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Author Topic: Converts and Established Customs  (Read 9797 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: August 25, 2006, 12:27:46 PM »

Note: this thread was split off from "Introduction and Question" in the Convert forum because it began at this post to talk about the following topic. ~ Pedro

Quote
Oddly, one of the catalysts for my investigating Church history was that I realised that what I'd been taught made it seem like Christianity was a western European phenomenon

EXACTLY! and what a great segue for my favorite sport convert bashing. I am tired of converts from western confessions bashing our little "t" traditions. These are small traditions that are more ethnically based. I left a mostly convert community recently because they wresteled hold of the board and in my opinion were in the process of creating their own "antiseptic" form of Orthodoxy. Minimal icons, no food fairs, but ladies' teas are OK, design of a new church that would not reflect Slavic or Byzantine architectural forms. I could keep going.

Sorry if I offended, but I've been offended. Don't let my rants dissuade you ComingHome.  Come Home we want you. But remember to respect the forefathers and mothers in the Orthodox faith who had a hand at establishing Orthodoxy in the USA, Canada, Australia, etc.
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« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2006, 01:13:59 PM »

EXACTLY! and what a great segue for my favorite sport convert bashing. I am tired of converts from western confessions bashing our little "t" traditions. These are small traditions that are more ethnically based. I left a mostly convert community recently because they wresteled hold of the board and in my opinion were in the process of creating their own "antiseptic" form of Orthodoxy. Minimal icons, no food fairs, but ladies' teas are OK, design of a new church that would not reflect Slavic or Byzantine architectural forms. I could keep going.

Sorry if I offended, but I've been offended. Don't let my rants dissuade you ComingHome.  Come Home we want you. But remember to respect the forefathers and mothers in the Orthodox faith who had a hand at establishing Orthodoxy in the USA, Canada, Australia, etc.

Well put.  My falling away from Lutheran theology corresponded with a time in my life where I was increasingly becoming disillusioned with Western thought in general.  I found myself increasingly drawn, not to the religion, but to the mindset of my Oriental and Indian friends.  It was the revelation that true Christianity is an EASTERN religion, and what I was practicing was a Western perversion of that religion that interested me in the Orthodox Church.  The Orthodox people that I met taught me that Christianity was not a system of beliefs, but rather a way of life.  The "small t" traditions followed by so many of the "ethnic" Orthodox were actually a result of the Orthodox way of life and not so much ethnicity.  I remember a Serbian priest tell me that one cannot be a Serb and not be Orthodox.  Likewise, if you are Orthodox, regardless of the fact that I was born a German, I was a Serb inside.  I have seen some of this mentality among some of the Greeks and Syrians that I have met, too.  I got the impression that to truly be Greek meant to be Orthodox.  To truly be Russian meant to be Orthodox.  To truly be Serbian meant to be Orthodox.  Rather than my old mindset of "I'm a German who happens to be Lutheran rather than Roman Catholic", I realized that Russian Orthodox meant "I am Orthodox, but I just happen to feel more comfortable with Slavic Culture than Mediterranean" .  This is my veiw as a convert, and I may perhaps be all wet.  The Orthodox culture is so rich because Orthodox Christianity is the completion and crowning point of any culture or ethnicity.  All true philosophy, all true art, all true science, all true beauty finds it fulfillment and completion in Christ, and the Orthodox Church is the Body of Christ.  A sterile Church is the result of a sterile culture, and the emptiness that gave birth to it.  Forgive me if I am wrong or have offended anyone by this.
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« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2006, 03:02:27 PM »

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I found myself increasingly drawn, not to the religion, but to the mindset of my Oriental and Indian friends.  It was the revelation that true Christianity is an EASTERN religion, and what I was practicing was a Western perversion of that religion

The same was true of me. In what I call my wandering in the desert years I eventually found evangelicalism to be bereft of substance. Then I came home.  In my wandering years I was impressed by eastern religions but could not bring myself to convert because in their faith Christ is not God. This I always believed in and could not deny. Orthodoxy is the answer. It is Christianity with substance! With meat!
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« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2006, 03:50:14 PM »

Dear ASERB and PUNCH,

As a cradle Orthodox Christian, starting out as a Carpatho Russian and now OCA, I have grown increasingly weary of hearing about Holy Russia, Holy Antioch, Holy Greece, Holy Serbia, etc., etc., etc. We are in America. I can't believe that either of you feel that it is impossible to have Orthodoxy in America, which is the fullness of the Body of Christ, without also having all the little "t"'s which I feel hinder the spread of Orthodoxy in this country. Our parish has all services in English--every word. We always have a flow of new members--we are growing. These converts have discovered Orthodoxy and have found their faith fulfilled in a truly AMERICAN ORTHODOX parish. We have Russians, Greeks, Serbs, Macedonians, Irish, English, Italians and Slavs--you name, we have it. We are, however, a parish united in the Body of Christ--not united by various ethnic traditions and customs. We still have our Easter baskets on Pascha night, but you are just as likely to see Kentucky Fried Chicken as you are to see Slovenian sausage.

We average about 50 people every Saturday evening for Vespers. Many of these attendees are from the local Greek church--they come to our church because it is in English. A month ago an elderly gentleman from the Greek Church came up to me after the Vesper service with tears in his eyes and exclaimed that this was the first time in 70+ years that he had understood the meaning of the service and how beautiful it was to worship in understanding.

We have about 200 people every Sunday morning and nearly all attend the coffee hour. We have no bingo, no ethnic food festivals, no casino nights. Our parish is funded solely on the tithes of the parishioners.

We are not stuck in pre-revolutionary Russia or any other historical period. We act daily on our mission to build up the body of the Church. This CAN be done without any ethnicity at all. We are living proof. We still have 2 hour Divine Liturgy and there have been no concessions to proper Orthodox worship. People are there because they want to there.

Please don't let your fondness for any ethnic period or custom be a key reason for being Orthodox. The first missionary to North America didn't force the Aleuts to learn Russian, he translated the Gospels into Aleut.

We will never grow as a church until we quit being stuck in time and ethnicity and go forth to evangelize where we are with what God has given us.

May God bless us all!

COWBOY
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« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2006, 03:59:50 PM »

The first missionary to North America didn't force the Aleuts to learn Russian, he translated the Gospels into Aleut.

The Russian Orthodox Church worships in Church Slavonic, not modern Russian. And while much translation was done of prayers and the Bible into the local language, the Russian church in general believes that it is best that ethnic minorities retain a Church Slavonic liturgy. Even after the efforts of my patron, St Stephen of Perm, church services in Komi land are in Church Slavonic, and even though much publishing in the Mari language is of religious texts, the Church still maintains Church Slavonic. So, not a good example.

Now, for what it's worth, I don't have too much complaint about Americans blending a little of their culture with what they have received, provided it's all godly and orthodox. However, very often I see certain American converts actively trying to wipe out nice traditions that do no harm and enrich the local community. It's understandable that people desire an English-language liturgy, but the relish that some take in trampling on ethnic food, holidays, etc. is just wrong and appalling.
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« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2006, 04:12:24 PM »


Now, for what it's worth, I don't have too much complaint about Americans blending a little of their culture with what they have received, provided it's all godly and orthodox. However, very often I see certain American converts actively trying to wipe out nice traditions that do no harm and enrich the local community. It's understandable that people desire an English-language liturgy, but the relish that some take in trampling on ethnic food, holidays, etc. is just wrong and appalling.
[/quote]

I do not disagree that this sometimes happens, but it is when ethnic parishes come to believe that food festivals and other traditions ARE the faith that convert zeal comes into action. I have encountered  many Orthodox Christians who feel that their "church work" is making pierogies, or God forbid, calling the numbers at bingo or tending bar at the church club and that sometimes this prevents them from going to services. This is the perversion of Orthodoxy to which I am referring. One of our local Greek churches just had their festival--but didn't have Vespers on Saturday evening because it interfered with the festival. Orthodoxy is about God--not about food.

COWBOY
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« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2006, 04:20:11 PM »

Orthodoxy is about God--not about food.

Oh, Cowboy--welcome!  What a wonderful sentiment to hear from someone born and raised in the faith.  Please continue to post here.  Yes, indeed; anything that would take the place of engagement with the services (and through them, God) is a distraction.  Not wrong in and of itself, but an unwelcome distraction when it's given precedence over evangelism and active participation in the liturgical life of the Church.

It's understandable that people desire an English-language liturgy, but the relish that some take in trampling on ethnic food, holidays, etc. is just wrong and appalling.

I agree that it's unhealthy to desire to wipe out all traces of the ethnic roots of the faith, for much of it is the Christianization of a human culture, rather than the exclusive culturization of Christianity.  I think the food, the music, the festivals, and the tones are important links with the Holy Spirit's work in other cultures who have transferred the gospel to us.

However, language is another matter, and one that's close to my heart, as I'm a language teacher.  I think the vast majority of the divine services needs to fit the linguistic needs of the community; this means that I believe that Russians should worship in Russian (not Slavonic), that Ukranians should worship in Ukranian (not Slavonic), that Greeks should worship in modern Greek translations of the Liturgy (not the ancient Greek that is difficult for modern Greeks to understand), that Hispanics should worship in Spanish, and that those living in American for whom English is their first language should worship primarily in English.

The repeated prayers (Lord, have mercy/Grant this, O Lord/Holy God etc) are a good place to insert the "Old Country Languages" along with the English.  But understanding--and by understanding I don't mean "just the gist of it" understanding, but fluent understanding in the natural, first language of the hearer--of the divine services is crucial to folks taking their faith seriously, believing that it has anything at all to say to them in their lives.  To insist on liturgies in a language that a minority of the people understand (or a version of the language that is much less clear than their native tongue would be) is to get in the way of the Great Commission of our Lord, God and Savior, as well as the building up of the faithful.

My 2 cents, fwiw.
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« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2006, 04:28:40 PM »

Thank you for the welcome, Pedro. I am happy to be here.
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« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2006, 04:32:13 PM »

Cowboy

Well bully for you do want a prize?  You are so Orthodox let me bow to your piety.  For your info I believe that the services should be in English, but don't berate me if I want to hear a little Slavonic now and then. Oh and you fully support your church on your tithes. You get a special star in heaven. For your info,the food fairs that we hold are also an evangelistic tool. Many non-Orthodox or soon to be Orthodox are introduced to the faith through their stomachs. Apart from the English language, American culture, in my opinion, with its relativism and if it feels good do it attitude has NOTHING to offer traditional Orthodoxy!
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« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2006, 04:32:58 PM »

Woa there, Cowboy!

I have nothing against Othodox Liturgy in English.  It has always been my understanding that the Liturgy was to be performed in the language of the people.  What I am discussing is the mindset of the American people vs the mindset of some of the more "ethnic" people.  Most of the Russians, Arabs, Serbs and the like that I have met come from cultures that are far different than that of the United States.  Considering that the Middle Eastern and Greek peoples have been Orthodox for 2000 years, and the Russians for 1000 years, these cultures have had much time to infuse themselves with an Orthodox mindset.  This is quite different than the Mason inspired, Democratic and Capitalist society that has been created over here.  Even though the United States considers itself "Christian", I would say that we are as close to a pagan society as we can get.  What I am refering to when it comes to my love for "ethnic" Orthodox people is not the language of the service (the ROCOR parish that I attend when I can make it uses English), or whether or not they eat gyros or hamburgers after the service.  What I am referring to is the Orthodox mindset that I have seen in the "ethnics" (ok, not all of them) that comes from 1000 or more years of history vs the very Western and very secular culture that is a part of so many converts such as myself.  I agree with you that the United States could become an Orthodox country.  But it cannot do so as it stands today.  To become "Holy Russia", Russia had to throw off its Viking and Pagan past.  The Greeks also had to give up some of their culture.  Are not the Epistles of Paul filled with encouragement of the Jews and Greeks to give up some of their former selves and be reborn in Christ?  This could happen in America today.  However, for now, I have noticed myself learning more from some of the "ethinc" Orthodox with thier ancient traditions of Orthodoxy than I do from some of the converts such as the ex-AEOM groups.

So, to conclude, I never stated that it was impossible for there ever to be an Othodox America equaling or exceeding the glory of Holy Russia or whatever.  I also did not say that we will get there by eating gyros and swilling ouzo.  In fact, I believe very much that a person can be Orthodox within the confines of much of their ethinicity.  In this regard I believe much the same as Sundar Singh, who believed on could be a Christian while still being Indian and not English.  What I DID try to say was that some of the "ethnicity" that we American or European converts often make fun of should be viewed more closely to determine if the practice in question is simply ethnic, or if the ethnicity of the practice is reflective of the Orthodox tradition of that Church.
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« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2006, 04:35:27 PM »

Quote
So, to conclude, I never stated that it was impossible for there ever to be an Othodox America equaling or exceeding the glory of Holy Russia or whatever.  I also did not say that we will get there by eating gyros and swilling ouzo.  In fact, I believe very much that a person can be Orthodox within the confines of much of their ethinicity.  In this regard I believe much the same as Sundar Singh, who believed on could be a Christian while still being Indian and not English.  What I DID try to say was that some of the "ethnicity" that we American or European converts often make fun of should be viewed more closely to determine if the practice in question is simply ethnic, or if the ethnicity of the practice is reflective of the Orthodox tradition of that Church.

AMEN AND AMEN!!!
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« Reply #11 on: August 25, 2006, 04:37:05 PM »

Pedro.

As usual you are the voice of reason. That is why you are a moderator and I am a sinning polemic.
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« Reply #12 on: August 25, 2006, 04:41:55 PM »

I am tired of converts from western confessions bashing our little "t" traditions. These are small traditions that are more ethnically based.

Perhaps converts are tired, not of the little "t" traditions in and of themselves, but of folks treating those traditions as if the Faith itself would fall apart if those traditions--which, as you said, are more ethnically than theologically based--were not observed.

Quote
I left a mostly convert community recently because they wresteled hold of the board and in my opinion were in the process of creating their own "antiseptic" form of Orthodoxy. Minimal icons, no food fairs, but ladies' teas are OK, design of a new church that would not reflect Slavic or Byzantine architectural forms. I could keep going.

"wrestled hold," huh?  Our priest (a cradle) put a mostly-convert board together because he knew we were the ones who, along with a handful of dedicated cradles, devoted time, money and energy to the parish.  I'll admit that it would seem odd to me to have minimal icons and tea and crumpets instead of traditional Orthodox fare, but hey, if that's the culture of the parish (not to mention the surrounding community that the Church is to be a part of), then that's what needs to be done, and nothing about Orthodox Tradition (with a big T) is being compromised by doing that.

That is not to say that I discount your feeling uncomfortable at all, aserb.  But to say that their culture is somehow inherently incompatible with Orthodoxy is a bit much.  May God bless them in what they're doing, if such is done to relate to the surrounding community.

Pedro.

As usual you are the voice of reason. That is why you are a moderator and I am a sinning polemic.

