A Wake-up Call at 79th Street?

greek-orthodox-goa-logoWhile the OCA continues to wither on the vine, sobriety seems to be setting in at the GOA. That’s good news as far as it goes. Below is an editorial which one of our readers alluded to a few weeks ago. (I was alerted to it even earlier by a friend of mine in the GOA who freaked out when she read it.)

Some very salient points were courageously brought up by the author. This piece was originally written some eight years ago and for some reason buried in the paperwork. I imagine this is so because it does not fall in the realm of typical GOA-triumphalism. Anyway, the fact that it was finally published –and on the GOA website no less–is good news. Too much happy talk breeds cynicism and Lord knows, we don’t need anymore of that. A bracing Philippic is needed every now and then.

In the words of a priest friend of mine (also GOA) What the author describes is nothing less than a catastrophic failure. Looked at another way, the high point of the GOA was when it was originally constituted in 1922 –a point Your’s Truly has made once or twice in the past. Since then, there has been no growth in numbers at all in the GOA, only a steady attrition.

Some of the author’s underlying premises however are misguided. To my mind, he still operates in a paradigm of ethnicity. In other words, he correctly analyzes a problem based on the universe of variables that have always made up the Greek experience in America. He apparently doesn’t see that there is another more important variable –evangelism–which is the underlying principle of Christianity.

Based on these criteria, the author can’t see any future for the GOA. I wouldn’t be so hard on him though, I can’t either all things being equal. More importantly, if he can’t see it then neither can the powers that be in the GOA see it, after all, they let him publish on their website. Still, it’s a big step in the right direction.

Source: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese

An Important Challenge for Greek Orthodox Christianity

In open pluralistic societies, intermarriages tend to become the rule, not the exception as growing majorities intermarry with the result that the Greek Orthodox Church is at a critical juncture in deciding how best to address the challenge that touches the heart of so many families and at the same time is so critical to the religious community’s well being and growth. Among Greek Americans, the intermarriage rate is between 75 and 85%; with a projected attrition of adherents of greater than 60% over the next generation.

America’s unique place in history has been as a haven for many people of the world, a place where they could begin again to rebuild their lives and where they might practice their faith in peace in an ambience of tolerance, in a place of hope and rebirth, free from injustices and prejudices of the past. The Constitution guarantees their freedom.

Changes have occurred in the cultural make up of Greek Americans since young men first arrived in America in the late 19th century to escape the chaos of their homelands and seek their fortunes. Over the next 100 years they came, limited only by quotas and war. Among them were the dispossessed, joining millions of immigrants from Europe looking for a new start. Those who came liked what they found and the vast majority remained to build a new life. They continued to come through most of the 20th century. By the second generation, an estimated 75% of Greek Americans were culturally and religiously intermarrying and melding with others in the American melting pot. .

The first Greek Orthodox Church was founded in New Orleans, almost 150 years ago, but in the main, communities began to appear in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, in an era encompassing the largest immigrations. By 1922, over 200 Greek Orthodox Churches had been built. Descendants of these immigrants are in their fourth or fifth generations and are several million in number with the vast majority beyond the second generation. However our Church in striving to preserve its cultural heritage continues to project itself as an ethnic religion and most people today view it as such with the result that Greek Orthodoxy has been decimated by attrition and faces a grave survival and identity crisis.

In a startling find, statistics disclose over 60% of Greek Orthodox families of the last generation and 90% of Americans with Greek roots are no longer in communion with the Church. It is a concern shared by learned religious leaders who understand the need for a compassionate outreach towards intermarried families with sensitivity to differences among intermarried couples and the problems they face as a family. In the transition, as each population passes into successive generations, growing numbers of families move further from their origins, with the probability that our beloved Greek Orthodox Church in America will become moribund in the very near future.

