Ethnicity and the Church

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ozgeorge

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Aristibule,
Please stop wasting our time and diverting this thread.
I repeat:
ozgeorge said:
And who are they? I want you to give me specific names and quotes from them which show clearly that they want everyone to become an Hellene or that the policy of "anything goes" should be adopted in America. And if you can't provide these, then I suggest you eat humble pie, and apologise for wasting our time and diverting this thread. Put up or shut up.
 

PeterTheAleut

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Aristibule said:
(PetertheAleut, I suggest going back to the thread on Anselm where much of the issue started - not only the anti-Westernism, but anti-Americanism, making political postings about what America is, etc.)
Aristibule,

Seeing how this issue has temporarily sidetracked this thread, I'm going to make this my last post on this conflict you have with Ozgeorge.  I went back and re-read all of your and George's posts on the "Penal Satisfaction" thread (http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,11389.0.html), and I just don't see what you see.  I do see, however, that your first post on the thread was quite combative in tone (thus provoking equally combative responses)...

Aristibule said:
What an insane thread. Not only for all the convert bashing but also for the anti-Westernism. Anselm isn't the West - he represents a certain school of thought within 11th c. French speaking Latin literate Norman England. He isn't representative of Humanity, Christianity, the West, England, Western Rite, people from Canterbury, or humans alive in the 11th c. His theology is not (and never has been) universally accepted in 'the West' as the norm. Sure - some may say so, but only to serve their purposes (ie, to say all Westerners should belong to their sect, or to place suspicion upon all Westerners.) So how long must we tolerate such evil words about Orthodox Christians (converts all, and many Westerners)?
...and I do see that you maintained this antagonistic posture for some time on the thread.  I don't doubt that you felt as if you and your WRO tradition were being attacked, but I don't think Ozgeorge or anyone guilty of intending to attack you or the Western Rite Orthodox.  I merely see you being overly defensive.

Let's go back to what I think best summarizes Ozgeorge's position toward you and toward the West in general.
ozgeorge said:
Please feel free to accuse me of something openly rather than make "general" comments.
Now let me say something openly to you:
Whether you like it or not, East and West are in Schism- and not just any schism, but one which has come to be called "The Great Schism". Nowhere have I suggested that the Church prior to the Great Schism was not one. Nowhere have I suggested that when the Church was one that Orthodoxy was not maintained in the West. But the reality is (much as you seem to wish to deny it) is that the Church is no longer One in East and West.
So despite your snide comments, and despite your's and aristibule's attempts to rest your arguments on the fact that the Western part of the Church was once Orthodox (which no one is arguing, so I fail to see your point in setting up a straw man about it- unless of course, you don't have a better point, which I suspect may be the case), and despite the futile attempts to suggest that the East did not maintain Orthodoxy as "evidenced" by the Nestorians and other heresies which were anathemised and have schismed from the Orthodox Church (which if you think about it about it, makes about as much sense as stating that the existence of Lutheranism "proves" the unorthodoxy of the Roman Catholic Church).......Despite all this, and despite the attempts to suggest that my belief that the Orthodox Church is the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church is phyletism simply because, post schism, this Church existed only in the "East" (which includes more countries than any of us will probably ever visit in our lifetime, so to suggest that it is "phyletism" which literally means "tribalism" is laughable)....despite all this rudeness, false accusation, misrepresentation, these moot points...not once have I ever said anything "anti-convert" or even "anti-west", I simply pointed out the differences, and stated my belief that the Orthodox Church is the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church- and I've said before, that if you disagree with me, that's fine, I respect that. But don't you ever dare to suggest that my belief is based solely on a form of "phyletism".
I personally don't see anything in the above, nor have I ever seen anything in Ozgeorge's posts openly advancing a Hellenist agenda or accusing a specific poster of phyletism.  I have seen in him, rather, a great desire to defend Orthodoxy as he understands it.  I don't say any of this because Ozgeorge and I are friendly with each other--we're neither friendly with nor hostile toward each other (the same goes for my online relations with you)--nor do I say any of this just to support a moderator out of my personal respect for all in authority.  I speak only in complete honesty and impartiality regarding what I have seen.

