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Fr. Bless!

I just read and enjoyed your 3 articles. I agree with your diagnosis (being a former megachurch youth grouper, and CCCer), and take hope from your prescription. Yet I understadn Tamara's scepticism, and see your posts as a starting point....with the end point (resolution of the problem) no where on the radar scope. I am glad the conversation is starting, and trust it will go on.

But in the meantime, our parishes need some real practical help. OUr youth group is virtually non-existant. But should that even be a worry?

How can we catechize? Sunday School? How do we criticiize pop culture? From the pulpit mainly, or are there other ways?

Basically, what should a 21st century American Orthodox youth ministry look like?

I welcome direction from you or any others....

Dia, I agree that our youth/pop culture is not the culture to transmit anything of value. But my grandparents were from the middle east so I can see clearly the healthy and unhealthy aspects of an Orthodox culture. So while there are good things about the culture I try to retain in my own family I think it is important to look at the goodness which can be found in our American culture as we bring Orthodoxy to America.

In my new parish I see a community of families who take care of one another in times of crisis. We celebrate baptisms, chrismations, weddings and feast days as a parish family. This type of culture did not exist in my ethnic childhood parish. It was very clannish and the ethnic nationalism was suffocating. I believe God is bringing Americans to Orthodoxy to revive it. I see it as great blessing. While western Christianity has fallen into heretical beliefs they have kept the spirit of evangelism, philanthropy and service alive! An American Orthodox culture will naturally flow out from a combination of right beliefs with the three spiritual characteristics the Protestants bring with them. How can it not? Doesn't it sound like a description of the early church?

I understand Tamara's comment, but would like to iterate the point of the article as I understand it.
The point is that ethnic/traditional cultures (including say the Southern American culture) have structure, require responsibility, cultivate the ethos of their members and bring with them the concept of community and civil responsinility (all are affected by my actions) rather than the "freedom" to do as I please thinking it is only my business.
These attitudes are ingrained in many ethnic cultures including the Greek and Middle Eastern, of which I can speak of, and are transmitted to the community members even when they are not as committed Orthodox faithful.
Not to mention the idea and virtue of sacrificing everything for the family. In our generation unfortunately very few "white" americans have this experience and attitude. I am shocked to hear complaints from parents about children who live with them after graduating, who go on expensive cruises when their kids are drowning in debt, who think it's "me" time and refuse to look after the new baby but for a week or for children who think family reunions and holidays are the worst exercise in patience.

I agree it is sad to be nominally Orthodox. In fact it is frightening that we allow baptized Orthodox to receive the Holy Sacraments when they decide to show up in Church when they have not participated conciously or prepared.
However, this I am afraid can become an issue with our convert-based parishes too within a generation or so. It is common that children do not necessarily share the strong convictions of their parents, or that some children grow to be much more faithful and wise than their parents.
There is nothing to say that the children or grandchildren of convert families will maintain the same level of commitment as their parents, though I do think they have a better chance of being well catechized.
This is our Church. It is a training ground, a fighting arena, where the strong have to carry the weaker, where we have the Hope of Salvation but are continuously aware of our shortcomings and unworthiness.
The pillar of our Church is Christ, the life of our Church is the Holy Spirit.
I appreciate the virtues prominent in our ex-protestant Churches, but I also appreciate the piety and sacrifice of the ethnic groups.
These ethnic cultures are so powerful exactly because they come from countries that have been Orthodox for millenia!! Do not dismiss them so lightly. They are the medium through which Orthodoxy is transmitted from generation to generation and from the ages to ages.
American Orthodoxy should develop such a distinct culture too. The point of the article is though that our current "youth/pop culture" is NOT the culture able to transmit anything of long lasting, much less of eternal value.

Well, I grew up in an Orthodox ethnic culture in a America and I think you are seeing Orthodox cultures through rose colored glasses. Many immigrants are not well-catechized in the faith and are very superstitious (evil eye beads and a host of pagan-influenced beliefs that Orthodoxy tried to shake off years ago.) Quite a few immigrants are ethnocentric and do not welcome outsiders (anti-ethical to the Christian spirit of hospitality). And frankly, I don't see a difference the culture has made on the children of the immigrants. Many immigrants indulge their children if they have the money. Their kids grow up un-cathechized for the most part in churches that use very little English. These kids go off to college, marry a non-Orthodox mate and many times become Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, or evangelicals because their Orthodox faith mainly entailed attending ethnic festivals, going to language school and and belonging to ethnic folk dance groups.

The Orthodox parish I attend now was started by converts who were mostly from evangelical backgrounds. Their children are respectful, industrious, kind, devout, and they eagerly serve the poor. I find these American heinz 57 Orthodox children to be much better role models for my young boys than the spoiled, nominally Orthodox children of the immigrants who attend my childhood parish.
I think the Protestant culture has much to offer Orthodoxy once devout Protestants join the church. They bring with them a culture of philanthropy (tithe), service (care for the poor), and evangelism. On these three pillars will rest a truly American Orthodox Church.

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