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.
Innumerable Christian Treasures lost in Kosovo (not to mention lives)
Many more will likely be lost forever if independence is granted to the now nearly completely Albanian dominated region. The historic Christian presence in the region will no doubt continue to dwindle even more dramatically than it has in recent years while under the "protection" of international organizations (UN, NATO, et al). Meanwhile, under that "protection" we see this (click for slideshow and details):
Serbian Orthodox Bishop Artemije of the Diocese of Kosovo and Metohija has been in the US recently trying to raise awareness of the troubles in Kosovo. Stories HERE and HERE.
I must admit to being - perhaps naively - intrigued by stories such as those of Bigfoot, Champ, and Loch Ness. Not sure why...but I just think they are cool...always have.
So imagine my surprise when I came accross this portion of the "Life of Saint Columba" according to the Abbot Adamnan:
CHAPTER XXVIII. How an Aquatic Monster was driven off by virtue of the blessed man's prayer.
ON another occasion also, when the blessed man was living for some days in the province of the Picts, he was obliged to cross the river Nesa (the Ness); and when he reached the bank of the river, he saw some of the inhabitants burying an unfortunate man, who, according to the account of those who were burying him, was a short time before seized, as he was swimming, and bitten most severely by a monster that lived in the water; his wretched body was, though too late, taken out with a hook, by those who came to his assistance in a boat. The blessed man, on hearing this, was so far from being dismayed, that he directed one of his companions to swim over and row across the coble that was moored at the farther bank. And Lugne Mocumin hearing the command of the excellent man, obeyed without the least delay, taking off all his clothes, except his tunic, and leaping into the water. But the monster, which, so far from being satiated, was only roused for more prey, was lying at the bottom of the stream, and when it felt the water disturbed above by the man swimming, suddenly rushed out, and, giving an awful roar, darted after him, with its mouth wide open, as the man swam in the middle of the stream. Then the blessed man observing this, raised his holy hand, while all the rest, brethren as well as strangers, were stupefied with terror, and, invoking the name of God, formed the saving sign of the cross in the air, and commanded the ferocious monster, saying, "Thou shalt go no further, nor touch the man; go back with all speed." Then at the voice of the saint, the monster was terrified, and fled more quickly than if it had been pulled back with ropes, though it had just got so near to Lugne, as he swam, that there was not more than the length of a spear-staff between the man and the beast. Then the brethren seeing that the monster had gone back, and that their comrade Lugne returned to them in the boat safe and sound, were struck with admiration, and gave glory to God in the blessed man. And even the barbarous heathens, who were present, were forced by the greatness of this miracle, which they themselves had seen, to magnify the God of the Christians.
In doing a little extra searching, I found THIS Church History website which talks about St. Columba's meeting with Nessie. And when I reached the end of this article I had to laugh abit as I read:
Did the event really take place? A church historian may be permitted a few doubts...this is only one of many extraordinary events in Adamnan's account...Adamnan's account has so many incredible tales that it is unbelievable.
Ummm...need I remind these hsitorians of the extraordinary events in Scripture? What's the neccesary difference?
There really are no words that could be offered to a father whose 6 year old daughter suddenly dies. But somehow this father is speaking to us.
Here, he literally slays me:
Driving home from the cemetery this afternoon, Kim and I passed by a father holding hands with the cutest little toddler. The child was over dressed in a snow suit and was walking, occasionally stopping to tip his whole body back in the way that children do to look up at a parent. The father stopped each time the young one stopped to look back at his child.
How often have you been with your child and not been with them. You’ve taken the time to be at a kid’s soccer game but been on your cell phone. You’ve left work to pick your kid up from school but your mind isn’t there on your son or daughter and the day they’ve just had at school - your mind is already back at your desk on the next thing you have to do.
How can I offer him gratitude for his bravery? His strength in the midst of unthinkable pain?
If you are home now, go and grab your kids and love them. More than that, NEVER have unfinished business with them and always be present with them. Tearfully, I admit, if I were to lose one of mine I would have many regrets. How sad...pathetic even...is that?
And so it begins...I'm looking around for the person in control of the ride to ask them to stop it, because to be completely honest, I feel like I am not ready.
