutely hated the Divine Liturgy, never wants to go back, does not want to hear about it, and yet he is the one who DOESN'T think it is a cult. My mom, on the other hand, told me that she really liked the Divine Liturgy, and she thinks it's a cult...right...Then again, the priest's sermons could be what is making her think that.ÂÂ  I can definitely see how they could sound extreme and cultish to someone who doesn't know much about Orthodoxy ("The Orthodox Church is the only true church and the only true hope and peace in the face of the troubles and confusion of the world that surrounds us", "Orthodox must go to confession regularly or canon such and such says you are excommunicated", "Attending divine services must be the high point of our week, it must be what we live our lives for").ÂÂ  And to someone who is used to getting in and out of church in one hour, 2+ hours probably seems a bit over the top.ÂÂ  

Quote
One of the things that made me comfortable when I first visited an Orthodox church was how much it was like other churches, apart from the theology.ÂÂ  There was a common area (parish hall, fellowship hall, whatever) where everyone met after the service; there was a youth group, senior's group, ladie's group, men's group; all the normal things any other church might have.ÂÂ  Perhaps if your parents and grandparents were to visit and see how completely normal it all is they would feel better.
Well, now this could be a problem and part of the reason why my mom thinks Orthodoxy is a cult.  My parish is tiny.  It has MAYBE 50 people at Divine Liturgy on Sunday.  And thus, there is no youth group, senior's group, lady's group, men's group, etc. We do have lunch together as a parish after Divine Liturgy though.  ÃƒÆ’‚ All there is is as far as "activities" though is Bible Study and Inquirer's Class.  My church also used to be a house, like you can see a filled-in fire place on the east side of the nave.  

Quote
if your parents are high Episcopal it may seem a little more familiar. If they are evangelical Episcopal, well good luck.
No, they're more of the semi-nominal, broad church variety...


« Last Edit: December 12, 2005, 07:34:56 PM by zebu » Logged

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« Reply #21 on: December 12, 2005, 07:50:45 PM »

Aha!  Wink

That last post, zebu, makes things a whole lot more clear. Two things of note:

1) It seems to me that one of the reasons your mother doesn't like Orthodoxy is that it isn't something a person does on Sundays once a week, but a lifestyle. People often don't want to commit to that. If a mere 2 hours is "too much" time to give God in an entire week, what is she really doing? Who is she kidding?

2) I think I see why your mother thinks it is a cult: exclusivity. Certainly few people would have had a problem with Jesus if He had simply taught a way to God, such as with many religions. The problem people had was in fact that He taught He was the ONLY Way to God. And so the same happens with Orthodoxy. We teach there is One Church, One Faith, and this just doesn't jive with relativism. We don't preach "another way, another Christian peice of truth, and an exciting life;" rather, we preach "the Way, the Truth, and the Life." This is hard to grasp for many people.

So, I would look into these things. Since I am not there and only have a limited perspective, ultimately you will have to see if this is the case. But hang in there, it will work out in the end Smiley
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« Reply #22 on: December 12, 2005, 08:59:43 PM »

Yes, of course I live at home(I'm 17).

No offense was meant by the question. I apologize if it bothered you.   I did not check your profile to see how old you are.  It was possible that you were not a minor.  Your mention of your sister gives the impression that she is an adult, so it was possible that you were also. 


Quote
....started doing things that I had not done during my Catholic "phase", like listening to secular music....

This could be another reason that they are unsure. You had at least one other "phase" to use your word of a religious nature and it changed your behaviour it seems.  So they may think that this is another similar occurance.  Again, I am working on empathy from the parental angle.

Quote
Then again, the priest's sermons could be what is making her think that.ÂÂ  I can definitely see how they could sound extreme and cultish to someone who doesn't know much about Orthodoxy ("The Orthodox Church is the only true church and the only true hope and peace in the face of the troubles and confusion of the world that surrounds us", "Orthodox must go to confession regularly or canon such and such says you are excommunicated", "Attending divine services must be the high point of our week, it must be what we live our lives for").ÂÂ  

That could be an important point.  Cults *have* made claims like that.


