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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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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Pope Benedict reaches out to the Orthodox

Story here.

While trying to suppress the image of emperor Palpatine that I see in Pope Benedict, I am glad to hear that he will continue to take the rift seriously and that healing that rift is a paramount goal for his papacy.

He's right, its' going to take God to do it...as well as letting go of a few things. For starters: supremecy. Give up the title of emperor Supreme Pontiff as well as the self-created emergency powers given to you by the false union councils in response to the invading seperatists Muslims. Thereby restoring the Republic conciliar nature of the Church in which you no longer reign sit as emperor Supreme Pontiff, but as the first among equals.

Secondly: Raparations. Return ALL stolen artifacts taken when your Clone Army Crusaders stormed the Jedi Temple Constantinople and nearly destroyed it...thankfully some Jedis Orthodoxy managed to escape harm through Dagobah Russia and Tatooine Georgia (the only two Patriarchates free from external control after the clone wars Crusades and invading Muslims hordes.)

Thirdly: Give up the Dark Side false doctrines such as Papal infallibility, the Immaculate Conception of Mary, Purgatory, Literal Hellfire, and the filioque to name just a few.

Now, let's talk about the details of healing the rift....

BTW, I really didn't like the movie all that much. I'm simply too much of an absolutist who realizes that if Emperor Palpatine can be evil, then indeed anyone not with you can be considered against you. Maybe I'm a Sith.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 7:48 AM [+]

Memory Eternal

To all who have given their lives for this country.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 7:20 AM [+]

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Corporate America and Pornography

A good friend of mine forwarded me a post from some Orthodox Forum in which someone was ranting about "Corporate America" especially in regards to the new Paris Hilton / Carl's Jr. commercial (yeehaaww...that'll get me some hits!) Using it as an example, the author of the post goes on to slam the Religious Right for supporting politicians who support "Corporate America" and says that given our culture's sinful decadence that if we continue in this direction then we "deserve to fall to the Islamists." (Citing that at least the Islmaists wouldn't allow Paris Hilton's commercial)

Ahem...wow...okay, ummm they'd not just disallow it, they'd kill Paris Hilton...not that I'd miss her, but jeez let's be realistic here.

How does this tie in to pornography? Well the Religious Left (RL) is often slamming the Religious Right (RR) for their seemingly insatiable thirst to focus on things like drugs and pornography as being the bane of our culture. The RL argues that trying to fight drugs and porn is missing the point: the real issue is the state of the human soul (or in some cases for those who are particularly liberal in the RL the issue is the economic state of the individual person or whatever other sociological need that is perceived as not being met). Regardless of the details, the RL sees the pet issues of the RR as being symptoms to the greater problem. The drug and porn industry are simply catering to what society is hungry for and we need to figure out why our tastes are leaning in that direction.

And you know what, they are right. But you know what else?

The RL, in similar fashion to the RR, LOVE to blame "Corporate America" for many (maybe all) of our society's woes and I am really having a hard time seeing how this is different from what the RR is doing to Pornography and Drugs (and perhaps abortion as well?).

Anyway, here is my reponse to my friend's forwarded email:

Corporate America is merely a symptom. Focusing and blaming them is missing the

I am the one they are catering to, and I am the one who placed the order for
what they are serving me.

At least with them, I can afford to be a Christian....I'm not sure I could
afford the Islamist Jizyah. You see with corporate America I can chose at any
moment to stop paying them my jizyah and I can chose at any moment to stop being
their dhimmi....I doubt Islamists would afford me the same freedom.

In the end: porn, drugs, and corporate exploits are all serving to fulfill my perceived needs. I just need to stop perceiving that I need them. So...before we start slamming the RR or the RL, take a look and make sure you don't have a beam in your own eye.

Honestly, I am hoping that once I get my beam out, I can save some money and use it as a part of my ongoing remodel project.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 8:11 AM [+]

Orthodoxy in Slovakia

My Slovak is not just rusty, it is non existent. However, knowing the language isn't neccesary to really connect with my ancestors, because our connection runs even deeper than blood and genetics.

The Orthodox Church in Slovakia (while all in Slovak, you can browse around and find some interesting stuff.)

News video of Pascha (note the elabroate egg decorations and the vast numbers of people)

Icons in Slovakia (note St. Alexis Toth...written in English! And a number of others I've never heard of)

I've been doing ALOT of family research lately and it has been immensely pleasurable...like a treasure hunt. I have found much and plan to have that section of paradosis operational soon.