In our society today, religious affiliation of young families may be less about theology than of love, sensitivity and acceptance leading to a conversion of the heart. In America, where the Orthodox marriage constitutes a minority of marriages among people of Greek descent there is a critical and immediate need for a broad religious outreach; to make room for interfaith families who are typically our children’s families.

The family must be encouraged to facilitate their worshiping as one family. Christianity left the confines of Judaism with a nudge from St Paul taking a giant step in extending Christianity’s outreach to all nations. In an act that can strengthen our Church and assure its future, the link must be created that transcends the stumbling blocks that have distanced growing numbers of families.

Since 1922, with continuing immigration and with families spreading across America, over 300 churches were added; yet as the Greek American population has grown into the millions, the number of religiously observant communicants has dropped significantly. Although the Greek American population has grown extensively through immigrations and post war baby boomer periods, there are fewer active Greek Orthodox today, than in 1922: while the overall American population has tripled.

Statistical analyses of reported data by the Archdiocese suggests the majority of marriages in a generation involving Greek Americans occur in jurisdictions other than our Church, and of those within its jurisdiction, interfaith marriages exceed Orthodox marriages by almost two to one. In an observation by the Archdiocesan office of religious outreach, Greek American intermarriage estimates were as high as 85 – 90%.

Indeed, religious attrition has drawn the attention of religious leaders of all faiths. Certainly the high intermarriage trend has affected many institutional religions in a nation that increasingly embraces all religions and in the process has become more secular.

On the national level, a survey of 54,461 adults in a Trinity College study, the Program of Public Values found 30% of all married couples did not have a religious wedding and 27% did not want a religious funeral. The study found mainline Protestant populations; Methodists, Episcopalians and Lutherans, declined over the past seven years, by 25%, reflecting the wide range of concerns among Christians of all denominations.

In looking at other culturally based religions in America, the Roman Catholic Church with a population comprised of several nationalities, has also had interfaith marriages and lost communicants for a variety of reasons, however, with many Hispanics immigrating to America over the past fifty years attrition was masked, much as large immigrations in the 20th century obscured religious attrition in the Greek Orthodox Church.

The Catholic Church’s early missionary expansion in the Western Hemisphere has evolved into large Catholic populations and Catholicism remains a predominant religion in the Americas. Smithsonian experts project that by 2050; the Hispanic population can be expected to double, from 14% to 29%, and from 42 million to 119 million as the over- all population continues to grow. Thus, even as the pre-existing core Catholic population is decreasing, Hispanic population growth can be expected to add millions of Catholic families in the coming decades with continuing growth in America.

The Asian population is also projected to grow from 5% to 9%, from 15 to 37 million people, together with continuing growth of the national population in a change that can be expected to impact religious diversity in America. Conversely, the Greek Orthodox population continuing in the current trend and without supporting immigration to bolster its numbers is expected to lose over half of its religious constituency over this period.

In another study, Jewish rabbis reported over 50% intermarriages among Conservative Jews, with only one of three families remaining Jewish an effect they feel could reduce Conservative Judaism from its present estimated 5 millions to insignificance within two generations. The Trinity report disclosed the number of Jews who described themselves as religiously observant has dropped from 4 million in 1990 to 2.7 million in 2008; in a common concern, both the Jewish religious and Greek Orthodox presence are expected to decrease substantially if current trends are not addressed.

In comparing the two religions, intermarriages within the Greek Orthodox Church on a large scale began at an earlier time. They are further along the attrition rate curve; their situation in the immediate future is more critical.

What should be clearly manifest is that the Greek Orthodox Church in America must look hard at how accessible our religion is to evolving young families. If it is to continue its sacred ministry in America, it must find a way to encompass the old and the new. If our faith hopes to have a presence in the future in America, it must be sensitive to the contemporary world. The span between past and future is too great. It is a challenge facing caring clergy and laity alike.

1America has no national church and no council of elders that can adjudicate the perplexing moral questions that face us. The founding fathers in refusing to establish a central authority of moral judgment ensured that the problems of the people must be addressed by the culture itself, a precept drawn from the notion that the power of the state draws not only from the consent of the people, but from a government of the people grounded in Christian moral tradition.

