Monday, May 15, 2017

It's almost Small Parish Forum time!


  1. On the one hand, I get it (after I wade through the corp america speak).

    On the other hand, what is it about attempts to "engage" the modern situation that more often than not lead to false positions, dead ends, and some amount (rather large or small) of "compromise" with said modern situation? Perilous times are these...

  2. Jake: what is it about the poster for the Small Parish Forum that leads you to believe this will encourage small parishes to "false positions, dead ends, and compromise with the modern situation"?

    1. Well, the language is a big red flag to me. It (the poster - and assuming the philosophy(s) behind the conference) borrows heavily from secular/Corp America/sociological/pyscho conceptualizations about "community" and "values". What is a "bright future" exactly? Scripturally, our life in this world is pretty bleak (in worldly terms) - full of persecution, failure, and Cross carrying. It is our separation from "success" that is perhaps our most distinguishing feature as Christians.

      Indeed, the poster could be about any "organization" trying to get on in this world and seeking "success" on its terms. The poster works perfectly well for any "community minded" organization and does not mention nor need Christ.

      I wonder if Rod Dreher's assessment (in his Ben Op) of what has happened to the Church in the modern world is not illustrated by this poster and the thinking behind it?

    2. It's too bad the language used gets in your way. Having attended a previous Small Parish Forum, I found the focus to be on Christ, on not counting success by numbers but by lives transformed (however slowly or quickly) through Christ in the sacraments. I've also never heard it denied that living in this world is anything but Cross carrying.

      I've certainly lived it myself in carrying the burden of keeping a mission parish going in the year and half we were without an assigned priest. It was a real challenge and I found myself getting a glimpse into the burden a priest carries in terms of their love for the lives and souls of their parishioners. Never the less, it was also a genuine joy to make those sacrifices for Christ's church.

  3. Hjelle,

    I hear what you are saying. As a member/treasurer for a small mission parish of the UOCUSA, the subject is of course very germane. I am also preparing an adult study (that will hopefully lead to a bit of action) on the Ben Op, and have been thinking on these subjects for quite a while now.

    Our own UOC is going through the process of creating a rather large "mission statement" on the national level and it too suffers to a very great degree from this confounding of secular conceptualizations and our own (very-anti modern culture) Orthodox thinking and practice.

    I wonder why the poster seems so out of step with Scripture/Church language and thought, and so in step with current secular speak and thought? If the conference turns out to be something like you describe, why do they not relate that instead?

    To answer my own questions, it is because we Orthodox live somewhat "anxiously" in the "modern world" and our American culture. The EPatriarchate has been anxious about it for 100 years now, and this has prompted poor efforts that have much spoiled fruit on the part of this institution. IMO, we try too hard to "synthesize" as it where, our modernity with our Christianity. It is a vain attempt to mix the light and the dark.

    Of course, it would also be vain to get too caught up in the (poor) language but I do think it is a sign of the times and is indicative of something deeper and very important.

    In any case thanks for your perspective/experience.