Cradles fascinated by converts

pensateomnia

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NorthernPines said:
That's because many think those are the ONLY two options. There is a whole middle ground as well. One can be a non-cradle Orthodox, not adopt ethnic Orthodox practices and still remain Orthodox. Eventually this will be the path Orthodoxy must take in North America if it is to thrive. But that's another discussion entirely.
My main point, especially for Michal's sake (since he has very limited exposure to converts), is that the commitment he admires is sometimes superficial and short lived.
 

Second Chance

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NorthernPines said:
pensateomnia said:
Micha? Kalina said:
I often disappointed about cradles' approach to faith and I prefer converts' more intellectual approach. I wish the cradles knew half about the Orthodoxy converts do.

Any thoughts?
A significant percentage of converts (especially ones with an intellectual approach) either (a) end up adopting cradle attitudes and practices or (b) leave the Orthodox Church entirely after several years.
That's because many think those are the ONLY two options. There is a whole middle ground as well. One can be a non-cradle Orthodox, not adopt ethnic Orthodox practices and still remain Orthodox. Eventually this will be the path Orthodoxy must take in North America if it is to thrive. But that's another discussion entirely.
Or, one can be a cradle Orthodox and reject ethnic Orthodox practices and attitudes as normative. In any approach there are pitfalls. Use of the intellect can be a problem if it is not accompanied by true worship and prayer. Non-use of the intellect may be a problem, even when in the context of true prayer and worship, as it can lead to fetishes and cults. The same goes for ethnic practices, or simply adherence to "what is received": we must know WHAT we are doing and WHY we are doing them. Any blind or uncritical approach poses the possibility of serious deviations.

Regarding converts, I think that they do know the WHAT and WHY better than cradles. If they are overly intellectual in their approach and do not pray and worship in earnest, with all their hearts and minds, their faith is a shallow one and would indeed result in their separation from the Church. I think that the problem here is imbalance. A fascinating article by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volomsk, Atheism and Orthodoxy in Modern Russia, also points out that the vaunted piety of the Orthodox faithful did not prevent their apostasy to Godless Communism. http://en.hilarion.orthodoxia.org/6_8

If I were to choose between the two groups, I would choose the converts but I would include in this group cradles who "converted" as adults, that is, those of use who grew up in an ethnic environment but, not being afraid to use our God-given minds, educated themselves and are using discernment as befits any disciple of the Lord. I should add that I am specifically excluding anyone, convert or cradle, who is a nominal Church member. In short, one cannot just believe or just worship--you have to do both.
 

orthonorm

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As i have mentioned before, I get asked freuqently, why are you considering becoming Orthodox by parishioners, whether cradle or convert. Always well meaning.

The usually within the question ask whether I am RC or if my fiancée or wife is Orthodox.

When I answer neither, they act like it is a head scratcher.

   
 

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I think it is only the converts themselves who are fascinated by converts.  Converts are always so eager to "share". Most of us cradles go to churches where everyone is like us and we are busy with our own lives and families and our own little corner of the world.
 

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orthonorm said:
As i have mentioned before, I get asked freuqently, why are you considering becoming Orthodox by parishioners, whether cradle or convert. Always well meaning.

The usually within the question ask whether I am RC or if my fiancée or wife is Orthodox.

When I answer neither, they act like it is a head scratcher.

   
I experienced the same thing when I was going to a Greek parish, I found it funny because our priest was himself a convert from the Southern Baptist denomination.  I think it is just that it is rather recent (within the past generation) that Protestants have been looking into Orthodoxy in earnest, partly due to the collapse of the mainline, liturgical-tradition denominations and partly due to the emptiness of Evangelical traditions that is felt each time a new generation comes into power (a tradition that is only as old as your great-grandparents is going to seem mighty weak once you start questioning it).

Another thing I find funny is the parishes I have attended with half or greater percentage of converts have been overwhelmingly made up of converts from more Protestant and Evangelical backgrounds and also tend to have several different ethnicities making up the cradles.  I can only imagine how these parishes could look to cradles like children "playing Orthodox".  At the OCA church I've been attending most recently I had a fellow parishoner come up to me during the Hours and ask if it was still okay to light a candle.  This was funny to me on two levels: 1) The entire time I've been Orthodox I have also been too broke to afford candles (fifty cents is quite a bit when you're taking several buses and the city doesn't have transfers) so I haven't lit all that many myself and 2) Not only have I been officially Orthodox for only 8 months now, but until very recently I had never been to a parish that did Hours before Liturgy as opposed to Orthros.  I shudder to think what "traditions" I might be inadvertently passing on to other converts who might be watching me and thinking "this guy seems to know what he's doing".  I laugh to think of the cradles who might see me and thinking "what's with this guy?  He crosses himself like a Greek, reverences icons like an Arab, greets a priest like a Russian, and who knows where he learned how to do a metania." 
 

orthonorm

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FormerReformer said:
orthonorm said:
As i have mentioned before, I get asked freuqently, why are you considering becoming Orthodox by parishioners, whether cradle or convert. Always well meaning.

