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.
After an entertaining eveing with the L.O.G. (hmmmm....log), I spent the night at Rade and Valerie's and then he and I both came back to Kitsap in order to get the process started of collecting those big downed alders.
As the upper tree was precariously perched upon other trees, I let Rade do the work while I kept watch for wood related happenings that might kill us both. A couple of things I learned: wood is exceptionally heavy and I'm going to need a bigger saw if I will be doing this with any regularity.
I will be spending the beginning of next week at the OCA Mission Retreat and then at the Diocese Council where we will be giving our thumbs up to Bishop BENJAMIN. I will be blogging, but I am not sure I'll have occassion to post, we'll see.
Pulling out of Eagle Harbor, the mostly clear skies revealed the glory of western Washington. Outside my ferry window the snow capped Olympic mountains are alight with the red-orange of the rising sun. The move to Kitsap has made them the more dominant natural feature for us now, with the Cascades largely unseen, save its patriarch.
Reaching Puget Sound proper we turn more westward and Mount Rainier in all of its dangerous wonder stands partially obscured by passing clouds. It always seems to me to be watching over the region. Fog hangs over the waters, south of Bainbridge Island, and I watch as the Bremerton Ferry M/V Hayak vanishes into it.
It is a lousy day to be going to work indoors. The temptation to get off in Seattle and then immediately get back on the very same ferry and head home is great...this is a day for stretching fence, harvesting trees, renovating the barn, or digging fence holes, not analyzing Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reactions.
You know, I find myself growing less and less interested in my work. Don't get me wrong, I do not dislike my job and it pays well, but I certainly do not have any grand ambitions associated with it. People who run around the lab desperate to see their name on published papers or clamoring to see that they have the proper amount of desk or bench space in accord with their perceived rank seem insane to me. Scientific ambition is a shoulder shrugging venture to me more now than it ever has been.
It's not complete apathy. I live for the knowledge that the work I do does in fact help people - even if at a great distance. I think I just realize that this ferry ride is leading me back into the city: the place where even in the academic scientific world people are ultimately striving for their own advancement and achievement as much as they do in the world of business and politics. It sometimes feels like an old rerun of "Melrose Place" with all of its stupid personally political drama.
For me, I find more satisfaction in splitting logs and building fences for goats these days. Which is why the ferry trip home feels so much like an escape...even if it is an escape to more labor. Who knows what the future holds?
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 10:07 AM [+] +++
Shameless comment plug...
Hey if you have not read Anthony's comments on THIS post, you should. He demonstrates, from far greater knowledge of the subject than I have, that the Greek neo-pagans are indeed kidding themselves and that as I suggested, they are better off making their offerings at the public library or in their backyards, than trying to lay any claim to historic paganism.
"The Christians shut down our schools and destroyed our temples"
"Our"? A religion that has been dead for 1500 years? Puhlease, can these people be taken seriously?
I mean read through and see all the crap these folks are laying out. Do any of them really have ANY idea of how the ancient Greeks practiced their religions?
I'm gonna guess that these neo-pagans' message of "world peace", "ecological way of life", "brotherhood of man and do not single out nations", and "We do not believe in dogmas and decrees, as the other religions do. We believe in freedom of thought" would be scoffed at by ancient Greeks. So why bother laying claim to anything but their own living rooms and perhaps toilets? Burn your incense in your jacuzzi to have your religion have as much historical validity as it actually does have.
Take the Spartans for instance...heck they would have taken these hippie neo-pagans and tossed them into Kaiada.
Clearly, these people are not practicing the religion of those who fought the Persians. Instead of being giving permission by the government to use "their" temples (snicker), they should all be given free tickets to see THIS movie when it comes out.
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 11:18 AM [+] +++
Dreaming under the January stars
As has become my custom, after dinner I headed outside to collect some split some firewood.
After an hour of hacking away in the woodshed, trying to make room for the harvesting of God's wind provided bounty, I paused on the way back to the house to further examine the progress my wife had made on the chicken run fencing. Somehow, even though homeschooling the kids and tending to our home's daily needs, she found the time to start stringing the fencing. She is a pioneer.
I looked around the dark scene. The ground was drying out, its saturating water draining down into the seasonal lake or evaporating into the sky above which was shockingly clear. Many old old familiar friends paraded above: Orion, Taurus, Pleides, and Ursa Major was rising up from the tall cedars to the north. The hazing milky way meandered from one towering confier to another on the oppostie horizon, and there was not a sound to be heard. No wind, no neighbors (not even their generators), no traffic, and no distant freeway. It was a beautiful evening...once again well worth the long daily commute to get here. How odd to experience, at home, the ethereal night time beauty of the forest usually reserved for camping trips.
I looked again at the fence...we are making progress, slowly but surely. And as I walked back into the house to press forward into the incorrectly seen as mundane everyday life, I found myself singing a little song that I had not even thought of in a very very long time:
If you want your dream to be Build it slow and surely. Small beginnings, greater ends. Heartfelt work grows purely.
If you want to live life free, Take your time, go slowly. Do few things, but do them well. Simple joys are holy.
Day by day, stone by stone, Build your secret slowly. Day by day, you'll grow, too, You'll know heaven's glory.
