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[The Creation of the Chicken]

An unworthy Deacon, named for the brother of God: James, striving to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" within the Tradition (paradosis) of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. It is a strange and marvelous journey, and I am accompanied by the fourfold fruit of my fecundity. My wife, the Matushka or Diaconissa Sophia, is my beloved partner in the pursuit of Theosis, and she ranks me in every way.
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Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Some Great Good "Thing"...some further explanation

To quell any fears that I have gone off the deep end or had some 900 foot Jesus experience I feel obliged to offer a few additional words on this "experience" lest you think I am claiming some unusually profound mystical experience with the Divine. Alas, I have not seen the uncreated light of God.

The first time I sensed Some Great Good Thing was in high school while reading A Tale of Two Cities. The beautiful act of self-sacrifice described in this classic work really struck me and warred against my atheistic worldview which I recognized as demanding a personal philosophy of intelligently acted out hedonism. Why should I be moved by what was in essence suicide, when in truth it should inspire nothing more in me than pity for the stupidity of it all. Somewhere...I cannot say for certain where (my heart, my head, surrounding me?) I sensed that Some Great Good thing seemed to "speak" to me, telling me about real beauty, real nobility, real truth - TRANSCEDENT truth. To some extent it was the intellectual realization that there IS something more out there! There was no trance, no cold sweat, no blackouts, no waking back up into reality. Just the sudden connection of what I feel (e.g. that the sacrifice of Sydney Carton was WORTHY) to a reality that was obscured or darkened...now suddenly illumined. YES! It is truly worthy!

In the end it left my worldview spinning and to no small extent in shards. This same sense of Some Great Good Thing still visits me from time to time, and it is this "experience" which I am trying to communicate. It is like a sudden burst of emotion within you that seems to cry out: "THERE MUST BE MORE TO THIS SAD LIFE?" and then there is a subtle reply: "yes...truth, beauty, love, sacrifice, selflessness, God. Therein is found REAL LIFE."

Perhaps the sense is unique to recovering atheists who need ever to be reminded why they have embraced Theism? I do not see it as some great miracle or sign...for all I know it may be only be my imagination (certainly my "beloved Atheist" would affirm this)...but perhaps, as I inferred before, Some Great Good Thing is in truth a Great Good Someone?

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 6:55 AM [+]
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Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Some Great Good Thing

There was a very brief moment of intense clarity again last night. It happens from time to time and seems inspired by any number of things both within and without. I cannot hope to accurately describe it – like some untamed dream, the weight of which cannot hope but be lost in its description. I’ll try anyway.

An epiphany of pure truth in the midst of little white, gray, and pitch black lies (with very little potential for accurately categorizing any of the three). There was a deep, yet brief (as in flash bulb brief) sense of some great good thing out there. No, that’s not right: some great good thing there. Well, no, that’s not it either: some great good thing. Or, as it seems appropriate to me now: Some Great Good Thing.

Suffering, selfishness, stealing, murder, rape, child molestation, war, corrupt corporate leaders, starvation, cancer, birth defects, illicit sex, love being made synonymous with sex, taking advantage of other people’s trust and/or innocence, death and all manner of sickness (spiritual and physical) surrounds us. We all recognize the Dukkha in the world, just as Sidhartha did…truly his was no great discovery – I don’t think – we all detect the misalignment of the terrestrial stars, no?

I discern it all too often. Right here (pointing to my heart) and right here (pointing to my head). Hedonism abounds in me. Nothing has taught me this (like a big gnarly slap to the face) than having children. They have fully manifested my true selfish self and I suppose I should be thankful. God, I so want so badly to be a better man…a better husband, a better father! And in these strange moments of intense and profound clarity, when I sense that ethereal and elusive “Some Great Good Thing” I almost feel as though such personal betterment is possible, attainable.

Transcendence. Rising above all the fecal matter that pollutes this world and me. It is the power of the Transfiguration and the Resurrection. Truth, Beauty, and Love. I want the moment to last…it is like a great precipice that I’ve already fallen off of and am trying to get back onto, but cannot quite reach – save for those occasional split seconds in which I am strangely able to stretch a bit more than I had before. Actually, most times there are no attempts made at all…I just suddenly notice the ledge at the apex of my extended fingertips, along with the muck and mire of the pit I lather myself in. A brief glimpse of the plain, which forms the edge of the cliff, makes sense (somehow) of all the evil and suffering – the Dukkha. More than that…it is safety and deliverance from evil and suffering. It is home. Yet, we do not escape to it through the portal of death. I am convinced that it is here and now with us, amongst us…like some great source of potential energy waiting to explode and fill the world with uninhibited truth. To bring light into the darkness in which we humans clamor about it now. It is a judgement…and to that extent it scares me a little…a judgement which reveals reality exactly like any light does when turned on in a darkened room.

Some Great Good Thing. That is (in my simple and stupid mind) my most powerful Christian apologetic. Telling myself and those around me that in what I have described here, I have used the wrong pronoun.


...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 7:36 AM [+]
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Thursday, August 21, 2003

Watch the News

Washingtonians - if you are out there - watch your local news. You will hear, I think in the next day or so, about the first human case of a well known virus (rhymes with "Best File") here in this state. Yours truly developed the assay which detected it.

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 3:53 PM [+]
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Technical Difficulties

Please stand by....
(overheard in the background) "What the hell is wrong with this thing..."

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 7:13 AM [+]
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Wednesday, August 20, 2003


The Venerable Arch Cheetah Boy
missing in action today...the other amigos are lonely.

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 11:58 AM [+]
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The Church that never changes
Scathing article on Orthodoxy (Part four…my gosh, really? Four parts! Like a fricken mini-series!)

Coffee again folks…welcome, come on in. I promise, this weekend we will break out something more “spirit filled”

I am guessing that close to 7 years ago, Grace Community Church in Arlington became Saint Andrew Orthodox Church. Apparently there was a long process of discernment for the people of this then “non-denominational” (you know, that is really such a silly word – but if makes those who use it feel better, then whatever) protestant church to sort through many issues. Numerous times, various local Orthodox clergy came to visit the people of the congregation and give a presentation…frequently there would be a period of questions and answers following. I have been privy to hear the recordings of these events and they are really fascinating to hear. I recall one of the local Greek priests (his name escapes me) being asked by a woman: “But what I need (her choice of word as I recall) to know is whether the apostles venerated icons?”

Funny thing is, I cannot for the life of me remember how the good father answered her sincere question…but I know how I’d answer it: we don’t know for sure, but it seems likely that they did not…BUT, so what? The Apostles continued to go to Temple and Synagogue…do we? They were unfamiliar with “Amazing Grace”, Keith Green, Organs, Robert Tilton, Television, Rock Music, books, copy machines, overhead projectors, and a little something we like to call the NEW TESTAMENT, are we? One of the mistakes I think many “post-mod” protestants make is in trying to “get back to an Acts model church” because inevitably the question that arises is: Which Acts church? The one before deacons? Or the one after deacons but before the issue of circumcision was decided? How about the one that only ministered to Jews? You get the point…there is no such thing as a church that does not change – at least in some way.

