Recent converts to any religion, movement, or ideology bring a fervor and sense of urgency that people who might have been born in it, or a part of for a while, seem to lack.
They can also be annoying, off-putting, and downright dangerous to the religion, movement, or ideology. This is because recent converts often act like secret kings or queens out to be THE SAVIOR.
In the church I grew up attending, we have had several priests who are neither Greek, nor were they Greek Orthodox–which is fine. Some have been Irish, others Kenyan, and still others from various European countries. And that is fine! Contrary to popular belief, there are plenty of Orthodox Christians who are not Greek. Our individual church might be “Greek Orthodox,” but there is Armenian Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Serbian Orthodox, Romanian Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox, and so on.
The “Orthodox” is the important part, not the “Greek.” It’s no different than being an Irish Catholic versus a Roman Catholic or a Polish Catholic, and so on.
Anyway, more than once we have heard these young, non-Greek and recently-converted-to-Orthodoxy priests talk about how the convert is somehow superior to those who were born into the faith and grew up in it. It’s the standard litany of what you hear about recent arrivals to the U.S., or any other country good enough to let them in (more on this later):
- “We haven’t forgotten the miracles of God’s gifts.”
- “We know more about the Bible and tradition than you because we had to earn our way in.”
- “We have more spiritual fervor because the faith was not just given to us. We had to actively find it and want it.”
(This especially pisses me off, as even those of us born into the Orthodox faith, or any other, have our own struggles and conversions).
- “It’s up to us to renew the church, because you have failed.”
And to this, I humbly extend an upraised middle finger or two.
These are priests saying this!
At the church I currently attend, one of the priests (that’s right; the congregation is so big we have two priests and a deacon) is young, non-Greek, and a convert to Orthodoxy. But he is awesome. He doesn’t berate the friggin’ congregation, 99% of which is Greek and born into Orthodoxy. He does his job and lets his actions and his teaching reveal the depth of his spiritual fervor and devotion to Jesus Christ. He doesn’t feel the prideful need to trumpet his Christ Credentials (I kinda like that . . .) at the congregation’s expense.
In short, the guy is awesome and I’m glad he was assigned to our church.
Pride, man! Pride is a terrible look no matter who you are, priest or parishoner.