The Princess or the Pioneer, some ramblings about work and self-sufficiency
I'm sure that you, like me, have heard of the notion of a "protestant work ethic." I'm not really sure I understand the origins of the word, but I suspect it may have something to do with those who packed up from the old world and headed off to the "New World", the majority of whom were initially Protestants.
I often hear about how much better European workers have it, since it is said that they get far far more vacation time than we Americans typically do. But, if you think about our country's history, I think you might see how such a difference of perspectives may have evolved.
Having read a lot about modern homesteading (a curious phenomena), I can assure you that it cannot be accomplished by people who lack a very very very strong work ethic. For early settlers here in America, those who couldn't "hack it" were weeded out in a very literal Darwinian fashion. One cannot stand amidst a dense forest, imagining their future farm, and accomplish that vision without an unfathomable amount of work...perpetual work. Compared to Europe, our pioneer homesteading days were not so long ago.
Even today farmers will often snicker about notions of vacation or weekends. For instance, my wife has close ties to dairy farmers for whom there is no such things as vacation or weekends - even Christmas day is a day of perhaps limited work. The cows will not, alas, milk and feed themselves.
And of course, in the early days, work was often a furious race against the approaching winter. Life was at stake, and no one stood beneath you with any governmental safety net. You worked or you starved...a principal found in the Bible.
Modern Homesteaders, and I must make clear that I do not consider myself one, find virtue in carving out their own living. I deeply affirm this notion. I think that most of us Americans have lost touch with this virtue and have become princesses instead of pioneers. Despite the revisionists who love to deride America and insist that we are where we are today (fiscally) because of exploitation and slavery, I believe that to a large extent we stand upon the backs of damn hard working Americans who did indeed carve out a living, and we benefit from their handiwork. And having so much already done for us has perhaps rendered us a generation of people who've hardly ever been told no, who feel a grand sense of entitlement: princesses.
The book "Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters" describes the differences between princesses and pioneers wonderfully as the author tries to dissuade Dad's from letting their little girls grow up into mega-princesses. As I read I was reminded of these silly cgi Barbie movies which are so horribly princess-y. At one point I jumped up in front of my girls and shouted, "Blech! Who wants these frilly ballet do-nothing princesses....give me Eowyn, a REAL princess!" Actually, Eowyn is more of a pioneer than a princess. A princess has no skill with a blade, while a pioneer woman has no need or desire to get someone to do her work for her - she has no delusions of entitlement.
This article, isn't terribly encouraging. In it a survey of college freshmen reveals "that nearly three-quarters of those surveyed in 2006 thought it was essential or very important to be 'very well-off financially.' That compares with 62.5 percent who said the same in 1980 and 42 percent in 1966, the first year the survey was done."
Clearly this reflects changing values which are sad to begin with, but piled atop of this: I seriously doubt these freshmen are prepared to do the hard work necessary to be "very well-off financially." They may be Princesses who will be unable to face hard reality and then what will become of them? How will their unfulfilled expectations affect their family, their friends, their community?
We really have become complete and utter wusses. A giant paper tiger as Osama says...I have no doubt he is right. We expect our iPods to appear magically in our Christmas stocking and when it doesn't we cry out and the government is forced to change policy in order to attend to the wailing masses of crybaby princesses. Entitlement is like a disease, and boy are we afflicted by it.
I am not ranting here without any acknowledgment of my own hypocrisy, my own choice to suffer under the disease of entitlement. I know I have the disease because I often spend money I don't really have, and I cling to certain unnecessary comforts as if they were the Ring of Power...my precious.
God forgive us for letting the hard work of our ancestors (however distant) spoil us and turn us into princesses. May we learn to be pioneers, and if not, may we learn how to teach our children a better way. Maybe we do need to become modern homesteaders. While I could try and argue that that is exactly what we are doing in the country, I know I cannot seriously stake the claim with a satellite dish staked in my yard. But, we have made some baby steps that have indeed led me to work more than I ever did before. It's a start, I suppose.
For a while now I've meant to introduce these folks on my blog...so here it goes.
One of the coolest gifts my family and I received this Christmas was from our friends the Fallins, who in our name donated a flock of chickens to a needy village or family through an organization called Heifer International.
The more I read about this group, the more I like their strategy of assisting people by getting them started along in the process of helping themselves. Furthermore, they have a "pass it on" policy whereby those who have received an animal will in return give some of that animal's offspring to others, effectively multiplying the cycle of giving. Therefore the graciousness of the Fallin's gift could conceivable go on giving for generations - human ones.
It's brilliant I think. Eating the animals is allowed too, which of course eliminates PETA's appreciation of the group...but bumps my esteem up. Anyway, an incredibly thoughtful gift idea. So now as our chickens mature, someone in much greater need is watching theirs mature as well.
The signs are showing. The cold seems past now and the mud has returned. We presently are being threatened with temperatures exceeding 50 this week. Of course we have a ways to go yet and things could certainly change, but with the appearance of a very early Zacchaeus Sunday, we are assured that Spring is truly on its way.
