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.
Liz reminded me. These people are waiting in line for hours to purchase a fancy phone/computer/mp3 player/whatever...
While these people are waiting in line for hours to venerate the icon and relics of St. George.
I once camped all night outside a music store in southern California to get my hands on some U2 tickets, something I'd likely never do again for ANY concert or any sort of fancified electronic equipment. Geez, what a scam...have you see the media fury over this? Apple is laughing all the way to the bank...I mean if you want to sell me something, fine, but I'll be defecated upon before I'll stand in line for hours for the "privilege" of buying a product...heck in some strange world (the past maybe?) it was the company's privilege for me to be their customer.
Not sure how long I'd wait in line to venerate a Saint's relics...but the stark contrast between the profound "need" to purchase an iPhone and to venerate a relic speaks volumes about our world.
And elderly Serbian woman at St. Sava Church on the feast day of St. Lazar and the 618th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo. A battle, the results of which still haunt the region to this day and for the foreseeable future.
The other day, our dear and devoted and diligent friend Rade was at our place putting on the final touches of the roof for the cabin, what we initially thought was an odd bird began fluttering around us. In actuality, it was a bat!
Now I've seen my fair share of bats, in fact while fishing the Skykomish River we'd seen them all the time as the sun would set. But this is the first time we have seen them at our new house AND the first time I'd ever seen one out so early, it was still quite light out, but this little fellow was clearly feasting upon the abundant flying insects we have...YEAH!
I've decided to build a bat house in the hopes of attracting more.
Here is a website devoted to Northwest Bats. I have no idea what sort of flying mouse we saw.
So I am being subjected to a series of online training sessions for my work...which in a way makes ME a vulnerable subject (keep reading). Anyway, it's all about training researchers on how to be ethical in the design and implementation of their studies, read: avoiding lawsuits.
In a section where they list "vulnerable subjects" (There are several classes of vulnerable subjects, with varying degrees of potential vulnerability. These classes are discussed below, including the potential for control, coercion, undue influence, or manipulation.)I found the expected: mentally disabled, children, educationally disadvantaged, and the economically disadvantaged. But also was included this:
Embryos and Fetuses have absolutely no capacity and are under the direct control of the mother.
Woah...come again? Are they serious? This from a work environment that is ridden with people who will deride the Bush administration and pro-lifers to no end for being morally/ethically opposed to embryonic stem cell research? I truly am astonished. When they say the fetus has "no capacity", in context, they mean the fetus has no capacity to "voluntariness." So why not kill them? Ummmm...I'm not following the logic...how can they list what you MUST come to believe is non-human as a vulnerable class of people?
I love receiving "ethics" training from my work. I feel so illumined now. Make no mistake about it, the litany of regulations we must now follow with regard to our research is due solely to federal laws and not because scientists have some grand knowledge of ethics that protect the public...care to have a look at some of the horrors that have taken place in research of the past (like in the past 75 years)?
I've noticed something about my behavior (perhaps you can relate), that when I have social expectations placed upon me to "do the right", I am far more likely to do it. For instance: having started a Vanpool recently, I've noticed that since I am relied upon by numerous other people to drive them to work, that I am MUCH more likely to get up on time and be present at work. I am also MUCH less likely to call in "sick" (if you know what I mean).
In general, I think that when we have expectations clearly presented to us by others, we are more likely to meet them. And it makes me wonder about the direction our society is headed when less and less expectations are being placed upon people. Divorce: no big deal. Sex outside of marriage: no big deal. Pornography: heck its often on our billboards and network TV. You can create your own litany of examples, I am sure.
I think I see in the massive quantities of people wandering about the streets of downtown Seattle with ipods stuck in their heads an example of our splintering society. There is a difference between the "rugged individualism" we Americans have traditionally held to (and I laud), and the modern individualism of no-fault freedom that is becoming rampant. As we celebrate "diversity" and "alternative" lifestyles, we further isolate ourselves from one another and further deny that we actually do play roles UPON one another - even if we ignore each other as we pass, being enamored with whatever soul pounding beat is being hammered into our skulls via the Steve Jobs brain interface device. Into that realm we disappear and so do those walking around us...our own little worlds, our own little soundtracks...freedom to do what we like.
Is it any wonder we see people feeling more and more free to act upon their passions, however horrific they may actually be? Yes, I believe we ARE seeing more and more horrific crime and more and more blatant outpouring of people's inner and often twisted desires. Life is all about US, as individuals. Government provides for us...takes care of us...so that we are free to practice whatever sickness we may wish to practice. Safe in the world of our ipods...no expectations...no eye contact...and certainly no conversation. What have we to do in life, but to make ourselves happy? When was the last time you heard someone talk SERIOUSLY and without laughing about "duty"? Yeah, I thought so.
We have raised up a "me" generation, no doubt. And really, I'm not sure there is much hope in changing it. So ridden with our sense of entitlement, we have completely enshrined modern individuality and completely sacrificed all notions of the old "rugged individualism." The latter, I think understood the importance - not of "diversity" but of societal cohesion of shared values and expectations...which included taking care of yourself, without slapping on an ipod on and ignoring your neighbor.
