Friday, September 03, 2010

Misc. Rambling - Tommy Jarrell - NC - and Irishmen

As you know, I am an Orthodox Christian by adoption (we are all Christians by adoption, of course). While I have affinity for my Arabic-speaking brethren and love them, having spoken Arabic for 20 years and lived and worked in the Gulf, I am nonetheless a son of this land. My people on my father's fathers' side came to this land in the mid-1600s from the low countries; my father's mother's fathers' people were Irish, homesteading in Illinois before the Civil War, and my grandfather's mother was a Scot. My wife's fathers' people were probably Konomihu/Shastan, and probably interrelated with the Karuk.

Thus, the Byzantine rite remains somewhat alien to me, though nonetheless beautiful. But my own family history makes me wonder, how will Orthodoxy fare and how will it be expressed in different corners of this country? Will we see a unique face such as we have seen in the Arabic-speaking, Romanian-speaking, Russian-speaking, and Greek-speaking cultures? The closest I've ever seen to this is a couple of fairly old Greek Orthodox parishes in South and North Carolina - although at least one of these was both extremely Greek and Carolinian - not having a good Greek name was a distinct disadvantage.

I lived for several years in North Carolina and Virginia, and came to love the sense of place that can be found there. To be sure, the last time I visited, there has been some change wrought by the ever-increasing sameness brought about by the leviathan forces of strip malls, technological uniformity, and tv, but the Southeast still is a very rural corner of the country, in ways different from the rural West that I call home.

I think that until we are honest in our Orthodox faith, we will not find it expressed in a way that embraces the beauty to be found in our traditional cultures (fast dying though they are), whether that be in Spanish-speaking corners of Texas, frost-bitten expanses of the Badlands of North (yes - I said North) and South Dakota, or the hollows of North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee. In parts of the country we are probably finding this, but we must both be careful to avoid thinking in terms of "essentials" and also to avoid imposing a McOrthodoxy version of Orthodoxy which imposes such a sameness that there is no local flavor.

I love the music of western North Carolina, as it hearkens to my Irish and Scot side.

Do you think one day we might see an Orthodox "festival" at a parish where this sort of music is being played in the parking lot after liturgy?

Maybe Fr. Stephen is already doing that?

Tommy Jarrell:

And a lovely lady flat-footing with some Irish musicians and Tommy Jarrell.