How we as Protestants can hold the Bible in our hands and cling to the doctrine of sola scriptura, claiming that this book is the sole source of authority in the Church and then say that we are in perfect continuity with the Apostles is simply beyond me. And then to say that we Orthodox are wrong to venerate icons because the Apostles did not do so?!?!?! Ummm…hello! Wake up and smell the coffee…mmmm coffee!

So what do we mean when we say that the Orthodox Church does not change? Well, what we mean is that the Faith, the Holy Tradition is the same…it is very much like a living person: it grows up and it matures, but it is still the same person. Holy Tradition is alive - as we often say, it is the life of the Holy Spirit in the Church. The same life, which guided the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15, also guides the Church still today. This is the key! The question is NOT whether venerating icons was done in the earliest church, but rather whether or not it fits in the grand scheme of the Church’s life.

Recall that at the great FIRST council of Nicea (which it seems NO “o”rthodox Christian takes issue with) it was terribly controversial to use the term “homoousia” because it was thoroughly an innovation. Many a skeptic will point to the fact that the early fathers say vitrually nothing about the Trinity (certainly the term was a late comer) or some other foundational Christian doctrine...but so what? BUT, these things fit the faith and tradition that was handed down to them. Indeed all of the councils did this very same thing – they clarified what was handed down, no more and no less. They examined issues that had arisen and compared it with the living Tradition of the Church and either embraced it or repudiated it. EXACTLY how it was done in Acts 15.

The issue of authority is not neat and clean, it is not decided simply because a bunch of “men in stoles” get together and come to a decision. No, the authority of the Church is more organic than that. Many a “council” has come together and the Church has either immediately or sometime thereafter failed to recognize it as speaking the mind of the Church. This should not surprise us…on the contrary what should surprise us is that many of us have fallen into the trap of thinking that individuals are the ultimate source of authority – for this is the beating, indeed bleeding heart of protestant hermeneutics.

Let me cite an example: Whiskey. I’ve been reading A LOT of reviews from the “experts.” Truly their sense of taste amazes me, but one thing I notice is that different reviewers frequently differ on ascribing high or low marks to a given product. And the same is true for me…the Highland Park Scotch we had the other night received rave reviews from one author, and yet I was not very fond of it. Taste, like beauty, is in the tongue of the beholder…wait, that didn’t sound right…oh well, you get my point.

Protestant hermeneutics are in the brains of the thinker. Yes, agreement can be found, but come on…30,000 different “bible-believing” church denominations! Sola Scriptura is an experiment that has utterly failed…because it hides from that most necessary ingredient – the Church.

I could argue, if I were so inclined, that the establishment of a New Testament canon was a complete innovation and stood against the practice of the early church – which was to simply use the Septuagint as her scriptures. Asking the question: “Did the Apostles venerate icons?” is exactly the same as asking “Did the Apostles have New Testament Bible Studies?”

Now friend, before you shrug this point off as being absurd (because it is on the surface, I admit) I implore you to dig a little. How do you know that the “Shepard of Hermes” is not supposed to be apart of what Protestants like to call the “Word of God”? How do you know for sure that the “Didache” should not be apart of the New Testament? Are you absolutely SURE that the epistle to the Hebrews belongs in the New Testament? How about my patron’s epistle (Saint James)…because as you likely know Martin Luther had his doubts!? The Bible in your hand is a product of the Church…its existence and the authority you and I both ascribe to it SCREAMS in testimony to the authority of the Church. It is THAT authority which we MUST affirm (as does Scripture), which we must hope in, which we must believe in…for to do otherwise leaves us in a whirlwind of personal opinion and ultimately leads us to…ummm…well, to 30,000 denominations and the likes of “Christian” churches ordaining bishops that deny the Resurrection of Jesus.

It is a matter of faith. Faith in the community of believers and not in ourselves. Faith that God has preserved something more than a book (which He Himself never promised to establish) What He did establish, however, was a Church. A visible body of believers who have kept, guarded, and handed down the faith through the centuries. This is what we Orthodox believe…and it is the hinge upon which any question about iconography ultimately swings. It may sound crazy, I know…but is it any crazier than talking donkeys, magical healing cloths, resurrecting power in bones, miracle snake oil in the form of a bronze statue, or a God-Man? It may sound arrogant to imply that one particular body of believers are the inheritors of this faith…but is it any more arrogant of a Jew to say that God “chose” his or her particular race to be “His” people?

Hmmm….guess I went a little long here…my coffee is cold.

Further regarding the women’s question about the apostles venerating icons: the Orthodox Church is not exactly like the Acts Church, we never claimed to be. But, we do claim to BE that Church…all grown up…okay well, as my friend Basil says…maybe we are more like a teenager now.

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 7:37 AM [+]
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Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Don't be fooled...

...this little cutie is up to something.
Click for fullsize.

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 8:23 AM [+]
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Images, images, images, and more about images
Scathing article on Orthodoxy (Part 3)

Ahhh…the drink of choice: plain old Folgers coffee, brewed strong and powerfully laced with sugar and non-dairy creamer (my favorite!).

Well, did you look in the mirror? Did you see the Image and Likeness of God? Do you feel like you had pre-marital sex? Come on now, though the approach of likening iconography to eating the forbidden fruit or having pre-marital sex…is unique…ummm…I’m just not following it. God made the first Icon, the first Image of Himself, as such that seems to render those latter iconoclastic points moot, no?

Back in mid December of 2001, a gentleman by the name of Alfred appeared on the Evangelical-Orthodox Yahoo Group (those of you who were there will certainly remember him!) He lambasted us Orthodox unmercilessly for our idolatry, quoting scriptures to no end – sometimes even simply answering points with scripture verses without commentary or exposition. But regardless, many of the issues surrounding iconography can be read at length in the month that followed Alfred’s appearance and this gentleman received a good deal of partience and outstanding answers despite his sometimes offensive fervor. Calling Orthodoxy semi-Christianity, as our author in question did, pales in comparison to what Alfred had to say. I offer this as a resource…you will have to join the group to view the emails, but you can set the account up for web viewing only so that your email is not flooded.

