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.
Scientists say that we MUST keep religion and science separate. Yet...time and time again the religion of materialistic reductionism enters into the realm of science. Here's an example.
The assumption - blatantly laid out before us here - is that ALL YOU ARE can be traced to your genes. Your essence, your nature...all programmed by your genes. Thus they ASSUME that there is an "attention deficit" or "bi-polar" or "aggression" gene. But in reality no one has ANY idea of what definitively causes these things. It could be genetic, it could be an infectious agent, it could be environmental....but in this article it is assumed that GENES are the culprit - even though the jury is still decidedly OUT. Again, because this fits the neo-Darwinian model.
Evolution answers ALL questions about us. Indeed, anything about you and the living world around you must be found to have had some evolutionary explanation. What you think, what you feel, who you marry, who you don't marry, whether you cheat, whether you lie, whether you have a good sense of humor, whether you can sing, whether you are successful, and on and on and on the list goes. Biological determinism. As it is ASSUMED that the traditional mechanism of neo-darwinian evolution is absolutely true and that thus there is an evolutionary explanation for EVERYTHING about us, all one needs to do when considering the underlying cause of a behavior is formulate a plausible theory that fits the model and "a there ya go!" Fact. Suddenly we don't ask God why we are the way we are...nor do we delve into our hearts to seek to change who we are...rather we simply postulate a reasoning for why we might have evolved the way we are.
Think about how all-encompassing this is, folks? This is clearly more religious than scientific. In reality there is GOOD scientific evidence to suggest that genes are not- BY A LONG SHOT - the end of the story of what makes us who and what we are. Put simply...the traditional neo-Darwinian mechanism is far too simplistic. Think of a biological equivalent to Newtonian physics in a quantum universe.
I suppose it is ONE thing to set aside your church's moral teachings and support a certain cause...it is quite ANOTHER to claim your church's moral teachings isn't really your church's moral teachings. (Of course she also said that in the end when life begins should play no role in woman's right to choose anyway...ahem...did she really say that?!?!?)
She says she doesn't want to "polticize it" which of course is what we say when your side has its position already codified into law, but none-the-less she as a politician can wax in theological vagueness with what she thought was impunity. Rightfully, her church responds.
Won't it be fun to have the State of Washington legislate this issue? After all, people are DYING from this harmful habit. They've already done it with "second-hand smoke"...oh dear...imagine CPS coming to save our children from a lifetime of incense exposure! I should think, at the very least, the state should mandate warning labels on church doors.
So a recent poll is making the newswires lately in which we are told that "more Americans want religion out of politics." What the heck does that really
mean, anyway? Well you can read the details of the poll HERE
As long as I am religious, there is going to be religion in MY politics. But, to what degree? How does one decide...based of which issues? In my mind, it seems one must balance particular issues and then categorize them according to what you deem most important...BUT I always add one important distinction that I think more and more Christians miss: WHAT, IN YOUR OPINION, IS THE ROLE OF GOVERNMENT? How you answer that question should color how you prioritize the issues you will ultimately use to vote on. I urge caution in assuming that every command and virtue laid upon us as individual Christians ought to be applied to the government. Let me explain.
I listen all the time to both sides of the religious coin claim that voting a particular direction (left or right) is clearly the way that Christians should vote. However, in the past this expressed opinion has been largely the monopoly of the so called "Christian Right." The "Christian Left" has always been there, but they've been relatively weak in their ability to communicate their positions. They are clearly gaining strength and the po-mo movement seems to be a big part of the fuel formula for them. Brian McLaren appears to be the frontman of a new political action group called the "Matthew 25 Netwrok." You can read all about them, but in essence they take the "least of these" verse and insinuate that this implies a vote for Obama. Ummm...well if you read the entire context of the passage, one ends up in hell for not helping "the least of these"...sooo...does this mean voting against Obama is a ticket to hell? I think we have reason to be a little nervous about applying this passage to a vote to a particular individual. As I will show, we should be cautious in doing this with ANY passage.
Anyway, ok, fine...what we have here is the leftist version of the 700 club. A complete mixing and intertwining (confusion?) of religion and politics. I appreciate it to the exact same degree that I appreciate the 700 Club.
