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.
This news story about the newest scandal in DC. Warning: this article deals with decidedly adult subjects.
This is a perfect example of how more and more "news" articles are as much Opinion/Commentary as they are news. Note how the author mentions the "abstinence" issue with USAID and the irony of Tobias overseeing it. Can anyone tell me how THAT is news? How does that relate to the story at hand? What is the author trying to say?
FWIW, the fact remains: "ABSTINENCE IS THE FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE AGAINST" HIV. How can you say otherwise? LOL, abstinence is sort of like solving your international problems with diplomacy. Once you cross that line of defense you have effectively "engaged the enemy."
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 10:49 AM [+] +++
A New Monastery
First, a news story about the new Monastery and how they are hoping to help support themselves through a small business called "Father Nicholas International Pierogies"
I love this line in the story: A religious leader looking to help establish a Russian Orthodox monastery hopes one day to stir souls in the heart of the city.
But first he will start with stomachs.
The Monastery website. (If it fails to load, refresh and try again.)
I'm not one to sing my own praises - okay, well secretly in my heart I do - but I will go ahead and do so by announcing that I have at last taken the steps to finish that old Religious Studies BA that I never got around to finishing. So, on August 31st I'll be an official graduate from Regis University...more than that, I will be graduating magna cum laude with a final GPA of 3.909, which rather surprised my memory of self.
What good does a BA in Religious Studies do for someone who has long worked in virological sciences? Not much, I suppose...but I can now, with some degree of official authority, pontificate to the viruses.
Do I have the LEGAL right to spy on my kids? If I suspect my teenage daughter was lying to me about where she was going, do I have the right to secretly follow her? Or if I suspect drug use, do I have the right to search "their" rooms? Honestly, I don't really care what the state says in such matters (though I worry where we may be headed), I'm doing everything I can to protect my kids...even from themselves. Even at 17, they are still kids and often make decisions akin to the decision making skills one might expect from a bag of hammers.
Here in Washington there is a big "controversy" surrounding two girls caught kissing on a school video camera. Read the story HERE.
I've made no secret that one of my BIGGEST issues - politically speaking - is parental rights and issues where the state tries to parent for me or give to my children rights I would not myself allow them to have. Now everyone is up in arms calling this event an example of 1984 come to life!
With or without the tape, it really doesn't matter. So what if the parents were shown the video? What's important is that the parents were concerned about their kid, asked for help, and Keith Nelson took action. Note how everyone is tip toeing around the gay issue. Gasp! What if we find out the parents and Mr. Nelson were....evagelicals?!?!?!? [cue ominous music]
Soon, I fear, the likes of Mr. Nelson will vanish and instead we'll have state employees who say simply, "I'm sorry. Your son/daughter has certain privacy rights that we are not permitted to violate."
They are everywhere. I'm surrounded by them. Perhaps it's part of being "near" Seattle or a part of the University. Heck, even tiny little Bainbridge Island has no less than 20 environmental organizations. TWENTY! Everywhere you turn here there is some new "issue"...so many in fact that I'm inclined to think that the only way I can avoid not destroying the environment or enslaving Indonesia children who make my clothes is to sit naked and eat my own feces.
Can we save the world? can we usher in Utopia (however you might envision it) by way of our votes or our recycling or our charity or the car we drive? I don't care which end of the political spectrum you find yourself on, neither Barak Obama nor even Fred Thompson are going to save the world.
Ultimately, I think, what drives our world - in every aspect - into the dirt is sin. And it amuses me to watch how we try so hard to fix the world and avoid addressing sin. "Activists" abound, and frankly I am sick of them.
It's an odd thing, if you sit back for a moment and look at the world screaming and running...looking for a solution. Millions of people shouting out their solutions to the ills of the world in what has become an uninterpretable cacophony. We truly are desperate for a cure.
Legislation will never raise the dead. Activists will never raise the dead. The world, like our soon to be corpses will rot.
For all the good we think we do...for all the causes we embrace...I cannot even love my brother. I cannot truly see past my own desires. I cannot sacrifice my life as a father should. Perspective.