The usually within the question ask whether I am RC or if my fiancée or wife is Orthodox.

When I answer neither, they act like it is a head scratcher.

   
I experienced the same thing when I was going to a Greek parish, I found it funny because our priest was himself a convert from the Southern Baptist denomination.  I think it is just that it is rather recent (within the past generation) that Protestants have been looking into Orthodoxy in earnest, partly due to the collapse of the mainline, liturgical-tradition denominations and partly due to the emptiness of Evangelical traditions that is felt each time a new generation comes into power (a tradition that is only as old as your great-grandparents is going to seem mighty weak once you start questioning it).

Another thing I find funny is the parishes I have attended with half or greater percentage of converts have been overwhelmingly made up of converts from more Protestant and Evangelical backgrounds and also tend to have several different ethnicities making up the cradles.  I can only imagine how these parishes could look to cradles like children "playing Orthodox".  At the OCA church I've been attending most recently I had a fellow parishoner come up to me during the Hours and ask if it was still okay to light a candle.  This was funny to me on two levels: 1) The entire time I've been Orthodox I have also been too broke to afford candles (fifty cents is quite a bit when you're taking several buses and the city doesn't have transfers) so I haven't lit all that many myself and 2) Not only have I been officially Orthodox for only 8 months now, but until very recently I had never been to a parish that did Hours before Liturgy as opposed to Orthros.  I shudder to think what "traditions" I might be inadvertently passing on to other converts who might be watching me and thinking "this guy seems to know what he's doing".  I laugh to think of the cradles who might see me and thinking "what's with this guy?  He crosses himself like a Greek, reverences icons like an Arab, greets a priest like a Russian, and who knows where he learned how to do a metania." 
This is my problem about when in Rome. I am in many cities and countries at the parish I visit. I just don't know what to do at times.

I've seen folks here criticize converts for doing things they probably don't understand like a metanoia. But how do children learn?

My next talk with my Priest is going to be about among others things: can you just assign me a person to follow because I want to get involved more "bodily" in the liturgy? There are points in the Divine Liturgy where "cradles" are crossing themselves, doing a metanoia, not crossing themselves, bowing their heads, bowing at the waist, fully prostrating, or crossing themselves with what I can only describe as an "x" shaped cross simultaneously.

What am I to do? At our first talk, he said to do whatever you feel comfortable with, but now there are aspects I want to participate in, but don't have a clue about what to do. I am not saying any of the above are wrong or right, but it would be nice to have a consistent practice to follow.

Strange moment:

I was standing as the Communion line was forming once and Orthodox Romanian fellow evidently new to the States, asked why some people were taking Communion and others not.

I told him to talk to the Priest.

The thing that interests others as well is that I haven't been "churched" since about 14 years of age.

 

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Michał Kalina said:
Well, most of the cradles I know choose to remain Orthodox because it's customary or because it's an ethnic feature or because they can't imagine converting, no because they mindfully think the Orthodoxy is right.
I really don't understand why you  make such blanket statements.  What does it proove. You cannot apply your iterpretation of personal discussions to the whole world of Orthodoxy.
 

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Jake said:
Michał Kalina said:
Well, most of the cradles I know choose to remain Orthodox because it's customary or because it's an ethnic feature or because they can't imagine converting, no because they mindfully think the Orthodoxy is right.
I really don't understand why you  make such blanket statements.  What does it proove. You cannot apply your iterpretation of personal discussions to the whole world of Orthodoxy.
Why shouldn't he make observations about the Orthodox he knows?  I don't think he was trying to prove anything, but simply writing from his experience. 
 

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Jake said:
Michał Kalina said:
Well, most of the cradles I know choose to remain Orthodox because it's customary or because it's an ethnic feature or because they can't imagine converting, no because they mindfully think the Orthodoxy is right.
I really don't understand why you  make such blanket statements.  What does it proove.
Well, most not 'all' of the cradles I know not 'I imagine' choose to remain Orthodox because it's customary or because it's an ethnic feature or because they can't imagine converting, no because they mindfully think the Orthodoxy is right.

You cannot apply your iterpretation of personal discussions to the whole world of Orthodoxy.
I don't do that.
 