Someone once told me that if Orthodoxy doesn't bind and pinch you - at least once in awhile - you probably ain't doing it right. But the last few prepatory Sundays leading up to Forgiveness Sunday (marking the starting line of Lent) have flooded over me like a Tsunami and I have to admit to largely trying to ignore the waters I am forced to tread.
Last Judgement Sunday, for those who are perhaps not Orthodox) was yesterday and we spent some time focusing on judgment. One of our deacons gave a very thoughtful sermon in which he partly reminded us how we as a society are moving further and further away from "judgement", often for fear of making people feel bad. He reminded us that on that REAL Sunday of the Last Judgement, we are promised there will be a fair number of people who end up feeling bad. But, thankfully, we are granted an opportunity to feel bad now, rather than later when what is at stake becomes more and more grave.
The legal analogies such as we hear on days like this, when taken literally (as the West is often accused of doing by the East), can become very problematic. Yes, Lent is about taking the time to feel bad about our sins...to repent. But, we do not seek to change our legal status with God, we seek to change WHAT WE ARE. We seek to change the direction we are going, to alter the course of WHO WE ARE BECOMING. So that on that day of judgement, we see and experience God's love for what it really is - as opposed to a condemning and consuming fire.
I need to see and learn that everyday is an opportunity to be Lenten, every moment is an opportunity to change the direction I am growing in. Not a nanosecond passes that I cannot "come to myself" and head home.
Thank God the Church calls us to corporately engage in this Holy venture. Would I think to make this journey on my own, of my own volition? "Sure" I say, lying to myself.
No, I know better...the Orthodox Church has taught me better. I cannot rely on myself and to insert God into that formula ( ie. Me and Jesus on our own will be just fine) is really no different than relying on myself. I cannot be trusted...say it with me...really, I cannot be trusted. (If you've not proved that to yourself a hundred times over and over again...well...then I'd say you just did.)
Whether I am ready to set sail or not, it is time to climb aboard and cast off the lines. The Church tells me the tides and winds are favorable and I delay at my peril.
So while cruising through the news at Yahoo, amongst the daily foray of baghdad bombings, vice presedential shooting conspiracies, and Ports operated by the UAE, I see this interesting headline: "Gladiators fought with strict code of conduct"
Make sure to look at the picture:
and the caption from Yahoo: "File photo of two men dressed as Roman gladiators..."
Okay, now I know that I have been playing THIS AWESOME game a lot, but am I the only guy that knows that these men are decidedly NOT dressed as gladiators, but as Roman soldiers? The one on the left is either a Praetorian Cohort or an Urban Cohort, and the guy on the right is probably a legionary cohort...but regardless, you might as well have pasted an image of a US Marine in dress clothes and labelled him a professional wrestler! Geez, people, c'mon!
This bit of news from my wife's paternal neck o' the woods. No, not San Francisco or New York...but the home of Lutheranism in America (hehehe), the heartland, the MidWest, yes, the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul (they might consider a name change in the near future on that last one).
Now, I confess to not knowing what exactly is involved in being a "charter" school in Minnesota, but I have a hard time imaginging a public school (chartered or otherwise) doing such a contortionist act for anything "running afoul of...[Christian] doctrine." I mean, c'mon now, isn't this going over the top? What about the 30% of students - say like perhaps my children for whom the image of God is a very holy and sacred thing? How would they reconcile THAT? If I wanted to be a troublemaker (and yes I generally do) I could argue for MY RIGHTS and say that the LACK of images of the Human Form fundamentally runs afoul of the our sacred doctrine regarding the Incarnation. Blah blah blah.
The situation in Nigeria is growing worse, and read this statement from the Christian Association of Nigeria, headed by an Anglican Archbishop.
A couple of things to note: the statement implies that the violence and persecution has been on ongoing problem and has only intensified over the cartoon incident. It is also profoundly brave for this Archbishop and his organization to point out the notion that there is an organized effort to Islamicize Nigeria and that the government is not doing anything about previous and ongoing persecution of Christians. Also note the not terribly veiled threat for a violent backlash that has been brewing for sometime. (And has apparently now come to roost).