End world hunger? Please...I cannot end my own gluttony. End war? Please...I cannot end my own anger. What hypocrites we are...to pontificate to the world about peace, love, equality, morality, etc...when we cannot overcome our own hearts? What do we think we will accomplish with our marches, our voting, or our driving a hybrid?
Maybe the way to really start changing to world is to truly start changing ourselves. The degree of success we ought to anticipate is likely proportional to the degree of success you've had in the past attempts to rid yourself of sin. That's sobering.
The existence of saints is a sign of hope. Maybe the best thing we can do for the world is to look inward. I mean really, will you tell me something we are doing otherwise is working?
Rade and I began the foundation of the guest cabin last Saturday, and as weather permitted this week we have been working on it in the evenings. Clearly, bugs are going to be an "issue" for us around the farm in the evenings. Little critters like no-see-em's and mosquitoes harassed us on Monday, but a bit of rain or wind seems to keep them at bay. I'm actually looking forward to the arrival of the garden spiders which were so numerous when we moved in late last summer, I am guessing they really helped control the mosquito population.
Keeping things square and leveling the flooring supports has been time consuming, but we are surely seeing progress. Yesterday there was a lapse in the wet weather and without Rade I decided to refrain from the technical carpentry and so I set out to trim the cedars surrounding the job site. Many of their branches were too low and needed to be removed to make room for the roof of the cabin. The previous owners of the property left a long telescoping handsaw, which I assumed - due to its rusty state - was going to be useless. On the contrary it is one of the most effective tools for which I've never paid a penny. Strangely, I felt a little remorseful about sawing away at these beautiful trees (I'm very fond of our cedars), and so I apologized and afterwards shot a woodpecker to make amends. Not really...but I did have a little regret about the cedars.
A bit much of American individualism perhaps, but I wholly enjoy this video.
You do your thing, and I'll do mine.
Also, this one which I blogged about awhile ago. I'm willing to bet that the obesity rate amongst farmers is significantly lower than in the general public...not sure why. :)
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 10:10 AM [+] +++
The Quest for THE Cure
The world is desperate for a cure....DESPERATE! A cure for what, you ask? EVERYTHING. And not just ANY cure; we are in dire need of a quick cure, a simple cure, an easy cure. A cure that ultimately will excuse us of any and all personal responsibility for whatever it is that ails us.
Well then, what on earth has "caused" the epidemic of obesity in America (AND other places in the world too - though the media would have us forget this)? Now please, keep in mind, I speak as an obese man who has struggled with weight issues since I was a kid, so I'm allowed to be judgmental. Here's a couple possible epidemiological thoughts:
1. Sedentary lifestyle. Hey, a century of "progress" and we are generally free to live a life of leisure. Most of us work AND play in front of a desk. Desperate for our children to get SOME form of exercise, we drag them away from TV's and haul them into all manner of soccer, football, or little league programs - thus adding to our already insanely busy lives which curiously enough was supposed to be filled with all manner of leisure time. Being so busy, we find it all too easy to skip sports and let TV and video games babysit our kids. Once upon a time, kids played - and I mean PLAYED - outside. There was precious little need for "extra-curricular" sports.
2. Fast food. Not just McDonalds, but all manner of "fits perfect into any busy lifestyle" crap food you can buy at the store. Ready-to-go lunches for the professional mom who doesn't have time to makes lunches coupled with individual serving sizes of of all manner of food or drink product composed primarily of high fructose corn syrup just ITCHING to fill our children with massive doses of empty calories. Then when they start freaking out in school from all the sugar and crap they eat, we drug em up on ADHD drugs. In my own kids I've seen that the extent to which they appear to have ADHD (BIG TIME!) is dependent upon how much outside play they have had and how much crap they have managed to eat.
