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.
My 38th anniversay of being born, and the Battle of Kosovo's 617th anniversary of being fought - and of course St. Lazar's repose accompanied by the beginning of 500 years of Turkish Rule. AND, the beginning of all manner of problems that exist to this day. Patriarch Pavle serves at the Gazimestan monument just north of the Kosovo capital Pristina.
It may in fact be true that technology has blessed us with a much greater amount of leisure time, which is a potentially wonderful thing, but what have we done with it? Impoverished (we suppose - for technology is terribly expensive, and we MUST have it), we are forced to fill our leisure time with additional work in the cubicle dungeons. Bored (we suppose), we are forced to sit and engage TV, internet, computer games, video games, spas, salons, shopping, sleeping, eating, and occasionally we plunge into an extreme sport or two – coupled dangerously with generous amounts of beer. Please, don’t blame McDonalds for making us all obese. It is rather ironic that I sit my lazy sphincter pads down and while munching a big bowl of buttered popcorn, and watch a movie that is trying to hold McDonald’s even remotely culpable for the obesity epidemic. Uh huh, sure. If ANYTHING is to blame (besides ourselves – ummm..yeah) it is technology, which has gloriously freed us from real work and provided us with so much leisure time that we somehow cannot escape and find time to cook for ourselves thus we ‘must’ rely on fast and prepackaged foods of questionable origin. Super Size your fries? Heck, we’ve Super Sized our leisure – whose to blame? We’ve Super Sized the chairs in which we do the vast majority of our ‘labor.’
I wonder if we would put CARE into motion more, if there would be any need for the multi-billion dollar diet and exercise industry? I’ve digressed a bit…but consider:
In this age of the “global neighborhood” when we can hardly be bothered to CARE for our immediate neighbors, our aging parents, our own children, or even our own bodies, how do we expect ourselves to CARE for the innumerable vogue social issues dejour? I mean REALLY care?
Too often, in my life, I get wrapped up in all manner of controversial global – or at the very least national - issues that I feel strongly about, all the while looking through the proverbial forest in search of trees. Caring, as an act, is something we can really only do locally.
Yes, yes, yes, I can write a check for people in Indonesia and I can choose not to buy from evil, demonic, satanically run entities like Folgers and WalMart. But what about the sort of caring that can be done with a hug? Or even with a bit of local business loyalty? Or sacrificing the AWESOME new Plasma wall mounted TV in order for one parent to stay home? Or the loving return of a beautiful labor-intensive favor to someone we once called Mommy or Daddy who dutifully cleaned up our mess? More than that, how about doing something PROactive in the fight against abortion? How about taking a stand on local issues – like zoning and development? Maybe even attend a city or town council meeting? If we transform our midset to be LESS global, I think that people find it much easier to CARE.
'Thinking Globally' is simply not practical. I would contend that when you REALLY do so, you will find that there is no end to the 'issues' that you must educate yourself about. You will choke a donkey with the amount of 'issues' you must be aware of before you purchase those Bananas from a country whose trade agreement with the United States is unfairly biased against the farmers of that country's southern most region of the northern most provice, not only economically, but also to the unique culture itself which is being wiped out by soda pop can rings and unfair coffee tariffs. Of course, then you must also be careful because that partiuclar culture and banana producing region is oppressive to their neighboring country's mango production and THAT country's trade agreement with NAFTA is copmpletely unfair and the Mango farmers have become HUGE corporations that are actively bulldozing their rainforests which is a real burden for American Pharmecuetical companies who are lobbying to look for medicines therein and AIDS activists (like Bono) are up in arms over the potential loss. Blah blah blah blah blah...I seriously believe that no matter what you buy, if you are 'thinking globally' someone will have and offer to you good reason for you to feel guilty about that purchase. The more you limit your local economy, the more intimate you are with it...and consequently the more you will be affected by it. You will CARE.
For instance, do you have any idea how much garbage we produce? Have you ever been to a landfill and been absolutely astonished? Ever been to the Lynnwood dump station on a weekday afternoon and see the unbelievably massive heap of debris? One days work or less...but I got to drive home. It's easy not to think about my garbage when it is conveniently hauled away and dumped far far out of my site and smell - very likely in someone else's community. So, you can either ignore the overall ramifications of 'thinking globally' or you can pick one pet issue and hinge your life upon it, or you can go completely insane worrying about how your recent purchase of agriculture is fueling an ongoing famine in Somalia, but is actually assisting farmers in Guatamala in depsperate need of fair trade.
