Pilgrimages of Russian Orthodox Christians to the Greek Orthodox monastery in Arizona
This paper looks at pilgrimage trips undertaken by members of a Russian Orthodox Christian parish in Southern California to a Greek Orthodox monastery in Arizona. During the interviews about their journeys, pilgrims emphasize the search for authentic spiritual experience through engaging in constant prayer, immersion into the rhythm of monastery life, conversations with spiritual elders, asceticism, and removal from the everyday. The Greek monastery is contrasted to the local Russian Orthodox church, which, while providing spiritual nourishment, can also become susceptible to profane influences and tiresome human conflicts. People are drawn to the Greek monastery as a site of true authenticity (mainly because it was founded by monks from Mt. Athos, arguably the center of Orthodox Christian spirituality), where they can engage in spiritual work more effectively and where they can refill themselves with spiritual grace. Drawing from the ethnographic research of Eastern Orthodox Christian practices, the paper will engage with theoretical concepts of liminality and communitas, and their applicability to the presented case study.