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.
One of the most curious oddities one can find is a completely secular individual who - whether deliberately or not - insinuates a dichotomy between humans and nature. Really, it isn't an oddity in the "rare" sense of the word, it actually happens all the time. Think about it, if "nature" is all there is, then how is it we can possibly consider ANYTHING we are, or do, as other than natural? It is not dissimilar to the absurdity of referring to "OUR" bodies...as if it wasn't us and we weren't it? (e.g. "My body is getting so old" as opposed to "I am getting old.")
Consider this oddly titled article: "Reconciling your lawn to climate change" Oddly titled I say because I am guessing the horrors of climate change have yet to have any grand noticeable affect on most people's lawns and so most folks are likely to ask: Huh?
Anyway, furthermore I agree with MUCH of the sentiment of the article, but I don't see it as being a means of reconciling with climate change but rather just good common sense, to a point. Take for example the "exotics" growing in our vegetable garden. Think about it.
They author exhorts us: Rather than try to control Nature, perhaps its time we lent a hand and worked with her fickle nature rather than against it.
Most of us probably cannot see the steam rising from this pile, but it is there. Everything, everywhere, and at all times is working to "try to control nature" (assuming this phrase makes some sense...recall its like saying you are trying to control your arm...YOU ARE NATURE DUMMY!). When wasps gather mud and build sometimes gigantic nests - often in decidedly inconvenient places - they are working to control nature. When African termites construct HUGE towering nests, they are working to control nature. When trees dig deep with their roots and rob the earth of her resources at the expense of other nearby plants, they are trying to control nature. Controlling nature is...ummm....well, it's just natural.
Ahhh, but of course some would say that only humans wreck such horrific damage by trying to control nature, and they would be right because we have gotten very good at controlling nature which is precisely why you are living so comfortably right now, congratulations! Some would go on to say that only certain races of humans seek to control nature too much...which leads me to a funny story: a drunk homeless native American I shared a seat with once on a bus in Seattle volunteered that "the whole 'Indians living in perfect harmony with nature is a bunch of marketing bulls*&%!" I suppose he could get away with saying such non-PC stuff, even if I generally agreed. Controlling nature, even to extremes, is as natural as sex drive. Given a chance I don't think any culture of race could resist over-indulging.
Imagine that, trying to encourage self-restraint? LOL, these folks are typically the sort to readily tell us how abstinence training doesn't work.
Survival means forcing nature to be in harmony with YOU. Doing it intelligently means doing it sustainably. This is what farming is all about.
Living off of the land for yourself and your family leads naturally to you having a very keen interesting in preserving that land. FAR FAR FAR more than you would if you had no ongoing survival interest in the viability of that land. It's not about native plants vs. non-native plants. To the farmer planting some pretty looking purple and pink Japanese tree that requires constant attention is just plain stupid regardless of climate change.
For the secularist, survival means conquering nature but doing it intelligently. For the Christian it also means conquering, but that in so doing WE are actually reconciling nature. We are caring and in return being cared for. Now THAT's natural.
Curiously enough, I happened to call Rade this weekend while he was diligently utilizing his scythe and duly informed me of their worth.
Looking around my property and then at the disabled weedwacker in the barn, it occurred to me that I might make use of such a thing as well. Goats are great for clearing land, but you find a fair amount of disagreement amongst "the experts" about staking them out. You have to keep an eye out for them as they can get themselves tangled up and injure themselves. Plus there is the issue of predators - in our case during the day it would just be a concern about local dogs. We do have more fencing to do, which would of course eliminate these concerns, someday the whole of our land may be fenced...someday.
Tonight I pulled (i.e. harvested) a host of high growing grass and Firefly devoured it voraciously. And it further occurred to me that a scythe would be a quick and easy way to harvest such grass if we do not feel comfortable staking her or Butter out. (Actually Butter is clearly too young, a delicious morsel for many of our local K9's.)
So...where does one find a scythe?
Well here is the ScythConnection. Note the little "poem" which leads me to wonder if perhaps these folks worship the tool - even I do sympathize with some of their notions :)
Really now, isn't it a bit silly to bother voting for yourself when you've already made sure no one is allowed to run besides yourself? This has all the looks of a Monty Python photo-op. Anyone really believe 97% with a 96% turnout?
The BBC quotes the Syrian Interior Minister: "This great consensus shows the political maturity of Syria and the brilliance of our democracy."
Sounds familiar doesn't it? One of my favorites: "We blocked them inside the city. Their rear is blocked. "
Sure it is Bassam even the New York Times notes as much when they acknowledges that The 41-year-old president was the only candidate allowed to put his name forward
So we continue to be busy around the little farm. We are just about back to the point of trying to get the cabin finished. The goats are pretty much set. Over the long weekend I put up a much needed gutter along the front of the barn and am now directing this water to a "holding tank" (i.e. a extra garbage can we had) in order to store it to water our garden and perhaps make up batches of "manure tea." The little kid "Butter" is a joy to watch, she loves to run and jump and frolic and is just about the cutest darned thing you could imagine. I've seen her do near complete back flips!
The chickens are altering the landscape (hmmm...see we ALL affect our environment) and so I've been considering how to prevent their digging from allowing predators to make their way under the fencing. Tent stakes of some sort would have worked and so I decided to try and fabricate them from some abandoned old brackets whose original purpose is an utter mystery to me. They work exceptionally well and have saved me a heavy laden trip to the dump.
Also the previous owners left us a hefty quantity of old plywood. I cut them into planks and used them for siding on the front of the barn - they look okay as is and after a coat of some discarded paint from somewhere it will be just dandy. Additionally an old and large existing gate (slightly bent) was used at the front of the goat pen, again saving us from having to pay and it will allow us vehicular access to the wood shed.
One of the primary goals one should be shooting for in order to be more self-dependent is to get out of debt. It does seem an impossible task to be completely out of debt, but it is certainly a goal one should be constantly aiming for. Too many of our actions in life is pre-determined by who we owe money to. Truly we are far too dependent on STUFF and not enough dependent on ourselves.