Was the early church “suspicious” of images? Well certainly, based on all those quotes from Bercot’s Dictionary it would seem to lead one to think so, but we have to take great care here. If they were so suspicious of images, why does all the archeological evidence demonstrate that their places of worship were literally covered from floor to ceiling with them? Same thing can be said of the Jews of the same time period – tons of images. The highly touted example of course is the house church and synagogue of Dura Europa which dates from the early 3rd century, and of course the catacombs which date even earlier. (By the way, I did an unofficial count of the images in our Nave – the Blessed Virgin is remotely the “topic” of about 10% of the icons, can we then conclude that she isn’t all that important to us? She is there in the catacombs, though I cannot state any percentages from there.) Now the author dismisses them and says: they were just pictures. Ahem…well my niece who is visiting us saw our icon corner and proclaimed: “Cool pictures.” We really do not know for sure to what extent these many many images might have played a role in the worship of the early church…but let’s not get too worked up because I am not claiming here that they had icons and venerated them exactly as we Orthodox do today.

Idolatry is the key to understanding those Bercot quotes. Each and every one of them was written with pagans as the subject or even actually directly to a pagan audience, whose gods were in fact the idols they created. Let us be clear…we Orthodox do NOT worship icons (the wood, the paint, the gold), we do NOT pray TO icons (the wood, the paint, the gold). We worship IN THE PRESENCE of Icons, We pray IN THE PRESENCE of Icons…just like the early church did, how could they not…their walls were covered with them! I’d wager that out churches look more like those ancient churches than ANY protestant church (sticking my tongue out – nyah nyah nyah nyah!). Okay, enough of that silliness. Fact is, we bow, kiss, and prostrate… you bet. The Jews bowed, kissed, and prostrated also – to lots of THINGS, and they still do. Bowing, kissing, and prostrating are expressions greatly and sadly lacking in the western world, and they are in fact COMPLETELY lacking in most protestant circles, for whom it would seem worship ONLY takes place in one’s head! (save the Pentecostals and such who will use some forms of physical prayer and worship.) As I understand it, and can remember it, for Protestants it would almost seem that the only time they’d ever prostrate themselves would be if they perceived themselves to be visibly in God’s presence. Well, when aren’t we?

Didn't God demand reverence for the Ark of the Covenant? Didn't someone die for trying to keep it from falling and hence touch it inappropriately? Didn't the Jews honor, venerate, and bow toward the Ark? Of course, we would say they were not worshipping the golden images (images, images!) of the Cherubim. In the exact same way that we do not worship the mere image of Christ. St. John of Damascus made this clear, no? Additionally, what was inside the Ark? STUFF, numerous THINGS, MATTER, MATERIAL objects. Like then to the Jews, so it is now to us Orthodox (the New Israel), matter matters.

As a side note, when Protestants start tossing around the commandments to attack our icons, I like to ask them what day they go to church and how exactly they keep the Sabbath day holy. I reckon this won’t work with 7th day Adventists, but oh well.

Look, friends, I haven’t the time or energy to rehash these icon issues that were settled 1200 years ago. If you ain’t gonna be convinced by the Fathers who defended the icons, (and I assume that YOU and the author of this piece have actually taken the time to read these works, no?) then how am I going to convince you? We have bigger fish to fry! And it begins with Church. Ecclesiology and Authority. Shall we?

Caffeine…amazing stuff.


...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 7:45 AM [+]
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Monday, August 18, 2003

Saints and Relics and Icons…OH MY!
At least as venerable as my IPA here

Scathing article on Orthodoxy (Part 2)

Obviously tonight’s beverage of choice is an IPA. Specifically it hails from a small brewer in Oregon called Firehouse 5 (I could find no web presence) I’ll be honest, it pales in comparison to the Pyramid, which for my money is the finest India Pale Ale I’ve ever had. If you think you know of one better, I’d bet happy to let you buy me a pint for tasting. But one thing that does strike my fancy about this mediocre ale is a word found upon the bottle label: Venerable.

Frankly this brew, which lacks body and is profoundly hopless for an IPA, will not be receiving my veneration, but many other things will and do – beer not typically among them. (now bourbon or scotch, well…) The author of the essay, which has brought us together tonight, is obviously not terribly fond of the way we Orthodox kiss, bow, and even prostrate ourselves before Holy things.

The author would say “Holy things” are objects that we believe (imagine that…he’s telling us what we believe!) are imbued with “God stuff.” Weird, huh? God stuff? Perhaps this wording is born of a western rational mind trying to grasp Christian (eastern) mystery? You betcha…much of the condescending language almost certainly originates from a western mental filtration system. Heaven knows how the author would understand the Real Presence of the Lord in Eucharist, but typically when I hear memorial meal proponents bitch and moan about us real presence folks they seem to need proof of the “change” such that I should be able to take samples from the communion cup to my lab and extract human-God DNA. Whether there is divine DNA in that which we partake of just isn’t the sort of question we ask, not because it is taboo per se, but rather because it's just stupid. So much like science and science-minded people: western theologians readily see the theologically eqiuvalent genetic makeup of Rosaceae Rosa multiflora, but fail to see the beauty of the Rose (or Icon, Relic, Holy Place, etc…) before them. The author is often “analyzing” Orthodox practice through western eyeglasses…indeed through lenses that “make sense” in modern American culture, but would be utterly incomprehensible to some other cultures (both modern and ancient.)

You know, I will say this about this beer, it would work well for hot summer days - having a bit more bite than most simple pilsners or lagers, but not too much to make it more attuned to evening or cold weather days. YMMV, friend. Okay, well…“Magical Sanctity” is one of those phrases the author invents to describe some aspects of what we do, especially regarding saints, relics, and icons. He makes a host of historical claims centered around that controversial figure Saint Constantine (I can see you are little surprised that I call him saint, and I can hear you saying “but he did this, or he did that.” Well, whatever happened to that whole “judge not, lest you be judged” thingy? How in the world can we feel so comfortable and at ease with “accurately” judging a man whose been dead for 1700 years who we never met? The Church met him. By the way, I have no idea what the author meant when he said Constantine “first tolerated and then established Christianity”? Yes he legalized it, but he did not make it the official Roman Religion…we still had one more pagan emperor to go yet. Okay, anyway, let’s move on.) Touting that tired old protestant line: Constantine paganized the Church, he says we didn’t undertake pilgrimages to Holy Places, venerate much of anything, pray to saints, didn’t care much for relics, and in general I suppose didn’t do anything different from what protestants do today. Well…it’s really not all that clear is it? Is it? History is so funny that way...it's almost like physics: every hisotrian's historical account and accompanying evidence has an equal and oppposite account and accompanying evidence. Keep this in mind.

Now friend, we are just sitting here sharing a fine (or semi-fine) ale, so you’ll excuse me if I don’t have a slideshow, a power point presentation, or a host or references immediately available. We are friends; take my often fallible (but in this case verifiable) word on these things that I’ll be briefly mentioning. First, the Jews have a very rich history of pilgrimages to a number of different Old Testament Holy Sites (not to mention the Temple itself – ever see the Orthodox Jews at the Wailing Wall today? Perhaps they too have apostatized…or maybe such visits – pilgrimages – simply fit naturally into the scope of our mutual religious heritage? ), it doesn’t seem unreasonable to see that mind carried over into Christianity – though certainly it would not be very popularized until being identified as a Christian was no longer a potential inspiration for beating, torture, or even death.