3. Labor. Related to Number one, but worth expounding upon. Even the scripture says that by the sweat of your brow shall you eat...and while I'm not saying the work I do isn't work, but it sure as hell doesn't lead to any brow sweating. And we wonder why we get fat? Dude, it's freakin' obvious....the only way NOT to get fat is either to eat nothing but lettuce, PAY some business to let you come and dance, lift weights, or ride a stationary bike for many hours a week (you ever stop to consider how stupid this really sounds?!?!?), or find a hobby that you can do for many hours each week that requires you to sweat profusely. When actual sweating is required for you to eat, I'll bet you'll see a much lower incidence of obesity.
And really, it's not just about obesity. For every societal problem we are desperate to find a quick and easy cure. I think it is part of the entitlement culture we have begun to foster. Personal responsibility has all but vanished and we seem more and more able and inclined to blame others or powers beyond our control for EVERYTHING that hinders us. In fact, I think we pound this into the heads of our children all the time.
Little Leagues that no longer keep score or refuse to recognize outstanding players for fear of making all the other players feel bad is a fantastic example. Less and less are we allowed to call anything inferior or wrong, rather they are simply called different. It's a wonder we can do math anymore...and in fact, largely we are failing that too. Black and white issues don't bode well in a rainbow coalition world. For every personal failure we seek to find a society wide issue to blame, which is all too easy to do. Injustices abound today, but precious few of them are personal.
Thomas Sowell has an interesting column today that addresses this issue. While I don't know if such entitlement philosophy is to blame for people lashing out in violent anger at society...though such murderers themselves almost without fail blamed society for their woes....I do believe we ought to do more to "EMPOWER" people by teaching them responsibility, personal responsibility.
I certainly need to take this lesson to heart. For what am I personally responsible for that I'd rather let someone or something else take the blame? Oh dear, better be careful.
Sue has the general story of how we settled on this name, including pics of the labeling we will be using. She did a great job on it! And what's more:
“I would like a great lake of beer for the King of the kings; I would like the people of heaven to be drinking it through time eternal.” -St. Brigid of Kildare
St. Brigid has at least THREE Beer related miracles: twice she turned water into beer and once a single barrel of her brew miraculously supplies 18 churches with beer. All inspired by her propensity for hospitality.
So...yes, come to St. Brigid's Farm. The guest cabin is begun and the beer is in the fridge.
Now I normally try and refrain from making fun of city folk, but having toured the Olympic Sculpture Park I find it to be generally a silly waste of space. Of course, I've never been one to "get" modern art, but come on? Giant eyeballs, erasers, and metal trees?!? Yeah yeah, I know...I'm just a dumb redneck.
You know, where I come from we have REAL trees. And it's about time to get back to em...
I'm lookin' down the barrel of Friday night Ridin' on a river of freeway lights Goodbye city I'm country bound 'Til Monday rolls around
Gonna kick off my shoes And run in bare feet Where the grass and the dirt and the gravel all meet Goin' back to the well gonna visit old friends And feed my soul where the blacktop ends
As a side, I don't buy what Alexander Kyrlezhev is saying here...whoever he is. I'd rather hear the OFFICIAL reasoning for St. Fyodor Ushakov's cannonization. Something tells me the Patriarch will not simply say: "He never lost a battle."
Things are about to get busy at the "J&S Ranch"...or whatever we end up calling it. Eggs sales are through the roof...demand well outdoing supply. Three huge piles of construction materials sit outside waiting to be utilized, a series of windows will be picked up in Edmonds by our beloved and saintly Serb brother. Three yards of crushed gravel will arrive today (where on earth will it get dumped?!?!?!), and Sue....I forgot...we need to get the fence posts! LOL
I am assuming there was a pretty bad translation problem here:
It “is absolutely amoral from the Christian viewpoint to help one commit a suicide,” said Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, vice-chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s External Church Relations Department.
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 10:20 AM [+] +++
Our goats are Nubians, but a search of the subject online - as often happens - opens the doors to new and unexpected discoveries.
This is an image of a Nubian Bishop with the Theotokos.
HERE is the article it comes from which talks about the history of Christianity in the Sudan. The following section "M" offers some historic perspective on the mess currently taking place in that area today.
