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Author Topic: An ORU convert  (Read 6054 times) Average Rating: 0
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Fr. David
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« on: June 08, 2004, 01:23:00 AM »

Hello, all....

Some folks who've read my profile have commented on the fact that I did, indeed, graduate from Oral Roberts University, a non-denominational, charismatic, private university in Tulsa, OK.  It's intimately associated with all the lovely people you see on TBN, so the question's come up a couple of times: how did I get to the Orthodox Church from ORU?  Well, here goes, for those who'd care to read:

I grew up Southern Baptist, but I had had some exposure to the charismatic movement in high school,  so ORU was a wonderful thing, I thought, in terms of all the charismatic stuff. I liked the upbeat, energetic thing that was happening...finally, it was all right to be emotional in worship instead of just tolerating dry, stuffy ritual! But after about a semester and a half...well...all of a sudden I was having second thoughts about emotionistic worship. I saw the weird excesses that emotional experiences can drive Christians to.  These included falling on the ground a la Benny Hinn (who used to be Orthodox, BTW), barking like dogs, "manifestations"of the "Spirit" like speaking in tongues (nonsensical babbling), "prophetic words" from God (appeals to the law of averages for getting something accurate about a total stranger--either that or wonderful, positive messages that the receiver WANTED to be true) and bizarre mantras we were expected to chant ("MONEEEEEEEEEY COMETH!  TO ME!  NOW!").  It made me realize that this could not be authentic, original, New Testament Christianity -- at which point I realized I didn't even know what original, NT Christianity was.  So I started looking into early Christian history towards the end of my freshman year, for two reasons. One, I wanted to compare the spirituality of the early Church with all the prosperity, all-healing-all-the-time, and/or everything-is-all-good-between-me-and-God sprituality that goes on today in American Charismaticism. Two, I wanted, to borrow a Southern Baptist phrase, "to get back to the New Testament Church."

So I looked at the earliest documents outside the Bible in order to get some context going...specifically, I read the Apostolic Fathers (i.e., Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp), followed by Ireneaus, Cyprian, Tertullian, Origen.  To make a long story VERY short, I  got more than I bargained for.  Not only did I quickly find condemnations of the things that went on at ORU (which was pretty much Montanism revisited), I found my own Baptist upbringing being uprooted by things like strictly liturgical worship, an elevated role for Mary, prayers for the dead and to the saints, confession to a priest, the Eucharist being the actual body/blood of Christ, baptismal regeneration, the absence of "Eternal Security," and adamant anti-denominationalism.

So I couldn't stay were I had been.  I went from Episcopalian masses to Roman Catholic masses, to see what they had to say. I loved the worship; this was my first taste of apostolic Christian worship, or "heaven on earth," as it's been called.  Due to things I was finding in the Fathers (and things I wasn't finding), I stopped going to masses and attended an Eastern Orthodox liturgy at St. Antony's Antiochian Orthodox Church.  Hated it the first time I went; much preferred the Western confessions' worship.  Nevertheless, after a while I was amazed to see such similarity in doctrine between what the early Church said, what Scripture said in light of her interpretation, and what this Orthodox priest was saying.  Several liturgies (which began to grow on me), books, prayers, questions, answers, and all-nighters later (I did so much research on this that my studies suffered!), I decided to become a catechumen.

Something was happening at the time at ORU, unbeknownst to me, in terms of Orthodoxy; I found out that I was not the only one to be moving in on this train of thought. I was shocked (yet again) to find ORU grads already in St. Antony's ! More than that, there were a few folks here on campus who were beginning to ask similar questions! And more that that, the priest himself was an alum from ORU, and said that back in the late 70s or early 80s, when he was in seminary there, he and about 20 other people converted to Orthodoxy (about 6 of whom became priests). Something similar apparently started up again, as I can think of about 30 to 40 other people from ORU right off the top of my head that either have become Orthodox already or are seriously considering becoming so. ÂÂ

