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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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Friday, October 08, 2004

Don’t say I didn’t warn you, these prophecies are coming true…
- The Alarm

I do not wish to be an “Alarmist” (pun intended), but something I caught only portions of on TV last night really distrubed me because I think it was another subtle shot across the bow in an ongoing (and losing) battle of cultural ideologies.

Let’s be frank, Hollywood and the media in general has never been a friend to Christianity – or at least “o”rthodox Christianity. One is hard pressed to find an example of a conservative Christian on TV or in the movies who is not a serial murderer, rapitst, pedophile, or ____________ (fill in the blank with all manner of evil hidden sides). And so, I shouldn’t be surprised by what I saw last night.

The program “Without a Trace” had an episode in which we see a Christian terrorist blowing up Abortion clinics. Now, stop and think about the timing of this episode: an election year accompanied by lots of talk about terrorism. Hmmm…. and so the average Joe/Jane viewer sits in his/her Lazy boy and is shown the “fact” that we have our own breed of religious terrorists in America. Now of course, a discerning viewer might stop and ask: how many abortion clinics have been bombed? Lately? But likely the point the teleplay writer was trying to get across hit home: religious fundamentalism of ANY kind leads to extremism and violence. (You see, there is nothing inherent in any particular religion that might lead to violence moreso than any other particular religion – anyone buy that????)

Later in the episode we see the triumph of liberal and moderate religion. One of the victims of the bombing (face brutally burned and scarred with an arm missing) stands on a platform at what I assumed was the reopening of the clinic and offers words of forgiveness to the uncaught terrorist. “I am a religious person,” she says, “and my religion teaches me to forgive those who sin against me.” All of this while standing under a bright colored banner that proclaims “Keep abortion safe and legal.”

And so you see folks who is the hero and who is the villian? Ah yes! Good old heretic bishop Spong has said that unless Christianity changes it will die. Well, he is wrong. Actually, it is this: unless Christians change THEY will die. Perhaps not literally – at least for the moment it is harder to see that – but socially. I have said it before and I will say it again: the time is coming when if we maintain our traditional views on morality we will be labelled as extremists (oh wait that is already happening – I’ve seen the political ads on TV) and we will be lumped in with the likes of “white-seperatists.”

The coming great persecution…I am reminded of the sign in the bar down the street: “No homophobes et al. allowed” I guess I’d have to go in and take a quiz to see if I qualify. I suppose if I told them I did NOT support a woman’s “right to choose” that I’d be tossed out as well? Anyone else see the potential coming storm?

Want to talk about prophecy fullfilment? What did Jesus tell us about whether or not we could expect persecution? How about St. John? Could the “new” anti-christ be less of a person and more of a mob-like ideology? We Orthodox are not awaiting a rapture evacuation plan – be it pre, mid, or post. Rather we are to seek perfection such that we may endure.

Under the emperor Diocletion, all the Christians had to do was burn a pinch of incense in honor of the emperor to escape torture, maiming, or death. That is it…they could have done so with their fingers crossed and then run away smiling. But many didn’t and those that did were to face a good deal of grief (in fact the Church split over the issue of whether to receive them back into communion after repentance or not.) They took it very seriously, do we?

So, to whom are we being asked to burn a pinch of incense to today? Will we “make the stand”?



...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 8:10 AM [+]
+++
35 comments


35 Comments:

Good thoughts and questions, James. The elite do rely on the current intellectual indolence of many Americans, who take whatever they are fed without question. Its sad.

I've thought about the coming storm quite a bit. I used to think that I'd relish the opportunity to be persecuted. Then I read about Petisti and learned what persecution looked like first hand. Now, I'm scared to death. How willing would I be to offer said incense? I shudder to think what my answer would be.

Then there is the wife and kids... my achilles heel.

O Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritence. Grant victory to Orthodox Christians over their adverseries, and by the power of Thy Cross, preserve Thine estate.

By Blogger Jim N., at 10:24 AM  

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Actually, it is a bigger nightmare when the government and culture thinks that it is Christian. You can then commit atrocities and still be a Christian. It reminds me of various souvenir stores in Greece. There are pornographic post cards in the front and icons in the back.

-Rick

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:28 AM  

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I think you are right Rick - in an enlightened sense - history seems to testify to the fact that the Church has done better (in an unseen sense) when the government has been hostile toward her rather than cozy with her.