The article follows below. I'm not sure I understand all that is happening here but suffice to say, the EP isn't the EP while he is in Turkey...I guess. But the REAL issue is: when are we going to put an end to the illegal occupation of Asia Minor? Have we not had enough? How about the illegal occupation of Constantinople? Let us have solidarity with the Byzantine people and their suffering under the 1000+ year occupation of Byzantine lands. Or maybe it's time we admit...oh nevermind.
Anyway, once again we see that of the 5 ancient Patriarchates (even those with multiple claimants...ahem...), only one can affix a cross to his roof without permission...and he isn't ours.
Ecumenical status of Istanbul-based Orthodox Patriarchate rejected
A Turkish court on Tuesday ruled that the Istanbul-based Orthodox Patriarch is not the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians, and is only the head of the local Greek Orthodox community.
The court's decision, however, has no impact on his status outside Turkey. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I is the internationally recognized spiritual leader of the world's 300 million Orthodox.
The court's verdict could help strengthen the Turkish government's position in disputing the patriarch's global role. The government has long sought to contain Bartholomew's influence, and objects to the use of title "ecumenical" or universal.
Turkey, a predominantly Muslim country that is seeking European Union membership, has long kept close tabs on the patriarch, suspicious of his close ties with Turkey's traditional regional rival Greece and other predominantly Orthodox countries.
The Patriarchate's spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.
The ruling was included in an appeals court verdict that upheld a lower court's decision acquitting Bartholomew of charges of illegally barring a Bulgarian priest from conducting religious services. The court also upheld the acquittals of other top church leaders on the same charges.
Bartholomew, who is a Turkish citizen and an ethnic Greek, has spiritual authority over the world's 300 million Orthodox Christians and directly controls several Greek Orthodox churches around the world, including the United States.
Turkish officials however, reject any Vatican-like status for the Patriarch and says he is the religious head of the Greek community of around 3,000.
"The Patriarchate, which was allowed to remain on Turkish soil, is subject to Turkish laws," the appeals court argued. "There is no legal basis for the claims that the Patriarchate is ecumenical."
The court said Turkey could not give "special status" to any of its minority groups.
The Patriarchate dates from the Byzantine Empire, which collapsed when the Ottomans conquered Constantinople, today's Istanbul, in 1453.
The charges against Bartholomew and 12 senior clerics were first filed in 2002, by the head of a Bulgarian Church Foundation, who argued that Bartholomew had no authority to dismiss Kostantin Kostov, the Bulgarian priest.
The Bulgarian foundation had claimed the priest was punished after he refused to refer to Bartholomew in prayers and refused to conduct religious services and issue baptism and marriage documents in Greek.
Sara posted a blog about a couple of books, one of which is about kids needing to be outdoors more. In the comments on that post, Lauren mentions a cook called The Dangerous Book for Boys.
And what do I find during my semi-regular perusing of The Weekly Standard? THIS hilarious article on this very same book...READ it. And, I would say READ the book...though it would seem both editions (British and English) are in order. Leaving out Catapults?!?!? And what, Lord Nelson replaced by the Wright Brothers?!?!
You have got to LOVE this advice to boys with regard to girls: If you see a girl in need of help--unable to lift something, for example--do not taunt her. Approach the object and greet her with a cheerful smile, whilst surreptitiously testing the weight of the object. If you find you can lift it, go ahead. If you can't, try sitting on it and engaging her in conversation.
I originally had this in the post below, but when I watched the news video on the linked news site I decided it needed larger "airplay" here. Note how the ACLU lawyer refers to the icon. I guess he's right though...our Lord's image is profoundly offensive.
Solstice Caption:A girl dressed in a wedding dress attends the celebrations of the Orthodox feast Eniovden (Midsummer Day) in the town of Asenovgrad, some 150kms (90 miles) east of the Bulgarian capital Sofia, Sunday, June 24, 2007. Every year the young girls from the town and neighbouring villages gather to celebrate Eniovden (Midsummer Day) by wearing wedding dresses according to tradition.
Hmmm...I know in Slovakia that a number of "pagan" practices remain in the celebration of decidedly Orthodox feasts...this seems to correlate with the Nativity of St. John so I wonder if there is more at play here than we know from the brief caption.
Went to War On July 21st, 1861, civilians from Washington DC piled their families into carriages with picnic baskets in tow, for a leisurely afternoon of watching their Union Army defeat the rebels down in Virginia near a creek called Bull Run. By the end of that day, these people would be fleeing for their lives as the rebels routed the Union Army.
Thankfully, on Saturday, my family and some friends, were able to remain at our leisure while the soldiers fought in the field nearby the "village" of Port Gamble. I have to say, it was awesome! The only civil war re-enactment I have attended involved a handful of men, whereas this apparently had over 500 re-enactors, of whom I imagine 300 were in the field.
Port Gamble is a town "locked" in the mid-late 19th century and so it is an ideal venue for a re-enactment. The kids were awed - my eldest daughter ran a pen out of ink taking notes on all she saw, heard, smelled, and touched, it really brought history to life for them...and for me.
