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Posted By: RomanRedneck There's no place like home... - 01/16/08 01:29 PM
Or is there?

I assure all readers and forum members that this post springs from a heart of bewilderment and as such is an attack on no one.

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?

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.

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.

To be totally honest, I am put out with the anti-americanism on this forum. It rarely becomes blatant but it is always present latently. I am an American and have no desire to be anything else. I am not ashamed of my country and my heritage. This is not to say that I am an American before I am a Christian. That is CERTAINLY not the case. However, I am an American before I am a *Greek* Christian or *Russian* Christian or *Latin* Christian etc...

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?

Jason
Posted By: Elizabeth Maria Re: There's no place like home... - 01/16/08 01:58 PM
There are a lot of Americans in the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) and the American Carpatho Russian Orthodox Diocese (ACROD) jurisdictions who feel the same way you do and who have requested that the Divine Services be held in English for the benefit of their children.

Many converts who are non-Greek, non-Slavic, non-Romanian, and non-Middle Eastern also desire the English Divine Liturgy celebrated with a southern drawl.

Yes, I was born in Dixie too.

However, in heaven, as on earth, I go to the Divine Liturgy and I delight in hearing the Divine Praises being sung in many languages. I am also a linguist.
Posted By: Raymond Re: There's no place like home... - 01/16/08 02:09 PM
Hey, I know where you're coming from. The same happens up North, too. Americans have their own "traditions". My traditions I learned from my parents, and Europe is 4 generations back for me. I just remember the quote from St. Augustine: "In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and in all things, charity".

LL&P
Raymond

Posted By: Pani Rose Re: There's no place like home... - 01/16/08 02:17 PM
It is also part of 'overcoming' our Protestant heritage. I was on too many years ago. It is the beauty of the word in the many languages that helps one to understand in a greater way where we have come from and where we are going. For our God is not a God of one person (no pun here), but a God of people. It is in comeing together in the 'oneness of self' yet with the 'oneness of his body' that we see the glory of the written word in the Liturgy - the language of many people becoming one body in Christ.

I too was raised southern, born in Texas - high school in South Carolina - lived in Alabama for over 20 years now. My northern years - if you call Ohio north, were really limited. What I saw in the beauty of the Slavonic and Greek of the Ruthenian DL was the beauty of the 'ethenicity' of God. I saw a humble people gathered together in a worship offering to God in the greatest possible LOVE. Now, being in a Melkite parish - I have once again seen this love of God transformed into languages that are amazing. YET, we all worship as one, no matter what Byzantine Church I enter, I know we are one. The words may be a bit different, yet they are all the same.

frown Sadly those litrugies I have worshiped in that were all in English - well - they were just missing something. That too, is a complaint I hear from people against the revision of the Ruthenian resencion which I have read so much about. So, my advice/suggesstion I guess, is to rejoice in the oneness of our Lord with his people through the many forms of the written word. We in the south have so much to learn about our heritage and our people. God loves us all!
Posted By: theophan Re: There's no place like home... - 01/16/08 02:43 PM
Quote
Does ANYONE understand where I am coming from or am I simply going to be a hermit by default?


JASON:

The issue of ethnic friction does not apply only to the Eastern Churches. In the Latin parish I grew up in there was constant friction under the surface between the Irish, the Germans, the Italians, the French, the Slovaks, and the Poles. One of the groups thought they should dominate the parish because they held the most dinners as fundraisers, but no one outside that group was welcome to help. Some of the earlier immigrants were upset because the pastor had let in the latecomers.

My inlaws who are Italian could never understand how anyone could be a Catholic if they weren't Italian, though my German ancestors were faithful Catholics for centuries and even have a period when they were under persecution for the Faith. In the meantime, my inlaws could only boast of being "culture" Catholics at best. They also cannot believe that anyone can be a good Catholic without having been in Catholic school. And they cannot accept that anyone would think he is a Catholic if both his parents were not Catholic.

Recently my pastor let me know that my talents, gifts, and time are no longer needed or wanted in the parish. It's probably because I've challenged many of his heterodox statements and I refuse to study the New Age books his book club have studied for the past number of years.

The struggle to be faithful to God and to His teaching is the struggle of every man in every place and in every time. It is a struggle to be what and who God has called you to be. So be confident in who you are as a man and be content. Find and stick like glue to a sound spiritual father.

The Desert Fathers have three sayings in the book I constantly reread that pertain:

"In all places there is a need for struggle and for patience and above all for the help of God."

"Wherever thou goest, have God ever before thine eyes: in what thou doest, hold by the example of the holy Scriptures: and in whatever place thou dost abide, be not swift to remove from thence. These three things keep, and thou shalt be saved."

"What therefore thou findest that thy soul desireth in following God, that do, and keep thy heart." (be at peace)

In Christ Who has made us brothers,

BOB
Posted By: Prester John Re: There's no place like home... - 01/16/08 04:09 PM
You're preaching to the choir here, but we are a minority, and usually an unwelcome one at that.

At least, that is my experience.
Posted By: Father Deacon Ed Re: There's no place like home... - 01/16/08 04:39 PM
Jason,

I hear the cry in your post and, in part, I have no answer to your question. That being said, you make a point that causes me some concern. Sometimes when we write we reveal more than we intended and sometimes someone (like me) reads into what others have written what is not there.

You say:
Quote
I am an American before I am a *Greek* Christian or *Russian* Christian or *Latin* Christian etc...
This troubles me because the word "Christian: is omitted from the "American" qualifier and added second after each of the other qualifiers.

I would hope that you are a Christian who happens to be an American. If that is not the case, if your Southern American heritage is of greater importance than Christianity (and you are not saying that, I am reading that) then there is a fundamental issue that needs to be addressed.

On the other hand, if you are simply speaking of cultural issues within Christianity, then there is another dimension that we need to address. Assuming I have misread your post and you are dealing only with the cultural issues, let me address that.

The first issue that we have to come to grips with is that Christianity is an Eastern religion. It is not Western (in spite of a persistent position from the Latin Church to insist that it is a Eurocentric faith. Yet the truth of Christianity is that it can be expressed in many different cultures. It happens that the formal traditions of the Church were expressed in the various Eastern traditions and in the Latin tradition. There simply isn't a separate "American" tradition found in Catholicism or Orthodoxy. In fact, the "American tradition" of Christianity is best expressed in congregational churches where the people "vote" with their donations and shop for the preacher who says what they want to hear.