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

Monday, May 23, 2005

200th Anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar

Apparently the glorious canons of the politically correct are taking aim at historical battle reenactments.

Here's the story...with my cynical Royal Navy comments interjected in parenthesis:

23 May 2005
By Megan Lloyd Davies

A RERUN of one of Britain's most famous sea battles has fallen foul of political correctness.

It is 200 years since Nelson saw off French and Spanish forces at the Battle of Trafalgar.

But the organisers of a re-enactment next month have decided British forces cannot be allowed to beat their European adversaries. Instead, it will feature a battle between "red" and "blue" fleets.

The move is to stop visiting dignitaries - including several French VIPs - being offended.

(Also while visiting London the dignitaries will pass through "Trafalgar Square" which will be temporarily renamed "Anonymous 19th century Naval Sea Battle which may or may have not been a glorious victory which may or may not have stopped an anonymous tyrant's attempt at invading an anonymous island nation square")

The Royal Navy said: "This will not be a French-bashing opportunity."
(off record the Royal Navy spokesman then nudged his mate and while laughing, said: "Cuz we done enough of that already aint we?")

But sponsors are flabbergasted. One said: "It seems remarkable that we are not saying this is Britain versus France in this re-enactment. Surely 200 years on, we can afford to gloat a bit."

The event will be held on June 28 off Southsea, near the home of Nelson's fleet in Portsmouth.

(June 28th is my birthday!)

His 27 ships sank or captured two-thirds of a combined fleet of 33 French and Spanish vessels.
(And the RN can further gloat that they lost NONE of their vessels! You know, if it weren't for that slander campaign in the North to make the civil war into an issue of slavery, I bet we southern sympathizers could get them to make some PC changes to all those dastardly Gettysburg reenactments. How about instead of the Blue and the Grey we have the Mauve and Chartreuse.)


...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 11:36 AM [+]

Sin and Death - and fear

A fascinating homily yesterday by Fr. Michael Dunbar, a local priest serving for us while our priest was away for his daughter's wedding in Alaska. It centered around the intricate and intertwining relationship between sin and death...and even the potential of seeing the two as being so intertwined that you could view one's pre-existance to the other as being akin to asking: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

I think what struck me most was the notion that fear of death is the ultimate motivation to propel us toward sin. One example he offered was that in times of famine the very first thing people begin to do is to stop sharing...for fear of death. Similarly, hording of material goods (and non-material as well) is stemming from the exact same, though less overt, motivation.

It is from THIS, that Christ has set us free. Where O Death is your Sting?

More than just comfort for the bereaved, these words of St. Paul tell us that we are ALL now raised with Christ. To us, who are in the tombs, Christ is bestowing life - having trampled down death by death.

So what are we afraid of? Fr. Dunbar reminded us: We have nothing to fear, but fear itself. For as many as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ!

It is a decidedly different way to view my everyday temptations and impulses: What am I afraid of? Death. But death is dead, fool. Wake up!

You often hear people ask: If you hade a day to live, what would you do with your last 24 hours? I am inclined to ask a different question: If we truly believed that death is dead...how would we live differently?

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 7:36 AM [+]

Saturday, May 21, 2005

More fun in the world of science

Scientists Say Sunshine May Prevent Cancer

Well there you have it ladies and gentlemen...now we know that sunshine both prevents and causes cancer. A quick fastforward in the handy dandy time machine (betcha didn't know I had one of those, didcha?) and look what I have discovered: as it turns it science will eventually discover that cancer is both caused and prevented by everything.

Oh yeah, and hangnails cause hurricanes.

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

Friday, May 20, 2005

Human Cloning

A friend asked me to comment on THIS news story. Here is what I said:

There are a lot of holes in the news account. I am presently looking for the actual paper and have had no luck. It may take some time to get online. BUT...something smells fishy:

"I think this construct is not an embryo," he said. "There is no fertilization in our process. We use nuclear transfer technology. I can say this result is not an embryo but a nuclear transfer construct."

Ahem...ummm...all four of my children (please note overt reference to my fecundity) underwent "Nuclear transfer". What do these boneheads think happens when a sperm enters into an egg? Well, let me tell you what happens: the nuclear material of my sperm cell joins the nuclear material (aka DNA) of the egg cell...presto: human being.

