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.
...you grew a goatee, joined the Serbian Police Force, and are hanging out with the Patriarch.
Seriously though, this picture of Patriarch Pavle was taken during a Divine Liturgy offered for a feastday that Rade reminded us took place on June 28th (NC). The anniversary "celebration" of the collapse of Serbia under the Turks (1389AD)...and the martydom of St. Lazar. It is a curious story related to us by poem which Rade shared with the LOG recently. I found this version as well:
The Downfall of the Kingdom of Serbia
Yes, and from Jerusalem, O from that holy place, A great gray bird, a taloned falcon flew! And in his beak he held a gentle swallow. But wait! it's not a falcon, this gray bird, It is a saint, Holy Saint Eliyah: And he bears with him no gentle swallow But a letter from the Blessed Mother. He brings it to the Tsar at Kosovo And places it upon his trembling knees. And thus the letter itself speaks to the Tsar: 'Lazar! Lazar! Tsar of noble family, Which kingdom is it that you long for most? Will you choose a heavenly crown today? Or will you choose an earthly crown? If you choose the earth then saddle horses, Tighten girths- have your knights put on Their swords and make a dawn attack against The Turks: your enemy will be destroyed. But if you choose the skies then build a church- O, not of stone but out of silk and velvet- Gather up your forces take the bread and wine, For all shall perish, perish utterly, And you, O Tsar, shall perish with them." And when the Tsar has heard those holy words He meditates, thinks every kind of thought: "O, Dearest God, what shall I do, and how? Shall I choose the earth? Shall I choose The skies? And if I choose the kingdom, If I choose an earthly kingdom now, Earthly kingdoms are such passing things- A heavenly kingdom, raging in the dark, endures eternally." And Lazar chose heaven, not the earth, And tailored there a church at Kosovo- O not of stone but out of silk and velvet- And he summoned there the Patriarch of Serbia, Summoned there the lordly twelve high bishops: And he gathered up his forces, had them Take with him the saving bread and wine. As soon as Lazar has given out His orders, then across the level plane Of Kosovo pour all the Turks.
Intriguing...hey Rade, can you tell us the meaning of "Vidovdan"? The Yahoo news story mentions a St. Vitus...what's that all about?
Caught them on my local PBS station...OUTSTANDING! I was mesmerized, captivated, and profoundly "wowed". I cannot say enough...absolutely gorgeous...music made for the sake of beauty. I could hear the call of my near forgotten celtic roots.
I'm ordering the DVD, along with a bottle of Bushmills - glorious.
You can also listen and watch Máiréad Nesbitt play "Ashokan Farewell" HERE.
Choose your connection speed...then click "watch videos." It will automatically start with "You Raise Me Up" (which is also worth listening to), but on the right hand side bottom of the screen click "Watch:'The Contradiction'" and you will see them open with "Ashokan Farewell." But be careful fellas, Máiréad's eyes are liabel to hurt.
Newsflash for Oprah ....(grunt)(teethgrinding)trying hard....not....to...post...(groan)...about this....stupid....topic...(gasp)....must rant must rant must rant!
I know this may come as a shock to you Oprah...but the vast majority of human beings in the world do not EXPECT to be allowed in to a store (ANY store) to shop, after they have closed.
Am I the only person who sees the absurdity of this? Racism? PUUUUUHHHHHLEASE! Another example of how the fabulously wealthy and famous are utterly out of touch with reality. Go home Oprah, and like those of us who are mere mortals, try again when they open in the morning.
I'm going to Target (French pronunciation if you please) tonight at 10:15pm and I am going to demand to be let in....I need a pair of targetstock semi-leather sandles and a can of planters honey roasted peanuts. If they refuse I will claim discrimination against fat people.
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 12:12 PM [+] +++
Am I walking the western theological fence?
I stumbled accross this "Theological Worldview" Test and tried to take it. I finally did struggle through it and ended up being 86% Roman Catholic - EVEN though I disagreed that the Pope is the head of the Church on Earth. Geez....I didn't know you could be Catholic and deny that - must be an American made test I suppose. (Who is Sven and what the heck is "Neo-Orthodox"?) By the way the correct answer is: Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church on Earth.
Anyway, the test, it seems to me is based wholly on a western approach. I kept answering the questions a certain way, but all the while realizing that my answer was going to be interpretted the wrong way. For instance, we are asked to agree or disagree: "Karl Barth's theology is hugely important."