I strongly disagree with the idea that particular churches need to retain an ethnic identity to be authentic. That is, we Melkites do not need to be Arabs to be authentically Melkite (I'm not, my pastor isn't, most of the priests and deacons in California aren't). Yet the identity of the Church is Arab and that simply affects the use of tones and language (we mix English and Arabic with some token Greek tossed in).

So, having said that, perhaps you could elucidate on the "traditions" that you feel are being forced upon you so that a) I can get a clearer understanding and, b) we can work toward a resolution (if, indeed, one is possible).

Fr. Deacon Ed
Posted By: Raymond Re: There's no place like home... - 01/16/08 05:06 PM
Jason: I pulled this quote entirely out of a different thread. I can't remember where it came from, but the quote looks as if they were discusing the same thing as you are. The quote said:

"St. Augustine addressed this question when his mother, St. Monica, was visiting Rome and wrote to him asking whether she should follow Roman liturgical customs or continue following Eastern customs. His oft quoted reply? "When in Rome, mother, do as the Romans do"."

LL&P
Raymond

Posted By: RomanRedneck Re: There's no place like home... - 01/16/08 05:24 PM
Fr Deacon Ed,

Thanks for your comments.

I thought the qualifying statement:

Quote
This is not to say that I am an American before I am a Christian. That is CERTAINLY not the case.


made my point clear that I am referring to the adoption of cultural norms foreign to my own.

You wrote:

Quote
The first issue that we have to come to grips with is that Christianity is an Eastern religion.


This is true. However, it is true in the sense that Christianity came from the East. I do not believe it is true if we take it to mean that Christianity is *inherently* Eastern and that Eastern perspectives are the norm. Man as man is imago dei. It matters not if he is Eastern or Western. The very fact that "western" culture exists at all is testimony to the fact that as imago dei, man can, does, and will express himself differently under different circumstances. I find it hard to swallow that God is Eastern. For that matter, I find it hard to believe that there is ANY Christian culture that "best" embodies or illustrates authentic Christianity.

The "culture" of the intertrinitarian Communion transcends all times and all cultures and is the goal toward which all of history is speeding. Only in the eschaton will that eternal and divine culture of the Godhead be realized by the entire human race.

In space-time there are many expressions of culture even though the Truth is One. This is because every man is unique. It is impossible that there can be homogeneity in this world regarding culture simply due to the fact that every man is unique and apprehends the Truth from a different perspective than anyone else. Thus his expression of conformity to Truth will not precisely equivocate to anyone elses...even if all things are otherwise equal. There will be more or less of this and where there is LESS a particular culture develops. Where there is MORE, there is cultural divide.

I am not suggesting that anyone give up their native or chosen cultural expression. One need not be Protestant to be an American. On the other hand, I fail to see why I need adopt the culture of another race to Glorify God.

It is clearly true that one need not be an Arab to be authentically Melkite. All one has to do is adopt a certain amount of Arab culture. But I am not an Arab. I don't want to be an Arab. And I don't want to do as the Arab's do. I do not want to think in Arab modes of thought...nor do I wish to sing as an Arab.

The history is missions is fraught with the problem of imposing ones own culture on the people of another. Is this not a common criticism against Protestant missionaries? And it is TRUE. It is also true of Roman Catholic and Orthodox missionaries. Not in every instance, but enough to make my point worth considering.

When Naaman came to Elisha he was not told to become a Jew. He was sent back to his homeland with a blessing and a pile of dirt.

At this point there are no traditions that are being forced upon me because I am in a state of flux and have not decided what Church to affiliate with. But as I look around it appears that I have little choice but to give up my cultural identity or at the very least, take on a second one if I am to affiliate with any apostolic Church.

I have enough mental problems without taking on a cultural schizophrenia.

Jason
Posted By: MrsMW Re: There's no place like home... - 01/16/08 05:28 PM
I was raised by Scottish American Strict Calvinists. I became Catholic at age 24.(That is a cultral change as well as a religious one) I married into a German Catholic family.My husband became a Ruthenian. We now split our time between the Melkite and the Russian Catholic.

At first I had a hard time going to the Melkite. It is very ethnic. In time I could see that these folks had alot to offer.
I got used to the music and now I could care less if it is in Arabic or English. The point is that the message is the same no matter which ethnic group you go to. Jesus Christ came to save sinners. You just have to try and look past it. Yeah sometimes it is hard but stick to the message and try not to look

Many things in the Liturgy are manmade. So what? The Church has put them in to teach something.

I do get the anti Americanism from some on the forum. My feeling is America has done some bad things but show me another country that hasn't.
Posted By: ajk Re: There's no place like home... - 01/16/08 06:45 PM
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?


I would hope that the answer is (not speaking for others) any Catholic Church. In some you may find a lot of "non-inspired" -- ethnic -- "traditions" that are the properly cherished heritage of the community, that support the faith; but they should not be a necessary (nor are they a sufficient) condition for anyone's Christianity.


Dn. Anthony
Posted By: Priest's Grandson Re: There's no place like home... - 01/16/08 07:55 PM
Originally Posted by theophan
Quote
Does ANYONE understand where I am coming from or am I simply going to be a hermit by default?


JASON:

Recently my pastor let me know that my talents, gifts, and time are no longer needed or wanted in the parish. It's probably because I've challenged many of his heterodox statements and I refuse to study the New Age books his book club have studied for the past number of years.

...

In Christ Who has made us brothers,

BOB


WOW! What must it be like, I wonder, to have such a huge congregation of active participants that a priest can afford to tell someone to go away??!!

How sad for you, and for your church.

Dave
Posted By: Job Re: There's no place like home... - 01/16/08 08:38 PM
Originally Posted by Priest's Grandson
Originally Posted by theophan
Quote
Does ANYONE understand where I am coming from or am I simply going to be a hermit by default?


JASON:

Recently my pastor let me know that my talents, gifts, and time are no longer needed or wanted in the parish. It's probably because I've challenged many of his heterodox statements and I refuse to study the New Age books his book club have studied for the past number of years.

...

In Christ Who has made us brothers,

BOB


WOW! What must it be like, I wonder, to have such a huge congregation of active participants that a priest can afford to tell someone to go away??!!

