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What is the Orthodox Church? - Page 3

post #41 of 92
post #42 of 92
This is a very interesting thread. I've never bothered to look into what the difference between the Orthodox churches are, theologically or governing-body wise. It's all so confusing!
post #43 of 92
I love the Orthodox Church... I used to live in Astoria (Queens) that had many OCs. I remember just walking into one, one day, and nearly falling down it was so amazing. It was like I had walked into heaven. I had never seen anything like it. before, in a church. It was a completely different feeling/ experience from any other church I've been in.
post #44 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by meowee View Post
I love the Orthodox Church... I used to live in Astoria (Queens) that had many OCs. I remember just walking into one, one day, and nearly falling down it was so amazing. It was like I had walked into heaven. I had never seen anything like it. before, in a church. It was a completely different feeling/ experience from any other church I've been in.
The Orthodox actually believe that our Divine Liturgy is "heaven on earth."
post #45 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by angelpie545 View Post
This is a very interesting thread. I've never bothered to look into what the difference between the Orthodox churches are, theologically or governing-body wise. It's all so confusing!
I'll take a crack at it, and others can correct me if they find something misleading.

It is not as complicated as it looks at first.
1) There is just one Orthodox Church. The Russian, Greek, etc churches are not different religions. The Orthodox in Russia have one bishop established to oversee and administer the church in that country. There are also other bishops in Russia which take care of their own district (diocese or see) and each nation has at least several different districts. No matter how many bishops a nation has, all the bishops and all the people are members of the one worldwide Orthodox Church.

2) All Orthodox bishops are equal. There is no single leader who is head of the entire church, like a Pope. Sometimes people call one of our bishops the "head of the Orthodox church." Usually it is the Patriarch of Constantinople, sometimes Patriarch of Jerusalem. That is not accurate.

3) In places where there are very few Orthodox, like North America, there seem to be countless different kinds of Orthodox bishops. What happens here is that most of the Orthodox people were immigrants. People from Greece would come to the U.S. or Canada and build Greek language churches, and Greece would send over a bishop for the Greek immigrant churches. The Russian, Serbian, and other immigrants would do the same, and have a bishop to manage their churches. Therefore, nowadays, even when you have a parish in which the members are no longer "ethnic" they are still under their "foreign" bishops, technically. For example, I have visited a parish in which every single member is an American born convert, including the priest and his wife; the services are all in English; yet they are technically a "Russian" church, because they are under a Russian bishop. There is even a small parish of mostly Sioux converts, which holds services in English and Lakota, but which is under a Greek bishop. I hope this makes sense to you.

4) As for theological differences, the Orthodox Church remained very unified until the twentieth century. Since around 1920, there have been differences between some of the national churches over matters of belief and practice. They are not what some religions would consider major, divisive issues, but they cause a separation; people from one jurisdiction would not want to attend parishes of another jurisdiction, and so forth. I suppose the closest comparison would be that of the Jewish categories of Orthodox, Conservative and Reform. They are all Jewish, but some keep the kosher laws, refuse to work on Saturday, and so forth, while others do not keep most of those practices. In the same way, some Orthodox Christian churches are very traditional as to belief, liturgics (the way services are conducted), and rules of behavior. Others are more liberal (by Orthodox standards, which is not all that liberal!) and have made some changes over the past few decades. Sometimes the traditional and the modernist camps are referred to as the "Old Calendarists" and the "New Calendarists," referring to the fact that some churches adopted the western calendar (the one we all have hanging on our wall) instead of the ancient Julian calendar that the Orthodox church has used for many centuries (which is why we celebrate Christmas on January 7, for example). This is not because the calendar is all that significant. The "calendar" thing is a kind of shorthand, since most of the "modernist" Orthodox churches do, in fact, use the standard western calendar, and most of the more "traditional" ones use the old calendar. There is some overlap, but usually the calendar is an easy way to establish which "side" a particular Orthodox church is on.
It is not a hostile disagreement, usually, and only extremists would suggest that either camp is not truly Orthodox or without Grace, but it involves issues that are taken very seriously, and the dispute continues.
post #46 of 92
I found a really good article that some of you might be interested in that gives a really clear picture of some of the basic tenants of the Orthodox church.

http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/inquirer..._response.aspx

It is a rebuttal to an article that isn't nearly as good. but since it references it here is the original article:
http://www.ctlibrary.com/ct/1997/january6/7t1032.html
post #47 of 92
I'm also fascinated by their fasting traditions... the strict version is about 70% vegan, isn't it?