And while, of course, you cannot easily exist on an entirely local economy, I do agree with Wendell Berry when he suggests that the more in touch and reliant you are on your land and your community, the more you will CARE about it. Spread THAT sentiment around and I think much could be done for conservation issues. And as I said in a comment on my wife’s blog, if you live somewhere you really don’t care much about (i.e. you could just as well live anywhere else), then maybe you should move?
And since I'm shooting my sawed off CARE shotgun with tiny tiny birdshot: Lack of caring is everywhere. The one who would chain themselves to a tree or stand naked for PETA might be just as likely to turn their wombs into a hellish blender, ripping their baby to shreds. By the same token, the one who would protest that act might be quite happy to rip out a beautiful forest in favor of some very profitable puke colored condos despite it causing havoc to a nearby salmon run.
We ought to care for our unborn. We ought to care for our environment. We ought to care (period).
Personally, as a proponent of local action, I need to show more care at home. It must begin there – to hopefully raise up a generation for whom caring is a much more familiar thing; a generation who will see the world as a responsibility instead of a playground or a rental property.
Sadly, their plans seem to indicate that they will do nothing of the sort. With all due respect, Father Combitsis, do you have the Gospel to offer people or not? Are you the Church of Jesus Christ or not? Is the Living God worshipped within the walls of what sounds to be your very beautiful Temple or not?
...or, are you simply a "Sons and Daughters of Greece" club?
Trying to attract more and younger parishioners, it has begun advertising in Greek newspapers, offering valet parking and reaching out to Greek college students in the New York area.
Anyone else miss anything at all in this article that would give a non-Greek the impression that this Parish could be their home too? I must have missed it.
How about advertising in the New York Times? How about reaching out to AMERICAN college students? I fear, their effort as devised, will fail, as I suppose it ought to. We Orthodox must be about proclaiming the Gospel to America...we have a treasure and if we really believed it, we would not hide our light under the bowl of ethnicity. We are the Church of Christ, not the Church of Greece, Russia, Serbia, Syria or anywhere else. However, if we must be more specific than that, I might be so bold as to remind us that we also happen to be the Church in the United States of America, last time I checked. (Others may feel free to insert their respective country in there as well.)
Some Pharmacies are opting not to carry the "morning after pill." No word on whether that decisions is fiscally based (Pharmacies do not - as a common sense rule - carry every type of medicine...even medicines that are actually medicine!).
But, our "very liberal community" is going to launch a boycott of two specific stores. Fine...but more than that, our "very liberal community" has a whole host of brown shirted liberals ready to do a big smack down...especially on the State Pharmacy Board, which apparently MUST submit.
Lead by the Fuhrer, Christine Gregoire: "Gregoire has warned the board to change course, saying its members could be overruled or replaced if they do not heed her wishes."
Zieg Hiel! Long live the Greater Seattle Rhineland!
A mere 25 or so miles (as the crow flies) from where the Fremont Solstice celebrations happen...amazing. Guess which feels more like home to me...even with an Elvis impersonator? Heck it looks even better than the Sultan Shindig!
Of particular note is Knut Bell & the Blue Collars. Man, listen to some of their samples - I am SO lovin their stuff. I used to be into the Rockabilly scene for awhile and I must admit to missing it...especially this Johnny Cash sounding "honkahillarockabilly" stuff.
I don't know why these things keep making the headlines, is anyone really all that surprised? I mean, what WOULD surprise you about the mainliners?
Anyway, the retired theoretical mathematician turned bishop explains her beliefs with regard to homosexuality:
Asked how she reconciled her position on homosexuality with specific passages in the Bible declaring sexual relations between men an abomination, Jefferts Schori said the Bible was written in a very different historical context by people asking different questions.
"The Bible has a great deal to teach us about how to live as human beings. The Bible does not have so much to teach us about what sorts of food to eat, what sorts of clothes to wear -- there are rules in the Bible about those that we don't observe today," she said.
"The Bible tells us about how to treat other human beings, and that's certainly the great message of Jesus -- to include the unincluded."
The problem with this point is that it leaves it entirely in the hands of the individual to decide which rules to adhere to and which ones to reject. So, if the good bishop can reject the "rules" against homosexuality, then why can I not reject the rules against adultry? Or the rules about "loving your neighbor as yourself"? C'mon bishop...this is just "people asking different questions" here, right? Right.