How sad for you, and for your church.

Dave


Don't think it is only possible for this to happen in a "huge congregation"...I have seen it and experienced the same in smaller Ruthenian Churches...
Posted By: AMM Re: There's no place like home... - 01/16/08 09:46 PM
Quote
I am a southerner and I do not wish to become anything else.


From a non theological standpoint (since you mentioned you don't think that's an issue), what exactly is it that you think you "are"? What I mean is what do you think your tradition is that is different or distinct that would set you apart from the other traditions you're talking about?

Quote
I am put out with the anti-americanism on this forum. It rarely becomes blatant but it is always present latently. I am an American and have no desire to be anything else. I am not ashamed of my country and my heritage. This is not to say that I am an American before I am a Christian. That is CERTAINLY not the case. However, I am an American before I am a *Greek* Christian or *Russian* Christian or *Latin* Christian etc...


I sort of go back and forth on this one. At a personal level I sometimes feel as though I feel a little weird having adopted a culture that surrounds church that isn't my own. It's like I've picked something up mid-stream that everyone else just knows and accepts. Things the rest of my extended family doesn't know about or share. That is somewhat difficult. It's balanced with the fact that I do like the culture we've in part adopted, and it's not forced on anybody in the parish.

In the bigger picture, I do find myself at odds with many things I read from overseas Orthodox sources. These are more along the lines of socio-cultural-political than they are theological, but they are there. I am certainly not ashamed of being American, and think there are many great things about our country, but by the same token I think there are deep issues in our country and the way we interact with the world. I do think my religious faith is more important than my national identity.

Lastly I guess is the question of what is it to be "American" or "Southern". One could say the immigrant Orthodox experience for instance is a quintessentially American one and part of the tapestry of our culture. It certainly is, but does that mean one can comfortably go from being an Anglo American from a different religious culture, go to an Orthodox church, and totally fit in. Maybe, maybe not. Everyone is different.
Posted By: theophan Re: There's no place like home... - 01/16/08 11:12 PM
PJ:

In the past we were isolated and might feel abandoned. In the cyber age we have places like this to reach out to others like us who care and feel alone and isolated.

I think it relates to my thread on suffering. God is stripping us of attachments to things, places, and other attachments that divert our focus on loving and serving Him first and foremost. I pray for all of them and expecially take comfort in the holy prayers posted here by those who have suffered in concentration camps. I love this one:

PRAYER FOR MY ENEMIES

The following is a prayer composed by +Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic, who was imprisoned in Dachau by the Nazis:

Bless my enemies, O Lord.
Even I bless them and do not curse them.
Enemies have driven me into Your embrace more than friends have.
Friends have bound me to earth, enemies have loosed me from earth and have demolished all my aspirations in the world.
Enemies have made me a stranger in worldly realms and an extraneous inhabitant of the world.
Just as a hunted animal finds safer shelter than an unhunted animal does, so have I, persecuted by enemies, found the safest sanctuary, having enclosed myself beneath Your tabernacle, where neither friends nor enemies can slay my soul.
Bless my enemies, O Lord.
Even I bless them and do not curse them.

They, rather than I, have confessed my sins before the world.
They have punished me, whenever I have hesitated to punish myself.
They have tormented me, whenever I have tried to flee torments.
They have scolded me, whenever I have flattered myself.
They have spat upon me, whenever I have filled myself with arrogance.
Bless my enemies, O Lord.
Even I bless them and do not curse them.

Whenever I have made myself wise, they have called me foolish.
Whenever I have made myself mighty, they have mocked me as though I were a dwarf.
Whenever I have wanted to lead people, they have shoved me into the background.
Whenever I have rushed to enrich myself, they have prevented me with an iron hand.
Whenever I thought that I would sleep peacefully, they wakened me from sleep.
Whenver I have tried to build a home for a long and tranquil life, they have demolished it and driven me out.
Truly, enemies have cut me loose from the world and have stretched out my hands to the hem of Your garment.
Bless my enemies, O Lord.
Even I bless them and do not curse them.

Bless them and multiply them; multiply them and make them even more bitterly against me:
so that my fleeing to You may have no return;
so that all hope in men may be scattered like cobwebs;
so that absolute serenity may begin to reign in my soul;
so that my heart may become the grave of my two evil twins: arrogance and anger;
so that I might amass all my treasure in heaven;
ah, so that I may for once be freed from self-deception, which has entangled me in the dreadful web of illusory life.

Enemies have taught me to know what hardly anyone knows, that a person has no enemies in the world except himself.
One hates his enemies only when he fails to realize that they are not enemies, but cruel friends.
It is truly difficult for me to say who has done me more good and who has done me more evil in the world: friends or enemies.
Therefore, bless, O Lord, both my friends and my enemies.

A slave curses enemies, for he does not understand.
But a son blesses them, for he understands.
For a son knows that his enemies cannot touch his life.
Therefore he freely steps among them and prays to God for them.
Bless my enemies, O Lord.
Even I bless them and do not curse them.
_________________________________________

If I get out of this life with a pinch of this man's faith, I'll thank God and consider myself somewhat on the way to being a true follower of Christ.

BOB
Posted By: RomanRedneck Re: There's no place like home... - 01/16/08 11:53 PM
AMM,

You ask:

Quote
From a non theological standpoint (since you mentioned you don't think that's an issue), what exactly is it that you think you "are"? What I mean is what do you think your tradition is that is different or distinct that would set you apart from the other traditions you're talking about?


I'll have to think on this. From a practical point of view it's always easier to tell how *others* are different from oneself. It's not always easy to define one's own redeeming qualities...if they even exist. I don't need to look through any special glasses to see that a Greek community is quite different from my own. On the other hand, BEING a Southerner, being accustomed to this culture I must admit to being somewhat blind to what sets it apart from others. To me it simply is home.

Again, I want to be absolutely clear that I not only respect other cultures, but enjoy participating in them and learning from them. I simply do not wish to abandon my own for another. I do not think this is unreasonable at all.

Quote
Lastly I guess is the question of what is it to be "American" or "Southern". One could say the immigrant Orthodox experience for instance is a quintessentially American one and part of the tapestry of our culture. It certainly is, but does that mean one can comfortably go from being an Anglo American from a different religious culture, go to an Orthodox church, and totally fit in. Maybe, maybe not. Everyone is different.