- Peter
 

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Tamara said:
Dear Brother Aidan,

You know...there really are differences even among Arab Orthodox Christians in the celebration of their customs. They may all celebrate the Divine Liturgy in Arabic but they know if a custom is Palestinian in origin or Syrian in origin. There are even differences in chanting styles depending on what country or locale the chanter is from. The middle east is a much smaller area than America. I would imagine the Greeks and Russians also have very distinct regional differences in customs too.
Does it really matter? Maybe I don't understand what the problem is so please feel free to enlighten me.  :)
Tamara, we are in agreement here. Even though there are little regional differences among Arab Orthodox, there is enough in common to comprise an "Arab Orthodoxy" or Arab Orthoxdox culture. The same with an overall Greek culture despite geographical or regional differences, Same with Russian, etc.

My point was that, despite the size of the USA, depite regional and geographic differences, despite the ethnic melting pot, there is nonetheless a distinguishable "American" culture (that is more than the trivial pop or consumer culture). The children of immigrants become "Americans." As amply demonstrated by this thread, it's not easy to pin down what it is and it has many nuances, but distinct from Canadians, Mexicans and especially Europeans (yes, even western Europeans) there is an American culture. you might not be able to describe it but you know it when you see it.

And you may be able to subdivide it and talk of a west coast culture, a southern culture (which is many cultures, new south/old south/ coastal south/ appalachian south, the carolinas/the deep south, etc.) new england culture, east coast culture (NYC, Philly, etc.) mid-west, and so on and so forth, there is still something distinctly AMERICAN about all these sub-cultures.

Immigrants assimilate into the over all American culture as well as one or more of the regional sub-cultures. Or at least their children do.
 

ozgeorge

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BrotherAidan said:
Immigrants assimilate into the over all American culture as well as one or more of the regional sub-cultures. Or at least their children do.
I'm not sure whether we can call this "the overall American culture" Brother Aiden, or whether it is more correctly called American "nationhood" or "nationality", especially when we speak of a diversity of cultures existing within it.
 

greekischristian

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Aristibule said:
My own post is in reply, as that interpretation of America that is being offered is an ideological one proper to an American political party. Calling America multicultural is also purely a political ideological idea, having nothing to do with actual American life, and only anything to do with partisan politics. (As I already noted in a pm.) We don't have multiple law systems (rather, much that is culturally 'okay' in most other societies is illegal and abnormal in American society - as the pedophila I mentioned earlier, okay in many cultures, but not in America - an example from my own work in law enforcement.)
A commentary on sociology is not political as it can be contested on objective scientific, rather than merely ideological, grounds. Yes, some have sought to politicize scientific issues, in this case the science of sociology in other cases science of biology or medicine, but the core issues are inherently academic and can be approached from a scientific perspective. George has simply made sociological and cultural observations, he has not taken political positions.

Oh, and we do have multiple legal systems, or did you not know that each state has its own legislature with broad authority to pass laws relative only to that particular state. We even have one state whose legal system is based on the Napoleonic Code and a system of Civil Law, which is quite different from the Common Law of the federal government. And even as far as your example of sex with a minor goes, age of consent is also subject to state law and does vary from state to state ( http://www.webistry.net/jan/consent.html ).

To say that there is no single American culture, but rather there are dominate regional cultures with influential subcultures (African Americans in the South, Mexican Americans in the Southwest, the French Creoles in Louisiana (are they a minority there yet?)). And many of these cultural differences are seen in or enforced through state legislation.

