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There are some problems here.

The first is the obvious question: what is American culture? As the Yellow Pages will confirm, America, for example, happily accommodates a wide variety of cuisines from different countries (so does Ireland - indigenous Irish cuisine was destroyed in the Great Hunger, and no, I am not joking, so if we wanted to cook and eat we had to import recipes). Music, literature, and so on come from various traditions around the world; religions abound with quite a variety of origins, and so forth. Few if any Americans would be startled at the thought of a wedding reception in a Chinese restaurant, following a Greek-Catholic wedding service, with music at the reception provided by a Russian group playing and singing Ukrainian music.

Or to put it another way: the melting pot went into melt-down some time ago. Anybody for Qwanza?

One can certainly find traces of local cultures in America in certain communities and regions, but they also have a tremendous (and enjoyable) variety.

The Achilles Heel is the matter of language - America still tends to insist on anglicization. But this too is changing.


Next problem: the Church traditionally has shaped the cultures in which she lives. So the question is not "how do we adapt our Church to the USA" but rather "how do we balance our specific Christian identity, Faith, and practice with the American ethos?" The American ethos demands (and I do mean demands) acceptance of "American civil religion" as the price of Freedom of Religion. This in turn means that we can even be a "major Faith" (remember the push to make Orthodoxy the "Fourth Major Faith"?), provided that we are "Americans First" and that we do not insist that our Church is in any way "better" than any other Church.

The presence of Eastern Orthodox from various Local traditions in Europe and the Middle East in the USA could and should be a source of great cultural-religious spiritual blessings for us; instead it becomes a bone of contention, often over things that are either hopelessly banal or are just plain untrue. How can we address this to transform what looks like a stumbling-block into a fruitful sharing?

That's enough for now.

but to end on a much lighter note, I'm told that in apiaries one might prefer this version: "Bee it ever so bumble, there's no place like comb".

Fr. Serge

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No offense intended Fr Serge, but you know little about life in the American south.

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Bless Father Serge!

As you know, I come from a beekeeping family (a stinging indictment, no?).

In Holy Eire, there is the shrine to the Irish bee patron St Gobnet of Balleyvourney - is it still extant?

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Originally Posted by RomanRedneck
... about life in the American south.


Is the issue at the level of pirohi, prostopinije, or prosphora?

Consider what I mentioned above, The Dixie Recension: an expression of the Byzantine Rite that arises from the "Southern/Dixie" ethos. One can certainly leave the pirohi and choose local cuisine. How about at the level of prostopinije: the chant, singing? How would that be done? By whom? With instruments or not? What about the Divine Liturgy itself: words, gestures, vestments, incense, iconostas, etc.?

Consider the inculturation of the (Greek) Byzantine liturgy by the Slavs as an actual example. What would be envisioned for "the American south"?

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Originally Posted by RomanRedneck
what I'm saying is there is no reason why there should not be an native expression of Orthodoxy in the US.


Jason, this is actually an interesting topic to me, so I'm curious to get your insight. What do you envision this native expression to be? What are the customs and practices to be that you think are foreign to the religious culture you are used to?

Personally, I believe there needs to be jurisdictional unity of Orthodoxy in this country, which is a separate discussion of what the church should actually be like at the ground; it does however go hand in hand with what should an American Orthodox Church look and feel like. I've seen and heard different perspectives and been to parishes with very different outlooks on the issue.

It just so happens on Orthodixie there is something posted today relating to this topic. http://southern-orthodoxy.blogspot.com/


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Originally Posted by ajk
Originally Posted by RomanRedneck
... about life in the American south.


Is the issue at the level of pirohi, prostopinije, or prosphora?

Consider what I mentioned above, The Dixie Recension: an expression of the Byzantine Rite that arises from the "Southern/Dixie" ethos. One can certainly leave the pirohi and choose local cuisine. How about at the level of prostopinije: the chant, singing? How would that be done? By whom? With instruments or not? What about the Divine Liturgy itself: words, gestures, vestments, incense, iconostas, etc.?