With this in mind we have decided to not only shrink our overall pool of automobiles, but at the same time to enlarge a vehicle. Sounds odd eh? Well the van is going bye bye and in its place will be a 1984 Chevy Suburban 6.2L Diesel. It appears mechanically sound, will seat 9 (recall we take up 6 seats by ourselves), is in fairly decent shape but not so much that I'll ever worry about spilled drinks or crumbs, and will actually get better gas mileage than our van (believe it or not). This "trade down" (which will also include the Trooper going bye bye) will leave us with a fair amount of cash on hand and will allow us to get one more item of debt off our back. Bio-diesel? Maybe, we'll see because I've not looked into it at all. With diesel prices as they are right now (they do tend to fluctuate more) we'll actually be saving a lot initially.
I'll get some pics of the beast once we pick it up on Thursday. By the way, anyone need a 1999 Dodge Grand Caravan? Or a 1995 Isuzu Trooper 4x4?
So much of what we are doing lately has involved simplifying and (as the post title suggests) reducing and reusing. I'm rather proud (Lord forgive me) for the ingenuity that has gone into saving us money, time, and resources in building various things around this farm. Additionally we no longer buy milk or eggs (this alone spells out less trips to the store which ALWAYS result in spending more than planned), we have more demand for our eggs than we can provide and those funds are feeding the birds and some, the garden is growing, and the weather is becoming more and more like summer. Life is good...simple and good.
It's fitting that Green is the color of Pentecost. For the Sunday service, Fr. C demonstrated a Russian tradition in which green leaves are laid all over the floor of the nave. How true to life this is, for all around us we can see life exploding, we are all but inundated with green and I feel so much more in touch with that. It's no grand spiritual revelation - at least not for me - but there is a something in the liturgical cycle and associated traditions that is just more real to me.
I liken it to those instances when involved in a particular work of music and you suddenly REALLY sense it more deeply than before...the intimate details, perhaps a particular line for a particular instrument...maybe like hearing in 3d and opposed to 2d?
Not that it's making me a more holy person. Just more observant.
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 11:33 AM [+] +++
Fr. Christopher headed over to St. Nicholas ROCOR church yesterday and participated in the first local reunion co-celebrated liturgy. Here's PICS.
I see a lot of familiar faces...what a joyous day.
I think this is a perfect example of an opportunity for us Orthodox to Baptize (as it were) American culture. I can remember MANY a memorial day passing without me remembering much of anything. I never lost a family member I knew to war, but I certainly found myself feeling blessed to live in a land with as much freedom as we have and also feeling very thankful toward those who have given their lives so that we may have that freedom. Consider the plight of so many around the world who are either utterly denied freedom "legally" or at the very least socially are unable to speak their minds or do what they like. The EP would like a little more freedom. Apparently some Venezuelans are realizing their freedoms are drying up. (Gee, and that Chavez guy seemed like such a nice anti-american poster boy, I'm dismayed!)
It is an altogether right thing to do in celebration of our freedom, to gather friends and family and roast animal flesh over a fire of some sort - that grand American tradition.
Anyway, we offered prayers for the departed and sang Memory Eternal and a good time was had by all, goats, chickens, and dog included.
Old Columella said of the Roman mob, "We quit the sickle and the plough and crept within the city walls, and we ply our hands in the circuses and theaters rather than the fields and vineyards," with the result that "our young men are so flabby, so enervated that death seems likely to make no change in them." I saw a congregation of Columella's folk, our modern "disadvantaged" - pants drooping from their posteriors, precious metals in their ears, $200 worth of jackets, sneakers, jerseys, and backward caps, the raised middle finger and obscenities their salutations - just this morning at the neon agora near the interstate. These young men are free and they have leisure; and by world standards these young Americans - objects of so much liberal solicitude - are not materially poor. The bellies of the most spiritually impoverished humans on the planet are not swollen from want; their blood is not wracked by bacteria, their clothes are not tattered and worn.
When the valley's farmers are gone, as they must be, I worry: without the challenge to tame nature, where will the citizen of this current society learn of his true potential, and where will be the physical space - away from town and yet not the empty wild - to refresh his soul? Where will a man leanr that if he just works, he can still plant, still grow, and need not feel impotent before nature or man.
One of the things that interests me is how Prof. Hanson believes than man's taming of nature can be a beautiful thing, more beautiful than nature itself. Using his own San Joaquin valley as an example, they really did bring beauty there through the farms and orchards, saying "we harnessed nature here, but did not desecrate it."
Sometimes we forget (especially the environmental zealots amongst us) that we humans are a part of nature. In fact more than that, we are priests of nature. Hmmm...that sounds a bit odd, but bear with me. Charged with the care of nature, do we have the potential to beautify in the process of taming? I think so.
Regarding a portion of his land that has not been "tamed", Prof. Hanson writes: Such ground is of course ugly. Full of weeds and wild willow, by May it is no more than scorched earth, its natural potential somnolent, sleeping but for the coming age of man. That pristine lot is - forgive me - a natural trash heap...that weedy blot Does offer a stark contrast to the verdant trees and vines that surround – the former gives no life to man, the latter bounty to those who would work. Despite what the university pundit says, that quarter acre of unspoiled waste is nature’s wild fraternal twin to man’s nearby Taco Bell and Auto Mall. Both are ugly in their own unique way; both are part of no real cultura.
Why are we so inclined to think that we can do nothing to crown "natural" beauty? Are we not natural? Are we need missionaries of the wholeness and goodness of salvation even to the land? That we might find harmony and balance between us serving the soil and the soil serving us in return?
Local Coptic Church catches fire. Thankfully the Church still stands and can be repaired. No word on a cause.
