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.
Passing through (or over, as the case may be) water as an image of profound transition is not lost to me as I sit here aboard the ferry bringing my family to a sort of new life...putting an ocean - albeit a "sound" - between the old and the new.
Another gorgeous day...thank God we have not had to move in the rain.
THIS same thing happend toe Fr. Byantaro a year or so ago. At that time they were forced to abandon their bulding and have Litrugy quietly in a private residence. I've been unable to find details, but this could be them returning to their original place of worship? Thank God they mob was stopped...but I can assure you whatever community this was they are rightfully scared right now.
When is the world going to wake up? Cartoons and a few words cause a crisis but Christians being martyred or having no freedom to worship garners little attention or concern at all. Just imagine if an American mob of Christians forced a Mosque to close...the outcry worldwide would shock us. And yet all accross the Muslim world there is hardly any religious freedom.
Meanwhile we cower and apologize for causing offense with our drawings and our mean spirited words. And in the meeting with the Pope (I wonder who paid for all those plane tickets) not a word from the Muslims reps about their culpability for violence and calls for violence against the Pope...NOT A WORD. What crap...news like this puts me in a funk
Wrapping up our presence on the eastside. Our last Divine Liturgy at St. Paul's was nice, Fr. James presented us with an icon of St. Paul during coffee hour and we had a number of people come and express their well wishes. It was pretty laid back - no tears and no gnashing of teeth over my blogging controversies.
It seems all the more obvious to me that the Church is indeed people, and my heart confirms this to me as I reflect back on my time at St. Paul's. I will not so much miss her building, her icons, her programs, her well orchestrated music, and yes I won't even miss cleaning her bathrooms. But I will miss many of the people who have become dear to me. Those who would see you enter the Nave and smile, those who are just plain happy to see you. Those who will notice and miss you when you are not there.
An old dear friend of mine once told me he believed the Church ought to be like "Cheers", a place where oddballs gather, everybody knows your name, they are always glad you came, and anyone is welcome. It ought to be a place where not just "sometimes" but ALL the time you want to go. Too often we screw Church up...gossip is a great way to do that. Judging others is another. Love and forgiveness...sometimes a bar can do a better job than the Church. Anyway, I've always appreciated the notion of Church being like "Cheers" and if we take the analogy too far (as many of you will) I would a cross between Norm and Cliff: a beer in one hand while lecturing on a chalkboard about how Islam has inherent problems with violence.
LOL...Lord love my friends who endure me. That's what Church should be like. Not seeing those same faces each Sunday will be the hard part for me. I can do without much, but the missing smiles of old friends is troublesome.
But I do not want to turn this into a downer post. Balancing the negative is our joy at pursuing our dream, becoming a part of the OCA (not so much because of my previous complaints, but because I feel a little like I am joining many of my family who are Orthodox), becoming part of a growing Mission and helping it (as humbly and feably as we may) to continue to grow, becoming educated about all manner of liturgics in a Reader's class, meeting new friends who will have to learn to endure me, being closer to at least one old friend, and having Rade camping in our front yard! It has the makings of a new sitcom.
I may not post much over the next few days, so I expect I will see you on the otherside!
PETA is upset because Six Flags is offering line jumping rights to anyone willing to eat a live giant cockroach. Nasty.
PETA says the promotion is "gratuitously cruel." Wonder what'd they say about gassing them in our homes...comparisons to the Holocaust perhaps? Geez, man, they are filthy cockroaches!
I ADORE Great America Public Relations Manager Jim Taylor's response: "cockroaches are essentially no different from any other animal used as food in the park...it is important to point out that cockroaches do provide nutritional value. (They) are high in protein and they have no fat."
LOL...I'll stick with the "other animal used as food" thanks.
Presently embarked on an unusual loner trip accross the sound - a unique place to blog, though one that will likely become more familiar to me. I'm heading over to attend a class at St. Elizabeth's, my wife dropping me off and Dawn picking me up.
It is a gorgeous day in western washington: the sky is clear and the air cool, Mts. Rainier to the south and Baker to north decorate the horizon, and the water is a rich deep blue with just enough swell to remind us passengers that we really are in a big floatation device. The only thing that would make this day better would be if I could could toss a line over the side with a herring on it.
A collection of young girls and boys wearing traditional bavarian dress standing just below what is on this trip the aft bridge and are apparently some sort of Von Trapp Family imitators as they have been beuatifully singing "The Sound of Music" songs while taking in the scenery. It's quite lovely and relaxing.
