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Is Orthodoxy Old Fashined?

BrotherAidan

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I have been thinking about this since the recent OCA financial scandal (I am a member of the OCA). I truly thank God that episode is now over with and also for the election of Met. Jonah (God grant him many years).

But this is a wider consideration for all jurisdictions.

Could that recent past problem in the OCA and some other issues in the Orthodox Church - all jurisdictions - issues such as lack of growth, loss of recent cradle generations to other Christian communions, or worse, to secularism; pathetic stewardship in local parishes with priests needing secular employment just to get by -- could these things be that we are not the being the Ancient Church so much as we are just being old fashioned?

Instead of being the Ancient Chucrh in a new millenium, we are stuck in the 19 century or early 20th century.

Not that we don't know about the modern world and can't use computers, cell phones etc. But rather, that our church administration, mindset and hierarchs are really products of and remain stuck in turn-of-the century (19th to 20th, that is) modes of operation and thinking.

That the lack of adopting contemporary standards of transparency, accountability, and methodology has its basis in an old world mentality that dis-trusts modernity and wants to keep the locus of authority/organization in individual personalities rather than in procedures and organizational structures that would free hierarchs to pursue their pastoral/priestly functions while leaving to professionals in various fields the responsibilities of finance/organization/reporting/accountability that are necessary for large beaurocratic organizations (which, for better of worse, each jurisdiction is in this modern world) to function.

That the lack of growth or retention of new generations has its foudation in a mindset that is not so much concerned with passing on the truths of the Ancient Faith as a mentality that we are not going to change anything, ever. We will collect dues and have food festivals and lottery tickets and peroghi sales rather than stewardship campaigns and pledged giving. We will emphasize our connection to the old world country our familes came from rather than to the Ancient Church of the New Testament and first several centuries of the Christianity. We will vilify all forms of protestant evangelism to the degree that "come and see" evangelism becomes synonymous with do-nothing (quote/unquote evangelism). We will take apophatic theology to the Sargeant Schultz (see Hogans Heroes) degree of "I know nothing," in terms of catechesis.

In short, we LOVE (to coin a phrase form Prince/the Artist) to "party like it's 1899.
 

Irish Hermit

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"O strange Orthodox Church, so poor and weak, with neither the organization nor the culture of the West, staying afloat as if by a miracle in the face of so many trials, tribulations and struggles; a Church of contrasts, both so traditional and so free, so archaic and so alive, so ritualist and so personally involved, a Church where the priceless pearl of the Gospel is assiduously preserved, sometimes under a layer of dust; a Church which in shadows and silence maintains above all the eternal values of purity, poverty, asceticism, humility and forgiveness; a Church which has often not known how to act, but which can sing of the joy of Easter like no other."

-- from Fr Lev Gillet, 1937
 

Heorhij

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Irish Hermit said:
"O strange Orthodox Church, so poor and weak, with neither the organization nor the culture of the West, staying afloat as if by a miracle in the face of so many trials, tribulations and struggles; a Church of contrasts, both so traditional and so free, so archaic and so alive, so ritualist and so personally involved, a Church where the priceless pearl of the Gospel is assiduously preserved, sometimes under a layer of dust; a Church which in shadows and silence maintains above all the eternal values of purity, poverty, asceticism, humility and forgiveness; a Church which has often not known how to act, but which can sing of the joy of Easter like no other."

-- from Fr Lev Gillet, 1937
WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That's just so wonderfully expressed... Thank you, Father Ambrose, for this quote. I have to look up Fr. Gillet's works... :)
 

BrotherAidan

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thank you for that quote.
I think Fr Gillette was able to express the paradox with a greater expression of love than me.

Don't get me wrong, I love the Orthodox Church and if the OP didn't reflect that, I am sorry.

I have seriously tried to figure out what went wrong in my own jurisdiction, not just the wrongdoing itself but the slowness to act when so many had a certain degree of knowledge of the wrongdoing, the slowness to correct it and the sheer length of the scandal.

The only answer that works for me is that modernity bypassed the Orthodox Church. Not that its individual members and clerics didn't drive cars and fly in planes and use phones and then computers and cell phones. Or that they were resistant to using such tools of the modern world in institutional life and administration.

It is more of an ethos of resisting modernity, of staying firmly put in the autocratic attitudes of a regal model of spiritual authority and of a parish structure of village churches from the 19th century that didn't really relate to the social and spiritual realities of the twentieth century.