We aren't anywhere near as reliant upon or tuned into the seasons as we will be in the near future, but none-the-less I definitely feel more connected with our planet's orientation to the sun. The land and soil around our home has become more to us than merely a place to park things or play upon, but as I said in our "Christmas Chronicle", it is becoming something that we tend to and are in return provided for (Of course most of what we are doing now is tending, with only firewood thus far being provided). Anyway, there is much to be done and a stretch of sunny weather (cold or not) would be much appreciated.
Our wood supply is heavily depleted. By my estimates we have burned through almost three cords, and presently I have over a cord (perhaps close to two) seasoning in the woodshed - much of it still needing to be split, which I spent last Sunday afternoon doing. With the additional two fallen Alders out in the woods I expect to have plenty of wood for next year.
While I was chopping wood, Sue finished the last few post holes and we set the posts in concrete. Next is the actual fencing, finishing my handmade gate, netting over the top (eagles and hawks are making themselves more and more known around the farm), and finally a door cut into the coop. THEN, the nearly full grown flock will make their first venture outdoors.
We've met someone visiting at church who has two goats getting ready to kid this Spring. If they are does we will buy a couple and raise them. We've decided to convert out "storage shed" into a goat barn and so our next project is going to be fencing around the barn. The goats will have a small bit of pasture there and then we will section out some additional pasture for them on other sections of the property. The loss of the storage will also mean we will need to build another storage shed.
At the same time we need to get Sue's garden ready which includes the need for even more fencing to keep the deer out.
Wow...the list is rather long, but then again we asked for it. Thus far it has been some of the most satisfying work of my life and if I could quit my job tomorrow I'd do it. I've often compared the calender of the church to a dance that we move through year in and year out. Living closer to the land adds another dimension to the dance...and it is exceptionally complimentary as one, I suppose, would expect.
The Russian Orthodox Church may issue a new service to pray for snow
Fr. Christopher sent this out, I am particularly able to relate to my Russian brethren who lament: "We are all tired of endless mud outdoors"
Of course they have clearly not seen Al Gore's movie...but then why is it unusually warm weather is proof of global warming, but OUR unusually COLD weather is NOT evidence against it? Anyway, here is the entire interesting story.
Moscow, January 16, Interfax - This year's unusually warm winter may bring a new supplication service to pray for snow, the Moscow Patriarchate department for external church relations' secretary for church and society relations Archpriest Mikhail Dudko told Interfax.
He also agreed that many church people might believe the lasting warm weather with no snow to be a punishment from above.
`Various weather abnormalities may result in an environmental balance shift and affect negatively on the harvest. Both humans and animals often experience sufferings because of this sort of anomaly,' the clergyman said.
`There is also another problem you may call `esthetic'. We are all tired of endless mud outdoors. And what about our traditions? After forty days of fasting before Christmas day, everyone usually expects to enjoy Christmas-tide games and festivities one cannot have without snow. A no-snow winter in Russia may be rightly compared to a drought or steady rains or other weather anomalies, which have ever been thought to be God's punishment,' he added.
Fr Dudko said that the Russian Orthodox Church has special services to pray for rain or fine weather, which are reported by our clergy to be no less effective in our time than before.
`We have a tradition to take an umbrella with us when a service for rain is to be celebrated,' Fr. Dudko said. Still, this sort of supplication services, also called `need-services', have always been said when they were needed, and is was mainly parishioners who asked for them, he noted.
`We have not been asked for a service for snow so far, but that may well be due to lack of a suitable office. Though if we are asked for, we may modify existing offices in order to pray for long-desired snow. May be our children will have a chance to play snowballs and go ice-running by the Pancake-week at least,' he said.
For the time being, Western Washington weather has returned to normal: rain and relatively mild temperatures. Is there any more sad picture than beautiful blankets of white snow being turned into mud pits?
I was hoping my late departure yesterday morning would allow me a glimpse of the USS John Stennis as she left Bremerton, but alas I don't think she got underway until after 10am. While Bremeton is clearly a Navy town, all of Kitsap is one too. Thanks to Bangor Submarine Base and the Shipyard in Bremerton you'll see a lot DoD and pro-Navy stickers as well as Navy personnel going about their civilian affairs: like brewing beer at Heads Up.
Anyway, the Stennis is now on her way down to pick up some friends in San Diego and then they'll be off to somewhere in the Middle East. May the atoms be always at your back...ahem...well you know what I mean.
Good Hunting and Huzzah!
Umm, hey Photios....you ralatively (grin) modern American Navy guys have a cheer I'm not aware of?
So are we really growing, or is this old news? Are we reaching any non-Christians?
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 10:01 AM [+] +++
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Marxists Feminist changed her tune
I love it! Her name was Elizabeth Fox-Genovese and I just read about her in an Op-Ed in one of the local rags here in Seattle. Of course, being a Seattle paper the Op-Ed would not have been carried if it did not at some level lament this Marxist feminist becoming a traditionalist catholic.
As a feminist, I regret that the answer on which Fox-Genovese eventually settled was a return to a clear-cut division of male and female family roles.
Eeeek, gasp....a difference between woman and men?!!??! Say it ain't so!