Furthermore, to suggest that these United States are not multi cultural is absurd, it is to deny that the Germans or Scots-Irish had any cultural influence on culture, to say nothing of other influential imigrant groups such as the French (Louisiana), African Americans, Irish, Italians, Mexicans, etc. It is also to deny that any remnant of Native American culture found its way into modern American culture, which is simply not true, Native American culture has been quite influential in the forming of western culture along with pre-mexican spanish culture (the origin of the Rodeo, for example). Our culture is a hodge podge of various cultural elements from around Europe and the Americas, with notible African and a handful of minor Asiatic influences; it is a 'melting pot' in the truest sense, all these cultures went in and a new compound entirely came out, made from the old cultures but hardly resembling them. Of course, what went into the melting pot, and accordingly what came out, differed according to the history and experiences of each region.

The only region that I believe can be said to have formed much of its own culture (beyond what would be expected from any cultural evolution) is the west, and this distinct culture came from the pioneer spirit of it's settlers and the ideals of rugged individualism and egalitarianism on which it was founded (not that there was a huge choice in the matter, the only well established peoples in the west were the Native Populations and Spanish landowners, and we wern't about to give them a privlidged position in society, so meritocracy became the order of the day).
 

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Whether there is ever institutional/organizational union of jurisdictions, I hope that in our life we will see an "American Orthodoxy" emerge that will reflect the many sub-cultures of the US. So that we won't be talking about Greeks, Russians, Serbs and Arabs, but west coast Orthodox and New England Orthodox and Southern Orthodox and heartland (mid-west) Orthodox, etc.

Where only parishes established for recent immigrants will be ethnic and where any American who walks into the church will see the beauty of the liturgy and not see the ecclesiastical equivalent of the Ukranian Club.   Where "ethnic" food festivals, reflecting the heritage (nor excusive ethnicity) of the parish will be used evangelistically to bring people in (to "come and see") rather than assert its difference in the community and keep them out.

Where Orthodox schools are common and supported cross-jurisdictionally, where all Orthodox parishes in an area join resources for helping the hungry or the homeless or nursing home or prison ministries. And especially youth ministry to keep young people IN the Orthodox Church (rather than grow up to be like the rest of the society that doesn't attend church at all).

Where priests don't have to work "day" jobs because the level of giving in the parish supports a priest and where for the sake of mission in declining neighborhoods, wealthier parishes help support the priest's salary in poorer parishes even if from another jurisdiction, so that the priest can serve his flock and perform all of the services.

When we get to that point, then institutional unification will occur organically and it likely won't matter under which jurisdiction.

Whether that should institute an anonymous American patriarch, or one under one of the old world patriarchs probably is immaterial at this point. Personally I am not sure such a hierarch could come from American soil. I don't know if it is possible to develop sufficient holiness and especially for an American, the humility and conciliarity to be an autonomous hierarch of a national Church. Perhaps a well-travelled, old world missionary type bishop with lots of cross-cultural experience would best serve here.
 

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BrotherAidan said:
Whether there is ever institutional/organizational union of jurisdictions, I hope that in our life we will see an "American Orthodoxy" emerge that will reflect the many sub-cultures of the US. So that we won't be talking about Greeks, Russians, Serbs and Arabs, but west coast Orthodox and New England Orthodox and Southern Orthodox and heartland (mid-west) Orthodox, etc.
I think we are already seeing a union between the jurisdictions. Some jurisdicitions will not survive. The ones that do will find more reasons to work together. Those who are new to Orthodox in all jurisdictions may help to bring us together sooner because they don't see ethnicity as a reason to stay separated.

Where only parishes established for recent immigrants will be ethnic and where any American who walks into the church will see the beauty of the liturgy and not see the ecclesiastical equivalent of the Ukranian Club.   Where "ethnic" food festivals, reflecting the heritage (nor excusive ethnicity) of the parish will be used evangelistically to bring people in (to "come and see") rather than assert its difference in the community and keep them out.
My parish is under the Antiochian archdiocese but it is not an Arab club. These parishes are already in existence and will continue to grow and multiply.

