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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, September 29, 2004

Wycliffe Bible Translators

Rambling thoughts of little significance today. This from a quote sent to me by a friend.

I have known, in my protestant days, alot of folks who worked both directly and indirectly with this group. I must admit to being ignorant of the man John Wycliffe, as I had always thought he was one of the early (though lessor known) reformers. As it turns out, he was about two hundred years before the Reformation, but none-the-less many protestants claim him (as the name of the organization implies) as a sort of proto-protestant.

From the Wycliffe.org website:
John Wycliffe lived almost 200 years before the Reformation, but his beliefs and teachings closely match those of Luther, Calvin and other Reformers. As a man ahead of his time, historians have called Wycliffe the "Morning star of the Reformation."

Closely match indeed...and while the reformers showed great respect for the Theotokos (much more than their theological descendents typically do)they likely would not have gone as far as Wycliffe did. Nowhere on the Wycliffe website could I find this quote from John Wycliffe:

It is impossible that we should obtain the reward of heaven without the
help of Mary. There is no sex or age, no rank or position of anyone in the
human race which has no need to call upon the help of the Holy Virgin.

Not exactly what one would expect to hear from the "Morning Star of the Reformation."

Addendum: The quote comes from THIS article which I have not fully read yet. Intend to comment on it later.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 8:08 AM [+]

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Touchy/Feely kinda faith

My attention was again diverted. This time to the little reddish haired girl who was standing beside the table (our bier during the paschal season) that holds the relics of St. Nicholas, St. Paul, and of the True Cross. It was not particularly uncommon for my children to take a break from their version of the work of the Liturgy in order to visit this nearby location and once there to mechanically kiss the icons holding the relics or the crucifix shaped reliquary holding the cross. But this time seemed a little different in that she was gazing very intently at the crucifix and so I decided this might be a teaching opportunity.

I leaned down to whisper in her ear, "Inside that cross is a tiny piece of the real cross that Jesus died on."

She nodded. I do not know if she really recalled that to be the case or if she was processing this new information. But either way I stepped back and watched.

She began to run her finger along the outer edge of the cross, tracing the vertical and horizontal bars. It seemed to me that her gaze intensified and it distinctly reminded me of the look someone might give the cherished picture of a distanced loved one. Then, uncharacteristically she very slowly and very deliberately pressed her lips to the feet of Jesus and kissed. She pulled away and looked again (longingly?) at the crucifix and then sprang to my side – no doubt to later interrupt my participation in some less enlightening way. In any event, she did it all with an amazing sense of exaggerated drama.

Behind the name of this 5 year old there are no letters to indicate an advanced degree in theology or philosophy. On her bookshelf at home you will find no thick books written by great theologians gathering dust in the "already read" section. Truly there is precious little to persuade or teach her that such an act is idolatry (as considered by some Christians) or that such an act is a necessary component of the Christian faith. Of course one may argue that being raised Orthodox indoctrinated her to the latter, but I have my doubts. I think she was acting in accord with pure, natural, and wholesome instinct. That which is truly precious, truly Holy, truly good, and truly important: you kiss it.

Our senses are innate and thus even in the womb we want to taste, feel, see, hear, and smell. These same senses become to us the means by which we express ourselves and truly the way in which we are able, at all, to relate to the world and to those in it. The "earthiness" of the Orthodox faith is so appealing to me – I am reminded of that wonderful scene in The Brothers Karamazov when Alyosha attempts to embrace the earth.

I think all Orthodox parents would agree that it was/is not difficult to show our children how to express their faith through kisses, bowing, kneeling, prostrating, crossing oneself, and touching the floor. Or that the smell of incense, the taste and feel of the Eucharist and Holy Water/Oil, the visual cues found in the Icons and the smoke are essential portions of Christian worship...it just seems to comes naturally to them. The "intelligent" arguments of the theologians will come upon them later when they become "sophisticated", "educated", and they leave the world of mystery behind. I pray they reject it and maintain the "touchy/feely" faith of a child.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 8:18 AM [+]

Friday, September 24, 2004

I had a mystical experience in the Lab today...

