OK Enough, sorry if I ruffled feathers. By the way, sorry SouthSerb, I attend a mixed Antiochian Parish (Serbs, Russians, Arabs, Scots, Germans, WASP's even a Jewish person). This where I first saw converts acting in an ultra orthodox fashion, standing till they fainted, checking ingredients on labels to make sure there was no dairy products in their cookies during the fast, praying every prayer and prostrating ad infinitum. In their defense they propbably are still stuck in the legalism that they learned in the former chirch homes. My point is it is about where your heart is. Ya I do have an axe to grind. Why. Don't convert to Orthodoxy and then act like the expert or the more pious than those who are traditionally Orthodox and who came from families that passed the torch of orthodoxy down through the ages.
I normally just lurk around here, but I hope it's OK to go back and respond to this comment. I'm neither cradle nor convert Orthodox, but I guess one day I'd like to be a convert, so I probably identify more with that group. I think I understand a lot of the issues related to the overzealousness of converts, and I try to be sensitive to them. But I think something needs to be said here about the specific things aserb brings up. I suppose standing until one faints is a genuine problem; although, if you're normally OK with standing, and you don't know exactly when it's appropriate to sit and when it's appropriate to stand, it does make things a bit awkward when you feel like you probably ought to sit for a while but you don't want to offend anyone. Plus, my experience is that sometimes you don't know how long a holiday service is going to go on, so you might keep thinking that it must be almost over, until your legs give out.
For most of the other things, I think at least some of it can be attributed to the learning process. Personally, when I visit an Orthodox service, I prostrate when everyone else does (or at least a significant number). I happen to like the fact that Orthodoxy includes prostration (whereas the Evangelical church I attend seems to have no understanding of posture in worship), so I appreciate the opportunities I get. Of course, when I'm praying at home, I don't have a crowd to follow, so I've read various guides, and I pretty much try to prostrate or bow or cross myself whenever it seems like I'm supposed to. Maybe someday someone will set me straight, but right now I just do the best I can. I do pray a lot, but again this is partly a matter of ignorance--that I don't have much feel for which prayers to pray and which ones to skip--and partly because I recognize that I'm in a learning process. I come from a "non-liturgical" background, and I have yet to internalize the language of Orthodox prayer. So among other things, praying a lot of Orthodox prayers is training my mind to think in the appropriate conceptual framework.
Finally, on the issue of checking ingredients. I guess this was the item that really jumped out at me. It seems that a cradle Orthodox person would have grown up familiar with a stock list of foods that could be eaten while fasting. For someone without that kind of background, you have to learn somehow what is and isn't appropriate. I suppose one way to do that would be to move in with an Orhtodox family and do what they do, but who has that opportunity? So if I see that I'm not supposed to eat dairy, it's only natural for me to check the ingredients to learn what does and doesn't have it. And it happens that I've been quite surprised on several occasions, which only confirms that it was better not to assume I already knew. Actually, one trick I've picked up is to check the hesher--the mark that says if food is kosher--since it will normally identify when something has dairy. It's quicker and easier than checking the ingredients (if it's there), although I also notice that because of dairy allergies and intolerances, these items are often highlighted in the list. But my point is that it's a learning process. I'm sure after I've been fasting for a few years I won't need to do it anymore, because I'll have my set foods that I know are OK. But I don't see why making the effort to learn makes a person legalistic or overzealous. I'm not going to go around telling Orthodox people they shouldn't eat certain things--I suppose that could be legalistic. But for the sake of my own conscience, this just happens to be the effort I've chosen to make.