We are blessed to have these people in our community...and in return they are blessed to be here since I am sure a significant number of them have fled Egypt for reasons related to the ongoing fear and danger Copts must endure there.
Amnesty International, curiously enough, is more interested in "alleged" offenses committed by the country to which the Copts have found refuge. Excusing their morally unbalanced focus with the far fetched notion that if the US had a perfect human rights record (as judged by or compared to who?), that that example would somehow end or lessen the utter lack of freedoms in so much of the Middle East?
I suppose it could be a little utilitarian. Even if the allegations are true, only in modern western democracies could should criticism accomplish anything. None-the-less, I take note of which nation receives more LEGAL immigrants than all other nations combined. (Imagine if they counted the illegal ones?)
Our new American is responsible for little property, other than his mortgaged house and car; his neighbors and friends – indeed his very community – are more likely ephemeral than traditional and rooted. Although not an aristocrat, he is esteemed by his peers to the degree he is polished and secure, avoided once he is at odds with comfortable consensus. He depends on someone else for everything from his food to his safety. Lapses in his language and manners can end his livelihood; obsequiousness, rather than independence, is more likely to feed his family. The direction of the wind, the phases of the moon, and the dew point are as unnatural to the new American as his keyboard and cell phone are organic. P.9-10
At some point we have to start to wonder what have our advances wrought? Of course I personally would not trade any of our modern conveniences, but as noted before what can we say of ourselves when we live three feet from our neighbors and know nothing of them? And at the same time we are so utterly dependent on them - in terms of the extent to which we rely on the government to take care of us. We have little or no ties to the land around us and this I think is a sad thing - you should agree especially so if you fancy yourself an environmentalist. Independence, or better yet, self-dependence is something I find very appealing, as you all know. But VDH's point is that the loss of our family farmer has taken from us the yeomans of our nation who have been like the "fool for Christ" was to the Church (and other nations).
With the loss of this country's agrarian and conservative profile also goes a tradition of using agrarian life to critique contemporary culture, a tradition of farming as moral touchstone of some 2,500 years' duration in the West beginning with Hesiod, Xenophon, and Aristotle and ending with us. Agrarian wisdom - man using and fighting against nature to produce food that ensured his family stayed on the land and his community was safe - was never fair or nicely presented. Family farmers prefer to be at loggerheads with society, yet they are neither autocrats nor disillusioned Nietzschean demigods sneering at the growing mediocrity of the inferiors in their midsts....they bother us with their "judgments" and "absolutes" and "unnecessary" and "hurtful" assessments that derive from meeting and conquering real challenge. But they also bother us in order to save, not to destroy, us by giving a paradigm of a different, an older way that once was in all of us. They want us to slow down, not to implode, to find and equilibrium between brutality and delicacy, as they themselves have with their orchards and vines. They want us to try something out ourselves before advocating it for others. It is very hard at this age to pump your own water, drain out your family's feces, grow food for others from the ground, live where your great-grandparents were born, be buried beside your sister and great aunt - and know that right now should the electricity cease, the phone go dead, the battery vanish, you and your own could still eat and drink, and survive for one more season - and as citizens, not recluses or survivalists. Such folk who are ready to do...just that each day, look at the world radically differently from the rest of us. They laugh at most of our politicians, television programs, movies, and universities, where all mena dn women are to lead clean, safe, happy, and long lives. Their perspective, for all its involvement with universal needs of life, is the most distant, and their worldview the most basic. In a democratic America, agrarians even now are more akin to the polis greeks - the architects of Western constitutional governemnt - than they are to the people of Los Angeles.
Do we need to be called back to our senses? I think so.
I LOVE when people use the term "archaic" because what it really means is that they WISH to criticize something but really have no logical means of doing so and thus appeal to the completely illogical notion - albeit much adored today - that something old is something at least unnecessary and at worse bad. It's quite laughable.
The next time someone asks why we Orthodox prefer not to cremate and you haven't the time to express our deeply theological notions of personhood and the unity of both flesh and spirit, why not just tell them we are striving to stop the coming global catastrophe of global warming. Odds are you will find a much more sympathetic audience with the latter than with the former explanation.
It was an especially small crowd during Vespers. As what few of us were there in the choir were singing, I noticed that outside the open front window of our business park temple, a bird was singing along.
I cannot identify birds from their songs, but whatever this fellow was, he had quite a voice, and quite a variety of tunes to choose from. He was out there for nearly the entire service and at one point became so loud (at least in my ears) that I found myself consistently stumbling about as I chanted the reader's verses. It even began to annoy me a bit because no matter what I did I could not stop hearing the bird, though it didn't seem to even be noticed by anyone else.
The next day after Sue milked the goat and she and the human kids were heading inside to begin the bedtime ritual, I paused for awhile out by what I can now officially call - without reservation - "THE BARN" and looked around. The chickens were busily digging into and nearly leveling a large mound with all the efficiency of a mechanized work crew at a quarry, seeking out all manner of grubs and worms. Firefly and Butter (the goats) were meandering in front of the barn foraging through the various grasses and clover and what not. Killick was sitting regally nearby and guarding them all while perhaps making fantasy dinner plans.
Still much to be done, I thought to myself as I looked around: the unchopped wood in the woodshed, the unfinished guest house, the remainder of what city folk call "lawn" that needs to be tore up, tilled, and planted, some landscaping changes to create a better path for drainage in front of the barn and through the chicken run, more logs to haul in from the east end of the property, a new chicken run and coop for our expansion flock, a fire pit and some benches to build, and the list likely goes on and on.
I don't know if I'm really an agrarian or not, but I do know that a man feels a certain satisfaction in working his land. Watching the weather and hoping, REALLY HOPING, for sun so that I can get out there and sweat is something I cannot really ever recall feeling. So, I'll admit to leaning a little on the large metal gate in front of the barn and feeling pretty darn good about life. I think you need to cherish those little moments, and as I turned to go inside (the bother of the bugs had exceeded my satisfaction in "taking in my land") I noticed I could hear that same type of bird singing away in one of the cedars next to the house. I never did get a look at it.