I cannot even remember WHO Karl Barth is, let alone what sort of theology he espoused. So, how can I answer? I said I disagreed because - it seems to me - some modern protestant guy's (modern by Orthodox standards) theology could NEVER be considered HUGELY important, could it? LOL...but of course for this test, my answer has likely painted me with a theological color that I had not intended.
Numerous other questions kept trying to pin me down into either a western liberal or conservative theologian and that simple will not answer...maybe while I was in the ECUSA this would have worked, but not now. Here's a real nightmare either/or example: "Social action is important, but not as important as saving lost souls" Yikes...ummmm...I pass, thanks. I felt as if I were approaching the test from a completely different context and were it not for the simple statements, such as: "It is right to baptise infants", I'm not sure how they could have ever figured me out - I likely would have been all over the map.
I really stumbled on this one: "Bishop Spong is an important theologian who should be taken seriously"
Well, yes, but so was Arius. If I agree...what exactly does THAT mean? It would have been easier if the test author would have offered: "Bishop Spong is a heretic."
The other night, in a fit of potentially sinful boredom (I suppose there is ALWAYS something better I COULD be doing...even now) I jumped back and forth between Red Green reruns and some TV special about the 100 greatest movies lines. Hopefully I have not, in admitting this, revealed to much of my true nature...but if you don't "bust a gut" laughing at "Handyman's corner" then you likely will never be able to have much fun hanging out with me. Hmmm...tangent.
Anyway...what amazed me about the 100 best movie lines show was not which line came in first or second or even 100th, but rather how many of them I absolutely KNEW, but had no idea where they'd originated - in fact I didn't even know they were from a movie and yet I was able to say the line precisely as the actor or actress of the film had delivered it!
Wow...movies have really integrated themselves into our lives, haven't they? For good or ill, they are the fireside stories, myths, and legends of our day. That we wander about quoting them without even knowing it, gives me pause to wonder to what extent we have changed our thinking via their influence...perhaps even without knowing it? Yes, the age old question: does art influence culture or does culture influence art? Usually I'd say that both are true...but when the question was originally posed, was media nearly as potent or engrossing as it is today? And yet, there I was consuming it...well c'mon man! It was Red Green for all love!
As if I have not had an overdose of Fr. Michael Oleksa and Alaskan Orthodoxy, I googly stumbled into this article.
In reading about the monastics support of the native peoples I was reminded of the movie "The Mission" with Robert DeNiro and Jeremy Irons. But we're not talking about "liberation theology" here, we're simply talking about Orthodox Christianity. And specifically how Orthodoxy was able to mesh so well with the native culture and conflict so readily with the spirit that brought so many to Alaska: materialism.
It is fascinating to read about how the early Russian-American Company leaders (Baranov) ended up regretting so deeply their appeal for priests to come to Alaska.
Despite the Darwinian "selfish gene" determinism that dominates the nature vs. nurture argument these days, I am a firm believer that humans are more than the sum of their genes...in fact I don't see how a Christian could believe otherwise. The ethic dejour is generally that if we were born a certain way, then it is acceptable to "be" that way. But of course, if we follow this notion to its logical conclusion then we are forced to say the same of the murky waters of pedophiles and the chronically violent - perhaps they were born this way? Maybe I was born with an inclination to have sex with as many women as I possibly can...certainly a presupposition supported by many evolutionary biologists - it makes sense and is the best way for my slefish gene to be propegated.
Well, I think it's generally nonsense. I think depravity (oh how judgmental of me to refer to my sexual inclinations as depraved!) is cultivated. It might perhaps be planted in our genetic garden (an issue that I think can also be explained by the Fall...genetic mutations) but we are the ones who water, feed, and tend to it.
