I started to write a short reply letter to an Armenian Reporter commentary about the spiritual outreach of the Armenian Church. The editor was lamenting about the lack of outreach and daily spirituality in the Armenian Apostolic church.
Generally, I don’t get stalled while writing about a passionate subject such as this, but this was tough. I kept going back and forth on the reasons that we don’t have more outreach. At first I decided it was our fault – “us” meaning the Armenian community. I often think that most of the people who attend the Apostolic Armenian Church are somewhat agnostic. If we were truly searching, we would have been asking for it from the clergy for centuries. Then I decided it was because we all use the church as a cultural center, not a religion. Then it became the fact that the Armenian religion is not protestant – the Apostolic tradition, as with Catholicism, holds the tenant that you don’t have a direct line to God, you go through the Priest. So, when you have a middle of the night meltdown, you’re supposed to call your Priest.
There is also the cultural disjointedness of the Armenian community in the United States, the politics, the pull toward assimilation and the fear of being ostracized by other Armenians if you are too . . . spiritual, liberal, “American.”
There are actually three Armenian religions in the US – the Armenian Apostolic Church, which is the church we are talking about and the largest one; the Armenian Catholic Church, which follows the Roman Catholics with the Pope as the top cheese; and the Armenian Presbyterian Church, of which there are only about 20something parishes in all of North America. The split within the Armenian diaspora is paralell to the split in the Roman Catholic church. It’s the history of Christianity. Political power comes in. Bible interpretation comes in. Money comes in. But most of all, for those brought up in one church or another – family/cultural baggage plays a huge role.
The problem is that there are so few of us to begin with, splitting up like that make us a blip on the spiritual landscape of what is out there in the United States.
Being Armenian is so complicated.
I’ve been writing and rewriting this thing for days. I guess the bottom line is that I am confused about it all myself…maybe I need some spiritual guidance?