Oh yeah..inside I recalled the new flooring for the bathroom needs to be installed. As I said, the list never ends. But that's okay.
Some quotes from Victor Davis Hanson's "The Land was Everything"
Much thanks to Rade for loaning his copy to me...I'm totally fired up to read it. One of the things that I really like about Prf. Hanson - aside from his being of like mind with me on MANY issues besides agrarianism - is that he is in fact a part-time "farmer" like me. Sure he is so on a much larger scale than I, but he has a foot - sadly - in both worlds. Anyway...the main thrust of this work is the notion that we truly are losing something very special as we go on losing family farming and family farmers. Here are some great quotes from the introduction:
The labor of muscle, unless directed to the narcissistic obsession with the healthy body, is deemed unfortunate, whereas the work of the tongue is alone prized – that the two might be combined and become greater than either is ignored or forgotten. P.6
We have lost our agrarian landscape and with it the insurance that there would be an autonomous, outspoken, and critical group of citizens eager to remind the rest of us of the current fads and follies of the day. P.7
To Crevecouer, like Aristotle before, man was tame only to the degree he was occupied, independent only as long as he owned property. Only through agriculture was the citizen in constant observation of how terrible loomed the animal and human world about him: man realizes the dangers of his own natural savagery only through his attempt at physically mastery of the world about him. Many men and women who undergo this experience provide a check on those who do not. Such farmers question authority and yet follow the law; they are suspicious of the faddishly nontraditional, yet remain highly eccentric themselves; they vote and work for civic projects and group cohesion, and yet tend to be happiest when left alone, these who historically have been democracy’s greatest supporters by not quite being convinced of the ultimate wisdom of democracy. P.11
He also goes on to be a little critical of suburbanites who "nobly" and with "good intentions" try and recapture the agrarian life...at least to the degree that they think they will be able to save the lifestyle. He even pokes fun at us as to how we start using countrified terminology such as "Howdy, folks, and you all"...all three of which I have been using now for a year or so. [blush] Well at least I can appeal to the fact that I GREW UP hearing these (and more) all the time.
By the same token, he commends those who strike out to try and live a more self-sufficient life, a life worked and lived close to the land.
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 10:23 AM [+] +++
In an article back from 2002, Victor Hanson laments (as does Fred in his latest blog) the lack of Military History being taught in colleges today. I like how Fred marvels that its absence cannot be accounted for by lack of interest: Look at the sales of military history books and the success of military history on television/cable/satellite channels.
Prof. Hanson's article is also an apologetic of sorts for the potential virtue of war. I agree with him when he writes:
"The very thought that Mao, Stalin, and Hitler had murdered far more millions off the battlefield than on was incomprehensible...War, military history teaches us, on the right occasions can save more lives than it takes. Pacifism and appeasement can take more lives than they save."
One of the problems with war, in such instances, is that it can be difficult to argue from a preventative standpoint. In other words, all people see are the bodies on the battlefield and it is much harder to see the bodies (often because they would be hidden anyway) that might have arisen via pacifism and appeasement. For instance if someone invades my home and I kill him, while it would be easy to argue that he'd invaded my home, its much harder to argue that if I had done nothing he would have gone on to invade other people's homes. (Even though we all know the truth of this).
It's all very nice to stand in protest with peace signs and banging on bongo drums, but really only if you assume the "other" guy is willing to return your favor in kind. This somewhat hearkens back to the notion of our feminizing men, who feel less and less need to aggressively defend themselves or others. Besides military history, our regular history (even recent - see the horrible tale of the Wichita Massacre) teaches us that some people are indeed evil. Please, can we be weary of moral ambivalence?
It's a little hard - given our present social environment - to think about peace being more ugly and/or deadly than war, but clearly history tells us it can be and has been. Why aren't we teaching it?
Now...down to business. Since the same situation that led to the rift between Moscow and ROCOR also led to the jurisdictional "schism" here in America, isn't it time we end it too? Cut lose the leashes of Istanbul and Damascus that bind us?
Oh now don't go gettin' your panties in a wad. I realize the ROCOR reunion leaves us with a new jurisdictional problem, I guess it will never go away. But I still don't like leashes...if we are ever going to be an American Orthodox Church...
I've long pondered and blogged about the intriguing relationship between these two. Not a single day goes by in which some scientific study is turned into a big news story. Usually it is either related to global warming or health issues. As one who reads through scientific journals and articles almost everyday, I have to laugh at the way journalists read these works and then create a story out of them. Scientific bias aside (yes it exists), journalists can be so stupid. Here's a prime example.
Now anyone with any amount of intelligence will recognize that "unfairness" in and of itself can play no role in heart disease, but rather as the research SEEMS to postulate, it is the SENSE of unfairness. I mean what the heck is "fairness" anyway? In a secular context it is absolutely ambiguous and one person's perception of fairness may vary as much as a person's perception of taste! And yet the story offers us THIS in conclusion:
Fairness is an important factor in promoting a healthier society,
Excuse me while I laugh so hard that I soil myself. Are they serious? Did the scientists really conclude this? Lord, I hope not...it instills very little confidence in modern science, which has in a very real way become our modern mass religion...the opiate of the masses. So much so, that its own integrity is rightly in question.
So you can see where this is headed, right? Sure...LAWSUITS! It also turns into a vicious spiral: "You treat me unfairly at work and I got heart disease....the fact that you gave me heart disease is itself unfair...and my arteries are clogging even more now!!!!"
The world of science and the media is a crazy crazy world. All this info is filtered and distributed by people...people I do not trust to a) know what they are talking about, b) be objective, c) be as smart or discerning as me, d)lack an agenda.
There's a rope tied to the our nose rings folks...time to break free.