Consider the inculturation of the (Greek) Byzantine liturgy by the Slavs as an actual example. What would be envisioned for "the American south"?

Dn. Anthony


Dn Anthony,

Believe it or not, there are some native (not as in Native American but as in Southern) musical forms that I believe could be adapted to Orthodox worship. These forms of music are traditionally even sung acapella. Only in the Anglican and Catholic Churches did one find an organ...and certainly, until the 20th century, no piano was used. Perhaps a harmonica was used to set the pitch or tone but that's about it. Some illustrations would be white spirituals (not the lyrics...just the musical form), the fa-so-la tradition and the Sacred Harp tradition.

As far as the Divine Liturgy itself, I pretend no competence to answer. Though, I suspect most southerners would feel most comfortable with Elizabethan English. I suppose there is little choice but to accept Iconography as it is. One can't very well start putting the saints in Southern garb...at least not until we produce Saints of our own. As to the other liturgical points you raise, I plead ignorance on how to handle them.

Jason

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My great-grandmother, 93 and still going strong, was very into Sacred Harp as a young woman. My great-great-grandmother even took her and her 11 brothers and sisters to a Sacred Harp competition against my great-great-grandfather's express demands that she did not.

The National Sacred Harp Museum is also located in my hometown (Carrollton, Ga).

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Jason,

This is a very interesting discussion! Being a Southerner by birth (my family has strong roots in both Virginia and the Carolinas going back to the 1700's) and with my family's and my impending return to my Southern roots, this really is a timely discussion on a personal level.

A few random thoughts come to mind:

- There is no such thing as a "pure culture" (Southern, Northern, Virginian, Texan, Ukrainian, Russian, Greek, etc etc). Historically, all cultures represent a confluence of various cultural and ethnic streams. There may be certain features that have greater emphasis by and large, but in general I think it is inaccurate to treat each culture as if it were somehow hermetically sealed in a laboratory.

This is true today as it was in the ancient world. Byzantium, for instance, was the fruit of many influences converging in the area surrounding what became Constantinople. It really reflects the intersection of many different Latin, Greek and Oriental elements that together form a "melting pot" that was Byzantium. When Byzantium was exported to Kyiv and to the Slavic nations, you have a further cross-fertilization that together formed new cultures and nations.

- When it comes to the issue of a particular parish, I think there are three key things to keep in mind:

a. The ethnic/cultural origins ("root culture" as I have heard Diak describe it) of the parish (and its eparchy)

b. The current make-up of its current active membership (recent immigrants? 2nd/3rd generation?)

c. How it regards its mission vis-a-vis ministry and church growth (is its intent to primarily serve the pastoral needs of those who are of a certain ethnic or national identity OR does it see itself as an apostolic outpost to share the Gospel with others and bring them into the fulness of faith OR does it see its primary mission as preserving an certain heritage OR is it a mixture of two or three of these?)

The convergence of these three factors will help determine - IMHO - the orientation of its common life and the degree to which it is more or less open to "assimilating" aspects (and certainly members) of the culture in which it is planted (NYC or Atlanta or LA).

- For my part, I think parishes that have a strong ethnic heritage and identity can have great advantages, so long as they do not excuse themselves from their missionary or apostolic vocation to the culture and inhabitants of the place where they live. To me, this means that their first loyalty should be to Christ. Every parish is an apostolic outpost, in my view. Every parish needs to have a fundamental missionary orientation. But the goal is not to make the world Ukrainian, Arabic, Russian, etc etc - but Christian.

I was struck by the commentary of Father Ephrem Lash, who is a theologian I esteem, on the OSB. He referenced in a critical way an Onion Dome on a New England congregational house of worship. Apart from issues of architecture and its relationship to worship and liturgy, my initial reaction was "Great idea!" Perhaps there are aspects of our particularly American culture (and yes - Southern American) that can be incorporated into the common life of a local Church.