I suspect it begins with parents. Do we cultivate depravity or do we check it - weeding the garden as it were? It is a frightening prospect - believe me as a struggling and sinful father of four! I recall hearing that Jeffery Dahlmer's dad said nothing to his son when he was going out and killing animals and doing what most folks would consider macabre down in the basement...turning a blind eye. And we hear all the time about seemingly absent parents being surprised to find that their pre-teen children were building pipe bombs in the garage. Unchecked depravity in children, it seems, cultivates it.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not laying all the blame on parents, but let us not downplay the importance of parents either. If we believe good parents have a positive effects on kids' lives, then we must also believe that bad or absent parents have a negative effect. Any of you who are parents know that we must TEACH kids at the earliest age to do things like: Share. Has anyone ever had a kid who was born with an inclination to share their toys or food? And selfishness is a form of depravity, is it not? In fact, it is the very SEAT of depravity and we as parents must check it...perhaps check it like a hockey players checks things. :)
As adults we hopefully graduate into the battle, fully prepared to at least try and war against our own depravity. We all know it isn't easy...but without even the most basic of training (e.g. "Bobby you have to share your toys.") I think you end up with a much greater uphill fight...a fight that it seems some folks just give up on (or maybe never fought at all.) For my own part, I have had stages in my life when I have not fought the "passions" (as we like to call them) and it seemed to me that it was like giving up running on a never ending treadmill. The minute you stop, the further behind you get and you will never stop moving further, or rather deeper, into a depraved state.
At some point you rationalize the depravity, you justify it, you begin to think: it's not really that bad...it's not hurting anyone etc etc etc. But the treadmill keeps moving you backwards. Sometimes we even turn around and walk or run with the direction of the treadmill...we lose more and more inhibition, we may even lose our original concern about hurting others, or at the very least we ignore or deny the injury to others. It gets worse and worse and worse...there is NEVER a plateu - similar to drug addiction.
This is the pathway to monsterhood. I suspect it is the pathway that people like THIS have tread, having long since abandoned the battle against what might be the genetic treadmill thay were placed on. Likewise, the genetic garden is not weeded, good fruit and veggie plants are cultivated along with choking weeds...and as any gardner will tell you, the weeds will always win such competitions.
Oh dear...I've rambled into two different analogies (treadmills and gardens)...please forgive me. But I think they are acccurate. We all have varying levels of monsterhood in us...it's when we give up fighting that we spiral into taking the form of a monster that perhaps even the unillumined can recognize. And while we might not all start with seeds of pedophilia or violence...whatever seeds we do have are not going to be pretty if we don't get off our lazy asses and weed the garden and run the treadmill.
Weeding the garden and running the treadmill, we are told in a roundabout way by St. Seraphim, will save many around as well. Whew...a positive note to start the weekend on!
...that St. Peter the Aleut (Cungagnaq) was martyred in California after being captured by Spanish sailors. He was brought to the bay area and was killed by Roman Catholics who were attempting to get him to convert.
Having not read much about him, I had always assumed he was simply killed by his fellow Aleuts in Alaska for converting to Orthodoxy. See what happens when you assume? And now, James, you know the REST of the story.
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 11:31 AM [+] +++
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
One more book to add...
...to the list of those that have meant a lot to me. Fr. Michael's Orthodox Alaska reminded me of it.
Those who know me have no doubt heard this little story, but grin and bear it. After I left the Assemblies of God I would eventually become an Episcopalian. Attending a small parish in Snohomish I asked the rector if he could recommend a book that would help me to better understand sacramental theology. Now, in retrospect he probably should have told me - as a broad representation of ECUSA theology - that the sacraments could mean pretty much whatever I wanted them to mean. Instead, however, he placed in my hands a copy of Alexander Schmemann's book For the Life of the World.
Admittedly, I had to read very slowly, but I was no less amazed by this little (and yet heavy) book. My priest at this parish definately had a love for Orthodoxy but could not bring himself to convert - I suspect - because of the "behind the times" stance the Church "officially" takes on many contemporary issues. Needless to say, I was readily entrenched "behind the times" and thus my hopping the east-west fence was a joyously undertaken happening. Later, my former priest jokingly lamented ever giving me the book.
Anyway..Fr. Michael reminded me of Schmemann's book with these words, beginning with a quote from Pierre Pascal's "The Religion of the Russian People":
"The peasent, together with Genesis and St. Paul, believes that the whole of creation, which the earth represents, is affected by man's sin and called to renewel with him. His religion has hardly any conception of individual fall and individual salvation; it is more collective, cosmic...it is powerfully aware of a mystical communion between man and nature, both alike works of a good God. Nature is always pure.[I am sent recalling Alyosha hugging the dirt]Man, when he sins, seperates himself from it and sees no more than what can be seen from the outside. But the pure man perceives its beauty, its oneness with God and his own oneness with it...If nature puts him in contact with God, it is not through any confusion with God, but because nature is His creation."
Fr. Michael continues...