I agree with you here. In one regard America does not have a particular culture of it's own. It is, as you say, a tapestry of cultures woven together in a single national identity. On the other hand, this is much more true in the North than in the South. Those of you who are from the North may not be able to appreciate what being a Southerner means to a native of the South. While the North has almost always largely been a melting pot of various European influences, with no single one absorbing all the rest, this is not the case with the South. The southern states are largely, English, Irish and Scottish stock, traditionally Anglican in religious sentiment. Here in the south developed a genuine culture. Flawed yes, but a unique culture clearly discernible as such. Unlike most Northerners who's "roots" lie in the "old country" native southerners roots lie here...in the south. We do not look to an "old country" for cultural identity. We have our own. It is true that there are "others" among us. Such as the Eastern Europeans who immigrated to the coal fields of West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee...bringing their Orthodoxy with them. And the Roman Catholic's of "French" Louisiana and the Gulf coast bayou country. As well as the remnants of Spanish Catholicism in Texas and Florida. These and other groups kept their cultural identities while being assimilated into the over arching culture of the South. And, in their own ways, contributed to Southern culture. But the fact that they remained distinct...in their own neighborhoods and churches...highlights the fact that they were strangers in another culture. This simply was not the case in the North where there WAS no dominant culture. LOL I even know Chinese who have been in the south for over 150 years. They talk like southerners, cook fried chicken, eat grits and sit in rocking chairs on the front porch in the summer.

In the south, we talk to people we don't know in the grocery store. We wave at people we don't know who drive down our street. When we visit friends we stay late and expect them to do the same when they visit us. We think that someone who comes for dinner and leaves right away is rude.

I guess to answer you question, AMM, about what sets Southern culture apart as unique...what about it is "different" is that a southerner, at his best, will bend over backwards to make someone new, or different feel at home and will go out of his way to welcome them. He will not hesitate to invite that person home for dinner...even if he's only met them once or twice and he's "nice" to a fault. Off the top of my head that's all I can come up with at the moment.

Jason
Posted By: Logos - Alexis Re: There's no place like home... - 01/17/08 01:33 AM
Jason,

I feel your pain, sometimes. As a fellow Georgian and proud Southerner, I sometimes yearn for the days of my simple, Southern, familiar and friendly Methodist service where everyone's family goes back generations and everyone speaks with an accent.

No matter how beautiful a Divine Liturgy or how splendid a Mass, there are times when all I want is to be singing Wesleyan hymns and listening to a good 40 minute sermon.

It is human nature to yearn for the familiar. But it's not worth excluding yourself from the the Holy Church founded by Christ. I don't think non-Southerners realize the culture shock that most of us Dixieans go through in the Mass or Divine Liturgy. We don't feel 100% comfortable at Mass with all these people who dress so casually and don't have Southern accents and don't sing well (sorry, guys), etc. It is a sacrifice that I live with daily, but it is worth it.

Prayers,
Alexis
Posted By: Alice Re: There's no place like home... - 01/17/08 01:47 AM
So much of what is a part of us and our personal identity are those benign aspects of our social and religious cultures..whether it is Byzantine chant (I sometimes think that my husband just wouldn't feel Orthodox without it), or Southern charm and good old fashioned Southern Protestant religion, it is all part of what makes us feel comfortable.

There is nothing wrong with that...and perhaps the best thing to do is to not give it up completely, no matter where our lives and paths, spiritual or otherwise, take us. 'Comfort food' doesn't only take the form of food that reminds us of home and fills our stomach and psyche with good memories, but it can also be spiritual and cultural memories which fill our souls with happiness and nostalgia ....(one might call it 'soul food'-- LOL!!) wink

Alice

P.S. Jason: Genteel, hospitable, charming Southern culture is indeed unique and I am proud, as an American, that it is a part of our greater United States, and you are lucky to be a part of that distinct culture--worshipping in a church which is not a traditional part of that culture should not change who you are, and I bet that you will find alot of the traits that make the South wonderful adapted by those ethnic 'others'!! I once attended a Greek Orthodox wedding in Mobile, Alabama. The people were ethnically Greek, but very Southern in every other way...I was even bowled over by how the Bible Belt had conformed them in their Orthodoxy to be just as spiritual as their Protestant neighbors. It was interesting to hear Jesus mentioned and credited so often at the speeches in the reception, in casual conversation, etc. Why, I have been to GO priest's wedding receptions here in the North that were nowhere near that spiritual in feeling!!


Posted By: AMM Re: There's no place like home... - 01/17/08 02:01 AM
Originally Posted by RomanRedneck
BEING a Southerner, being accustomed to this culture I must admit to being somewhat blind to what sets it apart from others.


I guess I'm asking what is it that you think you would have to give up or set aside in order to be Orthodox. What is it about yourself or your identity that you think would change? What would you as you say have to abandon?

Quote
I agree with you here. In one regard America does not have a particular culture of it's own. It is, as you say, a tapestry of cultures woven together in a single national identity. On the other hand, this is much more true in the North than in the South. Those of you who are from the North may not be able to appreciate what being a Southerner means to a native of the South. While the North has almost always largely been a melting pot of various European influences, with no single one absorbing all the rest, this is not the case with the South. The southern states are largely, English, Irish and Scottish stock, traditionally Anglican in religious sentiment. Here in the south developed a genuine culture. Flawed yes, but a unique culture clearly discernible as such. Unlike most Northerners who's "roots" lie in the "old country" native southerners roots lie here...in the south. We do not look to an "old country" for cultural identity. We have our own. It is true that there are "others" among us. Such as the Eastern Europeans who immigrated to the coal fields of West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee...bringing their Orthodoxy with them. And the Roman Catholic's of "French" Louisiana and the Gulf coast bayou country. As well as the remnants of Spanish Catholicism in Texas and Florida. These and other groups kept their cultural identities while being assimilated into the over arching culture of the South. And, in their own ways, contributed to Southern culture. But the fact that they remained distinct...in their own neighborhoods and churches...highlights the fact that they were strangers in another culture. This simply was not the case in the North where there WAS no dominant culture. LOL I even know Chinese who have been in the south for over 150 years. They talk like southerners, cook fried chicken, eat grits and sit in rocking chairs on the front porch in the summer.