Sources: Trinity College report 2010/Hartford Study 2000, CUNY Report 2005; Archdiocese Yearbook, 2005, Understanding the Greek Orthodox Church, Rev Dr. Constantelos. Star Ledger: Diamant report on rabbinic studies. Smithsonian magazine: Experts project changing populations, 2010. Orthodoxy in a Brave New World.


  1. pelagiaeast says

    Don’t see the article. Maybe it is my computer acting up?

  2. pelagiaeast says

    I don’t see the article. Maybe it is my computer acting up?

  3. Tim R. Mortiss says

    As a lifelong Presbyterian who was received into the GOA on Palm Sunday, I have some views. Right now in summary they are these:
    1. The Church is the Orthodox Church, not the GOA.
    2. I joined the OC (as did my son at the same time). The Greek church is the one OC in our city of 200K. Thus that’s where we joined. We want a local parish; we don’t want to drive 25 minutes or more to church if we don’t have to. Our new church is 1.5 miles from our homes.
    3. I have known lots of people in this church for 30 years and more, and I’ve gone there many, many times over the years, so my opinions, although they may be wrong, aren’t based entirely on a newcomer’s ignorance (or arrogance).
    4. Greeks (at least those who go to church!) seem to overemphasize their ethnicity, compared say, to Italians, Croations, Irish, Polish, etc [hyphen Americans, of course], and overconnect it to their church.
    5. If a religious Italian now comes to the US, or a Pole, etc., he is seamlessly absorbed into the local Catholic parish, and his ethnicity is irrelevant and has no influence.
    6. If a Greek now comes to the US, he goes to the nearest GOC, and there he reinforces the Greekness of the church, the need to continue all that is Greek about it, etc., and has a disproportionate degree of influence in that respect, especially combined with others.
    7. The GOC should present itself to the community as an Orthodox Church, not the GOC. How simple! It really doesn’t have too much to do with what goes on in services, i.e., the exact proportion of English, etc, since it’s at least 75% English anyway. The question of amount of English nowadays is really a side issue. My casual opinion is that there is a little too much Greek still, but this is a small matter and beside the larger point. (I.e, in itself, it’s not much of an obstacle to evangelism.)
    8. So the sign on the building should say St. NichoDemetriSophia Orthodox Church, not Greek Orthodox Church, so that more than one out of thousands might think there is something there for them.
    9. This small thing should have been done a generation ago. It would not have impacted any practice dear to the hearts of members, and could have done a lot of good. The same is true now.
    10. I have other opinions, too.

  4. Ladder of Divine Ascent says

    Just take advantage of partaking of the Divine Energies of God, while you can, with the potential for breaking all the normal consequences and rules of the fallen nature of mankind:


    “The Church is known only by one who lives by the life of the Church.” -Khomiakov

    I fear America is going to come to a very bad end soon. And Russia was prophesied to be the leader of the free Christian world. Almost laughable at the time, not so much today.

    Boo Russia! Boo you 17 year old offspring of the Heteronormative Caucasian Patriarchy of Doom:


    President Putin A Better American Patriot than Obama :


    Notice the guy in the video above is from Nevada, and connect the dots with the Bundy ranch standoff.

    America Will Burn Like Rome Speech 05-14-14:


    Notice 4:57 to end.

    “This year I have promised to use more executive actions to get things done without Congress,” Obama said. “My critics call this the imperial presidency. The truth is, every day I show up at my office and do my job. We have a picture of this I think?”

    The screen then flashed to a photo of Obama sitting in the Oval Office on the Iron Throne from HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” A crossbow sits on the table in front of him in an apparent nod to the show’s much-loathed villain, King Joffrey:


    Notice the part at the end that gets cut off: Obama “The new conservative darling is none other than Vladimir Putin.”

