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Turkish convert

Orion

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I am a Turkish convert experiencing issues.
It's complicated being Turkish and becoming Orthodox. I was born in the West, to a Turkish father and Western mother. My parents are not religious.

I have always been 'in-between' a Christian and Muslim culture, and never really bothered about it, until I became religious.

Becoming Orthodox inevitably means coming at odds with Turkish culture, which is inherently Muslim. I have a Muslim name and want to use my Orthodox name, but find myself unable to do so. I was baptized 'privately' and am afraid to reveal it to my father, afraid that it will alienate me from him. Afraid that he will think I have become Greek and betrayed his name.. Turkish culture is more based than the West where you can just "choose" to be what you want. Even though my father is secular, this goes deeper than rationality. Although I am a Western person who can do as he likes and has no connection to Turkey, I still feel the burden of culture.

Truth to be told, I am in a spiritual crisis. I don't have access to a church right now so I came here to talk and seek advice..
 

TheTrisagion

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Welcome! I can't say that I fully know what you are going through, but I do have glimpse. My grandfather was Orthodox and when he moved from to the US from the Balkans, he became Protestant. I never even knew until fairly recently, but when I converted to Orthodoxy, my family was very opposed and took it as a personal insult, almost as if I was rejecting my grandfather's legacy. Some of my extended family has stopped talking to me. My parents have slowly come around to it and no longer make insulting comments, but I know they still don't approve. I suppose in an odd way, once I found out about his background, it kind of made me want to identify with that old culture and learn more about it while my family is firmly in the camp of "that old antiquated culture has been left behind, we are Americans and Baptists now". I don't really have any advice other than to say, continue struggling and don't give up. Don't allow despair to creep in.
 

Luke

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May the Lord be with you on your journey.
 
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I wish I had something to offer but still may God grant you many blessed years in your faith. In our parish in America, a Syrian lady has converted from Islam although her family supported her. I believe the pressure she faced in Syria was from the overall community not immediate family.
 

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I can relate….
My father was verbally abusive toward my wife. We didn’t speak for over 10 years after that. God forgive me! I had to choose between respecting my father and loving my wife. I relied on Matthew 10:34-36:
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.

I pray that you can tell your father, and he will accept your choice. Either way I know that God will bless you as He’s blessed me.
 

Ainnir

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Lord, have mercy.

My family was resistant, too, and one parent felt I was rejecting my upbringing. I had to plow ahead anyway. For you, maybe that just means praying morning and evening prayers by yourself until you're near an Orthodox church.

Is there a priest you could call and at least establish a phone relationship with? I know my bishop has several long-distance spiritual children. Maybe you could find a similar situation.
 

RaphaCam

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Lord, have mercy.

If your father feels you've betrayed Turkishness and he's open for dialogue, you can tell him about how many Turks always adhered to Orthodoxy... Many Turks assimilated themselves into the Byzantine Empire, so much that it seems one of our greatest fathers, St. Photius, had Khazar ancestry, and one of the Seljuk sultans, Kaykaus II, was influenced by the proximity and intermixing, stuck to Eastern Orthodoxy, fled to the Balkans with his loyalists, and his descendants still live there as the "Gagauz", and that was even before the Ottomans came to be. A later Gagauz religious leader, Archpriest Mihail Çakır, was even friends with Atatürk. The Chuvash form a large Orthodox population in Russia, and some Tatars divisions form smaller ones, two of them, the Kereşen and the Nagaybak, being traditionally Orthodox as a whole. Many Orthodox minorities were historically turkified without losing their identity, like the Urum and the Karamanlides (who might even be another remnant of Seljuk Orthodox Christians). Even the Bulgarians take their name from the Bulgars, a tribal confederation that conquered the region.

Is there a priest you could call and at least establish a phone relationship with? I know my bishop has several long-distance spiritual children. Maybe you could find a similar situation.
If you don't have a spiritual father, you should look into this. Maybe sharing here where you're from. Call me inbox if you want me to ask around for a priest.
 

hurrrah

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I know some Turkish people who have converted here in the UK, once away from Turkey. There is a growing community of converts inside Turkey that you might want to reach out to for some mutual support, as they are probably undergoing the same trials as you are.

