This morning I am posting the second post in a series exploring how and why it is that Orthodox Christianity does not have much significance for the rest of American Christianity, much less the rest of American religion and culture. As noted in the first post, I will turn to some important characteristics and ways in which Orthodoxy may have significance later, but for now, I am trying to place American Orthodoxy into a context of historical and sociological reality. So, I thought I’d continue by reflecting upon some aspects of Krindatch’s study mentioned in the last post.
One aspect of American Orthodoxy Krindatch noted was that in many large population states (such as California, New York, and New Jersey) regular attendance rates are less than 25%. It’s difficult to affect the people around us with our Orthodoxy if we’re not living it and although I would not want to reduce “living the faith” to “Sunday attendance,” for it is so much much more, I do think regular Sunday attendance is a component of “living the faith.”
Krindatch also gives some interesting stats concerning ethnic identity within parishes. Now, this is an aspect of Orthodoxy that can cut both ways. For my purposes, here, I simply wish to note that holding onto an ethnic identity too tightly can be a hindrance for affecting those around us. Oh, people around us may well like attending our festivals, but that alone will affect and influence very few people. At best, it gets us a short diddy in the local paper now and then. Now, this can be a sensitive issue and my point is not that ethnicity has no place–not at all, and I’ll address this again later–but for now, I simply thought it was worth noting that Krindatch has found there is still an emphasis upon a particular ethnicity for many parishes across America and that can serve as a barrier to shaping and influencing those around us (just as it can be a barrier to evangelization). Of course, for us here at Holy Resurrection in Fargo, we are so diverse, that there is no way any one ethnicity could rightfully dominate the others. We are a parish for all, open to all.