Just because they are doing it synthetically and starting with an "empty cell" (no nuclear material) and then inserting all of the nuclear material (as opposed to half as would be the case during "natural nuclear transfer") doesn't - in my mind - make it less of an embryo.

This is cloning, plain and simple. They are just not allowing the embryos to grow to the natural extent that they are "programmed" to.

"There is no reason ever to believe one of these things could ever become a human being," said Magnus, who with Cho wrote a commentary on the work.

Ummm...yeah right...its akin to saying that there is no reason ever to believe that a child held underwater for several hourse could ever become an adult.

"Even for people that believe that potentiality is the key to personhood, these things, whatever they are, they are not people."

So...we don't know what these things are...but they aren't people. Well, we know the truth about solyent green! This is one of the most frightening quotes I have heard in a very long time.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 8:20 AM [+]

The Tyranny of Fashion and Societal Images of the Perfect Woman

On the LOG list, a discussion has arisen in which we are marveling at how apparently your average clothing store and fashion designer believes that the average woman is a size 8, when in fact as my good friend Steve points out, it is actually closer to 12 or 13.

Why do stores say the average size is 8?

LOL...I suspect it is because the stores dare not contradict their customers who INSIST that they are a size 8.

But, on a serious note: is it some sort of industry conspiracy? Or is it simply the stupidity, vanity, and lust of society? What does it mean when we lay the issue at the feet of the "industry"? Why is it so important to the industry to say that women ought to be such and such size? And who is influencing who?

I think it is the same age old question: Does art reflect society or influence society? Generally, I think it does both.

In regards to our wives or daughters feeling the pressure to be a size 8 (does anyone understand women dress sizes???? They sound like shoe sizes to me) I think it is a cultural thing...industry is simply catering to what is going to sell. As it is, waifer thin models with implanted breasts and wearing virtually nothing is the ticket to getting things sold.

I don't buy into the notion that barbie dolls and what not are causing our girls to puke their meals into toilets...its much deeper than that and the root is SIN...a lack of holiness...a lack of purification...a lack of illumination...and certainly a lack of deificiation. That being said, I'd be all for a "BaBa" doll who even though she is 75 years old can still do full prostrations and beat the hell out of people with their canes who cross their legs in the nave.

Women (like the rest of us) our oppressed by SIN, not the fashion industry...in a sense, the fashion industry is simply a messenger, albeit a nefarious one. From my perspective, the blame isn't found in the industry, or the stores, or the TV, or the Barbie doll (though they all to varying degrees reinforce the situation)...no, the blame is found in the very heart and mind that is presently commanding these fingers to type on this keyboard. If that heart and mind were purified and illumined (which as we know would have a holy affect on those around said heart and mind) then there would be no audience at the fashion industry shows.

In true Darwinian "fashion", they would adapt and maybe then we'd see "Baba" dolls instead of Barbie dolls.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 7:45 AM [+]

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Theology by Kids

Kelsey, my 7 year old daughter came home with mom recently and told me about the reader board of a local church that offered: "God couldn't be everywhere so He invented Moms."

She laughed and then said, "Isn't that silly Dad?"

"Why do you say it's silly?" I asked.

"Daaaaaaaaad," she said as if annoyed at having to explain the obvious, " 'God couldn't be everywhere'? That's crazy, He IS everywhere."

Truly a chip off of the theolgoically cynical fault finding block.

On the otherside of the coin, my 4 year old son still makes it a point to do a full prostration before the altar when we first cross in in front of it as we enter the Nave. I still marvel at how he has rationalized this on his own and is in fact the only person in our Parish who does this.

Initially I was a little concerned, afterall I believe there is a canon about not doing prostrations on Sunday. Well...come on...what sort of uptight dork is going to be upset at such devotion? What an idiot I am...I should do them with him.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 1:11 PM [+]

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Dichotomous Dreams

Boeing has their "Dreamliner" and now Melco International Development Ltd has their "City of Dreams":

And here is the lovely slide show to ohhh and awwwww you.

Whose dreams are these anyway? Well, frankly there are the investors dreams...and they pray they do not become nightmares.