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pensateomnia said:
Michał Kalina said:
I often disappointed about cradles' approach to faith and I prefer converts' more intellectual approach. I wish the cradles knew half about the Orthodoxy converts do.

Any thoughts?
A significant percentage of converts (especially ones with an intellectual approach) either (a) end up adopting cradle attitudes and practices or (b) leave the Orthodox Church entirely after several years.
Don't mean to come off as contentious, but how would you know?
 

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Michał Kalina said:
So there are normal converts and normal cradles but I would like to discuss the third group: cradles that are fascinated by converts (I think I belong to this group).

I am fascinated by people who have chosen Orthodoxy intentionally. I often disappointed about cradles' approach to faith and I prefer converts' more intellectual approach. I wish the cradles knew half about the Orthodoxy converts do.

Any thoughts?
Interesting topic, Michał.  :)  There are a few cradle Orthodox (both EO and OO) on this forum that I'm always in awe of.  I won't disclose their identities, but I always learn something edifying when they speak about their faith.
 

augustin717

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Jake said:
Michał Kalina said:
Well, most of the cradles I know choose to remain Orthodox because it's customary or because it's an ethnic feature or because they can't imagine converting, no because they mindfully think the Orthodoxy is right.
I really don't understand why you  make such blanket statements.  What does it proove. You cannot apply your iterpretation of personal discussions to the whole world of Orthodoxy.
It kind of describes where I come from: we believe in God and all, but specifically Orthodox we stay out of loyalty to a tradition that so happens to overlap with an ethnic group, an extended family etc.
I don't even need a proof that Orthodoxy is right or wrong (a claim impossible to prove like a theorem), because it still wouldn't make me switch to "the true church" whatever that is.
 

pensateomnia

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GabrieltheCelt said:
pensateomnia said:
Michał Kalina said:
I often disappointed about cradles' approach to faith and I prefer converts' more intellectual approach. I wish the cradles knew half about the Orthodoxy converts do.

Any thoughts?
A significant percentage of converts (especially ones with an intellectual approach) either (a) end up adopting cradle attitudes and practices or (b) leave the Orthodox Church entirely after several years.
Don't mean to come off as contentious, but how would you know?
Nearly 20 years of personal experience as a convert, worshiping and in leadership at various levels of Orthodox parishes, dioceses, pan-Orthodox groups, etc., in seven states. Just attend any national jurisdictional meeting, or a regional clergy gathering, and talk to the priests who have been serving for 20 to 50 years.
 

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pensateomnia said:
GabrieltheCelt said:
pensateomnia said:
Michał Kalina said:
I often disappointed about cradles' approach to faith and I prefer converts' more intellectual approach. I wish the cradles knew half about the Orthodoxy converts do.

Any thoughts?
A significant percentage of converts (especially ones with an intellectual approach) either (a) end up adopting cradle attitudes and practices or (b) leave the Orthodox Church entirely after several years.
Don't mean to come off as contentious, but how would you know?
Nearly 20 years of personal experience as a convert, worshiping and in leadership at various levels of Orthodox parishes, dioceses, pan-Orthodox groups, etc., in seven states. Just attend any national jurisdictional meeting, or a regional clergy gathering, and talk to the priests who have been serving for 20 to 50 years.
I would concur based on experience and direct knowledge. This goes for clergy converts as well as laity.
 

orthonorm

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Are there any tendencies in the reasons why converts leave? Do they go back to their former faith, to another?
 

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Michał Kalina said:
So there are normal converts and normal cradles but I would like to discuss the third group: cradles that are fascinated by converts (I think I belong to this group).

I am fascinated by people who have chosen Orthodoxy intentionally. I often disappointed about cradles' approach to faith and I prefer converts' more intellectual approach. I wish the cradles knew half about the Orthodoxy converts do.

Any thoughts?
As a convert I'm fascinated at the level of commitment of some cradles. I have seen some converts come and go, and this worries me. I feel that a convert needs more than just intellectual knowledge. They also need to find a way to integrate. For some, marrying a cradle is the way to do that. For others, it's going to a parish with a decent amount of converts. But staying power is necessary.


I am also fascinated with how some cradles are able to keep the fasts with ease. I admire that, and I respect that......for I find fasting extremely difficult.
 

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orthonorm said:
Are there any tendencies in the reasons why converts leave? Do they go back to their former faith, to another?
The 3 examples I personally know of:

1.) Was raised nominal protestant christian, became an atheist, then became a muslim, then an Orthodox Christian, then a noncalvinist protestant for a couple weeks, and now a Calvinistic protestant.