Sarcasm duly noted.   Wink  Sorry you're offended, but I hope you will note that, in my last post, I did say that much of the ethnic cultural traditions are not to be despised.  Neither are they to be exalted to the point of sacrificing the spiritual life of the Church, but they shouldn't be actively disparaged and suppressed by overzealous WASO converts.
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« Reply #13 on: August 25, 2006, 04:46:31 PM »

Now, for what it's worth, I don't have too much complaint about Americans blending a little of their culture with what they have received, provided it's all godly and orthodox. However, very often I see certain American converts actively trying to wipe out nice traditions that do no harm and enrich the local community. It's understandable that people desire an English-language liturgy, but the relish that some take in trampling on ethnic food, holidays, etc. is just wrong and appalling.


I do not disagree that this sometimes happens, but it is when ethnic parishes come to believe that food festivals and other traditions ARE the faith that convert zeal comes into action. I have encountered  many Orthodox Christians who feel that their "church work" is making pierogies, or God forbid, calling the numbers at bingo or tending bar at the church club and that sometimes this prevents them from going to services. This is the perversion of Orthodoxy to which I am referring. One of our local Greek churches just had their festival--but didn't have Vespers on Saturday evening because it interfered with the festival. Orthodoxy is about God--not about food.

COWBOY

Well Cowboy, I'll up the ante by this:  my parish DOES have a food festival and we DO have Vespers DURING the festival and the festival just contributes to paying off the mortgage (in addition to tithes) besides 10% of the REVENUE going to a charity fund.  Additionally, we do retain a little bit of Slavonic and maybe throw in a Greek litany sometimes.  We have lots of American converts besides all those other ethnicities as well.  But I think here is the catch - you first need to define American culture to even be able to have a strictly "American" Orthodox Church.  And there are many things American that are certainly NOT Orthodox and will never be.  Besides some of the obvious like Apple Pie, Hot dogs, BBQs and some others, what we DO know is American is....every culture that has come to this land mixed in.  White-Anglo/Euro-Manifest Destiny-Evangelicals taking over the Gummint <> American Culture.
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« Reply #14 on: August 25, 2006, 04:53:34 PM »

Cowboy

For your info,the food fairs that we hold are also an evangelistic tool. Many non-Orthodox or soon to be Orthodox are introduced to the faith through their stomachs.

Exactly...and what should be one of their primary purposes.
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« Reply #15 on: August 25, 2006, 05:13:34 PM »

Dear ASERB,

I meant you know ill will or disrespect. Neither did I write anything about my personal piety. God knows what a sinner I am. I didn't berate you for wanting to hear a little church Slavoinc or Greek. I was raised with church Slavonic and when I feel in need of re-living my childhood I put on a CD and listen to my hearts content.

What I said about tithing was not about me personally--but about the fact that our entire parish is self-sufficient based on the tithes of the membership.

I am glad that your parish attracts potential converts through their stomachs. We prefer to attract them through the word of God.

While I agree with you that American culture is about as far away from Orthodoxy as you can get--we are really swimming upstream--I would hardly look to Russia or other Western European countries, or Greece for that matter, as beacons of cultural superiority.

We have to act in the faith where we are with what God has seen fit to give us.

Finally, ASERB, this must be a real hot button issue for you to display such such un-Orthodox sentiments toward me personally. I wish you nothing but God's blessings and hope we can dialogue in the future without personal attacks.

Yours in Christ,
COWBOY
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« Reply #16 on: August 25, 2006, 05:24:41 PM »

Exactly...and what should be one of their primary purposes.

Maybe, but I see it as basic survival tool of many parishes. Not a big party - they are lots of work. No one labors like that for fun. I know - my wife and I help support two parishes so we get to work prepping both souvlaki and pirohi.

As far as an evangelizing tool, well, the temple IS open and the priests are very visible and available. If the festivals bring 200 to 10,000 (my home parish gets those larger number) people just to the church grounds, that's a start.
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« Reply #17 on: August 25, 2006, 05:44:02 PM »

What I said about tithing was not about me personally--but about the fact that our entire parish is self-sufficient based on the tithes of the membership.

I am glad that your parish attracts potential converts through their stomachs. We prefer to attract them through the word of God.

1) Again, as is ours....

2) As do we, but the food festival is great and DOES help evangelize.  Plus, how do you attract through the Word of God?  Do you go out into the streets?  What do you do?  How do people know that your parish or Orthodoxy even exists?
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« Reply #18 on: August 25, 2006, 06:12:31 PM »

[quote author=Αριστοκλής link=topic=9819.msg133228#msg133228 date=1156541081]
Maybe, but I see it as basic survival tool of many parishes. Not a big party - they are lots of work. No one labors like that for fun. I know - my wife and I help support two parishes so we get to work prepping both souvlaki and pirohi.

As far as an evangelizing tool, well, the temple IS open and the priests are very visible and available. If the festivals bring 200 to 10,000 (my home parish gets those larger number) people just to the church grounds, that's a start.
[/quote]

Well, Cowboy does have a good point - the food festival SHOULDN'T be needed for basic survival.  It should just be for fun and evangelization.  No, we don't do some ROI study for the festival, but because it is a parish tradition and we OUGHT to do it to help evangelize.

Now, this Greek festival I went to recently while visiting family had some pro's/con's.  It attracted a lot of people, but the biggest con (besides food prices too expensive) was that it was not on the church grounds but at a municipal park.  Granted, the church is in a more remote location, possibly even outside of the city limits, but only having a bookstore run by a couple of monks isn't as good as having a nice temple on site.
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« Reply #19 on: August 25, 2006, 06:36:11 PM »

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I am glad that your parish attracts potential converts through their stomachs. We prefer to attract them through the word of God.

This one is below the belt. Of course it is the Word and the church that makes people Orthodox, but when you go fishing you need some bait or do just put down a dry hook and expect a bite.

Yes it is a hot button because I left an overly convert heavy parish where the forefathers and mothers of the church were disrespected and where the little T traditions, which were not pushed on anybody, were berated.
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« Reply #20 on: August 25, 2006, 07:10:00 PM »

Yes it is a hot button because I left an overly convert heavy parish where the forefathers and mothers of the church were disrespected and where the little T traditions, which were not pushed on anybody, were berated.

And that is uncalled for and unconscionable.  I don't blame you for leaving.  I probably would have, too.
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« Reply #21 on: August 25, 2006, 09:37:49 PM »

Pedro

Quote
Sarcasm duly noted.     

This wasn't ment as sarcasm. I do find you reasonable.  Cool
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« Reply #22 on: August 25, 2006, 10:28:08 PM »

Well, Cowboy does have a good point - the food festival SHOULDN'T be needed for basic survival.  It should just be for fun and evangelization.  No, we don't do some ROI study for the festival, but because it is a parish tradition and we OUGHT to do it to help evangelize.

Yes, a good point. Holy Cross (GOA parish in nearby Mt. Lebanon, PA) has a huge festival attracting thousands. They maintain there about 1000 sq.ft. of vending space full of icons, literature, and devotional items staffed by knowledgeable volunteers headed by nuns who answer questions eagerly.

But they probably also do what we do...an "ROI" study. My Greek parish as two festivals annually - a big one in the fall and a Gyrofest in the spring after Pascha - combined prceeds do not cover priest's salary.

Same result from our ACROD parish's monthly dinner - covers 60% priest's low salary.

Same result from Norfolk's Annunciation Cathedral's festival: Clear $250,000 and breakeven on two priests' salaries, their taxes, insurance, rectory costs - barely, maybe.

Guess the big Greek parish could dispense with the massive festival and reduce the salaries to OCA/ACROD levels and let their clergymen starve and/or get secular jobs to supplement.

We accept the help where and how He gives it to us.

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« Reply #23 on: August 25, 2006, 11:04:33 PM »

Pedro

This wasn't ment as sarcasm. I do find you reasonable.  Cool

D'oh!   Kiss  Stinkin' written word!  Well, gee, thanks!  Sorry I read you wrong, man...  Undecided Embarrassed Lips Sealed
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« Reply #24 on: August 26, 2006, 02:22:39 AM »

[quote author=Αριστοκλής link=topic=9819.msg133264#msg133264 date=1156559288]
Yes, a good point. Holy Cross (GOA parish in nearby Mt. Lebanon, PA) has a huge festival attracting thousands. They maintain there about 1000 sq.ft. of vending space full of icons, literature, and devotional items staffed by knowledgeable volunteers headed by nuns who answer questions eagerly.

But they probably also do what we do...an "ROI" study. My Greek parish as two festivals annually - a big one in the fall and a Gyrofest in the spring after Pascha - combined prceeds do not cover priest's salary.

Same result from our ACROD parish's monthly dinner - covers 60% priest's low salary.

Same result from Norfolk's Annunciation Cathedral's festival: Clear $250,000 and breakeven on two priests' salaries, their taxes, insurance, rectory costs - barely, maybe.

Guess the big Greek parish could dispense with the massive festival and reduce the salaries to OCA/ACROD levels and let their clergymen starve and/or get secular jobs to supplement.

We accept the help where and how He gives it to us.


[/quote]

Again, we meet our expenses SANS festival revenue...and our priest DOESN'T have a secular job and DOESN'T starve (although he should be paid more, but it is up to the parish council).
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« Reply #25 on: August 26, 2006, 04:30:49 AM »

Again, we meet our expenses SANS festival revenue...and our priest DOESN'T have a secular job and DOESN'T starve (although he should be paid more, but it is up to the parish council).

And you are fortunate indeed.

Of course, I never hear such criticisms of evangelical parishes' spaghetti nights, bingo (well, maybe bingo), outdoor cookouts, candy sales, etc. as I read about our productive fund-raising efforts.
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« Reply #26 on: August 26, 2006, 08:54:51 AM »

Good Morning,

Please forgive the fact that I haven't yet learned how to put quotes from previous posts in boxes.

Pedro--I agree with you and was attempting to make the exact point that I think many converts (and cradles, too) resent or are even bewildered by the treatment of litte t traditions and customs as if they were the Faith. In my own parish there was a quite low turnout for the Divine Liturgy on Holy Saturday morning. Why? Most (not all) ethnic parishioners were too busy preparing their Easter baskets for the midnight Pascha service! Priorities a little out of whack.

Aserb--I am really sorry that you felt it necessary to leave your church over little t traditions. This must have been very difficult for you. This does however make my point. These are not essential elements of the Orthodox Way. I would never condone belittling of traditions or berating the fathers and mothers of the church because of them. However, sometimes I think that these traditions become barriers to church growth. We cradle Orthodox are sometimes guilty of not only "guarding the Faith" but of making it an exclusive "club" that converts have to fight their way into. Ethnic cultural traditions are not a part of the Orthodox Faith in my opinion and are no substitute for worhip, prayer, fasting and doing acts of mercy. Have you considered that God may have sent you this trial to test you, to see whether it is the Faith or the traditions that make you an Orthodox Christian?

Elisha--It sounds like your parish festival is a good thing! How is the turnout for Vespers? Are festival attendees as well as parishioners invited and encouraged to attend? I must say I was quite confused by your comment about defining American culture and what part of it is not in conflict with Orthodoxy. Please forgive me if I have mis-interpreted what you have written--but are you saying that "American" food like apple pie, hot dogs and BBQ are not Orthodox? I was not aware that there was "Orthodox food". I will take a hamburger over a cabbage roll or pierogi or a gyro any day of the week (except Wednesday and Friday). Are you suggesting that an Orthodox parish picnic which featured hot dogs, BBQ and apple pie is somehow not Orthodox?
I would hope not. I would consider it a great day for American Orthodoxy when we will no longer be defined by our food, but rather by how we live our lives as a testament to our Faith. This will fuel church growth.

We don't attract converts by "going out into the streets" per se. Of our last 20 converts, 18 were initially invited to attend a Divine Liturgy by a current parishioner and then welcomed with open arms by the rest of the parish. Our evangelization takes place person to person. The other 2 just wandered in and were "smothered by the love of their fellow Christians".

Overall it is hard enough to attract potential converts because of our cradle tendency to be stuck in some prior era of Church history. The beards, the long hair, the hats, the Bishops dressed up like Byzantine Emperors. Most people in America look at us as some sort of sideshow and we certainly don't help ourselves by reinforcing this stereotype through our love of ethnic customs, rituals and food which have nothing to do with Orthodoxy. That is why I view all of these things as barriers--we have to first get potential converts past all the baggage of our own by-gone eras before we have a chance of sharing the WORD with them.

Finally, please forgive the fact that I am expressing my feelings in such a strident way. My childhood parish had 600+ families in the 1960's and now has less than 75. Why? Language! My generation did not understand church Slavonic nor the Slavic language sermons. Cradles of my age know less about the Orthodox Faith than the average convert who studied and CHOSE Orthodoxy. This sad pattern is widespread and must be broken in the current generation if Orthodoxy is to ever achieve its bright promise in North America.

Asking God's Blessings for us all,

COWBOY

p.s. I am an "office-only" poster--no computer at home. Talk to you all next week.
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« Reply #27 on: August 26, 2006, 11:33:55 AM »

Wow...a guy takes a day off and things go CRAZY   Wink Grin

So here is my 2 cents about everything already said. 
 
First of all, Cowboy...welcome to the site!  Good luck getting all your posts in at work! 

Secondly, I really wanted to say something about the "language" discussion being held. 

I think that as Orthodox Christians we need to be really careful on several points. 

1.  We should never go to an extreme.  If we are to have ALL English then we need to be careful.  I've heard of parishes that use English and refuse to say "theotokos" but would rather say "birth-giver of God"  does this not sound pharisaical?? 

2.  I think we need to be realistic as WELL as theological.  If the parish needs an ethnic language then we need to START from there.  HOWEVER, this does NOT mean that we cannot come to a BETTER understanding of our mission here in America, which is to bring the Gospel to all nations. 

3.  I agree with a lot that's being said about small "t" traditions.  There CAN be a lot learned from them, but in my experience a lot of converts don't care to take the time to learn anything from them.  They're "hell-bent" on making sure that THEIR concept of Orthodoxy is vindicated.  This goes back to point 1 about going to extremes. 

4.  I've talked to a number of "ultra-extremists" from the ONLY English side.  The thing that keeps getting to me is their insistance that we have to spread the Gospel in a language that EVERYONE understands.  Their solution to Ethnic parishes is to TEACH them English.  Which is not a bad idea. 

The thing is, what about Spanish?  Are these same people willing to learn Spanish in order to preach to the upcomming spanish-language "take-over" which we all know is happening right now?  I would say that these people are NOT willing to learn Spanish.  So, in effect, they become the very same thing that they "abhore"  they become Ethnically-oriented Orthodox, able only to be a part of and serve ONE community that speaks ONE language.  Just like all of the other Ethnic communities. 

The real problem is, that when you bring up this problem to the "extremists" they just say "we all need to learn English as the founding language of this country, etc."  which is true.  The issue is that there are NO programs (to my knowledge) in the OCA, Antiochians, or any other English based church for Spanish speaking people.  Only in individual parishes is there any kind of work being done to help Spanish speaking people learn English, etc.  Or a Spanish speaking service, etc. 