As for me, my idea of a "city of dreams" would likely NOT include an underwater Casino with 400 gaming tables and 3000 slot machines. However, it does seem to have all the makings of a great disaster film. The RMS Titanic was called the "Ship of Dreams" and really now, what a wonderful rut for humankind to continue along in: dreaming while the ship sinks beneath us.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 8:13 AM [+]

Patriarchal Visit to Minnesota

No news about how the Patriarch Ignatios IV responded when he called out "Christ is Risen!" and the crowd responded "Ya Sure, ya betcha He is Risen!"

and After:HERE

(These are links to Yahoo searches, they ought to bypass the ANNOYING need to sign up for access to the newspaper's content - just click on the first link to show up in these searches.)

My Mom-in-Law actually informed us of this...we had no idea that our own Patriarch was going to be in the USA and we certainly had no idea he'd been at the same little Parish where my wife and I have gone when visiting the Twin Cities. I also had no idea that Ignatios IV was actively involved in manuscript preservation in the Middle East.

Of course anytime the secular media does a story on Orthodoxy they laminate over some stuff and use some fictitious wood putty (Hey, I'm doing a remodel...its on my brain), but I'll let that slide...just for today.

It's enough to know that our Patriarch shares a prestigious award with Amy Grant.
Ahem...well I did think it was pretty cool that a 17 year old boy opted to be late for his prom in order to see the Patriarch...that's cool.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 7:41 AM [+]

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Communion, Community, and otherness

An abbreviated version of Metropolitan John Zizioulas’ thoughts on these topics (amongst others) many be found HERE. Given the ugliness of the topic in the last post (Holy Eucharist being a battleground), I was particularly intrigued by this (it’s long for a blog post, but please read anyway and be comforted by the fact that it is not me writing):

It is not by accident that the Church has given to the Eucharist the name of "Communion," for in the Eucharist we find all the dimensions of communion: God communicates Himself to us, we enter into communion with Him, the participants of the sacrament enter into communion with one another, and creation as a whole enters through Man into communion with God -- all this taking place in Christ and the Holy Spirit Who brings the last days into history and offers to the world a foretaste of the Kingdom of God.

The Eucharist does not only affirm and sanctify communion; it sanctifies otherness as well. It is the place where difference ceases to be divisive and becomes good. Communion in the Eucharist does not destroy but affirms diversity and otherness.
Whenever this does not happen, the Eucharist is distorted and even invalidated even if all the other requirements for a "valid" Eucharist are satisfied. A Eucharist which excludes in one way or another those of a different race, sex, age or profession is a false Eucharist. The Eucharist must include all these, for it us there that otherness of a natural or social kind can be transcended. A Church which does not celebrate the Eucharist in this inclusive way loses her catholicity.

But are there no limits to otherness in eucharistic communion? Is the Eucharist not a "closed" community in some sense? Do we not have such a thing as exclusion from eucharistic communion? These questions can only be answered in the affirmative. There is indeed exclusion from communion in the Eucharist, and the "doors" of the synaxis are indeed shut at some point in the Liturgy. How are we to understand this exclusion of the other?

Eucharistic communion permits only one kind of exclusion: the exclusion of exclusion: all those things that involve rejection and division, which in principle distort Trinitarian faith. Heresy involves a distorted faith that has inevitable practical consequences concerning communion and otherness. Schism is also an act of exclusion; when schism occurs, the eucharistic community becomes exclusive. In the case of both heresy and schism, we cannot pretend that we have communion with the other when in fact we have not.

To this I would simply add that sin is also an act of exclusion. When I sin, that sin is not the breaking of a law by which God and I must come to terms – rather it is also a breaking of community that includes my brothers and sisters in Christ (and really the whole of creation.) Schism and heresy, by definition, are sins never repented of.

Furthermore, the communal natrure of sin speaks also to the beauty, wonder, and neccesity for the Sacrament of Confession.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 11:20 AM [+]

Monday, May 16, 2005

Straight to the Point

Story is HERE

Divine Services and particularly HOLY Communion is NOT the time or place for bumper sticker politics. And I won't even say that this is especially true if your bumper sticker (ahem...sash) is making a statement in direct contradiction with the teachings of historic Christianity and specifically your church from which you are expecting to feed on Christ. (oops...well I guess I said it anyway.)

Furthermore...who ANY church decides to deny communion to is NOT the secular media's business. Get over it people...denying communion (I denied it to myself yesterday) is not unusual. Furthermore...I sure hope the RCC doesn't cave to external pressure...frankly most people would like us to stop believing in the nonsese of Resurrection too. Can you see the headlines?

