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Yes, Robert, you are right if that "ethnos" stands as an obstacle to the Gospel and the "ethos" of Christ.

On the other hand, there is too much hubris in especially the convert circles of Orthodoxy, who have drunk the bitter cup to the dregs with spite about any appearance of the old languages and old country ways. We converts should be thankful we were allowed in to the eternal house and simply be quiet for a while.

"But it is not enough to shake one’s head at a drunkard in a trailer park: what must needs be is an Orthodox parish that can teach a unwed boy with children how to grow up and become an Orthodox man. For it will soon be that the only way a boy can become an American man, in natural law, is through Orthodoxy: so it will be for a girl to become a lady, a house to become a home, a social security number to become a Christian citizen, a pensioner to become an American Saint."


But, the first step is not to ask the boy and girl to change cultures (ethnos). IOTWs, for any chance of success, authentic Orthodoxy must be delivered to them within the framework of English-Speaking culture and folk traditions. BTW, I do not think that either Eastern Rite or so-called Western Rite (Tridentine Anglo-Catholicism) are even trying to do this -- each is caught up in a precious ghetto mentality.

Hi Magdalena,

If you are in the San Diego area I can highly recommend St. Anthony's Antiochian Orthodox Church. I believe it meets or exceeds all the criteria you spelled out.

There should never be a denial of your Orthodoxy, whether here in the States or anywhere -- even in the old country where English is not spoken. But is it such denial to ever sing/intone in Russian, or Greek, or (in my case) Carpatho-Russian? Occasionally (and rarely) we will sing the Trisagion in our brand of Church Slavonic, for reasons of continuity with our forefathers. I think this limited display is defensible, even though I don't carry a drop of Eastern European blood in my ancestry (and that is true for an increasing number of my parishioners).

I do not think I understand your opposition of the Great Commission to ecumenicism. I also don't know what "circling the Orthodox wagons" means in relation to ecumenicism. Am I an ecumenicist? Certainly, if by that term we stipulate a penitential commonality with Conciliar dogma, especially Photian Trinitarianism, and the ethos of Palamite asceticism.

In the past several months, I've been searching for an Orthodox parish that I, as an American, might bypass the ethnocentrism that would deny that I'm Orthodox despite 15 years in the Church because my heritage is not "....". I'd like to hear the whole service in English, not broken up into ancient languages that a visitor would find ostracizing or confusing. I'd like to find a parish with leaders who act on the Great Commission instead of circling the Orthodox wagons in the name of "ecumenism."

For the past decade or so, James, I've thought that we Orthodox should put our efforts (or "works") toward prayer, asceticism and dogma; and at the same time, we should dampen our enthusiasm for self-conscious and self-righteous critiques of rubrics, ethnic customs, and ecclesial politics.

Self-consciousness is defensible only in repentance. In philosophy, in politics and history, it is the tollbooth on the wide road to destruction. I mention this problem because this sort of consciousness lies too often at the root of our ethnic identities.

I fully agree. We should allow more "room for direction" from Christ.

And Neal, I really do wish for you a porch and time enough for the evenings, especially with the honeysuckle on the breeze. P. D. James and Russell Kirk's creepy Ancestral Shadows are nice, if you just want to open a window. Richard Wilbur's Collected Poems and Wendell Berry's Art of the Commonplace are for different, more fulsome moods. And finally, Olivier Clement's The Roots of Christian Mysticism and St. Maximos' Centuries on Love (and Ambiguities) are for the deep night.

I pray time for you, and, you know, prayer creates time and the world enough. Always.

Indeed, Father, the influence of such shows is frightening to say the least.

Your summer pastime sounds very pleasant. Would that I only had a porch, or free time, for that matter.