And part of me cannot help but think about Grandma's sweat tea, buttermilk biscuits, green beans, chicken pastry and fried cornbread with beef gravy. And of course, grits!

Just a few thoughts...

God bless,

Gordo

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Gordo,

Like yours, my Southern roots run deep...though a bit deeper even smile. My ancestors first showed up in Virginia in the *early* 1600's. I have baptismal records (published by the Daughters of the American Revolution) from Virginia showing the Brim baptism's of that time. The ancestors on my mothers side also were in Virginia at the same time, though in different localities. Both sets of ancestors migrated southward through the Carolinas over the next 150 years or so (there is an historic homeplace in Rockingham, NC that belongs to the family still)and eventually to Georgia. Our family cemetery plot is here, in my home county and has the graves of my ancestors back to about 1800. 200 years in the same county...that's roots (at least as far as the New World goes wink ).

Most of my dad's folks are in south Georgia. There is a town down south, of which the majority of citizens are relatives...ahem...even the african-americans!

I will take issue with your contention that there is no "pure culture." There is...that of the Blessed Trinity. biggrin From which the possibility of human culture springs.

Regarding the rest of your post, we're on precisely the same page.

Jason

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Originally Posted by RomanRedneck
Gordo,

Like yours, my Southern roots run deep...though a bit deeper even smile. My ancestors first showed up in Virginia in the *early* 1600's...


Actually, I misspoke. My Virginia roots do go back to the 1700's, but our Carolina ancestry goes back to the 1600's...

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Originally Posted by ebed melech
I was struck by the commentary of Father Ephrem Lash, who is a theologian I esteem, on the OSB. He referenced in a critical way an Onion Dome on a New England congregational house of worship. Apart from issues of architecture and its relationship to worship and liturgy, my initial reaction was "Great idea!" Perhaps there are aspects of our particularly American culture (and yes - Southern American) that can be incorporated into the common life of a local Church.


I think this is an interesting point Gordon, and I noticed it as well. I think you have to decide if the forms of worship and church culture are essentially set as they are now, or as they were brought to this country, or whether they can continue to evolve organically. I think the majority opinion is to assume that they are basically set in their classical form, and to make changes is a form of unacceptable revision. I think there is also a suspicion of outside methods or outlooks. On the other side there are definitely people who are striving to make Orthodoxy fit in with mainstream American culture to the extent it can, so that becoming Orthodox doesn't just appear to be some weird, exotic lifestyle choice.

I think for myself, I've just found something somewhere in between. Adopting things by joining an Orthodox parish, but retaining many other things as well. While I certainly changed my theological outlook and my own practices a good deal when becoming Orthodox, I don't think my own self identity as such really changed.

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Hey Gordo, you fohgot dem pok n'beans

And my aunt was a member of the DAR and the Daughters of the Confederacy.

One of my forefathers served under George Washington at Valley Forge and another was an officer in the Confederacy.


Originally Posted by ebed melech
Jason,

This is a very interesting discussion! Being a Southerner by birth (my family has strong roots in both Virginia and the Carolinas going back to the 1700's) and with my family's and my impending return to my Southern roots, this really is a timely discussion on a personal level.

A few random thoughts come to mind:

- There is no such thing as a "pure culture" (Southern, Northern, Virginian, Texan, Ukrainian, Russian, Greek, etc etc). Historically, all cultures represent a confluence of various cultural and ethnic streams. There may be certain features that have greater emphasis by and large, but in general I think it is inaccurate to treat each culture as if it were somehow hermetically sealed in a laboratory.

This is true today as it was in the ancient world. Byzantium, for instance, was the fruit of many influences converging in the area surrounding what became Constantinople. It really reflects the intersection of many different Latin, Greek and Oriental elements that together form a "melting pot" that was Byzantium. When Byzantium was exported to Kyiv and to the Slavic nations, you have a further cross-fertilization that together formed new cultures and nations.

