Cradles, converts, inquirers, let’s dance!

The video above is of the last night of the Greek Festival in Alabama, right after the night finished. At this point the festival booths have closed, and the band is playing a closing piece or two. The members of the parish and the visitors who are left have joined in a massive dance to celebrate a successful festival. By this time it is after 10:00 pm and this is our last burst of energy. Well, I should say their last bit of energy because I did not join in the dance.

What was even better is that there were Greeks (of course!), converts, Arabs, converts, Slavs, and converts. I looked at the dance and I thought that this was a wonderful picture of what the ideal Church is like. Some of the people dancing know how to dance the dances perfectly. They have grown up in the Church. They have gone to the dance classes and watched their own parents dance them. Some people are clearly doing it as best they can. I took more than one video. At least one person in one of the videos is clearly faking it, but having fun doing it.

In the ideal situation, converts need to learn from those who have grown up in the Church. Yes, I know that ideal situations are not often there. But, we must hold on to the ideal. We must teach the ideal. We must expect the ideal. If the Church is to be the Church, the ideal is what we must teach and expect.

There have been too many fights between cradles and converts. Both sides have been somewhat at fault. There have been cradles who have had supercilious and judgmental attitudes toward converts. There have been converts who have had the same attitudes toward cradles. Frankly, both are displaying sinful attitudes.

But, I am fortunate. I am attached to a parish that is a joyful example of the opposite. It used to use all Greek in the 1950’s. It now uses about 10% Greek. On the other hand, there are regular chrismations of converts. And, the video above shows how well all are integrated. More than that, the mixed population of various Orthodox show that it is possible to have a Greek Orthodox parish that honors its heritage without repressing other heritages. I am so blessed!

Perhaps this is a small picture of what is possible in the future as the various jurisdictions become part of one Orthodoxy in America. I hope that the parish I am in is studied by our bishops as an example of what can be accomplished.

On writing a blog


I have been writing this blog since 2008. Originally, it began as a type of personal journal. I had tried journaling several decades ago. What really happened is that I wrote some interesting claptrap that I decided should never be seen by anyone other than me.

But, there is a difference between writing for your private view, and writing what everyone else will read. It is scary putting your opinions out in public. It is frightening to be exposed to the opinions of anyone who passes by your blog. I quickly realized that blog writing is hard on your self-image. Either you are completely destroyed or you are lauded as a sapient person. Of course, neither image is true, but they certainly tug at the heart and emotions.

I found that blog writing was good for me personally. Blog writing has forced me to write in a more neutral and logical fashion. I realize that those who disagree with me politically will not see it that way, but it is definitely true that I have been forced to be more logical.

My surprise was when some people began to write to me asking for advice. I know I am a priest, and I am supposed to give advice. However, the thought that people who did not know me would ask for advice was frightening. It was frightening because Jesus talked about the price of causing one of his little ones to stumble. As he said, it would be better if I were to tie a millstone around my neck and then jumped into the sea.

We are now at nearly six years from when I started this blog. I still feel some of the same fears. Lately, I have been feeling some writer’s block. I struggle with what to write. I struggle with not giving in to my personal opinions and my personal angers.

In fact, those struggles have been good for me. They force me out of myself and force me to consider whether I am being fair, logical, and thoughtful. I will not claim the word, wise.

Yes, I am currently suffering from some writer’s block. But, these years have been good for me. They have helped me develop some reasonable sound theology. And, sometimes my own blog helps me to see the discrepancy between what I am and what I could be.

So, keep my in your prayers. Ask that I may receive regular inspiration. But, mostly, pray that I may not express thoughts that lead others into thinking that misses the mark.