The Greek word "symbolon" means "to hold together." To the ancient Church, this meant that a symbol, while not fully encompassing the reality it "symbolizes," nevertheless participates in and communicates that reality. A symbol, in other words, does not "represent" and absent "thing" or stand in place of it, as a mere substitute or reminder. It is what is symbolizes, without totally manifesting or revealing it. It was in this sense that the ancient fathers wrote that the entire cosmos is the symbol of "God."
With this in mind...recall who the "old man/king" is being depicted in the center of the Pentecost icon. Curious, I think.
Who of us has not played that silly little game where a group of you sit in a circle and one of you whispers a brief but detailed story into the ear of the person next to you and then tells them to pass the story on to their neighbor in similar fashion. And by the time the story is retold aloud by the last person in the circle we get to laugh and giggle at how the tale evolved.
We've used it in Youth Groups to demonstrate the unreliability and consequent dangers of gossip...but I've also heard of it being used to demonstrate the unreliability of oral tradition. Well, quite frankly, it does no such thing.
I listened to Fr. Michael Oleksa this morning, relating the story of the martyrdom of St. Juvenaly. For quite sometime, Bancroft's account of how Fr. Juvenaly died (a really ugly story about being framed with some chief's daughter in bed with him) had been upheld by most histories (including, as I understand it, a relatively recent National Geographic magazine article). Bancroft's source was a diary claiming to be that of Fr. Juvenaly himself, but as Fr. Michael points out, it is an absurd forgery. And while an historian or archeologist might not be able to readily identify it as such, any Orthodox Christian could label it a fraud instantly. How? The author of the forgery got the feast dates wrong and even included feasts that don't exist on the Orthodox calender! (Don't you know that the Apostles Feast is in September?) What do we make of an Orthodox Hieromonk who can't get his own calender right? Apparently this forged diary is still displayed in Bancroft's library at Berkley...one wonders if they even know.
Anyway, Fr. Michael collected stories from oral tradition and was later able to corroborate them with external sources and has for all intents and purposes shown once again that Bancroft's popoular "historical" and "documented" account was patently untrue and that the oral tradition of the native people's of Alaska were accurate. This investigation, by the way, was one more step in convincing Fr. Michael to never dismiss the reliability of oral tradition...because it is not a whispered secret, it is public domain.
Want to play the aforementioned game in a way that more accurately reflects oral tradition? First, have numerous people from the circle actually witness the story, then discuss the story amongst themselves. After sometime, have these people return to the circle and ALOUD and amongst them all begin to relate the story to everyone else. Repeat this aloud and public story telling numerous times (maybe start a fire in the middle and perhaps do a little eating, drinking, and dancing too). Then start letting people who were not witnesses to the story begin to tell it as well...and of course where they make mistakes they will naturally be corrected by other's who perhaps heard it more clearly...or even by those who were actual witnesses to the event.
In other words...the story becomes public domain: literally apart of our collective memory and if anyone begins to embellish it, they would instantly identify it as not being apart of that which has been handed down...is this starting to sound familiar? These are the EXACT sort of apologetics used by the Chruch in ancient times to distinguish truth from heresey. It is also the means by which the Church PICKED the canon of Scripture. And, to be honest...this way of telling stories in the Church is still being practiced.
I propose we develope a "story game" similar to my example (perhaps without fire, food, drink, and dancing) for our youth that demonstrates the reliability of Oral Tradition.
Having blogged for awhile I have had my fair share of what I like to call "cowardly shots accross the bow." People that stumble accross my blog and then make some anonymous comment with precious little intent of ever really coming back or opening a dialogue with me or other readers.
Case and point is the anonymous visitor who asked recently if I might be a "homophobe" or a racist because, I assume, this is implicit in my thinking that diversity training in the workplace is a waste of time and resources. Clearly the connection is staggeringly clear...but alas none of these bow shooters and runners stick around long enough to engage in serious dialogue.
So much easier to label me and run off feeling content that I have been put safely in a clearly characterized, classified, identified, insignified, marked, stamped, stickered, and tagged place. It's funny how it is usually the conservative religious right who are accused of doing this, but clearly they are not the sole proprietors of such absurdity.
Step out of line with the growing popular acceptance for all things "politically correct" and watch the labels get heaped upon you. Let me be clear: I'm willing to talk here people...willing to engage...willing to trade broadsides in a nice way. But for all love don't fire a label accross my bow and run, let us conduct ourselves as gentlepersons (see how PC I can be!)
First though: Any other bloggers out there get a request to join a weblog study via MIT? Wondering if it's real.
