Orthodox Christians: Can you keep up?

What would Sydney be without its Orthodox Christians? The spiritual scene would be far more boring. Aside from the Orthodox Christians’ massive religious contribution, we’d lose the churches, which are stunning and sometimes with onion domes (the onion can be such an Orthodox calling card, minus the odour). And there’d be fewer beautiful people (let’s face it: Orthodox Christians are generally anything but fat Anglo-Saxon bogans).  

But if you’re thinking of joining this crowd, think again. The Orthodox Christians have put an intense set of rituals into their ceremonies to sort the sheep from the goats. And there’s no edition of ”Orthodox Christianity for Dummies” to get you through (probably is, actually, due to high demand … but there’s OrthodoxWiki) Basically, you have to be such an eager-beaver that you redefine what an eager-beaver is (btw, are beavers especially eager? Gee … life’s mysteries!)

First of all, you’d have to pick an Orthodox Church. Let’s say you go Russian. Ok, but which sect? Are you going for a church administered by the Moscow Patriarchate, or a ROCOR Church (Russian Orthodox Church Outside Of Russia) or the Old Believers, or from 10,000 others? Whoever told you that this would be as ’easy as pie’ doesn’t understand that pie can totally get it’s tricky on. Why, there isn’t enough space on this blog to explain everything, the entire blog would crash anyway. There’s not even enough time to explain; you’re either born Orthodox, or you don’t have enough time left in your life to understand it. In 2009, a new ROCOR church was consecrated for Russian Orthodox Australian Aboriginals. Could it get any more complicated?

There has always been controversy in Russia about whether the KGB successfully infiltrated and controlled the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia after the revolution. If the KGB hadn’t been made up of Russians totally familiar with Orthodox Christianity, I expect that infiltration would be impossible.

I mean, there are just a few rituals that complicate things for an Orthodox ring-in. First of all, you have to stand for most of an Orthodox service (i.e. see if you can ‘stand the test’) and the service generally lasts for four hours at a random time; midnight mass until 3am: why not? Then you should carry a few icons in your bag. Then you have to kiss the appropriate icons in the church, therefore having to distinguish between hundreds of icons judgementally staring down at you from the iconostasis and elsewhere. If you’re Catholic, it’s not so bad – you just do everything completely opposite to how you normally would (e.g. cross yourself backwards). Of course, you’ll need to be an impeccable musician. And you’ll need to brush up on your Old Church Slavonic; so take maybe … ten years to get a general feel for that too. Basically, you’ll need to take the word ‘Orthodox’ seriously: avoid electricity (use candles unless essential), grow some facial hair, revert to the old Julian Calendar and then starve yourself via fasting according to specific festivals that change according to solar and lunar charts. And boom! You’ll be Orthodox in ‘the flashes of flashes’ Look … I know I sound cynical, but don’t judge me, I’m probably just bitter because I’m trying to get in too.

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One Response to Orthodox Christians: Can you keep up?

  1. anna zarasyan says:

    hahahahahaha, this is so well observed, i didn’t realise the whole thing was so complex… but who cares? it’s all about getting a feel for it, i suppose, and just feeling that you are a part of the ritual… the positive bit of it being so complex is that one gives up trying to understand it before getting into what the content is actually about, so that the brain is actually switched off, allowing the visual and auditory senses to take over…

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