Now of course some will say that we are just HEARING about this more and that in reality the frequency of such crimes has not dramatically increased. That in times past such crimes were so horrific that they would go unreported, unbelieved, and simply denied by all parties. Of course, you cannot deny a child's corpse. It DOES seem to be happening more and more. And it is rather odd how unsurprised we are to hear such news today, isn't it?
And then think about the internet? Good night! Between chat rooms and porn sites with all manner of horrors - the availability of child exploitation and related "products" (Lord have mercy!) is astonishing. Sickening. Have any of you seen the Dateline undercover series "To Catch a Predator"? On any given episode they can get 30 some grown men to show up with pretty ugly intentions for girls as young as 12.
I suspect there IS an epidemic. One might argue there is a genetic basis for pedophilia and they may be right, and of course they'll get no sympathy from me. Genetics are never an excuse as I believe that which makes us human (as opposed to animal) is our ability to rise above our "programming." But I wonder if our society is presenting a side of itself that ALLOWS predators such as these to feel inclined to indulge their passions? How can we deny such? Of course our culture points us in the direction of our passions.
Over and over and over again we are pounded with morality founded upon the "your okay, I'm okay" belief system. By what means could our newest generation of pedophiles ever have the idea that what they FEEL, what they DESIRE (especially sexually) could ever be WRONG? Perhaps because we do still cling (a little) to the notion of "Do what thou wilt, as long as you cause no harm to others?" Maybe...but even this I think is ultimately trumped when the passions are so entertained, coaxed, and inflamed.
I'm just thinking out loud here, I truly wonder if we have not opened the floodgates ourselves?
In the meantime we need to teach our kids to fight. Yep, fight. Like this young girl and these two teens. Young Cory Daniels likely saved he and his friend's life, and inspires me to think that perhaps not all our young men are feminized passive victims.
Crappy weather at the mouth of the river means you can expect to pay even more...say perhaps 20,25, maybe 30 bucks a pound or more. Of course you know who is doing MOST of the smiling (besides the ignorant)...the sellers. It's a scam people.
I'll wager a pound of Copper River Salmon that if you cooked wild salmon from any other Alaskan watershed that you could NOT tell it from Copper River Salmon. In reality, as good as that run is, it has be soooo over marketed, soooo hyped, sooo advertised, and sooo accepted by the gullible wealthy desperate for something better than that which is available to common folk that they can now charge exorbitant amounts of money for it. Heck a storm makes it even better. Deadliest Catch man!
I've heard it all before: "Oh it's so much richer...so much more flavorful..." etc etc...I don't buy it. Heck I can't afford it.
A liturgy at Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow on the Feast of Ascension (May 17th) will mark the official reunification of ROCOR and The Church of Russia. The service is to begin at 10pm Pacific Time, which if I'm not mistaken would be tomorrow night - someone correct me if I am wrong. Fr. Christopher sent out info to the Parish that will allow you to watch live:
Click on "ТРАНСЛЯЦИИ" at http://22.214.171.124/trans/ (or click on third item from the top on the right at www.xxc.ru).
The broadcast will start at 9:00 am Moscow time (10:00 pm Pacific Time, 1:00 am Eastern Time). Once the broadcast starts, there will be a "link" blinking on the page. Click to open the RealPlayer window.
This really is a momentous event...a sort of crowning of the glorious journey the Russian Church has been on in coming out from under the thumb of communism. How fitting that it take place at Christ the Savior Cathedral which the communists had destroyed and then tried to build a monument to atheistic socialism, but God would not allow it (ahem...reminiscent of building your foundation upon the rock, eh?). Now , rebuilt, it is another testimony of the failure to destroy Christ's Church.
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 12:55 PM [+] +++
Judgment and Grace
I have certainly been the subject of judgment: cops have ticketed me, my wife has rightly reproved me, my parents wielded the righteous and infallible hammer of parenthood, I’ve been accused of drunkenness, I’ve been labeled a judgmental Pharisee. And boy have I returned the favor.
I've stood on the outside and seen a lot of judgment as well, whether it was a Baptist friend desperate to keep me out of the AG, or an AG friend bent on showing that Roman Catholics are all going to hell. We all have issues with judgment, don't we?
Of course it is always easier to judge than to be judged. Therein is the rub of the matter, or rather the slice: Judging is like a double edged sword with which we kill others and then ourselves. And we are very good at it. I know I am.
Judge me and my initial reaction is to go into “war mode.” Defend myself. Then go offensive and make sure to point out the error in your accuser’s own life – whether remotely related or not – it doesn’t matter. We as a society LOVE doing this…that’s why fallen preachers are such GREAT media fodder: we can rest easy as sinners knowing that I’m no worse than anyone else (which is why we claim otherwise in the pre-communion prayers). Oh and how we love the “judge not” verses in this situation…we hurl it around like a crazed TV preacher shouting “don’t touch God’s anointed!” In the end, will I let any light get through? Hell no, not since “so and so” pointed it out! No light….all HEAT.
Ahhh…but when I wield the sword of judgment, somehow the “judge not” verses can be cleverly circumnavigated. Some grand cause…some great sense of my own humility…some great pressing and unrecognized need in others excuses me and I stand in utter innocence…righteous…holy. Actually, I’m covered in my own feces, and apparently I love it!
Where is Grace? Might as well ask: Where is God? Or What is God doing? Where is the wind blowing? Surely I know? Here comes the whirlwind, better tie yourself down.
I don’t know where Grace isn’t...but I do know where it…or rather HE is.
Yea, O Lord and King, grant that I may perceive my own transgressions, and judge not my brother, for blessed art Thou unto ages of ages.
Clearly, it's not just for Lent. May my heart sing it everyday. Has not Orthodoxy taught us the need for purification? SELF-purification? Put the cleaner down you were intending to use on your brother.
Niles Harris gets dressed up and has a drink in memory of his friends who died on that day in 1965. I'm a bit behind the times on this, but, saw the video recently on TV and then read the story of the 173rd Airborne in Vietnam and was really moved.