Before and after the battle, you can wander about the camps (Union in the little valley, Confederates up on the hill) and talk to the re-enactors, all of whom - it would seem - being semi-pro historians with something to offer. I knew we'd be in for a treat when we drove up and saw the vast array of tents and the soldiers out drilling in the field. Horses trotted about, wagons, cannon, period homes, soldiers lounging, soldiers barking orders, soldiers singing and playing instruments, drums belting out marching beats, etc etc.
We spent some time speaking to 1st Lieutenant Samuel H. Davis, Commander, Co G of the 14th Virginia Cavalry. (He's first in line on their right)
In real life, he is Bob Davisson of Spokane and was exceptionally friendly and happy to show us his horses and talk to us about all manner of cavalry related "stuff"
And here we are learning about artillery: I now know EXACTLY what is involved in following the order when the artillery commander cries out "Four second fuses!"
Here, Greg and I receive our $10 advance for "signing up" with the 20th Maine. I'll admit to wrestling about doing so, having a good deal of sympathy for states rights. Who knows, maybe I'll change my mind and head south.
This was one of the coolest things we've done. We will be there next year, and can hopefully stay for the dance that night, the music for which is performed by a couple from our Parish!
Here is an article about the event...you may need to register.
Pic credits go to the Sallis family (and a little to the Kitsap Sun)...thanks guys...we had a blast! (literally).
I forgot to mention, I had three separate people ask if I was an "out of costume" re-enactor...because of the prominent style of my facial hair.
Dawn showed me this vid last night...very funny, but also poignant in a number of ways.
Can one imagine the outcry if someone sang about killing a dog on prime-time family oriented TV? Naked PETA protesters would abound. And then, mention of rifle? Anti-gun pacifist protesters would abound. And as if this gun violence against animals weren't enough, a confederate flag decorates the stage!?! More protesters abound.
And in general, no one would understand the problem of one's dog killing one's livestock. A dog that leaves chickens alone is prized, a dog that doesn't...well...what the man in black said.
It is reported that at the entrance of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi was inscribed the phrase "Know Thyself" (γνῶθι σεαυτόν). I think it rather appropriate that this should be inscribed at the ENTRANCE of a temple, for while I cannot speak to its implications for the Greeks, in my mind it truly is only the beginning of the religious journey.
Illumination, as you will hear us Orthodox say, precedes purification. A big part of illumination, I would think, is to come to know thyself. Our world today sees coming to know thyself as a sort of birthing into freedom and it ends with the embracing of oneself, whereas traditional Christianity would say that real freedom comes from knowing thyself and additionally changing thyself (purification?).
I've spent a good portion of my life as a Christian asking God to change me. Remember singing/praying : "change my heart O God, make it ever true..."? How many tearful bedside prayers like this remained "unanswered" in your life?
How many bed time promises have you made to yourself that tomorrow would be THE beginning of a new day for you? That you'd truly be a new person, a different person? Did your resolution last longer than my ten minutes? Five minutes on a particularly difficult day?
Well, change takes work...that's what I rationalize from it all. Let the self-proclaimed theologians argue about God's providence vs. man's freewill and work vs. Precious few are blessed with a miraculous and sudden change of heart. Do you suspect - as I do - that our Lord's fasting for 40 days and THEN successfully facing His temptations might contain a lesson for us?
I certainly don't have any solutions to offer, and really, I don't think there are any, except this that I learned from a twelve step program: no matter what, keep coming back! Despite their apparent futility, keep making those promises and commitments to yourself. Keep fighting. Keep struggling. Do not ever give up. Have faith in the fact that change does happen, even if slowly. No miracles to be had, just another day in the midst of the fast, let's keep it together...even if we fail and buy that hamburger from time to time. Keep coming back!
I've always sensed and logically known that up here in the Northwest the days seemed/are longer in the summer than when I lived in So. Ca., but I never knew the specifics. Tomorrow, Seattle will be seconds shy of seeing 16 hours of daylight, while San Diego will see 14 hours and 20 minutes.
As a side, last weekend I AGAIN missed the Fremont Solstice Parade! Crud! Oh well...next year! When else will you have the opportunity to see a "violation" (as some would claim) of the separation of church and state, since the Solstice parade is arguably little more than a neo-pagan festival masquerading as an "art" parade.
But, of course, I've never attended so I'm just being a ignorant and judgmental prig. but at least they are "safe and free of guns for the day." That is...ummm...unless someone actually decided to bring one. In reality, unless they are strip searching people (which could very well be a part of the parade), then they are more likely "safe and free" from any means of self-defense in case someone opts to disobey the powerful all seeing Freemont Arts Council.
Ok, I'll leave them alone. Here's to long days! Much appreciate seeing the sun after the last winter we've had.
Old School Bono. Plus, the music video generation reinvents church
Haha...perhaps some have forgot, but I haven't...the mullet used to be so cool, even Bono sported one.
As you have no doubt noted, I've been watching music videos lately. Mostly country, but the genre doesn't matter. Since the beginning "they" have capitalized on the same fast paced visual stimulation. What I noticed is that apparently too much time passes within the context of a single musical verse for us to be treated with merely one or two different visual perceptions. On the contrary, I am thinking that a different image must be presented to us about every 2-3 seconds, or else - I guess - we get bored. BAM!BAM!BAM! We are bombarded by visual stimulation...as if the music could not or does not hold its own.