Ebor
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« Reply #23 on: December 12, 2005, 10:09:18 PM »

I have been and am still am in to a certain extent your shoes.  I was 15 when I first became interested in Orthodoxy (I'm a few days shy of my 19th birthday now).  If your parents hate Orthodoxy there is nothing you can do except concede that your life is going to be miserable.  And that won't end until you have complete financial independence.  Just another year or two and I'll be there.... we'll see what's left of my body after another few semesters of working fulltime and school fulltime.   
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« Reply #24 on: December 12, 2005, 10:50:21 PM »

No offense was meant by the question. I apologize if it bothered you.ÂÂ   I did not check your profile to see how old you are.ÂÂ  It was possible that you were not a minor.ÂÂ  Your mention of your sister gives the impression that she is an adult, so it was possible that you were also.ÂÂ  


This could be another reason that they are unsure. You had at least one other "phase" to use your word of a religious nature and it changed your behaviour it seems.  So they may think that this is another similar occurance.  Again, I am working on empathy from the parental angle.


That could be an important point.ÂÂ  Cults *have* made claims like that.


Ebor
Oh! I'm really sorry if you thought I was offended! I wasn't! Sorry if my repsonse sounded snarky or anything, I didn't mean to be.  And yes, you are correct in thinking my sister is an adult, she's almost 20.

I also had an extremely liberal Protestant phase, when I was very vocal about some very crazy beliefs like that King David and Jonathan had a homosexual relationship, and eating meat was murder.  But of course that phase also involved me LOVING the Episcopal Church with all its liberalness, so my parents kind of liked that phase in comparison.  Except I always got in their faces about how homosexuality is not a sin and gay people should be allowed to get married.  And then in my Catholic period I got all up in their faces about how the Catholic Church is the only true church and I also considered it my personal responsibility to tell them that they were bad Christians(yes, I was very judgemental).  I don't think I have ever pushed Orthodoxy on them though, and I have not criticized their faith since I have started getting into Orthodoxy.  I just think it is really strange that I have been the quitest and least pushy about Orthodoxy and it is the one they're the most concerned about.  On the other hand, at first, my dad said that my mom said to him "I'm SO GLAD that he doesn't want to be Catholic anymore" Smiley

Now that I think about it, my mom actually had a friend who joined a cult back in college, it was called "the Children of God".  She once told me how she saw her friend distributing "literature" on the streets of Seattle a few years after she cut off contact with my mom, and how her friend had to give up all her possessions to that cult and live in a commune of some kind...Probably another reason my mom is worried. 


Aha!ÂÂ  Wink

That last post, zebu, makes things a whole lot more clear. Two things of note:

1) It seems to me that one of the reasons your mother doesn't like Orthodoxy is that it isn't something a person does on Sundays once a week, but a lifestyle. People often don't want to commit to that. If a mere 2 hours is "too much" time to give God in an entire week, what is she really doing? Who is she kidding?

2) I think I see why your mother thinks it is a cult: exclusivity. Certainly few people would have had a problem with Jesus if He had simply taught a way to God, such as with many religions. The problem people had was in fact that He taught He was the ONLY Way to God. And so the same happens with Orthodoxy. We teach there is One Church, One Faith, and this just doesn't jive with relativism. We don't preach "another way, another Christian peice of truth, and an exciting life;" rather, we preach "the Way, the Truth, and the Life." This is hard to grasp for many people.

So, I would look into these things. Since I am not there and only have a limited perspective, ultimately you will have to see if this is the case. But hang in there, it will work out in the end Smiley
I think you are absolutely correct.  And even though my dad doesn't think it is a cult, I think he dislikes Orthodoxy so strongly because of those same reasons you stated about my mom.  Unfortunately, the one time my dad went to an Orthodox church with me(which, btw, actually was a very beautiful church that is one of the oldest Orthodox churches in the continental US), the priest chose to devote his sermon to how Orthodoxy is the only ark of salvation given to us by God.  I'm sure he thought that was just spiffy Smiley And twice he has caught the end of my catechesis sessions with the priest, and since he hadn't been there the whole time, heard things that probably sounded very scary and mean since they were out of context.  But there's really not a lot I can do about Orthodoxy being a huge commitment and an exclusivist faith