I offered them a hearty round of applasue and a loud "Zehr Gut!"
This sunday will be our last sunday both as members in the Antiochian Archdiocese and more notably as members of St. Paul Orthodox Church in Brier. As luck would have, we are also on schedule to do coffee hour...talk about poor planning, we shoulda bailed a week ago! LOL!
St. Paul has been our home for as long as we have been Orthodox and Fr. James is in a very real way our spiritual father, having catechized and chrismated my wife and I and having been our confessor for these last few years.
We will very much miss so many of the people at this Parish, for all of its convert quirks (you all know what I mean), it has none-the-less been a place where we have seen, felt, and experienced the love of Christ through the hearts of many of her people. We will cherish and remember those wonderful experiences.
Some of you from St. Paul's read this blog (perhaps less of you since my political diatribes), but to those who have remained: thank you for enduring our noisy presence! Thank you also for enduring my much more noisy blog.
On the foward looking track: We are excited to be a part of the OCA...the jurisdiction that many of my relatives are also a part of back east - a fact I only discovered a year or so ago. More than that, we look forward to being a part of St. Elizabeth in Poulsbo. It is an exciting thing to be a part of a Mission...we are overjoyed that we are already being called upon to "work" in that Mission: my wife as a teacher and myself beginning to attend a Reader class this saturday.
While I'd never heard of the graphic novel upon which it is based, a movie is coming out called "300" which will retell the story of the epic battle of Thermopylae. Nice!
I have yet to get the trailer to work HERE at this, appropriately enough, Greek blog. But the production video journals seem to work, albeit slowly.
Count me as one standing in line...I love this bit in the synopsis: Facing insurmountable odds, their valor and sacrifice inspire all of Greece to unite against their Persian enemy, drawing a line in the sand for democracy.
Taking no prisoners...yes indeed no quarter offered. In a complete fit of capitalistic non-PC rage I will be heading over to Walmart not just to shop for some detergent or clothes made by slaves in Bangkok, but rather to buy a shotgun and a host of ammunition. If a confederate flag is available I'll get it too. Maybe some camos and a "Git R Done" hat with a #0 fish hook on the brim.
And if I feel really ornery I'll make fun of the handicapped greeter and the accent of the guy selling me the gun. And then to complete the redneck non-PC celebration, I'll head home, fire up the grill for some hog grillin' and then clean the gun in the backyard while smoking a pipe and listening to Toby Keith.
Just the thought of it all makes me positively giddy.
By the way...my only Walmart joke: "How do you get a peace activist liberal to take terrorism seriously? Tell em Walmart has a better health and retirement plan than Al Qaeda."
Alright, all kidding aside. I am getting a shotgun. No, not to fight off the Jihadist hordes to be found in Kitsap county - that would require a 50 caliber machine gun and Walmart doesn't sell them - I called. However, K-Mart says they are willing to sell and mount one of THESE on my Trooper.
I used to shoot skeet quite abit. We'd also go out - with local famrers' blessings - and mangle jack rabbits with 12 guages. Ugly business.
Living rural requires us to be concerned about bears and other critters (those that would have either my children or my livestock)and so that is the primary motivation for the purchase. But I would not mind going out and destroying a few clay flying saucers now and then. Really, nothing makes a man feel more manly than seeing one of those things dissolve into dust in mid-air. Smiling at your buddy: "I did that."
I was very happy with my old Mossberg pump action 12...looking for one like it.
A busy weekend included a wedding, last minute musical preparations, 7 hours of driving, a visit from some Kentucky relatives (two of whom I had not seen in at least 20 years – cousins I’d grown up with), and worrying about the extent to which I have irked people with my recent controversial posts.
My mom, after being divorced for at least 20 years (coincidently, the last time I saw my cousins was when my folks separated) remarried on Saturday. A real nice rural gentlemen from Moxee Washington (hence the 7 hour drive) named Willard. They had a simple wedding in their front yard and they'd asked me to sing a song of their choosing, which was "Grow old along with me" apparently by John Lennon – which was additionally odd because the song asks for God's blessing and I didn’t think Mr. Lennon believed in God…oh whatever. Anyway, I procrastinated and only figured the cords out the week before and then did my best to memorize the lyrics by reciting them in my head during the drive. It panned out okay as I was able to tuck a cheat sheet under my arm and atop the guitar.