Taking into consideration this literal notion of putting specific Christian virtues and commands into the hands of the US government, I have decided to start a number of my own PAC's to really make our nation NOT just a Christian nation (like the 700 club and the Matthew 25 Network want to do - whether overtly or not), but more specifically an ORTHODOX Christian Nation. So, Here we go (relax everyone...all in good fun):
Candidates supporting the following proposed laws and affiliated Political Action Committees will be supported:
Welfare is abolished. In it's place people will receive government fiscal assistance to the same degree that they perform public service labor. See this new PAC: 2 Thessalonian 3 Network
Lust is now a crime. People caught staring lustfully at others will be a ticketable offense. A 3 strikes law would also be advisable - perhaps including eye gouging or hand removal. See this new PAC: Matthew 5 Network
Correlating with this, the following are all banned: pornography, sexually oriented advertising, skirts above the calf, anything other than long-sleeved shirts buttoned to the neck, and excessive jewelry. Men caught wearing Speedos shall be shot on sight. See this new PAC: 1 Timothy 1 Network
Demonstrating evidence of loving oneself more than another is also now a ticketable offense. See this new PAC: Matthew 22 Network
Meat and Dairy products shall not be served on Wednesdays and Fridays. All restaurants and grocery stores shall go "All Vegan" on such days and additionally according to the Orthodox Church's calendar of fasting. To be caught serving or eating meat is a criminal offense. To look forlorn for having your favorite fast-food joint go "vegan" is also a criminal offense. See this new PAC: Matthew 6 Network
Divorce is made illegal except in cases of infidelity (at which time adultery laws may also apply - see below). See this new PAC: Matthew 19 Network
Adultery is illegal. However, first time offenders will get off with a warning to not do it again. No stoning allowed. See this new PAC: John 8 Network
Civil courts will be dissolved. Henceforth all civil complaints and issues will be overseen by the nearest local Orthodox church. See this new PAC: Matthew 18 Network
Laws shall be enacted forcing all health insurance companies (assuming they still exist) to provide benefits for the payment for alternative therapies such as anointing with oil - including "raising the dead" ministries. See this new PAC: James 5 Network
As a means of social engineering, people who publicly demonstrate the fruits of the spirit shall earn extensive tax rebates. See this new PAC: Galatians 5 Network
Anyone fulfilling the scriptural criterion of being "Blessed" shall garner extensive tax rebates. See this new PAC: Matthew 5 Network "Fair Tax Division"
If anyone asks to stay in your home, you must allow them to do so. See this new PAC: Romans 12 Network
The right of self-defense is hereby abolished. It is illegal to protect yourself against criminals. All US military organizations are disbanded in favor of a new organization called "Love your Enemies" which will be in charge of sending Valentine's Day cards to terrorists. See this new PAC: Matthew 5 Network "Go the Extra Mile Division"
If anyone asks for something from you, it is illegal to deny them. This is especially true if the government asks anything of you. Additionally, if your neighbor borrows your tools you may not ask for them back. See this new PAC: Luke 6 Network
If anyone trips a child, they shall be drowned. See this new PAC: Mark 9 Network
Well, there are plenty more...and I didn't even begin to mention the Orthodox Canon Law Networks, of which there are LEGION! But I suppose this is good enough to really start a dialogue amongst Christians in terms of how to express their faith in the context of a government that is - I reckon - supposed to also do so.
Can anyone lend me some money to buy all these .org domain names? You'd be doing your country a big favor. Additionally...anyone know any candidates we could endorse?
So I was watching the film "21" recently. It's about those MIT students who work up a scheme to beat the house at Blackjack. At the beginning of the film there is a scene in which the professor offers a statistical riddle sometimes known as "The Monty Hall problem."
It goes something like this:
Suppose you're on a game show and you're given the choice of three doors. Behind one door is a car; behind the others, goats. The car and the goats were placed randomly behind the doors before the show. The rules of the game show are as follows: After you have chosen a door, the door remains closed for the time being. The game show host, Monty Hall, who knows what is behind the doors, now has to open one of the two remaining doors, and the door he opens must have a goat behind it. If both remaining doors have goats behind them, he chooses one randomly. After Monty Hall opens a door with a goat, he will ask you to decide whether you want to stay with your first choice or to switch to the last remaining door. Imagine that you chose Door 1 and the host opens Door 3, which has a goat. He then asks you "Do you want to switch to Door Number 2?" Is it to your advantage to change your choice?
What do you do? Well the answer is that you ALWAYS want to change your selection in this circumstance. If you are like me, this is somewhat difficult to wrap your mind around because it seems like it shouldn't matter and that the remaining 2 doors have an equal chance of having the car. Not true and HERE's a lengthy discussion as to why.
As someone notes in the article: "... no other statistical puzzle comes so close to fooling all the people all the time" and "...that even Nobel physicists systematically give the wrong answer, and that they insist on it, and they are ready to berate in print those who propose the right answer."
Pretty cool. I've had some heads scratching here in the molecular biology lab.
Legos' vast collection of stuff. Where in the heck can someone find a simple, plain, variety bucket of lego bricks!?!?! I'm sure they are out there, but I've tinkered on their website now for quite a while (by current American websurfing standards) and I've found everything from a Massively Multi-player Online Game and clothing to Bob the Builder and "AquaRaiders" (whatever that is).