I have been and am still am in to a certain extent your shoes.  I was 15 when I first became interested in Orthodoxy (I'm a few days shy of my 19th birthday now).  If your parents hate Orthodoxy there is nothing you can do except concede that your life is going to be miserable.  And that won't end until you have complete financial independence.  Just another year or two and I'll be there.... we'll see what's left of my body after another few semesters of working fulltime and school fulltime.  ÃƒÆ’‚  
What did they do to make your life miserable?  Would they not let you go to the Orthodox Church?  Did they force you to go to their church? My parents actually did do that for a few months, but I got so depressed and quiet that they gave in.  I wish you the best of luck with your parents and with school. 
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« Reply #25 on: December 13, 2005, 02:51:33 AM »

I think you are absolutely correct.ÂÂ  And even though my dad doesn't think it is a cult, I think he dislikes Orthodoxy so strongly because of those same reasons you stated about my mom.ÂÂ  Unfortunately, the one time my dad went to an Orthodox church with me(which, btw, actually was a very beautiful church that is one of the oldest Orthodox churches in the continental US), the priest chose to devote his sermon to how Orthodoxy is the only ark of salvation given to us by God.ÂÂ  I'm sure he thought that was just spiffy Smiley And twice he has caught the end of my catechesis sessions with the priest, and since he hadn't been there the whole time, heard things that probably sounded very scary and mean since they were out of context.ÂÂ  But there's really not a lot I can do about Orthodoxy being a huge commitment and an exclusivist faith

Quite possibly it was in God's will that he heard what he heard, no more, no less.
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« Reply #26 on: December 13, 2005, 09:17:42 AM »

My mom's boss is Greek Orthodox.ÂÂ  But he is not exactly a shining example of Orthodoxy...being a drunk who beats his wife and hardly ever goes to church. My dad has a Russian Orthodox friend from work, and she's really nice.ÂÂ  Maybe that's why my dad doesn't think Orthodoxy is a cult(maybe I wasn't clear, it's my mom who thinks it is a cult, not my dad).

Your mother's boss does not sound like he's Orthodox at all.  This is not a shot at my good friend GiC, but Greek is not always Christian! LOL

Personally, I wouldn't push the issue too much, because I think you'll ultimately only end up alienating your parents.  As a trial attorney, one of the hardest things I face in a Courtroom is trying to convince a jury to believe my clients story, when they were already convinced my client was wrong or bad to begin with.

My experience is that if you try to force your version of events (in your case,  your faith), down their throats, they will probably take a harder stance.  Furthermore, even if you attempt to show your mother the truth of Orthodoxy, she may interpret it as an attempt to "brainwash" her.  That is why I figured if they met other OC's in everyday life, they would see (for themselves) there is nothing "cult like" about us.
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« Reply #27 on: December 13, 2005, 12:36:45 PM »

The Philoptochos is kinda culty  Tongue
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« Reply #28 on: December 13, 2005, 02:17:25 PM »

Coming from a Non-Orthodox Christian background, my family was taken aback by the demands of the Orthodox church (Monasticism, fasting, long services, etc).  It was by the living of the faith that they were able to accept my conversion to the Holy Orthodox Church.  Eventually my mother also entered the church  several months before her repose and my family (orthodox and non-orthodox) was happy with her choice and her holy, peaceful last days.  Her funeral  had my pentecostal family members in tears for its beauty---one elderly Aunt said it reminded her of how funerals were when she was a child and how she wanted hers to be.

It seems the real success  lies in our living the wholly orthodox life without the judging of others that will be your greatest witness that Orthodoxy is not a "Cult" but the light of the world.


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« Reply #29 on: December 15, 2005, 12:10:22 PM »

Zebu,

Personally, I recommend staying away from polemics.  Arguing with your family will get you absolutely nowhere.  Honestly, no one likes being sermonized by a kid, particularly one who they know quite well.  It'll just tempt them to associate their annoyance with your behaviour to the Orthodox faith (however unjustly).  Also, they may be tempted to mix up such zealotry with your previous "phases" - this will be, in their eyes, just "another phase".