Remember when this ad campaign was going on while eggs were trying to redeem themselves from the onslaught of health science. Well, eggs finally won the battle...another example of how what is scientific consensus NOW may not be tomorrow...precisely how science OUGHT to work.
This is our new kid doe apparently named "Butter." I received a full report yesterday and it seems a grand time was had by all. It would appear "Firefly" (Butter's Momma) will be coming home to us as well.
As a side, we have a chicken that has gone missing. Bad news since we have a WAITING LIST of people wishing to have eggs!
As I write, the family is heading down to Maplebrook Farm to see our future goats who were born over the weekend. Naturally we are all very excited and I cannot wait to see pics when I get home tonight from work. At the same time, the girls (and as "tag-alongs" the boys) will begin their participation in the Farming classes where they will learn HANDS ON how to take care of dairy goats.
"Firefly" is the Nubian who Sue is most leaning to at the moment. This is her 5th freshening and so is an experienced milker - I suppose we hope she'll do a little teaching of US! One can almost imagine her turning to us as we milk her and have her say: "You're not doing it right!" But we're told she can be ornery so we shall see. The other Nubian named Pretzel is also for sale and this is her 1st birth giving and so has an unproven milk production record. Two doe kids to choose from as well...so I expect the dinner conversation tonight will be very very goat ridden.
I expect Sue will upload some pics to her blog tonight.
Investigators from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives began marking and recovering the large number of shell casings and will trace the weapon used, according to an ATF official who spoke on condition of anonymity because local authorities are leading the investigation.
A White House spokesman said President Bush was horrified by the rampage and offered his prayers to the victims and the people of Virginia.
"The president believes that there is a right for people to bear arms, but that all laws must be followed," spokeswoman Dana Perino said
After the shootings, all entrances to the campus were closed, and classes were canceled through Tuesday. The university set up a meeting place for families to reunite with their children at the Inn at Virginia Tech. It also made counselors available and planned a convocation for Tuesday at the basketball arena.
So, ummm, how exactly did the gun control issue come up? Besides having very little context in this specific story itself (who the heck wrote this thing...hello?), I have to assume that a reporter asked a question about Bush's feelings on gun control. I assume, like most colleges, that firearms are not allowed on campus...but astonishingly enough this criminal broke that law!
Okay, if they wish to immediately - even before the blood has been cleaned up - make this a "bullet" point for their gun control agenda, then let me offer this: a trained, legal, gun carrying student or professor could have ended this massacre long before the police arrived. I mean a GREAT place to massacre people is to go some place where you can reasonably expect no one is allowed to shoot back.
Anyway...let us pray for the victims and their families and let the politics come later if they must.
Hat tip to Fr. C. I wholly agree with the Patriarch's notion of our common challenges becoming "a solid basis for good relations and mutually beneficial cooperation." Surely we can do this without minimizing our theological differences, right?
16 April 2007, 13:51 Patriarch Alexy of Moscow and All Russia's greetings letter to Pope Benedict XVI on the occasion of his 80th birthday
I cordially greet you on the occasion of your 80th birthday.
On this solemn day of your jubilee, may I express my special admiration of your life that has wholly been dedicated to the church ministry. You were young when you were ordained and since then you have led a praiseworthy life culminating in your election to high and eminent position of the Primate of the Roman Catholic Church.
As a minister of the Church, you have long been a famous theologian fully dedicated to defending and affirming of traditional Christian values. What makes your position especially convincing is that you as a theologian are not merely a theoretically thinking scholar, but above all a sincere and deeply devoted Christian who speaks of the abundance of his heart (cf. Matthew 12.34).
I share many of the insights of your theological works and I would like to underline coinciding of our Churches' views on most vital issues with which the modern world challenges Christianity. I am deeply persuaded that it should become a solid basis for good relations and mutually beneficial cooperation between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church.
I wholeheartedly wish you good health, many years of life, and God's help in your high ministry.
+Alexy Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia April 16, 2007
But not much "work" done. Friday we had a BBQ, despite the rain, and numerous Kitsappers attended. On Sunday we did it again, with some over-the-ocean folk joining us...seemed just like old times. We enjoy "hosting" such events, while we really do not consider us "hosting" as much as simply facilitating: hence no fancy eatin' tables and a serious southern potluck flare to it all.