It's difficult to completely generalize. There is a common element to our culture that ties us all together, but there are probably things that make one Southern or Northern, and within those are distinct micro cultures. One thing I've always felt in the South is one can more openly and freely express religious conviction. My family are pretty much Scots-Irish Presbyterians from Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma; though I lived most of my life in California, Florida and the Mid Atlantic. I guess I have sort of a generic American background in reality. I don't see myself as Southern or Northern. Even though the culture of my parish is not my own, I have to say in some odd ways I find some parallels between my own family background and that of the Carpatho-Russians. Ultimately though I'm not interested in being Carpatho-Russian, and the people in my parish are completely removed from that experience; the majority now being third generation. The parish is definitely American and Orthodox.

You noted correctly that the South isn't even one thing. Acadia is not Northern Mississippi, Savannah is not Tuscaloosa, Newport News is not Little Rock. Nothing is like New Orleans. Even within the South there are very distinct cultures and outlooks. All of them are of course completely American.
Posted By: Nan Re: There's no place like home... - 01/17/08 02:19 AM
Jason, I can't tell from your posts, are you basing your comments about not wanting to take on an identity that isn't yours from real life situations or from the ethnic chatter here? Because I have no clue what they're talking about half the time, either with the ethnic stuff or the advanced theology and stop reading when my brain hurts.

With regard to ethnicity in churches, I don't view Roman Catholic churches I have attended as ethnic despite the ceremonial use of Latin; however, the churches that seem "normal" to me have traditional buildings(here is the church, here is the steeple...) and are fairly traditional in their practices. I haven't been to a wide range of Catholic churches but rejected my college's Newman Center because they did strange things there and have read about other Catholic churches that sound far to liberal for me.

I don't see a major difference between English and Scottish immigrants retaining their own culture and bringing their own churches and traditions here and any church you would describe as ethnic, save for the recency of the immigration. The problem seems to be that you want the Church to conform to your normal. That ship sailed with HM King Henry VIII.

I don't see the problem with ethnic churches, but that could be because Minnesota is a more recently settled state, which continues to have large populations of new immigrant groups. I have attended DL at the Russian Orthodox Cathedral, which is very nice, and at the Byzantine Ruthenian Church (it is Ruthenian, isn't it?) when it was in Old Church Slavonic. It was perfect. While I've been told I'm Rusyn and have had relatives who were members of both those churches, they're not my tradition, from either a liturgical or ethnic perspective. I have also attended DL at the Maronite church, which in some ways was easier since some of the elements of the liturgy are familiar to me. Not that I understand Arabic or Aramaic. At each church there was someone sitting near me who tried to keep me on the right page. I didn't have the sense that ethnicity mattered at any of these churches.

Posted By: Pani Rose Re: There's no place like home... - 01/17/08 03:11 AM
I don't know, at St. George, the DL is sung mostly in English, with parts in Arabic and Greek. However, the majority is English. It is beautiful!
Posted By: Elizabeth Maria Re: There's no place like home... - 01/17/08 03:13 AM
Wow! I too am a Georgia peach.
Born in Atlanta, Georgia.

When I was a young college student, my aunt took me to the Maronite Catholic Church in Atlanta, introduced me to the married priest and his wife and I was in culture shock. A married Catholic priest with children. Wow. Then she told me that I was of French Lebanese heritage and that these were my people too. Double culture shock. My native born American parents never informed me that I was Irish-German, French-Lebanese, and 1/8 Cherokee. Triple culture shock. In fact, they did not know that themselves because their parents had kept it a secret in the pursuit of the American Dream.

I got over it and then joined the Melkite Church in Los Angeles where I lived. From then I went over to the Orthodox Church, this time a Russian one. Now I am a linguist and appreciate the different languages.

God provides.

Originally Posted by Logos - Alexis
Jason,

I feel your pain, sometimes. As a fellow Georgian and proud Southerner, I sometimes yearn for the days of my simple, Southern, familiar and friendly Methodist service where everyone's family goes back generations and everyone speaks with an accent.

No matter how beautiful a Divine Liturgy or how splendid a Mass, there are times when all I want is to be singing Wesleyan hymns and listening to a good 40 minute sermon.

It is human nature to yearn for the familiar. But it's not worth excluding yourself from the the Holy Church founded by Christ. I don't think non-Southerners realize the culture shock that most of us Dixieans go through in the Mass or Divine Liturgy. We don't feel 100% comfortable at Mass with all these people who dress so casually and don't have Southern accents and don't sing well (sorry, guys), etc. It is a sacrifice that I live with daily, but it is worth it.

Prayers,
Alexis
Posted By: Logos - Alexis Re: There's no place like home... - 01/17/08 03:20 AM
Elizabeth Maria,

I'm originally from Atlanta too, although my mother's family is from the small town west of Atlanta where I spent most of my youth and my parents still live. I was born in Piedmont Hospital, how about you?

In fact, my house was in Inman Park on Euclid, which as you know is a mere 50 yards from St. Joseph's Maronite Church of which you speak.

Small world!

Alexis
Posted By: Elizabeth Maria Re: There's no place like home... - 01/17/08 03:38 AM
Yes, good old St. Joseph's Maronite Church. I visited there during Christmas of 1973 during my winter break. I remember that the patio in the inner courtyard was filled with tables laden with delicious Middle Eastern foods. I was really surprised because I fully expected the people to be speaking Arabic or some strange language because the Liturgy was entirely in Aramaic. They spoke fluent English to my delight. The khouria was encouraging me to eat all these different foods because I looked skinny to her. It was a wonderful visit.

Since I left Georgia when I was six months old, I am not familiar with the city. However, everytime I visited Atlanta, I had to relearn the landmarks because of all the new construction. I think some of my relatives lived in Piedmont Park on Peach Tree. I will have to ask my mom.
Posted By: Logos - Alexis Re: There's no place like home... - 01/17/08 03:46 AM
Haha! They might very well live on Peachtree near the Park, but not in it...unless they're geese or something. wink

Alexis
Posted By: Elizabeth Maria Re: There's no place like home... - 01/17/08 03:57 AM
Originally Posted by Logos - Alexis
Haha! They might very well live on Peachtree near the Park, but not in it...unless they're geese or something. wink

Alexis


Well, of course, they lived on PeachTree, not in the Park. smile

Which park had a very large swimming pool that was circular (not the typical rectangular swimming pool)?
Posted By: RomanRedneck Re: There's no place like home... - 01/17/08 08:55 AM
Avoiding all the jargon I have stated in my earlier posts...what I'm saying is there is no reason why there should not be an native expression of Orthodoxy in the US. That said, and no offense intended to anyone, I don't think the OCA is the answer. Please do not ask my reasons for this opinion of the OCA. I will not share them.