I think this really has played a role in forming us and our expectations. We are not only the "fast food" generation, but we are indeed the generation in greatest need of speed with regard to many things. I wonder if road rage is not on the rise because the traffic squalor - as it worsens all over - has made it such that we aren't seeing that MTV style of ever-changing visual stimulation. No, we are sitting, looking at the same profane anti-Bush bumper sticker for multiple minutes just outside Fremont. It's agonizing...not because you like Bush, but because you are not speedily on your way and because the bumper sticker is not a multi-media extravaganza.
We cannot sit still. ADHD and ADD? Hmmmm...one does wonder if it is WAY over-diagnosed. Maybe we cannot teach patience anymore? Just yesterday as we dropped one of our van pool riders off, we delayed a person driving behind us for a full 5 seconds. I literally thought she was going to implode, and I took joy in knowing that her flailing about likely spilled her coffee - LOL, given its intensity, it surely must have. I think I ruined her day...amazing.
Stillness? Quiet? Solitude? Waiting without impulsive want or need? Are they lost for us? We expect everything, right now...fruits and vegetables that are impossibly out of season and yet we expect and get them - damn the implications to hell (and yes there are profound implications - like I said before: corporations do not sin, they simply respond to our sin. Blaming them and asking them to change is merely a convenient scapegoat.) No time to cook, thus we have all manner of ridiculously "instant" products. Hey, who the heck has 20 minutes to make regular Mac and Cheese? No problem...a microwavable version is ready in 2 minutes! And so, our time related expectations shrink even further. We're spoiled. And I won't even get into the reasons why - with so many modern conveniences - that we none-the-less find ourselves without time to cook!
Really given all this, is it any wonder we want our church services to "work" for us like our microwavable mac and cheese works for us? Or like our MTV high tech, fast paced, multi-media, sense imploding videos work for us? Like fish in the water...we long to be mesmerized by "bright and shiny things" (to quote our mullet bearing hero above).
Maybe church (by this I mean a "service") should be the antithesis of MTV. Maybe it should conform our impulses, our needs, our appetite to it, rather than the other way around? Not that it is without it share of sensuous stimulation, but it is more tended: like the steady burning flame of a lampada as opposed to the out of control roar of a forest fire. God forbid that our baptized expectations should spill over into our notions of everyday life: how we drive, how we wait in line, how we buy and prepare our food, how we live, period.
If you are attend a church that "works" for you like MTV works for you or that is doin all it can to be uber-relevant to our changing society...don't you dare criticize WalMart, its really no different. It's filling a need.
Jesus did not come to redeem corporations. He did not die and rise from the dead to save sinful businesses from bankruptcy or government restrictions.
Maybe if we were more concerned with changing people's hearts than with changing corporate policy we'd start seeing a greater abandonment of consumerism. Not that I can preach...but ya know. I'm weary of people preaching to corporations. I suppose it's the old fashioned conservative capitalist in me that says "let the market decide" such that if you change the desires of the consumer you will change the market. Seems to me, THAT was more of the sort of thing Jesus would do than (even if half in jest) to exorcise the home office of a business giant.
This morning's local paper had a story about what to do if you are confronted by a cougar or bear. All manner of advice that included - as a last resort - kicking, biting, and punching (and that not availing with the bear: play dead; with the cougar play dinner.) But I mentioned to my van pool mates on the boat that there was one very important piece of advice missing: aim well and shoot.
Yes, yes, the odds of being in a life threatening situation with an animal is slim, but then again the odds of having a life threatening fire in your house are slim as well, and yet we purchase smoke detectors - rightfully so.
Anyway, upon arriving at work, this sad story shows up. Yep black bears hardly ever attack people, but hardly ever isn't never.
Episcopal Priest thinks she can be a Muslim and Christian at the same time However: She believes the Trinity is an idea about God and cannot be taken literally. She does not believe Jesus and God are the same, but rather that God is more than Jesus. She believes Jesus is the son of God insofar as all humans are the children of God, and that Jesus is divine, just as all humans are divine — because God dwells in all humans. What makes Jesus unique, she believes, is that out of all humans, he most embodied being filled with God and identifying completely with God's will. NEWSFLASH, mam, YOU ARE NOT A CHRISTIAN.
My thanks to Jorge for giving me an opportunity to bore people to tears.
Here are the rules… 1. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves. 2. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules. 3. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names. 4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.
1.I watch more TV than holy, deep, or very interesting people. 2. At my work everyone has abbreviations behind their names. Mine could be CLSp(MB), but instead I have opted for CRGH. Can anyone guess? 3. I used to "sail" amidst an online gaming community which modeled the "Age of Sails" and I obtained the rank of Post-Captain sailing the HMS St. Brigid. 4. I once learned that a protective layer of 15 pair of underwear will not fool dad. 5. As soon as I am able (God knows when) to buy a period shotgun, I am going to join the "Poulsbo Pistoleros" and participate in Cowboy Action Shooting. 6. I think Big and Rich are making some of the best music out there today. For instance the prayer to "hold me like Holy Water" is in my simple mind an astonishingly beautiful line in an astonishingly beautiful song. Watch the video:
7. Despite my kids all being past diapers, moving to the country and starting a little farm has assured me that fecal matter remains an unusually prominent part of my life. 8. I am far too lazy to pass this on to eight other people...besides I am sure that most everyone I know have already been tagged.