This is why I put extremism as a FIRST problem.  Yes we need to be zealous about our knowledge of the Gospel and what its trying to tell us to do.  YES we need to spread the Good News to all people.  But we ALSO need to have a better plan and better understanding of each other.  When I talk to "extremist" converts all they try to do is tell me about THEIR goal for the church in America.  What about MY goal as a cradle immigrant?  Even if they are willing to listen, they can't understand.  Believe me, i've tried a LOT. 

In all of these things i'm willing to be wrong, just to make sure that Christ is a part of ALL people that I come into contact with.  I'm not sure that the extremists are willing to be wrong. 

Please forgive me if I focused only on one side of extremism.  I think we are all aware of the problems with Ethnically minded churches.  The thing is, no one is taking an objective look at "American" minded churches, and the problems there.  (I think). 
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« Reply #28 on: August 26, 2006, 04:31:50 PM »

Quote
1.  We should never go to an extreme.  If we are to have ALL English then we need to be careful.  I've heard of parishes that use English and refuse to say "theotokos" but would rather say "birth-giver of God"  does this not sound pharisaical??

SCANDAL!  What's next, will the Serbs stop saying Theotokos and instead translate it as Bogorodica...

Quote
3.  I agree with a lot that's being said about small "t" traditions.  There CAN be a lot learned from them, but in my experience a lot of converts don't care to take the time to learn anything from them.  They're "hell-bent" on making sure that THEIR concept of Orthodoxy is vindicated.  This goes back to point 1 about going to extremes.

It's not that most converts are unwilling to "take the time" to learn anything.  By virtue of being a convert, a convert has already invested more time and energy into Orthodoxy than maybe 90% of their ethnicly Orthodox counterparts.  We already have our families, our cultures and such - that is not why we are converting to Orthodoxy. 
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« Reply #29 on: August 26, 2006, 05:03:47 PM »

Nektarios, 

So...you make fun of me for making an overgeneralization, and then you make one yourself?  Good times... Wink

Your point about Bogorodica is very valid though.  I admit that my example was poor, especially for the points that I provided later.  I appologize that I let my emotions get ahead of me and give a bad example for my argument.  I hope that people understood what I wanted to say anyway...

As for taking time and energy to learn...the only thing that I want to say that is that ANY Orthodox Christian who is not struggling to learn more about their faith, should be. 

Quote
We already have our families, our cultures and such - that is not why we are converting to Orthodoxy.

I really don't understand what you're trying to say/prove here...can you maybe explain this a little bit more/better? 
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« Reply #30 on: August 26, 2006, 05:07:44 PM »


The real problem is, that when you bring up this problem to the "extremists" they just say "we all need to learn English as the founding language of this country, etc."  which is true.  The issue is that there are NO programs (to my knowledge) in the OCA, Antiochians, or any other English based church for Spanish speaking people.  Only in individual parishes is there any kind of work being done to help Spanish speaking people learn English, etc.  Or a Spanish speaking service, etc. 


I also think that it has a lot to do with which "tradition" a person came from when they converted to Orthodoxy.  For my part, I actually prefer the Liturgy to be performed in Slavonic rather than English, as long as the Epistle, Gospel and Sermon are in English.  Why?  I know what the Liturgy says, so I don't need to hear it in my native language.  I have attended Greek Churches where the service books are in Greek / English.  The Serb Church that I occasionally attend has service books in Serbian / English.  I have even seen a service book in Arabic / English.  My personal prayer book contains Pre-Nikonian Slavonic on one side and English on the other.  As long as the Liturgy is performed as written, it is not difficult to know where you are.  And since I have the English translation right in front of me, I feel that I am in unity with the rest of the congregation when I say "Amen" after a litany.  Why I feel this way may have a lot to do with the fact that I come from a Protestant denomination that has a strong liturgical tradition.  One of the things that caused me to doubt my Church was the thought that since Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever more, why does my Hymnal have to change every 40 years?  So, being inclined to be liturgically oriented in the first place, the first thing that I did was study the Liturgies of the Orthodox Church when I was considering converting.  It was, to some degree, the Liturgy that converted me.  As it is, I love the Liturgy in whatever language I hear it.

On the other hand, I can see where a person converting from an Evangelical background would have a lot of problem with a Liturgy in a language that they could not understand.  Evangelicals tend not to realize the importance of the Liturgy, and the importance of preserving it intact from generation to generation.  So, I am in somewhat of a quandry as to what is the best way to handle this.  Is the best way to try to translate the Liturgy from rather fixed languages like Greek and Slavonic into English, and then have to re-translate every few years to keep up with the current English usage?  Or is the answer to teach converts the Liturgy so that they know what is going on independent of the language that they are hearing?  I lean toward the latter.
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« Reply #31 on: August 26, 2006, 05:14:27 PM »

Quote
I really don't understand what you're trying to say/prove here...can you maybe explain this a little bit more/better?

I hear it from ethnically Orthodox people all the time - converts must hate Greece/Serbia/Russia etc. because they don't learn the language, all the folk customs and such.  Yet that is the ethnically Orthodox people completely not understanding converts.  Converts already have their own heritage and want to keep it.  St. Sava even let you keep your pagan household gods...just call them patron saints now, Sts. Cyril and Methodios let you keep your own language (i.e you say Bogorodica not Theotokos) etc.  That is all that most converts want, to pray in our language and live within our culture.  
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« Reply #32 on: August 26, 2006, 05:20:35 PM »

[quote author=Νεκτάριος link=topic=9819.msg133358#msg133358 date=1156626867]
I hear it from ethnically Orthodox people all the time - converts must hate Greece/Serbia/Russia etc. because they don't learn the language, all the folk customs and such.  Yet that is the ethnically Orthodox people completely not understanding converts.  Converts already have their own heritage and want to keep it.  St. Sava even let you keep your pagan household gods...just call them patron saints now, Sts. Cyril and Methodios let you keep your own language (i.e you say Bogorodica not Theotokos) etc.  That is all that most converts want, to pray in our language and live within our culture.  
[/quote]

My only point with this is that it goes both ways.  St. Sava did "let us" keep Serbian pagan household gods.  The Serbs also made many changes based on Greek/Byzantine culture as well.  Why is our most ancient form of chanting Byzantine?  Why did our kings build monasteries and become saints? 

The whole thing, to me, is that there has to be a middle.  If living in your culture is...pagan...there may need to be changes. 

As for language, I think we both agree (I think) that we need to have more English.  But there are a lot of semantics there to be hashed out. 
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« Reply #33 on: August 26, 2006, 05:31:46 PM »

Quote
For my part, I actually prefer the Liturgy to be performed in Slavonic rather than English

Which is just plain silly.  If you are going to insist on a language other than the vernacular (or an older dialect thereof) at least be logical and use Greek as that is the language most important to the historical development of Orthodoxy.  

I've just resigned myself to the reality that the Orthodox Church will be nothing more than a dieing out ethnic musuem for at least my lifetime.  
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« Reply #34 on: August 26, 2006, 05:41:51 PM »

"Oh, ye of little faith..."  Cheesy

My birth parish still uses a mix of Greek and English and is exponentially growing...and not from new immigrants. Curiously the English only parishes in the region are not.
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« Reply #35 on: August 26, 2006, 05:44:31 PM »

[quote author=Νεκτάριος link=topic=9819.msg133358#msg133358 date=1156626867]
That is all that most converts want, to pray in our language and live within our culture.  
[/quote]

I can fully understand the language.  Culture is where I have a problem.  I guess my issue is why someone wants to convert to something that they don't like.  I don't see a lot of Orthodox people going door to door and asking us to come to their Church.  Most converts that I have run accross came to an Orthodox Church on their own.  I consider this somewhat bad form to go to another person's house and then spend my time complaining that his house is not like mine.  If someone did this to me, I would tell them "If you like your own home so much, go back to it.  Don't let the door hit you on the way out."  When I became Orthodox, I repented of my heretical beliefs and fled my empty and worldly culture.  The verse about the dog returning to its vomit comes to mind when I want to continue to hold on to my past rather than look forward to the future.  While there are many things about America that I like, American "culture" is not one of them.  Actually, I consider America to be a rather uncultured society which drifts from one fad to another based on whatever Madison Avenue is trying to sell to us today.  Do I really want to exchange whatever culture the Orthodox have for this?  If so, why convert.  I believed in Jesus when I was a Lutheran, and my Baptist friends believe in him, too.  Why convert?  Protestant religion is FAR more in line with American culture than Orthodoxy is.  In fact, if anything, Orthodoxy is almost completely foreign to American culture.
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« Reply #36 on: August 26, 2006, 05:51:39 PM »

[quote author=Νεκτάριος link=topic=9819.msg133364#msg133364 date=1156627906]
Which is just plain silly.  If you are going to insist on a language other than the vernacular (or an older dialect thereof) at least be logical and use Greek as that is the language most important to the historical development of Orthodoxy.  

I've just resigned myself to the reality that the Orthodox Church will be nothing more than a dieing out ethnic musuem for at least my lifetime.  
[/quote]

You lost me.  I thought that I stated my preference, not that I insisted on anything.  I prefer Slavonic because I have more comfort with the Slavic culture than I do the Greek.  As to English, I don't mind that either if you can find a "vernacular" that is reverent, clear to understand, acutally fits the tones, and will not be obsolete in ten years.  The constant change is really the only thing I have against English.  If we could all agree an the English that we are going to use for the rest of my lifetime, I would say "go for it".
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« Reply #37 on: August 26, 2006, 06:29:35 PM »

Part of the reason I feel the way I do is because my own upbring was in the Catholic Church for no other reason than my family is of Polish heritage.  Being young/stupid I had the idealistic idea that Christianity ought to be something more than just an institution that if you are Polish, Italian or French means you are Catholic, German you are Lutheran, English you are Anglican etc.  So in naivette I thought conversion to Orthodoxy was the way to find this real Christianity.  After dealing with the Orthodox church for the last four years it has become readily apparent that the mentality of the vast majority of people I have come into contact with is simply to keep up their church as an ethnic/cultural center. So yeah, I get a little frustrated at the constant attemps (especially by converts) to keep the Orthodox Church an ethnic ghetto. 
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« Reply #38 on: August 26, 2006, 09:17:29 PM »

Hey. I am not asking that all converts take a crash course in litte t traditions. I am asking jsut to respect them. Also this brings me to a larger issue.  Cowboy's church lost 600 families now has it's 75. I do believe that the language and cultural emphasis may have been a barrier to growth. But forgive those hard working founders of your church for not having enough foresight. Your Slavic forefathers and mothers left dirt poor conditions under oppressive and depsotic leaders to scrap and fight to come to the USA. They brought one suit case and the flame of Orthodoxy. They worked hard, sacrificed, built beautiful temples and established monastaries and schools of theology. SHouldn't you and the converts to the church be taught to appreciate those peoples' sacrifice even if they did not have the foresight that we now have for church growth. Also - Church growth are we welcoming converts simpy for the sake of growth and not instilling in them enough of the fundamentals of Orthodoxy. I read that in the early church it took three years to convert. THREE YEARS. Are we sacrificing quality for quantity or do we just need their tithe money? I am not for watering or dumbing down the faith for the sake of quantity. Also the converts I a have met bring a Protestant mindset. And old wise priest once told me that it takes ten years,minimum to develop an Orthodox mindset and I believe him. Heck, I'm so dull it will probably take me til death. Converts I welcome you, but remember who established Orthodoxy in this land even if they were not the greatest evangelists. There ethnocentrism was forged to some extent because they could not or were not permitted access to the larger American society. Have a heart. Show some respect.
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« Reply #39 on: August 26, 2006, 09:35:39 PM »

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Your Slavic forefathers and mothers left dirt poor conditions under oppressive and depsotic leaders to scrap and fight to come to the USA.

My slavic ancestors were forced from their homeland because of the expansionists policy of Russians who are glorified as "holy Russia."  In fact people kiss pictures of the some of the men directly responsible for the occupation of the territory my ancestors lived on. 

I would hope you could understand why some people aren't into glorifying certain cultures.  I'd really like to find an Orthodox Church that I can go to that doesn't tell me I have glorify Russian or Greek culture...or pretend to be something I'm not. 
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« Reply #40 on: August 26, 2006, 09:41:58 PM »

Polish Orthodox Church
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« Reply #41 on: August 26, 2006, 09:55:24 PM »

Converts I welcome you, but remember who established Orthodoxy in this land even if they were not the greatest evangelists.

That sounds like a veiled way of saying "stand in the back, put your checks in the plate, and try not to defile our church."  Nothing like being a second-class member of one's own faith.
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« Reply #42 on: August 27, 2006, 01:05:39 AM »

Wow, my first inter-Orthodox throw down Wink

Seriously speaking:  although I am not a convert as yet, the parish with which I have contact is OCA.  There are indeed some Russian things but also many American.  I would convert if I had to go somewhere everything was totally foreign to me because it is worth anything (learning any new culture) to be a part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.  I hope that doesn't sound corny but I am so hungry to make the leap. 
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« Reply #43 on: August 27, 2006, 02:02:04 AM »

Hey. I am not asking that all converts take a crash course in litte t traditions. I am asking jsut to respect them.

And we are just asking that the cradles be open to accepting new traditions/languages/cultures and coexisting with them alongside their own established ones.  Respect goes both ways; if the cradle Orthodox are unwilling to make room for other cultures' expressions within the Church, they should not then look around in bewilderment and ask why their numbers are dwindling and their congregations graying.
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« Reply #44 on: August 27, 2006, 02:07:34 AM »

Respect is earned.
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« Reply #45 on: August 27, 2006, 02:41:28 AM »

Respect is earned.

Too true.  And since many of these traditions have made this country what it is--the country to which the ethnic Orthodox have immigrated for a better life--this says quite a lot about the need to respect American tradtions, as well.
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« Reply #46 on: August 27, 2006, 07:03:40 AM »

Too true.  And since many of these traditions have made this country what it is--the country to which the ethnic Orthodox have immigrated for a better life--this says quite a lot about the need to respect American tradtions, as well.

See, I think this is the problem. You are asking immigrant "cradles" to respect "American traditions" simply because they are American.
But the "cradles" are bringing traditions from societies and cultures which have been sanctified by the presence (and more importantly, the precedence) of Orthodox Christianity for centuies and millenia. Orthodoxy Christianity has existed on American soil for less than two centuries, and it almost certainly will never become the State religion, let alone have any impact on American culture and traditions. American culture and traditions were born form Protestantism and Roman Catholicism, and are now attending school where the teacher is Secularism. Has it occured to you that the cradles are resistant to them, not because the are "American" but because, they are not based in Orthodoxy?
And isn't it stange that you seem to wish to impose a culture on the Orthodox Church simply because it is a national culture- not because it is particularly Christian?
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« Reply #47 on: August 27, 2006, 03:16:35 PM »

See, I think this is the problem. You are asking immigrant "cradles" to respect "American traditions" simply because they are American.