I had forgotten how much I enjoyed the company of my Kentucky relatives. One gets a sense of some simple honesty about them...no pretentiousness to speak of. Nice, is probably the best word I could use to describe them – there is something about southern hospitality – which is odd because I sensed it despite the fact that I was the one hosting them! You spend a little bit of time with them and you find yourself just enjoying listening to them talk. I believe, rural folk are far better oral story tellers than city folk, and when you tag on their southern drawl it is a joyful event to hear them tell what would normally be a mundane albeit somewhat cute story told by anyone else. Anyway, they brought gifts with them which for me included a Kentucky Wildcats T-Shirt and a bottle of Woodford's Reserve Bourbon, which tasted even better when sipped while my Uncle Bill retold the story of how their local country doctor would refuse to treat people who'd been wounded doing things they ought not to have been doing in the first place. Such that if you got in a bar fight and came to his clinic to get stitched up, he'd likely kick you out the front door "fur bein a durned fool."
Despite the fun, the issue of my political ranting about the archdiocese was weighing somewhat heavy on my mind. I had received – before we left - a fair number of personal emails that expressed shock, dismay, and offense at what I had written. I felt like a hindu in India who had a juicy hamburger and was eating it in front of everyone as they looked on in pious horror. I was thankful to receive a couple of communications from people whose opinions I respect very much which eased my worries a great deal. Perhaps I worry too much about what others think about me, or maybe I don't worry enough until after the fact? I dunno. I am what I am, but what I am not is someone who refuses correction.
We returned home very late on Saturday night having hoped to leave Moxee around bedtime, but apparently the kids were terribly wound up and not surprisingly did not sleep for most of the drive home as we had hoped. Sunday found me worn out.
Wet and rainy...and I sit here on the bus marvelling at how easily Seattlites forget how to drive in such weather.
The newest McMansion Theme Park is well on its way now. Just down the street from our nearly former parish used to be a lovely little parcel of small acreage, mildly treed, lots of potential for small scale hobby farming, or just a place for the kids to stretch and run. Centered in this park like setting is a large home of unknown age, but I'm willing to bet if it could talk it could tell you some frightening stories about the development of Brier - never mind the ever increasing list of mentally unstable mayors.
We watched as the trees were ripped out and the grass somehow turned to dirt (how do they do that anyway?) and the building process was begun in earnest. Curiously the old house remained amidst the chaos of heavy machinery scarring the landscape, and apparently will continue to do so as the owners have opted to remain (I guess), turning their vintage home into an oddity amidst a sea of giant luxury woodboxes built virtually one atop another. To them, I suppose, their new view and sense of claustrophobia is worth the money...for me I'd have to be paying for my kid's new kidney or something.
The fancy neighborhood sign went up before they were anywhere near being finished with the first house, and they are calling it “Redrock” and outside of what looks like aged copper hung on the sign, I see nothing that remotely looks like red rocks. Nothing but dirt and cheap lumber. The second house is now underway and, as one would of course suspect, the distance between the two is astonishing. Once they build the fence...hmmm...fence...not to keep in your livestock, but to hide behind...to put some false sense of distance between you and the ridiculously close neighbor I guess. Anyway, once they put the fence in, you could not stroll from your backyard to your front walking side by side with your spouse – it is a physical impossibility. I'm going to try and check, but I’d bet these homes come darn close to making a reality of my joke that some new homes have more square footage than their lots. They make my current home look like Montana ranch land. Now, I know, clearly some people prefer living that way...like apartments (no land to care for...who has time???) while retaining that seemingly inherent need to own a home. But I wonder...
I’ve been reading Gene Logsdon lately. I have to say I do not enjoy him nearly as much as I have enjoyed Wendell Berry. Partly, I believe, because he seems to think that his agrarianism and his criticisms of the Catholic Church are connected and I simply do not buy it. He just has too much of a "worship at home alone" kinda attitude which to me smacks of unbelievable self-absorption. But, aside from that I do appreciate much of what he writes. In his book "You can go home" he has a theory explaining in part why we have seemingly become so impolite these days:
If people are no longer polite to each other, no loner tolerant, as sociologists say, could that be because of a lack of home life, a lack of suitable periods of privacy and solitude? Where people live more “lonely” lives, at some distance from each other, as in pioneer days, they tend to be more friendly to each other when they do meet. As a traveler I noticed that civility in public places increased as I went from more populated to less populated regions. Even between Minneapolis and Watertown, South Dakota, where I used to go with a cattle buyer when I lived in Minnesota, there was a marked difference in people’s attitudes toward strangers. People “far from the maddening crowd” appreciated company more, logically enough. But a bunch of humans jammed together would kill each other as rats did in similar situations. Road rage was a desperate cry for solitude.