Once in awhile Sue will assign me to the task of bedding down the chickens. It's a job I am able to accomplish because in its totality it involves closing and locking their little door that leads to their run.
Upon arriving, one finds that all 23 birds are neatly bedded down on their roosts, stacked together like....well...stacked together like keys on a two tiered organ. Having completed my primary task I will often call out, "Good night ladies!" And they will actually respond with a collecting of noises peculiar to chickens and perhaps T-Rex's.
However, if you have time to spare, you can also position yourself in front of this two tiered poultry organ and play it. For you see if you but lightly tough any of these birds they will, without fail, respond with a little litany of their humorous percolating chirps and gurgles. And so with a bit of swift hand movement, one can create a wonderful symphony of poultrified noise. Since they all sleep in the same spot, I suspect that with practice I can soon be playing some recognizable tunes.
Tomorrow I head over to the University Travel Clinic for my first round of vaccinations and medical prescriptions. Included in the fray will likely be Hep A, Meningococcal (meningitis), Typhoid Fever, Yellow Fever, a prescript for Malaria meds, and a check of my Hep B antibodies, and perhaps a Polio booster. Sounds like fun, eh? I may have a sore arm this weekend.
This is the travel blog of a colleague named Huong, who I have never actually met. She spent quite a while in Uganda at our rental house and working on site until recently. Numerous pics of people I know and other people/places/things I suppose I will soon get to know. (link is to the beginning of her time there)
How we treat our dead - an indication of what we think about life?
In 1914, the city of San Francisco declared that graves were “a public nuisance and a menace and detriment to the health and welfare of city dwellers" and thus was the opening salvo of a fight that would eventually rid the city of all tombs...save the few thousand left unmarked and covered over with a golf course.
First Things has an excellent article about how we treat our dead. It's long and I have not yet finished it, but thus far I am well convinced it is worth spending some time with.
San Francisco was merely echoing the twentieth century’s general conviction that the nineteenth century had taken funerals far too seriously—the Edwardians’ general belief that their Victorian parents had been a profoundly sick people: as infatuated with displaying death as they were obsessed with hiding sex.
Still, even the most ardent modernist might feel some misgivings about a rejection of the dead as complete as San Francisco’s. And such misgivings reflect, however dimly, a deep political insight—for a city without cemeteries has failed at one of the first reasons for having cities at all. Somewhere in those banished graveyards was a metaphysical ground for politics, and buried in them was a truth that too much of modern political theory seems to have forgotten: The living give us crowds. The dead give us communities.
Read it. Once I'm finished I may have more to say...for whatever that may be worth.
How I hate to dwell in these accumulated and crowded cities! They are but the confined theatre of cupidity; they exhibit nothing but the action and reaction of a variety of passions which, being confined within narrower channels, impel one another with the greatest vigour. The same passions are more rare in the country; and, from their greater extent and expansion, they are but necessary gales. I always delight in the country. Have you never felt at the returning of spring a glow of general pleasure, an indiscernible something that pervades our whole frame, and inward involuntary admiration of everything which surrounds us?
J. Hector St.John Crevecoeur Sketches of Eighteenth-Century America ~1782
I'm forced to wonder what he'd think of today's accumulated and crowded cities?
VDH has a chapter in his book The Land was Everything entitled "The Great Divide" in which he contrasts not only rural and urban living, but also the rural living that is fast vanishing as it is being steadily overtaken by urban life. The family farm is vanquished and become the newest subdivision (cruelly and ironically often named after that which once was: e.g. "The Orchard") and the food it once produced is now cleverly marketed and packaged at some far-away factory farm - safe from our eyes and knowledge. It's efficiency sufficient to earn our blind eyes.
He laments: The day is upon us where the eater of a plum, drumstick, or ice cream will have never seen once in his life a fruit tree, chicken, or cow, much less an orchard, henhouse, or dairy. Tell him his steak is made of sawdust and his raisins grown on trees, and he will be as likely to believe it as he will be unperturbed.
Should we give much concern to corporate factory farms as the producers of our food? I think so...why on earth would we wish to have those products soon to become us treated with the same contempt one would expect from a factory worker producing McDonald's Kid's Meal Toys? Consider the care differences involved in working land that has been in your family for generations as opposed to land recently acquired through a merger from one massive division of one massive company into another massive division of some other massive corporation?
I'm not being anti-corporation here. Corporations are just people doing what people do. If we wish for something better, for something purer, for something more local and personable then we (meaning you and I) must change our habits and expectations. Our tastes have grown decidedly unnatural and we don't think much about what it takes for corporations to get the natural to yield up the unnatural.