No.  I respect Greek and Ukranian and Russian traditions because they are cherished traditions of people who are themselves worthy of respect.  I do not dismiss them out of hand just because they are foreign, and I do not accept them simply because they are now used within the Church and have been for years.  The Orthodox traditions observed today were originally pagan and not Christian at all, yet they were brought in, given a chance, baptized, and are now inseparable from the faith expression of millions of Orthodox Christians around the world.  My traditions, then, are not worthy of being dismissed out of hand just because they come from a land that is predominantly Protestant and Catholic.    It seems that once-pagan (!) traditions are worthy of a shot in the Church, but traditions from a culture that at least confesses Christ are to be immediately held under suspicion and relegated to second-class status.  I'm sorry; I don't buy it.

Quote
But the "cradles" are bringing traditions from societies and cultures which have been sanctified by the presence (and more importantly, the precedence) of Orthodox Christianity for centuies and millenia.

...cultures which today are every bit as secular as our own.  So much for that.

Quote
American culture and traditions were born form Protestantism and Roman Catholicism, and are now attending school where the teacher is Secularism. Has it occured to you that the cradles are resistant to them, not because the are "American" but because, they are not based in Orthodoxy?

Doubt it.  Most folks are simply comfortable with what they know.  I don't blame people for this; in fact, I understand the desire to be surrounded by the familiar, especially when living in a country when so much is unfamiliar.  Language, the octoechos, food, slavas, beverages, art, architecture...all of these things are familiar and comforting to ethnic Orthodox, but it is interesting that from one traditionally Orthodox country to the next, these things are radically different.  Apparently these traditions are merely regional variations on the one theme of Orthodoxy...many of which traditions had their base in paganism.  So again, if pagan practices can be baptized and used within the Church, it stands to reason that American culture (and those of other western countries like England and Australia, for example) can also be given a fair shake with regards to its food, drink, language, music, celebrations, art and architecture; the only difference between where American cultural expressions are now compared to the pre-Orthodox-union cultural expressions of Greece, Russia, etc, is that time (and the faithful) have been allowed to offer said expressions to the Lord in the Church and see them transfigured.  For some reason, westerners need not apply to this process.

Quote
And isn't it stange that you seem to wish to impose a culture on the Orthodox Church simply because it is a national culture- not because it is particularly Christian?

The nerve of those Americans...imagine...wanting to eat familiar food, speak a familiar language, celebrate a July 4th liturgy with a barbecue afterwards, have English- (or Spanish-!) language iconography in our churches...such radical, dogma-warping traditions would surely spell the end of Orthodoxy in this country.  Good thing so many folks fight tooth and nail against all of that...  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #48 on: August 27, 2006, 03:38:16 PM »

Please define "American Traditions". Beyond teepees, lodgehouses, wikkups, and the annual bison chase, most everything I see is of European origin - even language, anyway.
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« Reply #49 on: August 27, 2006, 03:56:08 PM »

Thanks Ozgeorge for opening up my eyes to how wonderful cultures with Orthodox people are.  Where would we be without a staggeringly high abortion rate in Greece, pornography all over the place, rampant alchoholism in Russia, vitriolic anti-semetism, xenophobia, militant nationalism etc...... yes it is good to preserve those cultures that are a bastion of Orthodoxy and not take anything from Heathen America.  Thank you all actually - these discussions have helped me see something I have long been contemplating.  Adieu!
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« Reply #50 on: August 27, 2006, 04:02:50 PM »

Tsk, tsk...still in a testy mood, I see.
I thought for a second you were describing American culture, Νεκτάριος.
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« Reply #51 on: August 27, 2006, 04:27:45 PM »

[quote author=Αριστοκλής link=topic=9819.msg133465#msg133465 date=1156707496]
Please define "American Traditions". Beyond teepees, lodgehouses, wikkups, and the annual bison chase, most everything I see is of European origin - even language, anyway.
[/quote]

I described some above.  And yes, it is (Western) Euro-American that I'm referring to.

[quote author=Αριστοκλής link=topic=9819.msg133468#msg133468 date=1156708970]I thought for a second you were describing American culture, Νεκτάριος.[/quote]

Nope...those are indeed the "societies and cultures which have been sanctified by the presence (and more importantly, the precedence) of Orthodox Christianity for centuies and millenia" that ozgeorge mentioned.  In such a light, it makes no sense to insist on preserving the traditions that come from those places, but not those that come from here, since there's not really a substantial difference in the societies at large...
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« Reply #52 on: August 27, 2006, 04:37:05 PM »


Nope...those are indeed the "societies and cultures which have been sanctified by the presence (and more importantly, the precedence) of Orthodox Christianity for centuies and millenia" that ozgeorge mentioned.  In such a light, it makes no sense to insist on preserving the traditions that come from those places, but not those that come from here, since there's not really a substantial difference in the societies at large...
Fine; now please enumerate the offensive traditions as found in our parishes so I can understand the rub here.

(Gotta' go to work now...bummer - see you guys tomorrow morn)
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« Reply #53 on: August 27, 2006, 05:13:49 PM »

[quote author=Νεκτάριος link=topic=9819.msg133466#msg133466 date=1156708568]
Thanks Ozgeorge for opening up my eyes to how wonderful cultures with Orthodox people are.  Where would we be without a staggeringly high abortion rate in Greece, pornography all over the place, rampant alchoholism in Russia, vitriolic anti-semetism, xenophobia, militant nationalism etc...... yes it is good to preserve those cultures that are a bastion of Orthodoxy and not take anything from Heathen America.  Thank you all actually - these discussions have helped me see something I have long been contemplating.  Adieu!
[/quote]

Things like pornography and abortion were imported mainly through American influence. They come from the very same culture that some here say Orthodoxy in America should embrace.
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« Reply #54 on: August 27, 2006, 06:00:52 PM »

We just had our church picnin. Hamburgers and hot dogs and not a pirohi in sight  Grin
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« Reply #55 on: August 27, 2006, 06:29:44 PM »

[quote author=Νεκτάριος link=topic=9819.msg133466#msg133466 date=1156708568]
Thanks Ozgeorge for opening up my eyes to how wonderful cultures with Orthodox people are.  Where would we be without a staggeringly high abortion rate in Greece, pornography all over the place, rampant alchoholism in Russia, vitriolic anti-semetism, xenophobia, militant nationalism etc...... yes it is good to preserve those cultures that are a bastion of Orthodoxy and not take anything from Heathen America.  Thank you all actually - these discussions have helped me see something I have long been contemplating.  Adieu!
[/quote]

You're not very good at sarcasm Nektarios! You really shouldn't attempt it until you have mastered delivering it with finesse! Cheesy
You and Pedro just don't get it. Read what I said again. What I said was that the immigrant cradles are bringing Orthodox Traditions form their cultures. Of course they reject Secular American Traditions just as they reject things which have seeped into the cultures of their countries of origin. It is they who are screening traditions and culture as being Orthodox or not before admitting it into the Church. On the other hand, you guys just want to impose a culture and tradition on the Church simply because it is "American" (or more correctly, white anglo-saxon protestant American). So, who is really being "ethnic" and "nationalist", and worst of all, "phyletist" when it comes to the Church?
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« Reply #56 on: August 27, 2006, 06:48:24 PM »

Things like pornography and abortion were imported mainly through American influence. They come from the very same culture that some here say Orthodoxy in America should embrace.

Pornography is as ancient as human civilization, found even in cave drawings that were made before written language, America can hardly be accused of being the source of pornography; America is simply the predominant of Culture for the latter part of the 20th Century, and which culture naturally comes pornography.
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« Reply #57 on: August 27, 2006, 07:43:22 PM »

Pornography is as ancient as human civilization, found even in cave drawings that were made before written language, America can hardly be accused of being the source of pornography; America is simply the predominant of Culture for the latter part of the 20th Century, and which culture naturally comes pornography.

The notion of freedom of press, which springs from the godless Enlightenment and is a key part of American society, is what has allowed pornography to boom in countries where formerly heavy penalties were placed on its production and dissemination.
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« Reply #58 on: August 27, 2006, 08:01:35 PM »

The notion of freedom of press, which springs from the godless Enlightenment and is a key part of American society, is what has allowed pornography to boom in countries where formerly heavy penalties were placed on its production and dissemination.

Of course, pornography still existed in those countries prior to our advocating that godless notion of human freedom; oh and, by the way, the Enlightenment began in FRANCE...not America Roll Eyes
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« Reply #59 on: August 27, 2006, 08:12:24 PM »

Of course, pornography still existed in those countries prior to our advocating that godless notion of human freedom;

But it was accessible to only an elite, and it certainly wasn't plastered on every billboard and sold off every magazine rack.

Quote
oh and, by the way, the Enlightenment began in FRANCE...not America Roll Eyes

Yes, but America was the first place where an entire society was built on its ideals. The French Revolution came over a decade after the American revolution. And America takes the lead in trying to export notions of licentiousness to every country on Earth.
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« Reply #60 on: August 27, 2006, 10:03:46 PM »

[quote author=Αριστοκλής link=topic=9819.msg133475#msg133475 date=1156711025]Fine; now please enumerate the offensive traditions as found in our parishes so I can understand the rub here.[/quote]

Sigh...

I knew this was going to happen...happens every time I try to defend something American; I'm accused of "not liking" or "being offended by" or "stifling" other countries' traditions.

Αριστοκλής -- they're not offensive to me in the slightest.  I love the food, the music, the language--I'm not about to insist that we whitewash our church experience.  But the Church is broad enough, I think, to keep these traditions from Greece/Russia/wherever and allow for uniquely American culture within the life of the Church, as well.  Notice again: everything I enumerated in my posts above has NOTHING to do with the Faith itself, but rather has to do with customs that differ greatly even in various traditionally Orthodox countries.  So these things CAN be different without altering or corrupting the faith.  The only difference is that Greek/Russian/Bulgarian/whatever belivers can have their food/music/language/liturgical customs/etc brought into the Church from without, but we cannot because we're "American," and somehow unbaptizeable.

Sucks to be us, I guess.


You and Pedro just don't get it. Read what I said again. What I said was that the immigrant cradles are bringing Orthodox Traditions form their cultures.

And how did they become Orthodox traditions?  Some Greek folks decided to take a cultural aspect and incorporate it into the life of the Church somehow, and this was accepted by all due to a common cultural understanding.  After a few generations, this became the norm, and it was an Orthodox tradition.  Ta da!  We, however, are automatically disqualified from ever even starting any kind of process like this, because we're pornographic to the core, apparently, incapable of contributing anything worthwhile to the Church from our own culture.

Thanks for that.

Quote
On the other hand, you guys just want to impose a culture and tradition on the Church simply because it is "American" (or more correctly, white anglo-saxon protestant American). So, who is really being "ethnic" and "nationalist", and worst of all, "phyletist" when it comes to the Church?

I'll say it again: We want to attempt to begin the process of baptizing our culture.  We are told by many in the Church that America is the great Satan and that the only hope for converts is to become Greek/Russian/whatever--eat the food, learn the language, don't rock the boat--because there's certainly nothing that America could actually offer the Church.  You tell me, George: what is so "unOrthodox" about wanting to eat familiar food in coffee hour, worship in a familiar language, celebrate an Independence Day liturgy or Akathist of Thanksgiving with a barbecue afterwards, have icons in our churches that state the names in our first language, or have a Bible study or a men's or women's support group?  These things are pooh-poohed, not because they have been weighed carefully and found wanting, but because they are either American/western (and therefore wrong), or because "that's what the Protestants do" (referring to the Bible study here--I had no idea the Orthodox tradition was to remain biblically illiterate, but apparantly some think so).

Someone, please, help me out: other than being a change from what was done before (and therefore being uncomfortable for those who're used to Church serving one, comfortable purpose), how are these things wrong, unworthy, or to be rejected?  Because when I talk about American traditions, these are the ones I mean!
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« Reply #61 on: August 27, 2006, 10:15:24 PM »

Look this whole post has gooten way off track and I probably was one of the initial posters that sent it off track. CommingHOme is Coming Home. Let us welcome him. Now he can see from our posts that we are not perfect and if he is looking for the perfect church it's not here.

I have onel ast thing to say. I predict that within 25 years that there will be a schism in the Orthodox Church in the US wherein churches that are primarily comprised of converts will break away with their own metropolitan, most likely taken from the ranks of the Antiochians.

Right here in SE PA there are two Antiochian churches less than 10 miles from each other. One is predominantly Arab - American and the otherly primarily mixed with converts and non-ARab-Americans.


WHY?. THEY BOTH draw parishoners from the same geographic area. Why can't they combine their parishes and draw on each others strengths. Because one wants English and no little "t" traditions and the other wants Arabic and Middle Eastern traditions. Why can't both bend.

Because it involves power and status and cash. Converts equal cash. If we offend either they may leave for the nearest Russian or Greek parish and cart their cash with them.

SIGH
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« Reply #62 on: August 27, 2006, 10:34:56 PM »

Yes, but America was the first place where an entire society was built on its ideals. The French Revolution came over a decade after the American revolution. And America takes the lead in trying to export notions of licentiousness to every country on Earth.

Well that credit we can accept, french philosophers may have helped begin the enlightenment of the human race, but we were the first to actually take that step out of the dark ages of ignorance and superstition and establish a new republic based on reason and enlightened philosophies. As far as the exporting of 'licentiousness,' what we have exported is freedom, the way people have used this freedom has varied substantially, and if they wish to use it for 'licentiousness,' we have not forced it upon them, but I thank God that we have given them the opportunity to pursue it if that is what they desire.

As far as the posistion of the Church, I do not believe the Church needs tyranny to get her way, rather she should respect the freedom of the human person and force nothing upon anyone, let all who come to the Church come of their own free will and let all who do not wish to come to the Church leave freely.
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« Reply #63 on: August 27, 2006, 10:40:19 PM »

As far as the posistion of the Church, I do not believe the Church needs tyranny to get her way, rather she should respect the freedom of the human person and force nothing upon anyone, let all who come to the Church come of their own free will and let all who do not wish to come to the Church leave freely.

So it's perfectly okay to be surrounded by smut and have to bring up our children in such an environment, just so that non-believers feel better? Please.
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« Reply #64 on: August 28, 2006, 12:05:31 AM »

So it's perfectly okay to be surrounded by smut and have to bring up our children in such an environment, just so that non-believers feel better? Please.

It is far more preferable than to bring up children in ignorance and tyranny; the faith is advanced through an increase in knowledge and freedom, not through ignorance, naivete, and autocracy.
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« Reply #65 on: August 28, 2006, 12:09:21 AM »

It is far more preferable than to bring up children in ignorance and tyranny; the faith is advanced through an increase in knowledge and freedom, not through ignorance, naivete, and autocracy.

The Fathers tell us to avoid every unbecoming thing. Saying that we have to expose ourselves to sin and temptation just to be pure reminds one of that sin-so-you-can-repent heresy so popular in late imperial Russian.
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« Reply #66 on: August 28, 2006, 12:23:22 AM »

The Fathers tell us to avoid every unbecoming thing. Saying that we have to expose ourselves to sin and temptation just to be pure reminds one of that sin-so-you-can-repent heresy so popular in late imperial Russian.

