Re: [orthodox-synod] Re: [rocaclergy] 2003.08.20 NG-Religion: What Should The Church Be Like Today
- GLORY TO JESUS CHRIST-GLORY TO HIM FOREVER
Dear Father Peter,
Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.
Love in Christ,
frpeterjackson <frpeterjackson@...> wrote:
> In the end pious people who care will try to learn the language soI think the Greek-speaking early Church Fathers would be puzzled to
> they can see the greater beauty of the service. Those who don't
> really care about the language....just don't really care about the
> purity of the church anyway.
hear that Slavonic, a Slavic language, is closer to what they wrote
in than Russian or English. Church Slavonic has parallels with Greek
for two reasons: 1) Sts. Cyril and Methodius and their disciples
borrowed vocabulary from Greek and coined new words (e.g. blago-
slovit' to render the Greek eu-logein) out of existing vocabulary and
2) Church Slavonic's grammar attempts to artificially mimic Greek
grammar in a way that is unnatural for a Slavic language. New
vocabulary was needed for the Slavic languages, and it wasn't
difficult to do so, but grammar is a different issue. Anyone who has
had training or experience in translation or interpreting will know
that slavishly trying to adhere to the source language's grammar will
more often distort the true meaning than reflect it.
Slavonic was not naturally suited to convey liturgical texts. It was
artificially tinkered with. Any language be it Russian, English or
Swahili, can borrow or coin vocabulary in order to preserve nuances
of meaning. Any language can adapted for liturgical purposes just as
Slavonic very consciously and intentionally was. We can listen to a
Slavonic service and appreciate the *idea* that it is faithfully
rendering the Greek, but what good does it do those who do not
understand it? Even most Russian speakers do not understand it, in my
If the argument put forth is that we should have an accurate language
regardless of whether it is understood, then the optimal choice would
be Greek, of course. But I don't expect anyone in our Russian Church
to propose that. The issue, then, is really an emotional one: this is
the language I heard while I held my babushka's hand at Pascha.
Emotion is a powerful factor, and I am not diminishing its importance
in our lives and in our worship, but we must not dress up an emotion-
based desire for preserving Slavonic in purportedly intellectual
To use a local language instead of Slavonic is not to "dumb down" the
services, as some have suggested in this string. It is not justified
to point to the Roman Catholics after Vatican II. The problem was not
that they abandoned Latin, but that they rewrote the text of the
Mass, leaving out references to the Mother of God, etc. Obviously, no
Orthodox advocate of local language use would countenance any
revisions of the liturgical texts themselves. Indeed, the whole
intention is to actually have access to those texts.
Finally, I find it outrageous when anyone suggests that everyone
should "just learn Slavonic". Tell that to St. Stephen of Perm who
translated our texts into Permian, or to St. Innocent of Alaska
(Aleut) or St. Nicholas of Japan. None of them advocated imposing
Slavonic on converts. Sts. Cyril and Methodius never took Slavonic to
non-Slavonic speakers. Indeed, their philosophy -- and that of the
whole Church -- was to make the services accessible to everyone in
the own tongue. I doubt they saw themselves as "creating a sacred
language". They just wanted people to understand, plain and simple.
Nowadays, we want to prevent people from understanding the services.
God forgive us.
Priest Peter Jackson
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[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- Talk about getting emotional...
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "frpeterjackson"
> >plain and simple.
> Finally, I find it outrageous when anyone suggests that everyone
> should "just learn Slavonic". Tell that to St. Stephen of Perm who
> translated our texts into Permian, or to St. Innocent of Alaska
> (Aleut) or St. Nicholas of Japan. None of them advocated imposing
> Slavonic on converts. ... They just wanted people to understand,
> Nowadays, we want to prevent people from understanding theservices.
> God forgive us.Was someone here advocating "imposing Slavonic on converts"? I recall
that, in this thread, several people have said that the native
language instead of Slavonic (or greek) is ideal for nonrussians.
To repeat myself, the question of Slavonic vs. English (or German in
Germany, French in France, etc.) is A DIFFERENT ISSUE than Slavonic
vs. RUSSIAN. And i believe the latter question was the focus of this
thread, begun with a posting of an interview, where an MP Bishop
suggested that Russian should substitute for Slavonic.
My take, for what it's worth (not much): I am a first-generation
American and a Russian speaker and, yes, understanding the Slavonic
requires an extra effort. I am glad to make that effort: I find it
edifying and intellectually enriching. The texts often are multi
layered in meaning anyway, so even understanding the WORDS doesn't
guarantee understanding the text. (That's why we hope our spiritual
fathers -- the clergy -- can help enlighten us, with well put
sermons, discussions, etc.) I would hate to see Slavonic dropped,
yes, partly because it's what I heard when I was in church with
my "Babushka" (who, incidentally, contributed to the church
literature extensively, composing IN Slavonic, not translating from
some other language). But also because it is a beautiful, churchly
language that crosses political Slavic boundaries.
With all due respect, the problem often arises when converts enter a
community (say, the Russian-speaking emigre community...) and then
impose THEIR wishes and will on them, demanding change. Ultimately,
I believe, the English speaking Orthodox community needs to be
organized separately from the parishes that serve the emigre
communities. I disagree thoroughly with the "English is the language
of our country, learn it and expect to hear it in church" argument
that has been put forth. If one learned the creed in Greek, or
Slavonic, or Rumanian, one finds comfort in hearing those words in
Greek, or Slavonic, or Rumanian when one goes to church. As a nation
of immigrants, the U.S. in particular will always have people
wanting --needing-- a church that they can feel at home in.
Naturally, the English speakers need that too. Why can't there be
in Christ, elizabeth