I work in the corporate world...at least a semblance of it. I rather find the "professional" life distasteful and it is decidedly different from what I perceive to be real life...or perhaps I should say real rural life? It is very much like the difference one experiences in shopping at Home Depot or the local feed store. They are less than a mile from one another in Poulsbo and yet worlds apart.
Most professionals in America always suspect that a farmer and his ilk are either ignorant or crass, and surely not professionals. The farmer, in turn, believes that you would have to be crazy to live in town, crazier still to wear such garb and endure such reproach at the office, where the sleek and stupid can as easily excel as the more real and intelligent fail. Each is the antithesis of the other, the agrarian requiring action above all, the professional anything but force and audacity. Absolutes versus nuance; natural ill manners at odds with studied refinement. The former of the outdoors, values independence and commitments that are ironclad, the latter, inside, often sees those very ideals as sheer recklessness and obstinacy...The rank world of the farmer says "Don't back down." "Go around," orders the tame cosmos of the urban employee. Is it to be "Let's settle it right now" or "Let's be sure at least to do lunch sometime"? The farmer on his own lives concretely for liberty that can end him, the professional in town for equality that protects him.
I love that last line, it seems to me to speak to more than just VDH's notion of "The Great Divide" but also to many divides in American culture and politics today.
Last night my daughter frightfully and tearfully called out to me saying that a big bug was on Patch (the cat). Sure enough, Patch had a tick just inside his ear.
Now I know that since living in the woods this was a possibility, but really, I've not seen a tick since I was in eastern Kentucky...heck I don't recall ever seeing them in Ohio and I certainly never saw any in California or the burbs of greater Seattle. But rest assured, western Washington has ticks. Now this means three things:
1. I cannot skimp on cheap copy cat versions of "Frontline." 2. Kids will need to have a once over after a day of romping through the woods. 3. I can now honestly try this pickup line song on my wife:
I'd like to see you out in the moonlight I'd like to kiss you way back in the sticks I'd like to walk you through a field of wildflowers And I'd like to check you for ticks
Now that's classy, man. (Cut me some slack people...how COULD I resist?)
Saints of North America A feast uniquely North American. Perhaps we should make a big deal of it, I think. It reminds us, as Fr. C did in his sermon yesterday that distant memories of "Holy Russia" or "Holy Athos" should not be allowed to rob us of the reality of saintliness right here and even NOW. At Vespers on Saturday I was particularly moved as we sang the stichira and were reminded that we are celebrating "Holy hierarchs, venerable monastics and glorious martyrs, pious men, women and children, both known and unknown." And then this:
The earth rejoices and the heavens are glad, O venerable Saints of America, praising your labors and lives, your spiritual fortitude and purity of heart. By driving away a multitude of demons and enlightening many people with the light of the Orthodox Faith you have confirmed our land.
Rejoice, O mountains of Pennsylvania, Leap for joy, O waters of the Great Lakes, Rise up, O fertile plains of Canada, for the elect of Christ who dwelt in you are glorified, men and women who left their homes for a new land. With faith, hope and patience as their armor, they courageously fought the good fight. Comforted by the beauty of the Orthodox Faith, they labored in mines and mills, they tilled the land, they braved the challenges of the great cities, enduring many hardships and sufferings. Never failing to worship God in spirit and truth, and unyielding in devotion to His most pure Mother, they erected many temples to His glory. Come, O assembly of the Orthodox, and with love let us praise the holy women, men and children, those known to us and those known only to God, and let us cry out to them: Rejoice, All Saints of North America, and pray to God for us. Rejoice, O continent of North America, illumined by the Holy Gospel. Rejoice, every province, state, city, and town, which raised up citizens of the heavenly Kingdom.
Holy North America? Why not? Were it not for the Apostles Fast this year it sounds like a terrific opportunity for a monstrous BBQ in the traditional American style. Next year...this year we settled for a fish-BQ.
There is a war going on around us, everyday. But we never really pay it much attention. More than that...by our own definition, war crimes and all manner of atrocities are being committed, though again we rarely note them.
The war amongst animals is more easily seen when we care to look or watch TV. (8 minute video, worth watching). But the more subtle warfare, while being just as violent, is also taking place in silently around us. A vicious fight for some to absorb more of the sun and dig out more of the earth's resources than others, and the fight often involves strangling, wrestling, and burying one another, a fight to the death. It's brutality in slow motion. I've seen it with an apple tree being attacked by a menacing blackberry bush - a battle we intervened in with far more effectiveness that any UN peacekeeping force.
Nature truly is survival of the fittest, and none of really like that do we?
But I am everyday amidst people who would likely agree to the notion that the "natural" world would be a better place without humans - as if some peace and love utopia would exist without us. I'm here to argue that it most assuredly would not be a better place. Everyday (and indeed throughout all of history), without any human assistance cruelty has abounded. Species have gone extinct (and really, only one other species on the planet ever mourns for such), rape has occurred, molestation has taken place, slow and painful and horrible deaths have happened regularly and have gone utterly unnoticed or uncared about. There is no world court, no war crimes tribunal, no one to work to soften the hardness and cruelty of nature...without you and me. We step into the fray, to bring harmony and to profit from it ourselves.