- When it comes to the issue of a particular parish, I think there are three key things to keep in mind:

a. The ethnic/cultural origins ("root culture" as I have heard Diak describe it) of the parish (and its eparchy)

b. The current make-up of its current active membership (recent immigrants? 2nd/3rd generation?)

c. How it regards its mission vis-a-vis ministry and church growth (is its intent to primarily serve the pastoral needs of those who are of a certain ethnic or national identity OR does it see itself as an apostolic outpost to share the Gospel with others and bring them into the fulness of faith OR does it see its primary mission as preserving an certain heritage OR is it a mixture of two or three of these?)

The convergence of these three factors will help determine - IMHO - the orientation of its common life and the degree to which it is more or less open to "assimilating" aspects (and certainly members) of the culture in which it is planted (NYC or Atlanta or LA).

- For my part, I think parishes that have a strong ethnic heritage and identity can have great advantages, so long as they do not excuse themselves from their missionary or apostolic vocation to the culture and inhabitants of the place where they live. To me, this means that their first loyalty should be to Christ. Every parish is an apostolic outpost, in my view. Every parish needs to have a fundamental missionary orientation. But the goal is not to make the world Ukrainian, Arabic, Russian, etc etc - but Christian.

I was struck by the commentary of Father Ephrem Lash, who is a theologian I esteem, on the OSB. He referenced in a critical way an Onion Dome on a New England congregational house of worship. Apart from issues of architecture and its relationship to worship and liturgy, my initial reaction was "Great idea!" Perhaps there are aspects of our particularly American culture (and yes - Southern American) that can be incorporated into the common life of a local Church.

And part of me cannot help but think about Grandma's sweat tea, buttermilk biscuits, green beans, chicken pastry and fried cornbread with beef gravy. And of course, grits!

Just a few thoughts...

God bless,

Gordo

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Hey there, Jason !

I'm sorry that I'm late to the party for this thread. Here are my comments.



Originally Posted by RomanRedneck
I ask very simply...is there nowhere on this planet where a man may be simply a faithful Christian and have access to the sacraments without being forced to adopt non-inspired "traditions" as part and parcel of his faith?


Nope ! I've looked, in todayís' world and in the past. No such thing exists. It's because of human nature. We are all products of time and space, including the past, even as we try to live the timeless and infinite. Our knowledge and experience of God is always colored through our times, cultures, secular experiences, personalities and so on. And that's not a bad thing; it is "incarnational" so to speak: God coming to us in the here and now. But it does mean that there is always baggage too in a religion or in a church. So, I decided to be pragmatic: find the church that I agree with the most (on every level, body, mind, heart and soul) and go with that. And as for the stuff I disagree with: I either try to stay modest, because I don't understand everything, or I quietly dissent.



Quote
I love the Church and all of her traditions...both east and west. But I feel revulsion at the idea that I MUST integrate myself with some "tradition" in order to be accepted into the social life of the Church.


That's just human nature, my friend. Mankind is a social species; and we therefore must engage with each other as part of groups (as well as individuals). How we do so are the traditions. Unlike dogs, which are also a social species, we don't sniff each other's hind quarters. Instead, we have various traditions and group dynamics. And, frankly, we have religion. I like to recall that religion is what happens when spiritual people try to live with each other . . .



Quote
To be clear, I have no problem with those who are native to a given tradition (unless you think your tradition is THE tradition and superior to all others). My problem is that I was raised as an American. Not as a Greek, Romanian, Russian, Italian, Spanish, etc... From the heart of the deep south, I'm sorry but neither Latin nor Byzantine tradition appeals to me as a lifestyle choice. I am a southerner and I do not wish to become anything else.

The issue is not a theological one. On that I fall squarely in the Apostolic Tradition favoring the eastern expression. But on lifestyle choices I am firmly entrenched in Dixie.


Brother, I hear you . . . even though I am a Yankee.

However, Etnick made a very important point when this whole issue was being debated some time ago. I've never forgotten it because it was very wise. He said, "You can't raise a new crop if you get rid of your seed corn."