My boy's are totally into the Star Wars sets and besides being expensive it seems to me these things are destroying our kids by denying them their imaginations. You get these kits with billions of microscopic and obscure pieces that only remotely appear like traditional legos. They are used once, lost, and I will later wonder what the heck is making so much noise inside the vacuum cleaner. Why bother having these things in the vague shape of legos, if in fact they are far more in the shape of a storm troopers helmet? Why bother having them be legos...especially those stupid tiny ones that often inbed themselves into my feet? I've had better luck getting shards of glass out.
Look, call me a traditionalist, but when I was a kid I built my OWN X-Wing fighter out of REGULAR old square lego blocks. And it looked pretty darn good...there were no instructions and yet I could rebuild that sucker anytime I wanted because the design was in my head. It wasn't exact and had no fancy moving parts - nor did it shoot anything and the pilot was a square (Thank God), but my imagination did the rest. Creative. Ingenuity. Planning. Design. Implementation. Heck, what do my boys get? An instruction manual to follow....ONCE. and then guess what? They lose half the pieces, I trail blood through the house or the vacuum is ruined, and they are left with a huge quantity of customized shaped psuedo-bricks (like Storm Trooper heads, X-Wing Laser canon, the tailfin of Anakin's Jedi Fighter, the lower segment of a spider-droid arm, and 1/2 of a nose cone from a Republic Fighter Tank) that are generally never to be used again.
What I DO find them using (once the original "model" pieces have been properly dispersed throughout the house and under my feet and in the vacuum brushes) are, by far and wide, those bricks that most resemble your good old fashioned and traditional lego brick. I've seen them have hours of fun with - I kid you not - a mere 3 different lego brick designs put together to represent infantry or cavalry. Battles of historic proportions have been waged on their floor time and time again. The overly-designed and complex exact replica models literally CANNOT get a fraction of this much use.
If this keeps up, you can expect very little creative designs coming out of our manufacturing. I see signs of this already...but in the future I expect it will be worse. Are we forgetting to teach our kids IMAGINATION? Everything is set before their eyes in near perfect form, whether TV or video games or legos. Thank God for books...they will be, I expect, the salvation of my kid's imagination...not to mention the fact that kids actually LIKE to use it and will do so if we let them.
A few points and questions arise in my mind. First, the law is pretty clear: a business cannot discriminate against a customer because of their sexual orientation.
But how odd that you are in the "business" of making people parents. Think about it. Are their any grounds by which a "customer" can be denied services? And if so how are they determined? Could someone with a record of emotional problems become a "customer"? Or drug dealer? Someone known to have a profound anger management problem? How about a convicted child molester? Is in-vitro and artificial fertilization the same as "healthcare"?
I don't know...if I were a doctor I think I'd want out of this "business."
This weekend was a weekend centered around wood collection and sweating. On Saturday I was able to procure a host of rounds from my sister and bro-in-law, which I then got home and unloaded into the woodshed. I split a few and they look pretty good - dry and ready to go.
Then after Litrugy we headed over to our friend's house and wandered their woods looking for wood. However, we seemed cursed with chainsaw troubles. Two out of the three wouldn't start and then the one that did start - working so good with a brand new chain - literally fell apart while being operated and the chain was all chewed up. the underside being so chewed up I could not fit it back into the bar - plus I lost one of the main nuts. As I borrowed a nut from one of the non-running saws, my buddy got the third saw started. I began filing the barbs off the chewed us chain in an effort to get it to fit back onto the bar.
First try - not good enough - the chain wouldn't move freely. Frustrated, we decided to try the chain from the non-working saw. After getting finally getting it off we found that it would not fit my saw. Arghh! So I went back to filing the chain and eventually got it to work. We spent half our time working on our saws and as we did I could hear a host of disembodied Amish voices laughing at us.
Sigh. Well, at least we got more wood...eventually. I'll tell you what though, once that saw got to working, the new chain cut through the wood like a hot knife in butter - it was glorious. Gravity literally dropped my saw through those rounds.
As I've not offered terribly controversial posts in quite sometime, I reckon I ought to give it a go. I, like many, watched portions of the Saddleback Civil Forum with Barak Obama and John McCain. It was probably one of the more interesting political debates/discussions/interviews that I have ever heard, precisely because it addressed issues on a pretty lofty scale (e.g. the existence of evil). I think both candidates said some fairly important and impressive things...but in the interest of full disclosure I will nail my political colors to the mast and say that as someone who has libertarian leanings I will be voting for the candidate MOST likely to keep the government out of my everyday life...well...at least moreso than the other candidate. of course, living where I live, my vote won't count anyway...so fret not Obama fans.