Of course, the media will cover this as your run of the mill everyday sectarian violence in which religion in general is to blame for people's inability to live together while ignorantly ignoring (hehehe) what has happend in preceeding months, years, decades, or centuries.
Paint me giddy, albeit a bit behind the times. But Michael Crichton's 2004 novel State of Fear is a "fictional" account of some grand conspiracy regarding global warming.
Don't get me wrong, I have no passionate position on either side of the global warming debate, but gee it's nice to see something very much analogous to "The Da Vinci Code", but writing instead about an issue usually held near and dear to those who ravenously devour Dan Brown and harold him as an authority on Christian History - primarily because it just makes them feel better about Jesus and his purportedly ignorant followers.
I don't really care to read the book, but just ask me how tempted I am to be seen carrying it? (Yeah I know, I am a rotten stinker!)
I have to admit to smiling and giggling outloud some as I read the reviews at Amazon which criticize Crichton's book, citing all the newest evidence to support global warming. [sarcasm] Come on guys, it's fiction...no one is going to believe this stuff, it's all in good fun! And now you'll excuse me while I run down to the Ford dealer and buy the biggest SUV I can find - something that gets the same gas mileage as the Queen Mary and releases more greenhouse gasses than all the cows in Wisconsin.[/sarcasm]
We can only hope they come out with a movie to further annoy people.
Someone passed this article along to me. The author is a practicing Orthodox Christian and the story illustrates the hypocrisy of those members of the media who have a sudden and inexplicable (well, maybe it is explicable given the recent bounties placed on the heads of cartoonists) sympathy for not wishing to offend religious (in truth, read: Muslim) people.
The author makes some great points in the last few paragraphs, points that I myself have made nunmerous times both here and in personal dialogues with friends and family. Particularly amongst family members and friends who are either not christians at all or are nominal "deists" of somesort. There is an underlying belief that all forms of "fundamentalism" are equally abhorrent and that in the "grand scheme" of things all religions basically teach and espouse the same that and that any dichotomy we see today is simply because Christianity has been tamed by secularization.
Never a bigger steaming pile has been stepped in than to believe such nonsense. Christians do not refuse to riot and kill people over insults to Christ (of which we have had many many many many opportunities) because we've been tamed by lack of belief...rather it is a stronger belief in the reality of Christ that tames us.
Our salvation is dependent on the greatest insult, the greatest travesty of justice that has ever been and ever could be known. Hard to imagine that our creator should join us and then be rejected by us, despised by us, slapped by us, insulted by us, mocked by us, beaten by us, whipped by us, and then nailed to a cross by us...killed by us. And then He rose from the dead, not to show off His power to us, rather He rose from the dead so that we - despite ourselves - could participate in His Life-giving Resurrection.
Instead of burning with rage, He saves us through this world's greatest act of blasphemy. No, people, try as you might, you cannot insult our God any worse than we already have.
Yesterday was the sunday of the Prodigal Son, another preparatory step toward setting sail on the sea of the Great Lenten Fast. It is a call for us all to come to ourselves.
Coming to ourselves requires that we escape our self deluded state, our falses images and impressions about ourselves. Often, as was the case in our Lord's Parable, we must watch the stilts upon which we have built our altar of idolatry collapse before we can begin to see the reality.
The Pharisee of the previous sunday's parable had a huge problem. Not unlike mine, perhaps not unlike yours. He believed he had the game DOWN. He was following the rules, he was doing all the right things. But, as we all know, he openly showed us the error of his way in the words of his prayer. The error of OUR way is likely much more effectively hidden and subversive.
Usually we asscoate the pharisee with extreme conservatives who love to shove their morality down the throats of others, all the while being completely devoide of love. But, we might be comfortably deluding ourselves in thinking this.
Mother Theresa might have been a Pharisee. Bono might be Pharisee. Billy Grahm might be a Pharisee. Surely Pat Robertson might be a Pharisee. The Ecumenical Patriarch might be a Pharisee. Ron Sider might be a pharisee. Thomas Merton might have been a pharisee. Your priest or pastor or "whoever feels led to speak a particularly good word of encouragement on any given tuesday eveing" might be a pharisee. The gay alcoholic epsicopal bishop might be a pharisee. Truth be told, while we love to pick out pharisees - oh what fun it is to pick on TV evangelists, the "religious right", the "left-wing socialist christians", or _____________ (fill in the blank) - how much harder is it to root out the pharisee in your own heart.
