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- John Charmley - 25-04-2010 11:48 AM

That's a very helpful approach, Fr. Gregory.

I wonder what a similar approach would reveal for the English?

We'd perhaps be a little reticent about saying how we felt about the language of the Liturgy, except for those who felt so strongly on this that it came across as the most important thing for them; those who did not would not actually tell those who did that they found them crashing bores.

In terms of ritual, something rasther similar would be true; but we would be united on all being there on time and feeling a little cross with those who turned up late and made a noise.

We would use hymns with which were familiar, although whether the noise would be regarded as uplifting would depend on the tone-deafness of the listener; those brought up on choral evensong could regard the whole thing as a spiritual discipline whilst wondering how on earth so many others could sing a semi-tone off tune; they would not realise that the rest of us hit notes by accident and think that enthusiasm and noise make up for everything else; the rest of us would not realise that this is not, in fact, true.

Like the Australians, we would tend to avoid excessibe clericalism, but we would be suitably deferential. If there was no hierarchy we would have had to invent one in order to know whom we should salute; the kissing the bishop's ring business would be quietly forgotten as being a little 'foreign' and the sort of thing the Italians and the French would find acceptable.

Icons would be fine, but as in Australia, would be of the older variety; anything with too much colour and too gilded might be thought a little 'flashy'.

There would certainly be a robust degree of particpation in running the Church by the laity, especially in anything involving DIY or home cooking. There would be much 'rugged individualism' as long as it was clear who was 'in charge'. That person would be regarded as a good sort, and as long as the rest of us could mutter quiet complaints behind their back as need arose, everything would work well.

Prostrations would be kept to a minimum, although younger and lither members of the congregation might shame the rest of us into doing the occasion bow; the incidence of back pain in the UK being what it is (all that gardening), prostrating oneself would eventually die out.

We would, of course, need to be clear about the rules, which would be best kept to a minimum since, being English, we would insist on abiding by all of them. It is to be hopted that in the inevitable battle between the Health and Safety police and Orthodox tradition over incense that the latter would win; it might take a petition or two and a few sponsored marathons to raise the money to protest against a Government ban, and it is likely that an eccentric Briton would invent 'safe' incense in his shed.

The place of the shed in Orthodoxy in England awaits its historian, but if it is real English Orthodoxy there will be a shed involved, if only to achieve the result obtained in Egypt by having segregation by gender.

And, finally, in evincing a self-deprecating ability to laugh at ourselves, we would exhibit that humility which we all need. Smile

peace,

John