I believe he is right. I have proved it to a small degree in my own experiences. Everyday now I walk a mile through downtown Seattle amidst throngs of people. I must pass dozens of people with hardly a smile offered to one another and it feels perfectly normal - almost expected. But in passing someone on the much lonlier streets of downtown Sultan, it just felt weird not acknowledging one another. Hardly scientific, I know, but I think there is truth here. Maybe part of the reason why we hardly know our neghbors stacked upon us is because we choose not to. They are simply too close…violating our personally space…too easily hearing our every argument, our every failed parenting episode, our special moments with our spouses, what TV we watch, what we like to do day in and day out. Virutally living together…we build our fences taller, seeking some solitude. It’s like forced intimacy.
The other day I was irked beyond measure. Positively put off. Oh sweet anger and frustration, how familiar you are to me sometimes. Yeah, it was all kid related, I'll spare y'all the ugly details.
But I told myself, "Hey Jimmy" (I call myself Jimmy)
"Don't worry about it man, anyone would be angry about such a thing. It's normal, dude." (sometimes I call myself dude too...it's a lame time warp to early 1980's southern california...and I would never pretend to be hip to today's lingo)
But then I heard a somewhat...ah heck who am I kidding...a completely unfamiliar voice say, "Ummm, Jimmy...it's not normal, it's common."
With me and my family, it appears our home's appraisal went through without a problem. It seems we will indeed be moving (barring an unforeseen problems on the other side of the pond) at the end of the month.
My favorite line: another commissioner implied the Greeks would drink alcohol at the pavilion if given the chance.
GASP! Oh the humanity! Cats and dogs sleeping together...mass hysteria!!!! Don't give them a chance, whatever you do, don't give them a chance. Next thing ya know they'll be meeting monthly to sample fine scotch and loudly pontificate upon matters they know little about.
I was in the midst of three glorious days off from work in order to empty the Snohomish River of her Coho, but we were getting a late start because my "stay-at-home dad" fishing partner had to drop his youngest off at preschool first. So, by the time I awoke the towers were gone, but the mystery of it all remained - the entire day on the river was marked by periodic phone calls to my wife to see if another plane had hit.
By what I saw and heard on the TV screen initially, I assumed that major airliner had crashed in downtown Seattle. Soon as they replayed the footage of the planes slamming into the buildings and their subsequent collapse, I was better acquainted with what was happening – at least as well as everyone else was I guess.
On that day we really did not see the people being burned as they hung out of the windows, or the jumpers who chose the fall to the fire. And it was only a few days ago that I saw the horrific video of one man climbing out of a window and down some 10 feet or so as he clung to some cloth rope he must have fabricating himself from a collection of office materials. My heart sunk and I audibly gasped when he lost his grip and fell the 800 or so feet to the street below. I felt the same futile, capitulating frustration with fate that he seemed to feel, for by his posture as he fell, it really seemed as if he had accepted what awaited him.
It is and it was a horrific thing.
I am ashamed to say that at the time, I believed, as too many others still do, that we had this coming. Without outright saying it, I felt we deserved this. I was firmly entrenched in the camp which believed that somehow the United States’ foreign policy was so evil that it in turn inspired evil capable of flying airplanes into buildings...capable of making people jump from 800 feet.
But then Beslan happened: Bombs strung over the heads of half naked school children. And then I watched in horror as Nicholas Berg screamed for mercy as his head was sawn off and the perpetrators of the terrifying act chanted like maniacal and mindless robots their religious proclamation: God is the greatest. And then I began to read and listen to what the "enemy" was saying and what the "enemy" believed and what the "enemy" desired of us. Having done so, I realized there is no longer any point to that word being in quotation marks.
These were no freedom fighters against American Imperialism, these monsters represented the most intolerant, oppressive, and brutal of world visions ever conceived. Even the most pious of Christians, Jews, or ___________ could not hope to sit well with these people – except under complete submission. And not only would Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have to suffer not getting married for the homosexual cause, they might as well kill themselves to truly share in the cause. The people who flew those planes, the people who strung those bombs, and the people who saw off the heads are the very real image of hatred, bigotry and intolerance.