I think we begin to come to ourselves when we truly seek the pharisee in ourselves rather than in others. You wanna see a whitewashed tomb full of dead men's bones? Start looking within.
It takes humility to come home. But far less humility than it took for God to rescue us - given all that that entails (see icon above). I write all of this, knowing full well, that I need to hear it as much , if not more, than all others.
A friend directed me to this nice tribute (from a somewhat unlikely source) to the Byzantine Empire.
I might make one historic technical note: The Byzantine Empire really did not know itself as such, but rather the people considered themselves - rightly so - as Eastern Roman Empire. So, their history certainly goes back further than the founding of Constantinople...even thought that is where their history technically ended.
The author of the article notes the gains the west "earned" via the Byzantine Empire after its collapse (not to mention the material gains stolen by Crusaders after they sacked the great capital in 1204), but the article made me stop and think for a while.
As a westerner living in what is arguably the pinnacle of westernism (for better or for worse and whatever it may be), I have indeed reaped many things from the Byzantines, but most significantly, I have seen fit to adopt myself into their beautiful faith. Thus in my home, in my office, and in my Church are found many of the revered and venerated Icons of that ancient Empire and that ancient Church, the Hagia Sophia.
My wife and I had our now routine nightly "Parenting Conference" a couple of nights ago, during which my wife mentioned the oft quoted Prayer Breakfast homily of St. BONO, Bishop and Melodist of PoMo and all Blogodom. His Revered Eminence spoke eloquently about the need for Americans (in particular) to do more to help the suffering in the world today.
No doubt, His Grace is right. And my wife lamented for our lack of giving, our seeming inability to do more profound things for the world's suffering. I have shared this sentiment myself and if you have read this blog regularly then you likely know what direction I headed in our conversation.
I would like to do more too. As many of you know, with Ron Sider's book under my arm, I once had grand plans of taking off to the third world and doing some grand work to perhaps provide clean water for a remote village, or perhaps giving lectures on better hygeine to help reduce the spread of disease, or perhaps just serving in a food line handing out bowls of oatmeal. I'm not entirely sure what became of that "vision" but I do know that I now have something more immediate that demands more effort, more attention, and more self-sacrifice than I imagine digging wells in Nigeria could ever be. Now, I am a father.
Don't get me wrong, I still desire to help - in someway - to alleviate suffering throughout the world, but for now that is going to have to be primarily expressed in my willingess to give away cash and prayers. No, wait, that's not entirely true. There is something GREATER still that I can do to help the suffering of the world and it is found in my duties (which I personally - admittedly because of my sins - find to be profoundly challenging) as a father.
I pray that I have brought four lives into this world who will be raised to love and who will be raised to bring beauty into the world. Who will strive to love God and their neighbor and who will have a heart for the world at large that suffers. It is no easy task (and in no small way are their failures actually MINE!)- frankly digging wells or slopping out oatmeal would be much easier for me! Worse still, I am a horrible example all too often. But I am trying, and more than that, I seek to better recognize my failures and to try with varying levels of success to pin them down and snuff them out.
My kids will have kids, and their kids will have kids. If I do my job properly...or at least, better than I have been doing, then THAT will - I hope - be a much more profound benefit to the world than what little cash I can presently spare. None-the-less I take the Blessed Hierarch of Non-Institutionalized Emergent "Churches" BONO's advice to heart...and more.
The greatest mission field, parents, sits at your feet. There's alot of people to be saved in the world, but don't forget where your time, energy, and finances can make the most difference. God grant that we raise children who will truly love...much better than we (I) do.
Why not? Well put quite simply: honest dialogue, honest criticism, honest debate.
You see, I agree that non-instructive and vindictive attacks on religious beliefs are in poor taste - as a Christian living in America, I know well what it means to have my faith villified and...well...my God Blasphemed.