Humans bring God's grace into the world, albeit imperfectly. Yes the bovines in the video linked above seek to free their calf, but the struggle is one without moral implications save genetics...except when we watch and cheer the escape and then regret the pain and horror of the animal's experience. I suspect only man knows empathy.
We tend the garden and in so doing tame the wild as we similarly tame our own passions. There is no balance in nature without us, rather there is only anarchy. We come to bring fences, like moral laws. We come to bring boundaries, and rows, and we weed and we prune. We feed and we care for and are in return cared for ourselves. We are stewards in the truest sense of the word. And when we dispatch an animal, we do so swiftly and as painlessly as we can because of our empathy - it is a stark contrast to the fate of most animals who find their way onto a dinner plate in the "natural" world (see video again). We tame. And in a way, we baptize the natural world. I suggest it is not dissimilar to the blessing we ask our clergy to bestow upon us and the elements and things around us. Yes, we are priests too, and weeding the garden or caring for the chicken can indeed be an especially sacred duty. of course what in life isn't sacred, save that which we must confess?
Of course, the more responsibility you bear, the more damage you can do. Either through negligence or through abuse. But neither is a good option. The natural world needs the natural priesthood, just as surely as we need THE Church and her Bridegroom.
Man, like his trees and vines, is not at birth a kind, benevolent, or humane creature...Take away custom, religion, and law - take away his graft - and he is just as liable to eat, torture, or rape his brethren...So, the spiny wild-root stock of the plum, the exuberant underbrush of the peach, the ueless myriad of tiny second-growth grape bunches are like the passions and appetities of man himself, which must at all costs be pruned, suckered, and thinned if he is to remain civilized man...Arboriculture and viticulture teach the farmer that the beautiful and powerful life force is, after all, wild, beautifully and powerfully not nice. Often the wild root is stronger, more impressive in its dash and bold honesty than the cultivated. It even hold a dangerous and perverse attraction for the pampered and the tended. The polished writer, the smooth-handed academic, poet, and actor are especially prone to its allure, and sometimes wish to dabble safely with the weed. Be careful, you refined shoots above the graft, of your wild, strong, alluring - and savage - roots below.
The farmer, as civilization itself, stands foremost, must stand preeminently, between nature and the abyss. The agrarian must view his neighbor, his own kin - himself - with caution, should his pruning and cultivation fail. The graft of refinement onto raw energy is fragile, and it needs our constant surveillance, our steady work, so that it will not break and let our root grow free. And thus we all really do need the farmer, alas, to warn us of the peril of a powerful and beautiful and often not nice natural world that is everywhere - and in us.
June 6th, 1944 The anniversary of D-Day has already passed and I had meant to say something about it.
We, the grandchildren of the "greatest Generation", cannot really comprehend the scope of World War II. No one knows for sure how many Allied or German troops died on that first day of a battle that would last 2 months, mainly because it was literally a bloody and confusing mess from start to finish. Wrought with so many errors, blunders, and missteps that one can hardly imagine the operation would have survived today's intense media scrutiny (not to mention our sterilized bubble of self-satisfied ease and fuzzy warmth). Historian and Professor Victor Davis Hanson notes some of the trip ups in this brief article, which includes underestimates of enemy strength, troops ill supplied, and bombing our own men (killing or wounding over a thousand in one incident alone).
It is believed that there were 10,000 Allied casualties on D-day, of which 2,500 were killed. By the time the Battle of Normandy was over there would be nearly 30,000 Americans dead, almost twice the number lost by rest of the Allies. That comes out to FIVE HUNDRED Stars and Stripes draped caskets coming home EVERYDAY for the duration of the two month fight. Think about that...can we comprehend it? Overall over 425,000 soldiers were killed, wounded, or went missing.
On the night of June 6th, 1944 President Roosevelt did something no modern president could ever do. In national radio address he said the following:
My Fellow Americans:
Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.
And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:
Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.
Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.
They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.
They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest -- until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men's souls will be shaken with the violences of war.
For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.
Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.
And for us at home -- fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them -- help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.
Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.
Give us strength, too -- strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.
And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.
And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keeness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment -- let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.
With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace -- a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.
Thy will be done, Almighty God.
Curious about your family who served? Go here and search for records, it's worth it.
Democratic aides said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-himmi) of California and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) of Nevada intended to stage a mid-afternoon ceremony to dramatize the passage of the bill.
I've been following the distressing story of Kelsey Smith. Is it normal for this to be getting so much media attention? I mean its a good thing, but I wonder if an unattractive girl had been abducted if it would get the same amount of attention? That's the cynic in me.
Anyway, sharing my daughter's name brings this home to me.
They are offering $30,000 for information that leads to her safe return. What is the deal with such rewards? I mean what sick piece of work would respond to a reward, whereas without a reward they would remain silent? Who would not welcome the opportunity to help save this girl from the filth that took her?
I suspect it speaks to our overall opinion of things like pride, good reputation, honesty, goodness, and reliability...in general I guess we just don't ascribe much worth to esteem anymore. Maybe we haven't in a long time? How nice it would be to see someone help save Kelsey and then flatly deny the reward. Could one accept money for doing something so clearly and obviously right? I dunno...being poor its tempting...maybe put it in my kids' college fund?