But, I'm not sure to what extent I am ready to embrace either nightmare: are you prepared to lose your job if Bill Gates begins his own little company wide persecution?

I know...pretty far-fetched, but worth thinking about.

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 11:24 AM  

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I have been thinking it will happen in our lifetime for awhile, now. May God grant us the strength we need for the day.

By Blogger alana, at 12:47 PM  

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James, if I'm correct, you live in Seattle, yes? I lived in Seattle (Queen Anne and Capitol Hill) for 12 years and just moved back down to northern California a little over a year ago. I really love Seattle, but I felt those "onrushing winds of persecution" especially strong there, at least in my neighborhood and circle of acquaintances. This all has nothing to do with why we moved. But I somehow imagined that it might be a little different down here in the more suburban portions of the Bay Area. Really, it's not much different here after all and I was probably just being naive. It's all here too, though maybe not quite as loud yet.

By Blogger Doug, at 1:13 PM  

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I am in Seattle, yes.

There is a subtle and yet clear pressure to remain quiet about my religious and political beliefs in the workplace - where liberal ideas and issues may flow freely.

I dare not speak out against Kerry, Abortion, or stem cell research around here if I wish to remain civil with coworkers. While I've seen "Kerry" stickers and anti-bush slogans, it's seems to me there either aren't any Bush supporters around or they feel they'd better be quiet.

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 1:37 PM  

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Persecution comes because of our sins. Persecution comes to purify us, to make us holy. It's not something to seek, of course, although it is something for which we should give thinks - having been found worthy to be so tested, to be so purified.

I fear I'd not be able to stand a simple test of "will you or won't you it's only a pinch..."

But I confess, that not to deep below the surface of my fear, there is a part of me that says "come on. try me."

I don't know if that's the right attitude... but, well... maybe I grew up on too many "Left Behind" esque novels.

By Blogger Huw Raphael, at 7:09 PM  

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maybe instead of waiting for the BIG TEST, we need to be paying attention to all the "little" ones...like whether or not I ignore that inner nudge to pray, how I respond to the person who cuts me off in traffice, or whether I become self indulgent too quickly...well, that probably comes down to what Huw just said, about repentance and purification....

By Blogger alana, at 7:25 PM  

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Alana...truly it is my failings in the "little" tests that make me wonder about my performance in the "big" one.

Another aspect is whether I will simply rationalize it all away and see it as no test at all. I can burn the pinch of incense and keep my TRUE religion as a "private affair."

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 1:48 AM  

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Good stuff.

By Blogger Aaron, at 11:14 AM  

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i am entirely confused by this string. are you all saying that you expect, in your lifetime, to be killed? and killed because you follow Christ, or because you're morally conservative on social issues?

having been involved as a founding member of a international film festival, with participation from many hollywood bigwigs, i think the critique of hollywood is a bit simplistic. there are many christians in hollywood, in places you'd never expect. wheat and tares. hollywood cares about money, period. if christian themed entertainment can be shown to sell, it will be sold en masse (ie, the passion, veggie tales, creed, mxpx, pod, i am david, holes, etc.... i dont personally care for any of these bands or films, but there are an increasing number of exceptions to james' statement).

before responding on persecution, i need to first understand what you're saying. i can't follow you.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:03 PM  

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Dear Anon.

Well, I do expect to be killed in my lifetime - because of course I couldn't be killed after it, now...

But seriously: I don't expect to see, in my life time, in America, killing of Christians (although we do see that in many other parts of the world). I do see in America right now persecution (not killing) of people for their Christian views (which may be confused with a secular "conservative" in the currrent climate). Because of that, I do expect to see more of the same, and we have to admit that it may be possible for us to see the currently-unexpected: killing, even in America.

Persecution, as mild as it is, can take many forms: not all lions are four-footed and eat humans. Some have two legs and teach our children in schools to hate their parents' religion (morals). Some lions have wooden legs and broadcast slander as noted in James' post. Some lions run for president and say (on the one hand) "never let faith dictate policy" or (on the other hand) "don't ask me to justify my *other* policies because look, I agree with you on this one only..." Some lions file lawsuits to keep Christians otherwise-occupied when they should be praying. Some lions dress up as Christians and whip up a political frenzy to do the same thing.