...you could too after inhaling as much carbon dioxide as I did.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 1:16 PM [+]

Giving the Church, and her Traditions, a nod

Looking at different houses that are supposed to look exactly the same, the architect wonders: What the hell went wrong here? A closer examination shows that the foundations upon which they were built were poured differently and from that point onward, they could never look the same as they ought to.

That foundation is ecclesiology.

Fr. Schmemann writes:

...a number of historians have been tempted to look for some sort of metamorphosis within it [the Church] at this period [between apostolic times and the mid 2nd century], some break with the original "idea" of Christianity expressed in the Gospels. The organized Church with its hierarchy, doctrine, and discipline, as we see it again in the middle of the second century, they regard as the product of various crises and adaptations to social conditions...Today, however, scholars are giving increasing attention to the voice of Church tradition...The Gospel,it turns out, must not be seperated from the Church; it is the witness to the faith of the Church, to its living experience, and cannot be understood apart from this experience...It has become increasing clear that the Church has no need to be restored and justified on the basis of the fragments that have reached us. Rather, only in the light of the Church, in the recognition of its primacy, can the meaning of these fragments be discerned and properly interpreted.

I can vaguely recall that illuminating (some would say deceiving) moment when the Church became for me an article of faith. When a new paradigm came into my mind - a LIVING paradigm that made the writings of St. Ignatios of Antioch, St. Justin Martyr, St. Irenaios of Lyons, etc. no longer seem quite so foreign, quite so ancient, or quite so difficult to understand. I felt like I had come to believe in the same Church (the same ecclesiology) that they believed in.

It is a real foundation changing belief. It cannot help but to cause the house to look different. Do you remember, when you fell in love with the Church? When this realization that Christ had left us with something concrete, something definitive, something authoritative, and yet something mystical, something transcendent, and something holy, first came into your thoughts and you began to marvel at how different it makes everything?

I am recapturing some of that in reading this book.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 7:47 AM [+]

Thursday, September 23, 2004

All of these...

Oktoberfest pictures are making me thirsty...anyone want to celebrate?

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 11:29 AM [+]

Clutching the Cross

Remember the picture I posted of the girl with the bloodied hand clutching a cross?

Well here is an update on her. While she said she had never been "very religious", she now plans on being in Church every sunday.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 9:24 AM [+]

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Mazel Tov

...drinking an IPA and reading Fr.Schmemann, so bear with me.

I’ll never forget when I announced to my boss (the head of UW Virology) that my fourth child had recently been born and he gave me a hardy: "Mazel Tov!" to which I stumbled through a response, which almost might have been "Indeed He is Risen" or "He is and ever shall be" but instead came out as "Oh yes, thank you!" while in my mind I wondered what is the traditional Jewish response to that phrase!! Looking it up later I came to realize that my response was kosher enough. To add to the overall setting of this rather comical event, it took place in the men’s restroom.

Anyway...back to Fr. Schmemann. Presently I am reading The Historical Road of Eastern Orthodoxy and I am just getting through a section in which he talks about the early church in Jerusalem. No great revelations to be found there, but further confirmed in my mind the fact that if one is looking for Messianic Judaism, it’s always been around in the form of Eastern Orthodoxy.

I really do not know when, but at some point in recent history (perhaps in this last half century or so when rapture and Israel-based eschatology has become so vogue), many Christians have developed an affinity for Jewish faith practices. "Messianic Jewish" churches and denominations began to pop up all over the place, many Christian groups participate in a traditional "Seder" meal, and inviting preachers from "Jews for Jesus" is always sure to rake in the people.

I kinda look at it as lost children looking for their lineage or their heritage. Asking questions like: Where did we come from? Why are we the way that we are? To what extent was the early Church ‘Jewish’? And also from a less personal, but more theological perspective: What did they believe back then? How did they worship back then? And I am sure there are others.