It's also an ethos of denial - that modernity (as a world view) exists and a reaction that, we don't like this, we will pretend it is not happening all around us and within our little conclave we will pretend that our old world situation still applies. Great for a survival mechanism for first generation immigrants and especially their old world clergy. Endearing to the second generation. Annoying or irrelevant to the third and fatal to the fourth generation.

I can't put my finger on it to articulate more than this. I am stuggling to grasp it myself.

In the meantime, I wish to once again state that I love my Orthodox Faith and am trying to comprehend something for my self.

Also, I am not in any way implying that the Orthodox Church should have any of the theological innovations that have plagued mainline protestantism and some parts of Catholicism. The Ancient Faith is what attracted me to Orthodoxy.

But Ancient and old fashioned are two different things. Bearing witness to the changeless Truth of the Church's dogma and Tradition in all cultures and societies and social/philosophical movements throughout history is what my vision of the Orthodox Faith is. That is quite different from being old fashioned and out of touch with the culture in which its members live and breathe.

So I am trying to get a handle on the administrative, pastoral, cultural and (I can't think of another term and these words are not quite capturing what I mean) rather than questioning dogma or Holy Tradition.

All helpful comments are welcome.

If I anger anyone, I apologize in advance. But I also am NOT looking here for polemic, defensive replies to this post. I am looking for dialogue.
 

Alveus Lacuna

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I personal don't care that the Orthodox Church isn't "with it."  The fact that my parish doesn't seek to pander to people's tastes or worry about keeping up with the times is what drew me in.  Orthodoxy is concerned with the pursuit of holiness, the service of God (meaning petitioning our Lord through prayers in services), and serving the poor and helpless in the area.  They use technology to do these things as well.  We have electricity in the building.  We use computers.  So I really have no idea what you are talking about.  What would a modern Orthodox church look like to you?
 

PeterTheAleut

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Alveus Lacuna said:
I personal don't care that the Orthodox Church isn't "with it."  The fact that my parish doesn't seek to pander to people's tastes or worry about keeping up with the times is what drew me in.  Orthodoxy is concerned with the pursuit of holiness, the service of God (meaning petitioning our Lord through prayers in services), and serving the poor and helpless in the area.  They use technology to do these things as well.  We have electricity in the building.  We use computers.  So I really have no idea what you are talking about.  What would a modern Orthodox church look like to you?
I think you're totally missing BrotherAidan's point.  You seem to be confusing the changelessness of the faith and praxis of the Orthodox Church with the 19th Century Russian model of autocratic church authority that got the OCA into its recent scandal.
 

Pedro

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Alveus Lacuna said:
I personal don't care that the Orthodox Church isn't "with it."  The fact that my parish doesn't seek to pander to people's tastes or worry about keeping up with the times is what drew me in.  Orthodoxy is concerned with the pursuit of holiness, the service of God (meaning petitioning our Lord through prayers in services), and serving the poor and helpless in the area.  They use technology to do these things as well.  We have electricity in the building.  We use computers.  So I really have no idea what you are talking about.  What would a modern Orthodox church look like to you?
You're absolutely right.  So why does this not get translated out into reality in many parishes (enough, anyway, that complaints get made)?

I think the main thing BrotherAiden is referring to is the ineffective way a lot of parishes go about doing these things, and here I'm not referring to the services.  That, of course, is probably what Fr. Lev was referring to in the quote from Fr. Ambrose.  Yet, couldn't we have a lot more available, both to the faithful and the poor around us if we had a full-time priest?  Or financial resources to work with?  Or volunteers that were actually eager to get involved in ministries to the poor outside the liturgy?

Some on this forum (and indeed, some who've posted in this very thread) seem to be content with the Church as a liturgical entity and nothing more.  Granted, contemplative, liturgical life is where we need to begin and end our ministry; it needs to interpenetrate and inspire everything else that goes on, whatever it may be.  But wouldn't it be nice to have daily matins/vespers available?  How is that going to happen when Father has to work as a bank teller during the work week?  Wouldn't it be nice to have daily liturgies?

And then -- I know, the dreaded non-liturgical stuff -- what about soup kitchens, clothing pantries, church school, youth ministries, OCF chapters, parish schools?  These things need manpower, and they need money to happen.  They are also ways in which we fulfill our obligations as Christians to meet the needs of the least of these and raise up the next generation in the Church.  If we're stuck in ethnic festival mode to float us through the financial year in survival mode, then folks will see their contribution to the parish as consisting of making eggs (for example) instead of attending vespers.  Of making Pascha baskets instead of attending Holy Saturday liturgy.