Local Orthodox Parish proclaims that "Christ is Risen."

by Joshua Freethinker, AP

In a staggering breach of common sense, the people at this local Orthodox Parish actually believe that Jesus rose from the dead. For when prompted with the statement "Christ is Risen" they immediately respond in robotic unison: "Indeed He is Risen!"

It is also reported that in order to receive Holy Communion at this parish you are forced to confess AND believe this (among a number of other things). And as if this were not enough, the parishoners must actually go to the priest (a man, because woman are banned) and confess their "sins."

A group of former parishoners arrived on Pentecost in order to protest these out-dated, ignorant, and sexist policies and beliefs. Each of them had tatooed on their foreheads, words saying: "Christ is risen merely to a higher state of consciousness!" and then on the back of their shaved heads (which was a means of showing solidarity and equality between all five sexes) was tatooed: "Indeed he is risen merely to a higher state of consciousness!"

Their intention was to rush the chalice and insist on receiving Holy Communion. The press was notified as also were local government officials and a number of other special interest groups all of whom were planning on attending and witnessing the confrontation. (Of course, they planned on arriving after the Gospel reading because they had heard the services were ridiculously long and they couldn't believe that they didn't have a microwavable version.)

However, when the priest saw all that was going on, he was reported to say, "Was it silly willy nilly secular unbelievingable people telling the Orthodox Church who she is to and is to not give communion to in 19th century Russia? IT WAS NOT! Is Outrage!" At which point the priest called out his brown skirts: elderly women with large canes (secretly referred to as the "Baba squad"). These little brown skirts began pummeling the protestors and the media with their canes, shouting anathemas and other impolite unelderly lady-like things.

And the last thing that this intrepid reporter heard from inside the Church was someone shouting: "The Doors...the Doors!"

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 7:48 AM [+]

Friday, May 13, 2005

She's Alive

...weighing a mere 11 ounces and being at least 3 months premature. Story may be found HERE. Note that she isn't the smallest ever...a baby released from a chicago hospital in February started out at a mere 8.5 ounces.

Of course in reality, they were even smaller than that...we all were. Several days ago Clifton was engaging the age old abortion debate and this picture of baby Kalea reminded me of my lab experiences which I related over at Clifton's blog. While Kalea's leg is about the size of an adult pinky finger, most of the aborted fetuses I witnessed were (when put back together) perhaps a little larger in their entirety than an adult pinkie...but otherwise they looked very much like Baby Kalea. In fact,too much alike for my comfort.

As medical science pushes back the time barrier in which a baby can survive outside a mother's womb, some abortion proponents may find themselves losing and certainly backtracking their arbitrary "life defining" point of no return. But of course, a life dependent on another life does not make it lifeless...quite the contrary I should think: we humans are very much dependent on LIFE outside of ourselves.

Unlike baby Kalea, science can do nothing for those who leave God's womb. May we be granted great mercy to remain...together therein.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 8:17 AM [+]

Equal Protection

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged Muslims around the world on Thursday to resist calls for violence from people outraged by a report that interrogators at Guantanamo Bay had desecrated the Koran.

Story HERE.

"I want to speak directly to Muslims in America and throughout the world. Disrespect for the Holy Koran is not now, nor has it ever been, nor will it ever be tolerated by the United States," she said. "Disrespect for the Holy Koran is abhorrent to us all."

Hmmmm...how very nice. Do you think we might extend such intolerance of disrespect toward religion to include Christianity? The interrogators, it is said, "had placed Korans on toilets, and in at least one case flushed a holy book down the toilet."

Imagine if you will what the Muslim world would think if the US government sponsored some artwork like "Piss Koran" in which a copy of the Koran is pictured immersed in a jar of urine and cow's blood (or pig's blood). Or if a local state or city government funded art gallery publically displaying a "painting" entitled "The Holy Prophet" that showed him with an elephant dung nose and being surrounded by genitalia images clipped from pornographic magazines. Ahhh, the wonderful world of the NEA funded by our tax dollars.

So what's it going to take to someday hear a government official say - without being laughed out of office - "I want to speak directly to Christians in America and throughout the world. Disrespect for the Holy Bible, the Saints, or Jesus Christ is not now, nor has it ever been, nor will it ever be tolerated by the United States...Disrespect for Christianity is abhorrent to us all."