Truthfully though…one need not look any further than the Orthodox Church to see the ancient connection between Christianity and Judaism. I’ll let Fr. Schmemann (Memory Eternal) speak:

...the first community in Jerusalem not only did not separate itself from Judaism, but even preserved Jewish religious forms intact in its own life…the Temple at Jerusalem remained for Christians a place of prayer, instruction, and preaching. Even when the initial link with it was broken [Fr. Schmemann makes it a point to say that this happens much earlier than some historians imagine] and Christian worship began to develop independently, that worship retained – and always will retain – the stamp of its Jewish origins. The fundamental principals of Orthodox worship were determined almost entirely by the Temple and the synagogue…[And here is the portion I enjoyed most, because it spoke so clearly as to why we Orthodox have so many ancient traditions (Paradosis)]...we must understand that for the Christians of Jerusalem the preservation of the Jewish religious tradition and mode of life was not a mere survival of the past from which they were released as they grew in understanding of their own faith. On the contrary, they observed the tradition because for them it all bore witness to the truth of their faith. Christ Himself had declared His work to be the fulfillment of the Scriptures…the old accustomed words and ancient rites were now radiant with new light...

So don’t be surprised if next year I add “Mazel Tov” to my Paschal greeting. Mazel Tov to us all, for Christ has trampled down death by death.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 9:02 PM [+]

Monday, September 20, 2004

An interesting flyer...

...was displayed in the narthex of our Parish yesterday. It was announcing a "meeting/seminar" to be held at a local public library. It is an outreach sponsored by the mission church spawned in part by our Parish. I thought it was well phrased and thought I'd share the design with you all.

In large type centered across the top : "Looking for a Christ centered Church?" Right below is a color image of the well known Sinai Christ icon. And then some bulleted points:

- We're not Jewish...but we're Orthodox.
- We're not Roman...but we're Catholic.
- We're not Protestants...but their Bible came from us.
- We're not Denominational...because we're Pre-Denominational.

And then the title of the meeting: "Get to know the Original"

One of those closely involved in the mission is a Reader who was a minister in a local "Biker" Church...who for that fact alone has an interesting tale to tell.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 7:34 AM [+]

Friday, September 17, 2004

What to do with leftover babies

An odd survey of fertility clinics reveals some interesting trends means by which disposal of excess human embryos is accomplished. I just don't get it...

"I don't think anyone who deals with these frozen embryos considers them to be persons," Caplan [a bioethicist] said. "But I think that they feel they are deserving of respect ... They see the potential for life in this material."

All of us have the potential for life...all of us. I mean seriously, when do these people believe that personhood is achieved? I suspect one could argue that a newborn is really not much of a person.

Why is it so easy for our culture to dismiss this? Why is it so easy for us as Christians to shrug at this (and the abortion issue in general) and to think: it's not an important issue? If they were disposing of say 1 year old babies, would we think differently? Why? Is it emotional in that we can see the baby as clearly being alive and looking like us? When exactly does potential life become real life? Is the answer to THIS unbelievably universal question really suitably left up to an individual's choice? Should invitrofertilization be banned?

Creating human life in a petri dish is scary to me...especially since it results in the need to dispose of the "leftovers."

Read the Article.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 9:12 AM [+]

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Topic D'jour at work today

For some reason Janet Jackson's exposure during the superbowl was being discussed today by a couple of coworkers. It made me think: You know a "wardrobe malfunction" has a much more common and different meaning to a mom or dad parenting a diapered baby.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 1:01 PM [+]

The "of God" Clan

To further warrant the rumors of my devolution into a “God loves America at the exclusion of the rest of the world” militant, I have recently begun playing a free game (article of propaganda my cynical friends would say) put out by the US Army, called "America’s Army." It is your basic 1st person shooter, excpet that it can only be played online (where surely ALL of my information is being collected and analyzed by the industrial-military consortium) and you earn "honor" points by winning your games and you lose the points when you do dishonorable things like shoot your teammates. Truly the game does a good job of forcing team play and you can learn abit about First Aid (as you train to me a field medic) in case you ever happen across battlefield injuries...more and more of a potential reality?