One of the "old world" mentalities that I've seen both cradle and convert hierarchs promote is the "more money in buildings than people" mentality.  Bishops push their priests to find a building or find land on which to start building while the priest is still working 20-30 hours a week outside his priestly functions in order to put food on the table.  The end result is a nice building that's empty and unused for 90% of every week.  If Father is full-time while you're still in the storefront area (or, horror of horrors, a converted room of someone's house, a trailer, etc that may not require any payment while the mission seeks to get off the ground), then you're investing primarily in people so that the people can then turn around and minister to others.  The community this fosters lends itself to stronger personal ties, and makes building actual edifices easier, quicker, and more sensible.

How to fund them?  Tithe.  Yes, it's an Old Testament practice.  No, it's not commanded in the New.  It's actually less strict than what happened in the New, which was "give till it hurts."  How are small groups able to afford full-time clergy and debt free buildings?  They don't move anywhere they haven't saved up for yet, and they make sure their pastor is taken care of in spite of that.  In almost every case I've ever heard of, if every family or individual is tithing, one can make this happen with no more than fifteen "units."  Many Orthodox from old countries, however, are shocked upon coming here that there is no help from the state.  They're not used to thinking of helping out the Church as something you do directly and substantially from the pocketbook instead of just from the arts-and-crafts section of your life (though the latter is wonderful, too, and something in which my wife and I heartily participate in our parish).

I guess what I'm saying is that this stuff is imminently practical, and they're things that would solve a lot of our problems financially speaking (each parish or diocese would raise most of the funds at the grass-roots level) and community speaking (the people would have more opportunity to meet together and for a variety of reasons).  These things are not a matter of contradicting the gospel which the Church maintains and protects, but they may just well be a matter of unnecessary clutter keeping people away from said gospel instead of enhancing and facilitating people's encounter with said gospel.

My $0.04.

 

Irish Hermit

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DavidBryan said:
Some on this forum (and indeed, some who've posted in this very thread) seem to be content with the Church as a liturgical entity and nothing more.  Granted, contemplative, liturgical life is where we need to begin and end our ministry; it needs to interpenetrate and inspire everything else that goes
"When you have worshipped Christ in the church with gold and fine linen, do not ignore him when you see him outside the church in the gutter"   
~Saint John Chrysostom.

The charge has been made that the Church, or at least the Russian part of it, is hindered by its 19th century mentality.

That may be partly true, but we cannot say that the Russian Church does not have an outworking of its rich liturgical life in the social arena.

For example, the diocese of Moscow alone runs 400 soups kitchens.  Most are in Moscow, but they are also in the outlying cities of the diocese.  There is a very active concern for "feeding the hungry."

There are also clinics and refuges run by the Church for solo mothers, drug addicts, alcoholics, and (surely one of the Church's most heartbreaking charitable works) for streetkids and orphans.

-oOo-

Have  you seen the latest news from Patriarch Kyrill?  This man is on fire to take the Church out into the world and society.

http://www.interfax-religion.com/print.php?act=dujour&id=47



Russian Patriarch calls for powerful Orthodox youth movement

Moscow, February 15, Interfax - The new Patriarch of Moscow called
for creating a powerful Orthodox youth movement in Russia which would
have a grassroots group in "each of our educational institutions."

"I would be happy if you and I could start a congress at Luzhniki [a
stadium in Moscow] with 100,000 young people present. But we have to
work very well for such a congress to become a reality," Patriarch
Kirill said at a meeting in Moscow with Orthodox youth.

He urged the clergy to "build up work with youth at parish, deanery,
diocese level," but it should be the main task, he said, to train
both clergy and laity to work with youth.

"We should build a network for youth work. We should have a
grassroots group, organization, in each of our educational
institutions. How can one engage in Christian work among youth if a
college has no youth organization of its own?" Kirill said.

Russia is "an open society, where all this is permissible, feasible,"
he said.

"We should consolidate our ranks at this grassroots level, where
youth congresses would bring together tens of thousands of people and
would not be a lot of window dressing or a television show but a
genuine manifestation of our work, of what is happening in Church and
society," the Patriarch said.


