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Why are some converts so angry? #111526
05/22/02 06:33 PM
05/22/02 06:33 PM
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 26,172
Canada
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Dear Friends,

O.K., I just got an earful from a friend who is a convert about what's wrong with his previous Church.

I've heard it all before.

And I've had enough.

What advice would you give me to relate to him?

Why do you think he is so angry at his previous Church?

Is this symptomatic of many converts?

Alex

Re: Why are some converts so angry? #111527
05/22/02 06:55 PM
05/22/02 06:55 PM
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 1,658
Mexico, Iasi
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I think that this situation is very common among converts. When they enter their new Church (or their new religion) the realize "how bad" was their old religion and seem to be angry with that faith because of their bad experience. (this is frequent among chrsitians that convert to Islam)

In some cases converts change their faith but not their traditional background (you can see that when a fundamentalist protestant converts to Orthodoxy, he is still a fervent anti-catholic and still thinks as a protestant).

A friend from the junior highschool was a heavy metal fan, and loved to wear pentagrams, shirts with devils and those things. One year ago he converted to Islam and became a radical muslim, now he dresses according to the "islamic tradition" and burned (I mean burned, not copied) all his heavy metal records. He was always very anti-christian and he's still like this.

I have a friend

Re: Why are some converts so angry? #111528
05/22/02 07:24 PM
05/22/02 07:24 PM
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 26,172
Canada
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Dear Remie,

In other words, your friend is still on the horns of a dilemma! smile

The friend I am talking about was a former Anglican and became Ukrainian Orthodox.

He hates all things Anglican or RC.

And now he hates all things ethnic Orthodox as these gave him a hard time.

He tried to organize a school and was otherwise very active in the parish.

So active that his spiritual father banned him from Communion for a period for three times since his conversion.

Even his bishop wouldn't answer the door when he came knocking.

And so he joined the OCA.

The problem is, he has now added Orthodox to his hate list!

Alex

Re: Why are some converts so angry? #111529
05/22/02 07:51 PM
05/22/02 07:51 PM
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Posts: 368
New Jersey
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Robert K. Offline
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Although I am not actually a convert but instead a revert, I admit that at times I can get a little hyperactive and somewhat nasty about certain issues. I do sincerly apologize for perhaps spoiling, at times, the polite interfaith relations that pass for the norm on this forum with my polemics (Although I do not apologize for holding the views that I do in any way ut only for perhaops making a pest out of myself for always spouting them around here).

I gues that people like myself who have3 been away from our faith for a long time and come back are just sort of suprised to see all the discord that occurs over that faith from people who have always had it. So again, I dont mean to get everyone annoyed by the things that I say but only wish to speak my voice up about issues which I feel are important and should not just be written off.

Robert K.

Re: Why are some converts so angry? #111530
05/22/02 07:57 PM
05/22/02 07:57 PM
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Canada
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Dear Robert,

No one is pointing fingers at you, Basilian-minded Friend smile .

But thank you for sharing your own experiences, as a "revert" that is.

Alex

Re: Why are some converts so angry? #111531
05/22/02 08:37 PM
05/22/02 08:37 PM
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New Orleans
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Dmitri Rostovski Offline
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Slava Jesu Kristu,

I think the anger you perceive is the fire for the Faith. People who convert to another faith must be on "fire" for the conversion to take root. Giving up old affiliations and even family and friends can be quite traumatic if the spirit is weak. As a revert myself, I know what it is like. I think the fire should be tempered but never extinguished. After all, St. Paul was a convert.

Dmitri

Re: Why are some converts so angry? #111532
05/22/02 09:27 PM
05/22/02 09:27 PM
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Posts: 324
Frostbite Falls, Minnesota, US...
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Moose Offline
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I know what Alex is talking about. Converts have their failings just like the rest of us. Some (certainly not all) are uncertain about their choice to embrace a new Church and its teachings. Instead of immersing themselves fully into the life of their new Church they sometimes focus more on the shortcomings of their old Church. Some go to great length to discuss these shortcomings (perceived or real) and even display much bitterness. This is generally a sign that they are trying to convince themselves that their new Church is correct on the issues important to them by telling themselves that their new Church must be correct because their old Church is incorrect.

There is a program that airs on EWTN called "The Journey Home" hosted by Marcus Grodi. The guests tell the story of their journey to Roman Catholicism (usually from Protestantism). The individuals witnessing their journey who appear the healthiest and strongest in their new Roman Catholic faith are those who are thankful for their good experiences in their former Protestant Church. Mr. Grodi seems to not choose guests who are bitter towards their past. Very wise and intentional, I think.

Converts to the East from the West or to the West from the East are no different. I've seen more than a few former Roman Catholics who became either Byzantine Catholic or Orthodox and then spent the next ten years telling everyone about what they thought was wrong about Roman Catholicism. These people seemed (at least to me) to relate to Byzantine Christianity in terms of the black-and-white Western, legalistic approach to everything.