But as Mark Galli, managing editor of Christianity Today, notes in the article above: my God is used to being blasphemed. He was betrayed, spat on, insulted to no end, beaten, whipped, condemned, and then crucified as a common criminal. Allah and Muhammed are perhaps less used to allowing such abuse go unpunished.
So, while I decry pointless insulting of another persons religious beliefs, I would not like to see laws made to prevent that from happening. For while it may eliminate childish lashing out against religion that has no redeeming value (a sort of theological-philosophical pornography), it could also be used to prevent me from saying why I am not a Muslim, and why I am not a Jew, and why I am not a Protestant.
The Koran blasphemes - on purpose - the Christian faith when it claims that Jesus was NOT the Son of God, that there is no Trinity, and that Jesus was not tortured and killed on the cross. So Blasphemy laws would neccesarily ban the Koran. By the same token the New Testament claiming all of these things to be true is a blasphemy against Allah...and arguments suggesting that the NT was written 600+ years before anyone knew Muhammed would consider it blasphemy would likely fall on deaf ears.
Sadly, freedom to seriously dialogue and debate affords idiots the ability to do things simply for the sake of offending others. Let them have their fun...as for us Christians, well our God told us to expect persecution so we might as well get used to it. He set for us an example, and for now I'd like to maintain the freedom to be able to say that other religious founders set a rather different example that is playing a profound role in news headlines today.
My family and I spent the weekend abroad - meaning on the western shores of Puget Sound as hosted by a most gracious and patient host and guide: Dawn.
For me, one of the more interesting things about the visit, revolved around seeing Seattle's namesake's grave. Chief Sealth is buried on the grounds of an old Roman Catholic Parish/Mission in Suquamish. It happens to also be the same place where Dawn's Orthodox Mission meets (It's actually named after St. Elizabeth, but it's Dawn's too).
Chief Sealth is often quoted - usually for his "new age" sounding poetic wisdom with regard to the environment. But what is often disregarded is the fact that he became a Roman Catholic as an adult after seemingly having a profound conversion experience. After which, he gave up his life as a skilled and brutal warrior. As recounted here, the life of an "in harmony with nature" Native American didn't preclude some bloody spectacles.
On his baptismal certificate, his name is listed as Noe [Noah] Siattle. It is a curious thing to see a big cross of Chief Sealth's grave, and I have a sneaky suscpicion that it rubs many people around here the wrong way. Oh well.
Here is the text of Noe Siattle's famed speech as recounted by Dr. Henry A. Smith. No one is really sure if the account is accurate, but it certainly leads to some questions since he does not seem to show his inclination toward Christianity...who knows.
But as you read this particular portion, keep in mind our Orthodox (and Roman Catholic) understanding of the Saints and indeed all of those departed this life and what things that our Paradosis leads us to call Holy and Sacred. I am forced to ask Chief Sealth: Perhaps you knew too many Protestants...for in your words I hear much in common with the Paradosis of our ancestors.
There is little in common between us.
To us the ashes of our ancestors are sacred and their resting place is hallowed ground. You wander far from the graves of your ancestors and seemingly without regret. Your religion was written upon tablets of stone by the iron finger of your God so that you could not forget. The Red Man could never comprehend or remember it. Our religion is the traditions of our ancestors — the dreams of our old men, given them in solemn hours of the night by the Great Spirit; and the visions of our sachems, and is written in the hearts of our people.
Your dead cease to love you and the land of their nativity as soon as they pass the portals of the tomb and wander away beyond the stars. They are soon forgotten and never return. Our dead never forget this beautiful world that gave them being. They still love its verdant valleys, its murmuring rivers, its magnificent mountains, sequestered vales and verdant lined lakes and bays, and ever yearn in tender fond affection over the lonely hearted living, and often return from the happy hunting ground to visit, guide, console, and comfort them.
Day and night cannot dwell together. The Red Man has ever fled the approach of the White Man, as the morning mist flees before the morning sun. However, your proposition seems fair and I think that my people will accept it and will retire to the reservation you offer them. Then we will dwell apart in peace, for the words of the Great White Chief seem to be the words of nature speaking to my people out of dense darkness.