In other words, religion comes through culture. It's part of human culture, anthropologically speaking. And the people who are bringing Orthodoxy to our part of the world are from specific cultures. Hence, they can only bring us Orthodoxy in terms of their cultures. Sure, they can try to explain it or adapt it for American culture -- to an extent. But then, it is up to us to adapt American culture to Orthodoxy.

Do you see? The Gospel has come to us. It comes to us with an accent, but it comes to us nevertheless. And then, in the silence of our hearts, where there is no accent or foreign customs, He who is the Gospel speaks His very Self to us. And then, by His grace, we have to make the Gospel real in our lives.

Put very simply: this is the time and the generations when Orthodoxy is being given to the West -- for the first time since the Schism of 1054. This is the generations when the West begins anew to speak Orthodoxy through Western life and culture. Dude, we are the generations of transmission. So, I canít complain --instead, I can only be grateful, that others care enough to share the Gospel with us. And, as I and other Westerners convert to it anew in Orthodoxy, we shall --by simple virtue of that fact-- embody and build a new Western Orthodoxy. My friend, do you want an American Orthodoxy? Look no further. You are American Orthodoxy. You are one of the first generations of it.



Quote

To be totally honest, I am put out with the anti-americanism on this forum.


Honestly, I haven't noticed it. I may be missing something. However, all that I have seen here is some people who earnestly desire to preserve their heritage, which is fine to an extent. The American or even just the Western forms of Orthodoxy are still emerging; and everyone understands that.



Quote
I am quite unwilling to go it alone. I am an Apostolic Christian. That gives me little choice but to associate with a Church that has the authority to administer the sacraments and preach the gospel. So, unlike a Protestant, I can't just up and move to the wilds and separate myself from all who disagree with me. On the other hand I refuse to give up my identity. It is who I am and under which I am freest to hear the voice of my conscience.

Does ANYONE understand where I am coming from or am I simply going to be a hermit by default?


Yes ! Been there, done that, and found my way through. You will too. No one wants to stop you from being a good Son of the South. Instead, you get to have some baklava with your grits. grin

On a more serious note, you will find your way to integrate yourself into the long line of apostolic succession that you will partake of. It is like a human chain. One hand receives from the past and the other hand gives to the future, and your heart is in the here and now. Donít let this become a trick from the devil to dissuade you from fulfilling your call. God loves all His children, of all nations and tribes; and God speaks His Eternal Word to each us through our very cultures and times: in order to sanctify us fully and in every dimension of our being.

Hope this helps. Be well.

-- John



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The shrine of Saint Gobnait of Bailebhuirne (a few miles from Macroom) is very much still in existence - and the parish church in Cuil Aodh, another couple of miles down the road is, I think, dedicated to Saint Gobnait.

Saint Gobnait continues to work miracles. The shrine includes the ruins of the pre-Cromwell church and a Holy Well. The custom is to tie - loosely - a bit of white cloth on one of the trees or bushes at the shrine. There are also some complicated "patterns" which one walks while praying to Saint Gobnait. The hierarchy tried to suppress both the shrine and patterns, without success - much more happily. Cardinal Tomas O'Fiaich led a large pilgrimage to the shrine and himself led the patterns.

Bee-keeping and putting up honey are still popular in the district. Come to think of it, I should organize candle-making for church use from the beeswax. I have close connections in the parish, but haven't been down to visit for four or five years (pastoral work in Dublin + arthritis).

Fr. Serge

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Originally Posted by Elizabeth Maria
Hey Gordo, you fohgot dem pok n'beans

And my aunt was a member of the DAR and the Daughters of the Confederacy.

One of my forefathers served under George Washington at Valley Forge and another was an officer in the Confederacy.



That's right!

Actually, my grandfather on my mother's side was also fond of pickled pigs feet.

[Linked Image]

For those that are wondering, like ludefisk, it is an acquired taste.

[Linked Image]

Gordo

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