We may also kill two birds with one stone here: where did the pre-Constantinian Church frequently have her Liturgies celebrated? Yes, over the tombs of martyrs (see the symbolism in St. John’s Revelation also – where are the martyrs in heaven? Under the Altar! It widely believed that St. John may have had this recorded vision DURING Liturgy) in the catacombs – where coincidently enough one can also find numerous prayer inscriptions offered to (gasp) Saints! And, if we read about Saint Polycarp’s martyrdom we see a tremendous amount of reverence being give to his body (bones?) which they say they treated “as precious gold.” All of which predates Saint Constantine’s reign.

What of Eucharist? The author says that they didn’t perceive anything “magical” in it. I wish we could discuss this in person, because I really want to know what he means! If we affirm the Real Presence, is THAT magical? If we affirm that you could get sick from it and even die if you partake unworthily, is THAT magical? If we call it the “medicine of immortality and the antidote to prevent us from dying” is THAT magical? What does he mean by magical? I think it’s pretty magical….gloriously and thankfully so.

The author breezes quickly past those particularly strange verses in which “magical” (dare I say?!?!) clothes are sent out by St. Paul and they heal people – was it imbued with God-stuff? Some sort of crazy “magical” sanctity? Or when the bones of Elisha resurrect a man! Or when St. Peter’s shadow apparently “magically” heals people. Or when the Israelites gaze upon a bronze (going by memory here, was it bronze?) serpent and are healed? Or how about when the gospel writer apparently affirms the belief that an angel stirring the pool waters in Jerusalem renders such waters with healing power? And there are many many many more “magical” things in the Bible – even talking donkeys – like in Shrek (I have a hard time reading that portion of the OT and not hearing Eddie Murphy.) Okay, now, please, let us not be afraid of things that appear “magical”, because let’s face it, we serve a magical God in a magical world. And it is wonderful.

All this talk of magic reminds me: A God-Man, somehow remaining FULLY God and yet impossibly (wouldn’t you think?) remaining FULLY man? Is this not magical? What does this tell us about the author’s complaint about losing the distinction between God and man in Orthodox soteriology? Didn't God kinda do that Himself? (Assuming that distinction was "lost", which I don't - which is certainly not to say that I understand it - it is all quite magical!) What does it mean then to “be in Christ?” The author's whole “chain of being” section loses my interest because it lacks any sense of incarnational thinking. What do we do in Baptism? Do not we also “partake of the Divine Nature”? Even in the Eucharist itself? Are we not the IMAGE and LIKENESS of God? Was St. Irenaios, and all the others who say exactly the same thing, wrong in saying that “God became man so that we may become god?” Now really, which belief system is truly “authentic Christianity?”

Ummm…much more to say, but my beer is gone. Image and Likeness, take a moment tomorrow (no doubt today by the time I post this) to look in the mirror…you see before you the very first Icon. Painted not by Saint Luke, but God Himself. Pssss….it pre-dates Constantine.

I’ll be back…why not get a refill?


...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 7:57 AM [+]
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Friday, August 15, 2003

The Dormition...the birthgiver of God is born (by Christ) to Eternal Life

Today we celebrate the repose and assumption of Mary...our glorious Lady and Mother. There has been too much death in connection with my world lately (I just learned that a dear friend - more like a borther - to my wife has a serious form of bladder cancer) and today we once again see the promise of LIFE. Fitting that Clifton and Anna have indeed brought forth new life. Chance has finished his heartfelt post on his experiences with our Lady, and Aaron offers an equally heartfelt comment in which he mentions (almost lamentingly, perhaps Aaron?) in regards to the Thetokos: "i haven't had any sort of profound interaction."

My first profound interaction happened during Nativity, a year before I was to be received into the Church, while I was watching my wife nurse our two day old son. Christmas tree was gleaming, my wife was relaxing, the room was dark save for the tree and our recently purchased vigil lamp which illumined Christ and the Theotokos nearby, a newborn son...my goodness you can see the course I could be headed on.

God in the flesh, God in the Flesh...I looked at the Nativity Icon (centered between icons of Mother and Son) and in it I could see Joseph sitting and pondering the whole situation. So was I now...imagine for a moment: GOD, the creator, in the flesh being nursed by the created. As I watched my wife and son I was moved to tears - not a simple thing for me. My God, how profound! She - MARY - gave LIFE to Him who IS LIFE!

After my wife went to bed, I approached her icon and quietly sang:

"Rejoice O virgin Theotokos
Mary full of grace, the Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb
for you have born, for you have born
You have born the savior of our souls."

For me, it was amazing. I am still moved - to varying degrees - when I see her icon. So, Aaron...watch your wife and soon to arrive son. Contemplate and ponder it all as the Scriptures tells us Mary did. Imagine and wonder.

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 7:57 AM [+]
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August 15th, 33AD (sometime shortly after Acts 15)
Scathing Article Againts Orthodoxy, part 1

“Welcome to the 5th Avenue Christian Church in Antioch,” the friendly greeter said.

“Hi,” the newcomer says, “I’d like to become a Christian.”

“Oh wonderful! Just come into this room over here and we’ll have you circumcised.”

“What!?!? I thought I heard you Christians didn’t do that anymore! Some council or something!”

“Oh yes well, that is what they decided…but it is a complete violation of the command of God and is thoroughly unbiblical so we do not abide by such decisions. Please have a seat, I have a knife right here.”

Fast forward nearly two thousand years and someone is once again rehashing the centuries old arguments against icons, relics, and saints…sigh. They don’t like the 7th Ecumenical council. The 1st through the 6th were pretty cool - generally, but that 7th…yikes!

Okay, alright…I’ve decided that I’m in no mood to put forth some grand exposition defending Orthodoxy’s position on these topics – better men than men have already done so! However why not this: let’s have a seat and discuss the matter. Coffee? An IPA? Perhaps a bourbon or Scotch? The length and breadth of the topics raised in the essay are certainly vast enough to cover the whole spectrum of time contingent beverages, but alas I haven’t the time nor unction to address each and every minute point being made therein – even fueled with coffee now and bourbon later. Got your drink? Good.

Why don’t we begin with some of the points we can neglect right off? The supposition that western culture, as the pinnacle of man’s labor, is a trophy touting the rightness of Protestantism made me laugh (forgive me for saying so). The author was serious, but when I look at western society and agree to the great accomplishments it has made – MATERIALLY, I see yet spiritual lifelessness. The fruit doesn’t look terribly healthy to me AT ALL, and I’ve tasted it. “Gucky” my son would say.

