Oh, My Pop Culture Jesus: Where are all the Orthodox Christians?

massSo Christianity is everywhere in pop culture. Yes, it’s not always explained well or shown in a positive light, but we can’t deny that there is a ton of representation for Christians. Usually, it’s the Catholics who get the most screentime. This is not necessarily because anyone particularly likes the Catholic Church, but because Catholic clergy have a pretty recognizable uniform; if you need to show someone is a part of a church, it’s pretty easy to throw a priest collar on someone and then very little needs to be said about the denomination or the characters’ general beliefs.

Protestants, especially in countries like America that are heavily Protestant, also get a lot of air time. For example, in True Blood, the various Protestant denominations in Louisiana not only give the show some religious representation, but also add to the setting of a town in the Deep South where a variety of beliefs exist. Though the show doesn’t always state the exact denomination, different characters and churches are coded as Baptists, Methodists, or non-denominational Christians, adding to the believability of the narrative.

So yeah, there are a lot of Christians on TV. But there is one Christian denomination I’ve always felt got the shaft in pretty much everything, and that’s the Orthodox Church.

I love the Orthodox Christian Church: their theology, their rich history, the cool outfits many of the clergy wear, and of course their ways of worship. But you, dear reader, probably know very little about the Orthodox Church, because it is rarely taught about in the western world. The split between the Catholic and Orthodox Church, called the East-West schism, occurred in 1054 over debates about both the Trinity and papal supremacy. Eventually both sides excommunicated each other and have been split ever since.

It wasn’t until high school that I even knew that the first major split in Christianity was between the Orthodox and Catholic churches, and to this day I still don’t know as muchallpatjer about the Orthodox Church as I would like. Sadly, the western world also seems to know little about this particular branch of Christianity. I blame this sad fact on both bad teaching of theology and pop culture, because there are no Orthodox Christians anywhere in pop culture.

When I sat down to do this post only one example came to mind: the musical Fiddler on the Roof, and even then the Orthodox Christians barely feature. This is fine, because the musical is supposed to be about Judaism, not Christianity, but it’s really sad that that is one of the only places where Orthodox Christians are represented.

In Fiddler on the Roof we see some of these Orthodox Christians, mostly just as non-clergy engaging with Tevye at the bar, or the young Christian Fyedka who eloped with Chava, and we only see the briefest depictions of the clergy of the Orthodox Church. Also, unless Chava converted to Christianity, it is extremely unlikely that any Orthodox priest in 1905 would have married them, just saying.

Film-still-from-Fiddler-o-007This unique and interesting sect of Christianity needs to be acknowledged and given its fair share of time in our pop culture; otherwise, we aren’t showing the full spectrum of Christianity in all its diversity. The Orthodox Christian Church is a sect of Christianity which has been often ignored in Christian history (even by other Christians in the west) and Orthodox Christians have been persecuted for their religious beliefs by both their fellow Christians and by those outside the faith. Let me be clear, I’m not saying that some random denomination in Christianity should have a ton of representation, but the Orthodox Church is not some random Christian denomination. The three major branches of Christianity are Protestantism, Catholicism, and Eastern Orthodoxy. The Orthodox Church is the second largest Christian church in the world, but this major part of Christianity is ignored because it isn’t western. I think it’s time this major branch of Christianity gets some representation.

4 thoughts on “Oh, My Pop Culture Jesus: Where are all the Orthodox Christians?

  1. Pingback: Oh, My Pop Culture Jesus: Orphan Black‘s Missed Opportunity for Faith-Based Redemption | Lady Geek Girl and Friends

  2. Pingback: Black Widow Is Kicking Some Ass | Lady Geek Girl and Friends

  3. Pingback: Oh, My Pop Culture Orthodoxy: Why a Russian Orthodox Viktuuri Wedding Would Make History | Lady Geek Girl and Friends

  4. As an Asian evangelical Christian, I see plenty of positive portrayals of my race and almost none for my religion. The only evangelicals I see in Hollywood movies and TV are crazed preachers and religious zealots. Even the very rare positive interpretations must have some leftist leanings like Pastor Tim from The Americans (I don’t actually watch that show so I could be wrong).

Comments are closed.