You are told to avoid temptation, not to enslave your neighbour in order that you may keep him from temptation. I seem recall something about a removing of a plank from our own eyes before removing specks from our neighbours.
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« Reply #67 on: August 28, 2006, 05:46:30 AM »

The only difference is that Greek/Russian/Bulgarian/whatever belivers can have their food/music/language/liturgical customs/etc brought into the Church from without, but we cannot because we're "American," and somehow unbaptizeable.

Pedro, I don't think this is the case. I don't think American culture is seen as "unbaptisable". I think there are two reasons why there may be reistence to it in the Church (as there is to "Australian culture" here in Australia):
Firstly, there is a problem that somehow it is expected to be considered "natural" that the Church should adopt American (and Australian) culture simply because it is present in those countires. "You are in this country, therefore you must adopt it's ways", well no, that doesn't work in the Church. Orthodoxy was not invited to America and Australia in order to enlighten them.  St. Herman of Alaska came to one of "the Americas", however, he did not come to "America", but rather to Russian Territory, so the first Orthodox Parish Church established on US soil was, in fact, Greek. The reality is that Orthodoxy arrived in America and Australia along with all the other "poor and huddled masses yearning to be free.", vulnerable yet hopeful, and was processed in Ellis Island and Villawood along with every other immigrant. So when people start saying things like "Orthodoxy must adopt American culture if it wants to stay in America", that is akin to raping a refugee which has sought refuge with you. Rape is the non-consensual forcing of oneself on a vulnerable victim, threatening them if they do not comply. And what is the Church being threatened with? The one thing she fears above everything else- schism. And not only has she been threatened with it, it has happened: the Oecumenical Patriarchate will not recognise, nor have communion with the OCA. Forcing things is not how we do things in the Church, and this is the result.
Secondly, people seem to speak of "American" and "Australian" culture as though they are monocultures. Here in Australia, even our politicians still use the turn of phrase "True Blue Aussie" to refer to someone the nation is proud of. However, "True Blue Aussie" is a phrase which originated in the dark days of the "White Australia Policy" in which people were refused entry into Australia based on the color of their skin and their ethnicity. "True Blue Aussie" meant "blue eyed and blonde haired", as though, only they could be truly considered "Aussies". And for all the lip service Australia pays to "multiculturalism", when Australia talks about "Australian Culture" it really means "True Blue Aussie Culture". Now that's fine, but why should "True Blue Aussie Culture" become the dominant culture in a supposedly multicultuaral Nation in which "True Blue Aussies" are in fact a minority, and in the Church in which "True Blue Aussies" are an even smaller minority? Is it simply because the "True Blue Aussies" are the one's who hold the vast majority of power in Australian Government thanks to the old school tie? So we have to give up one lie or the other. Either our societies are not the "multicultural melting pots" they claim to be, or the culture we are seeking to impose on the Church is not "American" or "Australian", but rather "Anglo-Saxon/Frankish".
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« Reply #68 on: August 28, 2006, 10:30:47 AM »

[quote author=Αριστοκλής link=topic=9878.msg133401#msg133401 date=1156642918]
Polish Orthodox Church
[/quote]

I was told by people who lived in Poland that there are not many actual Poles in the Polish Orthodox Church. In the South they are Ruyns/Lemkos and in the north Byelorussians and Great Russians.  Being the account of one person, I therefore ask if they are right, or mistaken.

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« Reply #69 on: August 28, 2006, 12:56:12 PM »

[quote author=Αριστοκλής link=topic=9878.msg133465#msg133465 date=1156707496]
Please define "American Traditions". Beyond teepees, lodgehouses, wikkups, and the annual bison chase, most everything I see is of European origin - even language, anyway.
[/quote]

Wait in line, buddy.  I asked it first on pg 1 when addressing Cowboy.  Tongue

Yes, people.  THESE are what we need to talk about.  I think the biggest misunderstanding for many WASPish converts though is that they mistakenly think "American" Culture is SOLELY defined BBQ, Apple pie, Capitalism, blah blah.  Anyone ever hear of "Fusion" cooking?  I like it that I can find a Thai Chicken California Pizza Kitchen frozen pizza in Safeway (or get one fresh at a restraunt).  (Cowboy, I hope this helps answer your question from pg 1 - I can expand more later, but I am posting from work like you.)
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« Reply #70 on: August 28, 2006, 01:19:10 PM »

As always, I come away from a thread like this a little bit offended and a little bit enlightened.

The only reason that we have such ethnically charged parishes is because folks came to these shores to escape persecution in their own countries, and brought the faith with them.  Many parishes were very insular and didn't care much for converts, and those type are still around today.  Orthodoxy remains all together too well hidden, covered in ethnic pride and the walls that places before others.  It's not the average American's fault that Orthodoxy took so dag blasted long to arrive on this land mass.  ORthodoxy tends to move at a dead snail's pace anyway.
We can't accurately pin pornography, or abortion or any other sin squarely on the American culture.  Pornography and abortive "birth control" methods have been around about as long as man has known about sex.  It's not limited to any one continent.  If any of you think that the rigidly controlled muslim man is automatically pure minded, simply because his culture regulates skin exposure-think again. 
All we have is one small Greek parish, and I welcome the exposure to Hellenic history and culture for my many children.  I will never be a Greek person though.  I probably won't learn Greek other than what I pick up, because I am busy teaching Spanish which they will actively use in America (it's our national language after all!  Angry )
I personally don't get bogged down in all the ethnic nonsense in Orthodoxy.  We are all born on soil God planned for us to be born on.  WE had no choice in that regard, so pretending superiority based on regions of the planet looks quite absurd. It's hard enough to be Orthodox in America as it is. 
And for the record, we grill burgers at our church picnics, make traditional greek desserts for the nativity bake sale, and traditional lamb feasts after Pasha.  But our little convert family will bring in some killer seven cheese mac/cheese to that event to fatten things up.
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« Reply #71 on: August 28, 2006, 04:36:36 PM »

I was told by people who lived in Poland that there are not many actual Poles in the Polish Orthodox Church. In the South they are Ruyns/Lemkos and in the north Byelorussians and Great Russians.  Being the account of one person, I therefore ask if they are right, or mistaken.

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I don't doubt it...I was teasing Νεκτάριος
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« Reply #72 on: August 29, 2006, 10:25:21 AM »

Pedro,

This thread has taken quite a turn since I last looked. One thing that I am having a difficult time understanding is why anyone feels it is necessary to link Orthodoxy with ANY culture. If anything, I feel that Orthodoxy is "counter-culture"--any culture, whether it be Russian(anybody remember communism?), Greek, Serbian, Macedonian, etc. Anytime the church has been officially linked to the secular state, nothing good has happened. Just look at how the dress of Bishops and Priests have been adapted from the dress of SECULAR Byzantine authority from ages past. The beards, long hair, hats and Bishops dressed up like Byzantine Emporers.

I agree with you that many Churches have become "comfortable" retreats for those who have founded them--it is like a club that has become so far removed from the Gospels and the mission of the Church to "build up the Body of Christ" as to be unrecognizable as Orthodoxy.

A few weeks ago I was invited to a local Greek Orthodox Church. One parishioner asked if I wanted to visit their bookstore. I was so disappointed to find posters of Greece, books on Greek culture, etc.--but not an Orthodox Study Bible, Icons or anything remotely resembling Orthodox materials. My wife joked (not funny--more sad) that it felt like being in a Greek travel agent's office.

The other thing that I am having difficulty understanding are the little t traditions that many reference do do not spell out--are we talking about head coverings/dresses for women, the "proper posture" for worship, Churches with pews--what exactly are the ethnic and American traditions that we are doing battle over?

I am also hardpressed to understand how anyone who uses English as a first language could state that they prefer the Divine Liturgy in Church Slavonic or Ancient Greek. The Liturgy is not a "performance" that we come to observe. We are supposed to participate in worship, to hear the Word of God, to respond in prayer and thanksgiving.

The growth of the Orthodox Church in America is hindered most, in my opinion, by cradles and converts who want Orthodoxy in America to be a mirror image of Orthodoxy in some other country or era. Just take a look at St. Tikhon's Seminary--on a recent visit there my wife and I weren't sure at times if we were in America or or in 18th Century Russia. Two seminarians from Uganda (who we know well and went to visit) related that they were being forced to learn Russian--to "help them with their eventual ministries in Uganda". This struck them and us as ridiculus. There is generation of priests being trained there who I sadly feel are attracted more to Russian culture than they are to Orthodoxy, who will be assigned to a church and make there first order of business the tearing out of pews, introduction of the curtain on the Iconostas where before there was none, introduction of Church Slavonic where previously only English was used, requiring women to wear head coverings and never to wear pants. This is not a hypothetical, this has already happened to a church in our deanery. The result--loss of about 60% of parishioners.

I think this site is invaluable in exchanging ideas and opinions. We should use it to understand each other more fully. I think we all want the same thing--to see Orthodoxy grow in numbers and depth of Faith. I guess if we can separate Orthodox Traditions from cultural traditions, we can go a long way toward spreading Orthodoxy in America.

Pedro, I don't know if this was the help you were looking for or not.

COWBOY


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« Reply #73 on: August 29, 2006, 11:18:51 AM »

Wait in line, buddy.  I asked it first on pg 1 when addressing Cowboy.  Tongue
I would think the elements of American culture that should be addressed in Church would include Thanksgiving Day, Fathers & Mothers Day. At my OCA Church, we commemorate September 11 with a litany for the dead.

I wonder if we could claim that Dunkin' Donuts at your coffee hour is the nose of the American cultural camel inside the tent.
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« Reply #74 on: August 29, 2006, 11:59:15 AM »

A few weeks ago I was invited to a local Greek Orthodox Church. One parishioner asked if I wanted to visit their bookstore. I was so disappointed to find posters of Greece, books on Greek culture, etc.--but not an Orthodox Study Bible, Icons or anything remotely resembling Orthodox materials. My wife joked (not funny--more sad) that it felt like being in a Greek travel agent's office.
And this thing is sad indeed!

The growth of the Orthodox Church in America is hindered most, in my opinion, by cradles and converts who want Orthodoxy in America to be a mirror image of Orthodoxy in some other country or era. Just take a look at St. Tikhon's Seminary--on a recent visit there my wife and I weren't sure at times if we were in America or or in 18th Century Russia. Two seminarians from Uganda (who we know well and went to visit) related that they were being forced to learn Russian--to "help them with their eventual ministries in Uganda". This struck them and us as ridiculus. There is generation of priests being trained there who I sadly feel are attracted more to Russian culture than they are to Orthodoxy, who will be assigned to a church and make there first order of business the tearing out of pews, introduction of the curtain on the Iconostas where before there was none, introduction of Church Slavonic where previously only English was used, requiring women to wear head coverings and never to wear pants. This is not a hypothetical, this has already happened to a church in our deanery. The result--loss of about 60% of parishioners.
Pews:  a Protestant innovation.  Should be jettisoned.
Curtain:  traditionally Orthodox.
Head coverings:  also traditionally Orthodox...remember that passage by St. Paul?
Pants:  agree with you there though.  No one has yet state a reasonable argument yet that a pants suit for women is not modest or is "crossdressing".
Slavonic:  agree again here...tough situation.  As far as having to learn it at St. Tikhon's, that surprises me.  I thought that would only be the case at Jordanville.

Cowboy,
You seem to be somewhat confused yourself on what you know is traditional Orthodox vs ethnic customs.  Besides, it is impossible to divorce Orthodoxy from all cultures, but to slowly, through a time-tested organic process to baptize new cultures to be Orthodox.  Try reading Fr. Michael Oleksa's book "Orthodox Alaska".
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« Reply #75 on: August 29, 2006, 12:24:47 PM »

Elisha,

I guess this is where we need more discussion. Is having pews or not having pews critical for proper Orthodox worship? Is an Iconostas without a curtain a bad thing? Can a woman not worship properly without a headcovering?

I would never say that I am without confusion, but I want to be clear on what are the "essential" elements of Orthodox worship and practice. My parish has pews, no curtain, and no women wear head coverings--even the "old country babas" are bare-headed. I guess some would say--"is abomination", but our parish is growing and thriving and I would have a hard time with someone trying to make the case that we are not true Orthodox Christians in worship and practice.

COWBOY
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« Reply #76 on: August 29, 2006, 02:01:11 PM »

Cowboy,
Maybe the question you need to ask yourself instead is if these deviations from traditional Orthodoxy are cultural (e.g. dress style, food, etc.) vs heterodox (i.e. Protestant - like pews).  The former can be reconciled/baptized a lot easier than the latter.
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« Reply #77 on: August 29, 2006, 02:05:49 PM »

I love it! Another pew thread. On one hand we read here so much the lack of an American tradition in Orthodoxy - but let one or two originally western (American) things show up in our parishes and it's "wall-off" time.
This from a "No pews/no organs" man.
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« Reply #78 on: August 29, 2006, 02:12:12 PM »

Firstly, there is a problem that somehow it is expected to be considered "natural" that the Church should adopt American (and Australian) culture simply because it is present in those countires.

Well, I think we may be talking past each other, and it might help to address specific issues (perhaps we could begin with the ones in my posts above, unless you'd prefer to talk about others) rather than just talking about "American culture" or "Australian culture" as a generality.

BTW...I'm sorry -- to you and to the rest of the readers of this thread -- for being so snappy in the other posts.  I get that way over some issues.  Need to watch that, 'specially as a mod...  Undecided

If anything, I feel that Orthodoxy is "counter-culture"

I agree, which is why I think what Elisha did--address specific issues one by one--is the way to go here, as we're judging custom X within the Church as the community of the Church, and not necessarily as members of a particular human culture.  I agree with you; I don't think any culture--American or otherwise--needs to be admitted wholesale to the Church, since the Church is a culture unto itself.

Anytime the church has been officially linked to the secular state, nothing good has happened.

Well...it DID fascilitate the spread of the gospel around the world a heckofalot more easily than if we had to do it underground, being persecuted....

Just look at how the dress of Bishops and Priests have been adapted from the dress of SECULAR Byzantine authority from ages past. The beards, long hair, hats and Bishops dressed up like Byzantine Emporers.

I listened to Fr. Thomas Hopko's lectures on the Apocalypse recently, and I agree that it would do us good to "reclaim" some of the original liturgical imagery that is present in that book...rather than reflecting the Imperial Court, our clergy/sanctuaries/etc. would reflect the heavenly worship much more directly.  We'll see what, if anything comes of that thought process within the Church.

A few weeks ago I was invited to a local Greek Orthodox Church. One parishioner asked if I wanted to visit their bookstore. I was so disappointed to find posters of Greece, books on Greek culture, etc.--but not an Orthodox Study Bible, Icons or anything remotely resembling Orthodox materials. My wife joked (not funny--more sad) that it felt like being in a Greek travel agent's office.