Because this forum had such theological-philosophical overtones, I am going to come forth and speak out on the issue of abortion.
The "safe, legal, and rare" mantra has been offered to us for quite sometime now and really I see it as a means to teeter safely upon the fence...another versions begins by saying: "While I am personally opposed to abortion..." well you know the rest.
We are told that by focusing on the "rare" part of the mantra we can all rest easier...I suppose because human lives are quantifiable? How different is this argument in terms of its appeal than trying to convince a pacifist of the good in reducing "collateral damage" during a war?
That aside...what is the solution to reduce the number of abortions? Well, as I gathered it: it is via the government's provision of healthcare, "livable" wage jobs (or welfare?), prophylactic education and provision, and other forms of care so that we have fewer pregnancies and for those that do have pregnancies they will better be able to afford bringing it to term and beyond.
BUT, does anyone have ANY idea what percentage of abortions are done for TRULY fiscal reasons? I have known three women who have had abortions in my life and not ONE of them could truly say they were unable to afford having a baby. Though two of them cited such a claim, it was simply not true and I'm sorry to judge, but they killed their babies to keep from having to downgrade their Cable TV package. That's harsh, I know, but...well...'nuff said. The third person I know outright admitted that she didn't want to have stretch marks and be "punished with a baby." (Obama's exact words with regard to his daughter having to suffer an unwanted pregnancy).
So, as I see it, you can give people all the money in the world and the very best healthcare in the world and people will STILL kill their unborn children for the sake of convenience. This is NOT a material problem...it is a spiritual problem rooted deeply in our personal and societal conscience...it is NOT going to be solved through any amount of hope and change as provided by the government. Sure, you might reduce the numbers some, but as usual the liberal position assumes that the world's woes are directly linked to fiscal want. Classic Marxist materialism, frankly.
I think this rather illustrates my take on the problem with government aid. For you see, my wealthy (by world standards: fabulously wealthy) friends who procured abortions might have convinced a government statistician they they got it because of fiscal burden, but REAL people - indeed ANYONE with a shred of common sense could see it simply was not the case. In my own life I have been able to convince people that factors outside of my control led me to an ill situation, but those closest to me no doubt knew better. So, anyway, even if we really DID have stats, I'm not sure I believe them.
No doubt some of you will accuse me of being insensitive to the plight of the poor who truly feel they have no place to turn during a crisis pregnancy. And I will say right now that pro-lifers who vote for pro-life candidates and yet do nothing to help those around them are being hypocritical. That being said there are many Christian run crisis pregnancy centers and in fact there is an Orthodox organization as well. Perhaps if more Christians would downgrade their cable these groups would be far better funded than Planned Parenthood. Again, this hearkens back to my developing political philosophy that the very best assistance we can offer people is private, local, and personal. That said: if we truly believe that human life begins at conception, then plans to simply reduce the number of abortions OUGHT to horrify us. It is akin to saying we want to work on ways to reduce the number of Jews that Nazi's put in ovens while respecting their right to do so safely and legally.
Yes, I'll be told that by making such an analogy that I am not nuanced enough on this topic, but I'm okay with that. As many of you know I have held aborted "fetuses" in my hand and those experiences rather changed my mind on the matter, for at the time I was a Christian who sat on the proverbial fence of the issue and worked very hard to rationalize not making abortion an important political issue. But, if those ripped apart and shredded bodies in my hand were human (and they clearly were), then the analogy to Nazis and Jews is warranted...even if the participants are doing so in ignorance. I'm sure the Nazis who were directly involved in killing the Jews had become convinced (through propaganda and indoctrination) that they were killing "vermin"; mere animate burdens on society and not humans. Do not underestimate the extent to which groups like Planned Parenthood (an absolutely horrific organization) are influencing your child's reproductive curriculum at school.
Anyway, I'm not interested in doing much politicking anymore here - I generally save it for the LOG list so I'm not posting this to tell you how I think you should vote...if you'd like that opinion I'll gladly offer it privately.
It mean seem as though I am politicking here now, but I'm actually trying to address this specific issue of abortion: in my mind, one of the few things that government should do is protect rights and defend innocent life. And from a philosophical-theological point of view, if you believe you are unqualified to decide when human life begins, hadn't you better err on the side of caution?
Now, some of you are going to comment here and try to cloud this issue with others...I ask that you don't. As I am not attempting to endorse a particular candidate, this is not a post to compare and contrast Obama and McCain overall. I note Obama's position on abortion simply because it used to be mine as well and I believe it now to be morally and logically bankrupt - utterly incompatible with Christian ethics and the teachings of the Church throughout history. I do, however, welcome comments on the issue of abortion.