Anyway, intrigued by this woman's story I googled and found this interview with both Elizabeth and her husband Eugene. They certainly sound like my sort of people...bring out the bourbon and let us sit on the front porch for awhile. Here's some fun quotes from the interview:
TAE: In Feminism Is Not the Story of My Life, you refer to mothers who "work out of necessity." Are the yuppies who place their 3-month-olds in day care buying into the materialistic culture you often criticize?
MRS. FOX-GENOVESE: Of course they are. I have enough respect for freedom, and enough horror at the sanctimonious bullying that surrounds us, not to tell other people what to do. But yes, I think that some significant percentage of the yuppie career women who are putting their kids in day care at a very early age are driven by some combination of the consumer culture and a misguided sense that they have to be as busy as their husbands. The necessity is more psychological than material; it’s tragic.
MRS. FOX-GENOVESE: In order to have greater specialization in sex roles, we need something that the elite, including the conservative elite, isn’t vocally, visibly giving us: a defense of marriage, especially where there are children, that really does make divorce more difficult. You can’t specialize in being a woman if he can walk out with his secretary, or young law associate, without ever looking back. That’s self-immolation.
We need social respect, and even support, for motherhood. We should have deductions for children, and less emphasis on deductions for child care and the earned income tax credit, which tend to support single mothers and working women at the expense of women who stay home.
TAE: You encouraged the Citadel’s legal team to ask expert witnesses for the opposition which they hated more, men or the South. Which was it?
MRS. FOX-GENOVESE: In a lot of ways the South has become a symbol of what the feminist elite doesn’t like about men. The driving thrust of that case was to destroy the Citadel as we know it. But beyond that, to deny to men single-sex education, even if it had to be denied to women as the price, because single-sex education just might help to train men to be better and more responsible men.
TAE: Are you a Southerner?
MR. GENOVESE: In some ways I have felt a Southerner all my life. My background is Sicilian: it’s all the same. But that doesn’t make me a real Southerner—just ask any real Southerner, no matter how gracious.
MRS. FOX-GENOVESE: When you bring these issues of eugenics up to today’s debates, the contradictions in all of this are absolutely mesmerizing. Because it’d be a piece of cake to argue that radical pro-abortion and pro-right-to-die starts with your personal choice, and yet the next step is euthanasia, where who gets to choose is ambiguous. Not to mention sex selection and the obsession with amniocentesis: absolutely a new eugenics. The folks who push this, however, are the first to scream against any hint of biological base for racial difference, which in fact is extraordinarily suspect.
On the other hand, sex differences are real differences. So you have the contradiction of people who are defending the right of biologically fit individuals to shape who shall live and who shall die, which is very eugenicist, at the same time they are denying the significance of biological difference between the sexes.
TAE: Will women benefit if the courts bring us gay marriage?
MRS. FOX-GENOVESE: In my humble opinion, no one will benefit, and marriage as we have known it will virtually disappear from the face of the Earth. If we have same-sex marriage, we will have it on the grounds that marriage exists to provide financial benefits and personal gratification for individuals.
Same-sex marriage is the logical outcome of instrumental sex, sexual equality, equality in sexual pleasure between women and men, divorce and abortion at will. It reduces marriage to a matter of personal fulfillment or gratification, and contractual convenience. And the whole notion of marriage as founding families, the integral unit that binds society, will be lost.
TAE: Why does lesbianism occupy such a hallowed place in contemporary feminism?
MR. GENOVESE: They run the mimeograph machines.
MRS. FOX-GENOVESE: And because it’s been able to take the moral high ground of anti-male purity. Feminist theory has to get more and more radical to justify its existence; if it simply merges with the mainstream, there’s no reason not to absorb women’s studies into other departments.
TAE: Novelist Walker Percy theorized that because the South is still somewhat influenced by Christianity, maybe this time the South will save the Union. Do you put any stock in that kind of hopefulness?
MR. GENOVESE: I still threaten to run for governor of Georgia on a program of throwing the Yankees out, but much of the old folkways are going, along with the small towns, and the South is becoming more like the North. The problems that we are dealing with are now national.
MRS. FOX-GENOVESE: More people do go to church down here. More people maintain contact with their relatives and their families, nuclear and extended, and more Southerners return home.
Ok, Sue, let's pack up we're headed back to Kentucky.
I've rather enjoyed the last several days of cold and snow. First it made for a beautiful wedding day (IMHO) for Rade and Valerie (May God grant them many years!), and then it also tends to blanket the forest with not only white, but also a certain pervasive quietness - oddly noticeable. I found myself quite enjoying just listening to nothing, or next to it. Of course this was between the various roars of my chainsaw's teeth ripping through tree flesh.
It also froze the earth and the mud that has for so long been apart of our lives during this already too long winter. And while this made it tough to dig fence post holes (I managed a couple) it did make it possible to bring wheelbarrows of firewood directly into the house without tracking in mud.
The chicken fencing is one step closer to being done - using a chainsaw - I fostered a decidedly rustic gate of which I am proud. That being done we have 5 or 6 more posts and then we can start running the wire.
I must admit, there is something particularly manly about doing fencing for livestock (yes even if just chickens). Standing on your land and looking down a straight row of fence posts you set, while watching the sun set through evergreens? Priceless.
"What's the most important event in woman's history?"