In conversation about this earlier, someone reminded me: "Well, James, you have to understand that we are involved in a Middle Eastern conflict and we are trying to play a PR game with the Muslim world."

Yes, of course, I understand this. But Rice's statement is no less striking to me. I do not recall any amount of outreach or extreme sensitivity toward Orthodox Christian communities when we had a liberal democrat bombing Serbia. If a serbian soldier had been captured and the interrogator had flushed an icon down the toilet, do you think we would have flinched at all? Why do you suppose that is? Well for starters, nobody got killed during the riots that never happened over the NEA sponsored "Piss Christ" or the New York City sponsored elephant dung "Virgin Mary."

So, why worry about officially sanctioning disrespect for Christianity? (shrugging shoulders) Jesus told us to expect it, didn't He?

WARNING: Speaking from personal experience, flushing anything down a toilet other than what is normally intended to be flushed down a toilet (e.g. fecies, urine, toilet paper - and in more than a handful of cases such materials also incorporates government sponsored art) is a very bad idea. I am sure the interregator who tried to get the Koran down regretted it when his CO made him fix the inevitable problem. Don't try this stunt at home...these are trained professionals.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 6:16 AM [+]

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Stolen objects, if found please return...no questions asked

Interesting article in which "Prominent U.S. Holocaust claims lawyer Ed Fagan is to file a "multi-billion" dollar lawsuit against Hungary, alleging it wrongly kept artworks stolen by the Nazis and conspired to prevent them being returned." Read it HERE.

Really, keeping stolen booty isn't new...come on guys. On the other hand, I wonder if we Orthodox might get ourselves a lawyer...if memory serves there are a few (thousand) of our relics and other precious religious materials spread throughout western europe. Italy, the Vatican, France etc...man can't the lawyers smell the potential money? Come on, where are all the left-leaning bleeding hearts who will recongize, lament, and make reparations for this grievous wrong done to us. We just need to drum up some more sympathy for the events of 1204.

We might also note 1453 when this item turned up missing:

Along with a few other churches, now disguised as mosques or museums. MUSEUMS for all love! Well one could arguably say that that is the state of Orthodoxy in Turkey today...but that is another story that might be told by a lawyer. Perhaps as a condition for acceptance into the EU we might ask....? Man, we just need to hire some good PR people...somebody email Bono.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 11:05 AM [+]

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Google Maps

For some this may be old news, but I have just been introduced to GoogleMaps and it is pretty slick. First note that you can click and drag the map in order to quickly and easily center your location. And then, coolest of all, you can click on the "satellite" link on the right hand side and get a decent satellite image of the region. I think it is particularly cool to see your route laid out (if you chose directions to or from) over a satellite image!

Now...put in your home address in this format: street address, city, state
Then click on "Local Search" right above the address entry form.
Now go ahead and enter "pizza" and get a list of pizza places around your house.
Do the same, this time try "Orthodox" for a list of Orthodox Churches(and those claiming to be Orthodox) around you.
Pretty cool, eh?

Beware though...if your location is remotely rural, don't expect an image.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 2:44 PM [+]

Update on Ken Schram

I never heard back from Ken, but I feel relieved seeing that he is now editorializing about a wrongful pet death settlement. Whew...good to see he is back in his natural habitat.

No scathing expose' of the blood center's bigoted and pre-Bush policies seems forthcoming despite my best attempts to rouse him.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 8:12 AM [+]

Great Article on St. John the Forerunner Monastery

Main Article Here

Make sure to note the companion articles under the picture to the right - especially the slide show And the intriguing article sharing the non-Orthodox reporter's experiences in spending time there.

Funny how some of the reporter's feelings are comparable to mine when I visited:

It's strange to not start my mornings listening to the radio. It's different to not know if another American was killed in Iraq last night or if another pop starlet has unlocked the secrets of reproduction.

But somehow, the world keeps turning...

... Several weeks later, I am in front of my computer in the newsroom, stressed and on deadline. I place a call to the monastery to check a couple more facts. One of the sisters answers the phone, she sounds so calm and peaceful, asks how I am doing and seems genuinely interested in the answer.

It makes me wonder who is really living in the real world.

But really...leaving Pascha left me with a similar impression and sensation. And indeed to a lesser extent, leaving the Divine Liturgy does as well. Furthermore, there is a realm where we can choose to exist on a day to day basis and when we "deal" with the outside world it will be like our very own monastery coffee/gift shop. The Kingdom within...where the pure really do see God and the meek really do inherit the earth. It's not just in Monasteries and during the Liturgy, it is the normal way of life. But God knows we need those things to remind us of how that normal life ought to be.