The point that icons work against community seems absurd to me, I’ve never experienced a greater sense of community than I have amidst the iconodules – labeled by the essay as iconolatrous semi-christians (ouch!) And also, come now, that the contemplation of icons (which are “voiceless”) affords us the inclination to experience our own thoughts as those of God’s? And reading scripture does NOT do this? How many “Bible believing” church schisms have there been? More than 30,000 denominations now, right? You can probably count on two hands the number of churches that exist today that resulted in schism directly from the Orthodox. A message therein? Yeppers.

Also, I will not tackle the in depth history of Byzantine politics, there simply isn’t time. You know, this coffee my wife bought at Costco yesterday is quite good…I hope you are enjoying your beverage of choice.

Can we talk about paganism? You know, it’s a funny thing because I have grown up around a lot of skeptics: atheists and agnostics alike. One of the horns they love to honk is that of paganism. Oh how they love to show the connections between Christianity and paganism, as if to make me feel bad by in essence saying: “See, Christianity is just a new sort of paganism!” And…as we see in this essay, Christians love to do the same to each other. Ah, yes, they love to show how plain and clear it is that certain practices that their church avoids evolved from pagan practices…it is sooo obvious to them. Well, trypically there are three ways to answer such accusations: whether made by atheists against ALL of Christianity, or by Protestants against any form of Christianity, which predates their own:

Method 1: “So what?”
Method 2: “How do you know for sure?”
Method 3: “So what?”

I apply all three to the essay where in numerous spots it makes the sweeping and hugely assumptive link between Orthodox practice and pagan practice. To the Christian who makes the accusations, you can actually add a fourth method: “When do you celebrate Christmas?”

Oh, you know, caffeine gets to me everytime. I need to run to the rest room for a moment…feel free to talk amongst yourselves (comments?) and I’ll be right back.

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 7:18 AM [+]
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Thursday, August 14, 2003

A Rather Scathing Critique of Orthodoxy

The Father-to-be (biologically speaking) Aaron has put up a link to a lengthy essay that is in dire need of critique itself. Initially I thought that it was going to be a simple historical analysis of the 7th ecumenical council, but in fact it is an attempt to demonstrate the opinion of the author that much of Orthodox practice is drawn from pagan practice. Naturally, I cannot let this go unasnwered as it originates from a friend of a friend, and said initial friend (Aaron) has sought comments on it.

I intend to offer a lengthy response and invite others who perhaps also have less time than the original author to thumb through it and direct insights to me if they wish. I have not finished the essay and already have tons and tons of notes in the margins. I will post my response here as it developes. The article in question can be found here.

This work is thick - historically, theologically, and culturally. I am amazed at the amount of research the author tried to do and wonder what on earth might have fueled and afforded such an effort. All this being said, a cooperative Orthodox response is warrented as we all have jobs and families.


...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 9:35 AM [+]
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Day Four...

...of consistent daily prayers. Still no hesychastic visions or Theoria to speak of.

(Shaking his prayer book) "Is this thing turned on?!?!?!"

Met. ANTHONY says in his book Beginning to Pray (which if you are reading this Rick, I will be sending to you shortly!) that sometimes the "absence" of God is a profound grace to us. Given my life, I have very little doubt.

That wonderful beatitiude Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God (Theoria, no?), it seems to me, is not trying to describe some absurd "rewarding of good behavior" interaction, but rather it reminds us that God in His great mercy and love is preserving (dare I say "rewarding"?) an impure heart with his "absence."

Alright now, don't get all excited folks...I really don't expect to experience the uncreated light of God after four days of prayer and a mediocre adherence to the Dormition fast. Now, if by Sunday it has not happened, then I shall resort to reliance upon THIS:

...noted spirits reviewer Michael Jackson says of this one: "Smells like a barbecue in progress. Fat pork being cooked over applewood."
Well now, THAT should be interesting!



...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 6:58 AM [+]
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Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Fr. Constantin Galeriu



I don't know a whole lot about him, but have heard enough to think him a remarkable man. A brief newstory with some info on his life.

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 9:26 AM [+]
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Death and New Life

Jennifer Palmer reposed yesterday morning. Please keep her and her family in your prayers. May her memory be eternal.

The internet is a funny thing...I've never met Jennifer or her family and yet in reading her husband's Live Journal over the last year or so, I have come to "know" them. I felt the slightest sliver of the loss which that family is going through now.

Meanwhile, we continue to wait to hear news from Janet, who we do know and has also been dignosed with terminal cancer. Also they have found a yet unidentified "nodule" in my Mother's lung...she has been a smoker all her life (up until a few years ago) and so we are of course concerned. Prayers please, her name is Brenda.

Damn Death. Our fault, all our fault.

But in the midst of all this death oriented mess, there is new life.

Aaron and Sara as well as Clifton and Anna could very well be AT THIS MOMENT bringing new life into the world. And yesterday I learned that my dear brother Seraphim and his wife will do the same sometime early next year. For all of these couples, it will be their first child. What joy! And in the midst of the truest joy there is seems to always be a hint of responsible fear - not unlike standing in the presence of God I would imagine.

In the faces of my children I can also see the promise of new life, there is vitality in the midst of dying. It clues us in on how the world should be; how the world WILL BE!

Terry Taylor wrote a song about a man saying goodbye to his terminally ill wife...the words I think are profoundly appropriate and I have a hard time hearing it within tearing up abit - even when I didn't know somebody who has just lost his wife and another somebody who is about to.

Rebecca, go home
Though you may be scared
Just close your eyes and let go
I'm not far behind you
Soon I'll meet you where the river of life ever flows

Yes, the Lord's been good to us
But now you're lyin' here
And I just found the right words
Can you hear them through my tears?

Rebecca, go home
I know you're tired
God knows I wish that you could stay
You've fought the good fight
You've been through the fire
Let every sweet memory light your way

Down to the little church
Our son has gone to pray
And now that we're alone, sweetheart
I feel that I can say...
Rebecca, go home

Oh, Rebecca, go home
Like when you were a child
Your daddy would call out your name
And you'd run through the dark fields
To the light of his smile
My guess is that Heaven is much the same

So don't you worry, I'll be alright
Sweet Rebecca my love...
Goodnight
Rebecca go home
Oh Rebecca, my love...
Goodnight.

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 7:43 AM [+]
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Tuesday, August 12, 2003

California

A number of californians are readers of this blog...this is addressed to them:

What the hell is going on down there!?!?!?!

Gary Coleman ("Whatchu talkin bout Willis!"), Larry Flynt (noted porn publisher), a 100 year old woman being sponsored by a 99 cent store chain (as a publicity stunt?), and a porn actress are all among an insanely long list of gubernatorial candidates (247 to be exact!)



I thought the Episcopal GenCon03 was bizzarre!