I don't know if the faculty at ORU really knew what to do with all this; letters were circulated, professors started bringing it up in classes--some of which had nothing to do with theology!--even the president of the university mentioned during the chapel service that ORU was in complete agreement with the early church Fathers!  Why I would want to look to the past was lost on many there--My RA one year actually said I was crazy to look to the past for my belief.  I blame what I call the "chosen generation syndrome" for this.  This horrible mindset is VERY attractive to teenagers and young adults, and even to some adults who haven't grown up yet!  The idea, basically, is that our parents' generation has dropped the ball (along with that of our grandparents, and so on) regarding taking Christ to the nations, bringing healing and a change to the political climate of the US, but never fear, because God is doing A NEW THING, which (of course), we were on the front lines of!  WE were the ones who would CHANGE IT ALL, and the power of God would be evident in this.  Which basically gave us license, in our eyes, to let happen whatever we wanted or deemed necessary, because we were on the verge of some "breakthrough" that would require something the world had NEVER SEEN BEFORE--certainly nothing a 2,000-year-old liturgical, man-made religion could provide.  So we were left to either swallow what they gave us or suffer the guilt trips of "Don't touch God's annointed!" if we questioned what someone said in chapel.  No wonder we all left.  No wonder ORU is now jokingly dubbed the "St. Vlad's of the South"; I think more Orthodox come out of there than any other school that's not an Orthodox seminary than any other school in the country.

So that's it.  Hope you enjoyed it; if there're any other questions you have, don't hesitate to ask!  Peace.

Pedro
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« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2004, 02:39:23 AM »

wow--I have a good friend who is also a convert from the ORU in Tulsa.  Actually the whole Antiochian and most of the OCA parishes in Tulsa are made up of such people.

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« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2004, 10:23:09 AM »

Wow, Pedro, thanks for sharing. Smiley
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« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2004, 10:50:27 AM »

BTW - happy anniversary to you y tu esposa!  Many Years!!!

LOL -- Gracias, Columcille (now THAT'S a strange sentence!).

Glad to share it, folks.
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« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2004, 12:09:47 PM »

Talking to a young Catechumen in my parish who lurks on this board (but hardly posts), she says a similar thing is happening at Biola in SoCal (where she goes).
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« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2004, 10:11:04 PM »

We have seven students out of 1500 here at Geneva College in Beaver Falls, PA. And only one of them is cradle Orthodox.  Hopefully, these are the first trickles of a flood that's going to burst out of that dam of Reformed Presbyterianism.

And we don't get guilt trips up here.  We get intellectual bashings because we don't follow the writings of St. Calvin of Geneva and because we know that there were more Fathers besides Augustine.
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« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2004, 10:37:27 PM »

Great story Pedro!

I have the book "Coming Home" which has a few of stories of some ORU students (specifically Antony Hughes) who became Orthodox while attending ORU around 1980.

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« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2004, 11:37:23 PM »

So far none of the Bob Jones University students have visited our parish.  There is a large icon exhibition in their (wonderful) art museum, and they actually refer to as as christians!!!
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« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2004, 02:10:05 AM »

Great story Pedro!

I have the book "Coming Home" which has a few of stories of some ORU students (specifically Antony Hughes) who became Orthodox while attending ORU around 1980.



I'm finishing it up right now!
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« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2004, 10:34:54 AM »

Our Parish is literally right across the railroad tracks from Wheaton College in Illinois.

Wheaton College is a world renouned Evangelical college. It made news some time agoa because the administration decide to break with tradition and allow dancing.

On occasion we have visitors from Wheaton...and even have one or two who visit very regularly. From alums there, I know they would receive a great deal of pressure from administartors and parents if they ever communicated a desire to convert.

Pedro...what was it about DIvine Liturgy that turned you off after your first visit?
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« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2004, 04:51:44 PM »

Pedro...what was it about DIvine Liturgy that turned you off after your first visit?

Oh, for one thing, it was an Antiochian parish where the readers really knew how to do Byz chant...and it was tone 7...which is about the most exotic-sounding tone of the eight, so it sounded like something VERY foreign.  I was used to (and still adore) Gregorian chant and hymns like "Be Thou My Vision" and was NOT prepared to deal with that.

Secondly (and this more than the chant), I was really put off by all the repetition.  By the time Fr. George got to the ektenia before the Lord's Prayer, I was thinking, "Again and again and again and again and again AND AGAIN, apparently, in peace let us pray to the Lord..."  I was used to the shorter, simpler Eucharist of the West, which had the same structure, but didn't "waste time" (as I then thought) going over stuff "again and again."

Things that eventually helped me stick it out: the beauty of the church.  I've been in some GORGEOUS Catholic cathedrals, basillicas, etc.  I've been in some HORRIBLE pseudo-Catholic, VII "churches."  You run the risk of having to go to the latter if you're a RC and that's the only game in town.  The eastern church is consistent, I think, in making sure that their buildings reflect the proper awe that "heaven on earth" is supposed to inspire.