IMO, if Orthodoxy is to ever FLOURISH in these United States, it's going to have to do this. I just don't see us Americans sticking with foreign customs for very long.

Jason
Posted By: ajk Re: There's no place like home... - 01/17/08 03:17 PM
Originally Posted by RomanRedneck
... is there is no reason why there should not be an native expression of Orthodoxy in the US.


There is every reason there should be such an expression. Even more specifically, in the "South" it might become, eventually, (by analogy) something along the lines of "The Dixie Recension".


Originally Posted by RomanRedneck
I just don't see us Americans sticking with foreign customs for very long.


A valid point to consider, but realize it is made from the perspective of one's own -- "us Americans" ... "foreign customs" -- particular "ghetto".

Dn. Anthony



Posted By: RomanRedneck Re: There's no place like home... - 01/17/08 03:37 PM
Quote
A valid point to consider, but realize it is made from the perspective of one's own -- "us Americans" ... "foreign customs" -- particular "ghetto".


Fair enough. But, I hope my comments, heretofore, have been clear enough that I don't consider anyone else's traditions or customs to be inferior...just not my own.

Jason
Posted By: Father Deacon Ed Re: There's no place like home... - 01/17/08 03:56 PM
Originally Posted by RomanRedneck
Avoiding all the jargon I have stated in my earlier posts...what I'm saying is there is no reason why there should not be an native expression of Orthodoxy in the US.
Now this is a point on which I think we can agree. The United States is an exception to the normal development of the Eastern Churches.

Technically, the Russians were here first (from an Eastern perspective), so they should get "first crack" at the development of the Church. The problem is that this "new world" is a place where many different traditions came together without merging. Each retained its own language and traditions.

Even today it is virtually impossible to think of a single church for the United States, let alone the Americas. And that's both a good thing and a bad thing.

It's bad because it violates the early Church's principle of "one city, one bishop." It's bad because it does not develop a local tradition. Clearly the Melkite and Russian traditions are examples of movement from one tradition to another so it's not as if that were impossible.

At the same time, it's good because people who have come here have sought out their own traditions, the things that make them feel comfortable (and that's not always a good thing), that make them feel 'at home."

Since the United States has such a wide variety of traditions, it's unlikely that it will ever develop its own flavor (in spite of attempts by the Antiochian Church).

But there is nothing in what I've seen that requires you to adopt a particular culture to attend a given Church. You will, however, have to adopt particular expressions of the faith whtehr it be in the form of greetings, singing, ways of going to communion or whatever -- but that is true of every Church and faith tradition!

Fr. Deacon Ed
Posted By: Fr Serge Keleher Re: There's no place like home... - 01/17/08 04:21 PM
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
Posted By: RomanRedneck Re: There's no place like home... - 01/17/08 04:26 PM
No offense intended Fr Serge, but you know little about life in the American south.

Jason
Posted By: Orthodox Catholic Re: There's no place like home... - 01/17/08 05:03 PM
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?

Alex
Posted By: ajk Re: There's no place like home... - 01/17/08 05:22 PM
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
Posted By: AMM Re: There's no place like home... - 01/17/08 05:26 PM
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/

Posted By: RomanRedneck Re: There's no place like home... - 01/17/08 05:39 PM
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
Posted By: Logos - Alexis Re: There's no place like home... - 01/17/08 06:56 PM
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).

Alexis
Posted By: ebed melech Re: There's no place like home... - 01/17/08 08:00 PM
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
Posted By: RomanRedneck Re: There's no place like home... - 01/17/08 08:24 PM
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
Posted By: ebed melech Re: There's no place like home... - 01/17/08 08:36 PM
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...

Gordo
Posted By: AMM Re: There's no place like home... - 01/17/08 09:10 PM
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.
Posted By: Elizabeth Maria Re: There's no place like home... - 01/18/08 01:12 AM
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
Posted By: harmon3110 Re: There's no place like home... - 01/18/08 10:11 AM
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 today’s' 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 can’t 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. Don’t 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


Posted By: Fr Serge Keleher Re: There's no place like home... - 01/18/08 10:11 AM
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
Posted By: ebed melech Re: There's no place like home... - 01/18/08 11:53 AM
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
Posted By: RomanRedneck Re: There's no place like home... - 01/18/08 12:55 PM
Gordo,

I think that fellow there been imbibing the corn squeezin's!

J-
Posted By: RomanRedneck Re: There's no place like home... - 01/18/08 12:58 PM
John,

You wrote:

Quote
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 can’t 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.


That helps. Particularly the last 4 sentences.

Thanks,

Jason
Posted By: ebed melech Re: There's no place like home... - 01/18/08 01:04 PM
Originally Posted by RomanRedneck
Gordo,

I think that fellow there been imbibing the corn squeezin's!

J-


A little too much Mountain Dew!

Gordo
Posted By: ebed melech Re: There's no place like home... - 01/18/08 02:58 PM
Here is an interesting quote on "Inculturation" from the Pontifical Biblical Commission and its document The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church:

Quote
While actualization allows the Bible to remain fruitful at different periods, inculturation in a corresponding way looks to the diversity of place: It ensures that the biblical message takes root in a great variety of terrains. This diversity is, to be sure, never total. Every authentic culture is, in fact, in its own way the bearer of universal values established by God.