...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 11:45 AM [+]
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The Light of Morning

Nicholas once again found his way into our bed at some point in the night. He overfilled his diaper and so we awoke (yes at 5am) to wet PJ’s and a child / bed in need of a change.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The unfinished bathroom is cold, it is still dark out…thank God winter is coming, I must get that floor back in – after I finish the new plumbing.

O God, be merciful to me a sinner. O God, be merciful to me a sinner. O God, be merciful to me a sinner.

Sue works with the now fully awakened Nicho while I work on the dirt and grime in my mouth and on my body. I note that the hair on my face is getting way too long.

O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, for the sake of the prayers of Thy most pure Mother and all the saints, have mercy on us. Amen.

My shampoo is missing, but I like the smell of baby body wash and it won’t burn my eyes. I forgot to turn the coffee on. Doesn’t that stupid coffee maker have a clock?

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Still no sign of Sue as I dry off, man it’s cold. Out of aftershave. Precious little cheap cologne remains. Need to empty the bathroom garbage. Wait…start the coffee…the neighbors aren’t up yet and if they are I can run through the kitchen…

O Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth, Who art everywhere present and fillest all things, Treasury of good things and Giver of life: Come and dwell in us, and cleanse us of all impurity, and save our souls, O Good One.

Surely there are clean dark colored socks somewhere? I can hear the rocking chair squeaking in the boys’ room…Nicho must be fighting going back to sleep – ahh the ignorance of youth!

Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us. Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us. Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.

(sung to the tune of blowin in the wind) “How many shoes must a family of six have, before they are all covered in dog poo…” I really like these brown shoes, and the socks weren’t THAT dirty.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Beagle hair is profoundly noticeable on the pad of the living room rocking chair. I don’t care this morning. Is St. John smiling in that icon?

O Most Holy Trinity, have mercy on us. O Lord, blot but our sins. O Master, pardon our iniquities. O Holy One, visit and heal our infirmities for Thy name's sake.

The steady squeak continues in the boys’ room, no doubt Sue is growing frustrated. Check the dishwasher (which I installed!) for a clean travel mug. Need a fast friendly lunch…fridge seems empty. Must remember to prepare lunches the night before!

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy

Peanuts…think there is a can in the car, will leave this one for the kids and Sue. A bowl for soup, looking, looking, looking through the cupboards…hmmm…well I don’t care what Steve says the Jameson seemed smoother than the Bushmills…give up looking, I am pretty sure I still have a bowl at work.

Our Father…

The Icon corner at last…calm…quiet…a centering of sorts. Spark, and then light. Candles burn, the icons stare back at me – they have become like old friends, and I begin…

Having risen from sleep…


...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 7:59 AM [+]
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Monday, August 11, 2003

Some housekeeping stuff...

Chance is working through a series of posts regarding his coming to Orthodoxy and how it all ties in with the Second Eve. Very seasonally appropriate ruminations.

Mel Gibson's film Passion is being criticized as potentially inspiring anti-semitism...for all those inclined to anti-semitism and are fluent in Latin and Aramaic.

And an ugly little web based worm was prodding Bill Gates' XP hole in my computer tonight. You, too, might need this handy little patch.

My alarm remains set for 5:05am tomorrow...the day begins with a good robust gum ripper of a tooth brushing, and then:

Glory to thee O God, Glory to Thee. O heavenly King...

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 11:07 PM [+]
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Don't give your wife your blog address

As I reach over and set the alarm for the all too soon to arrive morning, my wife asks me: "What time did you set your alarm?"

Hmmm...unusual question, but as I lay down I answer unhesitantly: "The usual time, 5:20."

"Oh, cuz I read your blog and you said you'd be setting it 15 minutes earlier for your prayers."

Sighing deeply I roll over and reset the alarm.

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 1:58 PM [+]
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Check this Blog out!

My very good friend and revered whiskey connoisseur Steve is getting a blog going and already it is full of some outstanding stuff. Make sure to especially note his first post regarding some of the insights he gained at the Eagle River Institute...those quotes are all worthy of long term storage - thanks for sharing them Steve, I look forward to be a regular reader (not in the ordained sense!).


...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 6:41 AM [+]
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Saturday, August 09, 2003

Sin, Chaos, and Blame

Biological systems can be amazingly complex. Far too complex for my simple little mind to wholly grasp – I can vividly recall sitting in classrooms listening to lectures on cellular immunology and their various pathways, and laughing out loud at the absurd complexity of it all. No doubt it drives us researchers mad when testing a new drug, because really we can never be entirely sure of how it might affect the thousands of interwoven chemical pathways that work within us. Professor Behe has done an excellent job of arguing for “Intelligent Design” by saying that such pathways are “irreducibly complex” and that their evolution in slow progressive steps is impossible to imagine. But, I digress.

Incredibly intricate biological pathways cannot help but remind me of Chaos theory, which as I feebly understand it, purports that on a world-wide scale we also have thousands of complex interwoven pathways (most of which we cannot identify as of yet) such that the possibility of a butterfly going aloft in Indonesia setting in motion the winds necessary for a hurricane in the South Pacific is made real. And this in turn cannot help but remind me of sin.

It seems that if Chaos Theory fits well with the Orthodox understanding of sin and how all of our sins affect the entire world and do much more (and much worse) than bestow law-breaking guilt upon our souls. It kills us and the world, by its very nature! Imagine THAT the next time you rationalize about that little bothersome sin you indulge in the “privacy” of your own home. Reading The Brothers brought all of this to mind when Elder Zosima bestows to us his thoughts and teachings:

My brother, a dying youth, asked the birds to forgive him. That may sound absurd, but when you think of it, it makes sense. For everything is like the ocean, all things flow and are indirectly linked together, and if you push here, something will move at the other end of the world. It may be madness to beg the birds for forgiveness, but things would be easier for the birds, for the child, for every animal if you were nobler than you are.

And so, is there really such a thing as “privacy” when it comes to sin? The modern cultural belief, which espouses that whatever people want to do, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else, is okay, is rendered moot is it not? It is ALL the world’s business what people do – even in the privacy of their bedrooms!

Ahhh, but ever true to the spirit of Orthodoxy, before we pick up the phones to call our legislators and demand that such and such bedroom laws be passed, Fyodor - through Elder Zosima - has further advice:

If the evil deeds of men sadden you too greatly and arouse in you an anger you cannot overcome and fill you with the desire to wreak vengeance on the evil-doers – fear this feeling most of all, and at once go and seek suffering for yourself, because you too are responsible for the evil deeds of all men.

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 9:39 AM [+]
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Friday, August 08, 2003

Pics from the Anniversary Celebration of St. Seraphim's cannonization






Truly amazing...especially to see the leader of Russia participating...that in and of itslef is enough to bring tears to the Patriarchs eyes I would imagine. By the way, isn't that ArchBishop PAVLE behind Putin?


...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 10:52 AM [+]
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A House Mantra

My wife was sent the following quote, which she included in our Parish newsletter. She also suggests we adopt it as a sort of houe mantra in the Ferrenberg residence. I agree.