Where Orthodox schools are common and supported cross-jurisdictionally, where all Orthodox parishes in an area join resources for helping the hungry or the homeless or nursing home or prison ministries. And especially youth ministry to keep young people IN the Orthodox Church (rather than grow up to be like the rest of the society that doesn't attend church at all).
Amen!

Where priests don't have to work "day" jobs because the level of giving in the parish supports a priest and where for the sake of mission in declining neighborhoods, wealthier parishes help support the priest's salary in poorer parishes even if from another jurisdiction, so that the priest can serve his flock and perform all of the services.
Amen!

When we get to that point, then institutional unification will occur organically and it likely won't matter under which jurisdiction.
I think it will happen quicker than people think.

Whether that should institute an anonymous American patriarch, or one under one of the old world patriarchs probably is immaterial at this point. Personally I am not sure such a hierarch could come from American soil. I don't know if it is possible to develop sufficient holiness and especially for an American, the humility and conciliarity to be an autonomous hierarch of a national Church. Perhaps a well-travelled, old world missionary type bishop with lots of cross-cultural experience would best serve here.
I think holiness is not restricted by borders. Look at the late missionary, Lynnette Hoppe. Some seem to feel she was blessed.
 

ozgeorge

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BrotherAidan said:
I hope that in our life we will see an "American Orthodoxy" emerge that will reflect the many sub-cultures of the US. So that we won't be talking about Greeks, Russians, Serbs and Arabs, but west coast Orthodox and New England Orthodox and Southern Orthodox and heartland (mid-west) Orthodox, etc.
I think it may be a mistake to simply divide the Church in America along different cultural lines to the current divisions. The Church of Greece covers many different regions of Greece with different cultures and "flavour", but the two points of unity are the Eucharist and National Identity. Athens has a very different culture to Ioannia on the West Coast and Florina in the North is different again; but there is no sense of "Florinan Orthodox" or "Ioanninan Orthodox" or "Athenian Orthodox". The common point is the National identity, not the regional identity.
 

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George,
I agree with you about the regional differences in Greece (and anywhere, really) with nonetheless a single national identity. That's what I was trying to say in one of my earlier posts.

But I would guess that there are nuances to the liturgy and parish life in general, that although being distinctly Greek Orthodox, nonetheless are peculiar to each of those regions you mention in Greece.

And that is a good thing because those parishes can better serve the commuities or regions they exist in which is why they have these nuances.

And that's what I mean by west coast, heartland etc. Nuances based on common experience and mission within that region and it communities, yet partaking of a more general commonality that would be unmistakably American Orthodox.
 

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Serb
read my post one or two ones back where I posit that although there are many regional uninquenesses, there is still something, ah, AMERICAN about America.

It's kind of like telling the funny story no one laughs at and you say, "well, you had to be there,"
There is SOMETHING about being American. You know it when you see it (and as I said above, the children of immigrants become Americans, not just naturalized citizens like their parents).

Just ask any Canadian. They can see it and can tell an American from a mile away, whether it be west or east coast, new englander, southerner, midwesterner, etc. And Canadians perceive themselves as being different than Americans (and it's not just because they sing O Canada rather then the Star Spangled Banner).
 

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Forgive me BrotherAidan, maybe its because i'm a thick-headed Serb, but I just don't see anything that's catching my attention. 

Let me see if I have your theory correctly, as this may be where my confusion lies. 

You are saying that even in regional areas such as the West Coast there is still something uniquely "American" about the people there, even though they are different than people in any other area of the country.  Is this correct? 

I agree with you.  There is something American about fresh off the boat immigrants too.  A sense of purpose, freedom and striving to be better.  Is this what America is?  I think that it is, but do people realize this is what it is? 

Ultimately my question to your theory is...so what?  It still doesn't answer the question of what is AMERICAN? 