    There was almost an open revolt by the military against Obama over siding with the flesh eating Syrian Muslim terrorists just last year:



    And now the Kiev Nazi junta and Putin is polling above most Western leaders in their own countries.

    “German Foreign Minister Steinmeier had a complete fit of rage when he was interrupted during a speech by anti-Fascist demonstrators who were accusing the German regime of supporting Fascists in the Ukraine”:


    Some of Obama’s Syrian pets have relocated to Ukraine, since Ukrainian military hasn’t been eager enough at shedding blood:


    • Pere LaChaise says

      L Adder, you write your inconsequential, ireelevant drivel like one obsessed, if not possessed. If you can’t respect the theme of the thread, keep your hands off the keyboard! I’m surprised George didn’t redact this absurdity above. Get a life!

  5. Fr Stephen Lourie says

    Interesting article. It appears his assessment of a solution is to be more available?
    Mix the old with the new. Not a good plan. See the Episcopalian or Lutheran churches

  6. GOAPriest says

    What should be clearly manifest is that the Greek Orthodox Church in America must look hard at how accessible our religion is to evolving young families. If it is to continue its sacred ministry in America, it must find a way to encompass the old and the new. If our faith hopes to have a presence in the future in America, it must be sensitive to the contemporary world. The span between past and future is too great. It is a challenge facing caring clergy and laity alike.

    This is a rather unsettling conclusion. What is to being suggested? It sounds like progressivist jumbo jumbo to me.

  7. Christopher Jones says

    A very interesting response to the article, titled “Losing our Religion: On ‘Retaining’ Young People in the Orthodox Church”: http://orthodoxyandheterodoxy.org/2014/04/08/losing-our-religion-on-retaining-young-people-in-the-orthodox-church/

    • “One of the major findings of the National Study of Youth and Religion, a point which Kenda Dean brings out very clearly and in entertaining fashion, is that American teenagers are actually very good at practicing the faith that their parents teach them: not what parents say they believe, but what they actually believe as evidenced by actions.

      The result is that most American teenagers and emerging adults, including Christians of all traditions, believe in and practice “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism,” not Christianity.[5] Considering this reality, it is hardly surprising that, over time, many emerging adults drift away from their family’s Christian roots, choosing to marry outside their church or even Christian faith itself. Yet their doing so is not actually a departure from or a change in their religious convictions: it is merely an alignment of certain external practices (e.g., what they do on Sundays or Easter) with the actual religious beliefs they have held since their teenage years.[6]

      As shocking as such a conclusion may seem, here is the most important point: Teenagers and emerging adults believe in and practice “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism” not because their parents and their local church have failed to teach them otherwise, but precisely because that is what their parents and their local church are actually teaching them. As the motto of this website puts it, doctrine matters—and not just the doctrine in a church’s creed, liturgy, bookstore, or pamphlet stand. The actual doctrine of family and local church, as taught to most young people in word and especially deed, ends up driving the next generation from the Church, not because the Church is out of touch with the broader society but because the local church never actually taught and lived by the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the first place.”

      Traditionalists have been saying substantially this for quite some time. Orthopraxis matters. We should not judge the Tradition by the culture, but the culture by the Tradition. If it’s been the Orthodox way across cultural lines since time immemorial, there is no good reason to change it to accord with a decadent culture, whatever “it” is.

  8. “What should be clearly manifest is that the Greek Orthodox Church in America must look hard at how accessible our religion is to evolving young families. If it is to continue its sacred ministry in America, it must find a way to encompass the old and the new. If our faith hopes to have a presence in the future in America, it must be sensitive to the contemporary world. The span between past and future is too great. It is a challenge facing caring clergy and laity alike.”

    Or, in the words of Tula’s brother Niko, quoting Dear Abby: Don’t let the past dictate who you are; but let it be part of who you will become.”

    Good luck with that.