Patience, forgiveness and joy are the three greatest characteristics of
divine love. They are characteristics of all real love - if there is such a
thing as real love outside divine love. Without these three
characteristics, love is not love. If you give the name 'love' to anything
else, it is as though you were giving the name 'sheep' to a goat or a pig.

--St. Nikolai Velimirovich

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 7:52 AM [+]
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Prayer

A friend asked me recently to talk to him about the Orthodox approach to prayer…in complete honesty I told him that I have little experience in such matters and would instead send him the wonderful book Beginning to Pray by the newly reposed Metropolitan ANTHONY May his memory be eternal!

But, as I drove in to work this morning, it got me thinking about my prayers…

The morning is darker than usual afforded by a gray blanket across the sky – another blessed respite from the unusual heat and sun we’ve suffered under for too long now. I am overly tired, staying up much too late these last few days, but none-the-less stumble me way out of bed and into the still unfinished bathroom – it taunts me.

The icon corner waits and looks almost disappointed when I pass it by after showering and brushing my teeth. I pour my coffee and look at the clock on the stove: 5:50am – I am running late, again. As I lumber past the Icons, St. John the Theologian catches my attention. He looks at me as if to say: “Hey, I’m new here…do you ever visit this place or do we just sit here alone doing nothing?”

Apparently so…as I walk out the door I assuring myself that I will set my alarm 15 minutes earlier from now on, so that I can go and keep St. John (and the host of others who adorn my wall) company in the morning. Another in a long list of forgotten promises made to myself? Hopefully not. I lost today, tomorrow awaits.

"God is, in a certain sense, a last judgement. Whenever we come into the presence of God, whether in the sacraments or in prayer, we are doing something which is full of danger because, according to the words of scripture, God is a fire."
- Met. ANTHONY

Perhaps this is what I fear? Regardless, how dare I speak of prayer when I am constantly struggling to engage in it? Something so essential to the Orthodox Faith, something I KNOW has been profoundly beneficial to my Christian journey! For that matter, what business do I have to speak of God at all...as if I knew Him?!?!?! Please!

All of my Christian life has been one in which I have filled my brain with immense amounts of theological knowledge. I know all about God (so I think). But now I am confronted with a faith which tells me that I am to EAT God, which I cannot understand, I cannot rationalize it, I cannot study it - break it down and examine it. Rather in reverse, it does all of this to me! I realize that I am like a chef who knows all about cooking, but has never in his life tasted anything. Understand what I am saying here: head knowledge is wonderful and important, but unless it is subject to something MUCH greater it simply leads me to arrogance. Humility, so powerfully emphasized in the words of the Holy Fathers and Mothers of the Church, I believe can ONLY be achieved (or even beguin to be tasted) in the realm of prayer.


...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 7:12 AM [+]
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Thursday, August 07, 2003

People Searching....and found ME

Sorry, but I just find this fascinating and funny. The following searches were made and led people to direct their internet browser to my humble little niche of the electronic world. My comments follow each one.

hilltop strip club
YIKES!

mcdonald commercials and sayings
I'm hurt, truly hurt.

james ferrenberg
Who keeps looking for ME?!?!?! I'm right here!

eastern orthodoxy sucks
Of course it does, can't you see how much I think it sucks???

washington state stripper male club
My second job.

"joseph skyward"
I have no idea who this is.

"intentional community" "elves"
Well of course, these two fit together likes peas and carrots

Russian Pedophilia
I hear Russian pedophilliacs are simply the BEST!

calvary chapel bitmaps
Check the "files" section on my page...maybe you'll find them there.

repair-remodel sayings
Mine usually include cuss words.

icons that say saint james
Aren't you supposed to call your priest if your icons start talking?

how to locate somone in Syria
By visiting James Ferrenberg's Blog, that's how.

Tithoes
Anyone know?

SUV cunsumption
Remember when Klinger tried to eat a Jeep?

"casey treat" freak
Nuff said.

how to know if you are destined to be successful
I use a Magic 8 Ball myself.

Assay against gay marriages
I am guessing that this assay must be an ELISA.

orthodox washing bones with wine
Hey, I've got bones, can I substitute Beer and Bourbon?


...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 8:17 AM [+]
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Getting it backwards

And there was evening, and there was morning-the first day…And there was evening, and there was morning-the second day…And there was evening, and there was morning-the third day…

you get the picture.

So when did we make the switch? At some point, the setting sun no longer indicated the beginning of a new day. It is difficult for us to imagine anything other than midnight (the more technical divisor) or sunrise (the more practical divisor) as being the demarcation of newness? We are ingrained with the contemporary understanding of day-hood. But the Church isn’t. She still keeps the same patterns handed down since the beginning, even if it tends to confuse and complicate things in our modern life – perhaps we ought to look at it the other way around: our modern life confuses and complicates the life of the Church. Maybe we can learn something from our ecclesiastical daily, weekly, and yearly cycle?

Vespers, the EVENING service marks the beginning of the daily cycle. I can still recall the first time that I noticed in a Vespers service that they were celebrating the Saints for the following day! When “liturgical time” was explained to me, I immediately recalled the old apologetic defense explaining how Jesus could be considered in the tomb and dead for three days…which doesn’t jive if we keep time according to today’s methodology. We were taught to show that the Jews kept time differently. Well what do you know…so did (ahem…DO) the Christians.

Now that we have come to the setting of the sun, and behold the Light of evening…


...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 7:50 AM [+]
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Wednesday, August 06, 2003

First Cause

A cloned horse has arrived on the scene....so what?

A blurb from the article shows some amazing arrogance (emphasis mine):

Scientists in Italy say they have created the world's first cloned horse, raising the possibility of a sequel to the next Seabiscuit or a carbon copy of Kentucky Derby champion Funny Cide.

The small, sturdy work horse is now two months old, weighs about 220 pounds and is in excellent health, said its creators. Their announcement beats a Texas A&M team awaiting the birth of its own horse clone.

The cloned Haflinger horse is named Prometea after Prometheus, the character in Greek mythology who stole fire from the gods and gave it to humans.

So, they've stolen fire from the gods, eh? Were the lack of humility before God not so frightening I may be laughing more, but I am reminded of a joke which may be adapted to fit the present situation:

An Italian Scientist meets God and says, "We no longer need you God, see, I have created a horse?"
God smiles and replies, "Have you really?"
Full of self confidence the scientist says, "Absolutely...here watch this, I just need to get some skin cells from a horse back in the lab."
God stops him, "Whoah...wait a minute buddy, go and get your own horse."


...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 2:08 PM [+]
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Transfiguration
Feast within a Fast

I need today...today it seems our Mother's calendar calls me back to Christ, back to my senses really.