Anyway, as with all online games, people form "clans". These are teams or clubs or organizations or whatever you wanna call them that typically sponsor a server for the game and also (I guess?) play against other "clans." Well, one of them is called the "of God" clan because they are all apparently Christians and they all change their log in name to identify themselves as clan members and so you get the likes of "Peace of God", "Fury of God", "Patience of God", etc etc.

And so you join their server in which certain rules are strictly enforced like: no cussing and no shooting corpses (!!!!) and you are treated to an intriguing environment in which you may find yourself blow up by "Love of God’s" grenade, or ripped to pieces by "Mercy of God’s" AK47…all while scripture verses automatically parade through the chatbox window, you know, all the good ones like “For all have sinned….the wages of sin is death…there is a way that seems right to a man….For God so loved the world…” etc. The game is a tool for evangelism….to the gaming community. Interesting to say the least.

While I do not have a great deal of time to play games…I do make the time and I must admit that when I play this game I prefer their server…it is indeed a friendly place, generally. Though once I joked after getting killed that the Psalm verse ("There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end leads to death") was proved particularly true in what just happened to me. The sever ADMIN rebuked me and told me “not to use scripture for my personal pleasure.” Boy did I have to bite my tongue on THAT one…after all I was playing with evangelical Protestants, who (in my humble opinion) have made it a virtual doctrine to do JUST THAT. Anyway….I just asked for clarification and it never came…I guess the game got too exciting.

Generally, I think it odd to force your faith into this game – perhaps even ANY game? But particularly a game in which you are shooting people! I don’t know…maybe I shouldn’t be playing it, maybe I shouldn’t imagine I am killing Chechen Terrorists and freeing innocent Russian children whose Mother’s will offer incense and prayers in my name for the rest of their lives? But…it calls into question the issue of leisure time and what we do with it and how our religious lives fit into it. I do not profess to have the answers on this subject and frankly I suspect that I need to listen to answers rather than try and formulate my own. I am quite adept at making, using, and enjoying leisure time and a lot less so at things such as prayer and worship.

I am fairly quiet about my faith online…maybe because I am embarrassed? Should I, as an Orthodox Christian, be playing this violent game?

Really this isn’t what I intedended this post to be about…and hopefully I have not ruined any false images people (new no doubt) might have had of me. But to lead into the topic I REALLY wanted to write about: a couple nights ago on the game server someone asked: "Has anyone read the whole Bible?"
Next time...

While I do not anticipate joining the clan...how about a little fun in your leisure time: who can come up with the BEST Orthodox "of God" clan member name...the ones more likely to be forbidden will get my vote!

"Uncreated Light of God"
"Brother of God" (since I am James after all)
(I thought about all the potential references to Our Lady and Mother...but could not bring myself to even jokingly submit them...while VERY likely to be banned, it is simply too Holy a thing to refer to myself as...even as a joke.)
"Toll Houses of God"
...there must be some good ones out there...where is that "onion dome" mentality?

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 7:30 AM [+]

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Beer is Good

See the story HERE.

2.5 liters of beer a week is equal to about a beer (12oz) a day. You will note that the study was done through a German university...hehehehe.

Now that is MY kind of perscription.

As a side, I did a little research a while back via PubMed (I'm sure THEY intended no pun...but I sure did) and found that in studies done dealing with heart disease and alcohol consumption that there was no significant difference between the type of drink consumed - the benefit was derived solely from the amount of alcohol consumed as opposed to specifically what the little yeast were swimming in while making it.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 11:53 AM [+]


For love does not seek its own, it labors, sweats, watches to build up
the brother: nothing is inconvenient to love, and by the help of God it
turns the impossible into the possible .... Love believes and hopes ....
It is ashamed of nothing. Without it, what is the use of prayer? What
use are hymns and singing? What is the use of building and adorning
churches? What is mortification of the flesh if the neighbor is not
loved? Indeed, all are of no consequence .... As an animal cannot exist
without bodily warmth, So no good deed can be alive without true love;
it is only the pretence of a good deed.

-St. Tikhon of Zadonsk

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 8:39 AM [+]

The Harrowing of Hell

Since Graham asked, and it being my most beloved (and often quoted here) Orthodox services I am more than happy to provide a few excerpts from Holy Saturday services. The ancient story around which much of the service (and indeed our traditional understanding of what took place after the cross) may be found HERE.