I expect persecution because that's what we've been told to expect for our own salvation. Not just in the "end times" but always: for since the Incarnation, these are, in fact, the end times.

I agree with you on Hollywood: it will do what it takes to make money. It will disguise its lions in lambs clothing to make the persecution easier to bear. Its Ceasar, asking only for a pinch, will dress as Christ if it will make the offering easier.

By Blogger Huw Raphael, at 10:09 PM  

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Seraphim...

I think what I am saying is that as our society continues to embrace relativism and uphold it as the great unifying saving principle, that thos eof us (and not just Christians) who adhere to an archaic belief such as absolutism will begin to stick out like a sore thumb.

You live and work in a radically different circle than I do. Come hang out with me, maybe take a few of the "classes" and quizzes that the UW forces me to take in order to assure that I am properly relativistic and am not going to offend anyone with my religious or political beliefs.

While I do not expect to be martyred, I do believe that we are witnessing the beginning of our conservative beliefs being more popularly labelled hatred and bigotry. And this will lead to sociological ostricization and eventually legislation.

I disagree about "hollywood" though. While, yes tha VAST majority of what they do fueled by the desire to make money, there is none-the-less often a political or ideological agenda behind films or TV shows that are made. (HBO is a GREAT example because many of the films they make are heavily laced with AGENDA.) And I believe this was the case for the TV show I eavesdroppingly watched. By the same token, look at Mel's movie and the trouble he went through to get it made and distributed. I KNEW that if his film was a success that all his many nay sayers would criticize him for making money with it...and sure enough.

Now I realize that hollywood is now more openly considering the "christian" market...but I don't think that was Mel's intent or theory in doing the film. AND, I think the vast majority of Christian artists (in any genre) have found that just about the ONLY (or at least the MUCH EASIER) way they can get themselves published (or whatever) is to go with an existing "christian" publisher.

But...I'm on a tangent now...ummm, I just think we are seeing more and more of our becoming archaic (dying as Spong would call it) a sort of slow symbolic martrydom of the faith and I analogize the pinching of incense to Ceasar with compromising the faith in order to not be so hated by the world (as Spong and others are doing.)

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 1:44 PM  

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Surely the question is, why are we not being persecuted already?

The only persecution I see taking place around me (and I do mean around *me* - in my vicinity) is well-deserved. Christians can be hateful and proud and arrogant and I do think that fundamentalism of any kind *can be* dangerous.

It's important to me that we make a stand for the right things. Just being persecuted is no proof that we are martyrs for a noble cuase.

By Blogger Graham Old, at 3:53 AM  

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well, this could spin off into many many tangents, and i do want to be careful here. but regarding persecution, we are told that we'll be persecuted because of Christ... and is it possible to confuse issues of social behavior (ie, how the word 'morality' commonly is used) with Christ Himself? i guess i am wondering whether or not it really IS the kind of persecution the Scriptures talk about when are socially penalized for disagreeing with something like gay marriage? maybe it IS... but i'm not sure. i'm really inquiring here.

i wonder if there are times when christians confuse the two... ie, categories of social behavior vs. the Gospel itself. ie, the case of removing the 10 commandments from a courtroom being seen as 'persecution'. i entirely agree that Christ is hated by the spirit of this world, and that we should not be naive about the kinds and ways we'll be persecuted because of Christ. i also agree that this expectation must be understood in terms of moral and ethical stands, and in social arenas. ie, abortion... marriage... etc...

however i have largely given up framing these conversations in liberal vs. conservative categories. those words are far too polarizing and cannot possibly speak to the transcendence of the Gospel. i feel that our Faith is far more liberal, AND conservative, than partisans realize. schmemann refers to this constantly.

the right (particularly partisan christians) have been at times taken-in and politically manipulated by cheap christian rhetoric... maniuplated into thinking that the repub party is 'God's Party'. and the left in its fear and insecurity reduces everything to mealy=mouthed 'diversity' and 'tolerance' and 'rights'.

but in terms of morality and how that word gets used by Christians... well... this may be somewhat scandalous to say, and i say it carefully, but i think there is a higher category that we are called to: holiness. i am not sure that "morality" is sufficient.

the root of the word 'morality' is more... ie, to follow social customs/conventions. mores, customs, etc... as i read scripture, i see a God who is constantly violating social customs for the sake of holiness. and holiness always has a relational and existential component that morality does not have.