An invitation to sing in the choir -- this eventually helped me learn (and learn about) what the eight Byz tones were, the structural differences of the eastern liturgy from the western liturgy, etc.  Some people who came didn't receive such an "insider's view," and left due to confusion.  Still, though...at times, even after four years of regularly attending a Byz-rite Orthodox Divine Liturgy, you'd think I'd be used to it...sometimes it all still seems a bit...well...tedious.

But it's home for me now.  The members there are like family, and I'm happy.   If (God forbid) something should happen to my wife, I would, in all probability, stay at the OCA parish, if for no other reason than the familiarity and family atmosphere; changing rites wouldn't be enough to overrule such strong ties with folks.
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« Reply #11 on: June 09, 2004, 05:11:33 PM »

The plagal of Tone 2 (usually called Tone 6) is usually considered the most exotic because of its minor harmony and microtones.

Someone should do a sociological study because about half of people I know say Byzantine chant turns them off, and the other half say it's what they love more than anything.  I wonder what makes them have that reaction.

anastasios
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« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2004, 05:12:40 PM »

I'm one turned off by Byzcahnt but love Znamey and Kieven.

Joe Zollars
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« Reply #13 on: June 09, 2004, 05:33:03 PM »

...Byzantine chant ... it's what they love more than anything.  I wonder what makes them have that reaction.

Culture.   Smiley
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« Reply #14 on: June 09, 2004, 05:34:56 PM »

I myself love Byzantine Chant!!!!!

When I first attened an Orthodox Church I wasn't used to any type of Chant. The Novus Ordo Mass I attended had Catholic hyms put to a contemporary Christian tune, and accompained by a guitar. To say the least chant was not something I had ever expirenced, and I never thought I would.

When I walked into the Orthodox parish I was amazed at the sound of Byzantine Chant. I felt as if I was in heaven. I felt so close to God. I love it so much. I as hooked an ever since I can't stop listening to byzantine chant, it is so heavenly, so powerful, so amazing.

I had the exact opposite reaction to Russian Chant, I was annoyed beyond words and wanted to get home as soon as possible.
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« Reply #15 on: June 09, 2004, 08:06:05 PM »

I like Byzantine Chant, just not in Greek Smiley
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« Reply #16 on: June 09, 2004, 08:44:12 PM »

I like Byzantine Chant, but generally prefer Russian chants and four part choral arrangements.
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« Reply #17 on: June 09, 2004, 09:25:41 PM »

I'm the opposite.  I like Russian chants and four part choral arrangements, but prefer Byzantine Chant.  The latter reminds me more of what I'm used to in OO churches.
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« Reply #18 on: June 10, 2004, 11:08:21 AM »

Parishes with congregational singing have been known to grow rapidly in the US.

At my Parish it is a tradition since the First Divine Liturgy was held and there was no choir. In essence, the entire congregation is the choir...and what a beautiful sound.
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« Reply #19 on: June 10, 2004, 03:26:16 PM »

In essence, the entire congregation is the choir...and what a beautiful sound.

I didn't realize it at the time, but St. Antony's actually has a lot of congregational singing...it is nice not to have to carry everything as the choir, but it was odd for me to hear, still, as most of the congregation was Lebanese and could go right on doing the Byz chant with the choir.

The plagal of Tone 2 (usually called Tone 6) is usually considered the most exotic because of its minor harmony and microtones.

You're right; sorry.

Quote
Someone should do a sociological study because about half of people I know say Byzantine chant turns them off, and the other half say it's what they love more than anything.  I wonder what makes them have that reaction.

For me it was initially culture and unfamiliarity -- actually, to be honest, St. Antony's made good use of everything from Byz to Russian to Georgian to whatever else was out there.  It just happened to be that the FIRST TIME I showed up, there wasn't much of a choir there that day, and the reader chanted most of the liturgy in that bizarre 2nd/6th tone.  Usually some of the liturgy, when sung by the choir, has some russian stuff in it, which I prefer in terms of simplicity.

I've grown to like listening to Byz chant now, though -- but only for a while.  Nice to listen to, but wouldn't want to have to chant it ALL the time.

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« Reply #20 on: June 10, 2004, 03:49:06 PM »

I didn't realize it at the time, but St. Antony's actually has a lot of congregational singing...