  9. Sam Haddad says

    What many of the GOA, Serbs, Romanians, Russians, etc. haven’t learned yet is that Orthodoxy isn’t about ethnic identity. Orthodoxy is about the truth. This is why ALL Orthodox churches need to move toward Pan-Orthodoxy. Let all nationalities come together and converts to unite in that which is important; THE TRUTH. Take a lesson from America itself. All nationalities of peoples “UNITED” in freedom & liberty. Every Orthodox should just rejoice that their children marry other Orthodox and remain in the Orthodox Church.

  10. Pere LaChaise says

    Intermarriage and assimilation to the majority is what happens to successful immigrant groups, universally.This should be understood anthropologically as grace afforded the Greeks, etc. – they are altogether free and privileged to contribute to American society at the highest levels. God has ordained that they become significant contributors to this society, by virtue of their wealth and influence. Their values, like those of the Jews who preceded them to the mainstream, become the values of the middle ground of an evolving society.

    Recognizing this, Greeks (and Serbs, who resemble them in success) ought to cling not to the passing ethnic, but eternal spiritual values inculcated through the ministrations of their Orthodox churches. The latter is something the whole nation and world need, while the former’s utility is hard to describe for those even one generation removed from the nest.

    GOA (& most other ethnic churches) churches typically confuse temporal values for eternal ones, because the form of the former embodies to some extent the latter – but the two are distinct. It is the role of the Hierarch to ‘rightly divide the word of… Truth’ and keep these categories straight. Sadly, most of them do not. Promoting Greekness, Serbianness, Romanianness, Russianness will only continue to veil the riches of the Church.

    Meanwhile, the despised OCA, even while the last appurtenances of its ethnic heritage wither, does indeed grow, ‘underground like a wild potato’ (to quote the B-52s), setting down its very humble roots and pale shoots into the spiritually barren soil of America, where they do indeed spread, but slowly and unobtrusively, because of the inhospitable nature of that soil.

    It is too early to schedule a funeral for Orthodoxy in this country. We can only hope that the last generations of ethnic Orthodox maintain the shingles on the roofs of the temples they have constructed, even if largely out of ethnic pride – these houses need to be maintained for future generations’ worship – those who have not yet heard of Orthodoxy, or those were scandalized by signs that placed the ethnym “Greek” or “Russian” or “Serbian” before “Orthodox”. I look forward to the day when we can be content to just be Orthodox Christians, gathered together in one place.

  11. The article was very interesting and gave me a great deal to think about. And speaking about “thinking on these things,” I was just reading the latest reports from the Chancellor of the OCA regarding clergy changes. In March there were three depositions, and if I read it correctly, there were several additional names of clergy who were suspended in January. Is it just me or is this an incredibly alarming number? Forgive me, but what on earth is going when you have so many suspensions and depositions every month? And yet an archbishop who is a convicted child molester is allowed to simply retire. It makes no sense whatsoever.

    • Timothy Wearing says

      Nice try at dissing the OCA. All Orthodox jurisdictions have “personnel” issues and thank God, the OCA is on top of them. You didn’t hear of the 50+ clergy deposed in the GOA nor the 25+ in the Antiochians. Nor bishops who just disappear or go overseas. So don’t be a two-faced durak with an axe to grind.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Are you sure that the OCA is “on top of them”?

        • Philippa.alan says

          And if you read the March 2014 “assignments” (found here: http://oca.org/PDF/NEWS/2014/2014-0520-past-change032014.pdf) you will note Fr. Paul Gassios was attached to the Cathedral in Chicago effective March 25, 2014. I’m not sure when he moves into the bishop’s residence to become administrator (aka bishop’s training position) of the Diocese of the Midwest. I’m sure it will be only a short time before we read of his nomination to the bishop’s throne of the Midwest after his two year stint as their administrator.


      • GOAPriest says

        The GOA publishes suspensions and deposed clergy in the Orthodox Observer, its mostly-monthly newspaper (affectionately called the Disturber). A list of all deposed clergy in the history of the Archdiocese can be found in the annual Yearbook.