Let me pause for just a second and clarify the term "tolerance," for you see we Americans (and perhaps the west in general) think that tolerance means you accept the ideas, beliefs and values of others as being equally true or right. Well, that is just dumb. Tolerance means you accept other people's right to hold different ideas, beliefs, and values. But it does not mean that you cannot disagree and you cannot say so and you cannot publically debate them, because if it does mean that then it really isn't tolerance anymore.
Intolerance by our enemy means that you are liable to be killed for your ideas, beliefs, and values. Many people are killed who suffer under their authority - whether legitimate or vigilante style.
I suggest that we might best remember the horror of 9/11 by continuing to practice what they really do hate about us: freedom and tolerance. America isn't perfect, of course, but I'm not bucking to go live in Saudi, Pakistan, or Indonesia where there really isn't a whole lot of tolerance and where an unknown number of intolerant tyrants are dreaming their dreams and acting upon them.
Memory Eternal...a host of different ideas, beliefs, and values were snuffed out on 9/11. Let us be resolutely intolerant of intolerance.
Benedict said modern people suffered from "hardness of hearing" when it comes to God.
"Put simply, we are no longer able to hear God — there are too many different frequencies filling our ears," he said. "What is said about God strikes us as pre-scientific, no longer suited to our age."
"People in Asia and Africa admire our scientific and technical progress, but at the same time they are frightened by a form of rationality which totally excludes God from man's vision, as if this were the highest form of reason."
Of course, the solution to wetsern perceptions as noted above is simply to cave to them and revision the Christian story....right? As Spong does?
The need for Western Europe to return to its Christian roots is one of Benedict's favorite themes, and he is repeating it during his visit to his native country — home to a shrinking and liberal Catholic Church and a highly secularized society... Benedict gently rebuked the German church for putting social service projects and technical assistance to the poor ahead of spreading the Christian message. African bishops, he said, told him all doors were open to them in Germany when they wanted to talk about aid projects, but added they were greeted with reservations when it came to evangelization.
"Clearly, some people have the idea that social projects should be urgently undertaken, while anything dealing with God or even the Catholic faith is of limited and lesser importance," Benedict said.
He said that faith must come first, before progress can be made in social problems, such as the AIDS epidemic in Africa. "Hearts must be converted if progress is to be made on social issues and reconciliation is to begin, and if — for example, AIDS is to be combated by realistically facing its deeper causes."
That message is consistent with church teaching that chastity and faithfulness to one's spouse — and not condoms — are the best way to prevent the disease.
"Best" because despite the predominant philosophy of the world around us, people really can keep their pants on. Yes, they really can and we should start expecting them to. As it is we pat our teens or pre-teens or Africans on the head, and give them a condom to face the world's "realities." Condoms are "effective" in reducing the spread of disease - perhaps, as some studies have show (yes take a moment and ponder the inherent problems with such studies), very effective - but they are by no means perfect. Even the house loses at the card table from time to time.
Chastity and Faithfulness. Wow, oncepts we need to start taking way more seriously. As it is we just seem to laugh at these as being "pre-scientific, no longer suited to our age."
Oh how illumined we are! We smile and nudge one another knowingly about our former president's "fun" with interns and then wonder why so many are dying of wholly preventable STD's all around the world.
Many Years to Pope Benedict XVI for having the guts to tell us to our face...and for it, his birth home is vandalized. Really now, Chastity and Faithfulness, on such ground, we Orthodox ought to stand united beside the Roman Catholics.
Why are more and more American's opting not to have kids, I'd wager that many of us know couples who have decided to do just that. In fact, before my wife came along you could have lumped me into the same pile of people committed to never being burdened by children.
I confess...I was (and am still in many ways) a selfish prig. As you regulars well know, I believe my children are saving me and hopefully I am not in turn ruining them. (Lord have mercy...and James have patience).
People are not having kids because they are simply too busy and too selfish. To wrapped up in living life for themselves and by themselves. We have no community and Hilary's vision of a "village" is more akin to an indoctrination camp. Some would argue that since we are so busy and so selfish then it is good that we are not having kids...okay fine...