1. Total Number of Books I've Owned:
I'm always told I have A LOT of books, but that is usually by friends or relatives who don't "do books" for the most part. All I can say is that everytime I have moved I have regretted not selling some of my books.
2. Last Book I Bought:
Service and Akathist Hymn of Saint Alexis of Wilkes-Barre
3. Last Book I Read:
My daughter and I just finished The Fellowship of the Ring It had been so long for me that I had forgotten nearly all of it.
4. Five Books That Mean A Lot To Me:
Boy, this is a tough one...there are so many and I naturally want to find the golden answer to impress the crap out of all of you...but I find that don't answer. The first three are all FREELY available online.
On the Incarnation by Saint Athanasios Amazing book, far too unknown to the vast majority of Christians I suspect. Available online HERE.
Against Heresies by Saint Irenaios of Lyon Ditto...
On the Apostolic Preaching by Saint Irenaios or Lyon Saint Irenaios did much to bring me to the Orthodox Church. He was the first ancient Christian writer I found when I decided that I would not read one more cruddy modern book giving me their take on the ancient church before I actually read works by people who were IN the ancient church.
Both of St. Irenaios' works are linked through the library.
Any of the Patrick O'Brien Aubrey-Maturin series books Love em....BEAT TO QUARTERS!...nuff said. (and that makes 21 additional books to my list, so I'm done)
While reading Fr. Michael Oleksa’s book (he tells me he has a new one coming out soon, entitled “Another Culture/Another World”) I am also listening to his lectures given at the Eagle River Institute in 1997 (I think). Fr. Michael is quite an Alaskan historian and I have really enjoyed the depth of his lectures in this regard, but one thing particularly struck me as both intriguing and significant.
Fr. Michael is privy to a good deal of oral tradition on Alaskan history and when he compared it to the sometimes-near canonical text of Bancroft’s history of Alaska, things didn’t mesh very well in a number of areas. Fr. Michael notes many fascinating aspects of how our culture has evolved to view oral tradition as repugnant and chosen instead to rely on written text…as if having something written down automatically lends credence and validity to what is there. Curiously enough, by examining recently released or found (who knows?) documentation in Russia, Fr. Michael found that the oral tradition was spot on right and Bancroft (who apparently wrote his book while in San Francisco and I’m not sure but may have never even BEEN to Alaska) was flat out wrong!
Listening to the choir sing about the “Heresiarch” Arius at last Saturday’s Vespers really got me thinking about what Fr. Michael was saying about oral tradition. There is a lot in my head right now – and this issue is likely much bigger than a blog post and in fact it might even be the fuel to get me to finish my section on Tradition. But let me try and slim it down. Who else, save the Orthodox, would sing about the ancient heresies of Arius and Nestorius…isn’t it amazing how we keep the collective memory of the Church alive? Isn’t this what Tradition is all about? We are living the stories of the past…but why? Fr. Michael relates our Church traditions to the story telling of the native Alaskan people, for whom the stories were a means of teaching people how to be human beings and how to fit into the universe around them.
And yet we now live in a time when we chose to figure this out on our own. We do not sit by the campfire and hear the elders speak to us…we as a culture have rejected that. Even Christians have bought into this stupid lie and have fled running wildly from the word “tradition”…how sad. In so doing we have become a spiritual version of the short-term memory lacking character portrayed by Guy Pearce in the movie “Memento”
You’ve heard the old adage: “Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it” Why do we never hear the positive side of the same adage: “Those who learn THEIR history are blessed to repeat it.”
The Orthodox Church will not let you forget your history and She does more than tell stories: She sings them and asks us to live them.
A friend sent an email to the LOG group in which we were privvy to a copy of a company email sent out by the CEO of a major airplane manufacturer here in the Pacific Northwest. In it, the CEO is defending the company's policy of supporting and promoting Gay Pride month. (Ahem...ever been to a Gay Pride parade? Half naked people dressed as nuns and priests handing out condoms is not my idea of a family friendly environment...I'm sorry, but it makes it tough to take the whole thing seriously.)
Anyway, besides that little rant...I had a Dilbert moment reading the memo (Did you get the memo?) and had this to say:
"A key part of creating that environment [a successful one] is aimed at helping all employees know that they are appreciated for the contributions they make toward helping [this major aircraft manufacturer in the Pacific Northwest] meet its business objectives."