ie, God's request to abraham would not be seen as a 'moral' request today. if you told me you were taking your son to Mt Si to kill him because God told you to... i would feel compelled to stop you, for moral reasons. however, in Abrahams day... local "gods" demanded human sacrifice all the time... so YHWH's request was not that out of place in abrahams time. what WAS immoral (ie, against social mores) was God's stopping abrahams hand... entirely contrary and against the social/religious mores of what other "gods" were demanding.

and how many passages are there in the gospel where Christ was condemned by the pharisees because of His "immoral" ways... even todays reading... allowing Himself to be touched by a woman of 'ill repute'. eating heads of grain. healing on the sabbath. etc...

i dont want to make too much of this, and i'm not at all saying we should be immoral. but i think morality is not as comprehensive a concept as holiness. we are called to be holy, which has a profound relational component that 'morality' does not have. morality as we use it largely is a behavioral term... and orthodoxy, as i continue to understand from the Fathers, from contemporary authors (ESPECIALLY CHRISTOS YANNARAS) our faith seems more comprehensive than how i hear many Christians speak... i guess i feel there are times when having this conversation in terms of right/left... relative/absolute... just doesn't quite get to the heart of the matter.

as for Gibson's film the passion, your comments about how hard it was for him to make/market the film... well, i know people involved in the film, and a LOT of the controversy was intentionally generated by gibson himself... in order to make the movie more popular. it was not at all entirely due to the 'spirit of this age'. it was also due to icon productions calculations re: making money on the film.

wheat and tares abound.

)( seraphim/seattle

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:43 AM  

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I think Graham that true holiness will ALWAYS be persecuted by society and culture. Darkness cannot stand the light and Christ's own life is indicative of this.

Out of curiosity, how do you define "fundamentalism"? Do your perceive that there could also be a danger in the opposite of fundamentalism in religion? How does one discern when they are being two fundamentalistic or not? And how do you personally decide what issues to take stands on?

Bear with me Seraphim...I am a simple minded man and not nearly lofty enough to read much of YANNARAS without going "huh?"

You are going to have to make this basic for me, because alot of what you say here is EXACTLY what Spong says and I am guessing you are not willing to go as far as he has gone. I went round and round as an Episcopalian with the whole homosexual issue and what I constantly heard was an appeal based on what you have stated. Frequently they would mention the story of the woman caught in adultry as evidence of Christ loving those who the religious hypocrites hated. Very true...but they always seemed to poo-poo or neglect the little bit afterwards when Jesus says to the woman: "Go and sin no more."

I think this is the approach of the Church. They are sinners just like us and we dare not persecute them. None-the-less, go and sin no more.

A time is coming Seraphim when the most recent statement made by SCOBA on homosexual unions will be considered hate-speech, what are we to make of that? Regardless of what we are going to say about morality/holiness, we as the people in the pews are going to have to deal with the accusations.

You are right in noting the difference between holiness and morality. But I am not sure I understand your reasoning for noting the difference. In other words...help me to better apply what you are saying to what I have said.

How do you reconcile the difference between holiness and morality in its application to the securing of social justice. You have noted to me the need to do something more about AIDS in Africa...is this a moral thing or a holiness thing? By the same token, if we believe in the inherent wrongness of Abortion, how would you charcterize those who actively seek to see Roe v. Wade overturned? Is that not also a social justice issue? Holiness or Morality?

Also...
the right (particularly partisan christians) have been at times taken-in and politically manipulated by cheap christian rhetoric.Be fair, the left has been manipulated by cheap christian rhetoric as well. Not wanting to keep flying this flag - but having been in the ECUSA, I've seen it happen.

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 1:37 PM  

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"to be fair, the left has been manipulated by cheap christian rhetoric as well."