I do like your semi-answer to this about how when you see it you will know it.  But I'm sorry to say, that just doesn't cut it for me...and I don't think it will for other people. 

Let me know where I went wrong my friend...
 

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PeterTheAleut said:
Quite often those "lurkers" can be regular members who can't log on to join the conversation until much later.
Yes, there is that, too, Peter. and starting a new thread, if the conversation has taken a swerve has been done here many times so that people can still follow things.

Ebor
 

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BrotherAidan said:
Serb
read my post one or two ones back where I posit that although there are many regional uninquenesses, there is still something, ah, AMERICAN about America.

It's kind of like telling the funny story no one laughs at and you say, "well, you had to be there,"
There is SOMETHING about being American. You know it when you see it (and as I said above, the children of immigrants become Americans, not just naturalized citizens like their parents).

Just ask any Canadian. They can see it and can tell an American from a mile away, whether it be west or east coast, new englander, southerner, midwesterner, etc. And Canadians perceive themselves as being different than Americans (and it's not just because they sing O Canada rather then the Star Spangled Banner).
I agree with you. Americans are pretty easy to spot when you travel abroad. I don't think it matters if one can describe what it is in words. There are churches now which are Orthodox but are not ethnic clubs so whether one can describe what those differences are or not it is happening as we speak and these parishes will continue to grow and multiply.
 

ozgeorge

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Tamara said:
Americans are pretty easy to spot when you travel abroad.
Perhaps to other Americans, but from my own life and travels, I've noticed that Australians in Australia, Greeks in Greece, Italians in Italy, Scots in Scotland, Nepalese in Nepal and the French in France cannot tell the difference between a Canadian and an American unless the Canadian speaks French. They just assume they are both American until they're told otherwise.
 

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ozgeorge said:
Perhaps to other Americans, but from my own life and travels, I've noticed that Australians in Australia, Greeks in Greece, Italians in Italy, Scots in Scotland, Nepalese in Nepal and the French in France cannot tell the difference between a Canadian and an American unless the Canadian speaks French. They just assume they are both American until they're told otherwise.
Well, the Europeans I have met have told me that our haircuts, shoes, clothing and perpetual smiling give us away.  ;)
 

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ozgeorge said:
Are you saying Canadians are unfashionable and brooding? ;)
No...but the Europeans were actually mocking our style and happy-go-lucky demeanor...hee, hee...these Europeans believed they were the styling ones with their designer clothing, cool haircuts and angst...LOL!
My nickname used to be Pollyanna with this group....hee, hee...

 

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I am proud to be American. I am proud to be Greek.  I am proud to be Russian.  I am proud to be Serbian.  I am not proud to be American. I not proud to be Greek etc.....  Sorry couldn't get Tucholsky's poem out of my mind.  Maybe it's just  to be who you are, warts and all.  I personally like the blend of cultures within Orthodox communities.  I don't think i would care for a Prussian-type Orthodoxy where you know what is expected according to defined rules.  Yeah I know it's anarchy I'm promoting.  But I like the mix of strange, pious and hospitable personalities.
 

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I am not "proud" at all to be Ukrainian, I just am Ukrainian. :)

I am not an American though, and I am not a Ukrainian-American or an American Ukrainian. I reside in the US, but that's about it....

My daughter says that she is a Martian. :) In Ukraine, everyone takes her as an American and she hates it. In the USA, everyone takes her as an American, too, and she hates it. In our family, we parents tend to assume that she is Ukrainian like us, and she hates it...  ???
 

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I wouldn't say I am proud to be an American. I would say I am thankful to be one. Thankful there was a country my Syrian grandparents could escape to from the oppression of the Turks to live fruitful lives. Thankful there is a country where I have freedom to walk down the street without having to wear a hijab or niqab in order to survive.
 

