Friday, July 14, 2006

A most devastating critique of the Orthodox convert boomlet
Not entirely true — the misinformation about the Greeks in America is his biggest mistake (they’re under Constantinople not Athens so some of their offerings go to the former) — and marred by malicious gossip and a Protestant bias but the writer hits and seems to demolish several targets.

Officials from these churches lying about their membership numbers is nothing new.
Orthodoxy, both worldwide and in the United States, is in decline.

My priest historian friend also speaks of the exaggerated reports of Orthodox growth in the Slavic and Greek lands. Much of this is hype drummed up by old country Patriarchates to justify and encourage all the American dollars headed their way. We see in the Slavic lands growth since the fall of communism but the rates of growth are greatly exaggerated, and probably tapering. Whatever growth the Russian Church claims to be having it has no effect whatsoever on Russian culture. Abortion rates, divorce rates, and suicide rates in Russia continue to climb. With the current rate of 4 out of 5 Russian pregnancies ending in abortion there soon will not be a Russia in which to have a Russian Orthodox Church. The Greek Church is a cultural museum, and the Arab Church has, for the most part, moved. Maybe three out of ten Arab Christian kids remain Orthodox after their parents move to a Western country.

The reports that you hear of the vast numbers of converts to Orthodoxy are simply false.... those dioceses in the Antiochian and OCA jurisdictions which have had significant growth are those in which large numbers have come into Orthodoxy via the Evangelical Orthodox Church or Christ the Saviour Brotherhood.... I believe that the OCA
[claimed membership: 1.065 million] likely has somewhere in the vicinity of 15,000 people who are active communicants.

There were more practicing Orthodox in the United States 50 years ago than there are today. Far more. Look at the pictures.
[I did and noticed that.] Look at sacrament records. As immigrant kids became assimilated the need for ethnic clubs waned, and without a sense of the catholicity of the Church such as immigrant Roman Catholics had, there was no reason to continue the whole church game beyond its ethnic-club function.
I’m reminded of friend Charley Wingate’s observation that every go at evangelism by the Episcopalians in the same period has flopped and the only way for them to grow is for members of their ethnic/social-class demographic to start having lots more kids, which given the widespread acceptance of contraception in both the Episcopal and Orthodox churches won’t happen. And interestingly, when you call online Orthodox on that, more often than not they refuse to answer you.

And I’ve asked myself before if the boomlet can offset the massive attrition from their ethnic bases as the old die and the young move away from their American Rust Belt population centre and defect. (The Byzantine Catholic churches are dying out for exactly the same reason and without a counter-current boomlet. And they’re compromised by their tie to the Novus Ordo.)

The writer is very plausible indeed — can anybody back up his claims?
Evangelical converts to Orthodoxy who were a part of what I will call the "first wave" of converts in North America are schooled in 1970s forms of evangelism and apologetics which simply do not work today.
Can somebody here explain that difference to me?
Many people expected a huge wave of Evangelical converts following the much publicized EOC conversion. That has not happened. Converting from Evangelicalism to Orthodoxy is not as hip as it was 5 to 10 years ago, and is no longer newsworthy in the Christian press. Evangelicals and other Protestant groups have become more serious in their counter-polemics (the RCC has also joined that game with a vengeance).

... Christ the Saviour Brotherhood is a cult. It grew leaps and bounds when many cults were growing leaps and bounds, the 1970s and ’80s. Its churches have not grown significantly since, and they will not do so because cults of their type do not attract people like they once did.
True of cults in general in the period he mentions. The charismatic ‘covenant community’ I rented from for nine years was a cult that peaked in the 1980s and was dying all that time I did business with them. In fact they did that business because they were dying and needed cash from the great unwashed like me.
The only cult growing today is the Mormons and Mormon evangelistic styles are the complete opposite of Christ the Saviour's.
(Mr Spockian eyebrow raise.) Fascinating. Can anybody explain what he’s referring to?
The only purpose Christ the Saviour churches serve today is to infect Orthodox jurisdictions with their new age nonsense.
Here the writer segues into his American evangelical-bred hatred of the traditionalist mindset, which he calls überfromm (over-pious). His main objection to Fr Seraphim (Rose) is to do with the toll-house theory, which is only a folkloric explanation of the particular judgement and not gnostic or cultish.

I too have wondered if the horrid financial scandal in the OCA — clergy stealing hundreds of thousands of church-offering dollars from Ruthenian retired steelworkers and ex-coal miners — will sink that denomination.

That said, these churches still beat the Novus Ordo in their praxis by a long shot (unlike this chap I like their rite as handed down), except for a few fanatical places there is an air of normality one doesn’t find in the Tridentine traditionalist ghetto, the ethnic thing is not oppressive or cultish but part of a real community, people don’t join to be divorced and remarried or to practise birth control — it’s a wholesomely demanding church, not mainline Protestantism with beards and icons added — and if a Newman-like ex-evangelical happens upon a parish where the authentic Catholic teaching against contraception is upheld, it’s not the worst place for him to drop anchor.

I’ve noticed this as well
It is stereotypically cliché these days for a homosexual couple to renovate a Victorian house. Those vocations which have something to do with the preservation movement (that is, preservation of old buildings) are overly represented by homosexuals. The point is that homosexuals, in general terms, seem to be attracted to those cultural forms which are traditional in only a superficial manner.

Many gays take great interest in and are over-represented in the western high liturgical traditions, whether Roman Catholic or Anglican. Again, it seems to me that this fascination with dignity and order stands in contrast to the baseness and disorder of gay life. We have a lived out caricature/counter-caricature phenomenon in which life is a play between the grotesque and its contrasts.

Certainly not all gays fit into these categories or caricatures. But modernity makes bit part character actors out of all of us.
I don’t know if I agree with his theories but I’ve tried to figure this out for 20 years. There’s the lesson of tolerant conservatism (search the blog — Catholic parish, ; gay parish, no) but take that just a degree off course and you get an empty, or worse, sacrilegious show, the commonest criticism of this.

The feudalism of Sark
And why abolishing it is bad

From The Ochlophobist.

No comments:

Post a comment

Leave comment