Friday, June 19, 2020

Find yourself on this chart or add your own entry

One of the interesting things about Orthodoxy in the North America is that every jurisdiction has their own template for types of people in every parish. I can almost guarantee you will have the same grouping wherever you are. In some situations the template can be even more specific. For example, I could post a short video of a coffee hour in Texas and you'd be able to say "OCA Diocese of the South!" with a very high degree of certainty. Or I could post a similar video for a Greek parish and (even without the smattering of Greek as a giveaway) you'd be able to say, "There's the lady who attends everything on the church calendar. There's the guy who opens the door for everything, but is oddly never at the services. There's the mother who asks about childcare for everything. There's the homeschooling mom who has to defend her choice to every bejeweled boomer who wants to compliment her kids while feeling compelled to ask bemused questions about why they can't be "normal" and go to school. There's the supposed "ξένος" spouse who has been married for 5 years and still just sits in the corner sipping coffee looking at his watch and waiting to be allowed to go to the car." You could easily do the same for a ROCOR parish or a pan-Slavic parish in the midwest.


It will be interesting to see if over time we go the way of Catholicism which used to have an ethnic parish for each group (Slovaks, Italians, Irish) until consolidation closed down all but one church and everyone just identifies as Catholic. But then the fault lines are on how traditional or radical a Catholic you are determines which parish you go to.

16 comments:

  1. In my area (Binghamton NY) there are two large Roman Catholic churches literally on the same block. We'd call them "cathedrals." One was for the Poles, the other for the rest. The Polish one is closed, and weeds are growing through the front walk.
    There are six Orthodox churches within a 15-minute drive from our house. Most are struggling to stay afloat. Not sensible.
    At least in our day, Roman Catholic bishops aren't shy about closing and consolidating parishes by decree. I'm not sure that Orthodox bishops *can* close parishes, which typically own their own property. Certainly they're extremely reluctant to do so.

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  2. "....until consolidation closed down all but one church and everyone just identifies as Catholic. But then the fault lines are on how traditional or radical a Catholic you are determines which parish you go to...."

    Interesting question to think about. The context for us Orthodox is different than it was for the Catholics 50 years (give or take) ago. The American cultural context has suffered the complete breakdown of the Protestant consensus, the sexual revolution, and the otherwise rapid onset of "secularization", so any parallels drawn I think are strained - they can not account for what our situation is even today, let alone in 10 or 20 years.

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  3. I think after seeing these caricatures, I have a better understanding why I have such a difficult time finding a parish to call home.

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  4. "But then the fault lines are on how traditional or radical a Catholic you are determines which parish you go to."

    Sadly, this is true. It also determines as a Catholic priest which parish you will be assigned to.

    Personally, I think things were better in the Catholic Church when there were parish boundaries that parishioners were obliged to follow. It forced liberals and conservatives (as much as I hate those labels) to work together and not devolve into their own little sectarian ghetto. Today, there can be little common ground between your parish and the one the next town over.

    On the Orthodox side, yes, there's the ethnic segregation, but I see the conservative/liberal divide occuring here as well. On the outside peripheries we don't have Jesuit parishes run by Sister Pantsuit who flies the rainbow flag or Fraternity parishes run by cassock wearing priests yearning for the clericalism from the 1950's, instead, we have the ROCOR and the Greek Archdiocese (or OCA depending on your location). It's not my intention to throw any group under the bus. But it is naive to pretend to certain jurisdictions and parishes don't have a particular reputation.

    Although I was heartened to read recently of a Greek and Antiochian church that agreed to merge in Appalachia. Maybe more struggling parishes could look to that merger as a model.

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  5. The noun that is missing in all of this is Christian,,,,are we discussing people who are truly Christian or people who think they are Christian ? Oh, wait, if we identify with the the adjective, orthodox, do we need to erase the noun? We are truly stuck in the muck and this is the tragedy ,,, btw the 1950' s were our heyday,,, no pony tails, no unkempt beards, suits not cassocks,none of the 18 the century externalities, and the parishes were growing and building,,,we have been on a steep slope downward ever since just look at kindratcht' s studies

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  6. I would say, rather, irrelevant to any parish and jurisdiction I have spent time in. Nice for stand-up comedy, perhaps.

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  7. Replies
    1. Right? I’m not sure why people are vetting this like a dissertation.

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