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Tamara said:
I wouldn't say I am proud to be an American. I would say I am thankful to be one. Thankful there was a country my Syrian grandparents could escape to from the oppression of the Turks to live fruitful lives. Thankful there is a country where I have freedom to walk down the street without having to wear a hijab or niqab in order to survive.
I should probably be thankful to America, too, because I could continue my career of a scientist here, while in the disintegrating USSR of the early 1990-s it became next to impossible, and it is impossible now... but then, it was not because of humanitarian or philantropic reasons that I was appointed postdoc here, and given my H-1 visa, and then green card... sorry, just cannot find any heroic-sentimental-whatever feelings in my soul. Have heard a lot, "why don't you just get out of here..."
 

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Heorhij said:
I should probably be thankful to America, too, because I could continue my career of a scientist here, while in the disintegrating USSR of the early 1990-s it became next to impossible, and it is impossible now... but then, it was not because of humanitarian or philantropic reasons that I was appointed postdoc here, and given my H-1 visa, and then green card... sorry, just cannot find any heroic-sentimental-whatever feelings in my soul. Have heard a lot, "why don't you just get out of here..."
You know...I have a lot of reasons to be mad at America.  they did blow my country to bits and almost destroyed my home city in Serbia. 

But you know what...instead of getting mad, which is easy, I try to be an actavist and create knowledge as opposed to ignorance. 

In the end, we do live here and we have to make the best of it.  The sooner we can take that responsability and make that decision (?) the sooner we can move on and create a better America...whatever our definition is...
 

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Friul said:
I'm thankful to be Canadian, since it could be worse...  I could be American.  :D :p
Well, according to the OCA Liturgy Book, as a Canadian, you aren't American.  We commemorate our Metropolitan as "Metropolitan of all America and Canada"!
 

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ozgeorge said:
Perhaps to other Americans, but from my own life and travels, I've noticed that Australians in Australia, Greeks in Greece, Italians in Italy, Scots in Scotland, Nepalese in Nepal and the French in France cannot tell the difference between a Canadian and an American unless the Canadian speaks French. They just assume they are both American until they're told otherwise.
Ouch! (I say that for my Canadian friends who would be VERY disillusioned to hear that! ;D
 

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serb1389 said:
I do like your semi-answer to this about how when you see it you will know it.  But I'm sorry to say, that just doesn't cut it for me...and I don't think it will for other people. 

Let me know where I went wrong my friend...
I can't explain it so I will have to be very "post-modern" and say its just something I feel and sense.  :mad:
Sorry!
 

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Heorhij said:
In Ukraine, everyone takes her as an American and she hates it. In the USA, everyone takes her as an American, too, and she hates it. In our family, we parents tend to assume that she is Ukrainian like us, and she hates it...  ???
Sounds like a normal kid!  ::)
 

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serb1389 said:
You know...I have a lot of reasons to be mad at America.  they did blow my country to bits and almost destroyed my home city in Serbia. 

But you know what...instead of getting mad, which is easy, I try to be an actavist and create knowledge as opposed to ignorance. 

In the end, we do live here and we have to make the best of it.  The sooner we can take that responsability and make that decision (?) the sooner we can move on and create a better America...whatever our definition is...
Yes, dear Serb, I agree... Actually, I am not really "mad" at America. At one point, I was just unpleasantly surprised by the reaction of some second and third generation Ukrainian immigrants who manifested something very close to hate toward me, when I did not display enough admiration of the USA, being, instead, critical and ironic. These people (or their parents or grandparents) came to the US as war-time refugees, and they quite literally owe their life to this country (or so they think). So, when the American anthem is played, they quite sincerely put their hands on their hearts and sing along, and they salute the American flag, etc. I, on the other hand, just cannot do that, I just honestly do not have the same genuine feelings towards the USA. My attitude to the USA is sort of practical and, maybe, even cynical.
 

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Some people have no where else to live. 

I think ultimately the problem is that we need to come up with solutions instead of dwelling on the problems. 