 

BrotherAidan

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Alveus Lacuna said:
I personal don't care that the Orthodox Church isn't "with it."  The fact that my parish doesn't seek to pander to people's tastes or worry about keeping up with the times is what drew me in.  Orthodoxy is concerned with the pursuit of holiness, the service of God (meaning petitioning our Lord through prayers in services), and serving the poor and helpless in the area.  They use technology to do these things as well.  We have electricity in the building.  We use computers.  So I really have no idea what you are talking about.  What would a modern Orthodox church look like to you?
Sorry, I hate to say it, but you have no grasp of subtlety or nuance. I am not talking about a modern Orthodox Church. I am talking about the Ancient Church dealing with the issue of modernity. In a philosophical and existential manner. Also, doing things administratively like adoptinng best business practices, independent audits and financial transparency that are the requisites of functioning in a modern society (rather than a village mentality where we just trust Father or Bishhop).

Thus I am struggling with the word modern in two very different and distinct senses.

You are missing the point, but in replying to you I did recognize that I am indeed struggling with this concept of modernity/modernism in two different senses. So for helping me clarify my own thoughts in this manner, I thank you.
 

BrotherAidan

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PeterTheAleut said:
Alveus Lacuna said:
I personal don't care that the Orthodox Church isn't "with it."  The fact that my parish doesn't seek to pander to people's tastes or worry about keeping up with the times is what drew me in.  Orthodoxy is concerned with the pursuit of holiness, the service of God (meaning petitioning our Lord through prayers in services), and serving the poor and helpless in the area.  They use technology to do these things as well.  We have electricity in the building.  We use computers.  So I really have no idea what you are talking about.  What would a modern Orthodox church look like to you?
I think you're totally missing BrotherAidan's point.  You seem to be confusing the changelessness of the faith and praxis of the Orthodox Church with the 19th Century Russian model of autocratic church authority that got the OCA into its recent scandal.
thank you!

Also, David Bryan, thank you for your insightful comments.
 

BrotherAidan

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Irish Hermit said:
DavidBryan said:
Some on this forum (and indeed, some who've posted in this very thread) seem to be content with the Church as a liturgical entity and nothing more.  Granted, contemplative, liturgical life is where we need to begin and end our ministry; it needs to interpenetrate and inspire everything else that goes
"When you have worshipped Christ in the church with gold and fine linen, do not ignore him when you see him outside the church in the gutter"   
~Saint John Chrysostom.

The charge has been made that the Church, or at least the Russian part of it, is hindered by its 19th century mentality.

That may be partly true, but we cannot say that the Russian Church does not have an outworking of its rich liturgical life in the social arena.

For example, the diocese of Moscow alone runs 400 soups kitchens.  Most are in Moscow, but they are also in the outlying cities of the diocese.  There is a very active concern for "feeding the hungry."

There are also clinics and refuges run by the Church for solo mothers, drug addicts, alcoholics, and (surely one of the Church's most heartbreaking charitable works) for streetkids and orphans.

-oOo-

Have  you seen the latest news from Patriarch Kyrill?  This man is on fire to take the Church out into the world and society.

http://www.interfax-religion.com/print.php?act=dujour&id=47



Russian Patriarch calls for powerful Orthodox youth movement

Moscow, February 15, Interfax - The new Patriarch of Moscow called
for creating a powerful Orthodox youth movement in Russia which would
have a grassroots group in "each of our educational institutions."

"I would be happy if you and I could start a congress at Luzhniki [a
stadium in Moscow] with 100,000 young people present. But we have to
work very well for such a congress to become a reality," Patriarch
Kirill said at a meeting in Moscow with Orthodox youth.

He urged the clergy to "build up work with youth at parish, deanery,
diocese level," but it should be the main task, he said, to train
both clergy and laity to work with youth.

"We should build a network for youth work. We should have a
grassroots group, organization, in each of our educational
institutions. How can one engage in Christian work among youth if a
college has no youth organization of its own?" Kirill said.

Russia is "an open society, where all this is permissible, feasible,"
he said.

"We should consolidate our ranks at this grassroots level, where
youth congresses would bring together tens of thousands of people and
would not be a lot of window dressing or a television show but a
genuine manifestation of our work, of what is happening in Church and
society," the Patriarch said.
I think this is awesome. And I would not be at all surprised if our Old World hierarchs and priests adapt and change to minister and proclam the changeless, Ancient Faith to the changing, specific cultural needs and ethos of their generation, while in North America we keep running around in circles, living in a nostalgic past that even the ancestors of the friends and neighbors who never left the old country, who knew those ancestors who did emigrate here, these people in the old counties no longer recognize our nostalgic images because their worlds have changed.
 