More importantly, if you are able - please support Zoe for Life. No matter who wins the election, I think this is the best way to express Christian compassion and ethics. Private, Local, and Personal.
A short film showing the life and work of Orthodox Christians in Taiwan
Palm Sunday in Seoul South Korea
And, at the same Parish: Christ is Risen!
I couldn't find any videos from China, except that which showed churches that had been taken over by the government and turned into museums such as St. John Maxomovitch's Parish in Shanghai (Beijing). However, there does still remain an Orthodox presence in China, but it appears terribly anemic for obvious reasons. You can read about it HERE and HERE. I take from this a reminder that while we marvel at their fancy shows during the Olympics, it is in fact a facade that hides a society under the thumb of an atheistic authoritarian regime.
Gee, I suppose I should not have gone in this order. Go back and watch the other videos for a more encouraging experience to begin the weekend. A blessed feastday to all.
Most Holy Lady Theotokos watch over and pray for our brothers and sisters in the far east.
I suppose I spend enough time complaining about the weather in the winter, I ought to be fair and note that it has been (and remains) a wonderful summer. Quite dry which is always a nice change from the near constant drizzle of November through May. Sunny weather like we have been having just about makes up for all the mud and dampness we suffer to be the EVERgreen State.
The rain didn't always bother me as much as it does now, I think because we have so many responsibilities outside. There's no hunkering down in my suburban den when winter comes. I intend to lavish in these latter days of summer because already I am beginning to notice that it is darker these days when I wake for the commute across the river styx to a place some call Seattle, but I call hell. The city. Each morning as our boat approaches the concrete monstrosity I say in my heart: "That's no moon..." And then the imperial march theme begins to play in my head.
Dormition (BTW, the relief above is 10th century from Constantinople) marks the beginning of the end for summer. We may get lucky and have an extended period of dryness throughout September, but you never know. Best to be ready for winter and I am afraid I have not been as productive as I should have been.
In ages past parents used to tell their children the fable of the Ant and the Grasshopper in which the grasshopper learns the hard way that being prepared for times of necessity (winter in this case) is a good idea and that being slothful and wasteful with your time is a sure way to ruin. One needed read far into the Wisdom books of Scripture to see similar exhortations and lessons. Oddly enough, I find that amidst my laziness there is always to be found a prodding toward other unfruitful or even destructive habits. Always best to keep busy being productive in some way.
I wonder if we as a culture of plenty, leisure, and entitlement do not spend enough time teaching ourselves and our children the virtues of hard work and self-sufficiency? In fact, I suspect by default we do the very opposite...it seems so many of us these days believe the world owes us...you can often hear it in how we speak and certainly in how we litigate.
Anyway, as I look back at my life I can see that laziness has been an ongoing bane to me. My fiscal struggles today - though they could be far worse - are clearly mine to own. And now, as I stare out at a nearly empty woodshed, I know I need to get busy as the days are growing shorter. I do to some degree blame my back problems in the spring, but in a round about way, that too is my own doing. As a side, I do worry to some degree about the chronic pain of these injured discs and the degree to which I may be inhibited from working as hard as I like...or rather, as hard as I should!
Fact is, we cannot afford insanely high electric bills this winter, so there is more to this than just having the romantic aura of a fire going in the stove. Though, that IS a very nice fringe benefit...along with the contentment that comes with sweat-of-your-brown labor and the sense of self-sufficiency. No, this is another wa in which this is NOT a hobby we are engaged in: we need the wood heat.
In correlation with these thoughts, Susan has posted on the farm blog some cool pictures of her cheese making. We can now say that our little goat farm is providing ALL of our dairy needs, except butter. Another in my long list of projects is to build a cheese press so that we can make some of the hard cheeses.
When the aromatic molecules hits your nose and prescribe genetic compatibility, That's Amore! When the major histocompatibility complex are in discord you can rest assured, That's Amore! Evolutionarily, you must approach warily for if on contraceptives.... Your nose will deceive you and you may choose, a man whose stench means he'll cheat!
Isn't evolutionary science romantic? They have it ALL figured out. Now, if I cheat on my wife I can simply complain that we have MHC incompatibility. Not my fault, it's my genes...er...um...it's HER genes! Was she on the pill when we met?????
Embrace commitment and responsibility! No doubt. If I may add: I hear a great deal of bellyaching about how little the government is doing to help the poor, the homeless, etc...how about people stop bitching and moaning and thinking that all they need to do is cast and vote and rest easy and INSTEAD get off their butts and actually DO something. In my mind the Indie consumerism this blogger complains about is quite similar to "Indie" voting.
