August 30, 2014

Pew Forum on the ‘Zeal of the Convert’

A new study by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life finds that "overall, people who have switched religions consistently exhibit higher levels of religious commitment than those who still belong to their childhood faith, but the differences are relatively modest." The analysis finds that people who have switched faiths (or joined a faith after being raised unaffiliated with a religion) are indeed slightly more religious than those who have remained in their childhood faith, as measured by the importance of religion in their lives, frequency with which they attend religious services and other measures of religious commitment. However, the analysis also finds that the differences in religious commitment between converts and nonconverts are generally very small and are more apparent among some religious groups than others. I don't see anything specifically here about Orthodox Christians, but you may find parallels. Key findings: * Slightly more … [Read more...]

Church on Sunday?

A well-written, thoughtful, and thoroughly engaging article on what American Orthodoxy increasingly looks like. He looks like a regular young guy — maybe late 20s or early 30s. Head shaved to mask a receding hairline, a black goatee to offset the baldness, the gold rim of his glasses glinting beneath his dark brows. A regular guy, except maybe for his robe. Though it has the sheen of satin, it does not drape or hang; it holds its shape, stiffly framing the man beneath. Though mostly creamy white, the robe beams with patterns of yellow gold. (If we were not in church, the fabric would seem ostentatious, guilty of Louis XVI excess.) And over the robe, a stole, equally stiff and resplendent, making an X across his belly. The resulting look is old-fashioned in the extreme, reminding me of nothing so much as the priestly robes worn by long-ago Jewish characters in the Jesus movies. Yet here it is on a Sunday in 2009, on a young guy, in a brick chapel set amid the more ordinary opulence … [Read more...]

Ecumenical Patriarchate: American ‘Diaspora’ must submit to Mother Church

Arch. Elpidophoros Lamprianidis

The battle is joined. Highlight: With regards to the United States, the submission to the First Throne of the Church, that is, to the Ecumenical Patriarchate is not only fitting with the American society and mentality but also it opens up the horizons of possibilities for this much-promising region, which is capable of becoming an example of Pan-Orthodox unity and witness. The Mother Church of Constantinople safeguards for the Orthodox Church in America those provisions that are needed for further progress and maturity in Christ. Full text follows: Challenges of Orthodoxy in America And the Role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate By Very Reverend Archimandrite Dr. Elpidophoros Lambriniadis Chief Secretary of the Holy and Sacred Synod (Chapel of the Holy Cross, March 16, 2009) Reverend Protopresbyter Nicholas Triantafyllou, President, Reverend Protopresbyter Thomas Fitzgerald, Dean of the School of Theology, Reverend and Esteemed Members of the Faculty and … [Read more...]

Culture Wars: Fr. Jacobse on Ancient Faith Radio

Kevin Allen, host of Ancient Faith Radio's Illumined Heart program, interviews AOI President Fr. Hans Jacobse for a fascinating discussion on "The Culture War and Orthodox Christianity." Fr. Hans talks about the need for Eastern Orthodox Christians to engage in the moral and social debates -- call them Culture Wars if you will -- that are being waged in American society today. In this 35 minute program, Allen also asks Fr. Hans about the recent discussion on this blog about whether "Religious Right" leaning ex-Evangelical converts are taking over the Orthodox churches in America. Allen asked Fr. Hans if he thought the Culture Wars might be a lost cause, given what we see in society today. Fr. Hans said the battles over moral issues will be difficult, with uncertain outcomes. But he reminded Allen that our faithfulness will determine the shape of tomorrow. "If it be God's will that the world be saved -- and it is -- I think there's a chance we can turn this around," Fr. Hans … [Read more...]

Mattingly: What do the Converts Want?