His reasons for leaving are different from how I view his reasons for leaving. I won't go into the details here, but after being denied to go to seminary by the bishop or ignored by the bishop for some time(I told him....well after the fact, but I told him that it would normally be a 3 to 5 year wait for converts. When he applied, he was only Orthodox for about a year I think. I could be wrong about the exact timing, but I'm not off by much) , he changed to be a protestant and applied to a protestant seminary.......where he is at now. He feels that that's not the reason and that it was really over the issue of sola scriptura and other beliefs that were more in line with Calvinism. But whatever the case, it is what it is. He's gone.


2.) Was raised pentecostal protestant, but at an early age....like 6 or 7 he asked his parents if he could be Roman Catholic, they agreed, and that's what he was till his mid to late 30's. He became Orthodox, and a few years later decided to become Roman Catholic again. He loved Thomas Aquinas, and he always had a hard time with how the Orthodox understood things. He would always compare it with Aquinas. He also was very ecumenical. He would try very hard to get the Copts, Roman Catholics and Orthodox together. Well, let's just say that he didn't have patience. He pushed a bit too hard and a priest had a word with him, and I don't think he liked it. He stopped going to church continually after that. And then he just stopped coming completely.

Yes, there was some outside influence as well. Like work, and other issues like that. But he is a Roman Catholic now.


3.) Was raised baptist and became Orthodox in his late teenage years. However, he was struggling with doubt and atheism the whole time. Two years after being chrismated he gave in to his struggle. He gave in to his doubts. He would always read atheistic books, as well as christian books. And he joined an atheistic forum undercover. And one day at work in the library.....maybe like a year or so later, he started to read two books about psychology and religion. One of the authors of the book was Japanese. I forgot who authored the other one. But the books were looking at the issue from an atheistic and secular perspective or bent, and he just ate it up. It gave him the excuse he was looking for. And so he gave in fully to his doubts. Something that he was struggling with for years. Now as far as I know, he is still an atheist, and he is hanging out with another atheist who is promiscuous and into narcotics.





I was personally hurt by 2 out of the 3 personal cases I listed above. The Roman Catholic one I didn't feel bad about. For he was always talking about Thomas Aquinas and he was always putting ideas and things into categories. And so I kinda felt happy for him. But yeah, I was hurt by the other two. It took a few months for me to get over it. And now I can understand why some cradles have the attitude that they have about some converts.....or converts in general.


 

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augustin717 said:
It kind of describes where I come from: we believe in God and all, but specifically Orthodox we stay out of loyalty to a tradition that so happens to overlap with an ethnic group, an extended family etc.
I don't even need a proof that Orthodoxy is right or wrong (a claim impossible to prove like a theorem), because it still wouldn't make me switch to "the true church" whatever that is.
Good answer.  I find a lot of comfort in being part of an Orthodox family and knowing that I can ask my parents and grandparents about their religious experiences. That my parents have taught me my prayers from childhood.  I love that sense of continuity with the past, especially when we celebrate major feast days and go to church together.  I like the way my elders, especially grandparents explain things and their loyalty to our Orthodox church.
Being Orthodox is not just an intellectual choice and working out "proof" that our Orthodox Church is the right church.
Just because a cradle Orthodox has not gone through the same experience as a convert in making an intellectual choice does not mean that a cradle's faith is NOT as fervent.
 

ialmisry

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pensateomnia said:
GabrieltheCelt said:
pensateomnia said:
Michał Kalina said:
I often disappointed about cradles' approach to faith and I prefer converts' more intellectual approach. I wish the cradles knew half about the Orthodoxy converts do.

Any thoughts?
A significant percentage of converts (especially ones with an intellectual approach) either (a) end up adopting cradle attitudes and practices or (b) leave the Orthodox Church entirely after several years.
Don't mean to come off as contentious, but how would you know?
Nearly 20 years of personal experience as a convert, worshiping and in leadership at various levels of Orthodox parishes, dioceses, pan-Orthodox groups, etc., in seven states. Just attend any national jurisdictional meeting, or a regional clergy gathering, and talk to the priests who have been serving for 20 to 50 years.
What of the craddles that leave, as compared to (b)?
 

trevor72694

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:D :D :D  I know just what you mean.  we (converts) are, indeed, an interesting breed.  many cradles have told me that they envy converts for the knowledge they have about the Church, as we are useually required to take classes to join.  at Orthodox winter youth camp, about half of us were converts.  and about 2/3 of those converts didn't have much choice, and converted with their parents as toddlers.  I had many people come up to me and ask me for my story, what the biggest challenges were, etc. 
 
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