>>yes, i agree.

re: spong, i have disagreed with everything i have ever heard about him. but i honestly don't know much about him.

i am not an absolutist, or a relativist. i am a relationist. absolute VS relative morality is an insufficient way to talk about christian ethics. always seems to reach a dead end.

re: yannaras and morality, i think i may have opened up a can of worms that i can't adequately deal with in a blog comment. i'd love to read yannaras with you... he really is extraordinary, both his freedom of morality and intro to orthodoxy. i'm not sure how to paraphrase him without quoting him, and i'm in texas and dont have his text with me.

but quickly, what i am getting at is that there are ways we can frame these conversations... and holiness as a main category is more comprehensive than morality. "morality" as a primary category for Christain dialogue often divorces existential and relational components. that is ultimately what i was getting at. gender issues, social issues, issues of sin... have primary relational, PERSONAL, existential categories in our faith. which is why whenever i hear an orthodox theologian (hopko, ware, hieromonk jonah, schmemann, yannaras, etc...) talk about gender issues, sin, our social responsibilities, etc... they almost always seem to go to the heart of the matter... the personal, relational, existential heart. not MERELY the behavioral component. not that these things are mutually exclusive. its not an either/or. Christ didn't just say "go your way and sin no more"... nor did he merely say "let he who is without sin cast the first stone". He spoke to the issue in its totality, and therefore spoke to the total person.

holiness as a primary category does not exclude morality. i guess i am perhaps reacting too strongly by your post, and maybe i'm seeing something you didn't intend. but as you so often do when you critique conservative fundamentalism... i am wary of reducing theology into categories that ultimately reach dead ends.

ok, i'm loosing it. know i'm not articulating this clearly. i'll wait until i get home and will just send you some yannaras quotes!

BUT... i do want to understand your original post. i guess my original question could be better summed up by asking:

= do you think we're going to be persecuted because we disagree with gay marriage and abortion?

= are there other reasons why you see us persecuted?

= is a possible future classification of anti-gay speech as hate speech the same as what other christians have suffered in our history?

it sounds like your outlining several categories of persecution? right? and you don't think we'll be killed... but we will be forced to agree with certain categories of morality, and if we do not, perhaps suffer consequences in the workplace?

is this mainly related to gender issues? are there other ways/kinds/categories of persecution? i'm not asking rhetorically, but sincerely. want to understand.

)( seraphim/seattle

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:49 PM  

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do you think we're going to be persecuted because we disagree with gay marriage and abortion?Well, generally I'd say yep. But not just about gay marriage, but about our belief that the homosexual act is a sin. Getting away from the marriage debate is easy: the state cannot marry anybody, only the Church can. (Since we believe it to be a sacrament.) But I really believe Seraphim (as is currently the case for me at work) that we will have to keep our mouths shut about the Churches stance on homosexuality or face being ostracized and labelled as cruelly as any of the "God hates fags" Christians have done to homosexuals. Don't get me wrong, I do not wander about looking for gays to bash, but I do have to wrestle with what to say when my opinion is sought or when I am put in awkward positions such as when gay coworkers directly ask me what my church teaches.

I think all I was saying in the post is that the time is coming when we will viewed by the majority of society as being not at all dissimilar to the way that white seperatists are generally viewed today.

are there other reasons why you see us persecuted?Oh sure. Jesus said the world hated Him and so we should expect the same. Holiness doesn't sit any better with the eyes and ears of this world than does a lofty sense of morality - even worse I'd argue. The world LOVES to read about Catholic priests (who are supposed to be celibate - a very gucky concept in this world) molesting little boys, or major TV evangelists frequenting prostitutes...why? I think it is because it justifies our own sinfulness. But in the presences of true holiness (recall what hell is in Orthodox thought), we just want to kill it.

With that in mind...maybe I won't be persecuted. hehehe

Jesus could certainly go to the gay pride parade and rebuke the "God hates fags!" protestors: "let he who is without sin...", but how do you suppose his turning to the participants and saying "Go and sin no more" would go over?

In that vein of thought...do you think the participants of the gay pride parade could socially get away with dressing as Orthodox Jews, expose themselves, and passing out ham? So how is it that they can dress as Catholic clergy, expose themselves, and pass out condemns without anyone hardly batting an eye? Christians are becoming more and more fair targets.

is a possible future classification of anti-gay speech as hate speech the same as what other christians have suffered in our history?The same? I dunno...if it lands you in jail certainly. St. Paul spent time in jail for refusing to stop preaching Christ. St. John Chyrsostom was banned for saying things against the rich and powerful. I suppose it just depends on how such legislation would be phrased and enforced.