Pedro

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Irish Hermit said:
DavidBryan said:
Some on this forum (and indeed, some who've posted in this very thread) seem to be content with the Church as a liturgical entity and nothing more.  Granted, contemplative, liturgical life is where we need to begin and end our ministry; it needs to interpenetrate and inspire everything else that goes
"When you have worshipped Christ in the church with gold and fine linen, do not ignore him when you see him outside the church in the gutter"   
~Saint John Chrysostom.

The charge has been made that the Church, or at least the Russian part of it, is hindered by its 19th century mentality.

That may be partly true, but we cannot say that the Russian Church does not have an outworking of its rich liturgical life in the social arena.

For example, the diocese of Moscow alone runs 400 soups kitchens.  Most are in Moscow, but they are also in the outlying cities of the diocese.  There is a very active concern for "feeding the hungry."

There are also clinics and refuges run by the Church for solo mothers, drug addicts, alcoholics, and (surely one of the Church's most heartbreaking charitable works) for streetkids and orphans.

-oOo-

Have  you seen the latest news from Patriarch Kyrill?  This man is on fire to take the Church out into the world and society.

http://www.interfax-religion.com/print.php?act=dujour&id=47



Russian Patriarch calls for powerful Orthodox youth movement

Moscow, February 15, Interfax - The new Patriarch of Moscow called
for creating a powerful Orthodox youth movement in Russia which would
have a grassroots group in "each of our educational institutions."

"I would be happy if you and I could start a congress at Luzhniki [a
stadium in Moscow] with 100,000 young people present. But we have to
work very well for such a congress to become a reality," Patriarch
Kirill said at a meeting in Moscow with Orthodox youth.

He urged the clergy to "build up work with youth at parish, deanery,
diocese level," but it should be the main task, he said, to train
both clergy and laity to work with youth.

"We should build a network for youth work. We should have a
grassroots group, organization, in each of our educational
institutions. How can one engage in Christian work among youth if a
college has no youth organization of its own?" Kirill said.

Russia is "an open society, where all this is permissible, feasible,"
he said.

"We should consolidate our ranks at this grassroots level, where
youth congresses would bring together tens of thousands of people and
would not be a lot of window dressing or a television show but a
genuine manifestation of our work, of what is happening in Church and
society," the Patriarch said.
May God grant His Holiness many blessed years.
 

Innocent

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Irish Hermit said:
DavidBryan said:
Some on this forum (and indeed, some who've posted in this very thread) seem to be content with the Church as a liturgical entity and nothing more.  Granted, contemplative, liturgical life is where we need to begin and end our ministry; it needs to interpenetrate and inspire everything else that goes
"When you have worshipped Christ in the church with gold and fine linen, do not ignore him when you see him outside the church in the gutter"   
~Saint John Chrysostom.

The charge has been made that the Church, or at least the Russian part of it, is hindered by its 19th century mentality.

That may be partly true, but we cannot say that the Russian Church does not have an outworking of its rich liturgical life in the social arena.

For example, the diocese of Moscow alone runs 400 soups kitchens.  Most are in Moscow, but they are also in the outlying cities of the diocese.  There is a very active concern for "feeding the hungry."

There are also clinics and refuges run by the Church for solo mothers, drug addicts, alcoholics, and (surely one of the Church's most heartbreaking charitable works) for streetkids and orphans.

-oOo-

Have  you seen the latest news from Patriarch Kyrill?  This man is on fire to take the Church out into the world and society.

http://www.interfax-religion.com/print.php?act=dujour&id=47



Russian Patriarch calls for powerful Orthodox youth movement

Moscow, February 15, Interfax - The new Patriarch of Moscow called
for creating a powerful Orthodox youth movement in Russia which would
have a grassroots group in "each of our educational institutions."

"I would be happy if you and I could start a congress at Luzhniki [a
stadium in Moscow] with 100,000 young people present. But we have to
work very well for such a congress to become a reality," Patriarch
Kirill said at a meeting in Moscow with Orthodox youth.

He urged the clergy to "build up work with youth at parish, deanery,
diocese level," but it should be the main task, he said, to train
both clergy and laity to work with youth.

"We should build a network for youth work. We should have a
grassroots group, organization, in each of our educational
institutions. How can one engage in Christian work among youth if a
college has no youth organization of its own?" Kirill said.

Russia is "an open society, where all this is permissible, feasible,"
he said.

"We should consolidate our ranks at this grassroots level, where
youth congresses would bring together tens of thousands of people and
would not be a lot of window dressing or a television show but a
genuine manifestation of our work, of what is happening in Church and
society," the Patriarch said.
This is wonderful!
 
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