When Thou didst descend to death 0 Life Immortal, Thou didst slay hell with the splendor of Thy Godhead! And when from the depths Thou didst raise the dead, all the powers of heaven cried out: O Giver of Life! Christ our God! Glory to Thee!

The angel standing by the grave cried out to the women: Myrrh is proper for the dead, but Christ has shown himself a stranger to corruption.

Today Hades lets out a groan: "Would that I had not received the son of Mary: for when He came upon me He dissolved my power; He shattered the gates of bronze; the souls I had held captive, as God He raised up." Glory, Lord, to Your Cross and Your Resurrection.

Today Hades lets out a groan: "My sovereignty is destroyed. I received Him as a mortal, one among the dead; but this One I am powerless to contain; instead with Him I lose all I had governed. I had held the dead for ages, but behold, He resurrects all." Glory, Lord, to Your Cross and Your Resurrection.

Today Hades lets out a groan: "My might is swallowed up: the shepherd was crucified but raised up Adam. All I ruled over I have lost; all I was able in my power to consume, I have disgorged. The crucified One has emptied the graves. The sway of death is no more." Glory, Lord, to Your Cross and Your Resurrection.

Arise, O God, and judge Thou the earth...

The Harrowing of Hell seems clearly connected to this day on which we Orthodox fast and remember the Elevation of the Cross. That cross, which we call "precious and life-giving," is the instrument of our salvation. It is the pathway by which Christ reaches us in the dark prison of death and forever smashes the doors and locks rendering it unable to hold us.

The Cross is the guardian of the whole earth! The Cross is the beauty of the Church! The Cross is the strength of kings! The Cross is the support of the faithful! The Cross is the glory of the angels and the wounder of demons! ... We venerate Thy Cross, O Master, and we glorify Thy holy Resurrection!

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 7:49 AM [+]

Monday, September 13, 2004

September 11th of my soul

Somebody (probably God The Holy Spirit) flew a couple of airplanes into the twin towers of my heart recently. Not an act of terrorism though...but one of mercy and love. A waking call to help me to see that there is a whole other world out there (not geographically, but spiritually and not in the sense of like outside my house, but outside my heart).

"Other"....thinking about that word...do you suppose it existed - in any sense - prior to the fall?

I want to take the time to start looking into the eyes of my children and see more than a troublesome responsibility or "mess-making" machine, but rather the image and likeness of God. I have made no secret of the fact that I struggle with my role as a father...it has stripped my falsehoods to the bone and left my selfishness fully exposed to the elements. I embrace that, truly I do...well at least I say I embrace that. It is saving me, so they say. How could it not, since I cannot pretend to be a saint anymore...there are too many witnesses!

The faults I see in my kids...are mine. I see them acting toward one another as I often act toward them and should I be surprised? The sins of the father are visited upon the son...no doubt. Frightening. The first tower to collapse is my need to address what I perceive to be my failings as a father and husband.

The second tower collapsed and it was therein that I began to see the spiritual wasteland of my heart. A vast desert with no life...a void. I have such a precious gift in the Orthodox Church and yet I have been (as of late) leaving it on a shelf to get dusty...virtually unwrapped. And it is more than saying the prayers and going to services (though surely that is part of it)...it is embracing the WHOLE LIFE of the Church...traversing that ancient, tried and true pathway.

The ill-fated "Donner Party" ended up stuck in the Sierra Mountains because they decided to take a shortcut offered by some "guide" as opposed to the old traditional trail. No doubt there is a spiritual lesson to be learned there...but I have not followed an alternate trail - thankfully, but have instead avoided the trail altogether and have stayed encamped...going nowhere.

Well, it's time to saddle up, winter is coming.

As to the real Spetmber 11th (notice the lack of superscript and it's not even 1972!) we went to an open house at our local firehouse with the kids. It was a wonderful experience to meet some of the firemen and to see such simple hometown sorts of things like women bringing the firemen cookies. Warmed the heart.