Of course you shouldn't hide who you are and what you believe - but if you really want to demonstrate this, concentrate on living it first.  This is all a lesson I still struggle with, and wish I'd taken a little more seriously earlier on in my journey (since I'm somewhat "youngish" myself... though I am now closer to 30 than 20...yikes.)

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« Reply #30 on: December 16, 2005, 12:27:55 AM »

I will definitely work to apply all of your advice, it really makes sense.  And I think that for the most part, I have been doing all that so far, not semonizing them, not making a big deal of fasting, not talking about prayer, doing things around the house to help my parents, being a good student, etc.  BUT I can always try harder! What my old English teacher used to say can really be applied to more than just essays, I guess: "Show, don't tell." 

Oh, and my mom already does call Orhtodoxy a phase, she has told me "Oh, you're just experimenting, you'll leave it when you're in college, nobdoy goes to church in college."  It really hurts when she says that, but then I can see why she would think that.
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« Reply #31 on: December 27, 2005, 12:51:45 PM »

primarily because I have to be baptized to become Orthodox(even though I was baptized as an infant in the Episcopal Church).ÂÂ  

So was I and all I had to do was be crismated, not re-baptised.  it is supposed to be fine as LONG as you were originally baptised in the name of the Trinity.

You may want to get some clarification on that, to reassure your parents and yourself.  Cult? OMG, that is too funny.  The apostolic church down the road from me...that smacks of cultism, but not the Orthodox church!
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« Reply #32 on: December 27, 2005, 01:08:41 PM »

So was I and all I had to do was be crismated, not re-baptised.  it is supposed to be fine as LONG as you were originally baptised in the name of the Trinity.   

The Church's position, when receiving someone by Chrismation, is that their baptism may have had good form or not, but it was close, and regardless that baptism is only perfected through the entry into the Orthodox Church through the seal of the Spirit.  That baptism is not good "on its face" but rather needed the conversion to Orthodoxy to perfect it.
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« Reply #33 on: December 27, 2005, 01:43:46 PM »

Zebu,

I was an Episcopalian who was received into the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America in 1998, and did not require a re-baptism (just Christmation). So, as was said earlier, not all jurisdictions require this.

As for the question of whether Orthodoxy is a cult, I would think not! Orthodoxy is the second largest Christian body in the world, with hundreds of millions of adherents. However, I have been told that there were Orthodox groups (mainly in California) who were exercising cult-like control over their parishioners. So it is possible that "cult"-like groups can form - anywhere, under any religion, even Orthodoxy.

So, to spread a little more light on this subject, we must first come up with a definition of a cult. What is a cult? Here's a pretty good working definition:

1) a charismatic leader who increasingly becomes an object of worship as the general principles that may have originally sustained the group lose their power;
2) a religious group that embodies a process that could be called coercive persuasion or thought reform;
3) economic, sexual, and other exploitation of group members by the leader and the ruling coterie.

Source: http://www.rickross.com/reference/brainwashing/brainwashing1.html

I have had friends who got mixed up with cults, and as a result of their misfortunes, I would have to add another criteria to the list: Cults generally try and isolate their members. For instance, cults demand that their followers renounce any and all family members who do not follow them into their new religion.

Does your church embody any of these criteria? Then it could be drifting toward cult-like status. But before you start talking about terms like "cults," know them by their works!
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« Reply #34 on: December 27, 2005, 04:50:30 PM »

Christmas is an excellent time for showing the roots of Orthodox Christianity as there are often news stories and magazine articles about Christmas in the Holyland especially in Bethlehem.  The Orthodox Church is always mentioned there but look as you will there will not be a reference to a Baptist, Methodist, or other protestant Church in relationship to the Holy Sites. They will see such words as the guardians of the Holy Sites or the custodians of the birth place of Jesus. Doesn't sound too culty to me. It may help.

In Christ,
Thomas
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« Reply #35 on: December 27, 2005, 06:12:22 PM »

So was I and all I had to do was be crismated, not re-baptised.ÂÂ  it is supposed to be fine as LONG as you were originally baptised in the name of the Trinity.

