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.
Interesting article here that notes a study which seems to indicate that religious people have better self-control than non-religious. Of course they posit all manner of scientific reasoning to it and that's okay because I don't have many qualms with the idea that human biology functions more effectively when tuned toward the general direction of its creator. That said, it is always interesting to listen to secular scientists studying religious people like lab rats and - in this case - trying to purify a marketable product from our behavior. Note the attempt to find a secular equivalent to the religious-psychological formula that supposedly allows us to be self-controlled.
I thought it also interesting to see that apparently having some enviro-one world-peace-love-dope-can't we just all get along sort of religion doesn't rate.
"People can have sacred values that aren't religious values," he said. "Self-reliance might be a sacred value to you that's relevant to saving money. Concern for others might be a sacred value that's relevant to taking time to do volunteer work. You can spend time thinking about what values are sacred to you and making New Year's resolutions that are consistent with them."
But here's the sticking point, I think: if the value is sacred to YOU, doesn't that by default make it less sacred? For my part, many of the values I am called to, do not come easy to me; rather they WAR against my selfishness and I do not enjoy it. Self-control is only tested when you do something you generally prefer not to do or when you abstain from doing something you really like to do. These sorts of things call upon values that are not internal, but external. How can one invent values they won't enjoy for themselves?
Besides all the psycho-babble, there is that little thing about having a personal and communal relationship with a God-man risen from the dead named Jesus.
Exit Question: If religious people generally have more self control than non-religious people, what bearing does this have on the issue of abstinence education's effectiveness?
2nd Exit Question: If I am the example of a religious person with more self control than non-religious people, mustn't all non-religious people then be perceived as the very pinnacle of incontinence? In other words, surely I am an outlier to these data!
I wonder what would happen if a REAL disaster struck
I was thinking this morning while showering. Yes, some people sing, but I usually ponder unusual things that seem to randomly originate from some synapse that fired off perhaps because of something I ate the night before. Anyway, here in Western Washington (and I expect also in whatever neck of the woods you may live) the news is a good indicator of just how pampered and about darn useless most of us are.
Mail has not been delivered for days. Numerous roads and driveways are unplowed and people have had to work from home for several days. Trash not picked up last week. In rural areas some properties are unable to get propane delivered because of uber-steep driveways. Power outages. All of these are front page headlines. As I unsoiled myself in the spray, I compared and contrasted all of these news items I'd read with the situation in Uganda. Power outages? LOL! Running water? HAHA! Mail delivery? STOP! You're killing me! If Ugandan newspapers were to make headlines (or indeed ANY mention) of power outages there would be no room for other news at all. Indeed they are so common that people actually manage to...survive.
I'd also thought about this while driving out of our horrific snow/slush/ice covered road that virtually no unchained 2WD vehicle could hope to gain traction upon and I noticed my neighbor "plowing" a portion of it with his tractor. You see, our road is private and so the state was never coming to dig us out. We had to figure our own way out of this problem and it was either accomplished by you owning a vehicle that could make it out, having a neighbor with a tractor, or you simply sucked it up and stayed home until it melted (and be PREpared to do so). Remember our first winter here at St. Brigid Farm when we lost power for like 6 days and had no running water for 3 of them...and even after those three days we only had water for a few hours a day and we NEVER had hot water. Could you imagine if this happened in Seattle? In my experience it is precisely in these situations that we can learn how much more effective we can be at helping one another than we can by waiting for the government.
I'm not tooting my preparedness horn here...not at all. But what I'm trying to say is simply this: I think if a REALLY serious disaster were to happen, and I mean REALLY serious (think: weeks without power, ability to go anywhere, or water), that in such a "desperate" situation many people would DIE simply from not being the slightest bit able to fend for themselves - and not because of physical infirmity. I hear the people around here bitch and moan as if they literally had some natural right to the state providing for their every need (let alone desire), to such an extent that it would not at ALL surprise me to see lawsuits against the city/state in regard to this snowstorm. Seriously...you watch.
What constitutes a REALLY horrible disaster? Anything, apparently, that happens that renders the government unable to assist you. And the length of time that this happens is the determinant factor for the perceived intensity of the disaster. The extent to which a significant portion of the population feel angry about the disaster is the determinant factor for the extent to which the state is liable for it.
I'm preaching to myself here: we really need to get back to the spirit of our "pioneer" roots. What a bunch of pansies we are thinking that the worse thing we should ever have to endure is having to wait an extra night to watch "Dancing with the Stars" or worse still to actually have to trade - for economic reasons - a dinner out for a humble homemade meal. I'm quite serious here: a huge economic downturn could be a very profound blessing to us as a people. But I hope the lesson isn't: make government fix it; rather: suck it up and learn to do without or do it yourself.