Someone once said that Monasteries are like laboratories of the heart, and it sounds like this reporter took part in a beneficial experiment.

Now, if we could just get them to do the services in English.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 7:18 AM [+]

Monday, May 09, 2005

New Narnia Trailer

YES! Gave me goosebumps!


...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 10:00 AM [+]

Friday, May 06, 2005

Homosexuality is as much a risk factor for obtaining HIV as obesity is to heart disease

It's just a fact and all the political correctness in the world won't make the facts any different. If only us fat people had more political clout, maybe we wouldn't be so stigmatized! Ken Schram, a local TV news editorialist jumped onto the anti-Bush bandwagon as the FDA has issued new rules banning gay men from donating sperm. A simple search on the web in regards to this topic brings up a host of nonesense. Here is Schram's editorial, equally full of nonsense.

And here is my reply to Ken:

Mr. Schram,

You couldn't be more wrong about this and I think you may be allowing your disdain for Bush to get in the way of the facts - unless you are simply babbling flaming nonsense for your readers/viewers entertainment. If you criticize the FDA (and Bush?) for not letting gays donate semen, you might want to ask why blood centers don't also (and have not for a LONG time) allow them to donate blood.

Quoting from the Puget Sound Blood Center's policy:

"Individuals at a higher risk for acquiring this illness [HIV] and/or transmitting the virus should not donate blood. These individuals are:
* Any male who has had sex with another male since 1977, even one time."

Clearly they too are simply trying to "go after gay men"

Come on man, are you serious about your editorial? I can't believe it. I'd be willing to bet that if you did a little more looking you'd find that the blood donor "no-no" list is identical with semen donors. As someone who does infectious disease research, I can tell you that if it isn't, it should be.

There are HUNDREDS of published studies that show that HIV is a "blood born pathogen", the FDA doesn't cite them because it is so widely known that they probably didn't think they'd need to. Clearly you yourself have proven that they were mistaken. It's akin to criticizing an NTSB aircraft accident report for not noting the role gravity played in the disaster.

James Ferrenberg

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 7:24 PM [+]

Thursday, May 05, 2005

The bells began to ring...

...in my children's room at about 4:15 am on Sunday morning. (We do things a little different than most Orthodox Parishes: we have our Paschal service at 5am). As Ferrenberg tradition dictates, I play a CD from a Russian Church in St. Petersburg which begins with loud clanging bells and thereby I both wake the kids up and announce the arrival of Pascha.

Sleepy eyed (some more than others) and most with bootied feet, they staggered out into the living room to begin the sped up and abbreviated process of getting dressed and ready for liturgy. I pointed out to the kids that the central icon of the icon corner had changed from that of Christ crucified to that of Christ trampling down death. And as my youngest daughter continued dressing she looked up at it and promptly said:

"Whew...things are back to normal."

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 2:11 PM [+]

Kingdom of Heaven

I am very much interested in seeing this movie. However, I read a review by someone named Kirk Honeycutt here. In it, he says the following:

"Kingdom" fulfills the requirements of grand-scale moviemaking while serving as a timely reminder that in the conflict between Christianity and Islam it was the Christians who picked the first fight.

Ahem...I certainly hope that Ridley Scott does much better than this simplistic nonsense. Did Mr. Honeycutt or Mr. Scott (or anyone ever to think about the Crusades) ever stop to think how the Muslims first arrived in Jerusalem? (Or for that matter the vast majority of the regions now predominantly or significantly Islamic - Indenosia I believe is the only exception.)

As memory serves, when Omar took Jerusalem it was in the hands of the Christian Byzantine Empire round about 638AD and I am going to guess that they didn't welcome the Muslim army with open arms with the understanding that Muslim rule was such a carnival of paradisical fun, freedom, and joy as we are too often lead to believe. Ask some of our Orthodox martyrs.

If this movie plays that politically correct rubish my accompanying friends had better be ready for a good old fashioned James-tirade over the beers afterwards. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying the Crusades were a great thing, but let's get over this western self-abnegation and realize that the west really wasn't doing anything that the Muslim armies had more succesfully done: military conquest. Save for the 4th's detour, theirs was an attempt at reconquest...if you lump european east and west together. (Which likely isn't fair.)