Last night, or should I say very early this morning I was awakened by lightning and thunder - a relatively rare occurrence here in the Northwest, but quite appropriate to the power of what we manifest in the feast today. Blinding light and loud booming potency, coupled with rain – a most welcome change from the desert-like heat and dryness, which has plagued both this geography and this soul.

Today I will eat and drink deeply. Transfiguration.


note: the mosaic above is from Saint Katherine’s Monastery – 6th century.


...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 7:01 AM [+]
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Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Stupid Beagle
warning: may not be suitable with breakfast
My dog eats fecal matter. She loves it. Many a dirty diaper – if not immediately whisked away to the trash – will find its way into the dog’s stomach, and then later a sort of brown “jello mold” surprise will be discovered in the back yard as the ignorant pup’s body realizes that whatever absorbent gel is used in diapers these days does not go down well. I am blessed with the ascetic task of cleaning it up.

Occasionally, I will catch the beast in the act and I notice that she works very hard to be stealthy about it, knowing from harsh experience that the alpha male of the pack (me) doesn’t take kindly to the process that follows her ingestion. (Not to mention that eating fecies tends to make one a social outcast in the pack…I’m tempted to pour half a bottle of cheap bourbon into the dog’s mouth for sanitation!) If she is successful in the venture of obtaining the diaper, she must quickly go into seclusion and hiding – knowing that what she is doing is incompatible with pack life: eating crap is something that must be done in isolation – autonomously.

As I hear the dog puking in the backyard (ahhhh the sweet sound of consequences!), I am reading The Brothers and Fr. Zossima speaks to me:

Love the animals: God has given them the rudiments of thought and joy untroubled. Do not trouble it, don't harass them, don't deprive them of their happiness, don't work against God's intent. Man, do not pride yourself on superiority to the animals; they are without sin, and you, with your greatness, defile the earth by your appearance on it, and leave the traces of your foulness after you…

My beagle may eat crap and then leave lovely little presents in my backyard, but it does not compare to the presents I leave all over the earth. The filth I choose to eat, also has foul consequences, and I see them painted on the faces of the patients here at the Cancer Center, and I read it in the words of Mark Palmer who appears to be losing his wife. Yet time and time again - like a stupid beagle - I continue to stealthily step out of community and into autonomy, into isolation: the realm where crap is gluttonously partaken.

Confession is like a bourbon mouthwash…I need it. But only God can clean up the backyard. Lord have Mercy.

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 7:52 AM [+]
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Monday, August 04, 2003

And here’s to you Bishop Robinson, Jesus loves you more than you will know…

What’s really wrong with “Bishop” Robinson being a bishop? Well, in my ever so humble and judgmental opinion, it has a lot less to do with the fact that he fancies men, and a lot more to do with the decisions he has made and is making because of that passion.

What follows is a rant, complete with cuss words and a piss poor attitude. I advise all of those who are likely to not enjoy such a post to please return tomorrow for my return to regularly scheduled blogging. A former Episcopalian who’s fed up with hearing NPR interviews and news stories related to this man who would become the first openly homosexual bishop in the Anglican communion is about to open up a big can of verbal “whoop-ass” and may God have mercy on him for doing so…but you know what, sometimes things NEED to be said – if only to make my sinful self feel better. (I’m a risk taker! See below)

The Rev. Gene Robinson got a divorce and left his family because he finally embraced his gayness. His family now apparently supports him in having done this, but I wonder what his then 8 year old daughter (he has two daughters, I am unsure of the older one’s age, but Rev. Robinson’s present partner became such 13 years ago when his youngest daughter was 8) thought about it at the time? My parents’ divorce sucked and it was HARD on me…how much more emotionally trying would it have been had daddy left mommy for another man? But the abandoning of a family (yes abandoning…I don’t care how “involved” he was with his kids) is not the real prize winning qualification we ought to seek for one applying to be a bishop.

When asked in an interview “What risk have you taken for the Gospel?”, the good Reverend comes up with the following:

I answered God's call to acknowledge myself as a gay man. My wife and I, in order to KEEP our wedding vow to "honor [each other] in the Name of God," made the decision to let each other go. We returned to church, where our marriage had begun, and in the context of the eucharist, released each other from our wedding vows, asked each other's forgiveness, cried a lot, pledged ourselves to the joint raising of our children, and shared the Body and Blood of Christ. Risking the loss of my children and the exercise of my ordained ministry in the Church was the biggest risk I've ever taken

Where do I begin to dissect the insanity here? They “kept” one wedding vow by breaking all the others, doing so in the context of Holy Eucharist?!?!?! Say again? You dissolved your wedding through Holy Communion? Hmmm…I’m not familiar with that venerable tradition. Are anyone else’s klaxons sounding? How is the risk of losing his kids and his job in order to satisfy his sexuality a risk for the Gospel???? We are supposed to laud this “risk taking”? Please feel free to compare and contrast any of the Saints who have TRULY risked things for the gospel. I imagine a future conversation, inspired by Robinson’s example, with my wife:

“You know Sue,” I say to her, “I feel that I am a man in need of many sexual partners. To be true to one another, you need to release me to pursue the REAL me that Jesus made me to be. Goodbye kids…I’ll still be around, but Daddy has to be true to himself and God. And now folks, please recognize the supreme risk I am taking for the Gospel…because not everyone is going to understand why I am doing this.” Hehehe….well I know why I’d be doing it!

Maybe I’m just a backwards, redneck, homophobic jerk…but it seems to me that the REAL RISK (or perhaps a better word, rarely used these days, would be “sacrifice”) might actually have been to “deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow” Jesus? Which means, in my self-enlightened and arrogant context: Screw your homosexual feelings (or whatever feelings you are having) and stay with the family you started! Now THAT”S risk! Hell anyone can take risks to do something that is VERY self-pleasing, I do it ALL the time.

What ELSE is wrong with the “bishop-elect” being “bishop-elect”? The fact that he will not consider removing himself from candidacy in order to prevent a break up of the Anglican Communion. Also, among his favorite contemporary saints he lists the character Mr. Rogers (yes the character, not the real Fred Rogers). My goodness, its like a stinking cartoon! They ought to start each liturgy not with the doxology, but with the Warner Brothers theme, and after communion that can have the presiding bishop offer a big “T-T-T-T-That’s all folks!”

The gay issue is quite secondary to the fact that he is displaying a striking characteristic most unbecoming of a bishop: selfishness! What example is he giving to us? Be true to yourself! Hell, I can get that from a “back-to-school” television special.
Ok, rant over. I warned you. Let me have it.


...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 8:56 AM [+]
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Friday, August 01, 2003

Possessive

I've notice lately in many of my emails or other documents that I write, a common recurring error.

The intended ME keeps mysteriously turning into MY.

The Y really isn't all that close to the E, is it?

A lesson to be learned?

Little doubt.

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 7:55 AM [+]
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