Now, if that guy ain't the quintessential fireman, who is?

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 7:25 AM [+]

More Sad News...

As I am sure most of you already know, we have lost the Patriarch of Alexandria PETROS VII along with Metropolitan Bishop of Carthage CHRYSOSTOMOS, Metropolitan Bishop of Pelusim IRENAIOS, and Bishop of Magadascar NECTARIOS in a helicopter crash while on their way to a monastic retreat to Mt. Athos.

Patriarch PETROS VII was the spiritual leader of all Orthodox Christians in Africa.

Memory Eternal!

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 7:07 AM [+]

Friday, September 10, 2004

The Passion

Yes, I finally watched it last night. I have nothing but praise and admiration for Gibson for making this film...truly I thank him for it.

First I was surprised at how little moved I was by the violence...perhaps I had heard so much about it that I expected worse than I saw? Or, more likely, I have seen video and pictures of REAL violence and thus can be more disengaged from violence I know to be fake? (Not sure) I am also still amazed that most evangelicals seem to have embraced this film given that there were so many extra-biblical themes/scenes/lines in it. In my evangelical time and universe I would have had to work hard to get past all of that "traditions of men" stuff. Funny, though, much of those same extra-biblical portions were my favorite parts of the film


Jesus falling on the Via Delorosa and Mary rushing to Him - cinematically accompanied by a flashback to when Jesus was a child and had fallen: "Behold Mother...I make all things new." Wow...powerful!

St. Veronica venerating an Icon. YES!

But, (you knew there had to be a "but", right?) it was a decidedly western view of the work of Christ. You see while it seems to me that Mel (and the West?) got so much right - in the film at least - he got two things very wrong: the devil and the devil's timing.

Having Satan tempt Christ to AVOID the cross seems utterly contrary to the Orthodox understanding of the events. What I gather from my feeble patristic readings and from paying as much attention as I am able to during the Holy Week services is that Satan wanted to kill Him, to destroy Him, to hold Him forever in death and hell. And the moment in the film when Satan screams in apparent agony would not actually happen when Jesus dies (lest we see that as a moment of celebration), but rather on Great and Holy Saturday when death, hades, and/or the devil realize that his/their plan wasn't going to work. And so while that scene of Jesus crushing the serpents head was fantastic, it was not in the right place. He should have stepped out of the tomb and there crushed the snakes head.

The difference may appear subtle, but it really isn't. In my simple mind, the distinction tells us more clearly (AYE, MUCH MORE CLEARLY) who/what is the enemy and Who is the Ally. Interesting that while I knew I would wrestle overall with the western emphasis on substitutionary atonement in the film, I did not expect that that wrestling would be completely "personified" in the mischaracterization of Satan.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 7:42 AM [+]

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Some Good News

Anyone know why The Macedonia Orthodox Church is seeing mass baptisms of converts of "all ages"?

Glory to God!

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 9:40 AM [+]


At this time of year the sun rises a couple minutes later each day. And yet, one morning when heading out the door for work at my semi-regular time I suddenly, indeed very suddenly, notice that it is dark. And I marvel at the perceived abrupt change. "It is Fall now," I think to myself as I use my windshield wipers to get a few leaves out of my line of sight, "How did THIS happen?"

I’ve heard it said that a frog will not fret or move out of a pot of slowly heating water...even to the point of its own demise as the drink begins to boil. I am reminded of this as I wonder at the subtlety of the changing season that has so snuck up upon me.

Other things sneak up on me as well, things far more nefarious that I either cannot or will not recognize in my heart. And then suddenly I wake up to find myself fully engaged and plugged into one passion or another and I am left to wonder: "How did THIS happen?"

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 7:54 AM [+]

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

It's a seperate issue

George Shultz Endorses Stem Cell Issue

By PAUL ELIAS, AP Biotechnology Writer

SAN FRANCISCO - Former Secretary of State George Shultz on Tuesday became the most prominent Republican to endorse a $3 billion California ballot measure that would fund human embryonic stem cell research in the state.

"I don't think of it as an ideological or a political matter," Shultz said. "It's a matter of scientific research."