My theory is, if we took our concerns beyond the voting machine and actually donated time or money we wouldn't have to ask the government to do so much charity work (often conveniently with other people's money). And, as a side, the government typically does a piss poor job of everything they put their hands on.
That being said...there's words I need to hear in there as well. Difficult to imagine a society in which people actually embrace commitment and responsibility. I've also been thinking a great deal about a couple of words we never hear anymore: duty and honor.
I actually know people who reject the very notion of honor and duty and decry their presence ever being in humankind's history. How sad. How much of what they enjoy today would not be so were it not for past generations' appreciation of these terms. More on this later I expect.
I have an automatic search sent to me based on the keyword "Orthodox". THIS is one of the stories I got today.
Turns out "winepress" is one of those "self-publishing" places so I'm not sure Mr. Kane's attempt at introducing me to the "jesus of the bible" is going to be the highest quality of introductions. Of course no well catechized Orthodox or Catholic Christian is going to have much trouble in dealing with his points as shown.
of why we do not need to kill babies to do good research with great results: HERE.
Daley stressed that the reprogrammed cells won't eliminate the need or value of studying embryonic stem cells.
Yes, well they always say such things don't they? These media articles always have to include somesort of biased disclaimer that essentially says: "don't think this means that we are having great success without the use of fetuses, because we aren't...all the apparent good news in this story isn't really good news at all. Please support planned parenthood as they harvest babies for us and be sure to vote pro-choice to prevent people from dying horrible deaths." But of course a year or two ago Daley probably would not have believed we could do things such as this with skin cells, so, let me put it this way: don't let this scientist's political, social, and moral opinions have any more weight than...ummm....let's say: Larry the Cable Guy. We decide what sort of research happens with our money. Thank you George W. Bush...arguably this research would not have happened if you had not banned the use of newly "harvested" (Lord have mercy) human babies.
Hehehe...living where I live, sometimes its nice to say something good about the president, especially if it's true. Just don't tell anyone I said it because I'll be ostracized more than I am already.
Anyway, one of my favorite quotes is from the physicist Richard Feynman who said in a moment of simple down home style wisdom: "I believe that a scientist looking at non-scientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." And the fact of the matter is that when we examine issues related to human life we are ALWAYS dealing with issues that are not ONLY scientific. In fact, I would hope and pray we all realize that the non-scientific issues trump the scientific ones when it comes to human life...but alas...this plays into my previous post because I find these days that more and more people want a scientific explanation for every argument put forth.
What will become of us - as a people - when it is absolutely necessary to do so? Think Stalin, think Hitler...I should think.
Back in my atheist neo-Darwin days I loved a particular book by this title. I won't bother looking it up, suffice to say it explored the similarities between us and our closest relative: the Chimpanzee. It compared everything from biology to sociology and culture. As with most neo-Darwinists, this author posited that biology - and specifically evolutionary biology - explains everything. Actually, I should backtrack...such authors (and indeed a fair proportion of biologists) ASSUME that Darwinism explains everything. Indeed, if you are a materialists, besides biology (and this question is one I've heard and asked myself): WHAT ELSE IS THERE?
So you see, it MUST explain it all. I fear our children are being taught this nonsense, if not outright then certainly by default. NOT just in their schools, but in our general popular mindset. I recall noting here before a T-Shirt sold at a Chimp reserve in Uganda that reads: "95% Chimp." And PETA, becoming mindful of the already thin line that exists between man and animal, has recently begun an ad campaign that capitalizes on that horrific bus beheading, comparing it to the burgers you may be grilling once the fast is done.
Furthermore stories like THIS are becoming more common. As a side, have any of you tried to adopt a pet from one of the many smaller rescue groups lately? Sometimes you have to wonder if it would not actually be easier to get adopt a pet human.
I don't think we should be surprised to see more of such things and a general trend toward uncertainty in terms of humankind's place in the world as either just part of the great circle of life or the one charged with the priestly duty of caring for and connecting this world with the immaterial one. On a personal note, as one who is going to be teaching more and more advanced history and science to my children, I am going to have to learn how to put into words my own reconciliation of so-called faith and so-called reason. That great dichotomy between science and religion that some all too easily and arbitrarily, I think, wave their hand and say: "Ah there is no dichotomy!"
I disagree...there is a point where the supposed data coming from the scientific world must be processed by the faithful mind and some degree of reconciliation must be made. And if you find you consistently have an easy time doing so, then you either have not been paying close attention to the conclusions being posited or you are perhaps just someone far more nuanced than little ol' me. It's too easy to simply dismiss the data as wrong or biased, just as surely as it is too easy to embrace it tuck it away in the materialist side of your brain and pretend it doesn't REALLY effect your ethereal religion.