But the bigger ramifications of people not having kids is that parents are fast becoming an electoral minority. We are losing our political clout and if the current political trends continue we can soon expect people who have no wish to have kids of their own to start legislating how they think we ought to be raising ours. It takes a village ya know?
Among the effects, they predict, will be decreased political support for parents -- who already make up less than 40 percent of the electorate -- and more cultural hostility
One of my biggest pet peeves is the government stepping in between parents and children. I can see in cases of abuse, but we are certainly seeing trends toward much more than that. Now I am not one of those UN fearing wackos...but what is happening in Belgium is a little scary.
The Mystery that is Prayer, Free will, God’s Providence, and Home Appraisals
I believe prayer changes things, but don’t ask me to explain how precisely it does so, for I do not know. It is, if you think about it, as asinine a thing as having a debate with God when He informs you that he is going to wipe out a city and you try to discern quantitatively how many righteous people it would take for Him to spare the city – as if God doesn’t already KNOW how many righteous people are there? Or that if you could present five righteous people God would change his mind?
CS Lewis is supposed to have said (he certainly did when played by Anthony Hopkins) that prayer doesn't change God's mind, but rather it changes ours. Certainly there is truth to this, but it is not the end of the truth. I don't know if the former of these potential abilities of prayer needs to take place in order for things to change.
In the scriptures and specifically by our Lord we are told in no uncertain terms, to "ask, seek, and knock" and we are told that healing can come ("if any among you is sick…") and demons can be cast out and circumstances can change through prayer. But sometimes healing doesn't come, and sometimes circumstances remain horrible, and sometimes – it would seem – the demons remain. Do I understand it? Of course not.
Take Wonderworking Icons for instance…are they legit? Heck, I dunno..I imagine some have walked away from them unhealed, but they are certainly a part of our Orthodox tradition. I cannot explain – very well - why God would chose to work His wonders through "stuff", but the fact is He does. He is a sacramental God...don’t forget the wonderworking incarnation y'all. You might even recall St. Paul's wonderworking kerchief, or the Angel stirred healing waters of Bethesda. Or how about the amazing stories of our Saints, wouldn’t it be nice if every hardened unbeliever would experience what St. Mary experienced when she tried to enter into that Church in the Holy Land? Or, for that matter, a St. Thomas style experience for all the doubters, eh?
Freewill is an amazing force in our day to day life. Our freewill is constantly impacting those around us whether we like it or not, and by the same token if, for instance, we are praying for someone’s healing, we are likely asking that someone's freewill might be inhibited: That a nurse and doctor will be diligent in their work, as opposed to lax and sloppy, or that a particular medical device built years ago was built with a good quality assurance manager doing his job properly. Think about it...we are potentially asking for a lot – heck consider in the Liturgy when we beseech God’s mercy upon those traveling. I don't know about you, but inherent in that prayer I am asking also for the safety of those travelers, and THAT can entail a great deal of potential miraculous "fixes" with regard to freewill (and not to mention regular old mechanical failure)
I believe God can accomplish it all. I cannot explain it and frankly I wonder if it is beyond our ability or scope of being to even try and explain it ("things too marvelous for me"). We are told to be like little children and as many of you know our little children will frequently look up to their daddies and mommies and ask for things quite beyond our ability to provide. They will also ask for things they shouldn’t...and they may cry, but love heals. Our Heavenly Father, who is good and loves mankind, I think would smile upon our equally humbly made requests, but it is not up to us to know the depths of His wisdom...we trust Him. Amidst everyday life and the Scriptures, the Traditions of the Church, and the lives of our Saints I see a profound mystery between the power of prayer, freewill, God's providence, and yes...home appraisals.
Ours happen to be this Friday at 10am. Your prayers are sought...let the miraculous "fixes" come, according to His will.
I reckon y'all know me well enough to know that I am about as irritated by the "all religious are the same" mindset as a bull is having his privates tied up. Worse still is when this ignorance spills over into the notion that "all forms of fundamentalism are equally dangerous." Yes, and all colors are equally red.
I am "blessed" to hear a good deal of the hand-wringing being done by those who are terrified about the coming Christian Crusade to end democracy in America...and, of course, we are offered a host of new books, which demonstrate that the conservative republicans aren't the only ones who can be accused of inciting fear amongst the masses.
Ross Douthat, at First Things, has written an excellent essay that ought to calm some fears and end some of the hand-wringing. Read it.
