Dear Parish Faithful,
If you click on the link below you will read some fascinating but, at times, distressing data. I received this from another Orthodox priest and I will keep his commentary which is a bit biting - but perhaps deservedly so. The rather anemic 49% of Orthodox who believe in a "personal God" is the most troubling finding of this poll. The other 51% must hardly ever go to church, or if and when they do, they do not listen. And a whopping 34% of Orthodox claim to believe in an "impersonal force." Are they still watching "Star Wars?!" Of course, polls are notoriously difficult to interpret because a good deal has to do with the framing/wording of the question. But this particular question appears to be framed straightforwardly enough. If I believed that only 49% of our parish "believed in a personal God," I would immediately retire to a cave and spend the rest of my life in prayer and fasting!
In my opinion, Americans may be "religious," but often superficial in their understanding of their own faith - including Christians who should know better. The lack of understanding the role of dogma/doctrine is appalling. Dogma does not "squeeze God into a box," but reveals Truth and articulates that Truth so that it has some clarity and coherence.
Well, the Orthodox always feel they don't get proper recognition. Take a look at the new Pew Forum poll on religious beliefs in America:
Scroll down and you will see that we actually are included in this poll:
Only 49% of those who identified themselves as Orthodox say they believe in a personal God.
For a Church which is so totally theologically dominated in its thinking, this would suggest we are not communicating well with our members. We may have the most true theology in the world, but it is not being conveyed to our members. All the beautiful liturgies and exquisite theology but our members are embracing little of it.
And while 1/3 of the Orthodox say they attend church at least once/week, the Mormon and JW's: 75-80% say they go once a week.