Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Eastern churches
A good word on the Orthodox tradition

Sir John Tavener apostasy rumour false

On being an ‘ethnoclub’
From a semi-private message board:
That perception comes from a few things:

Orthodoxy's decentralised nature (in this it resembles the Anglican Communion) - the independence of bishops and the notion of the whole church present in the local community - lends itself to people's or national churches... and state churches.

In the 1800s the Balkan Christian countries found in Orthodoxy a rallying-point for their independence from the Turks.

In America Orthodoxy became especially identified with ethnicities because after the Russian Revolution it was impossible for the Russian dioceses to trust what was coming from the bishops in the mother country, and in that vacuum the other immigrant ethnic groups - some Ukrainians, the Bulgarians, Serbs, Romanians, Greeks, Albanians and Arabs - broke away from the Russian dioceses and sent away to their homelands for bishops of their own kind (language, culture). So functionally these domed churches were and largely still are ethnic lodges as well as churches. That has its good and bad sides. Good: the church as family (the
ethné is a big family after all with the king or tsar as papa). Bad: taking God's name in vain, or identifying secular political causes (like the row between Greece and Slavic Macedonia) with the church, and the uncanonical juridical mess in the States. All churches of whatever ethnicity in a city are supposed to be under one bishop per ancient canons. Instead every American is sitting simultaneously in about five Orthodox dioceses because the church scene has become so, erm, balkanised. Another spanner in the works stopping this being fixed is that a couple of patriarchs in the Old World depend on American church offerings to stay in business - otherwise they'd be hounded out of Istanbul (the Turks have almost eradicated the Greek presence in Asia Minor) and Damascus. Greeks are numerically the biggest Orthodox church in America and they're under the Patriarch of Constantinople (Istanbul) so he's not interested in correcting this situation. (His palace routinely gets pipe-bombed by the Turks.)
If I wanted elaborate ritual, I would join the Greek Orthodox Church.
- Gary North on shaving

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