Posted by  on November 22, 2007
It’s interesting to read questions in forums online of how one who is committed to the Nativity Fast, deals with family expectations of eating turkey on Thanksgiving. I never understand how one cannot realize that committing to Orthodoxy is inherently an act of dissent toward the culture – a break, indeed a repudiation of the assumptions of the culture. . . .
You can’t have your turkey and eat it too. If you’re going to keep the tradition, don’t ask how you’re supposed to fit in. Orthopraxis is a continual series of radical acts.
What did we expect? Following Christ is breaking with parents, breaking with patriotism, breaking with social pressure. Indeed, it may also be a means of making peace with these things. But it starts with the willingness to stand on our ground, not theirs. Being Orthodox is, in many ways, being an adult. It is a leaving of home, if anything – and, from there, perhaps a redeeming of home.
Turkey or not turkey is a small thing. Being steadfast, determining to live by the tradition of the Church – these are paramount.
Personally, I don’t feel any obligation to celebrate national holidays – I have a full calendar already – the Orthodox one – why would I need to fill it with other things? I don’t celebrate the 4th of July, because I don’t believe in Manifest Destiny. I don’t keep Thanksgiving, because it’s a feast in the middle of a fast, and besides, what do I care about Protestant dissidents finding a new haven? I’m more at home w. the neo-leftists on this – why do I want to celebrate our hundreds of years of plunder, pillaging, and extermination – something which we carried throughout our hemisphere in the 1980s and 1990s and have simply exported since 1999? Memorial Day? Veterans’ Day? I think you see where I’m going.
Orthodoxy (to quote the ‘zine Death to the World) accepts all cultures and embraces none – in other words, in order to rehabilitate or redeem culture, it is first necessary to abandon it. I don’t know what the words of Christ in the Gospels mean if not that.
If you’re a US Citizen, and feel obliged to keep Thanksgiving and other national holidays, keep them. If your bishop says you can eat turkey during the Fast, eat it. I’m not telling you what to do. I am saying that it isn’t Orthodox to try to make Orthodoxy fit something else. Orthodoxy is the fulness of all things. It is everything else that must be redeemed.