      • Timothy,

        Please kindly enlighten all of us as to the 50 in the GOA and 25 in the Antiochian Archdiocese that you speak of? I can’t comment on the GOA since I know nothing about them, but as for the Antiochian Archdiocese, their monthly magazine is available online and I can only think of one in the past year. So please, do kindly enlighten all of us.

        And thanks for calling me an idiot in Russian. Just because you don’t like someone pointing out that everything isn’t so great in the OCA is no reason to be insulting. Look inside my friend. I didn’t come up with the names of the defrocked nor was I the person who allowed a convicted archbishop to retire with full rights to continue to serve as an archbishop. For the record, I would have said the same thing about the Greek Archdiocese, Antiochian Archdiocese or any other archdiocese that continued to make such poor choices.

        Here’s another Russian word to add to your vocabulary: pokoyanie

      • Pete Lachaise says

        The OCA, true to its ‘murrucanness, openly publishes its clergy bad news along with the good. GOA & AOCNA don’t even share clergy contacts much less admin changes. It’s cultural.

    • It should also be noted among the sad list of depositions how many are “hieromonks”. Moratorium. NOW. If a seminary applicant is not married several years tell him to come back later. Check to see if the kids are adopted or not. Sorry, but the pattern is old. If a fellow wants to be a monk, there are plenty of places to be that, seminary NOT required.

      • Monk James says

        bob says (May 25, 2014 at 9:56 pm):

        It should also be noted among the sad list of depositions how many are “hieromonks”. Moratorium. NOW. If a seminary applicant is not married several years tell him to come back later. Check to see if the kids are adopted or not. Sorry, but the pattern is old. If a fellow wants to be a monk, there are plenty of places to be that, seminary NOT required.

        Because it’s a good thing for monks and nuns to be theologically literate, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow recently let it be known that he wants all monastics to receive a seminary education. This has nothing to do with priesthood, since the patriarch’s comments applied equally to male and female monastics.

        The sad fact that a few monastic priests have recently relinquished or been deprived of their ordinations is not indicative of any sort of trend. Nor is it even an aspect of their unsuitability for marriage, whether they are of homosexual or heterosexual orientation; sometimes it just works out that way.

        Besides, since there are exponentially more married priests than monastic priests, the majority who give up their priesthood one way or another is always going to be composed of married men.

        Perhaps ‘bob’ and others who get exercised about (assumed to be) celibate, chaste monks, priestified or not, might better direct their concerns toward seminaries and bishops who promote for the priesthood men who have married ONLY because they are convinced that they should be priests and they can’t (usually) be ordained without a wife. This charade is the ecclesial moral equivalent of a ‘shotgun wedding’ and should be actively discouraged.

        Even worse, a number of homosexual men have married and been ordained only to have their marriages (for obvious reasons) fail later even if they have fathered children. This has happened more than many people care to imagine, and it’s still happening. May the Lord forgive those men their evil deeds and convert them, and comfort all those heartbroken women.

        And this must stop, especially here in America, where (as a scandalized european bishop observed to me) there are more divorced priests still serving in the U.S. than there have been in all the christian centuries altogether everywhere. It’s bad enough that the larger culture has pretty much decided to accommodate all sorts of shameful behavior which — not so long ago — was considered abnormal and sinful and embarrassing, but the CLERGY?!!

        We need to correct ourselves and each other in real christian love before the Lord burns us down just like He did Sodom and Gomorrah.

      • Hyperbole says

        What does the biological parentage of the children have to do with anything? Adopting a child somehow makes a priest suspicious to you?

  12. Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

    I like some of George’s Alice in Wonderland terminology! We had “Breaking News” of something that never happened; then we had “This Just In,” also problematic, and now a ‘Wake-up Call” which woke no one up all!