Oh how convenient...now we can keep our scientific research strictly seperate from the trappings of ideology.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 7:50 PM [+]

Bombs bursting in air

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 5:16 PM [+]

How we might help...

I just received the following email from my good brother John

Dear Fathers, Brothers & Sisters,

Our parish in Washington, DC is beginning to raise
funds for the families of the victims of the
terrible acts of terrorism in the town of Beslan in
North Osetia during which more than 500 people lost
their lives, mostly children. If you can help,
please send checks to

St. John R.O. Church
4001 17th St. NW
Washington, DC 20011

In the memo section please note: Beslan.

We will indicate that the money represents gifts
from Orthodox Christians from all parts of United

Thank you.
Fr. Victor Potapov

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 2:16 PM [+]

Time to get out of Turkey?

Clinging desperately to a reality that seems long since past (how many Christians remain in Constantinople, aka Istanbul?), the EP of the Orthodox Church seems to be getting renewed grief from Muslim Turk "extremists" Given the huge Turkish flock that the Patriarch presides over, I am sure he is easily able to bend the will of Turkish politics to do such amazing things like reopening a seminary the government forcibly closed down and protecting christian graveyards from desecration. Heck, if the Turkish government were like the US government, how long do you think it would be (as long as we identified Orthodox Christians as a perseucted minority) before there'd be a Divine Liturgy happening regularly in the Hagia Sophia?

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 1:14 PM [+]

Russia's 9/11

Images still haunt my mind...those of little children in caskets are just too much to bear. Further news that attempt to mask (intentionally or otherwise) with blame on Russia's handling of the crisis (or even their handling of the war) or with absurd (whether true or not) stories of officials lying about numbers of casualties is irritating me to no end. THIS, I think has been my error too: forgetting the singular evil of the attack and white-washing it by finding blame in policies or other political actions taken after the fact. If there is fault to be found in such things then so be it...but individuals, groups of individuals, and/or organizations make the CHOICE to kill children - no one forces their hand and NO cause is worth putting a little baby into a casket.

I do not consider myself an ignorant man. I know that Chechans have suffered and that Palestinians have suffered and that innumerable other people have suffered under some form of tyranny whether that be economical or miltary...but as I sit and try to imagine what it would take to "force" me to slowly cut the head off of a screaming man, or to even threaten to shoot a child unless my demands are met (let alone to actually do it), or to train and indoctrinate "martyrs" to strap bombs on their body and send them off to wreck as much death and destruction as they can in the midst of civilian everyday life...well that my friends is something I just cannot imagine doing no matter what suffering I have undergone.

I know, you will say, that some suffering is so great that I cannot imagine it...but I will say thjat I can. I've always had a good imagination, actually, and I as I look at babies in caskets and think of my own kids...well, believe me I can imagine.

Go to war over such things? You bet. Go to terrorism? Never. I believe there is a difference...and that difference is in the targets and the tactics, which is not to say that even the "good guys" (whom I assume we belive ourselves to be) can forget that. But we live in a country in which such "omissions" can be and I dare say are often held accountable for, but who is going to hold the terrorists accoutable save for their victims?

Addendum: Fr. John has some interesting news related to my thoughts here, including a much welcome self-critical examination by a senior Arabic television manager that can be read about HERE. Now, whether the potential "fatwa" that Fr. John notes or the commenting of the TV manager (whose words were so strong that one wonders if his decapitated body might not be found soon) will sway Muslim opinions remains to be seen. Accoutability is another issue entirely. Again, I do not claim that every atrocity is held accountable in the US...but I do claim that it is at least possible...maybe even probable.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 7:49 AM [+]

Friday, September 03, 2004

So much death. What can men do against such reckless hate?"

The pictures coming back are breaking my heart...has having my own kids made me so sensitive? No doubt. I cannot bear to see them anymore...must pray...must ask for forgiveness...

...must ask: what does it mean to Ride out and meet them?

Basil made a comment on a previous post that I think needs to be seen here and so utterly without his permission I add it here:

I think the Holy Innocents are particularly astute intercessors about this sort of thing.