And here are a few of the suggestions Presbyterians are offering for the new Trinitarian formula:
- Mother, Child and Womb
- Rock, Redeemer and Friend
- Lover, Beloved, and Love
- Creator, Savior and Sanctifier
- King of Glory, Prince of Peace and Spirit of Love
The second to the last one isn't all that bad (however, it's no replacement)...but if someone converts to Orthodoxy and they were baptized in the name of the "mother, child, and womb" by the presbs do you think they'd have to "git er done" again? But seriously, what's wrong with renaming the Trinity? Where to begin?
The Trinity is a Holy Mystery, one not easily explained and very much best left in the realm of apophatic theology. Which is to say, leave the titles as they have been given to us by God Himself in the person of Jesus Christ (a man, I might add). Attempts at finding gender inclusive titles often lead to stupidity (after all, Jesus was a man) and it may also lead - even force you to try and get behind the mystery of the Trinity. What exactly is meant by calling the Holy Spirit a "womb" or a "friend"? What might be implied by such invented titles? We Orthodox believe and take very seriously the mystery here and we rightfully worry about what speculation might arise...what presb minister will come and tell us how the Holy Spirit is NOT like a "womb" or not like a "friend"?
Such mysteries, these things which we "do not understand, things too wonderful for us" ought to best be left alone. Yes, let us "abhor" ourselves for thinking we can invent better titles, more accurate titles...and God forbid, more politically correct titles.
Caring, as a central hub around which the spokes of virtues spin and the cobwebs of sins will not cling, by definition must not sit and idly rotate. It really isn’t caring unless it is coupled with action…sacrifice even. I am one who is often deceived into believing that I actually care about certain things, very hip and vogue sorts of issues that make me feel good about caring for them. Sadly, much of my “caring” is little more than making sure to convince other people that I care and that they should too. In so doing, I feel terribly good about myself and thus the vicious cycle goes round and round and round – but it isn’t the wheel of Caring that I am moving upon.
Real caring – far more than an emotion - is something we do precious little of these days, our behavior is as if we do not have the time. Have you ever stopped to wonder how odd it is that we have invented professionals to CARE in our stead? Both parents MUST work and therefore we hire professional strangers to CARE for our children – often even our infant children. None of our adult children apparently have time enough and so we hire professional strangers to CARE for our aged Moms and Dads. Both of these are touchy subjects, but I believe we as a society ought to think abit more about them.
Consider also the innumerable options for pre-packaged meals that we have today. For evey food, there is pre-packaged "instant" version of it - filled with Satan only knows what to add the "instantness" to it. Mom (or Dad) simply do not have the time to cook anymore. And Mom needn’t pack school lunches for the kids anymore, she need only reach into the fridge and pick out the packages of “Lunchables”…of course the fact that these and other prepackaged foods are FAR more expensive than if Mom or Dad had shopped more wisely and made made the lunch themselves seems, as an answer, to escape our collective questioning of why we must all work so hard and often to pay for our modern and marvelous life.
Some would say my grandmother led a rather pointless life, I suspect for many of you your grandmothers would also fail the litmus test of modern tatses for a worthwhile life. For our grandmothers, the raising and CARING for their family was their career. Imagine that for a moment: a FULL-TIME (actually more than that) job of CARING. For Grandma, cooking and cleaning was more than work...it was CARE and it was, quite literally, love incarnate. Today it is seen as a waste, a life defined by caring for others - a waste. A life not lived up to her full potential, better that Grandma should have worn extra pointy shoes, slacks, carried a laptop and cell phone and sold Real Estate while someone else CARED for her kids and Kraft/Oscar Meyer Lunchables fed the kids. At least the kids could be bussed back and forth in a Lexus.
Yes, we simply don’t have time and therefore we often do not even know (let alone CARE about) the people who may in fact sleep a mere 20 feet from where we sleep – albeit behind a five foot lawn buffer and some wood and drywall. We have neighbors we hardly know at all - however, no one - save perhaps Bill Gates - can afford CARE professionals for their neighbors. And, speaking of our “modern” life, the internet now affords us the ability today to interact with human beings with aboslute freedom of CARE. We always possess the ability to simply shut them off if we should happen to uncomfortably feel pressure to actually CARE for them. Truth is, caring does not travel well over cable...
It's rather timely because I JUST overheard someone on a talk radio program explaining how he, as a black man, was "de-europeanizing" himself. And this included - in his mind - the abandonment of Christianity. I nearly crashed my truck - and worse yet almost broke my newly filled growler - yelling at the radio.
My dangerous blathering included the following: Christianity spread to Africa at the same time it was spreading into Europe. Africa was largely Christian before Britain and numerous other European areas. And for the African-American convert muslims who became so in order to "de-europeanize", I have even more bad news: Africans were saying the Christian liturgy for more than 500 years before Arab muslims invaded.