Mr. Honeycutt and Mr. Scott would do well to remember that there were innumerable Christians in Jerusalem and in many places throughout the Middle East long before Muhammed was even born.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 8:04 AM [+]

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Not of this world

The world went on without us. It took little notice of our absense...sad to say.

A few friends mentioned that they understood it was our Easter last week, but otherwise most everyone figured I was out fishing for the last week that I took off from work. But more than that, I return to the "world" feeling quite literally detatched.

The political rants on both the conservative and liberal radio shows have not changed. The world goes on suffering: killing one another while each individual glories in the worship of themselves. TV went on and I missed a few programs I would have normally watched. Perhaps another new single from U2's new album is getting airplay? Perhaps a favortie survivor got voted off the island? The garbage collectors came yesterday. My work piled up while I was gone. And sone new movies came out on DVD.

I just don't feel ready to get back into "normal" life. I feel like I was on a glorious vacation (despite all the hard work - the number of services we had and added to it the ascetic efforts of watching and getting ready four small kids through it all) and am now not yet mentally or physically prepared to go back to work.

I started feeling it yesterday - even before getting back to the lab...but today it is even worse. Detached is the only way I can describe it. No news on the wires today can compare to the news I received very early last Sunday morning:


...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 2:23 PM [+]

A Taste of Serbia

Bright Monday celebration with some Slivovitz our good friend Rade left us before heading off to Serbia. From the fruit of some Serbian tree he now celebrates the feast under, I imagine...yummy stuff!

Click to see us in our fullsized glory - if you dare.
Cristos vaskres!

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 8:41 AM [+]

Jehovah's Witnesses on Holy Saturday

Yep, they knocked on my door on Holy Saturday. The family is busily preparing for the feast and I have not eaten since Thursday night...bad timing to say the least.

Anyone ever read my little "ficitional" account of 2nd century door to door evangelists?

Well, I tried to take the same approach and so when they presented me with their magazine with the headline: "Who was Jesus?" I was upfront: "Well I know the answer to that question - He is God, one of the Holy Trinity." And promptly both their Bibles began to be opened and thumbed vigorously through.

But I stopped them and asked: "Where did that Bible come from? Do you know when we first decided what the Bible would be composed of?" The kindly older woman figured that it must have been right around the first century...and I must admit to smiling at the fact that I now would be the one educating them and not what they perceived ought to be the other way around. And I continued to approach them from this foundational issue of authority: they said that the word "trinity" isn't found in the Bible and I tell them that the concept of "Sola Scriptura" isn't either and that furthermore Jesus didn't found a book (in fact said nothing about the need for such a thing), but He did found a Church.

I mean really, how can I take YOUR translation and YOUR interpretation of the Bible seriously, when there are 30,000+ other groups who stand on the same authoritative prinicple but reach radically different conclusions?

It became readily apparent to me that while they were trained to deal with the standard "Bible Answer Man" trained protestant proof-text warrior, they were not prepared to handle a challenge over authority and their foundational assumption of "Sola Scriptura."

It was an intriguing conversation that ended with THEIR decision to call it quits and they declined any future email conversations, but left me with their magazine and the promise that they would return again - no doubt with bigger guns. I welcomed it and their magazine has made for great reading in the bathroom.

If and when they return, I will insist they take some materials from me...after all, I took theirs.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 8:09 AM [+]

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Strange Traditions

Okay, so I do have to make note of this one:

"Rival" Parishes on the Aegean island of Chios fire off homemade rockets in the hopes of hitting the other church's belltower. I presume it is all in good fun....but geesh...wonder if they get extra credit for starting a fire!

Well you know that Orthodox Churches often are loosely designed to look like ships and some of their architectural nomenclature is founded on nautical terminolgy, so why not install a gundeck? Hey I'll bet with some 32lb carronades we could pummel that german ship "Gloria Dei" down the road.

Oh yes...let us forget the Paschal feast this afternoon...RUN UP THE COLORS AND BEAT TO QUARTERS!


...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 10:25 AM [+]

Christ is Risen!

Much to say...but far too much celebrating to be done at the moment. It is the feast or feasts, so go and feast for all love! I give you all miniscule joy for the greatest joy ever to befall the universe.

Christ is Risen, and you, O death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!
Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead, is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 10:05 AM [+]

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