Shows you what people really care about and what they're there for, huh?  Sad....

I am also hardpressed to understand how anyone who uses English as a first language could state that they prefer the Divine Liturgy in Church Slavonic or Ancient Greek. The Liturgy is not a "performance" that we come to observe. We are supposed to participate in worship, to hear the Word of God, to respond in prayer and thanksgiving.

What was that thing that St. Paul said?  "Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue" (1 Cor. 14:19)...that goes for English-speaking (or whatever-speaking) American citizens, as well as recent immigrants, which is why allowances ought to be made when there's a legitimate immigrant population that honestly does not understand English, imo.

Two seminarians from Uganda (who we know well and went to visit) related that they were being forced to learn Russian--to "help them with their eventual ministries in Uganda".

Well, of course, because you know there are so many pockets of Serbians and Ukranians in EAST AFRICA.  Geez, oh man...<deep breath>...OK...calm....

The result--loss of about 60% of parishioners.

Even if this went the other way--all English intro'd, pantsuits, no head coverings, etc--I think there's wisdom in the adage, "No changes for at least a year when you arrive as a new priest."  People are people and don't take kindly to dramatic regime changes at the hands of the priest (or anybody else).
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« Reply #79 on: August 29, 2006, 02:14:43 PM »

Elisha,

Do you think the absence of pews is a BIG T Tradition? One essential for proper Orthodox worship? I am not being combative, I just really want to know what people consider to be BIG T Traditions versus little t ones.
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« Reply #80 on: August 29, 2006, 04:37:05 PM »

I know one thing.  No piece of wood except for the Cross is going to make or break my salvation.   Wink Grin

That means that I think its a little T.  Yes you can have a lot of spiritual help from not having pews.  But like I said...its not a question of Dogma.  Its a personal style of spiritual advancement.  If it helps you pray better to have them, then do.  If it hurts you, then don't. 
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« Reply #81 on: August 29, 2006, 05:07:59 PM »

Very well said and I couldn't agree with you more.
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« Reply #82 on: August 30, 2006, 02:13:50 AM »

Elisha,

Do you think the absence of pews is a BIG T Tradition? One essential for proper Orthodox worship? I am not being combative, I just really want to know what people consider to be BIG T Traditions versus little t ones.
COWBOY
I'm going to deliberately evade your question since I think it is loaded and from the wrong approach.  There is no reason to HAVE pews.  Again, it is a HETERODOX innovation - not even secular cultural item that could be considered.  Pews change how Orthodox services function.  They arrange people into neat rows, hindering the "active" part about worship that involves movement such as crossing oneself, metanias, prostrations and such.  They turn the service from active worship into a performance by the "pastor".

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« Reply #83 on: August 30, 2006, 03:19:53 AM »

speaking of languages and pews.I for one think the liturgy should be translated to the American Native Language. As for pews, that should be left up to the different jurisdiction. You have to at least have something to sit on for the Elderly and for people who can't stand for long periods of time.
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« Reply #84 on: August 30, 2006, 03:23:04 AM »

speaking of languages and pews.I for one think the liturgy should be translated to the American Native Language.

Which will increasingly be Spanish.

Quote
As for pews, that should be left up to the different jurisdiction. You have to at least have something to sit on for the Elderly and for people who can't stand for long periods of time.

Even the pew-less Orthodox churches have enough chairs scattered around the edges of the room for the infirm. As for the elderly, some do need to sit down, but in Romania they prefer to stand and don't look like they want to be coddled. The existence of either group is not a sufficient argument for introducing pews to Orthodox worship.
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« Reply #85 on: August 30, 2006, 07:56:27 AM »

speaking of languages and pews.I for one think the liturgy should be translated to the American Native Language. As for pews, that should be left up to the different jurisdiction. You have to at least have something to sit on for the Elderly and for people who can't stand for long periods of time.

Been done for the Aleuts. Which others have you in mind?
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« Reply #86 on: August 30, 2006, 08:24:36 AM »

Quote
Pews change how Orthodox services function.  They arrange people into neat rows, hindering the "active" part about worship that involves movement such as crossing oneself, metanias, prostrations and such.  They turn the service from active worship into a performance by the "pastor".

I've seen a lot of inactive worshippers in pewless churches. It's not the pew it's your heart. What is it with you people who think that you have to be ultra-orthodox to be Orthodox?
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« Reply #87 on: August 30, 2006, 08:36:21 AM »

What is it with you people who think that you have to be ultra-orthodox to be Orthodox?

I don't see going pewless as "ultra-Orthodoxy". It's pretty obvious that the Church had its worshipers stand for most of its history, and even Christ himself told us "When you stand praying...".
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« Reply #88 on: August 30, 2006, 10:23:22 AM »

I'm just curious. What do people do in pew-less churches during the sermon? Do they sit on the floor or remain standing? Or are there folding chairs for this purpose?
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« Reply #89 on: August 30, 2006, 10:27:24 AM »

Is having pews or not having pews critical for proper Orthodox worship? Is an Iconostas without a curtain a bad thing? Can a woman not worship properly without a headcovering?
Pews do get in the way of doing a prostration (when needed) or bowing to the floor when crossing one's self. This makes them a very bad thing IMHO because they subtract essential expressions of humility from Orthodox worship.

In contrast, I don't believe the curtain contributes much to worship.

On the covering of heads, it is an act of humility in certain cultures that does not translate into American culture. If a woman decides to adopt this practice during her spiritual journey, it's probably a good thing but just going along for appearance would be pretty meaningless.
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« Reply #90 on: August 30, 2006, 10:29:52 AM »

What do people do in pew-less churches during the sermon? Do they sit on the floor or remain standing? Or are there folding chairs for this purpose?
Some sit on the floor or on the chairs around the perimeter while others do keep standing.

I was reminded that at the time of John Chrysostom, the parishoners stood during the sermon while the priest sat (this being part of the respect shown towards a "teacher").
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« Reply #91 on: August 30, 2006, 10:31:47 AM »

I've seen a lot of inactive worshippers in pewless churches.
I've no doubt of that, however, sitting on your rear encourages inactivity. It has been shown that people are more attentive while standing.
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« Reply #92 on: August 30, 2006, 11:10:51 AM »

Pews do get in the way of doing a prostration (when needed) or bowing to the floor when crossing one's self. This makes them a very bad thing IMHO because they subtract essential expressions of humility from Orthodox worship.

In contrast, I don't believe the curtain contributes much to worship.

On the covering of heads, it is an act of humility in certain cultures that does not translate into American culture. If a woman decides to adopt this practice during her spiritual journey, it's probably a good thing but just going along for appearance would be pretty meaningless.


Our parish has the pews spaced far enough apart (close to 3 feet) to allow worshippers to both bow and make prostrations in the pews. During Lenten services which have many prostrations everyone just "spreads out" and some step out into the aisles or back of the church as prostrations approach.

I agree with you about the curtain.

I agree with you about headcoverings also--although I must say that my wife was taken aback once when visiting a church out of town (ROCOR) when a member of that parish approached her from behind and draped a scarf over her head with a hissing directive to "keep your head covered". She "turned the other cheek" but suffice it to say that this was not a pleasant experience.
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« Reply #93 on: August 30, 2006, 11:40:18 AM »

I do not disagree that this sometimes happens, but it is when ethnic parishes come to believe that food festivals and other traditions ARE the faith that convert zeal comes into action. I have encountered  many Orthodox Christians who feel that their "church work" is making pierogies, or God forbid, calling the numbers at bingo or tending bar at the church club and that sometimes this prevents them from going to services. This is the perversion of Orthodoxy to which I am referring. One of our local Greek churches just had their festival--but didn't have Vespers on Saturday evening because it interfered with the festival. Orthodoxy is about God--not about food.

COWBOY

I have attended Serbian and Greek parishes almost my entire life. I have NEVER encountered the type of person you describe. Cultural traditions are considered important in my parish, but the practice of the faith always comes first. And we do have Vespers every year durring the Festival. And no parish that I am familiar with (I'm in California) plays bingo. Even the Catholic parishes here have given that up.
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« Reply #94 on: August 30, 2006, 12:20:14 PM »

And no parish that I am familiar with (I'm in California) plays bingo. Even the Catholic parishes here have given that up.

Well in my part of the world (Ohio) bingo is a still a staple of most Catholic churches. The largest Orthodox churches in our area (in size, not people) have all been financed through bingo which continues unabated today(several jurisdictions). Parishioners of these parishes sometimes have stated that "without bingo we would all have to pay more". One large Greek Orthodox parish in our area had to raise "dues" when 3 solid days of rain coincided with their annual "Greek Festival"--washing away their profits.
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« Reply #95 on: August 30, 2006, 02:39:11 PM »

I have attended Serbian and Greek parishes almost my entire life. I have NEVER encountered the type of person you describe. Cultural traditions are considered important in my parish, but the practice of the faith always comes first. And we do have Vespers every year durring the Festival. And no parish that I am familiar with (I'm in California) plays bingo. Even the Catholic parishes here have given that up.

California is VERY different than everywhere else in the country.  Especially if you're talking about Serbian churches.  You should visit me in Chicago, where our entire CHURCH centers around the food festival.  Bingo has made or broken entire parishes. 

The statements people are making arn't unfounded.  But neither are they the rule.  90% of parishes have never heard English used in church, except for "foreigners" to the faith, and even then its rare.  (I'm exagerating a little, but i'm not that far off)
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« Reply #96 on: August 30, 2006, 04:37:38 PM »

A few thoughts.

It seems to me the Eastern churches have been formed and grown in a specific framework and in a specific manner; that is always taking in and building on a received tradition.  The obvious example is how Christianity was transmitted from the Byzantines to the Slavs.  This transformation, because it was a mass cultural movement, trickled down in to and affected every part of society.  The customs that grew up around the church formed an overall cultural context, or in other words a common reference part for everyone in the culture.  These things made up a way of life, which I think is why it is so difficult to break down the church in to distinct components of “religion” and “culture”.  They are intertwined at too many levels, and the small traditions as people like to call them are there to reinforce and compliment the big ones.

I think one of the many problems with the creation of “American Orthodoxy” (which to me has nothing to do with the use of English as a liturgical language) is it lacks the critical component of cultural transformation.  What we are really talking about is co-existence, because Orthodoxy in this country is so small.  So when the old world cultures that brought Orthodoxy to this country are removed (and I have heard this idea seriously proposed and actually put in practice), what will take its place?  I have seen some of the effects of this, and to me there are some worrisome developments.

Now, before anyone stands up and accuses me of being a raging phyletist, I’m not.  I’m simply saying we should not reject what came before us, but build on it.  The customs that come along with the church can be one of the most significant ties that can bind a community together, and by extension reach those outside.

Two more things, then I’ll shut up.

Someone, somewhere, mentioned Alaska as an example of the church adapting to native culture.   I would agree with that in the sense that the Russian missionaries took the right approach in adapting the church to complement and not crush native culture as happened elsewhere in the New World.  The obvious example is the fact that they translated the religious texts the people needed.  However, one need only go to Alaska today to find that even though it is a native church (and has been now for a long time) it is also still distinctly Russian in character and feel.  It is still called the Russian Orthodox Diocese of Alaska.  What they did was build on the Russian aspect of the faith, they didn’t throw it out.

Finally, related to the last point is the issue of language.  I personally feel the language used should fit the needs of the community and should be able to be readily understood by those attending the liturgy.  I find it no small irony that the jurisdiction most committed to ethnically cleansing the church to make it purely American, is also one that retains the use of Elizabethan English in all of its liturgical texts.
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« Reply #97 on: August 30, 2006, 04:59:19 PM »

  I find it no small irony that the jurisdiction most committed to ethnically cleansing the church to make it purely American, is also one that retains the use of Elizabethan English in all of its liturgical texts.


Which Jurisdiction are you referencing?
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« Reply #98 on: August 30, 2006, 06:42:59 PM »

Which Jurisdiction are you referencing?

yes, welkodox, please do tell.
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« Reply #99 on: August 30, 2006, 06:48:44 PM »

I think one of the many problems with the creation of “American Orthodoxy” (which to me has nothing to do with the use of English as a liturgical language) is it lacks the critical component of cultural transformation.  What we are really talking about is co-existence, because Orthodoxy in this country is so small.  So when the old world cultures that brought Orthodoxy to this country are removed (and I have heard this idea seriously proposed and actually put in practice), what will take its place?  I have seen some of the effects of this, and to me there are some worrisome developments.

Fair point, but this still goes back to my question on earlier pages of this thread, which was NOT meant to be rhetorical:  What IS American culture and how is it defined?  How many of us converts here are NOT White former Protestants?  American culture is NOT what just many of us white people think it is.  How many are Latin or Hispanic backgrounds?  Asian?  African?
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« Reply #100 on: August 31, 2006, 03:04:50 AM »

The American Naitive language. what I am talking about is the Language of the American Indian  to be translated from all the the American Native Nations for the Divine liturgy
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« Reply #101 on: August 31, 2006, 07:46:51 AM »

I find it no small irony that the jurisdiction most committed to ethnically cleansing the church to make it purely American, is also one that retains the use of Elizabethan English in all of its liturgical texts.
That's hardly surprising given the practice of modern translations of the Bible to focus on "inclusive" or "gender-neutral" wording instead of teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. At least the older texts are a known quantity.
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« Reply #102 on: August 31, 2006, 07:49:14 AM »

The American Naitive language. what I am talking about is the Language of the American Indian  to be translated from all the the American Native Nations for the Divine liturgy

I am not sure a ONE language exists for them or even if it/they is/are written iodioms.
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« Reply #103 on: August 31, 2006, 08:13:03 AM »

Of course, you all realise that the reductio ad absurdum of all this is that the Language of the Church should be Esperanto.
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« Reply #104 on: August 31, 2006, 08:32:35 AM »

I'm more for Volapük.
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« Reply #105 on: August 31, 2006, 08:37:55 AM »

I'm more for Volapük.
Volapük estas la lingvo de herezuloj! Longa viv Esperanto!
(Eng: "Volapük is the language of heretics! Long live Esperanto!")
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« Reply #106 on: August 31, 2006, 09:31:11 AM »

Fair point, but this still goes back to my question on earlier pages of this thread, which was NOT meant to be rhetorical:  What IS American culture and how is it defined?  How many of us converts here are NOT White former Protestants?  American culture is NOT what just many of us white people think it is.  How many are Latin or Hispanic backgrounds?  Asian?  African?

You could write a book (and I'm sure somebody has) about what American Culture is or isn't.  Certainly it will be different depending on your background, race, etc.  I'm sure my perception of American culture varies in some ways from than that of my wife whose Mother and extended family came here from Asia in the 1970's.