Sometimes I wish I could believe in Jesus, so I could be an Orthodox Christian!
post #48 of 92
fasting is actually 100% vegan plus oil (some people fast oly from olive oil but some fast from all oil) and alcohol. I guess you can have shrimp, crab and lobster in small amounts, so not 100% vegan for everyone. I guess you really can't put a percentage on it. If a feast day falls on some fasting days we are allowed fish and wine and oil. You have no idea how exciting fish and olive oil can be

The church fasts 40 days before Easter and Christmas, every Wednesday and Friday except for a few, and then a week here and there and another fast shortly after easter that can be anywhere from about 6 weeks to not there at all depending on what calendar you are using and when easter fell etc. There may be some other big ones I am forgetting. . . .it adds up to about half the year.
post #49 of 92
My bits are bolded below.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mamabadger View Post
I'll take a crack at it, and others can correct me if they find something misleading.

It is not as complicated as it looks at first.
1) There is just one Orthodox Church. The Russian, Greek, etc churches are not different religions. The Orthodox in Russia have one bishop established to oversee and administer the church in that country. There are also other bishops in Russia which take care of their own district (diocese or see) and each nation has at least several different districts. No matter how many bishops a nation has, all the bishops and all the people are members of the one worldwide Orthodox Church.

2) All Orthodox bishops are equal. There is no single leader who is head of the entire church, like a Pope. Sometimes people call one of our bishops the "head of the Orthodox church." Usually it is the Patriarch of Constantinople, sometimes Patriarch of Jerusalem. That is not accurate.

3) In places where there are very few Orthodox, like North America, there seem to be countless different kinds of Orthodox bishops. What happens here is that most of the Orthodox people were immigrants. People from Greece would come to the U.S. or Canada and build Greek language churches, and Greece would send over a bishop for the Greek immigrant churches. The Russian, Serbian, and other immigrants would do the same, and have a bishop to manage their churches. Therefore, nowadays, even when you have a parish in which the members are no longer "ethnic" they are still under their "foreign" bishops, technically. For example, I have visited a parish in which every single member is an American born convert, including the priest and his wife; the services are all in English; yet they are technically a "Russian" church, because they are under a Russian bishop. There is even a small parish of mostly Sioux converts, which holds services in English and Lakota, but which is under a Greek bishop. I hope this makes sense to you.

The Orthodox Church in America (American descendent of the Russian Orthodox Church, independent from Moscow since 1970) is a "separate entity" - it's American, has its own American bishops, most American-born. Also, there are AMERICAN-BORN bishops for the Antiochians (Bishop Mark of Toledo & the Midwest, Bishop Basil of Wichita & Mid-America). Bishop Mark is the only Antiochian convert bishop. The OCA has two convert bishops I know of, one of which is retired (Bishop Dmitri of Dallas and the South is still an active bishop, while Bishop Tikhon of San Francisco and the West retired last year).

Also, the Russian Orthodox Church is truly the "mother church" for the Orthodox in North America. The ROC, following the path of fur traders in Alaska (which was Russian territory until 1867, remember!), evangelized the Native peoples. Many folks are astonished to find out that large numbers of the Alaskan Native peoples are Orthodox, complete with Russian last names/first names from intermarriage with the fur traders! The Russians were "in charge" until the Russian Revolution in 1917, when all financial support from Russia collapsed. Before that, there were auxiliary bishops under the Russians for the Arab Orthodox, and plans for others. Then the other bishops started coming in. The Greeks organized their Archdiocese in 1922, and the other ethnic groups followed.