Also on Saturday I went across the great waters and essentially finished my old not quite done religion degree. Well, at least all the work is done now after I took a CLEP test and proved I had no further need for any English classes...well...ahem...you know what I mean.
Real work is going to get started soon. We have post holes to dig and then also start the foundation for the guest cabin.
Chickens remain busy doing what chickens do, and the sales orders are pouring in.
1. go to http://www.google.com/ 2. click on "maps" 3. click on "get directions" 4. type "New York" in the first box (the "from" box) 5. type "London" in the second box (the "to" box) (hit get directions) 6. scroll down to step #23
Has anyone read any of these series of five books by Stavros Boinodiris? If so, what did you think? Worthwhile?
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 10:10 AM [+] +++
Call me paranoid, but this sort of thing disturbs me. The state has decided that private pharmacists MUST provide the "morning after" pill. Details about this drug is ambiguous, by which I mean I have seen conflicting reports about whether this in fact does procure an abortion post-conception. Note this article states that the drug does not affect a "pregnant woman" but does that necessarily imply implantation of the fertilized egg?
Either way, "Plan B" is NOT a medically necessary drug. And the government forcing private companies to provide controversial products such as this is a little frightening. What's next?
Why not force ALL OB-GYN's to perform abortions? Why not after all, it is a "lawful" procedure and ought to be available "regardless of an individual" OB-GYN's "personal objections to any particular" procedure.
Also note that our governor managed this "compromise" by threatening to replace the State Pharmacy Board members who previously had stood up for pharmacists rights. Something tells me a different executive officer would not have fared well under a media onslaught after such a threat.
When I was a kid, say in the 70's, I was - like most boys my age - fascinated by dinosaurs. I always noticed how similar birds' feet were to many dinosaur carnivores' feet. It was never a surprise to me when the bird-dinosaur link began to grow in popularity.
So, maybe it was T-Rex's cousin we had for dinner last night when we ate this fellow. He was delicious...I've never seen such dark and rich meat on a store bought chicken. The dark meat almost tasted like beef...I kid you not.
Anyway...I've always sort of seen something...hungry...in our birds' eyes as they stand next to the fence watching me. Maybe they are thinking, "Boy, in the old days the tables would be turned."
In related news, we are now selling T-Rex eggs. Three dozen out the door already.
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 12:18 PM [+] +++
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Couple of Good Articles
Moscow and Rome to talk I for one am glad to see this, however unlikely any ground is to be gained. I agree that Rome and us have much more in common than either of us having with secularism and Islam and other quickly growing religions. We ought to consider hinging upon them to at least build some ground to talk on. I disagree with the author that we ought to find some compromise, because the devil is in the details...but I do agree we ought to, and CAN HAVE a united voice on many matters.
This is interesting....I imagine some Catholics would find fault with it: It may seem like a paradox, but the conservatism of Pope Benedict XVI, who succeeded the late John Paul II in 2005, makes success more likely because the more conservative the Vatican's position, the closer it matches that of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Homeschooling No commentary here really...just enjoyed it. Never thought of giving our homeschool a name.
Reading my paper this morning on the boat, and came across an AP news article with this interesting secondary title: "Despite continued efforts from Senate lawmakers, the embryonic stem cell bill will probably be vetoed by President Bush - again."
Anyone sense a certain sense of sadness of tone here?
And then this quote from Sen. Edward Kennedy is bolded and emphasized, "Policies that should rest on science are decided instead by crass political calculations of what is needed to appease the most intransigent elements of the Republican base." Yes, of course there is no crass political calculation to appease the intransigent democratic base...rather Mr. Kennedy is simply appeasing science.
Kennedy's comment prompts me to blog...issues of ethics, morality, and science are close to me. I really do not care about the politics here, but what DOES concern me is the further push toward the scientific method being able to discern ethics and morality. Public policies concerning what experiments we should do with human babies (however immature) seems to me NOT to be something to "rest on science."