Perhaps discussing something as broad as what is American culture isn't that helpful anyway.  I think one could reasonably assume that those likely to convert to Orthodoxy will be coming from other confessions, that is they will already have an existing religious grounding.  So maybe it makes sense to narrow the focus down to what is American Christian religious culture like (which will affect the church not only through conversion, but simply by the fact that Orthodoxy co-exists with so many other ecclesial communities and is vastly outnumbered by them).  What are the hallmarks of American Christian religious culture then that might enter and influence the church?  Individualism? Distrust of authority? Iconoclasm? Anti-Monasticism? Latent gnosticism?  What is the risk, or where have these shown up, given the fact that we're talking not about the church transforming the culture, but the church attempting to carve out a niche in the culture?

That's hardly surprising given the practice of modern translations of the Bible to focus on "inclusive" or "gender-neutral" wording instead of teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. At least the older texts are a known quantity.

I'll admit I'm not well informed enough on the topic of modern Biblical translation to comment on whether or not this statement is true.  I don't see how this applies however, unless modern Biblical translators have taken to moonlighting in the field of translating Orthodox liturgical texts.

My point is there seemed to be a current running in this thread that equated use of a foreign language in the divine services as a negative because it could not be comprehended by some of the existing faithful or to those outside.  Undoubtedly, there is truth, depending on the circumstances (the language, the make up of the congregation and so on).  Use of a language other than English in part or in whole in and of itself is not a bad thing, and may very well be a good thing.

The irony to me is that the jurisdiction that is most firmly committed to rooting out the ethnic composition of Orthodoxy in America (starts with an "A" and ends with "chian"), has in many ways simply substituted an Anglo centric ethnicity in its place.  One significant area where this shows up is through the use of an archaic form of English (that one could argue would not be easily comprehensible to some people) in all of its fixed and variable liturgical material.
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« Reply #107 on: August 31, 2006, 09:40:49 AM »

The irony to me is that the jurisdiction that is most firmly committed to rooting out the ethnic composition of Orthodoxy in America (starts with an "A" and ends with "chian"), has in many ways simply substituted an Anglo centric ethnicity in its place.  One significant area where this shows up is through the use of an archaic form of English (that one could argue would not be easily comprehensible to some people) in all of its fixed and variable liturgical material.


For most Orthodox young people (any age really) Elizabethan English may as well be Church Slavonic! I am having trouble seeing why it is so difficult to use modern English in a completely accurate and respectful manner in worship.
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« Reply #108 on: August 31, 2006, 09:50:51 AM »

I am having trouble seeing why it is so difficult to use modern English in a completely accurate and respectful manner in worship.
If the Church is to be truly open to all without distinction, then the obvious choice is Esperanto.
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« Reply #109 on: August 31, 2006, 09:54:58 AM »

Of course, you all realise that the reductio ad absurdum of all this is that the Language of the Church should be Esperanto.

Esperanto is a cult, and regardless of the existence of two (quite liberal) Christian Esperanto groups, the core of the movement is quite anti-Christianity.
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« Reply #110 on: August 31, 2006, 10:02:07 AM »

For most Orthodox young people (any age really) Elizabethan English may as well be Church Slavonic! I am having trouble seeing why it is so difficult to use modern English in a completely accurate and respectful manner in worship.

A.C.R.O.D. seems to have no problem with English as far as I have experienced.
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« Reply #111 on: August 31, 2006, 10:03:56 AM »

For most Orthodox young people (any age really) Elizabethan English may as well be Church Slavonic! I am having trouble seeing why it is so difficult to use modern English in a completely accurate and respectful manner in worship.

I think the above is a slight exaggeration.  I grew up with traditional English in the Lutheran Church and by being exposed to it regularly I learned it (which is how one learns language after all).  In my opinion, this higher form of lanugage is necessary to precisely convey truths and to maintain a level of majesty.  When Sts Cyril and Methodius created Church Slavonic, they did not actually use a vernacular but created a language for Orthodox use that had elements of Greek, etc.

Just my two cents.
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« Reply #112 on: August 31, 2006, 10:05:51 AM »

Esperanto is a cult, and regardless of the existence of two (quite liberal) Christian Esperanto groups, the core of the movement is quite anti-Christianity.
But even if that were true, why couldn't Esperanto be "baptised"?
Surely, if we all want a Church free of attachments to ethnic customs and traditions which unites all men and women into one Body of Christ, then a common, global language which is international and not unique to one particular culture and ethnicity is the way to go- and the Church should lead the way in this.
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« Reply #113 on: August 31, 2006, 10:20:39 AM »

Esperanto is a cult, and regardless of the existence of two (quite liberal) Christian Esperanto groups, the core of the movement is quite anti-Christianity.

Thanks for the link to your paper. Very well written and thought out. I cannot agree with Ozgeorge though (even if Esperanto was not exposed by CRCulver), that all Orthodox Christians in America would have to learn a completely new language for worship. This seems absurd. Is Esperanto commonly spoken by Orthodox Christians in Australia--or were you being sarcastic?
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« Reply #114 on: August 31, 2006, 10:22:38 AM »

But even if that were true, why couldn't Esperanto be "baptised"?
Surely, if we all want a Church free of attachments to ethnic customs and traditions which unites all men and women into one Body of Christ, then a common, global language which is international and not unique to one particular culture and ethnicity is the way to go- and the Church should lead the way in this.

The core of the movement, those who organise all the congresses, represent Esperanto to other NGOs and governments, and get all the funding, is made up of anti-Christian political extremists such as Communists (several prominent people in UEA), or adherents of shady religious sects such as Oomoto or Brazilian Spiritism (activists in important national groups). There is also among many Esperantists a strong devotion to Zamenhof and his universalism, such as placing pictures of him in their home in an altar-like fashion, as well as singing his universalist hymns, that is about as anti-church as you can get outside of Freemasonry. While many have, for various reasons, grown unhappy with the movement and tried to use Esperanto independently of it, ultimately all such attempts have come to naught.

Esperanto is unique to one particular culture: the Esperanto culture. Over its 120-year history, the Esperanto has gained many peculiar customs. Being a speaker of Esperanto and attending the congresses means accepting those customs. If you don't stand up and sing Zamenhof's anthem "La Espero" during the inaugration of the Universala Kongreso, buy lots of original literature in Esperanto, or if you refuse to laud the Esperanto music scene at the youth congresses, people will see you as some kind of rebel.
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« Reply #115 on: August 31, 2006, 10:25:15 AM »

This seems absurd. Is Esperanto commonly spoken by Orthodox Christians in Australia--or were you being sarcastic?

He must be sarcastic. In Russia, Ukraine, and Romania, three Orthodox countries I've spent lots of time in and, formerly, knew the Esperanto movement in, the E-ists there were never Orthodox, nor were they, if Christian at all, very devout in whatever other church they claimed adherence to.
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« Reply #116 on: August 31, 2006, 10:26:38 AM »

For most Orthodox young people (any age really) Elizabethan English may as well be Church Slavonic! I am having trouble seeing why it is so difficult to use modern English in a completely accurate and respectful manner in worship.
I find it impossible to believe that a few "Thee's" and "Thine's" could create such befuddlement.
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« Reply #117 on: August 31, 2006, 10:29:08 AM »

all Orthodox Christians in America would have to learn a completely new language for worship.
Dominus vobiscum! That's unheard of! No Church has ever worshipped in a language other than the vernacular! Omnes Angeli, oa pro nobis! Wink



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« Reply #118 on: August 31, 2006, 10:30:23 AM »

When Sts Cyril and Methodius created Church Slavonic, they did not actually use a vernacular but created a language for Orthodox use that had elements of Greek, etc.

Old Church Slavonic is based on the vernacular of Solun. And while there are some "artificial" elements in it, namely calquing of the Greek in certain lexical items and in syntax, the language was not much different than late Common Slavonic, and would have been readily understandable by any Slav at the time.
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« Reply #119 on: August 31, 2006, 10:35:47 AM »

Old Church Slavonic is based on the vernacular of Solun. And while there are some "artificial" elements in it, namely calquing of the Greek in certain lexical items and in syntax, the language was not much different than late Common Slavonic, and would have been readily understandable by any Slav at the time.

If I had wrote that OCS was vernacular, you would have pointed out it had elements from Greek and was not entirely natural.  Tongue Kiss

My point was of course that it's not like St Cyril and Methodius would have walked into a Brooklyn subway station, a North Carolina pit barbeque establishment, or even took their cue from NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams (Tom Brokaw was so much better!) and used that for liturgy if they were in America in 2006.  They took a vernacular and brushed it up.  In the same way, traditional English in worship is just English with a higher register.

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« Reply #120 on: August 31, 2006, 10:36:26 AM »

For most Orthodox young people (any age really) Elizabethan English may as well be Church Slavonic! I am having trouble seeing why it is so difficult to use modern English in a completely accurate and respectful manner in worship.

Cowboy, I think you’ve hit on something rather interesting. (and the issue is not a few thee's and thou's)

The OCA, of which you are a member I believe, is actually not uniform in regards to this topic.  Most use the 1967 translation of the liturgy, which could probably be described as a moderate update of the language from the Hapgood style.  A smaller proportion use the translation of Archbishop Dmitri which is similar in style to the antiquated form of English used by the Antiochians.  To my knowledge the more modernized version that has been proposed is not out (although in places you may have your oddities like the typikon of New Skete).

So again, the irony I pointed out is before us.  The convert centric Antiochians use an archaic English translation, as does probably the most convert heavy section of the OCA (the diocese of the South).  The Greeks, who usually serve as the ready made whipping boy of real or supposed cradle abuses and ethnocentrism, use a thoroughly modern (but not gender neutral) style of English in their translated liturgical texts.  When Anastasios said the following

Quote
  I grew up with traditional English in the Lutheran Church and by being exposed to it regularly I learned it (which is how one learns language after all).  In my opinion, this higher form of lanugage is necessary to precisely convey truths and to maintain a level of majesty.

I would say that’s a completely valid opinion, and one probably shared by the convert oriented dioceses and jurisdictions to explain why they use the older forms of English.  To me however, it is really no different than the explanations one would use to justify the continued use of Slavonic or Greek.
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« Reply #121 on: August 31, 2006, 10:50:45 AM »

by the convert oriented dioceses and jurisdictions to explain why they use the older forms of English.  To me however, it is really no different than the explanations one would use to justify the continued use of Slavonic or Greek.


The thing is, when I take my Protestant family and friends to an all Greek liturgy, they don't get it.  When I take them to a liturgy that is in Traditional English, they like it and get it.  So I am not sure if the justifications are the same. But thanks for saying my argument is valid Smiley hehe

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« Reply #122 on: August 31, 2006, 11:13:25 AM »

The thing is, when I take my Protestant family and friends to an all Greek liturgy, they don't get it.  When I take them to a liturgy that is in Traditional English, they like it and get it. 
Anastasios

But why, oh ,why put another barrier between the English-speaking people and the liturgy?
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« Reply #123 on: August 31, 2006, 11:27:21 AM »

The thing is, when I take my Protestant family and friends to an all Greek liturgy, they don't get it.  When I take them to a liturgy that is in Traditional English, they like it and get it.  So I am not sure if the justifications are the same. But thanks for saying my argument is valid Smiley

Perhaps they like and get it because they have an experience like this

Quote
I grew up with traditional English in the Lutheran Church and by being exposed to it regularly I learned it

Whereas your Protestant family and friends have no previous experience with Greek.  Either way, the justification and process to acclimate oneself to archaic English that you've put forth is to me no different than reasons I've heard put forth for continuing to use Slavonic.  Again, I'm not saying using Slavonic is bad or using archaic English is necessarily bad.  I simply find it rather hypocritical to criticize the use of a foreign language while promoting use of a dead form of English.

But why, oh ,why put another barrier between the English-speaking people and the liturgy?

That's really a question for your hierarchs Cowboy, because they have approved and some use a translation of the liturgy that is in Elizabethan English from top to bottom.
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« Reply #124 on: August 31, 2006, 11:32:35 AM »

But why, oh ,why put another barrier between the English-speaking people and the liturgy?

To me, modern English is a barrier to the liturgy because it doesn't express Orthodox thought correctly.

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« Reply #125 on: August 31, 2006, 11:33:16 AM »

Anyone off the street can get the jist of traditional English. They cannot get Greek or Slavonic. I think you underestimate the intelligence of the average American lol.
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« Reply #126 on: August 31, 2006, 11:37:42 AM »

Plus we are talking degrees. Say you are "the average American" and say for the sake of argument you don't speak traditional English or understand it at all. The time taken to learn the jargon would be much less than saying, "here is a book of Greek; start from scratch." I think that people should be taught traditional English vocabulary if they are not famliar with it.

To take it a step further, why stop at modern English? If you are in south central LA, why not do a liturgy in Ebonics? Ebonics IS a valid dialect of English even though most of us hate it, so why not liturgize in it if the claim is that people should not have to learn higher registers to worship?

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« Reply #127 on: August 31, 2006, 11:38:58 AM »

That's really a question for your hierarchs Cowboy, because they have approved and some use a translation of the liturgy that is in Elizabethan English from top to bottom.

That's a red herring; the translations of the liturgy you're talking about are hardly archaic or Elizabethan by any stretch of the imagination.  If you want a prime example of Elizabethen English, pull out a copy of just about anything by Shakespeare and plunk it down next to a copy of the liturgy translation you apparently detest so much.  The liturgy, even with individual words and phrases that aren't common in contemporary English, is far more intelligible than Elizabethan English.  
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« Reply #128 on: August 31, 2006, 11:42:55 AM »

That's a red herring; the translations of the liturgy you're talking about are hardly archaic or Elizabethan by any stretch of the imagination.  If you want a prime example of Elizabethen English, pull out a copy of just about anything by Shakespeare and plunk it down next to a copy of the liturgy translation you apparently detest so much.  The liturgy, even with individual words and phrases that aren't common in contemporary English, is far more intelligible than Elizabethan English.  

Actually that is a good point. the HTM translations, ROCOR translations, and Arch D's translations are more Early Modern English than Elizabethan.
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« Reply #129 on: August 31, 2006, 11:43:08 AM »

I find it impossible to believe that a few "Thee's" and "Thine's" could create such befuddlement.

Exactly.  Most of these whiners (sorry, but that's what they are) have no idea what "Old English" really is.  If they did, then they'd beg and plead for Elizabethan Early Modern English.

For those of you better in the know, I was told that Church Slavonic to modern Russian is like Chaucerian English to Modern English.  Is this a decent analogy?  So the gist of it would be that the older versions would be barely intelligible to the modern lay person?

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« Reply #130 on: August 31, 2006, 12:14:27 PM »

Exactly.  Most of these whiners (sorry, but that's what they are) have no idea what "Old English" really is.  If they did, then they'd beg and plead for Elizabethan Early Modern English.

For those of you better in the know, I was told that Church Slavonic to modern Russian is like Chaucerian English to Modern English.  Is this a decent analogy?  So the gist of it would be that the older versions would be barely intelligible to the modern lay person?



But aren't you making my point? Ask any Orthodox high school kid if it is easier (in terms of understanding and comprehension) to read Shakespeare or Father Thomas Hopko's Rainbow Series. This is not whining--it is a plea for the future of Orthodoxy in this country. If our youth view the Liturgy the same way they view Shakespeare, what kind of future will there be for Orthodoxy in America?