It matters little where we pass the remnant of our days. They will not be many. The Indian’s night promises to be dark. Not a single star of hope hovers above his horizon. Sad-voiced winds moan in the distance. Grim fate seems to be on the Red Man’s trail, and wherever he will hear the approaching footsteps of his fell destroyer and prepare stolidly to meet his doom, as does the wounded doe that hears the approaching footsteps of the hunter.
A few more moon, a few more winters, and not one of the descendants of the mighty hosts that once moved over this broad land or lived in happy homes, protected by the Great Spirit, will remain to mourn over the graves of a people once more powerful and hopeful than yours. But why should I mourn at the untimely fate of my people? Tribe follows tribe, and nation follows nation, like the waves of the sea. It is the order of nature, and regret is useless. Your time of decay may be distant, but it will surely come, for even the White Man whose God walked and talked with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all. We will see.
We will ponder your proposition and when we decide we will let you know. But should we accept it, I here and now make this condition that we will not be denied the privilege without molestation of visiting at any time the tombs of our ancestors, friends, and children. Ever part of this soil is sacred in the estimation of my people. Every hillside, every valley, every plain and grove, has been hallowed by some sad or happy event in days long vanished. Even the rocks, which seem to be dumb and dead as the swelter in the sun along the silent shore, thrill with memories of stirring events connected with the lives of my people, and the very dust upon which you now stand responds more lovingly to their footsteps than yours, because it is rich with the blood of our ancestors, and our bare feet are conscious of the sympathetic touch. Our departed braves, fond mothers, glad, happy hearted maidens, and even the little children who lived here and rejoiced here for a brief season, will love these somber solitudes and at eventide they greet shadowy returning spirits. And when the last Red Man shall have perished, and the memory of my tribe shall have become a myth among the White Men, these shores will swarm with the invisible dead of my tribe, and when your children’s children think themselves alone in the field, the store, the shop, upon the highway, or in the silence of the pathless woods, they will not be alone. In all the earth there is no place dedicated to solitude. At night when the streets of your cities and villages are silent and you think them deserted, they will throng with the returning hosts that once filled them and still love this beautiful land. The White Man will never be alone.
Let him be just and deal kindly with my people, for the dead are not altogether powerless.
This recounts in greater detail the incident that closed Fr. Daniel's church and also lets us know what has been happening since. It is an frightening story and includes an appeal for help for our Indonesian brethren who are under a yoke we cannot - at this time - comprehend.
Much is being said today about Islam, and indeed religion in general, as we watch the ongoing controversy with regard to the Danish cartoons. But one thing in particular that keeps rubbing me the wrong way is the utilization of time as the primary factor of equivocation between religions. Let me explain.
All over the country (and perhaps the western world) today, many students will take part in a Comparative Religions class at a University or college. Perhaps they are using a Houston Smith text like I did in my Comparative Religions class, and indeed if one believes the overarching theme of Houston Smith, you ought to be attending you local Unitarian Universalist meetings.
Taking the next step, as I did in my humble religious training, by which I mean that you actually study the various world religions in greater depth – even going so far as reading source texts and adherents’ commentary, you learn rather quickly that the world’s religions do NOT teach the same things, do NOT have the same “spirit” in their numerous sage founders. In fact, you begin to learn that in some cases, the religions themselves speak against other religions.
It was curious to me that one point brought up in many of the discussions on the cartoons, is that the creation of an image of Muhammad is an attack on a primary tenet/law of the Islamic faith and that THIS is the crucial catalyst that is fueling the rage we are seeing. But as I studied Islam (and by no means do I claim any grand expertise – I took ONE class), I found that the Koran itself had numerous surrahs that directly criticized and attacked some very primary tenets of Christianity (i.e. the Divinity of Christ, the Death of Christ, the Resurrection of Christ.) So much for equivocation.
Ahem…now back to the issue of time. A popular belief that often arises in conversations regarding the current controversy seems to focus on the idea that Islam needs to “modernize” or that it needs a “reformation” like Christianity has done and had. As if to say that Christianity would be reacting like we’ve seen throughout the Islamic world when “The DaVinci Code” comes out if we had not modernized or had a reformation. What is particularly irritating is the notion that this modernization or “reformation” (for let’s face it, half of those shooting off about the reformation have no idea what it was) took place because of secular enlightenment.