According to the book I am reading, Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters, this question was once publically offered to an english novelist named Alice Thomas Ellis. Now, I'd never heard of this author before (perhaps to my shame), but her answer convinced me that I needed to learn more about her. In reply, she said simply: "The Annunciation."
Apparently Alice Thomas Ellis reposed almost two years ago and an article in the Telegraph gives us some insight into who she was. A staunch defender of traditional catholicsm and I suppose traditionalism in general, however she was raised in a pecuilar sort of atheism until she "no longer found it possible to disbelieve in God" (which rings a very familiar chord with me.)
When asked about pop teen fiction she encopuraged parents not to let them rad it, saying: "They are narcissistic enough and should be encouraged to snap out of it. Make them read Crime and Punishment and dock their pocket money if you catch them reading tripe."
And one more intriguing quote: "Those who live on vanity must, not unreasonably, expect to die of mortification."
Whether real or imagined thanks to my very personal experience with 18 degrees at the park-n-ride earlier, the waters of Puget Sound looked particularly chilly this morning. I'm not really sure how water can look chilly (save for the presence of ice), but none-the-less this was my perception.
The M/V Hyak was my ride this morning as it is apparently going to be a longer than expected replacement for the M/V Tacoma which has recently earned the diagnosis of having a "serious steering problem." (And they were asking the Coast Guard on Tuesday if it was okay to run anyway?!?!)
But as I watch the cold water passing by I find myself thinking about regret. I can recall in ages past thinking all too often about people going to hell and how they would find themselves profoundly regretting what they did with their lives to earn their place there. Many a Christian punk or metal song would enunciate this idea as a means - I suppose - of convincing people to avoid experiencing all this terrible regret in hell.
Nobody likes regret, but it seems to me that the most susceptible people to sensing regret are not the sort of people who will end up in hell. Not that I am any judge on who ends up there...but from my perspective now, from ideas I have gleaned from Orthodoxy, it seems that regret is not the sort of thing people in the state of hell would experience. Regret is a sort of Godly thing, isn't it? A healing thing? More than just a learning experience, it is perhaps THE pivotal step in the process of repentance and purification. We regret because we have seen the error in our way...but is it ever really too late?
Yes we lose our loved ones and in that sense we may have relational regrets for which it is too late...but is it ever too late for us and God? I tend not to think so.
Regret is an emotion that I believe is utterly foreign to the person who is in an active state of rebellion against God. Not that they cannot sense it in the same "natural" way that we all do, but in the more spiritual sense of not being able or willing to see the damage they produce by sins they do not acknowledge. That being said, even in that "natural" way, I think regret is a real state of movement toward holiness, whether we see it as such or not.
I wonder if hell - as a state or condition of one who is no longer able to bear the reality of themselves or God - will be devoid of regrets. An ongoing state of denial and immersion into utter selfishness. I recall the sinners in CS Lewis' classic work "The Great Divorce" in which the sinners are utterly miserable and yet seem to have no real notion of why. Blame , for all their misery, is always ascribed to someone or something else - they are the eternal and entitled victim. That is hell.
Regret always points a finger at yourself. And that's not bad when we keep before us the Hope of our faith. Regret is a seed.
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 10:43 AM [+] +++
Thursday, January 11, 2007
In an Instant...
...we can be shocked back into reality. Sometimes I think we wander through our existence in a complete state of blindness and deafness to the things that really matter. We set ourselves up for regrets.
Yesterday we received news that my wife's cousin-in-law (her only relatives to live near us) Hilary had collapsed with complete heart failure. After an hour of CPR the EMT's reestablished a pulse and she was airlifted over the Sound to Harborview where things looked bleak.
However, as of this morning we have reason to hope as she seems to be improving - miraculously. While she is by no means out of the woods yet, she has already begun beating the odds. Please keep Hilary, her husband Richard, and their 12 year old son Mark in your prayers.
Thanks...let us all live today as if it were our last. It very well could be.
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 10:13 AM [+] +++
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
The Rudder and my own 70's era disaster epics
My quick escape from the city yesterday was hindered by the M/V Tacoma having some "mechanical issues", and so while waiting on the dock they announced that they were waiting for Coast Guard approval to operate the boat. Ten minutes later they announced the sailing was canceled...apparently the Coast Guard took "Rudder Problems" as being more serious than the Washington State Ferry system.
And thus we encountered a string of events that had all the makings of a great disaster film: One ferry out of service and the next one being profoundly overloaded with cars and people during a storm. Standing room only, I planned my "in the event of capsizing" escape route and then I began to scope out who'd be likely to lose thier cool and need to be slapped and who'd be eaten first after a few days in the life rafts. I reckoned I'd be okay because of all the health fanatics who'd wish to avoid my non-pasture fed, heavily antibioticated, fatty meat.
Despite my extensive preparations, we made it safely to shore where Rade picked me up thereby saving me the inevitable overloaded bus disaster to follow - a plunge into Agate Pass I supsected.
A slight blanket of snow with the potential for more to come this morning. Power is still on and it indeed appears the media has gone over-the-top with their "end of the freakin world" predictions. Of course they missed the potential ferry and bus disaster.
Wind, Rain, and then snow. All predicted tonight and tomorrow. Wow, this is going to be a winter to remember. I watched transformers blowing this morning as I waited for the bus in Suquamish and then my wife tells me that portions of Poulsbo were dark. Lord...we're ready for this baptism to be over.
