There seems now to be more than anecdotal evidence that Orthodox Christianity is growing rapidly in the U.S. I don’t recall whether the evidence is more than anecdotal that it’s growing especially fast in the southern states, but that certainly is a widely shared impression, and forms the basis of this video, which looks at two parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) in South Carolina.
Both parishes have a number of converts along with “cradle Orthodox.” The second is led by a Charleston-born, back-slapping, charismatic Greek restauranteur/Priest. Yup, a southern-fried Greek is Priest in a Russian Orthodox parish!
I don’t know for certain why Orthodoxy is especially appealing to Southerners, or why, again anecdotally, it holds special appeal for men – being one of few Christian traditions in which men appear to gain interest before women and to be quite faithful in attendance.
I suspect, along with others who have suggested it first, that it’s because Orthodoxy is demanding (whence the appeal to men) and congenial to people who have rejected consumerism to a greater extent than most Americans (concentrated in the south) and who have concomitantly tired of the marketing gimmicks of megachurches and their wannabe imitators. In Orthodoxy is found sobriety and orientation toward God, not to what research says are this year’s trending “felt needs.”
But just as Jonathan Haidt has found that political orientation is largely instinctive, with narrative explanations and arguments following and not always being very accurate, so my hunches may be tainted, as may even the bona fide explanations of male and southern Orthodox converts.
Apologies to Fr. Joseph Huneycutt for borrowing his podcast name for this blog entry, but it fit entirely too well to resist. And a H/T to the evocatively named, considering the topic of this particular entry, “Byzantine Texas” blog.