"As acceptable victims and freshly plucked flowers, as divine firstfruits and newborn lambs, you were offered to Christ who was born as a Child, O most pure children. You mocked Herod's wickedness: now we beseech you, unceasingly pray for our souls."

O, Holy Innocents, pray to God for the suffering innocents of Russian!

Thank you Basil...and amen. May their memory be eternal.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 10:56 AM [+]

Women's Rights

I am often told (and I think our friend Dan Brown tries to make this point) that after the rise of Christianity, women really got the raw end of the deal and that Christianity was/is a patriarchal religion that prides/d itself on supressing the role of women in religious and political life.

Just thought of this though: what was the official and heavily practiced religion that existed at the time that we see the first women emperor (she actually referred to herself with the masculine term, as opposed to empress)in the Roman Empire? You got it, Christianity.

In fact, the Emperor Irene called the 7th ecumenical council.

And in our "enlightened" times, we Americans - some 1200 years later - have never elected a woman as head of state. Something to think about.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 8:16 AM [+]

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Shame on me!

I have become so politically minded this day that I utterly forgot to wish all of my Orthodox friends (on the new calender) a Happy New Year! Let's hope its a good one.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 11:55 PM [+]

Did I hear that right?

You'd think I'd get sick of it and not tune in to NPR anymore, but like a glutton for high blood pressure I continue to listen. During a report on the terrorist crisis in Russian I actually heard the reporter say the following (my paraphrase):

"The Chechen rebels holding the school, whom the Russians refers to as terrorists..."

Ummm...okay, so if you take 400 children and parents hostage and threaten to kill them unless your demands are met you are an "alleged" terrorist? Maybe I'm just in a politically foul mood, or just particularly sensitive for these poor kids on their first day of school because it was my kids' first day at school...but I feel like I could vomit.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 4:05 PM [+]


Bad words lie herein.

Frankly, news of the Chechen terrorist hostage taking at a Russian school do not in any way earn sympathy from me for their cause. Such is the case for ALL terrorists in my mind...I do not care what your cause is, or how righteous you may think it to be, you don't purposefully target innocents. The brutality and hatred that is expressed (e.g. in the beheading of some of the hostages in Iraq) is just unfathomable to me. What hatred, what anger can cause you to saw slowly through a persons neck? Or to kill yourself with explosives with the hope of taking out a few indiscriminant bystanders with you? Or how can you even threaten to kill 50 children?

I am sympathetic to the injuries (real or perceived) that our powerful nation has visited (whether directly or indirectly, and whether intentionally or unintentionally) to some peoples and some countries. I have tried to understand and I have tried to rationalize their desperation. I have looked at the terrorism and said "Yeah, but, look at what we have done..." or "Yeah, but look at what Israel has done..." But, frankly, it just doesn't answer anymore.
I have long been able to sympathize with the grieving family whose child was the unfortunate victim of a stray american rocket...but I have two children heading off to school today - what if they were now hostages? What if I had to go and collect their little severed heads? Would I then support Bush's "war on terrorism"? Damn right I would.

A Christian attitude? Nope. But, why was it that I was always so quick to justify and excuse what is supposed and certainly propagated to us as Muslim violations of their peaceful tenents and not do the same for "christian" america? It's all crap and I am sick of it.

Okay, enough of my rambling. We must pray for those poor kids, teachers, and parents who are in a most dire circumstance in Belsan. I pray all those kids come home to their parents...I really do not care what becomes of the terrorists, God forgive me.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 10:02 AM [+]

Invocation tonight

Archbishop DEMETRIOS of the GOC in America will offer the invocation this evening at the Republican National Convention. While I suspect that that portion stands a snow ball's chance in hell to make it on TV, we might hold out hope. I, for one, should very much like to hear what he prays: "Oh heavenly King, comforter..." perhaps? PBS is doing MUCH better (fuller) coverage than the networks.

Maybe we can catch it LIVE via streaming video.

I watch (at least what I can, per the network's whims - aka bias?) with great interest, as I did the DNC. I AM the undecided voter.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 9:33 AM [+]

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