  13. Other other Matthew says

    Intermarriage is NOT a problem at some Orthodox parishes. I know of one couple: she’s Orthodox Christian, he’s Jewish. The children were baptized Orthodox. Their Orthodox priest communes mom despite the non-Christian marriage. Last I heard, they were thinking about bar-mizvahing the kids. I quess it will be synagogue on Saturday, church on Sunday!

    • Michael Bauman says

      That is a problem. You cannot serve two masters. I remember reading a conversion story when I was new to the Church about a faithful Orthodox woman who fell in love and married a Jewish man. She still went to Liturgy every Sunday (he attended Synagogue on Saturday). She prayed for him each Sunday but did not receive communion.

      After 25 years, her husband became Orthodox.

      Such marriages are problematic for the children especially.

      • Tim R. Mortiss says

        Interesting. There are of course many kinds of “mixed marriages”. One between Christian and non-Christian is very problematical (unless of course the parties are totally nominal adherents), but those between Christians of different churches are an everyday occurrence. Like me: I had a Catholic-Presbyterian mix, but now have a Catholic-Orthodox mix. It should endure, as it has for 47 years so far!

        Way back in 1967, I had to go to a Jesuit priest down in Berkeley (I was in school at Cal), to get vetted. They were pretty lax back then (Jesuits and all), and I had only to promise that I would not interfere with my wife’s practice of the Catholic faith. This certainly presented no difficulties.

        Why would a devout Orthodox Christian woman married to a Jewish man not take communion? (Just curious.) St. Paul talked about just these situations, of course. Very common back at the beginning.

    • If priests want to get serious about Orthodox marrying non-Orthodox, they ought to try introducing young single Orthodox men and women to each other. I suppose a young single person could go to different parishes in the same geographic region to scout out the opposite sex, but come on – that distracts from the Liturgy.

  14. Steve Knowlton says

    Another issue at play: we see this so often, so universally, that we no longer see it.

    The operative central cultural myth around which nearly everything circulates is the rather new idea that your destiny, happiness, fulfillment in life is entirely a function of your love interest. If you don’t agree, bear this in mind the next time you watch a movie. The Operative Myth is always present, it’s a dogmatic element in modern culture, no less so than communion in a Mass.

    This Operative Myth matters more to people than salvation, because modern mind cannot conceive of a God who would not save a person who has found romantic happiness in life.

    Relative to greek Orth youth, marrying a pagan is not a problem. It matters more to marry the correct individual regardless of his gender, hence the “institution of marriage” is currency that is not recognized by most Americans. Expressing this love in immedicate and intimate ways, without any artificial or dogmatic constraints, is more important than public morality, which is why nearly all those greek orth youth are in all likelihood cohabiting or traveling about the world with their boyfriend. All of this was unthinkable 100 years ago not because people were more moral, but because they didn’t seriously believe that one’s lover was the “one thing needful.”

    So we could make the faith more relevant for young families and so on, if anyone is listening, because the Operative Myth I’m talking about is happy to organize religious, ahem, “spiritual,” values as subordinate to the one overriding quest for a romantic/erotic life partner.

    First we must challenge and discredit the idea that another person, correctly chosen, will make you happy. Good luck with that. But consider the universe of marriages that surround you, adjust for the fact that you don’t hear about the worst aspects of any marriage, and ask whether anyone is living in the Romantic Nirvana promised by our movies, art, values, etc.

    • Tim R. Mortiss says

      Some valid points. On the other hand, however, marriage is of great importance to both a happy life and a useful one to the majority of people.

      I believe that marriage is of central significance to God’s plan for most human beings; albeit not all. Of course, having just celebrated my 47th wedding anniversary with the woman I married at 19, and having 5 children, 2 sons-in-law, a daughter-in-law, and 12 grandchildren ranging in ages from 20 down to 2, I have a certain point of view that is to some degree at odds with much of what you say or, perhaps, its tone!

      It is entirely possible to exaggerate the extent to which the present world has lost its way; not an uncommon thing here!