I understand congregational singing is increasing in the OCA...not only in the new parishes but also in parishes looking to inject a sense of viatlity into themselves.

And in any parish, one can usually tell how healthy it is by how well the congregationa and/or the choir sings.
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« Reply #21 on: March 17, 2006, 11:20:02 AM »

Our Parish is literally right across the railroad tracks from Wheaton College in Illinois.

Wheaton College is a world renouned Evangelical college. It made news some time agoa because the administration decide to break with tradition and allow dancing.

On occasion we have visitors from Wheaton...and even have one or two who visit very regularly. From alums there, I know they would receive a great deal of pressure from administartors and parents if they ever communicated a desire to convert.

Pedro...what was it about DIvine Liturgy that turned you off after your first visit?

That's not All Saints (Father Patrick Henry Reardon), is it?
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« Reply #22 on: March 17, 2006, 11:41:34 AM »


Someone should do a sociological study because about half of people I know say Byzantine chant turns them off, and the other half say it's what they love more than anything.  I wonder what makes them have that reaction.

anastasios

And then there are people like me who like both types of chant fairly equally Wink.
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« Reply #23 on: March 17, 2006, 06:50:37 PM »

That's not All Saints (Father Patrick Henry Reardon), is it?

Since Spartacus has not logged on to OC.net since September 27, 2005, I figured I'd answer for him.  Wink

No, the church is not All Saints. The church in Wheaton is St. Joseph's (OCA), where Fr. John Matusiak is the rector. Fr. Matusiak is one of priests who answers questions about Orthodoxy on the OCA website.

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« Reply #24 on: March 17, 2006, 07:15:18 PM »

Quote
this eventually helped me learn (and learn about) what the eight Byz tones were

I wish I could find some place that notates all the Byz tones in such a way that I could learn them.  Plenty of info on the Russian ones (except Znamenny) but all I can find for Byz is recordings of chants, not the actual framework of each.

As for what I happen to like, I encountered Russian 4-part first, but I'm gradually coming to prefer monophonic chant.  I'm still turned off by people who think that Byz chant ought to be everywhere present and filling all churches (same for Russian for that matter), but I appreciate the sound of Byz chant when done well with all the ornamentation and in Greek; it seems strange in English in a way.  Most of the time I hear it transplanted into a westernish system of notes that we can understand and sing, but it doesn't sound right to me.  And the ison tends to irritate me too, but perhaps less if I'm listening to "real" Byz chant as I described.  I would like to hear true Znamenny sung unharmonized and with an ison.

But by and large, my favorite is the modal styles of the West...that's our liturgical music tradition.  I hope that given time it may be incorporated into "Western" Eastern Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #25 on: March 17, 2006, 08:57:10 PM »

And the ison tends to irritate me too, but perhaps less if I'm listening to "real" Byz chant as I described.  I would like to hear true Znamenny sung unharmonized and with an ison.

Byz:  Listen to someone like John Boyer sing it in English (although I think he unknowling puts a Greek accent in his English).
Znam:  Come to the CA Wine Country then. Smiley
Gregorian:  Our choir director introduced a very nice Gregorian (in Latin) Christ is Risen, a 9th century melody by St. Gall.  I started to hum a D (since he said it was D modal) and he stopped halfway through and said whoever was doing that must stop or he'll walk out of the church.  Grin
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« Reply #26 on: March 18, 2006, 12:28:20 AM »

That's quite a story!!

As for chant, I got absolute chills hearing Coptic readers chanting.  My boyfriend played it over the phone http://www.agpeya.org.  I had lived in a Muslim country and loved the Middle Eastern rhythms, and to me this sounded like those rhythms but used to praise the name of Jesus- just amazing.

As in most jurisdictions, there are different readers that sound better or worse to my ears.  I've since realized that not all Coptic chanting sounds as, I dunno, melodic, as these readers.  Some is absolutely teeth-grating.