There are heroes amongst us and most of them we rarely hear about. Everyday more are earning the anonymous title in Iraq now. We need to know, recognize, and honor these men and women. We need to point them out to our children, living people who in a way do indeed model our Saints: courage, self-sacrifice, bravery, selflessness, and duty. Lord, how we need such examples in this self-serving leisurely world today.
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 11:14 AM [+] +++
Victor Davis Hanson
Some of my foraging into the realm of ancient Greece lately has brought up a number of interesting things. Beloved sparring partner Rick re-introduced me to the historian Victor Davis Hanson and I have been very much enjoying his blog. Some of you will find his straight forward conservatism a bit unsettling, but I find it a breath of fresh air coming from Academia.
At present, at the library, I am putting on hold a couple of his works on ancient history and I happened upon one of his books that surprised me, entitled The Land Was Everything: Letters from an American Farmer Well as it turns out besides being a conservative professor of Classics, Victor Hanson is a sixth generation orchard-keeper! Hmmmm...check out this little review:
Victor Davis Hanson, a California professor of classical history and a sixth-generation orchard-keeper, revisits an old tradition in American letters, writing social criticism from an agrarian point of view that takes the farmer to be the foundation of any democracy worthy of the name. That Jeffersonian argument is not widely aired these days, apart from the essays of Wendell Berry and a few like-minded nature writers, and it takes on a specifically political force in Hanson's thoughtful, sometimes angry meditations on the decline of farming and the virtuous values that farming once instilled.
The enemies of farming are many, Hanson declares. They number not only drought, insects, fire, and fungi, but also political leaders who are content to watch the fertile countryside be carved into arid seas of look-alike homes, housing consumers who demand factory-issued foods in all seasons. Their demands are met--and, barring disaster, will continue to be met--by corporate agriculture, which, Hanson holds, values appearance over taste and prizes short-term profits over the long-term health of the land. The ascendance of that corporate system of food production means that fewer and fewer small farms can survive, and that agriculture will seem an ever more alien enterprise to the coming generations, conducted far off in the hinterland, "the corporate void where no sane man wishes to live."
This all means, Hanson suggests, that the farmer of old who knew how to fix tractors and fences, how to wage war on predators while shunning the use of poisons, and how to live self-reliantly is a thing of the past. The disappearance of that American archetype is all to the bad. As Hanson writes, "We have lost our agrarian landscape and with it the insurance that there would be an autonomous, outspoken, and critical group of citizens eager to remind us of the current fads and follies of the day." Resounding with righteous fury and good common sense, his book is a call to turn back the clock and set a more civilized table.
CLICK goes the hold button at the Kitsap Regional Library website.
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 10:21 AM [+] +++
Monday's Farm update
I worked all day Saturday getting the barn finished. In fact I hadn't been done with the barn for more than 20 minutes saturday when Sue and the girls pulled up with the goats in the back of the van. I started the day by hauling the rust hulk down to the feed store and filled up with four bags of a variety of feeds, two bales of straw, and three bales of alfalfa hay. Once again I left a trail of farm related debris on the way home, wholly enjoying the experience and lamenting only that the old truck didn't have a radio for me to blast out some country music. The final touch, after getting all the doors and gates made, was to spread some of the straw in the stalls...a sort of bed making.
I was surprised at how big the mama goat (aka "Firefly") is, both taller and wider than I thought. She also makes a very interesting noise quite unlike what I expected which was the sort of vibrato "baaaaaaa", but rather she offers something of a much deeper and consistent sound - almost like a soft-voiced cow.
A good deal of money has been thrown at this project and the guest cabin - more than we anticipated (which of course you always sort of anticipate). So we are beginning to settle back down into our belt tightening mode. But now milk and eggs are flowing, and disregarding (for now) initial investment, the chickens are more than paying for themselves and we expect the goats will too if her production levels are as predicted by the previous owner. Goat Cheese and soap sales will also hopefully begin to take off.
Looking at an upcoming week of nice weather - even HOT - we are going to finish the fencing for the goats and then hopefully take a day to relax and enjoy the sights and sounds of our growing farm...just a day, and then back to the cabin labors. Once the cabin is done I still have a lot of wood to chop.
Of course, bringing in the goats has assured us of having more farm duties to do each day - milking takes place twice a day, the stalls will have to be cleaned regularly, and the goats cared for to keep them clean and healthy. I expect Sue...when, and if, she has a spare moment...will post pics.
I wonder if secularism doesn't a play a role here as well, in that we are willing to suffer ANYTHING as long as we think we might live? Surely this is what must have gone through the heads of some of the victims of the Wichita Massacre (an unthinkably horrible crime)? I don't THINK I could have stood still and let it all happen.
As much as I support Serbia, I worry about the trouble brewing there.
An elderly Serb wearing a traditional cap applauds in the churchyard of St. Tzar Lazar Orthodox church, in Krusevac, Serbia, Saturday, May 5, 2007, as veterans gathered to form a paramilitary unit. Serb war veterans from the Balkan wars gathered in the central town of Krusevac, about 150 km (90 miles) southeast of Belgrade to form a paramilitary unit and pledged to fight for Kosovo if the breakaway province is granted independence as proposed in a Western-backed plan.
Here one of the veterans holds a relief of St. Lazar. I've mentioned before the mystery/paradox I see in the martyrdom of St. Lazar, in that he choose the Kingdom of Heaven instead of the Kingdom of Earth, fought anyway and lost. And again despite my sympathy for the Serbian cause here, I don't think a bunch of paramilitaries running down there is going to do anything but cause a great deal of grief. However, I also remember the cause of this strife: Islamic imperialism and colonialism...why the Kosovar serbs have failed to garner the sympathy usually granted to an occupied and colonized people is beyond me.