Did you ever see the blog I wrote in which a friend of mine was involved in a custody case with the state over their underage daughter who wished to be emanicpated? Because the daughter claimed to be homosexual my friends attorney told them to LIE if (WHEN) asked about their personal beliefs about homosexual behavior because the judge would certainly not look fondly upon such a thing. Persecution? Taking children away...maybe?

If we look at what Jesus has said (specifically in regards to the end of ages) what can we expect: the world to love us more or less?

The really sticking point for me is not so much avoiding being conformed to the world, but choosing to just be opposed to the world, rather than transformed.

But it seems to me, whether you are merely opposed or truly transformed you ain't gonna be liked for it either way.

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 7:44 AM  

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so it seems that this issue is primarily related to gay marriage, and the possible future classification of anti-homosexual convictions as a kind of hate speech. looking at the polls, it seems the nation is pretty evenly divided on the issue. i think it will take a long time for such an event to happen. but what do i know???!!

)( seraphim/seattle

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:51 AM  

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Well I think the gay marriage/homosexual behavior is just the most blatant coming issue. It is the issue that is most publically being proclaimed these days. Who would have thought 10 years ago that one of the most popular television sitcoms could center around homosexual characters?

But it is more than that Seraphim...to affirm that Jesus is God is to call those faiths that deny this truth false. And that is becoming more and more unacceptable.

You mentioned a desire to escape absolute vs. relative morality and though I must admit I do not fully understand this...none-the-less I would contend that we are living in a society that is demanding more and more that we ascribe to relativism in most every aspect of our lives. And so no manner of foot shuffling will get a Christian around this point.

Therefore, Jesus is God...for me and me alone. And as long as I leave Him at home I'll be allowed to play with the other kids at work.

In terms of the poll, I think it just depends on where it was taken. The success of the TV series I mention I think points to the direction that society is headed.

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 1:21 PM  

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well, i guess i don't equate a rejection of homosexuality as being at the same level as rejecting Christ outright. ie, why i references past posts about evangelicals, is it seems they (at least certain groups) are masterful at building houses of cards where if you take one card out, the entire house falls. ie, if you proverbially drink/dance/gotomovies, then you're not a christian. or if you deny pre-millenialism, or the 'baptism of the holy ghost', etc...

as far as absolute vs. relative morality... i find that those conversations almost always are held in the abstract, are highly conceptual, and seem to appeal to some kind of platonic idea of standards that exists somewhere. the Gospel is an appeal to the Person of Christ. it is His Person that makes all the difference and creates the only meaninful context for how we must live our lives... ie, when He says "I am the way, the truth, the life..." He is pointing to His person, not an abstract ethical standard.

all to say, i DO believe that the person of Christ is absolute! and His intentions for us are absolute. but the only thing that makes Christian morality meaningful, worthwhile, ie, the only reason why a homosexual would choose abstinence, is ultimately the Person of Christ and not merely an abstract absolute ideal?

for me, in terms of ethics, it is always the human existential relationship that sets the most powerful context for discussions of morality/holiness.

does that make any sense? perhaps we are saying the same thing, with a slightly different emphasis.

)( seraphim/seattle

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:51 PM  

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well, i guess i don't equate a rejection of homosexuality as being at the same level as rejecting Christ outright. Hey that sounds like an aboslute statement.
:)

when He says "I am the way, the truth, the life..." He is pointing to His person, not an abstract ethical standard.So we pursue a person and not an ethical standard...amen, I affirm that. How does it apply practically? When faced with a temptation, what thought process while under this understanding takes place? Similar to how we might avoid adultery by actualizing in our minds our relationship with our wives?

Thus far I hear you saying that we ought not to contextualize with absolutes and relativity, but rather with "the human existential relationship." So in that sense, how do we approach the issue of the Church becoming more and more ostracized, be it for her holiness, her morality, or her being the Body of Christ on earth?

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 2:16 PM  

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By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:20 PM  

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As a modern American who lived for years as a Christian (and many years in the Seattle area), I thought I knew what prejudice was . . .

As a mixed race American, I thought I knew what prejudice was . . .

My real education about what prejudice was did not begin until I started calling myself a Muslim.

Imagine being at your employer’s potluck where the menu is beer and pork chops. A person asks you why you are drinking water and only eating potato chips, you kindly notify them that such things are forbidden for a Muslim. I will let you guess what the reaction of the nearby crowd is . . .