Or buy my daughters handguns, CPL's, and training down at the Kitsap Rifle Club.
Pray for Kelsey.
Addendum: Sadly, Kelsey didn't make it. Who still doubts there is such a thing as evil in the world?
I've worked on finding "cures" for over ten years now and let me be the first to tell you that no scientist would label his or her clinical trials like this. You'll note there is little or no mention in the article that this trial might fail?
Why? Because this isn't an article about the science, it's about the issue of embryonic stem cell research...an issue, coincidently, that much of the current US congress is itching to address. Therefore we have this convenient story which is designed to make those of us against killing babies in order to eat their flesh look like we have no sympathy for the blind. That's a harsh way to put it, isn't it James? Yep, but think about it: if we believe human life begins at conception, then what are we to make of harvesting those human lives and using their cells - their flesh - to benefit us.
Another step on the road toward utilitarian morality. If you can't hear it complain, it isn't human.
A couple of things I noted: "-a big if-" Interesting wording...not a quote from an "expert" or "scientist", but from the reporter. Curing blindness with human embryos was apparently a less bigger if? In general I sense a lot more caution and refrain in how this article is written and the quotes used. Maybe it's just me?
Now, check this out: "At a press conference Wednesday, Hochedlinger and a member of a second team said their work was not an attempt to evade the ethical objections to embryo destruction."
Why on earth not? Why would it be a problem, for crying out loud, that our scientists would be seeking a middle ground...a better way? Must science be absolutely devoid of moral judgments? Wow, how scary is that? Think about why this even needed to be mentioned...think very seriously about it.
The issue has the potential to turn into the Global Warming debate. Researchers who start showing data that says the use of embryos isn't necessary can suddenly find their funding dried up? Or we start seeing pro-life groups funding research and suddenly the data generated is tainted. Researchers who actually DO dare to voice their moral opinion of embryonic research are stigmatized. Etc Etc. Watch and see if it doesn't start to happen. THIS is precisely why the Hochedlinger needed to mention this!
Make sure to check out the pic gallery there. Sea Breeze Farms is obviously much larger than St. Brigid Farm, but it's something to aspire to. I have personally been amazed at the interest folk's have expressed in our product and our future products. There really is a market out there. Not sure if this will ever grant me the ability to quit my city job, but it will certainly help to allow us to go on living the home life we want to live. It is actually a big step to go from end user sales off the farm to selling at a Market. The state is more "interested" in you if you do the latter.
Who knows, maybe I can retire early. Gonna need more chickens...more goats...more land?
Have I told the story of "ghostie"? He's an imaginary friend (we think) of my two sons. One day Joseph came into the house crying profusely. Sue inquired as to the the issue and he complained that his face was dirty.
Yes, indeed it was, but not unusually so. Little four year olds don't usually bother much with a bit of dirt on their face and Sue suspected one of Joe's siblings had been unusually cruel in teasing him about it. And so she asked: "Who told you your face was dirty?" And he replied: "Ghostie."
A little eerie, but it got me thinking about a similar question asked by God (and never answered): "Who told you you were naked?"
Like Joe had little or no concept of a dirty face being problematic, our father and mother apparently had no concept of nakedness being problematic. Well, maybe it isn't problematic...at least not as we understand problematic? What do you discern from the asking of this question which is never answered, nor its importance or origin ever really elaborated or explained?
The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center is working to assist the Uganda Cancer Research Institute. Being an Infectious Disease guy, my work is going to be to basically transfer our technology to them and to train someone to run the assays we have designed in our lab back here in the states.
Human Herpes Virus 8 (HHV8) is a leading cause of cancer, particularly among kids and immune-compromised patients. The particular assay we will be transferring detects and quantitates this virus.
Well, it had been brewing for awhile now and I was to some degree anticipating having to confront it. In January our lead scientist (my boss) went instead of me because I would not miss Rade's wedding. I knew she would expect me to go this time.
So a three week trip to Uganda awaits me. Now I know that many of you are saying: "Oh my goodness James what an awesome opportunity! A free trip to Uganda!!!" And yes, truly, it is an amazing opportunity that I would never have otherwise...but you see I am a bit of a homedbody I guess. For those who are single or have no kids or are "career minded" then it would no doubt be a very exciting thing. But for me...well 3 weeks is a long time to be away from home and my family.
It's odd to see the surprise in people's eyes when I do not ooze with enthusiasm for this trip. I guess I really am becoming a dinosaur in that I'm more inclined not to miss three weeks with my family and my farm that to "advance my career" and "have an adventure."
So why am I going? First and foremost, my wife has given her blessing. Secondly it would appear for a variety of reasons that I was the only person qualified to do this and that many many people were holding their collective breath waiting for my decision. Thirdly, the work we are doing in Uganda is truly a noble endeavor (I'll blog details later) and it is for this cause rather than for "career advancement" or "adventure" that I will get on that plane in a couple months.
Also I've emailed the OCMC Missionaries in Uganda to see if I might be able to lend a hand in someway while I am there.