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Re: [orthodox-synod] Re: [rocaclergy] 2003.08.20 NG-Religion: What Should The Church Be Like Today

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  • larry most
    GLORY TO JESUS CHRIST-GLORY TO HIM FOREVER Dear Father Peter, Thank You, Thank You, Thank You. Love in Christ, Sub-deacon Lawrence ... I think the
    Message 1 of 13 , Sep 3, 2003
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      GLORY TO JESUS CHRIST-GLORY TO HIM FOREVER
      Dear Father Peter,
      Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.
      Love in Christ,
      Sub-deacon Lawrence

      frpeterjackson <frpeterjackson@...> wrote:

      > In the end pious people who care will try to learn the language so
      > 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.
      >
      I think the Greek-speaking early Church Fathers would be puzzled to
      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
      experience.

      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
      arguments.

      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]
    • boulia_1
      Talk about getting emotional... ... plain and simple. ... services. ... Was someone here advocating imposing Slavonic on converts ? I recall that, in this
      Message 2 of 13 , Sep 4, 2003
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        Talk about getting emotional...
        --- In orthodox-synod@yahoogroups.com, "frpeterjackson"
        <frpeterjackson@y...> wrote:
        > >
        > 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,
        plain and simple.
        > Nowadays, we want to prevent people from understanding the
        services.
        > 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
        both??

        in Christ, elizabeth
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