4) As for theological differences, the Orthodox Church remained very unified until the twentieth century. Since around 1920, there have been differences between some of the national churches over matters of belief and practice. They are not what some religions would consider major, divisive issues, but they cause a separation; people from one jurisdiction would not want to attend parishes of another jurisdiction, and so forth. I suppose the closest comparison would be that of the Jewish categories of Orthodox, Conservative and Reform. They are all Jewish, but some keep the kosher laws, refuse to work on Saturday, and so forth, while others do not keep most of those practices. In the same way, some Orthodox Christian churches are very traditional as to belief, liturgics (the way services are conducted), and rules of behavior. Others are more liberal (by Orthodox standards, which is not all that liberal!) and have made some changes over the past few decades. Sometimes the traditional and the modernist camps are referred to as the "Old Calendarists" and the "New Calendarists," referring to the fact that some churches adopted the western calendar (the one we all have hanging on our wall) instead of the ancient Julian calendar that the Orthodox church has used for many centuries (which is why we celebrate Christmas on January 7, for example). This is not because the calendar is all that significant. The "calendar" thing is a kind of shorthand, since most of the "modernist" Orthodox churches do, in fact, use the standard western calendar, and most of the more "traditional" ones use the old calendar. There is some overlap, but usually the calendar is an easy way to establish which "side" a particular Orthodox church is on.
It is not a hostile disagreement, usually, and only extremists would suggest that either camp is not truly Orthodox or without Grace, but it involves issues that are taken very seriously, and the dispute continues.

Some Old Calendar folks I know of always say "New Calendar" like it's a four-letter word. Not saying you do that, but it does get tiring.
post #50 of 92
Bump
post #51 of 92
Bear in mind the Coptic Orthodox Church is very, very different from all Orthodox Churches. They have the Coptic Language, and their own pope.
post #52 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by kmeyrick View Post
Bear in mind the Coptic Orthodox Church is very, very different from all Orthodox Churches. They have the Coptic Language, and their own pope.
The Coptic Orthodox Church is NOT in communion with the Eastern Orthodox Churches. They broke away very early (fifth century, I believe) over the decisions of one of the ecumenical councils (too lazy right now to dig through my books).
post #53 of 92
We converted to Orthodoxy 3 yrs ago as a family.
post #54 of 92
subbing
post #55 of 92
Forgot to mention this earlier, but Fr. Thomas Hopko, who is the retired dean of St. Vladimir's Seminary in New York (and the author of The Orthodox Faith series of books, also on line on the OCA website mentioned a bit up in this thread), does a very regular podcast for Ancient Faith Radio (an online Orthodox radio station). You can find his podcasts here:

http://ancientfaith.com/?podcasts/hopko

He started doing this around the first pre-Lenten Sunday and does 1-2 a week most of the time. Very good, simple and thoughtful. Not complicated at all! You can listen at your computer, as well as downloading to an mp3 player.

To get the daily lectionary Scripture readings (M-F), along with commentary from the Church Fathers, check out this podcast, called The Path:

http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/thepath

The priest who does it, Fr. Thomas Soroka, has become something of a friend of mine since he spoke last fall at an event sponsored by an Orthodox organization I'm on the board of. He's excellent. Puts his own sermons on his parish's website. About 50 by last count. Simple, thoughtful, not complicated. Can also listen online or download. His father and several uncles were also priests, as well as going back generations (Russian background). Last fall when I was in the process of thinking about switching to my new parish from the old one - Fr. Tom's sermons really helped me. My old priest suddenly was giving very complicated, difficult to understand sermons (they'd always been very intellectual, but got even more so). I was beginning to think about leaving the parish (variety of reasons - see my thread under Spirituality and losing friends when changing churches), and I would come home from church after a sermon I couldn't understand and listen to Fr. Tom's sermons.

