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.
You know you have truly embraced Orthodoxy, and are not just running away from something else...
...when you are willing to defend that which you left.
Much ado about Palin's involvement in the Assemblies of God. Indeed, being a pentecostal ain't easy if you want to also be in politics. (Palin actually isn't anymore anyway, and I get the impression that she was as much a pentecostal as I was: never could quite get the speaking in tongues thing down). But the signs and wonders and VERY conservative social outlook makes for a great deal of fodder for unbelievers, secularists and radical church/state segregationists - who pretty much dominate the media.
So they can turn things around to quickly and easily make Palin (or anyone who is in a charismatic denomination - and I suggest ANYONE who takes their faith seriously) look like a maniac. However, I have known, still know, and am even related to many people who are in the Assemblies of God and I trust them as implicitly as ANY of my Orthodox friends to be level-headed, rational, and trustworthy. Now you will notice that CNN opted to use this bullet point for their article:
Speaking of the troops in Iraq, Palin says they were sent on "task that is from God"
She absolutely did NOT say this and CNN should be chastened for saying as much. Read what she actually said: "Pray for our military men and women who are striving do to what is right. Also for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending them out on a task that is from God. That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for -- that there is a plan, and that plan is God's plan."
This is not saying that the task is from God, she's suggesting we pray that this be the case. For evangelicals in this tradition this is standard fare...it really is akin - though arguably far more nuanced - to a Russian Orthodox Priests blessing tanks. Anyone familiar with this religious tradition knows exactly what Palin is saying here and it is decidedly not a claim of God ordained crusade status for our efforts in Iraq.
Now, I am supporting McCain and Palin, so it is no surprise that I would defend her on this point...but I also hope that we might take the time to consider - no matter who we support - that this prodding and what could arguably be called persecution of Palin might be a lesson for all of us.
When's the last time someone publicly and personally decried YOUR religious beliefs and used them as a point to question your ability to do your job? Given that our Lord told us that we ought to expect as much, should we wonder why this HAS NOT happened to us? Now look, I work in science and what would people think if they knew I had strange images of dead people on my walls and I burned incense in front of them and prayed? And what would they think if they knew that I often go to Church at LEAST 4 times a week? And what would they think if they knew I would sometimes talk to a "crazy" dead woman from Russia and ask her to pray for me in the hopes of recovering a lost item? What would they think if they knew I believed that the stuff I eat and drink on Sunday mornings really is the body and blood of someone? What would they think if they knew I believe in miracles...crazy miracles like myrrh gushing cadavers and that I would kiss such things? And what would they think if they knew I prayed for our scientific work in Uganda...that it be God's will and He bless it.
I reckon, the press could literally rip me to shreds because of my crazy beliefs if I were to run for office. And they would not have to work hard to do it. Let's face it, to the secular world we Orthodox are just as nuts as Pentecostals. For you see the public appears to be far more accustomed to religious people who leave their religion at home and can thus (in the case of politicians) can go ahead and vote to kill babies in or out of the womb and do philosophical and theological back flips to justify it, often simply saying that their beliefs are personal...but for those who truly LIVE their faith everyday both at home and at work, well to the world they are simply an offense.
I guess the big question is: Given the world we live in, if I am not being persecuted for my faith, why not?
It'll be tough to go after her on this, I think, because of Obama's own Reverend Wright issues. In politics, you've got a really great edge, I suspect, when the opposition can't respond with a "yeah, but..." In some ways, I think religious beliefs are beside the point, aren't they? I mean, we aren't electing priest or pastor-in-chief. Some of the most immoral people I've ever met say they believe Jesus is their savior. Conversely, some of the most honorable people I've met are agnostics. Anyway. . .