Category: Westernization


Language in American Orthodoxy, 1916 (reposted from 8/21/09)


To our New Calendar readers: Christ is born! The following article was originally published on August 21, 2009. If you're interested, you might check out the comments to that original posting. We'll be back with brand-new material on Monday, December 28. As you might expect, most American Orthodox parishes in...

Organs in Greek Orthodox churches


As regular readers of this website know, I am particularly interested in the "Americanization" of Orthodoxy in the New World -- things like clergy appearance (beards vs. shaved faces, cassocks vs. collars), pews, church music (organs and mixed choirs), early converts, the use of English, and so forth. Today, I'm...

When to sit and when to stand


Last week, I spent about 2,000 words discussing the question of pews in early Greek churches in America. Based on my findings to date, it seems that pews became popular in Greek churches sometime in the 1920s, for reasons that aren't yet clear. In Paul Manolis' indispensible History of the...

To shave or not to shave?


For three tumultuous decades -- 1907 to 1938 -- Fr. Basil Kerbawy was the dean of St. Nicholas Syrian Orthodox Cathedral in Brooklyn. Apparently, in 1911, he was having some issues related to his beard, and things got so bad that he wrote to William Gaynor, the mayor of New York....

Passing Judgment on the Past


This week, I've written about two topics that can be somewhat divisive: clergy dress, and pews. From the feedback I've been getting, it seems that some people want me to come down on one side or the other. Should priests wear cassocks everywhere? Should they wear collars? Should our churches...

Pews (or lack thereof) in early Orthodox churches


Yesterday, I introduced one of my ongoing research projects, a study of the origins of pews in American Orthodox churches. Oh, I'm famililar with the old story -- that early Orthodox parishes bought old Protestant churches and retained the inherited pews -- but whenever I hear that story, it seems...

Built or Bought? Greek church buildings in the 1910s


Pews are a common sight in American Orthodox churches, especially those in the Greek and Antiochian Archdioceses. I remember, as an adolescent in an Antiochian parish, learning that my fellow Orthodox in Greece or Russia or Lebanon don't have pews in their churches. When I asked why we had pews...

Cassocks or Collars?


It's a common debate within American Orthodoxy: should our priests wear cassocks, or should they wear suits and collars like their Roman Catholic and Protestant counterparts? One side rightly argues that cassocks are the traditional and virtually universal style of dress for Orthodox clergy. The other side just as correctly points out that...

Calendar issues in early American Orthodoxy


One of the most obvious practical issues facing early Orthodox Christians in America was the difference between the Church calendar -- the "Julian" calendar -- and the civil ("Gregorian") calendar. In the 19th century, twelve days separated the two calendars; after the turn of the century, the difference was thirteen...

Irvine’s responds to Hapgood’s “Musical heresy”


Last week, I posted Isabel Hapgood's 1915 article in which she begged Archbishop Evdokim, "Please let us have a splendid choir!" She said, in part, "The Cathedral Choir, propertly constituted large enough, is immensely more important to your Church and Mission in this country than twenty little new parishes." The...