You may have heard an episode of the TV sitcom Seinfeld (fan transcript) featured a religion – a supposed version of diaspora Eastern Orthodoxy – which the writer claims he thought he’d made up,* Latvian Orthodoxy.  In fact, TV-Jerry’s sidekick, George Costanza, converted to the Faith – apparently from a lapsed or merely-cultural Catholicism, but with heavy doses of comedy-stereotype Jewish behavior – in order to date a Latvian Orthodox American young woman, Sasha, he apparently truly loved – for a change! – whose parents would only let her date other Latvian Orthodox.**

All this is a long way of leading up to a link to the current lead story on the OCA’s homepage, the visit of a Latvian Orthodox scholar and discussions of further collaboration with Latvian researchers into Orthodoxy here.  I didn’t know there were so many Latvian bishops and clergy in the OCA’s history!

(*–Well, he knew about “the hats;” he didn’t always precede “Orthodox” with “Latvian,” sometimes just said “Orthodox;” he knew the difference between a nun and a novice, and knew a novice monastic woman is not referred to as a nun but as “Sister;” Kramer even wrestles a bit with the passions over Sister Roberta’s attraction to him; and they don’t mutilate squirrels!  So maybe the only thing he didn’t know about was Orthodoxy’s spread to Latvia 1,000 years ago … though the stuff around the church ceremonies was mostly generic high-church, though rather plain.  I think I’ve read of at least one OCA parish having been founded by Latvians, and I haven’t seen the episode for years, but folks on the ‘Net seem to think the church whose exterior was seen on Seinfeld was actually this ethnic-Galician-heritage OCA Cathedral in Brooklyn. An older view is near the bottom of this page.  [Galicians from Eastern Europe, not Spain. Related to Carpatho-Russians.])

(**–George’s complaint about her parents being devout would be echoed a decade later by John Corbet’s character in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, in discussing with his ‘non-devout’-WASP parents his conversion to the Greek Orthodox Church, to marry Nia Vardalos’ character, in a situation loosely based on her own real life.  The implication was that Corbet had never been baptized with water in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, or not in a denomination whose Baptism Nia’s Greek jurisdiction would ‘make complete’ by mere Chrismation [cf. Confirmation], therefore Nia couldn’t marry him in the Orthodox Church, and if she married him outside the Church, she would be barred from Communion and certain other church activities, eg, being a godmother … all of which was why it was such a big deal to her immigrant parents.  In Seinfeld we don’t see George wet like Corbet, but he is wearing a white robe, suggesting he too has just been baptized and not only Chrismated – not to try to read too much into a 22-minute comedy! – implying he actually hadn’t been baptized previously either.  In any case, I hear that among ethnic-Orthodox in North America, there’s alot more marriage to non-Orthodox Christians – or to people who’ve recently converted for the marriage – than to Orthodox of other ethnicities or jurisdictions.  FYI, Orthodox are expected to raise their children Orthodox, even in a marriage with a non-Orthodox Christian … though I don’t know how much this is actually done in mixed marriages.)

  1. asimplesinner

    “not to try to read too much into a 22-minute comedy!”

    Too late!

  2. Leo Peter O'Filon

    “not to try to read too much into a 22-minute comedy!”

    Too late!

    LOL! I do wander on sometimes! Though often there’s an informative purpose … just not always infinitely profound (if ever)…. You should’ve seen my rant (elsewhere) on the fake Greek wedding on Are You Being Served!

  3. Fake? You mean to tell me “aristotle onasis” is not part of the prayers!?!?!?

  4. Leo Peter O'Filon


    May his memory be eternal!

  1. 1 Real Latvian Orthodox | Construction Materials

    […] unknown wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt… John Corbet’s character in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, in discussing his conversion to the Greek Orthodox Church with his ‘non-devout’-WASP parents, to marry Nia Vardalos’ character, in a situation loosely based on her own real life. … […]

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