That is why many of us have concluded that the way to remain American, Orthodox, and sane is to remind yourself that somewhere thousands of miles away there is a Romanian guy who smokes 2 packs of unfiltered cigarettes a day and curses like a sailor, and the last thing he did before passing out drunk was make the sign of the cross the same way that you do. And it isn’t a matter of glorifying vice or trying to hold up examples of bad behavior in a hipsterish or ironic way. It’s about the fact that if there is hope for him, there is hope for me; in other words, the only comforting religion is one that is made for humans, not for angels. And there is something deeply human and deeply spiritual about a person knowing that he is a terrible, terrible screw up that doesn’t really want to change but somehow wishes he did want to.
This guy seems to keep it real.
Orthobloggers who complain a lot (read: whiskey drinking male converts) seem to have completely different problems with living in Orthodox communities than I do. Oh well. I know it's not all sunshine on the icon of Christ and getting stoned ("noetically") on incense and feeling smart that you know some Greek words to use at coffee hour, but sometimes I think the post-honeymoon convert cynicism is extreme. Maybe this is because the Orthodox churches I have spent time in have been a pretty good mix of converts and cradle cats, but I haven't noticed this "guruism" that many Orthobloggers worry about.
The small ROCOR church that I attended in my college town had a couple pious Russian families with grown-up kids who made normal-people mistakes and tried again later, and the rest of the congregation was made of academics like me who were pretty neurotic before they were Orthodox anyway, and generally chilled out as they got older. The priest was an extremely liberal stroke-y old fellow who was always dropping holy things and forgetting words. It was my first Orthodox church and I just thought really long pauses and clanging and mumbling were what always happened behind the iconostasis. No guruism there. That was a fun and hard church.
The OCA church we attend now is just strikingly not weird in any way (to me, at least, since it's in my hometown,) and at coffee hour, people just talk about living in or around a small town in the Midwest. There's a streak of Wendell Berryism running through a few of them but it's not extreme, and it seems a natural growth from this independent, home-loving stock, who would just be de facto shrugging libertarians anyway. Our priest is an humble and easy-going young dude who gets haircuts and likes football. Not a guru.
But thanks to the internet, this dumb problem is on my radar! But wait, there's more! Catholic Women Bloggers complement their Orthodox Male counterparts on the spectrum of Anxiety Over Stuff That Doesn't Even Happen to Me (such as arguments about women wearing pants.) Perhaps these things will all come up eventually. Whatever there is to worry about in the next stage of my life, I'm ready.