Agree that top down doesn't have to be a problem... we have many great and fine clerics, bishops and monastics. Maybe I should say something like 'a priori" to mean that I think the potential problem lies where people come up with almost some Platonist "ideal" of the Church and begin to rule out this and that sort of person or behavior or worship as unorthodox - seeking some sort of simulated Disneyland version whitewashed of all those folks, problems, errors and the like that they just don't agree with - as if this judgment were theirs to impose. (And I'm not suggesting we go crazy and do everything or accept everthing and everyone unconditionally either... just that we resist the temptation to have purges, pogroms and the like). I can get that just fine down the street ("thank you") and don't this country's looking for another group to get into the business of equating elite however defined with "the elect". And I don't intend this as a polemic for or against anyone... but to simply make the case (though poorly) for allowing the Church to breathe on its own and beyond our grasping hands.. while at the same time fully including us - all of us.

And I also mean by this that I'd be uncomfortable calling in the "marketing gurus" to help us figure out the "way to get our message accross" or "improve our reach". I think in some ways these both involve attempts to impose a personal, individual or strictly human definition on a divine institution that should allow more room for direction from... well.. Christ. Maybe it's just like in Kipling, "I'm just so new and all" that I can see both the desire.. the impatience.. and also appreciate the need for more patience...and recognize that this is not something we're always good at reconciling in this great land... and we get exasperated. But the errors around us and within ought to be warning enough to tread lightly.

So while I think there are many who would fear that we'll McOrthodox the land... and we have to resist that, I also think that we have to release our fears and adopt the best of this country, too. The celebration of this land and people as well as countries that are mother to some should be balanced... but with an eye that this is where we live and who we are... and who we will become.

And not a lick of this is easy.

And thank you, James, for your comment. I would simply add the proviso that top-down inspiration needn't be problematic, and really should never be, as long as the ecclesial mandate for the deified episcopacy is fulfilled. I find that many, if not most, of the current congregational/populist movements in the Stateside church are definitely not Traditional, and are not even American (well, on second thought, maybe they are Jeffersonian).

If by "bottom up" you mean prayer, repentance, study, decent conversation (like this, even), communion and renewing the earth, then yes, this grassy, common Orthodoxy is the place where the "not-yet" will happen.


Share your opinion. We have to be Americans and love America and her people... warts and all.. through her coming struggles if we are going to earn the right to be asked (emphasis on asked) what we might think. And we have to be willing to offer through action unasked.

Lots of folks have an idea of American Orthodoxy that is.. well.. unAmerican in many ways because it is all top-down in a manner of imposition and design that is inconsistent both with Orthodoxy and with America - at least that's what I tend to think.. and read here as well unless I'm mistaken. I think we work bottom up. That's what (I think) our Saints are all about... we will produce them.. and they will produce an American Orthodox Church under God's inspiration that is worthy of the name in being both a House (Tent) of God, and formed through the Body of Christ... and the body of American people. Like America... this is a still unfolding story... and full of so much promise.

Thanks for this well-written clearly thought post.

And, Neal, is it not frightening that the View wields not only political but moral impact?

I don't blame you in the least. I spend my free time on summer evenings on the rectory porch with a nice "goose-flesher," as the great Bertie Wooster is wont to say.

The View, viewed but once, will prove its nature as an eponymous oxymoron.

I watched The View once. In college. While my roommate had control over the remote. And it was one of the most shameful moments in my life.

Otherwise, I couldn't agree more.

Precisely, Peter. The Church is probably understood only in a village (perhaps a Cathedral only in a city). My point is that the village ideal (or myth) of America continues to be the place we have neither arrived at or understood. We are speaking the globalized language, especially in our centralized committees, and we wonder why there is no existential contact with our "constituency." I remain hopeful that this village sort of America is still a commonality, at least in the background of the commercial culture.

Excellent post! The only thing I would suggest is that perhaps you're talking about something smaller than America. And maybe the very problem has to do with trying to grasp America, which can only be conceived these days in terms of the globalism it spawns. Perhaps we would do better trying to find our more local, more immediate communities, to express Orthodoxy in and for *them,* rather than whatever this thing called America might be. I think if you go back through your criteria for the America you know, you'll see that most of them fit better the level of a village than a continent.

By all means Frost. How could I forget? Imagine thinking of Wilbur before Frost. I stand corrected. Thanks!

And Frost; do not let us forget Frost.

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