ADDENDUM: 2:30pm. The wind and rain are here, temperature is dropping. I'm tightening the hat down and headed out for the wavy, windy, and wet ride back home to hunker down. Bring it on! I'm bettin' it amounts to nothing. Yeehaw!
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 12:29 PM [+] +++
The Ohio State Curse
No one who has followed Ohio State's Bowl Game (or vs. Michigan, which is nearly as important) history ought to be surprised by last nights thumping. I'm not geeky enough to have statistics for ya, but I have some 25 years or so of memories of Ohio coming (usually to the Rose Bowl) with high expectations and expert favoring only to see them pummelled time and time again. Yes, once in awhile I can recall seeing wins, but there is an ingrained sense that the Buckeyes are chronically over-rated. Being undefeated really doesn't mean a whole lot if all the teams you defeated pretty much sucked.
No excuses can be found for last night's fiasco. Ohio was outplayed, plain and simple. Despite accidently seeing a split second of post-game celebrations, when I did the DVR replay I could see how things would go by the end of the 1st quarter. The first minute of the game is the only thing Ohio fans can remember fondly.
Okay, let's see what the Hawks can do.
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 12:21 PM [+] +++
Jihadists shout "Run Away" in Somalia
You may recall I joked that the Islamists in Somalia who declared jihad against Ethiopia had better be careful because the Ethiopians have the Ark of the Covenant. Well, I guess the Ethiopians have wielded it (the secular equivalent anyway) without anyone apparently knowing.
The news out of Somalia is good as the Jihadist "government" modeled after the Taliban and supported fiscally by Al-Qaeda (you may recall Osama himself spoke of the need for all of the "umma" to support jihad there) is presently in tatters. If you followed the developing news stories as the main thrust of Somali government and Ethiopian forces began a week or so ago, you might have been surprised (as was I) that US Naval Forces were actively preventing the Islamists from retreating by sea (as you may also recall, Islamist piracy has been at an all time high off the shores of Somalia ala the Barbary Corsairs.) It was surprising and gladdening to suddenly hear that we were helping in this noble endeavor.
Then news tonight of a US AC130 gunship raining down some instant transport to Allah's House of Ill-Repute for more jihadists and Al-Qaeda members in Somalia had me even more surprised. Why all this seemingly sudden participation by us?
Apparently the press has missed something very interesting with regard to US foreign policy and the defensive war against jihad (aka "the war on terror") and that is this: the surprising and sudden effectiveness of Ethiopia's troops when they invaded. As it turns out, they had received some excellent training in the last few months curiously reminiscent of the training taking place at United States Army and Marine facilities all over here in the United States. As Lt. Bryan Suits (local Seattle talk radio host and Army reserve officer who spent a year in Iraq) puts it (my paraphrase): "The Ethiopians were being trained by guys with names like Jim, Bobby, Tom, Dick, and Harry."
Suddenly the US Naval and Air support makes a lot more sense.
So, a rousing HUZZAH (3x) to the Ethiopians, liberated from Shari'a Somalis, and the US Armed Forces.
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 12:20 PM [+] +++
Monday, January 08, 2007
The Furry Bus Ride
I have been going into work later lately and so have been on a downtown bus that I usually do not take. The bus picks up right in front of the docks and so the beginning of the trip finds the bus entirely populated by Kitsappers (I think a double "p" is appropriate, no? Hmmm...I like it: I'm a Kitsapper.)
Anyway, sitting in the crowded back I noticed something odd. Six (6) out of seven (7) gentlemen back there with me had significant facial hair growth. One looks just like Richard Attenborough, another like Colonel Sanders, and a third is the spitting image of Grizzly Adams (complete with red flannel shirt). The rest are just hairy apes like me. Hmmm....I almost felt like I was at a WOCA sponsored seminar or something.
Facial Hair rules. Grizzly's beard was an inspiration, you could see the man was serious about it: bushyand full, yet controlled; deep and long, yet not overwhelming. I was tempted to compliment him in a southern drawl : "Sir, that is an impeccable beard."
Perhaps, within that sacred space, God has given us a gift to end the political debate and prevent us from delving into further research many deem to be monstrous. (Myself included.) The question is: will those who advocate killing embryos, take the time to consider AND fund this? Even if they have no moral issues with killing embryos?
They might, if we continue to legally ban it from federal funding. Meanwhile California can impose a new sales tax or something to fund their commitment to embryonic blender experiments.
Wow...a very "churchy" weekend. Not a lick of farm work done save tending the chickens and keeping the house warm. Rotten weather Saturday night (more rain and wind), but Satur-DAY was decent and so in a chilly 37F we marched down to Liberty Bay and blessed the waters. Dawn has some great pics HERE. One nice thing about being out on a dock is that my kids were not mesmerized and tempted to get as close as possible. Note Nicho the "eskimo boy" altar server and Kelsey the Icon bearer, which I referred to as "Iconotokos" but I was corrected: that unless she were to give birth to an icon she would be "Iconophoros" or "Phora"? Huh...it also gave us pause to wonder if there was actually an official Greek title for the one carrying the festal icon.