It's sad to see the US backing Kosovo independence...not to mention Mr. Clinton 's bombing of Serbia (under false pretenses of genocide and 300,000 dead Albanians - later found to be untrue...sound familiar?). In appreciation, a number of Albanian Muslims plotted to kill our troops at Ft. Dix. What a crazy world.
Orthodox priests laden with military medals lay flowers at a memorial to World War II veterans at a memorial park in Kiev Wednesday, May 9, 2007. Ukraine marked Victory Day, one of the most important commemorations in this ex-Soviet republic which lost an estimated 7 million soldiers in the war. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)
The man on the left doesn't have a pectoral cross or a cool hat so I wonder if he is actually a reader or deacon. None-the-less, I assume the medals indicate these men are veterans. Military medals on cassocks...hmmm...liable to make some folk squirm. :)
Clifton has the story of a prominent evangelical returning to Rome. What I found interesting was the quote Clifton included by someone who decried this man's "apostasy" particularly this little gem:
This kind of thing is occurring with alarming regularity these days, due in large part to the post-modern, post-Christian abandonment of fidelity to truth (recall my last blog article on Timothy George). There are warning signs for this sort of thing, and they are not that difficult to detect. Do we really need to wait until someone follows through with his “exploratory” musings, all in the name of academic freedom, before we begin to call him to account?
I'm terribly interested in knowing what my signs were of impending apostasy from evangelicalism? No one called me to account...of course it was easier because I was leaving the episcopal religion and no one cares much to notice apostasy of any sort there.
But "abandonment of fidelity to truth" is an interesting phrase. In reality, the truths to which we have abandoned fidelity are simply truths comprised of a group of individuals' interpretation of the Bible. At what point does one become an evangelical apostate? If I believe in freewill? If I believe in total depravity? If I believe that the initial physical evidence for the baptism in the Holy Spirit is speaking in tongues? If I believe we should not go to church on sundays? If I believe pre, post, or mid trib? If I believe in liturgy or free form worship? If I pray for health and wealth? If I believe Jesus suffered in hell? If I believe in literal hellfire? If I deny any of these? We could go on and on and on all day about ALL the different beliefs of "bible believing" people. It almost becomes laughable...and if I may say, THIS more than any notions of "post-modernism" plays a bigger role in conversions like mine and Dr. Beckwith.
We begin to see the obvious absurdity of "fidelity to truth" meaning fidelity to Sola Scriptura...plain and simple. Heck I've tried to understand "post-modernism" and I don't. People have tried to explain it to me and I usually glaze over and start looking for some beef jerky and a good IPA that might be sitting nearby.
Pilate asked Jesus: "What is Truth"...Jesus didn't say "my soon to be released book....well...umm..actually it may take a few hundred years to get it all compiled and somewhat agreed upon, but THAT's going to be some serious truth."
No...Truth is a person and fidelity to Him is altogether different. Ecclesiology and authority are the pivotal issues here...seeking truth within that context can by no means be called infidelity. Once we realize that Scripture IS tradition, evangelical apostasy is well on its way.
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 10:17 AM [+] +++
If your neighbor's kids...
...run about your property chasing another neighbor's escaped full sized adult hog, you might be a redneck.
I wasn't home, but Sue says it was hilarious. She also tells me the hog was "huge"...apparently a neighbor's breeder.
With the impending arrival of "Firefly" and her kid "Butter", Sue and I switched our focus temporarily from the cabin to the barn.
My weekend began on friday when I arrived home to find that our dear friends the Fallins had purchased a copy of the icon of St. Brigid I've had shown here for us. It is beautiful and presently sits upon the altar at St. Elizabeth's, and will do so for the next forty days before coming home to the farm. Thank you!
So, we have been busily working on building half walls and whole walls in the barn. This process began with a "cleansing" that had me making a rather large dump run saturday morning. Me and the boys must have been quite a sight beating a path way up to Hansville in our rusted old farm truck filled with all manner of domestic junk. Then after a stop for lumber and feed (Let me pause and note how much BETTER the service is at the feed store than at the Home Depot) we headed home to pound (or rather shoot - Thank you Steve) nails.
We are using as much scrap lumber as we can find for this project and so it may not be pretty, but it will be functional. After this little blog I am going to "craigslist" to see if I can find some free - or next to free - red paint.
Fencing has also been an ongoing project. On the weekend of the "barn" raising (this stands to get confusing...the official barn raising was actually our working on the cabin), Sue and Valerie made heroic accomplishments with post hole digging. Sue has continued working on these through the week and I believe most of the posts are now set. So soon we'll be able to start stringing the fencing.
In my life, I've never felt more satisfied with working like this. I don't know that I can explain it, but just having your own little patch of land to care for and work upon is a glorious thing. A small taste of what a "real" farmer feels I suppose when he looks from his porch across hundreds of acres of freshly plowed soil.
I had to laugh a little as I watched Sue haul out the old bagging lawn mower and cut a swath through some of the higher grass. She then put the mower away and dumped the trimmings upon the chickens who gleefully devoured it. You see, we don't manicure our lawns here...we harvest it.
It's some of the best, most fulfilling "yard work" I've ever done.
This "day" is all about "Chickens are people too" sort of stuff. Go Vegan Man! Of course, too extreme for my tastes...pun intended.
In actuality, their horrific stories HERE of factory farms (no matter how exaggerated), is all the more reason to get your eggs AND your broilers (coming this fall) from St. Brigid Farm where our birds are humanely treated, free range, and organic.
You can place your orders via the email listed above. Goat's milk and cheese, COMING SOON!
So I'm reading Crichton's book and stumbled across this "Intelligence Squared" debate held on March 14, 2007. NPR has the unedited audio available HERE.
The motion is "Global Warming is NOT a crisis."
Here's the audience stats before/after:
Agree with Motion: 30% / 46% Disagree with Motion: 56% / 42% Undecided: 13% / 12%
Give it a listen.
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 10:52 AM [+] +++
Famed Russian Cellist is laid to rest
Mstislav Rostropovich. Read a little about his fascinating life HERE.