Anyone can stay mad and show their anger.  It takes a unique and courageous person to take that step forward, away from their past, and go towards a goal.  That goal might be retribution, but its a lot better than complacent anger...in my opinion. 

I have met so many Serbian people who are mad just to be mad.  This doesn't sit well with me.  So I tell them, if you're mad, go and do something about it.  Oh no...they can't do that.  You know why?  Because being mad is easy.  Doing something about it takes effort and making the place you're in a better place.  We would rather be lazy though...and mad... ;)

p.s.  Heorhij, I hope that you do not mistake any of this as directed towards you.  This is a general theory I outlined, with more specifics being directed towards my experiences with Serbs, than with anything else. 
 

greekischristian

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Orthodox Bagpiper said:
Then why live here if the U.S is so horrible???
My ancestors tried to leave at one point...along with the citizens of several other states. Your yankee government was not quite so fond of the idea and took it upon themselves to murder hundreds of thousands of these peace loving folk and destroy the livelihood of untold millions more. Then there was another group, the Native Population, you know the people who were here first, they never wanted to live in the US in the first place, not that they were given much choice in the matter.

It seems to me that the solution is to get rid of the Yankee government rather than to force those who live here out. The land's great, for the most part (or should I say in most regions) the people are great, it's the oppressive government that's taken it over that's the problem.

There's far too many problems with the history and societies of the interactions of the various american peoples and several sovereign states for this 'love it or leave it' mentality...many simply reject your assumption that somehow the Yankee government is entited to this land.
 

Elisha

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Veniamin said:
OB, I can do you one better than that.
Better?  Ick.  Austin is probably the only place I could tolerate on a medium to long term basis. :p
 

ozgeorge

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When the "State" or the "Nation" is treated as though it has a life of it's own separate to the people who actually comprise it, and that this "Nation-as separate-entity" is somehow infallible and pure, I start to get worried. And not simply because it is a reification fallacy to talk of the "Nation" as a separate entity to the population; but because the "nationalism" attached to it is nothing short of idolatry.
If we claim the title "Christian", it means we place nothing above Christ, and our values are His values, and one of the key values Christ taught us is: "Love thy neighbour". When Christians become nationalists in the worst sense of the word, they suddenly have an "excuse" not to love their neighbour. In the worst scenarios, this "Nation-as-separate-entity" becomes something which needs to be defended against the very people who comprise the nation, and we saw this with Soviet Socialism in the USSR as well as National Socialism in Germany and many other parts of Europe. Entire parts of the nation, millions of people, are expelled, tortured and killed in defence of this ideal of the Nation-as-separate-entity.
If our neighbour is in pain, if someone has been left behind by the system or has fallen through the cracks, or has been hurt by members of the nation, should our response as Christians be "why don't you go somewhere else then?"
I'm an Australian, and I think Australia is a beautiful landscape, and a wonderful people. But I also hold that there are some things wrong in Australia at a National level, and I have been openly critical of them. As a result, I have been called "un-Australian" and have even been spat at in the face during a quiet protest vigil. I just continued to pray as the tears welled up in my eyes and the spittle rolled down my face. I remember the bewilderment and the horrible feeling of isolation, and asking why anyone, but particularly a fellow countryman, would hate me so much. Then one of my fellow protesters, a Roman Catholic Nun wearing a veil, came over to me, took out her handkerchief and wiped the spittle from my face, stood beside me and took out a rosary and began to silently pray also. It was one of the most human moments I've ever experienced.
When the "Nation-as-separate-identity" becomes an idol, then anything becomes acceptable in it's "defence", and spitting in the face of your fellow countrymen is the least of it. As with any idolatry, we forget the Living God, and when we forget God, we forget our own humanity, and people become expendable objects.
Christianity began with people who chose to be tortured and executed rather than submit to the State when their conscience would not allow them to. We dishonour their memory if we say that a Christian should now choose the State over their own conscience.
 
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