Science is a tool and nothing else. It can heal cancer and it can unleash nuclear bombs. Science had darn well NOT determine public policy, hopefully we all realize that.
I'll admit I had to look up the word intransigent - but using those fancy words doesn't make me feel like Kennedy is smarter than me - heck he thinks that just because the word is found inside conscience that science has one. Intransigent means refusing to agree or compromise; uncompromising; inflexible, and so when it comes to destroying human embryos in order to harvest them for all manner of experiments, call me intrasigent.
Amidst the fury of joyous Paschal celebrations, something passed relatively unnoticed. Pascha marked the beginning of my wife and I's 14th year together. That she has suffered me for 13 years thus far is a testimony to her goodness, love, and patience.
During the Civil War, a famed nurse named Mary Ann Bickerdyke was known for some extreme methods in taking care of injured soldiers, but her devotion to them won her wide support and admiration amongst the troops while some officers found her methods to be disruptive (e.g. she once insisted that some breastworks be torn down so that the logs could be used for fires to keep some injured soldiers warm).
General William Tecumseh Sherman when receiving a complaint about Mary Bickerdyke is reported to have replied, "I can't help you. She has more power than I - she ranks me."
For all of your wonderful traits, and particularly your selfless devotion to me and our family, there is little doubt, Susan, you rank me. Thank you for 13 wonderful years and may God grant us many many more.
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 12:31 PM [+] +++
...both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast.
The table is fully laden; feast sumptuously.
The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away.
Enjoy the feast of faith; receive all the riches of loving-kindness.
Let no one bewail his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shone forth from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Savior’s death has set us free: he that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it.
By descending into hell, he made hell captive. He embittered it when it tasted of his flesh. And Isaiah, foretelling this, cried: "Hell was embittered when it encountered thee in the lower regions."
It was embittered, for it was abolished. It was embittered, for it was mocked. It was embittered, for it was slain. It was embittered, for it was overthrown. It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains. It took a body, and met God face to face. It took earth, and encountered heaven. It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.
O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory?
Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns. Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.
Last night, as is our custom, we killed God. Today, as is our custom, we bury Him and will stand vigil at His tomb. The World Stands Still. We await the mystical dialogue to begin, and the glorious and joy filled outcome of what is now a deliberately unknowing despair.
The World Stands Still, though it goes on without us. Politicians go on scheming to stay in office, the Religious Right goes on worrying about gay marriage, Sojourners go on worrying about social justice. But for us, The World Stands Still.
Unbelievers go on about their everyday lives, some even going to church on Sunday. TV and Radio broadcasts fill the airways, as do airplanes. News, twisted by the need for ratings, goes on being reported. Our neighbors are mowing their lawns. But for us, The World Stands Still.
Amidst all of our busy preparation, we know that The World Stands Still. Farm and ranch life - as much as it can - has been put on hold (blogging, however, has not - judge me, I dare ya). As I write, I wait for chickens to give me more eggs to dye...but I sense in a very real way that The World Stands Still.
Life revolves around liturgical time now, and there is a strange sense of rightness in it all. Perhaps we teeter a bit on the edge of our true selves? Like someone who has found their purpose in life? The World Stands Still.
When the Son rises, it will signify dawn upon the world, now moving anew.
God, move my life anew as well. Show us Thy Resurrection.
I'm still wrapping my head around this, so have mercy on these scattered thoughts.
I used to chasten my noisy children with the specific admonition that they were interrupting "such and such" person's worship next to us. Someone, wiser than I, has been relating to me that the notion of individual worship and prayer inside the Orthodox Church is...well one could say: anathema. The Liturgy is a not really a time for personal prayer. The Orthodox Church building with all its icons and decor, the incense, the chanting, the candles and the lamps, none of these are intended to create an "atmosphere" or to cater to your personal worship needs. They are for the Body.