It all boils down to the question: "Are you seeking or fleeing?" If you seek you find. If you flee you may stumble on the Truth but it will be difficult if your eyes are always looking to what you left rather than what you embraced.

I should note clearly again that I speak of some, but not all converts. Most set an example of zeal and a level witness that puts us cradles to shame.

Re: Why are some converts so angry? #111533
05/22/02 09:29 PM
05/22/02 09:29 PM
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Posts: 23
Memphis, TN
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Tim Bullard Offline
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Converts, reverts, whatever -- we ALL can be so enamored of the sound of our voice (keyboard?) we forget that others hold their opinions just as dear. It's the very human sin of pride. I did it in a post earlier today. Mea culpa. Forgive me.

We converts should remember that our beliefs have changed over time, and may change again. Like Saul-to-Paul, sometimes God leads us kicking and screaming where we don't want to go.

Alex's friend sounds as if he's going to be angry, regardless of where he is.

The very wise (and very ecumenical) Greek priest who chrismated me sat me down early on and informed me very firmly that I was NOT coming to Christ by becoming Orthodox. "If you choose to continue your walk with Christ in this Church, He and we will welcome you, but know this: You were raised a Christian, you were introduced to Jesus Christ at the most sacred of all altars, the altar of your mother's knee, and you have her, not me, to thank for that."

Re: Why are some converts so angry? #111534
05/22/02 09:45 PM
05/22/02 09:45 PM
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Quote
Originally posted by Moose:
I've seen more than a few former Roman Catholics who became either Byzantine Catholic or Orthodox and then spent the next ten years telling everyone about what they thought was wrong about Roman Catholicism.


And then there are some people who used to post here, former whatever who became Byzantine Catholic and then spent all their time lecturing all of us peasants about what they thought was wrong with the Byzantine (Ruthenian) Catholic Church in America.

In fact, the only good things about our Church, in their view, seem to be the things that they themselves are involved in... :rolleyes:

Re: Why are some converts so angry? #111535
05/22/02 10:27 PM
05/22/02 10:27 PM
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Posts: 324
Frostbite Falls, Minnesota, US...
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Moose Offline
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Quote
Tim wrote:
The very wise (and very ecumenical) Greek priest who chrismated me sat me down early on and informed me very firmly that I was NOT coming to Christ by becoming Orthodox. "If you choose to continue your walk with Christ in this Church, He and we will welcome you, but know this: You were raised a Christian, you were introduced to Jesus Christ at the most sacred of all altars, the altar of your mother's knee, and you have her, not me, to thank for that."


Your priest is a very wise man!


Quote
Lemko wrote:
And then there are some people who used to post here, former whatever who became Byzantine Catholic and then spent all their time lecturing all of us peasants about what they thought was wrong with the Byzantine (Ruthenian) Catholic Church in America. In fact, the only good things about our Church, in their view, seem to be the things that they themselves are involved in...


I may disagree with some of their positions but I have learned much from them. I do not judge them and miss their presence here.

Re: Why are some converts so angry? #111536
05/23/02 01:06 AM
05/23/02 01:06 AM
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Falls Church, Virginia
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Dr John Offline
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In making the very difficult and challenging decision to change one's church community, converts (of whatever persuasion) are sometimes psychologically pressured to "defend" their actions. As a result, they can sometimes become "more Papal than the Pope" (as the saying goes) and feel constrained to not only defend their perceptions of their new community, but to validate why they felt the need to leave the old one.

Unfortunately, as newbies, their perspectives are colored by their own rationales about what their new community is, and when confronted by life-longs (or: cradles, if you will) they can become rather vehement in defending that which brought them to the new community.

While, as His Mooseness has oftentimes pointed out, the newbies can goad the cradles into being more reflective and faithful, at the same time, cradles, now and in the past have adapted -- as a living community -- to the circumstances that they faced. And dismissing this 'adaptability' (oftentimes for mere survival!) can strike the cradles as arrogance on the part of the newbies.

Being told to restore language, discarded customs, etc. is seen as an assault on the more recent memories of the cradles. The changes that the historic cradles made were done for a reason; sometimes a good reason, sometimes for mere convenience, and sometimes to prove a point.

When the newbies start using Russian or OCS or Greek or Arabic as a sign of "commitment to 'orthodoxy'" among the latter day cradle generations in the diaspora, and insist that this is important, then for latter-day cradles, it is a slap in the face of the cradles' forebears who made a conscious decision to make the change for the benefit of the community.

While there may be pockets of folks in the cradle community who insist upon doing things as they were done 200 years ago, the fact is that the majority of folks have moved on. First, second and especially third generation cradles in this country (yeah - Canada too, Alex) don't identify with the 'old country', whatever it may be. They're North Americans with a specific heritage that they cherish, but are unwilling to research what their grandfolks did and make it the primary element in their lifestyle.