In ancient days, the great pagan city of Freemont would have its annual summer solstice festival in honor of the pagan gods and goddesses. The entire city would turn out and dance through the streets - often naked - while singing, chanting, and drum beating praises to their gods.
If you dare (beware nudity...scary nudity), check out some of the photos: Here.
Now, if you wish to participate in the parade, there are some rules:
1. No printed words. You can be naked, but no words. You must endeavor to make sure that "groups flow together into one juxtaposed whole." (No idea how the presence of words inhibits such juxtaposition. Again, you can be naked, but no printed words. "Happily free of logos for the day." Unhappily free of ugly naked people or men in drag.
Or religions like this:
2.No cars allowed. "Happily free of motor vehicles for the day." The people take back the streets! But come monday this guy:
will be sharing the roads with you again behind the wheel of a ton of metal flying down the viaduct at 65mph! (By the way....isn't that....GASP...a LOGO!)
3. No live Animals. They don't want to have to scoop poop. However, one wonders if all the parade participants can really avoid defecating as part of their act...after all, remember rule #1.
4. No guns. My personal favorite...yes folks "joy and love rule the streets" (not to mention insanity - all the more reason to be thankfull these people aren't armed). "We are safe and free of guns and weapons for the day." Thank you Freemont Arts Council! For those who don't live in the greater Seattle area, Freemont is normally a place of daily shoot outs and random slayings from gun toting rednecks who wander the streets looking to shoot their guns at hippies. Yes, it is a virtual "Tombstone Arizona" here from day to day. But thanks be to the gods, the FAC has given us a day of peace, love, and joy. No more shooting...instead bring the kids down and watch naked crazy people.
All to celebrate the "rebirth of the sun." Hmmm.
I miss the Sultan Shindig Parade. As far as I know, we were perfectly happy with logos and words, cars/trucks/antique tractors, lots of live animals including horses, dogs, cats, pigs, and if memory serves a real pretty jersey cow, and there were even a few guns. To top it off, we'd then go watch Lumberjacks compete against one another by torturing trees - lobbing them apart like jihadists do infidel heads. Oh the humanity!
On the other hand we were happily free of expressions of paganism, innumerable naked people, innumerble men in drag, obscene gestures, attacks on organized religion, custumes that would scare me - let alone my kids, non-lingustic endorsements of illegal drug use, and the Freemont Arts Council (who as I recall had a bit to do with bringing Lenin to town - I hope my Slovak brothers are still laughing over that one and paying for their drinks with the money.)
Such is the diagnosis offered to me for my malady from a number of friends…I suspect many others would also interpret my symptoms in a similar fashion were they a bit more forward with what they are likely more willing to say amidst colleagues behind closed doors. Physicians who wish to tone down the rotten core of their horrific prognosis.
I understand, truly I do and I am not wholly willing to start my grieving process with denial. I start, rather, with acceptance.
So what does it mean to accept your diagnosis of insanity? Are there medications that will make me love suburbia more? Therapy that will help me to realize that the woman I see in her robe, outside her apartments, walking her dog along the concrete and motor vehicle river in downtown Seattle a mere block and a half from her work isn’t at all crazy? A spiritual method perhaps that will assist me to love being surrounded by towering conifers (as opposed to McMansions)less? I suppose there may be a drug that will cause me to despise the notion of being far more dependent myself (and family) and my land? Group therapy might perhaps enlighten me to understand the insignificance of being able to take long walks in the woods while never leaving my own property? Maybe Paxil will cause me to realize that the one hour commute I currently have to live 15 miles from downtown in suburbia isn’t worth trading for the two hour commute I will have in order to live in the country?
I doubt it. But I accept the diagnosis, happily. Sometimes, insanity is quite relative.
No, not by the Rapture, but by the ongoing LOG dialogue. House and property searching has just left me precious little time to regurgitate my opinions there as of late - I'm sure we all benefit from that.
However, I had missed the announced change in my Serbian Hillbilly brother's blog, and boy have I missed some good stuff already there.
These shoes are dumb looking. I am seeing more and more of them...and they are beginning to scare me. Besides being dumb looking (images of court jesters come to mind) but they also look profoundly dangerous.
Beef, it's what for dinner. I could listen to Sam Elliot talk for hours...reckon it don't matter about what, though I'd hope it was about cattle drives, bourbon, or beautiful sunsets on the prarie, or something like that. When I think of a cowboy, I typically think of him.