The theological foundation of inculturation is the conviction of faith that the word of God transcends the cultures in which it has found expression and has the capability of being spread in other cultures, in such a way as to be able to reach all human beings in the cultural context in which they live. This conviction springs from the Bible itself, which, right from the book of Genesis, adopts a universalist stance (Gn. 1:27-28), maintains it subsequently in the blessing promised to all peoples through Abraham and his offspring (Gn. 12:3; 18:18) and confirms it definitively in extending to "all nations" the proclamation of the Christian Gospel (Mt. 28:18-20; Rom. 4:16-17; Eph. 3:6).


http://www.ewtn.com/library/CURIA/PBCINTER.htm
Posted By: theophan Re: There's no place like home... - 01/18/08 03:00 PM
GORDO:

Speaking of Mountain Dew, I didn't know how much caffeine the stuff contained until just the other day. I have a fund raiser coupon booklet for a sandwich shop that allows for a sandwich and a fountain soda of any size. Since I don't drink the stuff and didn't want to leave anything on the table, I've been taking a 32 oz Mountain Dew back for one of the other members of the staff who doesn't drink coffee for almost two weeks now. I noticed him twitching yesterday. When I asked him what was up, he said he'd been wired for almost a week and couldn't sleep. BUT HE'S STILL WILLING TO DRINK THE STUFF. laugh biggrin

BOB
Posted By: ebed melech Re: There's no place like home... - 01/18/08 03:29 PM
Bob,

Yes - very, very potent stuff. I have never enjoyed it personally...

"Moutain Dew", BTW, is also an old euphemism popular in Appalachia for moonshine.

Happy B-day!

Gordo
Posted By: Dr. Eric Re: There's no place like home... - 01/18/08 03:55 PM
Jason,

So, you'd prefer this:

http://www.cmt.com/videos/misc/2028...21&sid=24233&eid=128231&did=

Over this:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?d...0&so=0&type=search&plindex=0

My wife loves the My Big Redneck Wedding show on CMT.
Posted By: ajk Re: There's no place like home... - 01/18/08 04:15 PM
Originally Posted by RomanRedneck
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. ... Some illustrations would be white spirituals (not the lyrics...just the musical form), the fa-so-la tradition and the Sacred Harp tradition.

Jason and all,

Of the range of adaptations I gave, this -- chant, singing -- is an intermediate one and is a good "test case". How important is this to the Southern ethos?

I didn't say it before, but what we're talking about here is really evangelization: proclaiming the orthodox -- Byzantine in this case -- expression of the Gospel to the un-baptized, and to other Christians. It should not have to take form as being Russian, or Greek, or any other ethnicity, but rather be from elements of the indigenous culture that are compatible with the Gospel.

I had heard of the Sacred Harp and just reacquainted myself with it, and I see how it, as one example, could function as you said. Would singing the Troparion etc. to tones/modes based on Sacred Harp melodies really click with you, with the people? Would it be a good vehicle for evangelization by allowing the people to worship through a familiar medium with which they identify rather than one which, even if acceptable at best, is still someone else’s.

This is just one “for instance.” Speculate: what would a Southern Byzantine-orthodoxy liturgy be like.

Dn. Anthony
Posted By: RomanRedneck Re: There's no place like home... - 01/18/08 04:50 PM
Originally Posted by Dr. Eric
Jason,

So, you'd prefer this:

http://www.cmt.com/videos/misc/2028...21&sid=24233&eid=128231&did=

Over this:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?d...0&so=0&type=search&plindex=0

My wife loves the My Big Redneck Wedding show on CMT.


ROFL! That's terrific!

Well, good Doctor, I admit, the Redneck wedding is more "comfortable" to me...the Greek is certainly more "pretty".

But...Redneck is not the same as Southern. There are "rednecks" in Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, etc. My personal definition for a redneck is "someone who prefers camouflage to all other prints, who thinks beer really is better than champagne, bathes at least once a year and thinks women with big hair are beautiful beyond words."

Southern culture is descended from the cavaliers and is genteel, refined and "cultured".

Jason
Posted By: RomanRedneck Re: There's no place like home... - 01/18/08 05:30 PM
Dn Anthony:

Quote
Of the range of adaptations I gave, this -- chant, singing -- is an intermediate one and is a good "test case". How important is this to the Southern ethos?


I would say it is VERY important. Music is the poetry of a culture and springs from it's very heart.(That says worlds about modern music, does it not?) Our traditional musical forms have played a tremendous role in shaping who we are...particularly spiritually. It is not unusual for total pagans to sing these songs just for fun...if they are from the south. I've even observed atheistic JEWS sing this stuff.

Quote
I had heard of the Sacred Harp and just reacquainted myself with it, and I see how it, as one example, could function as you said. Would singing the Troparion etc. to tones/modes based on Sacred Harp melodies really click with you, with the people? Would it be a good vehicle for evangelization by allowing the people to worship through a familiar medium with which they identify rather than one which, even if acceptable at best, is still someone else’s.


It would certainly click with me. And I believe it would click with anyone here who is inclined to a more profound form of worship than found in Protestantism. For all the laid-backness of the south, there is a deep contemplative strain that flows through our traditional music conveying a sense of wonder and awe. There are, in every town, groups who get together on a regular basis to learn and sing these songs. It is still a living tradition...frankly, the only thing that has caused it to wane is the tremendous influx of northerners to the south over the past 40 years. But there seems to be a real rebound and attempt to preserve these musical traditions in the past decade or so.

Quote
This is just one “for instance.” Speculate: what would a Southern Byzantine-orthodoxy liturgy be like.


Well, and I say this jokingly, the words of institution are just an apostrophe away from using the word "y'all". "Drink *ye all* of it." biggrin

I would suggest Elizabethan English and the Coverdale Psalter for starters. The KJV is beautiful, but not so good for chanting. Also, perhaps the use of English plain-chant could be used. This is quite traditional in the South as is the "morning-prayer" tradition.

Monasticism even fits the southern ethos. There is a Jerusalem Patriarchate Greek Orthodox monastery in Resaca, GA...just south of Chatanooga...they receive frequent visits from the local Baptists who seem to hold them in high regard and do not feel threatened by them...why? Because the monks are all southern boys! biggrin

As much as I appreciate both Roman and Byzantine vestments...they are just too fancy for us. Something less dazzling would be better...but not along the lines of the garbage you see in some novus ordo parishes...kente stoles...rainbow vestments...BARF! Traditional silk or brocade is fine...just toned down a bit. Hank Williams Jr notwithstanding...we don't all wear sunglasses indoors!

Jason
Posted By: Dr. Eric Re: There's no place like home... - 01/18/08 05:46 PM
Originally Posted by RomanRedneck
Originally Posted by Dr. Eric
Jason,

So, you'd prefer this:

http://www.cmt.com/videos/misc/2028...21&sid=24233&eid=128231&did=

Over this:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?d...0&so=0&type=search&plindex=0

My wife loves the My Big Redneck Wedding show on CMT.