Check out the other podcasts. Some good, others I've not heard. But lots to choose from.

http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/

http://www.stnicholas-oca.org/Audio/audio.htm
post #56 of 92
Another resource - an excellent blog by Fr. Stephen Freeman, an OCA priest in TN, "Glory to God for All Things."

http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/
post #57 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamabadger View Post
4) As for theological differences, the Orthodox Church remained very unified until the twentieth century. Since around 1920, there have been differences between some of the national churches over matters of belief and practice.
While I am the first to admit that there are many who know more about the Orthodox church than I do, I will say that in my Slavic studies I came across a group of Old Believers that have been present in Russia for a few hundred years. It seems to be differences like what came out of Vatican II in the 60s (like I know anything about it) and the Old Believers cling to the previous traditions. There are references to them in Russian literature, and one of the "clues" is that they cross themselves with 2 fingers instead of 3. I think. It was several years ago and mommy brain is between that time and now...
post #58 of 92
Bump! I'm learning so much! So....I hope this hasn't been addressed before...are the services, robes, and art in the Orthodox Church much like it was in the Middle Ages? I was looking at pictures and they are very beautiful but very pre-Renaissance looking.
post #59 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by angelpie545 View Post
Bump! I'm learning so much! So....I hope this hasn't been addressed before...are the services, robes, and art in the Orthodox Church much like it was in the Middle Ages? I was looking at pictures and they are very beautiful but very pre-Renaissance looking.
Angelpie, the Orthodox Church is VERY theologically/liturgically conservative and changes very slowly!

The Orthodox did not have a "Middle Ages" like the Western Europe did. "Medieval" has a meaning to it that is not related to Orthodoxy.

However, our services are pretty much at the point they were about 1300. There have been some changes here or there, and some things are done differently among the Greek liturgical tradition vs. the Slav tradition, but it's not much difference.

We have English now in North America, but that is really only about 30-40 years old.

As for our iconography (what you call "art" - but it's more than just "art"), in the 18th Century, primarily in Russia, there was the influence of Western European art, which influenced Orthodox iconography - and not for the better! It went away from the long-held Byzantine liturgical tradition and became more like the overly-emotional, "soft-style" Italian art. Some examples:

Theotokos of Vladmir (Russian, very old) - this is very within the Orthodox iconographic tradition:

http://www.skete.com/index.cfm?fusea...Category_ID=27

Our Lady of Sitka (19th Century Russian, brought to Sitka, Alaska):
http://outdooricons.com/our-icons/images/M001-SHMSI.jpg

In this icon, it's very "western" looking, plus God the Father is displayed at the top - BIG no-no in traditional Orthodox iconography. Christ can be pictured because he WAS incarnate.

Vestments have probably changed a bit - but NOT much!
post #60 of 92
A note on the icons -

as Tradd said these are mnore than Art. They are cannonizedm uch like scripture and cannot be changed. there is not much room for artistic variation (although of course each iconographer will have their own style). things such as the color and hand positions and size of the forhead (I don't know why that sticks out to me it just does) what they are holdingin there hand are all dictated and set in stone. They are not to meant to be literal pictures or interpreted from person o person but are to be read a certain way. thechnicallythey are written and not drawn/painted.

this is why even the newer ones seem so ancient. and some of them are ancient. No need for an update.

Here are some books on the topic . . .
http://www.amazon.com/Mystical-Langu...2355680&sr=1-3



same with the liturgy. Very little has changed over time. what has changed or been refined is still rooted in the ancient traditions. A really good book on is "Let Us Attend" it walks you through the litergy step by step, explains some of the . . um . . .less obvious traditions and how they grew out of the early church traditions (they are more obvious and logical than they seem when illuminated by the past).

and I think that it says a lot about the church that so little has changed. It is one of the main things that drew me (through the Holy Spirit) to the Orthodox Church. I just couldn't trust a church that revamped itself every few years.
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