When I hear his beef commercials I can't help but listen - mesmerized somewhat...here's my favorite:
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 10:25 AM [+] +++
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
I believe his reclamation and revalidation is very much a return to an Orthodox understanding.
from Wendell Berry…
Once we have understood that we cannot exempt from our care anything at all that we have the power to damage – which now means everything in the world – then we face yet another startling realization: we have reclaimed and revalidated the ground of our moral and religious tradition. We now can see that what we have traditionally called “sins” are wrong not because they are forbidden but because they divide us from our neighbors, from the world, and ultimately from God. They deny care and are dangerous to creatures.
As an example, I would offer Phillip Sherrard’s definition of avarice in his invaluable book ‘Human Image: World Image.’ Avarice, he says,
‘is a disposition of our soul which refuses to acknowledge and share in the destiny common to all things and which desires to possess and use all things for itself…Through this seeming act of self-aggrandizement we actually debase the whole of our existence, perverting and even destroying the natural harmony of our being as well as that of everything with which we come into contact.’
Avarice, then, is a sin for very practical reasons: it makes division within unity, disorder within order, and discord within harmony.
I suspect that all sin has as its foundation avarice, and its primary symptom or manifestation is not caring. I pray God break my stubborn heart every time that I say: “I don’t care.”
Nope, not a glitch in the Matrix...rather a glitch in understanding.
My daughter gave a lovely little piano recital at North Creek Presbyterian Church. I noticed some Russian appearing items (a book and a tea set of somesort) in a display case - celebrating "world stuff" I assumed. But inside their sanctuary (on the back, west facing wall) was a huge hand written icon of the Holy Trinity - an excellent copy of Rublev's (check this news out).
It was somewhat astonishing and "Twilight Zony" to see, I must admit. Like seeing a picture of your Grandmother in a strangers house. I said to my wife: "Hey, that's one of ours!" and when I pointed it out to Rade, he literally jumped (still not sure if it was in jest).
Rade venerated the icon, and I told him that I bet it was the first time it had ever been done.
Anyway, it seems that NC Pres has some sort of "sister church relationship" via the WCC with Holy Trinity Cathedral (this one) in St. Petersburg. Note this account of a delegations visit to Russia.
Isn't this nice: Metropolitan Vladimir makes no secret of his years of service with the World Council of Churches, his ecumenical attitudes, and his progressive ideas, which are not always received with favor by the conservative orthodox community. Duh, ya think?
...I presented the gifts we had brought from North Creek...Sunday School supplies (yikes...hope everything except blank paper, crayons, and markers got filed away properly)
The hundreds of worshipers who filled the vast nave of the cathedral on Pentecost validated the significance of our relationship and our mission. What exactly is that mission?
No mention of the fact that they were prohibited from the cup. NC Pres appears to be a pretty wealthy gathering place...I hope the only thing really being exported is goodwill and their dollars.
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 10:24 AM [+] +++
Saturday, June 03, 2006
The Great Landrush of 2006
I realize my blogging as of late has been sorely lacking my own poignant commentary - perhaps you have noticed and rejoiced?
Anyway, I have been educating myself with regard to the ins and outs of land acquisition and thereafter building upon it. Seriously, one wonders if the old days of simply parking the wagon and then hoping that the locals don't come and slaughter you for stealing their land wouldn't be less complex and risky than the permitting and financing we must go through today.
Amazingly, some of the counties - particularly Jefferson - have FANTASTIC mapping programs that offer a wealth of information including topography, wetlands, landlside hazards, stream setbacks, zoning specifics, and existing permits. The trouble is, most real estate agents do not give you the parcel ID's when they advertise the land and thus you REALLY have to do some work to find the specific parcel on the county maps. Gee, I wonder why they don't offer the parcel numbers????? Hmmmm????
Anyway, our journey to "Rural Residential 1:5,10, or 20" continues. Of course, it is feasible that the perfect property (with a house already in there) will show up - thereby eliminating the nightmare - yet strangely fun - process of pointing and clicking through the Great Landrush.
Note how the party's name sounds like the training and indocrination program that "da PC man" subjects many of us underlings to via our work or school. Furthermore the party gives us a rationale for their belief system: "Forbidding children from sex only makes them more curious" thus clearly missing the once politicaly correct notion surrounding abuse of authority, power, and influence - which might perhaps be inherent in a "relationship" between a perverted 45 yeard old man and a 12 year old boy.
We may laugh this off, but seriously, where are we headed folks? A search on this guys name leads to all manner of fecal matter in which it is clear pedophiles are actively seeking to obtain the cherished "persecuted, misunderstood, sexual orientation minority status."