In light of the recent exchanges on The Observer about converts, cradle Orthodox and the future of American Orthodoxy, we are republishing Terry Mattingly's essay that touches on these important issues. This article was adapted from an address titled "So What Do the Converts Want, Anyway?" given at the 2006 Orthodox Christian Laity conference in Baltimore. Terry Mattingly, an advisor to AOI, is director of the Washington Journalism Center, editor of the www.GetReligion.org website, and a weekly syndicated columnist for the Scripps Howard News Service. What Do the Converts Want? By Terry Mattingly It doesn't take a Ph.D. in Liturgical Studies to tell the difference between a Southern Baptist church and an Orthodox church. You can get some pretty good clues just by walking in the door and looking around. But there are some similarities between the two that might be a little trickier to spot. For instance, let me tell you about what life is like on Sunday nights in a Southern … [Read more...]

Michalopulos responds to Katopodis on ‘Orthodox Dominionists’

George C. Michalopulos has submitted the following in response to Harry Katopodis' article on Orthodox Dominionists. Michalopulos is co-author, with Herb Ham, of "The American Orthodox Church -- A History of its Beginnings" (Regina Orthodox Press). Michalopulos: It never ceases to amaze me how certain benighted and theologically inept individuals take upon themselves the task of speaking for Christ’s Church as it traverses on its voyage through history. One such individual fears that the so-called religious right has made inroads into the Orthodox Church in North America, and that it is only because of noble souls such as himself that tolerance can only be found in one remaining bastion, i.e. the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. And of what is Katapodis afraid? In no particular order: converts, “theocons,” non-GOAA bishops, and the rising tide of pro-lifers within American Orthodoxy. The ridiculousness does … [Read more...]

Mattingly on Fr. John Peck

Update (10/13/08): The complete, unedited column is now available on Terry Mattingly's site under the title, "Beyond Orthodox folk dancing." (10/11/08): Religion writer Terry Mattingly has a column in today's Boulder (Colo.) Daily Camera newspaper that is a must read. He looks at the controversy surrounding the publication of Fr. John Peck's "The Orthodox Church of Tomorrow" here on the Web site of the American Orthodox Institute. Mattingly is a blogger at the GetReligion site, a syndicated columnist, and directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He recently joined AOI as an adviser. About Fr. Peck, Mattingly said that "the 46-year-old priest wrote an article about the positive Orthodox trends in America, as well as offering candid talk about the problems faced by some of his friends. He finished 'The Orthodox Church of Tomorrow' soon after arriving at the Greek Orthodox mission in Prescott, Ariz., and sent it to the American … [Read more...]

Katopodis Responds to ‘Orthodox Dominionists’

Mr. Harry Katopodis has sent AOI an article to further elaborate on the thinking behind his article in the Hellenic Voice, "Religious Right Must Not Set Agenda for Orthodox Church." Which led to my post, "Where are the Orthodox Dominionists?" The Katopodis response is published here unedited: Dominionists or Pro-Life? By Harry Katopodis Several bloggers have criticized my article because I called called pro-life Orthodox dominionists, however the difference in reality is very small. The point is that whether I call them dominionists or religious right their stands are very similar, put Christian values and doctrine in the government of the United States. I was raised in the Orthodox Church, and I left the Greek Church and went to the OCA so I could hear English services. A few years later I returned home to the Greek Church when I felt I wasn’t welcome in the OCA because I am a Democrat and a proud union member that votes for Democrats because it is in my economic interest … [Read more...]

Where are the Orthodox Dominionists?

A friend sent me an article from the Hellenic Voice titled, “Religious Right must not set agenda for Orthodox Church.” Well, reasonable enough. But the article got so many other things wrong that I was tempted to simply quit reading half way through. The author, Harry Katopodis, seemed not to understand the difference between religious doctrine and political activism (which was one of the main faults of the Religious Right). Amazingly, his article was aimed at those Orthodox brothers and sisters who have been received into the Church from other traditions. You know, converts. Their conversion, the author suggested, has been a Trojan horse that has allowed the Religious Right to stealthily creep into the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. The Katopodis article begins with the assertion that “the Orthodox Churches in America are heading down two different paths over political involvement.” The article is much too long and repetitive to reprint so I’ll touch on just a few points … [Read more...]