I sense that this is the newer protestant mindset in many circles, like when we see pomo churches using our Icons: it's all geared toward creating this cool atmosphere that "helps" me worship. Since icons don't "work" for everyone, the following week a new theme will emerge: perhaps a prayer labyrinth or a rock band or an interpretive dance.
So what does Orthodox worship feel like? What does it mean to step away from the worship "mission" most of us grew up with? You know what I mean? We "felt" that worship was truly accomplished when we had some sort of internal reaction to what was going on around us. Does true communal worship feel different? Do we react differently? Do we experience it differently? As we participate in the "Work of the people", do we manifest it in our own hearts and minds in a unique (to us) way?
Worship in evangelical circles can often be graded: was it a good service (i.e. were a lot of people touched? Did it take on a life of its own and go longer than expected?) or mediocre services (i.e. the planned set of music ended and there was no grand emotional experience). You really cannot do that with the Orthodox Liturgy, I mean I suppose you could say that some services (e.g. Pascha, Nativity) are more joyous and festive and do in fact bring out more of an emotional response, but in general you do not see priests scrambling week end and week out to figure out what will "work" this Sunday along with the ever present promise that if it fails, next week will be better...different. (Rather they scramble through a host of books to figure what WILL happen regardless of what one may FEEL will "work".)
The overall implication is that noisy kids are a part of the Work of the People. Their voices, however indirect or inarticulate, speak along with us as one ought to expect from a real and LIVING and thriving community laboring together. A perfectly quiet nave is unnatural. Now please, let us reason together, I'm not advocating letting a screeching child go on screeching throughout the Work of the People. Just a bit more grace for noise perhaps, given that we aren't "working" like we used to: individuals focused on obtaining some ecstatic internal experience.
Well, with Lazarus Saturday, Palm Sunday, and now Holy Week upon us (2+ services a day), I'm not sure that much farm/ranch work is going to get done this week. Though with weather permitting I will still try and squeeze some work out in between services/choir practice/etc.
Sue has been busily digging and applying Emu Compost with the help of many of the kids...it was a little joy on Friday to come home and see Kelsey and Charissa, covered in dirt, pulling up sod to make room for the growing garden, and giving it to the chickens - who gladly devoured it. Sue has also located a local farm from which we will be getting an adult Nubian and (hopefully) her soon to be born Doe. The Farm also offers homeschooling classes on raising farm animals, which the girls will attend.
Part of what makes this little adventure of ours exciting is seeing the whole family behind it with at least a little sweat and enthusiasm. Nothing makes a Pa more proud than to see his sons standing in Emu Compost in the bed of the old farm truck shoveling it into a wheelbarrow for mom.
Saturday found us helping my sister move to their newly acquired acreage, which was nice. In an attempt to still make services and be there as early as possible to help (they live on the east side of the pond) we decided - spur of the moment - to go to our old Parish. It was really nice to see old friends...but it was rather clear to us that it was truly no longer home...not sure I can describe why it felt this way, but it did: we were visitors who required no greeting. During Communion, our little Joe stood dutifully at the chalice waiting for the deacon to present it to him to kiss. Seeing that it was apparently not going to happen and being of short enough stature he took matters into his own hands, lifted the cloth and leaned in the kiss it himself. HA HA! Good for him! Ah, but James....what if he caused a spill!!!!! Blah...if we worry about that as opposed to stifling a child's simple and beautiful act of veneration then I'd say we are to be pitied. Of course I am reminded of the disciples trying to keep noisy and bothersome children away from our Lord. And He in turn directs us to such children as an example.
I've been thinking a lot about external piety lately and how dangerous of a trap that can be. In one case (e.g. ME) it can make us feel like we are doing JUST FINE, and in another case it can be a means of judging others (e.g. "He's not doing it right" or "She's not dressed properly." etc) It can indeed drown the heart of the matter...and even if Joe had spilled the Chalice I would NEVER NEVER have told him it was wrong for him to do that. Quite the contrary.
Let the chalice spill and the child be praised. I know from experience how BAD it can be for a child to feel like they did something terribly wrong at the chalice...do not go there. Outside of a deliberate attempt to spill it, a child can do no wrong there.