To me, modern English is a barrier to the liturgy because it doesn't express Orthodox thought correctly.

Anastasios

Also I am curious as to what specific Orthodox thoughts cannot/are not being expressed correctly in English?
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« Reply #131 on: August 31, 2006, 12:29:30 PM »

But aren't you making my point? Ask any Orthodox high school kid if it is easier (in terms of understanding and comprehension) to read Shakespeare or Father Thomas Hopko's Rainbow Series. This is not whining--it is a plea for the future of Orthodoxy in this country. If our youth view the Liturgy the same way they view Shakespeare, what kind of future will there be for Orthodoxy in America?

No, he isn't making your point because the languague used in the Liturgy is far more modern than Shakespeare, even with the older words and such in there. 
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« Reply #132 on: August 31, 2006, 12:36:49 PM »

Also I am curious as to what specific Orthodox thoughts cannot/are not being expressed correctly in English?
The personal relationship with God that is clearly stated by using the informal "Thou" instead of the formal "You."  Modern English doesn't even have a formal/informal distinction so that Orthodox element is completely lost.
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« Reply #133 on: August 31, 2006, 12:41:44 PM »

No, he isn't making your point because the languague used in the Liturgy is far more modern than Shakespeare, even with the older words and such in there. 

When I started my reply, the strike mark was not there through Elizabethan. But I would still say--why use early modern English instead of modern English?
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« Reply #134 on: August 31, 2006, 12:45:32 PM »

To me, modern English is a barrier to the liturgy because it doesn't express Orthodox thought correctly.

That's just the heresy of the trilinguals all over again. Crazy translations from certain scholars with agendas might not express Orthodox thought correctly, but any language is capable of expressing the beliefs of the Church, even English in its modern form.
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« Reply #135 on: August 31, 2006, 12:46:58 PM »

The personal relationship with God that is clearly stated by using the informal "Thou" instead of the formal "You."  Modern English doesn't even have a formal/informal distinction so that Orthodox element is completely lost.

Only a linguist or English teacher would know that "Thou" is informal and "You" is formal. I think that most people would say the opposite is true(uneducated Americans that we are).
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« Reply #136 on: August 31, 2006, 12:49:49 PM »

The personal relationship with God that is clearly stated by using the informal "Thou" instead of the formal "You."  Modern English doesn't even have a formal/informal distinction so that Orthodox element is completely lost.

The Uralic languages don't even distinguish between "he", "she", and "it" in the third person singular, along with a host of other differences from the Greek, and yet the Finnish Orthodox Church uses modern Finnish for its liturgy, the Russian Orthodox Church translated much hymnography into Mari, and my own patron St Stephen of Perm translated the writings of the Church into Komi. As I just said before in my last post, most of the arguments for retaining another language or some archaic form of English were soundly answered when St Cyril defeated the Trilingual heretics.

What results when one is so suspicious of translation is a worship of the text itself that is almost Protestant. Any given text on its own always contains ambiguities. However, the liturgy is, or at least should shouldn't be, always on its own, but rather accompanied by catechesis and homiletics that entirely clarify the meaning of the liturgy, regardless of how one-to-one a language is with the Greek.
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« Reply #137 on: August 31, 2006, 01:13:59 PM »

That's just the heresy of the trilinguals all over again. Crazy translations from certain scholars with agendas might not express Orthodox thought correctly, but any language is capable of expressing the beliefs of the Church, even English in its modern form.

Eh, don't throw labels of heresy around so easily there.  It would be heretical to say that English can't express a thought as well as Greek.  But to say that one register or form of English is just as good as another is not something I subscribe to, even though it seems to be something that linguistic relativists like to throw around.  Do you really think Ebonics can convey the thoughts of Orthodoxy as well as a standard American dialect, for instance?  Or, say we admit that all forms of language could express a thought potentially--that doesn't mean they are all of the same cultural approporiateness. Perhaps you are right and modern English can express the thoughts and we don't need to add thee and thou with the -eth and -est endings to be precise.  I think, however, that these archaisms and lofty registers add to the worship experience and help convey the thought in a different context than just using plain speech, even if it is standard educated speech.

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« Reply #138 on: August 31, 2006, 01:25:53 PM »

Do you really think Ebonics can convey the thoughts of Orthodoxy as well as a standard American dialect, for instance?

Yes, of course. The only problem with using AAVE ("ebonics" is not used in the literature and is often considered pejorative as not only ebony-skinned people speak it now) is that it is not the standard language. Which is to say, in our diverse country, those who speak AAVE can understand the language of the media, while speakers of other forms cannot so easily understand AAVE. Therefore, for pastoral efficiency, it's best to use the language of the media. The same is done in Finland. No one here would deny that any given Finnish dialect is as capable of grand thoughts as the others, but because the dialects are so varied, a standard form is used.

Quote
Perhaps you are right and modern English can express the thoughts and we don't need to add thee and thou with the -eth and -est endings to be precise.  I think, however, that these archaisms and lofty registers add to the worship experience and help convey the thought in a different context than just using plain speech, even if it is standard educated speech.

There was no "loftiness" of -eth and -est in the Greek, it was just plain everyday language. The loftiness of liturgy comes in worshiping a supremely awesome God and partaking of the Flesh and Blood of the Crucified and Risen Lord. Thoughts of tweaking the language came only later.
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« Reply #139 on: August 31, 2006, 02:21:09 PM »

To take it a step further, why stop at modern English? If you are in south central LA, why not do a liturgy in Ebonics? Ebonics IS a valid dialect of English even though most of us hate it, so why not liturgize in it if the claim is that people should not have to learn higher registers to worship?

Probably if for no other reason than any hierarch with two brain cells to rub together would understand that the time, effort and money required to produce such a translation of the required liturgical texts would be a colossal waste of time.  Just as when opening a mission the bishops don’t just randomly pick places and hope people show up.

Regarding the language issue, I apologize if I used the wrong terminology to describe the exact style of English used.  I’ll stick to just describing whatever the various styles are as archaic, denoting simply they are not the language that is used commonly today.

Perhaps there are people who can listen to the liturgy in archaic English, or read a prayer book printed in the same language and the meaning of the words is readily apparent to them.  I know some people who this doesn’t happen to be the case for though, both non native speakers of English and a couple of residents of my household who are under the age of seven.

I personally as I have said don’t have an issue with using archaic English; if there are people who like it and find it aids their worship, that’s great.  I like our services which are almost all in what I would call contemporary English with some Slavonic mixed in here and there.  My issue is with those who criticize churches that use languages other than English, but themselves use an archaic form of that language.

I’m not sure if I’m one of the “whiners”, but I can say I don’t believe Cowboy is “whining” if that was directed at him.  I may not agree with a good deal of what he is saying, but to me he clearly wants what he thinks is best for the church.
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« Reply #140 on: August 31, 2006, 02:24:31 PM »

Only a linguist or English teacher would know that "Thou" is informal and "You" is formal. I think that most people would say the opposite is true(uneducated Americans that we are).
Well, I am neither so that rather disproves your initial assertion, doesn't it?

As to the other part, are you then suggesting that the Liturgy must be "dumbed down" for the poorly educated American masses to get it?  I would think that just pointing out what "Thou" really means would suffice.
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« Reply #141 on: August 31, 2006, 02:40:21 PM »

Well, I am neither so that rather disproves your initial assertion, doesn't it?

As to the other part, are you then suggesting that the Liturgy must be "dumbed down" for the poorly educated American masses to get it?  I would think that just pointing out what "Thou" really means would suffice.

I don't know a single soul who uses thee and thou in everday spoken language and I view teaching them the arcane formality of You vs Thou as a terrible waste of time. To me this would be just an unnecessary barrier to understanding the words of the Divine Liturgy. The Liturgy can be done in normal everday English without being "dumbed down".
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« Reply #142 on: August 31, 2006, 02:46:01 PM »

The Liturgy can be done in normal everday English without being "dumbed down".

No, it can't; everyday English is already dumbed down.  To avoid that effect, you're going to have to use a more formal, educated form of English than is the norm for everyday use.
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« Reply #143 on: August 31, 2006, 02:50:37 PM »

No, it can't; everyday English is already dumbed down.

What nonsense. If everyday English is "dumbed down", the koine of the early Church must have been thoroughly moronic.
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« Reply #144 on: August 31, 2006, 03:00:14 PM »

Whilst all future replies on this post beist in Elizabethian English. Dost that please thou? Excuse me whilst I repair to the praetorium to rent thy clothes.
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« Reply #145 on: August 31, 2006, 03:01:48 PM »

Quote
There was no "loftiness" of -eth and -est in the Greek, it was just plain everyday language. The loftiness of liturgy comes in worshiping a supremely awesome God and partaking of the Flesh and Blood of the Crucified and Risen Lord. Thoughts of tweaking the language came only later.

From what I have read, the Fathers wrote and deliberately added archaisms (Atticisms) into the Patristic writings and liturgy.

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« Reply #146 on: August 31, 2006, 03:07:18 PM »

From what I have read, the Fathers wrote and deliberately added archaisms (Atticisms) into the Patristic writings and liturgy.

The Fathers, being educated speakers of Greeks, would have of course been influenced by the literary language of their surroundings. However, all these creeped in centuries after the first Christians. Now, ordinarily calls for the Church to go "back to basics" are misguided, but here one can point to a long tradition in later times of the Church translating prayers and liturgy into the unadorned vernacular of converted peoples. Seriously, if St Stephan lovingly translated holy writings into a language that all the Muscovite elites called "primitive" and "ugly" (Komi didn't even get an exalted literary standard until hundreds of years later), why repeat the same misguided invective against the speech of everyday Americans?
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« Reply #147 on: August 31, 2006, 03:24:47 PM »

From what I have read, the Fathers wrote and deliberately added archaisms (Atticisms) into the Patristic writings and liturgy.

Anastasios

Very true, the Liturgy is a far higher form of Greek than the Koine, and would have been a far more educated and anachronized form of the language than one would have encountered in everyday speech; a form of speech that most could understand fairly well, but that only the most educated could speak or write...somewhat similar to Early Modern English (Elizabethan) compared to current speech.

Oh, and one small note on english linguistics for this subject, most so-called anachronistic translations of the liturgy are not in Early Modern English, which is Elizabethan English, but rather Middle Modern English, which is Victorian English. There are no real linguistic divides between Elizabethan English and Modern English, they are both quite modern and pronounced very similarly. The divides between Old, Middle, and Modern English happened first with the Normand Conquest and the introduction of Old French into Old English creating Middle English, Middle English was never truly uniform because of the several and unique ways in which Old French and Old English could merge. The Beginning of Modern English actually came with Chaucer, who standardized the London dialect, which would, with a vowel shift (or possibly two, the jury's still out on that one) become Modern English within about a hundred years (Chaucer, though technically a Late Middle English writer, really had more in common with his Modern English counterparts than the Early Middle English writers). Ultimately, I question those who claim to be unable to read or understand something written in Middle Modern English, the language is almost identical to what you find in your local fishwrap, and I doubt such a person would even realize the greatest and most significant changes between Middle and Current Modern English (primarially the loss of the subjunctive and a minor decrease in other inflection)...heck, you still say I-me and he-him, what's so hard about thou-thee?
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« Reply #148 on: August 31, 2006, 03:44:39 PM »

How about we use the language of the people and leave it at that? Just because a few radicals want to use ebonics or bastardize what is the normal tongue of English does not mean we have to bow down the whims of, say, 00.3% of the English speaking population.

Just my own thoughts.

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« Reply #149 on: August 31, 2006, 03:50:32 PM »

How about we use the language of the people and leave it at that? Just because a few radicals want to use ebonics or bastardize what is the normal tongue of English does not mean we have to bow down the whims of, say, 00.3% of the English speaking population.

Just my own thoughts.

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I have a better idea, why not just use Greek, the language in which the Liturgy was written...and that would have the added benifit of making this argument moot Wink
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« Reply #150 on: September 01, 2006, 08:08:46 AM »

...I view teaching them the arcane formality of You vs Thou as a terrible waste of time.
And how many seconds would it take to communicate this? 45? Maybe 60? Some waste!
To me this would be just an unnecessary barrier to understanding the words of the Divine Liturgy. The Liturgy can be done in normal everday English without being "dumbed down".
How is learning about the formal "Thou" an obstacle? Removing the understanding does remove the implied personal relationship with God, ergo an Orthodox teaching is diminished.

What is the great fear of educating these allegedly simple-minded Americans to help them understand the Liturgy a little better?

I certainly support the idea of doing the Liturgy in English (although an occasional litany in Slavonic or Greek reminds us that this Liturgy is bigger and older than any of us in the here and now) but that doesn't mean we have to drop to the lowest common denominator. That sort of thinking is what lead the Latins to their guitar masses.
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« Reply #151 on: September 01, 2006, 08:15:15 AM »

Removing the understanding does remove the implied personal relationship with God, ergo an Orthodox teaching is diminished.

As I said before, plenty of languages don't have a one-to-one mapping with Greek. Where are your complaints about Finnish, Mari, or Komi, which are "gender-neutral" by nature? But even if the understanding can't be represented in the liturgy, it can be explained through circumlocution during catechesis and subsequent teaching of the flock.

Quote
but that doesn't mean we have to drop to the lowest common denominator.

You seem to think that an obsolete form of English is automatically "superior" to modern literary language, which is of course a fallacy. Languages don't degrade over time. Modern English has its own formal register which is just as suitable for today's liturgy as Elizabethan English was in its time.

Quote
That sort of thinking is what lead the Latins to their guitar masses.

No, the thinking represented here led to the successful evangelization of dozens of convert peoples. The writings of the Church were not translated into an archaizing form of Slavonic (though stagnation happened latter), Komi, Mari, Aleut, or the languages of Africa were now great gains are had.
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« Reply #152 on: October 11, 2006, 08:04:49 AM »

As I said before, plenty of languages don't have a one-to-one mapping with Greek. Where are your complaints about Finnish, Mari, or Komi, which are "gender-neutral" by nature?
And as I replied before, I'll deal with those when someone attempts to inject them into my English service book. Until then, I'll satisfy myself with fighting the dumbing-down of Liturgical English.
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« Reply #153 on: October 11, 2006, 09:37:27 AM »

Seriously, if St Stephan lovingly translated holy writings into a language that all the Muscovite elites called "primitive" and "ugly" (Komi didn't even get an exalted literary standard until hundreds of years later), why repeat the same misguided invective against the speech of everyday Americans?

Aside from St. Stephen, remember that St. Makarii of Glukharev was censured and punished for attempting to translate the Bible in to modern spoken Russian in the 19th century.  St. Makarii noted at the time that while the Koran was available in modern Russian, the Bible was not.

What should be obvious is that the vast majority of the church favors church languages, in both the services and the texts.  Be it Slavonic, Byzantine Greek, or Middle/High/Old/Whatever English.
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