You may want to get some clarification on that, to reassure your parents and yourself.ÂÂ  Cult? OMG, that is too funny.ÂÂ  The apostolic church down the road from me...that smacks of cultism, but not the Orthodox church!

Well, I did ask the priest quite some time ago about why baptism is necessary.  He gave me a very long answer that left me very confused, and essentially what I gather is this: Baptism is how we become members of the Body of Christ.  Only the Orthodox Church is the Body of Christ, and since people in other churches are not in the Body of Christ, they cannot baptize someone into something they are not part of themselves.  However, my Episcopalian "baptism" was not all bad, and God does work in people outside the Orthodox church and we would never say that only Orthodox can be saved.

Anyways, it wasn't the priest's own decision, he said that is what the bishop said to do...

What do you mean by apostolic church??? Like Armenian Apostolic???

Zebu,

I was an Episcopalian who was received into the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America in 1998, and did not require a re-baptism (just Christmation). So, as was said earlier, not all jurisdictions require this.

As for the question of whether Orthodoxy is a cult, I would think not! Orthodoxy is the second largest Christian body in the world, with hundreds of millions of adherents. However, I have been told that there were Orthodox groups (mainly in California) who were exercising cult-like control over their parishioners. So it is possible that "cult"-like groups can form - anywhere, under any religion, even Orthodoxy.

So, to spread a little more light on this subject, we must first come up with a definition of a cult. What is a cult? Here's a pretty good working definition:

1) a charismatic leader who increasingly becomes an object of worship as the general principles that may have originally sustained the group lose their power;
2) a religious group that embodies a process that could be called coercive persuasion or thought reform;
3) economic, sexual, and other exploitation of group members by the leader and the ruling coterie.

Source: http://www.rickross.com/reference/brainwashing/brainwashing1.html

I have had friends who got mixed up with cults, and as a result of their misfortunes, I would have to add another criteria to the list: Cults generally try and isolate their members. For instance, cults demand that their followers renounce any and all family members who do not follow them into their new religion.

Does your church embody any of these criteria? Then it could be drifting toward cult-like status. But before you start talking about terms like "cults," know them by their works!

I don't think my church would be described by any of those criteria.  Except I am not quite sure what "coercive persuasion or thought reform" means...

I think a major problem is that even though it may be the second largest Christian body in the world, most people in America have NEVER heard of it! Or if they have, they only know of its existence and not much else. 

Christmas is an excellent time for showing the roots of Orthodox Christianity as there are often news stories and magazine articles about Christmas in the Holyland especially in Bethlehem.ÂÂ  The Orthodox Church is always mentioned there but look as you will there will not be a reference to a Baptist, Methodist, or other protestant Church in relationship to the Holy Sites. They will see such words as the guardians of the Holy Sites or the custodians of the birth place of Jesus. Doesn't sound too culty to me. It may help.

In Christ,
Thomas

That's so true! There was even an article in the newspaper the other day with a big picture of a church in Moscow and the headline said "Ready for Christmas....On January 7th!" and there was a nice article about the Russian Orthodox Church. And my parents read it too! But what was really made me happy was that my dad came to Nativity Vigil with me! It was a real surprise, since first he just dropped me off like normal, but then a while later he came in the church! He was there for the last hour and a half of the service  Smiley
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« Reply #36 on: December 28, 2005, 02:13:46 PM »

No, one of those freakiy used to be baptist and they call themselves apostolic now, all the women are required to wear long skirts (if you can call some of those long skrts with slits up to their bums skirts!) and long hair and no makeup, they go to church three times a week, twice on sunday, and they have a great band for the youth program.    it's just called Pineview Apostolic Faith church.  There are two of them right next door to each other competing for members.
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« Reply #37 on: January 04, 2006, 07:51:44 PM »

Personally, I was baptised as a baby, so maybe Ive missed the point, but why do you want to convinve them what Orthodoxy is or isn't? If people don't want to believe something, then they won't, it doesn't matter what you say, it will just cause arguments with both sides getting on the defensive. I think renting 'my big fat greek wedding' is a good idea though. It's fun and a family thing. Perhaps if they realise that almost everyone in Greece, Russia and a lot of the rest of Eastern Europe has been Orthodox for centuries (longer than Anglicanism/protestantism has even existed) they may be reassured.
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« Reply #38 on: January 05, 2006, 08:56:50 PM »

Personally, I was baptised as a baby, so maybe Ive missed the point, but why do you want to convinve them what Orthodoxy is or isn't? If people don't want to believe something, then they won't, it doesn't matter what you say, it will just cause arguments with both sides getting on the defensive.

