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Orthodox Christianity is a form of Christianity that is descended directly from the Apostolic tradition. Orthodox Christians argue that the Catholic church split off from it in 1054, while Catholics argue that the reverse is true.

The organizational structure of Orthodox Christianity is far less centralized than that of the Catholic church, and local parishes have far more autonomy than those of Catholicism (indeed, the parish priest is an employee of the parishioners).

Although there appear to be many Orthodox Christian traditions (Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox, etc.), they differ only in the language that the services are conducted in and some local traditions.

The most important holiday in Orthodox Christianity is Easter, or Pascha, a celebration of the day when Christ rose from the dead and gave humanity eternal life.

Orthodox Church organization is based (theoretically) on the principle of the autonomous or autocephalous local churches. The smallest instance of The Church is a local eucharistic community, which contains and expresses the catholicity of the whole church. These local communities are governed by bishops who constitute the ruling body of the Church. In theory each geographic area should have only one bishop, but the practise nowadays seems to be that each nationality has its own hierarch. This goes againts the traditional Orthodox ecclessiology.

Actually, the local Orthodox Christian traditions differ quite a lot - althought it might be bit difficult to note the subtle differences in the different Orthodox ways. The two main traditions in the Orthodox Church nowadays are the Russian and the Greek tradition. The most notable differerence is in the way of chanting. The Russian Orthodox Church employs a western style of chanting, derived from the 15th century Italy whereas the Greek Orthodox Church still uses the Byzantine chanting.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church is not technically Orthodox. They do not agree with the decisions of the 4th Ecumenical council (451 ad in Chalcedon) that concern the nature (gr. physis) of the Christ. They belong to the so called Oriental Orthodox Church Family with Egyptian Orthodox Church (or the Copts), the Syrian Orthodox Church and the Indian Orthodox Church. Although still officially separate, the Orthodox Church and the Oriental Orthodox Church have had very fruitful dialogue and reunification is possible.

Orthodox Christianity is the third branch of christianity, along with Catholic and Protestant Christianity. All three branches differ radically not only in liturgical and dogmatic matters, but they also have differing outlooks on life.

Basically, Orthodox Christianity takes the view that the purpose of christianity is personal growth towards a more spiritually rewarding existence; "sin" is simply when somebody "misses the mark", does not live up to expectations. (Indeed, the Greek word for sin roughly translates as "missing the mark".) For that reason Orthodox Christianity tends to be more tolerant and readily welcomes "born again" people even if they previously sinned a great deal. (For example, it is not at all uncommon to see recovering drug addicts find a safe refuge in Orthodoxy.)

Orthodoxy is also unique in that it takes a wholly mystical view of religion, that is, the view that a truly earnest faith can be experienced only on an irrational, emotional level. Orthodox Christians generally believe that any attempts to rationalize faith is flawed and usually incompatible with christianity.

Finally, Orthodox Christians believe that salvation is a life-long process; to be saved you need to constantly work on yourself, improving your spiritual health.

Typically, Orthodox Christianity is the most conservative church, in the sense that any changes take place extremely slowly and gradually. (This does not mean that the Orthodox Church condones conservative political ideology, though.)

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