The absolutely critical aspect is this: how does one live the Gospel and interpret it according to one's heritage? What is there in the ancestors' perspective that will help us preserve our way of living the Gospel? And what changes need to be made to their perspective so that the Gospel-response lifestyle will be preserved in us?

Too often, converts interpret the externals as the essential elements of the faith. They're wrong. It's not the externals, but rather the underlying mindset that gave rise to the externals in the past, and that MUST be used for us today to decide what we need to do to develop the externals of today and to be faithful to our heritage.

While it may seem judgemental of me to say so, I suspect that some of those who have left have not learned the lesson that the 'externals' are not the essence of our Eastern Churches. They are there only as manifestations of the underlying spirituality (and historical experiences) of the living Eastern community. Though it may seem trite, we Constantinopolitans are really a family. Most Byzantines and Orthodoxes understand this in their bones. And while we may disagree about this or that, when an attack comes, we hang together, regardless of (stupid) jurisdictional allegiances.

Until the 'frustrated newbies' begin to understand this, it is perhaps better for them to stew elsewhere.

Blessings!!

Re: Why are some converts so angry? #111537
05/23/02 02:00 PM
05/23/02 02:00 PM
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Canada
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Dear Friends,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this important subject.

Perhaps new converts have a need to "fit in" with their new community and so emphasize the externals by way of overkill.

On the other hand, perhaps I am being too judgmental of my friend and others like him.

He seems so happy and joyous in his new faith and Church.

He doesn't take anything for granted. He can't afford to!

Alex

Re: Why are some converts so angry? #111538
05/23/02 02:28 PM
05/23/02 02:28 PM
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Hollywood, Florida
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Inawe Offline
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Congratulations on your 3000th post here, Alex. May the converts and cradles of all churches who come here find many more pieces of wisdom and many more examples of your unique sense of humor from your keyboard to enrich us here.

Ad Multos Posts! biggrin

[ 05-23-2002: Message edited by: Inawe ]

Re: Why are some converts so angry? #111539
05/23/02 03:49 PM
05/23/02 03:49 PM
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Dear Steve,

You are too kind!

I guess a big mouth is something not everyone has . . . smile

Alex

Re: Why are some converts so angry? #111540
05/23/02 04:50 PM
05/23/02 04:50 PM
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Brendan Offline
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There are a few critical factors, ISTM:

1. Background is important. It is a part of you. You take it with you. Anyone who converts to another religion can never purge their entire background without destroying the person that they are. Attempts to do so are misguided and futile. Better to accept one's background and work with it, rather than against it.

2. Everyone who converts does it for a reason. For those who convert for reasons other than marriage or family, these folks will most certainly have a perspective on where they previously were. It's not right to silence those perspectives under a mantra like "running awayt" or "fleeing" -- in fact, every conversion is a combination of being drawn toward something and actively leaving something else. If things were 100% fine where one was sitting, one would not have been drawn elsewhere, and certainly in deciding how to proceed in such a situation, thinking and reflection will give one a perspective on where one is sitting at the time -- and if one decides to proceed, that perspective will be carried along as well. The important thing, to me, is that this process be an involved and genuine one -- most issues are not black and white, and while it is tempting and far easier to think of them that way (or to help others to do so, as many of our internet evangelists of all stripes seem to do) can create for a bad conversion experience. One should slowly and deliberately confront the issues and resolve them -- that will give one both a confidence in one's decision -- whatever it turns out to be -- as well as an honest and balanced perspective on where one was previously sitting. Unfortunately, this is not encouraged often enough.

3. Often people say things to folks who are going through a conversion process. Some of these conversations can be unfortunately difficult and can leave bitter memories in the mind of the convert. Most typically, a parishioner/friend/priest from the former community will say some rather disturbing or dramatic things in order to pursuade the person *not* to convert, and these can, for a time (and sometimes for a long time) substantially color the convert's view of his or her former community. Now, of course, that is not rational, but it is very human, because obviously the human tie to the prior community is what is being most palpably severed when one converts. One should keep this very real possibility in mind when evaluating a convert's position vis-a-vis his or her former community.

4. Convert zeal is a good thing most of the time. While I am far from a zealous convert (I simply don't have the time on my hands for that), when I hear or see critiques of zealous converts I often relate to them in the context of St. Paul, a zealous convert who had a definite perspective on his former community, and one that was very different from that of many of the other Apostles, who had a more deferential view of their former community. Paul was right, as it turns out, but at the time it did not seem to be the case (at least not to the other Apostles), and he was roundly critiqued for it. Zealous converts are not always bad; if they shake up a community a bit and make people challenge their assumptions about the way things are done and why, then that's a good thing, IMO. Things must be done in charity, of course, but I think the idea that the convert should sit down, shut up and watch the cradles for 30 years so you can learn our ways is nonsense -- it silences one of the best hopes for the church to revitalize itself, for it is on this kind of zeal, and not some kind of misplaced ethnocentric complacency, that the future of the church will inevitably be founded.

Brendan

[ 05-23-2002: Message edited by: Brendan ]

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