How Nice! Hint hint hint here for management: the REAL way to do this is to GIVE OUT FRIGGIN RAISES!!!! If I get one more coffee mug, water bottle (Got one recently that actually says: "You are appreciated"!), thermos, hat, or umbrella as a sign of my employers' appreciation I am going to implode being unable to bear the stupidity of it all.
How about: "horizontally challenged individuals month" (aka fat people need love and acceptance too), or "Orthodox Christians employee appreciation month" (oh yeah, we don't rank)
Why can't people just come and build their ariplanes without having to have their diversity (sexual or otherwise) celebrated? And frankly, if we are going to celebrate diversity we need to celebrate ALL diversity and in truth there is A LOT of diversity in the world and thus, to be fair we should always be in a state of diversity celebration. Think of all the Diversity we could celebrate: start with ethnicity and specific ethnic combinations (i.e. Polish-Mexicans, Slavic-Germans etc) and then move right on down the line to Dog-lovers and Cat-lovers, Atheists, rock climbers, anglers, republicans, democrats, people who are shorter than 5 foot, people who are lactose intolerant (ahem...need to find a better word there please), people who drink macrobrews (quickly becoming a persecuted minority - they need our love, support, and appreciation)...shall I stop or go on? Anyway, think of all the special events around the workplace: free food, Parades, poster and decorating contests, sessions for speakers to enlighten us, special aircraft liveries, etc etc etc...
But don't be surprised if US airlines are flying nothing but Airbuses...since other manufacturers are too busy being diverse. By the way...(light bulb goes on) how can we express and celebrate our diversity in actual airframe design? We shouldn't supress people with out hardlined and intolerant aerodynamic principles!
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 12:27 PM [+] +++
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
My wife recently found a book at a garage sale (or something akin to one) that she just HAD to bring home to me. It is called "The Coming Russian Invasion of Israel." Althought written in the early seventies, a simple search of this title shows that this belief is by no means gone, despite its framing being done in altogether different times.
Having been out of the evangelical Eschatological loop for so long I have occassionally wondered what the newest rage is...does Lindsey still comment on current events somewhere? Surely he must...but does anyone still care, since so much of what he said in the past has never come to fruition?
I can remember loving eschatology...it always seemed to be such a powerful evangelistic tool. At the end of the "Russian Invansion" book they have a well trodden history timeline graphic that shows all those wonderful events: the Tributlation, the Anti-Christ in the Temple, Armageddon, and of course the Rapture which is represented by a great big rising line that takes a ballistic trajectory over the mess of the world and is labelled "The Preferred Route."
The religion to be found in Magog ahem...I mean Orthodoxy, doesn't fret much about Eschatology and I think Fr. Michael Oleksa reminds us why:
In both rites [Baptism and Eucharist], the natural (water, bread, wine) is juxtaposed with the singing of Biblical texts, liturgical poetry, and the charismatic preaching of the Word in such a way that the cosmic and historical are imbued with an eternal significance. This is true in the writing of every icon, the building of every Orthodox church, the celebration of every sacrament. By taking natural elements of this world and linking them with the historical and eternally significant Biblical words and deeds, proclaimed and accomplished once and for all by Christ, the Church manifests and actualizes eternity in the midst of time. In Baptism, water is seen as the source of life, the primal element from which all creation was made, and also a sign of chaos and death. It is then revealed to be the manifestation of God's love and power, of Christ's saving action, and of the Holy Spirit's sanctification. At the Eucharist, wheat and grapes which require the light and warmth of the sun, the nourishment of the earth, the moisture of the elements and the care of gardners - in short, contributions from both the whole creation and from human beings - are offered "on behalf of all and for all," in remembrance of Christ. Through the invocation of the Holy Spirit, both the community and the gifts become the Body and Blood of the Word. Here and now, the faithful eat and drink at His table in His Kingdom. The life of the Church is realized echatology.
(emphasis mine) Now...talk to me about "The Preferred Route."
Fr. Michael and I have dialogued briefly via email because as I was doing research on my family history I came accross his name from a collection put together by a third party - seemingly indicating that Fr. Michael and I at least have some not too terribly distant relational connection - my Great Grandmother's maiden name was Oleksa. Curiously enough, this book was Fr. Michael's doctoral dissertation at the Orthodox Seminary in Presov, Slovakia...perhaps a mere 30km from my ancestral village.