Here is an interesting Twitter thread on Turkish Orthodox Christians and the author is something of a central figure in the Turkish convert movement. Reach out to him here, where he has a Telegram channel.
 

ialmisry

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Hristos diril - di!
I understand the culture problem. Dealing with secular Muslims is worse than dealing with religious ones, for whom at least the question of Truth comes up.
Do you know about the Karamanli, Turkish Orthodox from the region of Iconium? Although Turks, they were forced to settle in Greece, in exchange for the Greek speaking Muslims of Greece. I have several books published by/for them in Turkish, written in Greek letters. In fact, the first novel in modern Turkish was so written.
No Church nearby? Where are you in Scandinavia, may I ask?
 

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Hristos diril - di! Merhaba ve hoşgeldiniz. Türkçe bilmiyorum ama seviyorum :)

I'm sorry you are in this situation :(. I don't know exactly what that feels like but as a convert to Orthodoxy from a Western Christian faith (Catholicism) I've had my mom ask me why I was turning my back on my "heritage and culture". *sigh*....it's hard to explain to her that I'm not. I'm drawn to Orthodoxy and it's practices and honestly I don't really know why. I will say that remember this, in Christ there is no Jew or Greek (or Turk or American or black or white etc etc etc). Galations 3:28. That helps me when I feel alone.
 
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In America, a person has a decent chance of finding a parish where it is more easy to fit in. Of course people at older parishes are no better or worse than a recent immigrant parish. Then there is the factor of parish availability of course,

Much of this might be more easy for me to say since I am later middle aged & single. My roots are both Arabic & American Yankee so I have not experienced the culture shift I realize others do.
 

Orion

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Is there a priest you could call and at least establish a phone relationship with? I know my bishop has several long-distance spiritual children. Maybe you could find a similar situation.
I am working on it.

Lord, have mercy.

If your father feels you've betrayed Turkishness and he's open for dialogue, you can tell him about how many Turks always adhered to Orthodoxy...
Yes but it's also dangerous for a Turk to become Orthodox so there is the social stigma part.

If you don't have a spiritual father, you should look into this. Maybe sharing here where you're from. Call me inbox if you want me to ask around for a priest.
I would not like to share it for now, but I will message you if I'm not able to resolve the situation.
 

Dominika

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I've met some Turkish Orthodox, from Antiochiach Patriarchate. You can look for Turkish Orthodox websites e.g on Facebook, there are a few of them, maybe also contact those people.
 

Orion

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Lord, have mercy.

If your father feels you've betrayed Turkishness and he's open for dialogue, you can tell him about how many Turks always adhered to Orthodoxy... Many Turks assimilated themselves into the Byzantine Empire, so much that it seems one of our greatest fathers, St. Photius, had Khazar ancestry, and one of the Seljuk sultans, Kaykaus II, was influenced by the proximity and intermixing, stuck to Eastern Orthodoxy, fled to the Balkans with his loyalists, and his descendants still live there as the "Gagauz", and that was even before the Ottomans came to be. A later Gagauz religious leader, Archpriest Mihail Çakır, was even friends with Atatürk. The Chuvash form a large Orthodox population in Russia, and some Tatars divisions form smaller ones, two of them, the Kereşen and the Nagaybak, being traditionally Orthodox as a whole. Many Orthodox minorities were historically turkified without losing their identity, like the Urum and the Karamanlides (who might even be another remnant of Seljuk Orthodox Christians).
As for myself, I have confirmed Greek ancestry and my family is originally from Greece, although turkified since ottoman times (no longer part of Greek culture).Grandparents came to modern Turkey as part of population exchange.
 

Sethrak

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Orion, Do you know Christ???

If you are truly Christian that's all that counts, doesn't sound like you were raised believing Christians are Gavors, (unbelievers) if you are around anyone who feels you must keep hate Christian or you are not loyal in some way, decide between them and Christ, you can love them, you don't have to share their hate, if it bothers you so much that you would deny Christ✝

You've already made your choice,,,
 
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