Anyway, a seal and a small collection of marine fowl joined us, but goodnight were we cold.
Remember being scared of truly benign things when you were a kid? I will admit to occasionally STILL being afraid of the dark from time to time. Some of you may recall an old movie about Bigfoot that dramatized a supposed event in which a Bigfoot crashed its hand through a window and grabbed at a woman sitting inside watching TV? I soiled my armor watching that, and I still feel weird about sitting with my back to a dark window - especially now that I REALLY live in bigfoot country - thinking maybe I should be packing a .45 or 10mm pistol at all times (I'll bet you can google and see if this is deemed sufficient calibre to handle a sasquatch). Anyway, it's funny how these things affect us even into our adulthood.
A long long time ago in a galaxy far far away I used to work for NAPA auto parts and we had this windowless and cavernous warehouse in the back where'd we keep larger parts. We often joked that the place was haunted and this myth was perpetuated because the light switch to shed some illumination on an otherwise pitch black cluttered room was located about halfway inside the length of the room. Thus, in order to get out you had to turn the light off and QUICKLY get out the door before Beelzebub or Freddy or Sasquatch or the ghost of some mass murdering parts technician caught up with you. Apparently these evil entities would begin their run at you from the back of the room as soon as you turned the light off, at which point it was a race for the light which they could not bear. Without fail, everyone reported feeling the need to run - with muffler or whatever in tow - as soon as the light would go out, and always with neck hair standing on end. It became a game to watch the people as they exited the building - despite all attempts to maintain their composure, you could see the relief on their faces for having survived the race.
It's a common thing, and I suspect our little Joe is experiencing something similar lately. Several times he has awoken in the night crying and then begins to make his way up the stairs. We usually hear him as he begins his ascent. Once he reaches the midway point where we have a small landing and a 90 degree turn, the monsters are apparently allowed to begin their run from the bottom of the stairs. Joe, recognizing the start of the race for life, begins running and predictively screaming and wailing as if he were having his liver removed with a dull spoon. Sue has gotten into the habit of herself joining the race in order to prevent the unfathomably loud event from waking the dead and scaring the Sasquathes in the woods outside - but she rarely succeeds.
Making it into Mom's arms and ultimately Mom and Dad's bed is the very same as entering the light outside of the warehouse. I see the same look of relief that I saw on countless adults at the parts store. It's funny, and brings a very real and practical insight for actualizing how we should feel in running to Christ, His Church, and His Saints - all of whom are our protectors. I'll let you decide who or what the monsters are.
Ready? My hand is on the switch...1....2.....3....RUN!!!!!!!!
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 10:56 AM [+] +++
Thursday, January 04, 2007
My wife will assure you that I have two major phobias: dirt and spiders. I hate the appearance of dirt, I hate getting dirty, and I cannot rest in an easy chair if I can see portions of Killick on the carpet in front of me - sometimes I can agree with my wife it is almost pathological. As for spiders? Well they are nasty little things and I could not care less about their place in the beautiful circle of life, may they go extinct and then we humans cn engage in a good dose of Saddam like chemical warfare on the insects of the world.
But country life has forced me to change, at least somewhat. When we first moved in, the property was virtually draped with fat spiders in their webs. Normally, I would not suffer them to be in my presence, but something told me that those days needed to be gone. And so I left them - even those that I could see from our windows. And I find, as time has gone by, that the mere sight of them (though precious few are here now) no longer sends shivers down my spine and I am beginning to appreciate the work they do around our little farm. But don't get me wrong: if they stray into the house, they are given a death sentence.
As for dirt? Well I still cannot easily relax in the presence of obvious (to me) dirt. However, as I type I am on my way to work for the third day in a row wearing a jacket that is covered in ugly blotches of sap from trees. In the past I would not wear the jacket, but I find myself adopting a more: "Ah, who the heck cares" attitude. Given the daily work I usually need to do around the farm (mainly - for now - chop and collect wood from the shed), I had better get used to collecting a bit of dirt...or, as the case may be, sap. And with the weather being as it is, well, mud is just a normal part of life in the country. And with the ongoing immigration of other livestock, it's only going to get dirtier. That's okay.
Rubber boots and wool socks are two of my newest best friends.
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 10:25 AM [+] +++
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 11:14 AM [+] +++
The shortness of life
Some ferry-ride ramblings about death.
The almost unendurable reality of death sometimes comes home to roost in one's mind. Most of life we tend to either deny or ignore it, but as one grows older, like the nagging notion of the necessary financial preparations we need to make for retirement, we begin to more and more consider our mortality.
I can still clearly recall the coldness and emptiness I used to conjure in my mind when I would ponder death, which to me at the time meant ceasing to exist. It was not very much fun and with brute force I would push the thought away from me.
Some people, I am guessing, go through much of their lives fighting off these thoughts - those who embrace death as non-existence in particular. With so many material self-satisfying distractions I suppose the fight is easier. Those of us who are believers are often accused of "inventing" our faith as a sort of distraction from the cold reality of this world, but if they are right we have done no less than anyone else. Who can sit amidst sanity and spend more than a fleeting moment contemplating their impending and hopeless doom?