Anyway, the book begins with showing the paralells between the Orthodox mission to Alaska in the 18th century, and the Orthodox mission to the Slavs of the 9th century - of which there are many fascinating facets. But first:
The preface begins with quotes from an 1964 article by Bishop ANASTASIOS:
Orthodox Christian mission has as its twin goals the "incarnation of the Logos of God into the language and customs of a country," and the "growth of an indigenous Church which will sanctify and endorse the people's personality."
The point being: for both the Slavs and the Aluets this has been, to a large extent, accomplished. Fr. Michael further states that the book's primary purpose is to remind the Church that her mission extends beyond human concerns and issues, beyond politics, economics and even beyond "religion," as the subject is popularly understood. The risen Christ commanded that the Gospel be preached to "every creature," and St. John's vision in the Apocalypse re-emphasizes the Pauline revelation that, in the end, Christ will be "all in all." The visible created world possesses an eternal spiritual value, without which Christianity can no longer be considered "catholic," complete, whole.
What can we learn from incarnate Orthodoxy in the Aluet culture? Are there lessons there for helping us to incarnate Orthodoxy in the lower 48? Maybe we think we have already done so? Or have we simply brought incarnated Russian, Arab, or Greek Orthodox cultures? What would Orthodoxy look like in America is missionaries came instead of immigrants?
A friend recently told me that journalists these days are more like propagandists...I tend to agree. I'm going to turn off the news for awhile and stop going to internet news sites...I just can't stand it anymore (see last two posts) - journalists do much more than report the news, they are making political, social, and religious commentary under the guise of news telling. (Of course in one case the media is goading a radical group into rioting and perhaps killing - utterly freaking brilliant - but where is the NEWS in THAT story!!! OK....sorry...clearly not done being angered by this.)
Anyway...another friend sent me this article from FMG and it is wonderful. It helped me forget the stupidity in the world and to return to considering my own stupidity.
Note that the woman was concerned about money and about scaring her "long term male partner" away (ahem...as if killing four newborns would be a more endearing quality?). And then the story ends with this amazing quote:
Although the province of Styria where Graz is regional capital has had a program in place since 2001 allowing women who don't want to keep their babies to give birth anonymously, women's advocates called for greater attention to their plight.
"The climate in which a woman must deal with an unplanned pregnancy is not very supportive in Austria," said Sylvia Groth, who heads a women's health center in Graz.
Ah yes you see, the woman had no choice. Now forgive me, but I am in an irritable mood (see last post), but you know when your "choice" ends? When you create life. You know when your choice began? When you CHOSE to have sex. When you CHOSE to risk having a child despite a poor financial situation. When you CHOSE to have sex with someone who would leave you if you got pregnant. When you CHOSE not to use birth control OR when you CHOSE to have sex even though you knew "birth control" is never 100%.
Geez, why do we view pregnancy like some disease we accidently "catch"? I mean, don't we understand HOW this happens? I am pretty sure I know...but of course I've not killed my kids so I can't relate. This poor woman...clearly she is a victim. Her plight must have been terrible. Oh yeah, and whatever method she used to kill her children, well, that might have been terrible too.
Clearly the solution to this deeply troubling social issue of unwanted pregnancies is to legalize abortion up to the 5th year of life. Becasue prior to this time, a walking and talking fetus is still almost entirely dependent on its parents for life.
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 11:59 PM [+] +++
Yes, Virginia, there are clown liturgies
Thanks to my friend Kari...
The best documentary evidence for the existance of these strange phenomena that I have ever seen. Frightening, exciting, humorous, pointless and indescribable. Make sure to look at all evidence contained therein...I especially appreciated the rector's letter which said they were going to " 'do church' " sort of like how my kids "play house" I suppose. Also note that we are directed to a related link in which it is purported that the justification for this is in part because St. Paul calls Christianity "foolishness." Ummm...yeah right...what St. Paul meant though is quite different than a clown liturgy...the REGULAR liturgy is foolishness to the world people! The Resurrection is foolishness to the world, people! So the ECUSA has a clown liturgy to show the world how foolish they are...meanwhile they ordain bishops who deny the resurrection to show Christians how foolish they are.
I promise not to offer any further cynical or snide judgements...go and wonder at it all yourself. Sometimes I miss the fun that Episcopalians have, don't you? (wink).
