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Today, however, this power of worship has all but vanished.
Worship is something one must attend and even enjoy, it is a self-evident “obligation” for the religious man, but it has lost all relevance for the real life.
It was both judgment and inspiration, condemnation and transformation.
I do not mean that the Orthodox man of the past was more “moral” or led a better life.
In these forms and expressions Orthodoxy preserves something of its existential wholeness, of its link with life in its totality, and is not reduced to a “rite,” a clearly delineated number of credal statements and a set of “minimal rules.” One cannot by a surgical operation called “Americanization” distill a pure “Orthodoxy in itself,” without disconnecting it from its flesh and blood, making it a lifeless form.
There can be no doubt, therefore, that in view of all this, a living continuity with national traditions will remain for a long time not only a compromise meant to satisfy the “old-timers,” but an essential condition for the very life of the Orthodox Church.” – Problems of Orthodoxy in America: The Canonical Problem 1.
Deprived of this living interrelation with culture, of this claim to the whole of life, Orthodoxy, in spite of all formal rectitude of dogma and liturgy, betrays and loses something absolutely essential.
Therefore, one must ask—is this situation to be taken for granted, as the normal “adjustment” of Orthodoxy to America, as something not to be questioned any more? And by quality I certainly do not mean beautiful vestments and elaborate musical “numbers,” the amount of gold and silver on icons or the money paid for the altar.Not that our modern Orthodox is a greater “sinner,” but his whole approach to “sin” and “righteousness,” to “right” and “wrong” has radically changed.It is no longer rooted in the total vision of life as revealed in worship, but somewhere else—in the “common sense,” the “golden rule,” the “ideal of moderation,” etc.And for this reason Orthodoxy cannot be American in the sense in which it certainly is Greek, Russian or Serbian.Whereas there, in the old world, Orthodoxy is coextensive with national culture, and to some extent, the national culture (so that the only alternative is the escape: into a “cosmopolitan,” viz.