ROFL! That's terrific!

Well, good Doctor, I admit, the Redneck wedding is more "comfortable" to me...the Greek is certainly more "pretty".

But...Redneck is not the same as Southern. There are "rednecks" in Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, etc. My personal definition for a redneck is "someone who prefers camouflage to all other prints, who thinks beer really is better than champagne, bathes at least once a year and thinks women with big hair are beautiful beyond words."

Southern culture is descended from the cavaliers and is genteel, refined and "cultured".

Jason


That sounds like every one I know from back home.

Thought you might like this:

[Linked Image]

What a cute couple me and Amber made, Jake was the Dog of Honor.
Posted By: Our Lady's slave Re: There's no place like home... - 01/18/08 05:51 PM
< Stunned > biggrin
Well what can I say ?
Posted By: RomanRedneck Re: There's no place like home... - 01/18/08 05:51 PM
Oh dear...how did that get on the net? I guess my ex wife is out to get me! Jake, you were a good dog!

J-
Posted By: Pani Rose Re: There's no place like home... - 01/18/08 06:03 PM
The Byzantine Church and Culture
By Archbishop Joseph Raya

http://rumkatkilise.org/rayabyzantium.htm
Posted By: Dr. Eric Re: There's no place like home... - 01/18/08 06:05 PM
Originally Posted by RomanRedneck
Oh dear...how did that get on the net? I guess my ex wife is out to get me! Jake, you were a good dog!

J-


laugh

As many of you can see, I contribute nothing to this topic.

blush laugh
Posted By: ajk Re: There's no place like home... - 01/18/08 06:18 PM
Originally Posted by RomanRedneck
Quote
Of the range of adaptations I gave, this -- chant, singing -- is an intermediate one and is a good "test case". How important is this to the Southern ethos?


I would say it is VERY important. Music is the poetry of a culture and springs from it's very heart.
.
.
.
It would certainly click with me. And I believe it would click with anyone here who is inclined to a more profound form of worship than found in Protestantism.


I pray that it will happen. Perhaps some bishop, somewhere, some day ...

May God bless your efforts and insights, and prosper the work of your hands (cf. Psalm 90:17).

Dn. Anthony

Posted By: RomanRedneck Re: There's no place like home... - 01/18/08 06:24 PM
Dn. Anthony,

Thank you for your comments and encouragement. This thread is yielding many good thoughts from all parties.

Jason
Posted By: A Simple Sinner Re: There's no place like home... - 01/18/08 06:44 PM
Originally Posted by RomanRedneck
I know from back home.

Thought you might like this:

[Linked Image]

What a cute couple me and Amber made, Jake was the Dog of Honor.


This photo is rather suspect if only because that dog appears to be a discearnable breed (rott), yet not a pitt bull!

heheh
Posted By: AMM Re: There's no place like home... - 01/18/08 07:12 PM
I'm not sure what my kids will think they are. Ethnically they're Scottish, Irish, English, Welsh, Korean, Swiss and Native American. They were baptized in the Antiochian Church and go to a Carpatho-Russian Church now (though my daugher vaguely remembers our previous church before we became Orthodox). One was born on the West coast and one on the East. They have extended family that's Protestant, Catholic, Jewish and Agnostic/Atheist. They have second cousins that are fully caucasian, fully asian, and mixed caucasian and African-American. They have family in basically all corners of the country. They will both take Spanish in school.

I think we have our bases covered!
Posted By: Elizabeth Maria Re: There's no place like home... - 01/18/08 07:21 PM
My in-laws are Swedish-Norwegian, Romanian-Germans, Greek, Chinese, Filipino, and Mexicans. It is rapidly becoming a mini United Nations.
Posted By: AMM Re: There's no place like home... - 01/18/08 07:51 PM
When we were at Disney World last month we of course did the Small World ride. I thought maybe we should just move in there.
Posted By: dochawk Re: There's no place like home... - 01/18/08 10:46 PM
Originally Posted by Elizabeth Maria
My in-laws are Swedish-Norwegian, Romanian-Germans, Greek, Chinese, Filipino, and Mexicans. It is rapidly becoming a mini United Nations.


Much better than *my* "UN" experience--

When we moved back to our home after evicting the tenants, we found a mini-UN: we had Mexican roaches, German roaches, and at least one more species frown

That was July 07. It's onl in th last month or two that we finally won the battles indoors. [we had to spend a week in a hotel before they were down enough to put the beds into the house!]

Two years of Truly Nolen, which only contained. Boric acid and the HotShot spray were the solution.

hawk
hawk
Posted By: Elizabeth Maria Re: There's no place like home... - 01/18/08 10:58 PM
That would be the wingless Oriental cockroaches which can reach three inches, and the American Cockroach which flies and can be two inches long. The German cockroaches are under an inch, and do not fly, but they can speedily get there too.

In Georgia, my grandmother had all three and I spent my summer months getting rid of them. My first night was awful. I figured that the roaches would not get me through the mosquito netting and the pans of water under the bed, but those American cockroaches can fly and crawl. They have got to be the worse.

We had an old southern song my dad would sing:

Mosquito, he fly high
Mosquito, he fly low.
Mosquito light on me. [clap]
Mosquito fly no mow.

Oh, it ain't gonna rain no mow, no mow.
It ain't gonna rain no mow,
So, how in the heck can I wash my neck,
If it ain't gonna rain no mow.
Posted By: ebed melech Re: There's no place like home... - 01/18/08 11:04 PM
Originally Posted by Pani Rose
The Byzantine Church and Culture
By Archbishop Joseph Raya

http://rumkatkilise.org/rayabyzantium.htm


Pani Rose,

I read this book many years ago while driving (yes - you read that right) from Minneapolis to Des Moines. It is a marvellous little book!

Gordo
Posted By: Alice Re: There's no place like home... - 01/19/08 01:41 AM
All:

This thread has gone all over the place and has gone off topic. Some posters have even been insulted by some of Jason's remarks.

Some of us, (Harmon/John's last post was particularly good) have earnestly tried to help Jason see and understand different points of view. I hope that Jason has appreciated the effort that went into those posts, and I hope that they have helped him.

At this point, I am sorry, but I think that it is time to close this thread because nothing can really be added to the original topic at this point.

Alice, Moderator
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