I'm neither a young earth creationist, nor am I wholly on board with the Darwinian bandwagon. In fact, with regard to the so-called neo-Darwinists, I am adamantly opposed to the vast majority of what they posit in their faith-filled notions that Darwinism is a sort of grand unifying theory for all that is in biology. They are dead wrong and I believe this not by an emotional appeal to faith or scripture. Thus I do not buy into the idea that we need to have a sort of dichotomous mind in which one portion bows to science and the other to God and never the two shall meet. As if there were some overarching philosophical separation clause. No, my religion is not one of a purely ethereal realm, it is a flesh and bones faith...a biological faith. It is a faith that says: "Taste and see" and "Put your fingers in nail holes in my flesh."
I am still working this all out, but I am inclined to think that it will begin with my belief that the scientific method is a tool of limited utility, which rather makes me a heretic in today's world. Or at least the world that I frequent.
This is the Zac Brown Band. I heard them on one of my local country radio stations yesterday with their great little song called Chicken Fried and I really liked it's sound and the simple, down home values it expressed. So I decided to check out their website.
I am loving these guys. Check out the tracks on their forthcoming album HERE. It's a perfect blend of country, rock, blues, maybe even a hint of cajun. Great fiddle and a pinch of craziness. PLUS...I can really relate to Sic 'em a chicken. Still laughing outloud and I wanna bust outa this lab and dance a chicken killin' jig.
Fell upon Solzhenitsyn's Harvard commencement speech HERE. I'm about half way through it and am enjoying it immensely. I want to finish it before I comment much on it, because I'm anxious to see if he offers some "solutions" to his criticisms of the west - particularly with regard to abuse of freedom and legalism.. What I've heard thus far rings very true to me...a few interesting excerpts that I think are arguably prophetic and more poignant today:
The defense of individual rights has reached such extremes as to make society as a whole defenseless against certain individuals. It is time, in the West, to defend not so much human rights as human obligations.
I do not know where to begin proclaiming the truth of this statement in today's society of extreme political correctness and lawsuits ad nauseam.
Society has turned out to have scarce defense against the abyss of human decadence, for example against the misuse of liberty for moral violence against young people, such as motion pictures full of pornography, crime, and horror. This is all considered to be part of freedom and to be counterbalanced, in theory, by the young people's right not to look and not to accept. Life organized legalistically has thus shown its inability to defend itself against the corrosion of evil.
But what shall we then do? Tighten censorship rules? Impossible...we are too far gone for that. Many of you know my opinion on such matters: the government cannot change our society through legislation, at least not to any large degree.
When a government earnestly undertakes to root out terrorism, public opinion immediately accuses it of violating the terrorist's civil rights. There is quite a number of such cases.
Remember, this was said in 1978.
This tilt of freedom toward evil has come about gradually, but it evidently stems from a humanistic and benevolent concept according to which man ---- the master of the world ---- does not bear any evil within himself, and all the defects of life are caused by misguided social systems, which must therefore be corrected. Yet strangely enough, though the best social conditions have been achieved in the West, there still remains a great deal of crime
So true. Of course fans of fixing social systems will simply say we have not done enough and that is why there is still rampant crime. I think I am going to agree with Solzhenitsyn (if he heads the direction I am thinking) in that social systems are symptoms not causes.
I am going to continue reading and will comment more later...
I worry that if Obama loses in November that we will have to endure an ongoing and sickening litany of "America wasn't ready for a black president" nonsense. We'll get it also from leftist elites in Europe, where ironically, there is no foreseeable African heads of state that I know of. Personally I don't buy it. Whoever loses will lose for a host of reasons, but skin color I believe is FAR down the list.
Look, I really don't think there is a huge race problem in America. I can answer the articles question in ONE simple and short sentence: Because people of different races have different preferences.
Need more explanation? Look to the whole reasoning behind the existence of "billions and billions" of denominations, are not many of them due to things like worship style preferences? Preaching style preferences? The lack of Black Liberation theology? (sorry...couldn't resist). But my point remains: different races tend to have different preferences and in the spirit of rainbow diversity let's let them have it.
I don't like Rap music at all (maybe because I'm a slavic-hillbilly?) And let's face it, rap and hip-hop music is massively segregated, is it not? Is the Rap music industry made up of segregationists? Racists? I have a Chinese coworker who attends an all-chinese evangelical church where I would feel terribly out of place as the lone slavic-hillbilly who doesn't understand but about 3 Chinese words. Are they segregationists? Racists? No, not at all.