Fortunately, these guys are at our parish and we get to appreciate them often.  Smiley
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« Reply #27 on: March 18, 2006, 03:58:19 AM »

Excellent story! Thank you, Pedro.
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« Reply #28 on: April 27, 2006, 04:12:52 PM »

I was glad to hear your testimony.   I also came from the nondenominational charismatic world prior to going into Orthodox.   Was born and raised however in a conservative Lutheran household.
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« Reply #29 on: April 27, 2006, 04:18:42 PM »

Something was happening at the time at ORU, unbeknownst to me, in terms of Orthodoxy; I found out that I was not the only one to be moving in on this train of thought. I was shocked (yet again) to find ORU grads already in St. Antony's ! More than that, there were a few folks here on campus who were beginning to ask similar questions! And more that that, the priest himself was an alum from ORU, and said that back in the late 70s or early 80s, when he was in seminary there, he and about 20 other people converted to Orthodoxy (about 6 of whom became priests). Something similar apparently started up again, as I can think of about 30 to 40 other people from ORU right off the top of my head that either have become Orthodox already or are seriously considering becoming so. ÂÂ

I take this is a decade or two after the 70s Orthodox revivial at ORU, that was mentioned in one of the testimonies from the book "Coming Home" right?   ÃƒÆ’‚ That book really helped me out a lot, of course I was lucky when I was a seeker.   My mom and dad live in a town 7 miles down from Ss Peter and PAul, aka "Concilliar Press", so I found all kinds of goodies immediately after I became a serious inquierer.

quote
I don't know if the faculty at ORU really knew what to do with all this; letters were circulated, professors started bringing it up in classes--some of which had nothing to do with theology!--even the president of the university mentioned during the chapel service that ORU was in complete agreement with the early church Fathers!
quote

Wow it sounds like you were in that class I read about almost a decade ago. ÂÂ  I salute you, the "Coming Home" testimony really inspired me, a long with a few other ones. ÂÂ  Like the testimony of Vineyard pastor Fr. Seraphim Bell, and this one

Recovering the Ancient Paths
http://www.philthompson.net/pages/becoming/ancientpaths.html
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« Reply #30 on: May 05, 2006, 12:28:55 PM »

I guess I must be in the minority here because I detest chant.  How do you make yourself like it, even a little? My dh likes it, and he comes from the hard rocking 80's era and went even further down that path than I did.  Yet he has Greek chanting/church cd's in his truck.  I just cannot do it.  I don't mind it in the church setting, maybe because in that sense we are a part of it.  But to sit and listen to it for "pleasure" is bizarre.  I have a wide musical range of taste, but chant is not for me.
I guess I am "less spiritually mature" to use the phrase prots use when they want to elevate themselves above you.
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« Reply #31 on: May 05, 2006, 11:11:52 PM »

I generally stay away from liturgical music outside of Church, not because I don't like it, but because it may lead to spiritual laxity later on. But no, it's not wrong to do that.
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« Reply #32 on: May 06, 2006, 12:00:14 AM »

I guess I am "less spiritually mature" to use the phrase prots use when they want to elevate themselves above you.

I don't see why not liking to listen to chant outside of worship would make you "less spiritually mature".  Personal tastes are just that and there's nothing wrong with liking or not liking something like that, imho.  Who are other people to say that one *must* like what they do?

Could the phrase "prots" not be used, though please?

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« Reply #33 on: May 10, 2006, 03:46:42 PM »

I guess I must be in the minority here because I detest chant.  How do you make yourself like it, even a little? My dh likes it, and he comes from the hard rocking 80's era and went even further down that path than I did.  Yet he has Greek chanting/church cd's in his truck.  I just cannot do it.  I don't mind it in the church setting, maybe because in that sense we are a part of it.  But to sit and listen to it for "pleasure" is bizarre.  I have a wide musical range of taste, but chant is not for me.
I guess I am "less spiritually mature" to use the phrase prots use when they want to elevate themselves above you.

I also hate chant, which is actually pretty interesting since I've been forced to chant roughly 14-15 times a week here at seminary for the past three years (maybe that's why I'm so bitter).

Some people like it, some don't; don't beat yourself up about it.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2006, 03:47:22 PM by chris » Logged

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« Reply #34 on: June 12, 2006, 10:59:56 AM »

That's quite a story!!

As for chant, I got absolute chills hearing Coptic readers chanting.  My boyfriend played it over the phone http://www.agpeya.org.  I had lived in a Muslim country and loved the Middle Eastern rhythms, and to me this sounded like those rhythms but used to praise the name of Jesus- just amazing.

I also get the chills hearing Coptic chanting; I am a fairly whitebread America, but I love Middle Eastern rhythms.

ChrisC
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« Reply #35 on: June 12, 2006, 01:28:51 PM »

I generally stay away from liturgical music outside of Church, not because I don't like it, but because it may lead to spiritual laxity later on.
How so?
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