Congratulations to our August 2014 Post-of-the-Month winner, DeniseDenise! The people have spoken:
I was going to let bigger and better minds than mine answer you, but its been on my mind all night.....so bear with me and keep in mind that I speak for myself, no one else, am not an official anything in the Orthodox Church.
Does the Orthodox Church have many 'odd' things about it? yes
Are 100% of these things required for one's salvation? no
That said, it's very difficult in a forum format, with little experience to explain why most of these things are GOOD for us and contribute to our personal spiritual growth, that is becoming closer to, and more Christ like.
The Orthodox Church is THE Church that Jesus gave to the Apostles to be passed down to the rest of humanity. We believe that. That Church of the Apostles, had (and still has via us) traditions. We preserve those, and so sometimes the Church seems old fashioned and not so hip or with it, with good reason, that is the continuation of what has been handed down from Our Lord.
I am not going to address whether one should cross ones legs, or any number of other things that are really -local- customs. Those are up there in that 'not all the odd things are required for one's salvation' that I mentioned above. Now some of those 'silly things' are good for us spiritually. For instance standing through the whole Divine Liturgy (a custom on the Slavic side of Orthodoxy) is not needed for salvation, but it is a good discipline and teaches us to concentrate on God, even through some personal discomfort.
These things may seem 'regulatory' to an outsider, because we in western society are so rarely these days called to any form of self denial. We get what we want, do what we want when we want, and it's is all about us. Even a person considered generous, kind, good and loving, is never asked to deny themselves.
The Church asks us to give up that modern mindset of 'us first' in order to better fulfill Luke 9 23:24:
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
The Orthodox Church takes that seriously and over the centuries has preserved the ways of the Apostles of Our Lord that help us do just that, regardless of what culture we came from originally. Galatians 3:28 tells us to give up the notion that our former selves and the culture we came from matters for our Salvation. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus"
The Orthodox Church asks 'a lot' because Christ asks for ALL of us.....'a lot' is a drop in the bucket of the ALL that we need to give.
Just a small comment on something you said : 'Though we are many, we are one body, because we all share in one bread." Beautiful!'
The Orthodox share in the Blood and Body of Christ, not merely bread.