Zebu has found a faith that has clearly become central to his/her life, and is clearly very important.  In response to this, Zebu's parents belittle this by making comments about it being a passing phase, and dismissing it as a cult, asking where they have gone wrong, as though Zebu is somehow deficient for seeking Orthodoxy.  This is very disrespectful and not the behaviour that loving parents should be demonstrating.  That aside, their attitude is clearly based on misinformation and assumptions rather any attempt on their part to try to understand what it is that their child finds so important.  As I read it, it isn't so much a case that Zebu wants to convert them or anything, but just to try to help them to see what they're doing and why it perhaps isn't helpful or respectful of Zebu as a person.

Remember that Zebu lives with them and so it isn't as though it's somebody at school who can be left behind at the end of the day.  Zebu has to live with this sort of attitude.  It's what (s)he has to go home to at the end of the day.  I can understand the desire for acceptance.  That isn't asking for affirmation or even encouragement, but simply a bit of respect.  That isn't too much to ask, in my opinion.
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« Reply #39 on: January 05, 2006, 09:01:57 PM »

As for the issue of Baptism, I too, shall be baptised when I am received into Orthodoxy.

This is how I understand it.

From the Orthodox perspective, there is no concept of sacramental "validity" as something that can exist separately from the Church.  (Orthodoxy doesn't accept any form of the branch theory).  Orthodoxy has more of a concept of sacramental "completion", for which the context of the fullness of the Orthodox Faith is necessary, among other things.  So, for example, a recognised baptism is one that is done using the Trinitarian formula, in water, within the context of the Orthodox Church.  I don't know of any Orthodox person who would say that, outside of that, there is definitely no saving grace, for God bestows his grace where and how he pleases, but I would not be able to say that it is a baptism with the same certainty that I would if it were within Orthodoxy.
 
Because there is no concept of sacramental validity in Orthodoxy as there is in Rome, a somewhat retrospective view can be taken of these things in some cases.  So if, say, the General Synod of the Church of England were to decide to take the CofE into Orthodoxy, then that which would have been considered missing from my baptism in the CofE (fullness of Orthodox Faith) would be seen as having been restored, and there would be no need for me to be baptised next month.  In the 1930s, a few of the Orthodox jurisdictions independently set about answering the question asked of them by some bishops of the CofE about the Orthodox position on Anglican Orders.  The response was much the same as with baptism, that there is nothing deficient about the Anglican rite of ordination, and so if one of the Anglican churches were to be received wholesale into Orthodoxy, sacramental economy could be extended so that its priests would be considered to be properly ordained, as the Orthodox Faith would have been supplied where it previously absent. (However, this would be seen as an exception and not the norm).  A Greek acquaintance of mine refers to it as the "activation" of the Sacraments, which, at first, sounded quite mechanical to me, but I honestly can't think of any better way to express it in so few words.
 
As it stands, my Anglican baptism, while not certainly condemned as devoid of grace, cannot be recognised as a baptism.  Different jurisdictions have their own ways of dealing with this as a matter of course.  Some (such as the Antiochians) would only chrismate me, as it is both baptism and chrismation together which are seen as initiatory, and the chrismation within the Orthodox Faith would be seen as supplementing the Orthodox Faith that was lacking in the non-Orthodox baptism.  Other jurisdictions (such as the Russian Church Abroad) will both baptise and chrismate.
 
Because of the Orthodox understanding of sacramental economy (which is, essentially, a departure from the norm for pastoral reasons, such as the standard Antiochian practice of chrismating and not baptising converts), the concept of validity and "conditional" baptism/ordination never developed as they did in Rome, as it just doesn't fit with the Orthodox understanding of how assurance of grace works.