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 10:05 AM [+] +++
Reminiscing over the future
Episode Two: Attack of the Church Records
The “strange connections” I felt to a past I have never known really began to escalate while pouring over old Church and Census records from the village of Juskova Vol’a, where members of my family have lived since at least 1715. It was a region dominated by many powers, but most famously: the Austro-Hungarian Empire – if for no other reason than because some of the best older genealogical research resources come from this era.
While my family are more aptly called Rusyns or Carpatho-Rusyns (more closely related to “eastern Slavs”) they are also Slovaks. (Rusyns may be found in numerous countries of the region: e.g. Ukraine, Poland). It is never easy to nail down an ethnicity, however their customs, locale, names (to some extent), and religious practices point to Rusyn. While most people in Slovakia are Roman Catholic, it is estimated that about 4-5% (the majority of the religious population in the east) are Greek Catholic, with about the same percentage being Orthodox. When my Great Grandfather came to America in 1903, he was a Greek Catholic, but would later lead his family into the Carpatho-Rusyn Orthodox Archdiocese.
It really wasn't until the dissolution of Czechoslovakia that Slovaks had a nation of their own. For a long time their native tongue was "persecuted" first by Hungarians and then Czechs (at least in regards to the "modern" era). Furthermore in their Churches, Latin became the dominant organizational tongue as testified by the records I was scouring through. Curious that they would worship in Slavonic, keep records in Latin, and speak to one another in Slovak or Rusyn.
Predominant names stood out: Georgius, Joannes, Anna, and Maria appeared over and over and over again. In fact, one must look very hard and long to find any of my male relatives not being a George or John and married to an Anna or Maria...it makes it very difficult to discern people from one another. Furthermore, there are on some of the baptismal, marriage, and death records a notation referencing what is essentially an address and in examining this you see a living arrangement similar to "zadruga" as described by Rade.
Sometimes it feels like you are stepping back into time and yet standing above it - almost in a deified state. You can thumb through the pages and see joyous times like weddings and baptisms, and then sad times like funerals and "illeg" births by relatives of mine who worked as servants (sad to imagine how that might have happened). You can see blank years around the time of a revolution and speculate as to why the Parish priest stopped keeping records, and you can see particularly harsh winters when many infants and children didn't make it - leading to further repetition of the same names, almost as if lost children were being replaced. And you can also see profound community: birth and baptismal records also show a notation of the infants' Godparents and thereby you can see a web of connectedness: read through the records of the children growing and getting married and having children of their own, while Godparenting their neighbors' and friends' children and vice versa.
Since John Sisak left Juskova Vol'a at age 18 and immigrated to the United States, the story of these records continues in western Pennsylvania. Now it also continues in western Washington. For in a way I feel that by my entering back into their faith, that I have begun to new chapters to this intriguing story.
Feeling strange connections with a past I have never known.
As many of you know I have been doing some rather extensive family research - particularly in regards to my eastern european ancestors. There is much I could say about all that I have learned, but I am saving most of it for when I finally finish the website that will detail everything I have learned. Suffice to say that much of what fuels this fascination is the unusual and surprising fact that I returned my family to Orthodoxy without really knowing that it was a return. By the same token, some of my extended relatives did the same thing (though without the ignorance I had in my return) by leaving the "Greek Catholic" uniates and returning our family to Orthodoxy after a 300 year hiatus. (Of course the extent to which your average greek catholic dweller in the mountains of eastern slovakia was actually more catholic than orthodox is highly debatable). I imagine my relatives were a simple folk who practiced their faith without a whole lot of concern as to whether or not they montioned the pope during the Slavonic Liturgy of St. John Chyrsostom.
The history of the Uniates is a curious one...in many ways an experiment that was found severly wanting when Uniates started pouring into the United States, carrying along with them married clergy ("validly" ordained by Rome) their languages (both vernacular and liturgical) and their litrugies and practices (e.g. chotki's, three-barred crosses, old calender, etc.) It often made the Latin bishops here very nervous and uncomfortable and in time these immigrants began to realize that their union with Rome was not as easy as they originally thought. In the "old country" the people generally had a great deal more freedom to practice as they had always practiced, but once here in America, the REAL test of the "union" took place. Many of my family thought the union failed, because it soon became clear (especially in 1929 when the Pope started handing out new instructions and restrictions) that in order to maintain their practices and avoid further latinization, they would have to return to Orthodoxy.
This experience may speak to us today as we consider the hopeful aspirations of Pope Benedict for unification with the Orthodox. Are our practices too far removed from one another to avoid strife when they collide? I wonder.