We may wipe these contemplations from our minds with our toys, our hobbies, our drugs, our alcohol, the fulfillment of our sexual appetite (I am reminded of the sage advice of "Little Miss Sunshine's" grandfather - the quintessential hedonist), our families, our job, or whatever. Anything to keep us busy.
I am, of course, not in any position to judge people. But with that said (or written) I will go on to do just that. I've actually met people who are greater materialists than I am...which is hard to imagine. Perhaps it was just that they were not shy of their materialism? I don't know. But I was truly taken aback by the extent to which he laid bare - unashamedly - that his life's mission to succeed, materially speaking. But why should this shock us? Like the rest of us, albeit more successfully than some of us, he is avoiding the contemplation of mortality. But before we ponder the other guy too long, let us consider what we are distracting ourselves with.
Orthodoxy, unlike I think my past Christian experiences, does not offer some "get out of jail" free card. While the joy of the Incarnation, Resurrection, and our baptism INTO these things is very real. We are no less encouraged to contemplate our impending death. Rather than an insurance policy, it is a workout regiment and method for avoiding the need of an insurance policy. No analogy is perfect, so don't take this too far. Embracing the Orthodox faith is a sword that cuts both ways: at once it destroys death by death (hence the emptiness of non-existence is rendered moot) and it lays upon us the burden of responsibility - hedonism is a quite way back into a spirit of non-existence.
Of course, I'm not sure I am one to fully bring the concept to life here. But I believe "joyful sorrow" may be summed up in our response to our sin and death, to His life and Resurrection, and to our labor of preparation.
The Orthodox faith is not a diversion from our mortality (though it certainly does posit that existence continues), rather it often directs our attention away from the more "natural" distractions and insists that we ponder the moment of our repose. That time when the funeral songs of warning will be sung with us being the voiceless singer. Yes, turn off the TV, the internet, the noise of life...maybe walk out into the forest and see the life and death perpetually going on around you there and consider your grass-like life. Time is short. If you are round about my age, how many years do you expect to have left? 20, 30, 40 (if you are REALLY "lucky")? These may seem like a lot, but if you think about it, the first 40 hasn't seemed like very long and adulthood is mystical fast forward button on the clock of life.
At some point...some damned point...I must realize this is true. Please excuse the language, but I am presently very passionate about how much I live as if 1) I will live forever and 2) that my life is really my own. A good realization I suppose (that I do live this way and shouldn't), but give it a moment and it will pass as it often does.
I too often treat my children as if they were articles of furniture in my house...as opposed to human beings who desperately need my love and guidance. Yes, yes, it is a common theme for me to lament here about my failures as a parent and I've no wish for this to be another episode doing just that. Rather, a public commitment (much like my last confession) to strive to be a better parent...to effectively stop living my life solely for myself and to truly realize that my life belongs first to God, second to my children, and then to my wife, and then to me.
Don't buy the crap popularly vomited out these days of sky rocketing divorce and child abandonment that claims you ought to live for yourself in order to live best for others...I just don't buy that - at least not for me. I am VERY VERY VERY VERY good at living for myself first and I would not worry about assuming my wife would say the same for herself. Hell who are we kidding, save for a few with certifiable pathologies we all have managed to learn to live for ourselves quite well. Our children, so delicate, so influential, so helpless in so many ways...they are the ones who require us the most.
Sigh...it is so hard sometimes as I find myself more and more worrying about my children's various "issues" and blaming myself and my failings for them. In many ways it is meet and right for me to blame myself, but what good is blaming myself if I do not get off my lazy hind end and DO SOMETHING! No one is getting younger...there is no time for another round of empty bedtime self-promises: "Tomorrow I will be a better Dad."
So warns - albeit in different words - an amazing book I am reading called "Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters", and already two chapters into it, I am finding myself challenged, chastened, over-whelmed by the responsibility and power I wield, and I am encouraged. In essence the book smashes the popular feces pouring out of pop-post-modern psycho insanity that claims that Dad's aren't needed. Fact is, all the stats and facts say decidedly the opposite and the importance of fathers is AMPLIFIED when applied to our daughters. Our absence (either physically or emotionally) is devastating to little girls....DEVASTATING.
The book also reminds me of the tremendous blessing I have in raising my daughters. Oft have I joked about being terrified of having daughters, but you know what? Dr. Meeker is reminding me of the beauty of that special bond between a woman and her daddy...it is both unique and precious. But the extent to which it is, is in my hands.
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 11:28 AM [+] +++
One of the funniest movies ever made...
...was watched for the first time in probably a decade on New Year's Eve. No title needed, just a quote...(might I suggest you intone it?):
A Reading from the Book of Armaments, Chapter 4, Verses 16 to 20:
Then did he raise on high the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, saying, "Bless this, O Lord, that with it thou mayst blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy." And the people did rejoice and did feast upon the lambs and toads and tree-sloths and fruit-bats and orangutans and breakfast cereals ... Now did the Lord say, "First thou pullest the Holy Pin. Then thou must count to three. Three shall be the number of the counting and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither shalt thou count two, excepting that thou then proceedeth to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the number of the counting, be reached, then lobbest thou the Holy Hand Grenade in the direction of thine foe, who, being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it.