This seems to tally with what others have said before, which sets my mind at rest somewhat.
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« Reply #40 on: January 05, 2006, 10:50:50 PM »

Personally, I was baptised as a baby, so maybe Ive missed the point, but why do you want to convinve them what Orthodoxy is or isn't? If people don't want to believe something, then they won't, it doesn't matter what you say, it will just cause arguments with both sides getting on the defensive. I think renting 'my big fat greek wedding' is a good idea though. It's fun and a family thing. Perhaps if they realise that almost everyone in Greece, Russia and a lot of the rest of Eastern Europe has been Orthodox for centuries (longer than Anglicanism/protestantism has even existed) they may be reassured.
I have to convince them since I am 17 and still live with them, and also because they are my parents! You kind of only get two of those, lol.  "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" is actually one of my favorite movies! So they have seen it many a time.  Though your suggestion about them seeing Orthodox in the media is a good one.  Last night my mom watched this show on PBS about visiting the places described in the Bible, and though I didn't watch it, I am 99.9% sure they visited Orthodox places like the Holy Sepulchre.

Zebu has found a faith that has clearly become central to his/her life, and is clearly very important.ÂÂ  In response to this, Zebu's parents belittle this by making comments about it being a passing phase, and dismissing it as a cult, asking where they have gone wrong, as though Zebu is somehow deficient for seeking Orthodoxy.ÂÂ  This is very disrespectful and not the behaviour that loving parents should be demonstrating.ÂÂ  That aside, their attitude is clearly based on misinformation and assumptions rather any attempt on their part to try to understand what it is that their child finds so important.ÂÂ  As I read it, it isn't so much a case that Zebu wants to convert them or anything, but just to try to help them to see what they're doing and why it perhaps isn't helpful or respectful of Zebu as a person.

Remember that Zebu lives with them and so it isn't as though it's somebody at school who can be left behind at the end of the day.ÂÂ  Zebu has to live with this sort of attitude.ÂÂ  It's what (s)he has to go home to at the end of the day.ÂÂ  I can understand the desire for acceptance.ÂÂ  That isn't asking for affirmation or even encouragement, but simply a bit of respect.ÂÂ  That isn't too much to ask, in my opinion.
YES!  Though to be fair, it's really mostly my mom.  My dad is pretty much ok with it and he knows it is not some weird cult.  He's never really said anything mean about it, unless you consider him saying the services are too long and confusing is mean(which I don't).

And thanks for your explanation of baptism!  Can I just print it out and read it the next time someone asks me, lol?  Though the Orthodox explanation is really confusing to Protestants, our baptising Protestant converts to them menas that we think they aren't Christian at all!  Not really anything we can do about that though I guess...
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« Reply #41 on: January 06, 2006, 10:03:51 AM »

Zebu, you're very welcome.

You certainly have my prayers in your current situation.ÂÂ  Let's hope your mother will come round in due course.ÂÂ  In the meantime, enjoy your journey.ÂÂ  That's what I'm doing and it's working so very well so far, by God's grace.

In Christ,
the catechumen Michael.
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« Reply #42 on: January 07, 2006, 12:33:55 AM »

Hey Zebu... does your mom know you play irreverant games at Divine Liturgy, such as the "crossing wave" game? Maybe that is why she is against it.
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« Reply #43 on: January 07, 2006, 12:37:33 AM »

Hmmm that could be it! It also could be that she knows the REAL reason I like to get to church early....you know what I'm talking about marat...
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« Reply #44 on: January 10, 2006, 04:35:48 PM »

Isn't Queen Elizabeth's husband (Prince Philip, is it?) Orthodox - there's an example of a normal, run of the mill guy who became Orthodox!ÂÂ  Wink


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Prince Philip was Orthodox, when you marry a Royal, it's expected that you will be Anglican, (I think it's changed now but it used to be that the monarch could not marry a Catholic - either they had to convert or couldn't marry) I think that's why he changed. He recently gave a donation though to the building of a new monastic house for the growing population of King Edward Orthodox Brotherhood in England, so obviously he's still in touch somehow!
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