Imagine stepping outside of your front porch in Portland Oregon while wearing traditional Islamic dress, beard, and fez. That's all, just stepping outside. I will let you guess what is the reaction of those walking or driving by . . .

Imagine stepping onto an airplane, with dark skin like mine, . . . enough said . . .

Imagine being a Muslim woman in Topeka Kansas who wears hijab, and goes ANYWHERE in public . . . imagine that on top of her modest Islamic dress, she does not speak English, . . .

I think you get the picture.

If Christians see prejudice as a sign of God's blessing, then we Muslims are truly blessed in America.

(Not that I am complaining, I have always been one who likes to stir the pot! However I have been saddened by some of my more gentle brothers and sisters who have had to endure some uncomfortable moments.)

I have known Muslims who will tell people they are Christians, just to avoid the prejudice they will face if they say that they are Muslims.

- Imran

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By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:20 PM  

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Sorry about all the posts. I don't know what happened.

- Imran

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:01 PM  

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Thus far I hear you saying that we ought not to contextualize with absolutes and relativity, but rather with "the human existential relationship." So in that sense, how do we approach the issue of the Church becoming more and more ostracized, be it for her holiness, her morality, or her being the Body of Christ on earth?

>>>again, perhaps i am merely highlighting a different emphasis in appealing to the Divine Person, rather than Divine "Principles". its not the human existential relationship alone that i think creates the most powerful context for moral issues, but the Divine-Human relationship. again, we worship a Person, our process of salvation is our coming to a Person, this Person and the intergrity of the relationship is what creates the context for how we behave. no?

practically... i suppose what i am emphasizing does create a real context for love. in terms of gender issues... if all we do is apply the abstract principle of anti-homosexuality and miss the human person, i think we divorce morality from its source, which is Christ. my understanding of church teaching re: gender comes from a deep, profound, and quite sophisticated understanding of personhood... rooted in the relationship of the and with=the Trinity. i DO think approaching ethical issues via the context of Personhood and relationship (opposed to mere abstract rules) allows us to enter into the blood, flesh, emotion of it all and love.

that does not mean that there are times when we should not take clear unambiguous and determined stands, but those stands must always be in the NAME of Christ, evoking the Person of Christ!

)( seraphim/seattle

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:13 AM  

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Imran...

I am glad you are back...I need to talk to you and will email you - but I am unable to find your newest email address that I know you sent me but I am utter unable to locate.

Persecution and predjudics are ugly things indeed and I grieve to hear it happen. My first experience came as an obese teenager...frankly some of the things I experienced still haunt me and my personality to this day. It is amazing how cruel people can be when you are "different" and you are unable to hide that "difference." And so I do believe I understand that sort of persecution.

Back in my days, school administrators would shrug off such "teasing" and in fact I can vividly recall my high school VP participating in my "teasing." It seems nowadays that they are taking this more seriously - perhaps since persecuted teens started bringing guns to school? Oh boy....big tangent.

To some extent, the trend toward relativization may be good for certain types of prejudice. But, in other areas, well sinful human beings remain so.

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 8:03 AM  

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this Person and the intergrity of the relationship is what creates the context for how we behave. no?Absolutely. But what I need to know is how do we express this truth when pressed on moral issues by those who either reject or do not understand this context? Can we? Furthermore...

It seems to me that even if you preface the issue with a "deep, profound, and quite sophisticated understanding of personhood" you still end up with the equivalent of saying: that behavior is a "no-no." And I think we are seeing more and more people (just like myself sometimes) who are unwilling to listen to the details as long as in the end I am pressed to give up a behavior that I have grown quite fond of.

You see I am not wandering about the world looking for those who support homosexual behavior, or abortions, or racial segregation, or pornography, or terrorists acts, or violent and sexual exploitive material on TV in order to tell them that they are wrong. And even if someone stands and says: "Hey that is wrong!" and perhaps goes so far as to seek political action against such things does not neccesarily preclude them from having a "deep, profound, and quite sophisticated understanding of personhood." In fact, they may cite this reality as a means of justifying their efforts because these things are in fact so destructive to "personhood."

These issues - and in particular the homosexual and abortion issues - are frequently laid out before me and I am placed in a position where no matter how much I preface my answer with lofty language and apologetic explanations: it ends with - "its a no-no."

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 8:27 AM  

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