I have been spending more time lately reading the New Testament, and last night I found two fantastic verses in St. Paul's epistle to the Hebrews. Finding it to be particularly Paschal - in the eastern understanding, and it made me wonder what I might have thought of it in the past.
So I thumbed through my old leather bound NIV Student Bible - utterly ridden with notes and underlines - to see what I might have written about it. Now, you ought to know that I was an underlining freak - I'd wager that more verses in my Bible were underlined than weren't. Anyway, vast amounts of underlining surrounded these particularly verses, but they themselves were untouched and uncommented upon.
Hebrews 2:14,15 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
It's funny how persepctives change...to me today, this statement is paramount, but years ago it either confused me or left me generally unimpressed.
I really hate the Kingdom of King County (by which I mean to say that region that dictates to the underlings throughout the rest of Washington...it is rather curious that they keep the capital in Olympia). Last year "we" passed a political correct Nazi bill that pretty much made it illegal to smoke anywhere except in a 20 acre field while under a sprinkler provided by the local fire department - yeah I know, I can't only blame King County, but I hate it none-the-less.
Yesterday I heard that the Washington Politically Correct Religious Police were gloating about the fact that Washington State has the 5th lowest smoking rate in the United States! (Of course, I don't recall being surveyed?) All manner of soundbytes celebrating the "battle against tobacco" or the "fight against preventable diseases" Did you get that? Preventable Diseases...hmmm...
Naturally, what do they mean by "preventable diseases"? Two things, really: smoking and obesity related diseases. We've being hearing a lot lately about how fat we are, haven't we? And the Kingdom here is spending LOTS of indoctrination money in order to steer our kids away from tobacco and high-fat foods.
Many job places these days are seeking non-smokers, and while I've not seen it yet, you can expect "weigh-in's" to start soon too...because if a workplace can show their insurers that their employees are slim nonsmokers then their rates go down! Plus, none of those difficult absenteeism rates from heart attacks and throat cancer.
Well, news flash to the Kingdom: Sexually Transmitted Diseases are HIGHLY preventable diseases as well, and from what I've read, more dollars are spent treating and researching things like HIV, genital herpes, et al than is being spent on smoking and obesity related research and treatment. You likely know, off the top of your head what the obesity rate is in America, but I'll bet you had no idea that up 25% of us have genital herpes, did you?
Are your employers thinking of screening for HIV before hiring? Maybe screening to see if a potential employee is a bit too promiscuous? Is the state looking to pass bans on promiscuity? Maybe spend some dollars trying to encourage abstinence amongst our kids?
Ohhhh...but, James...we all know that abstinence doesn't work! Heck, sex is so foundational to our being, we simply can't be expected to curb that appetite.
Ummm...I'm sorry, did you say appetite? Ummm...I'd imagine - crazy me, I know - that eating is foundational to our being and yet somehow...someway we expect people to curb THAT appetite? My experience has been that EVERY animal on the planet would be severely obese if they had easy and regular access to as much food as they wanted...so why should we be surprised? Using a condom as a prevention to the bad effects of promiscuity (by that I mean having sex with anyone who is NOT your spouse) is the equivalent of encouraging vomiting after overeating - it MIGHT work, heck it usually works.
So, here in Washington, you can demonize and isolate smokers (because we can catch their disease as they contract it), but you don't dare insinuate - publically - that people with HIV or Genital Herpes or cervical cancer might have gotten it because of their bad habits. Fact is, I know people who have died of lung cancer and never smoked a day in their life and were never regularly around people who smoked a day in their life. And yet we LEGISLATE smoking and we will soon begin to LEGISLATE eating, but we will never - it seems - touch the sacred cow of carefree sex. We'll work our way around it while we go on suffering and causing others to suffer- not in the proces sof contracting the disease (as with smoking) but in the aftermath of our non-nicotine related high.
Second hand smoke! Please, do you have any idea how many babies' CSF samples we test in our lab? A positive result of said CSF is far worse, I can assure you, than than the results of sitting in resteraunt for an hour next to a smoker. These preventable STD's do NOT merely affect the people who chose NOT to prevent it. How many babies are born with HIV?
And the Kingdom's solution is like encouraging fat people to vomit their meals and smokers to sit alone in fields...away from the rest of us - 25% of whom are waiting to give our babies encephalitis.
I think I'll fire up the Churchwarden this evening and blow my smoke in the direction of King County.