So I’ve been thinking that what this blog needs (beside regular posts) is a bit more humor. One of the things that has struck me about seminary life is how important humor is to our day to day experience. Now, I’m not sure if this goes for the other seminaries but it is certainly true about HC/HC. Whether it’s cracking jokes about liturgical vesture or pointing out the resemblance between a particular icon and a movie star (yes, this has happened) it is a regular fixture of our life. I am a firm believer in laughing at oneself and the value of silliness in general. I love Monty Python, G.K. Chesterton, Terry Pratchett, Family Guy, and much more. I don’t know why people are particularly shocked at this, just because I’m a seminarian doesn’t mean I am magically made a sober and overly serious person. If that was the case I’d probably skedaddle. I belong to that odd and often bizarre subgenus of Orthodox Nerd.
I have included the entry on the Orthodox Nerd from the True Holy Orthodox Apostolic Really Very Holy and Right-Believing Encyclopedia (Old-ish Calender): “The Orthodox Nerd was first discovered to be a sub-genus of the more widely known “Orthodox Layman” which is known to inhabit a variety of regions and climates of the world. It was discovered by Fr. Nicholas Nicholovich in the mid-1990s in his travels in Pennsylvania as he tried to catalog the headscarf plumage of the elusive “Matushka Tikhonensis”. The Orthodox Nerd often resides in institutions of higher learning (often religious) throughout the Americas and parts of the British Isles. The Orthodox Nerd is not to be confused with the Orthodox Seminarian which is a different entity all-together. They are usually found lurking in church bookstores and monasteries and have a keen eye for discounts on icons and religious goods. The males of the breed are often found at tobacconists and purveyors of fine spirits, as well as having magpie-like tendencies for shiny objects (cufflinks, crosses, eyeglasses, etc.). The female variety often has a large array of “sensible shoes” for the long church services, collections of small jeweled eggs to wear on chains, icon bracelets, and (depending on jurisdiction) headscarves. Both male and females of the “Orthodox Nerd” species can be found church hopping, going on pilgrimages, and participating in local events.”
I found it all very interesting when looking it up. We are truly blessed to have such a wonderful collection of volumes in the library. As I was flipping through the T.H.O.A.R.V.H.R.B. Encyclopedia I stumbled across an even more amazing entry under “Seminarian” that I really must share with you all. Here it is:
“Seminarians are found throughout the world in a variety of environments. They were first discovered by St. John the Theologian in 33 A.D. The modern seminarian is a fascinating race with very peculiar habits, varying widely depending on its tribe. The seminarian wears a long, black garment that often causes the younger and more inexperienced ones to trip while going up stairs, get soiled during feedings, and sometimes almost catch on fire (See: “Juggling Hot Coals” by C. McQueeny). Those of the Greek tribes are often recognized by the distinctive insignia they wear (sometimes erroneously called “chickens” when studies have shown they are actually pigeons). They are primarily found in Massachusetts but have been known to find their way to their homeland (The Greece). The Greek tribes are often wary of strangers and are easily startled by chant in English. They are loyal and loving but can be roused to great anger if exposed to organ music in churches, 19th century Western-influenced iconography, and the mispronouncing of their names. Those of the Russian tribes can be found in small enclaves in New York and Pennsylvania. The species present in Pennsylvania recently changed to match those of the other species in terms of garments, although they are slightly different (See: “Russian style vs. Greek style, the Eternal Stuggle” by Podrasnik Anteri). The Russian tribes feed primarily on not-yet-ripened prosphora. Their music is distinct from the Greek and Antiochian tribes, although there is some overlap between the styles as more interactions between the groups are fostered. The clergy of the Russian tribes are known for their colorful hats, coming in red, purple, and black, together with the curious development of crown-like protuberances on the heads of their senior clergy. These curious protuberances bear a very great resemblance to those of the bishops of their tribe, however the Greek and Antiochian tribes cannot seem to explain why the senior priests have them. The Russian tribe often collect small doughy pastries which are delicious with butter and onions. The Antiochian tribe is a very curious assortment who are minorities in most of the main settlements of seminarians. They are sometimes characterized as being furtive and prefer to travel in packs. Their musical preferences vary more than in the other two tribes, with their hierarchy encouraging the use of both monophonic and polyphonic music (much to the dismay of those on either side of the issue). The Antiochian tribe was seen to wear bluejeans and colored shirts under their more formal black robes in the distant past (colloquially known amongst the other tribes as “going Antiochian”) but this practice has since died out. The Antiochians are normally peaceable but have been known to have disputes with the other tribes and should be avoided when certain issues arise. They are wary of headcoverings and have a higher proportion of lower ranking clergy amongst them than the other tribes (See: A Subdeacon’s Tale” by G.L. Orifiyed Ltarboy). The rarest of any of these tribes is that of the “Western Riter” which is seldom seen in any of the settlements. In practice they blend in with the larger Antiochian tribe and are relatively unknown amongst the others. The other tribes often do not accept them because of their strange and foreign rituals and on more than one occasion the “W.R. seminarian” has been driven from their settlements with cries of “Franko-papa!” The W.R. seminarian is fond of 1950s Rome and is often found listening to polyphony in Latin and saying the Rosary. They also have an aversion to felt-banners, burlap chasubles, Marty Haugen’s “Mass of Creation”, and often plot to restore trains on cassocks. All of the tribes do share in some common activities and traits. Many sit up late into the night viewing vestments and planning liturgical good shopping sprees. In their early years many often grow out their hair and, for unknown reasons, stop showering. It is thought that this might be a misguided attempt to emulate their elders, however the older and more experienced members of the tribe usually quickly stamp out this sort of behavior. It was once thought that the tribes were dying out but a trend of decline has, in recent years, turned around and their numbers have climbed steadily.
Well, there you have it. I hope that these scholarly entries help explain the intricate world of Orthodoxy.
*DISCLAIMER: If you’re offended by anything in this silliness, then I apologize for having a sense of humor.