Some photos from his funeral:
According to the press, the woman holding the icon is Rostropovich's daughter.
A daughter says farewell to her father. I think many Americans (westerners?) feel uncomfortable with such expressions. I know many converts who in moments of honesty are a little "weirded out" by the last kiss portion of the funeral service, but it surely does fit the Orthodox ethos doesn't it? Perhaps we are apprehensive because we wish to sterilize death? To avoid seeing it so blatantly laid out before us? Doing so, I think, lessens the power of the Paschal proclamation.
It is an altogether wonderful and appropriate thing to see this dissident of the Soviet Union having an Orthodox funeral in a post-soviet Russia.
It is not unusual to find farms having images of their farm taken from the air and having them framed in some place of honor in the house. I can recall seeing one done of my grandma and grandpa's hundred acres in Ohio. In that same spirit, Microsoft Live Maps has done it for us for free! (note, if you have their "Virtual Earth" installed, these quality pics are oddly unavailable). Toss in your address and see what you can see.
Once, The Times of the UK asked this question of several eminent authors of the time. One response took the form of a letter and was as follows:
Sincerely yours, G. K. Chesterton
EWTN has produced a terrific series on Chesterton called: G. K. Chesterton The Apostle of Common Sense and it is quite good. Some audio portions are available at the link above, otherwise check local listings to see when it is on EWTN.
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 12:30 PM [+] +++
Parenting really takes humility. Yes, in the sense that you MUST set your life, your desires, your will aside...but also in the sense that you must be able to honestly recognize your failings - even if someone else brings them to your attention. (Ever notice how much harder it is to deal with that?) I wonder if Orthodoxy has not helped me (some) to recognize and accept judgment rendered by others?
It's easier to say than to truly do...even harder to further do something more than just recognize.
Sometimes you really throw up your hands not knowing what to do. So many behavioral failings are a direct result of those raising the child...again, easier to say when thinking of someone else's kid....much harder to swallow the pill yourself.
You ever feel like you need a serious "do over"? You ever worry if it is too late?
No, it's never too late for love. I do believe in love...but love is nothing unless it is practiced - obviously. I also believe in tough love, but at some point I have to admit that yelling and corporal punishment will accomplish nothing without love.
Discipline to satisfy our frustration and anger is ripe for failure. But I need to learn to discipline for the sake of love. It requires sacrifice, both of time and effort. It means setting aside my "adult" things (even those that truly are important) and getting my REAL priorities straight. Follow through and consistency are often very difficult. It's too easy to be lazy. My gosh, there are FOUR of them...how many hours are there in a day?
Manifesting parental failures (and knowing that others see them) is a difficult thing to deal with. Emotions run rampant, bellowing out in every directing like an explosion, and looking beyond them is both critical and difficult.
Patience, love, and humility. Mastering them (to at least SOME degree) is the key to being a good parent. I'm working on it. It begins like the first step of AA: I can see.
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 10:22 AM [+] +++
Well, all you stay-at-home mom are apparently "earning" an equivalent of $134,121 a year. We are led to believe the "typical" mother puts in 92 hours a week...and I do not doubt it.
Their figures could not be more wrong, though. A stay-at-home mom's work is priceless.
But if we must break down payment and payment is based on quality of work...I say the first 40 hours of work is worth FAR more than the final 52 hours of overtime. Plus we're talking about two separate jobs, if I work at Walmart for 40 hoursa week and then go to Kmart for 53 more a week, I don't think Kmart will pay me for 52 hours of overtime, right? One wonders if one could manage to keep the Kmart job?
This is seriously worth looking at...it is CLEARLY time we stop listening to politicians debate and start listening to scientists debate. Astonishingly enough, there is debate in the scientific community - as there should be.
Of course it's easy for me - as an ACC agnostic - to say we need to stop listening to politicians, because the politicians in my state are not debating at all. To them, ACC is an unquestionable fact and they have moved to fix the problem through legislation.
We can look forward to starting to pay for this soon. I get nervous listening to my politicians talking with such authority and certainty about ACC...anyway, I guess I'll have to cut down another tree to burn next winter since I won't be able to afford "green" electricity. :)
This is the title to a fantastic book I'd been meaning to read for quite a while now. The movie "300" inspired me to do so and without question the book is superior. As much as I like the movie - primarily for its unashamed use of over-the-top ahistorical mythology to tell the story of a very real and dramatic event - Pressfield's novel is superior in that it is very much hinged to reality.
More than that, amidst the brutality and gore, the question that continually is being asked, "What is the opposite of fear?" is answered in a most worthy manner, such that an unlikely philosophical exchange between soldiers around a campfire makes sense of what happened at Thermopolaye (and indeed on any desperate battlefield). I won't answer the question for you...though it is obvious.
A further exchange of how Leonidas chooses his 300, sheds glorious light upon history's women who have born far more than the men who carry the arms.
Like these guys did: This is a lofty read for the typical (and quite unfair) stereotype of a "jarhead"...nice to see.
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 10:01 AM [+] +++
"I JUST WANT TO FRIGGIN' GO HOME!" Rant
Remember how I blogged about the futility of "changing the world" activism? Now let me rant about how much I REALLY hate activists on days like today.
"The Committee for Immigrants' Amnesty and Social Justice" is going to get in the way of me and my trip OUT of this little borg satellite of Seattle to my little strip of farm paradise. Not a good idea if they wish to gain a sympathetic ear from me....AND I suspect thousands of other workers (yes...WORKERS, you sill little mayday communist freaks!) who just want to stinking go home.
Can't you have your stupid little march on a saturday?
As a good friend of mine would say, "Where's the Czar's calvary with sabers when you need them?" I expect to keenly sense this as I meander through closed streets, trying desperately to reach my salvific boat ride back to sanity.
Sigh. "Workers unite" blech...most of us workers just want to go home.