For what, in their cheerful but superficial “Americanism,” the partisans of this view seem completely to overlook is that the rapport between Orthodoxy and Russia, or Orthodoxy and Greece, is fundamentally different from, if not opposed to, the rapport between Orthodoxy and America.
There is not and there cannot be a religion of America in the sense in which Orthodoxy is the religion of Greece or Russia and this, in spite of all possible and actual betrayals and apostasies.
Not that our modern Orthodox is a greater “sinner,” but his whole approach to “sin” and “righteousness,” to “right” and “wrong” has radically changed.
It is no longer rooted in the total vision of life as revealed in worship, but somewhere else—in the “common sense,” the “golden rule,” the “ideal of moderation,” etc.
The fact must be stated bluntly: from the liturgical point of view we are rapidly becoming a Sunday Church and even our Sunday worship is drastically curtailed. All that, which was so vital, so central, so essential in the liturgical piety of the past: the feasts and their eves, the “bright sadness” of the Lenten services, the unique celestial beauty of the Mariological cycle, the warm, almost personal, commemoration of the Saints, the long and solemn crescendo of the Holy Week—all this, although it is still dutifully listed in ecclesiastical calendars—is virtually absent from the real liturgical life. In a normal urban community something is “going on” every night: a meeting, a youth or adult group, a lecture, a dinner, a get-together.
The Orthodox of the past could lead a miserable life, full of greed and material preoccupations, but he knew that, as a Christian, he was wrong, and he knew it because he lived in a world shaped morally and spiritually by the liturgical experience, by this constantly renewed vision and gift of another Reality, of the inaccessible, yet desirable, beauty of the Kingdom.
The modern Orthodox has lost this desire and this nostalgia.
For the first time in its whole history, Orthodoxy must live within a secular culture…
It belongs to the very essence of Orthodoxy not only to “accept” a culture, but to permeate and to transform it, or, in other terms, to consider it an integral part and object of the Orthodox vision of life.