So, were it not for secular enlightenment (and let us go ahead and assume all the worse we are told), Christians would still be persecuting heretics (cutting off body parts, burning them at the stake), slaying Jews and Infidel Muslims wholesale, we’d still be having inquisitions with threats of death, we’d have blasphemy laws punishable by death, we’d subjugate and beat our women, etc etc etc. All but for secular enlightenment, the European west would look…well…would look like most Middle East countries.
Well I say poopie on them. Tell me this: are we more or less in keeping with the teachings of Christ if we torture heretics? Are we more or less in keeping with the teachings of Christ if we slay Jews and Muslims wholesale? Are we more or less in keeping with the teachings of Christ when we threaten death on those who refuse to convert to Christianity? Are we more or less in keeping with the teachings of Christ when make laws to kill those who insult Jesus? And, are we more or less in keeping with the teachings of Christ when we beat our wives into submission?
Maybe I’m wrong and maybe Jesus and other particular sage-like religious founders are the same. Maybe Dan Brown is right and Jesus got married, heck maybe he had numerous wives and a few concubines to boot. Maybe he took up the sword and instead a war of words with Pharisees he slew them for insulting him. And maybe when the soldiers came to arrest him he called upon his disciple to draw their scimitars and ambush the approaching caravan thus preventing his shaming before all of Jerusalem. Or if they failed in this effort, when they led him before Pilate or Herod he might have instigated a riot and overthrown the Jews and Romans to become the true Caliph of Jerusalem. Maybe Jesus instituted peace treaties and made war on neighboring factions and cities. Maybe Jesus was a politician, a ruler, a king, a warrior prophet, and not God come to earth to call us to real holiness.
If so, then I suppose all the commentary I keep hearing is right. Were it not for time, and the influence of secular enlightenment we’d be rioting in the streets and calling for the beheading of Dan Brown. And we needn't make any mention of what Jesus ACTUALLY taught.
A friend and coworker of mine is going home to Israel in April for the whole month. Yes, she will be there during Pascha! However, she is Jewish and so will likely not be participating in the celebration of the Holy Light...lest I convert her beforehand!(JK!)
She has offered to take with her a note from my family to be placed into the Wailing Wall, and I am deeply honored for this offer. She has also asked if there is anything else she could do or get for me and my family.
So, any suggestions? I thought perhaps I could send with her a small icon of the Resurrection and ask her to lay it briefly within Christ's tomb for us as she said she would be willing to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. (Clearly I will have to warn her about the season!)
This organization is looking for volunteers to host a Belarussian child for six weeks so that they may get away from the horrible effects of the radiation fallout from Chernobyl.
We have found, through medical testing, that a six week stay in a clean environment with good nutrition can completely recover the children's immune system. It is our hope that you too will take this message to heart and help these children who can not help themselves.
I thought it would be especially great for some Orthodox families to step up since the vast majority of these kids are likely Orthodox. It looks like it is somewhat expensive to participate...perhaps some groups or parishes could organize and help?
I heard one of the anti-State of the Union protestors here in Seattle last night comment that they believed conservatives were leading us toward a totalitarian state and that they were shoving their morality down "our" throats.
Well, kindly tell me what this is, if not shoving morality (twisted though it may be) down the throat of a PRIVATE company?
How long before OB-GYN's MUST offer to perform abortions? "Emergency contraception pills"? What a joke! It's like bungee jumping without a bungee and then expecting to buy a parachute afterwards...claiming: hey it was an emergency!
In time, we shall no longer expect to have to take responsibility for ANYTHING. We see it already:
Hey, I spend hardly ANY time with my kids and they are really screwed up, what drugs should I give them? Hey I had sex and might be pregnant, can't I get a pill from WalMart? I spilled hot coffee on me, should I sue the server's business or the corporation that made the coffee machine?
You'll recall I mentioned the Planned Parenthood poster on Community Transit busses that advertise free birth control with this large fonted phrase "Take Control!" Ummm...outside of rape...uhhhhh...at what point did we NOT have control of birthing babies? As far as I can recollect, we generally expect that people can control their sexual impulses...why else do we make rape a crime - instead of an incident after which a person needs to be mentally healed?