Just like men and woman, races are different too. And JUST like our culture today would largely wish to believe that there ISN'T any difference between men and women, I think strive to see racism and segregationism where really we are just seeing people making preferential decisions of where they want to be in their free time and surprise, surprise, surprise...shazam: they choose to be where they are comfortable and in a place that...you guessed it..."works for them."
So, in a world where we often choose our churches like we would choose our restaurants, why should we be surprised not to find many white folks who'd prefer a high church Anglican liturgy at Obama's until recently attended fiery black liberation church? Or vice versa?
This seems far more plausible than what the media would like us to imagine: a white evangelical couple watching a black family arriving into their mega-church and saying to one another: "Oh dear, there are Negroes here...time to find a new church."
Puhlease. The article says this: "church should transcend race."
Well...hahahah...it's not going to do that until it first transcends personal preferences and whims. Good luck. I dunno, you could look around, maybe you'd find a Church or two that has a rich history of multi-cultural expression without losing any of its core values, practices, or traditions. And that might perhaps not suffer at the whims and preferences of the grasses being blown in the pop cultural tempests. Maybe. Na, probably not.
As most of you know by now Alexander Solzhenitsyn has fallen asleep in the Lord. May his memory be eternal.
Articles are to be found everywhere, but this one from National Review reminded me of the 1988 meeting between Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan. What I didn't know (or recall) is that at that time Reagan and his wife visited the Danilov Monastery and had opportunity to speak with the monks for a time, and in a speech Reagan said the following:
It's a very great pleasure to visit this beautiful monastery and to have a chance to meet some of the people who have helped make its return to the Russian Orthodox Church a reality. I am also addressing in spirit the 35 million believers whose personal contributions made this magnificent restoration possible.
It's been said that an icon is a window between heaven and Earth through which the believing eye can peer into the beyond. One cannot look at the magnificent icons created, and recreated here under the direction of Father Zinon, without experiencing the deep faith that lives in the hearts of the people of this land. Like the saints and martyrs depicted in these icons, the faith of your people has been tested and tempered in the crucible of hardship. But in that suffering, it has grown strong, ready now to embrace with new hope the beginnings of a second Christian millennium.
We in our country share this hope for a new age of religious freedom in the Soviet Union. We share the hope that this monastery is not an end in itself but the symbol of a new policy of religious tolerance that will extend to all peoples of all faiths. We pray that the return of this monastery signals a willingness to return to believers the thousands of other houses of worship which are now closed, boarded up, or used for secular purposes.
There are many ties of faith that bind your country and mine. We have in America many churches, many creeds, that feel a special kinship with their fellow believers here—Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Orthodox, and Islamic. They are united with believers in this country in many ways, especially in prayer. Our people feel it keenly when religious freedom is denied to anyone anywhere and hope with you that soon all the many Soviet religious communities that are now prevented from registering, or are banned altogether, including the Ukrainian Catholic and Orthodox Churches, will soon be able to practice their religion freely and openly and instruct their children in and outside the home in the fundamentals of their faith. We don't know if this first thaw will be followed by a resurgent spring of religious liberty—we don't know, but we may hope. We may hope that perestroika will be accompanied by a deeper restructuring, a deeper conversion, a mentanoya, a change in heart, and that glasnost, which means giving voice, will also let loose a new chorus of belief, singing praise to the God that gave us life.
There is a beautiful passage that I'd just like to read, if I may. It's from one of this country's great writers and believers, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, about the faith that is as elemental to this land as the dark and fertile soil. He wrote: "When you travel the byroads of central Russia, you begin to understand the secret of the pacifying Russian countryside. It is in the churches. They lift their belltowers—graceful, shapely, all different-high over mundane timber and thatch. From villages that are cut off and invisible to each other, they soar to the same heaven. People who are always selfish and often unkind—but the evening chimes used to ring out, floating over the villages, fields, and woods, reminding men that they must abandon trivial concerns of this world and give time and thought to eternity."
In our prayers we may keep that image in mind: the thought that the bells may ring again, sounding throughout Moscow and across the countryside, clamoring for joy in their new-found freedom. Well, I've talked long enough. I'm sure you have many questions and many things on your minds, and I'm anxious to hear what you have to say.
I think this is a fantastic little speech. Clearly Reagan had been told a bit about Orthodoxy. Additionally, a memorandum of a discussion that took place afterwards is available online HERE. It is well worth reading, but what struck me the most is the very end of the conversation in which what must have been a fascinating exchange is recorded as follows:
The President said he hoped the Church would win. Filaret concluded the meeting by saying that Christ would win.
Amen. Amen. Amen.
As it so happens...the Church won as well, at least in the sense that Reagan envisioned sucgh a victory. HERE is a story that details the return of Danilov's bells, which I assume can now be heard "reminding men that they must abandon trivial concerns of this world and give time and thought to eternity."