Not just with yourself though. With your family. With your neighbors. With those with whom you Commune. Disasters can bring out the best in people and can teach us much. Being prepared can be a real blessing to your family AND to your community. It is an unquestionably good thing. You never know...someday we may actually see a REAL disaster here. Finally the newspapers would have something worthy of their hype.
Nothing Killick does is meaningless. And in the future if he comes into my room AND the girls' room in the middle of the night whining for no apparent reason...well...there is a reason. Poor sick puppy wanted outside and we ignored him. How stupid of us.
I'm beginning to think there is actually a concerted effort to brainwash us all into believing in biological determinism. These stories are delivered to us on a semi-regular basis and perhaps either in my naivety or paranoia I am only now beginning to think we are all trapped in some Matrix-like illusion of an ability to discern for ourselves via facts and obvious reality when in truth we are simply spoon fed via the media the "reality" we are supposed to believe. Add in a few scientists to say "yes" and suddenly you have all the authority of...well...I guess...god.
In essence this story is another attempt to show that you cannot do anything but expect teens to have sex...pretty much no matter what; any expectations to the contrary are simply a sign of some form of biologically determined retardation.
The details of this study are really absurd and unfortunately most people don't care about the details and will simply read the headline and walk away convinced that expectations of abstinence are silly. Check this out:
This method allowed Rosenbaum to compare those who had taken a virginity pledge with similar teens who hadn't taken a pledge but were likely to delay having sex, she said. She added that she didn't include teens who were unlikely to take a pledge.
So these two groups are "similar" and the only difference was one group's taking of an official pledge. How exactly were these groups similar otherwise. The study didn't compare this group to kids who were "unlikely" to delay having sex! So how exactly was this likelihood determined to begin with?
What a bunch a malarkey. No...worse than malarkey, even if malarkey does refer to male cow feces.
Finally coming out of our Narnian-like winter and it is all thawing. Our road into and out to and from the first paved road is still ugly and we had friends who could not make it up Saturday. Slowly it is getting better, but I have surely become thankful for four-wheel-drive. We've passed abandoned cars without a problem.
Alas, the thaw isn't quite so nice as was Narnia's. Nothing is blooming and the snow is a slushy brown and black muddy mess. The pristine snowy white beauty of before now looks more like a third-world meteorological war zone of sorts. The snow may be going, but the wet muddy winter of the Northwest has TECHNICALLY only just begun.
That said, we also are now TECHNICALLY seeing our days lengthen - it has struck me as odd that the first day of winter marks the end of the worse in terms of our astronomical orientation. It is wholly appropriate that the darkest of night is symbolically beaten back by God born as a human baby. The coming of material light, however, is none-the-less still an act of faith: the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For if you are like me, it will STILL remain dark on the way in to work and dark on the way home for a long time to come.
I suppose, faith in the certainty of the earth's axial tilt and course around our little yellow star is easier than faith in God become man and wise men being taught to adore him by a new star. In truth the latter is a far more trustworthy reality. Open my eyes, Lord.
I will work for a few days and then retire to spend the rest of the 12 days with my kin - returning back to the grind after Theophany. Despite the ugliness of the thaw, it is good to be "free" again.
I've been reading through portions of the Festal Menaion. I highly recommend it because it is worth more than just knowing what the sing/chant/pray for any of the 9 great fixed feasts, it is also a great resource PERIOD. In the back is dictionary of liturgical terms (VERY HANDY!) and the front has a wonderful essay on worship by Fr. Florovsky and then an insightful section explaining much of the meaning found in the liturgics of the various feasts.
Here is an excerpt from the section on the Nativity of our Lord:
The familiar and homely elements of the Nativity story - the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger, the ox and the ass beside Him, the shepherds watching with their flocks by night - are by no means forgotten in the Orthodox hymns for this day. But the main centre of interest lies elsewhere: not in these picturesque details, touching though they may be, not simply in the humanity of the child Jesus, but rather in the paradoxical union of that humanity with the divinity. 'A young child, the pre-eternal God' (kontakion of the feast): this is the supreme and crucial meaning of Christmas. Without ceasing to be what He is from all eternity - true God - One of the Trinity yet became truly and entirely man, born as a baby from a human mother.
It is to this theme, under ceaselessly varying forms, that the liturgical texts of the day continually revert - the contrast between the divine and the human in the one Person of the Incarnate Christ. He who formed the world now Himself 'takes form' as a creature; the Creator makes Himself to be created; 'He who holds the whole creation in the hollow of His hand today is born of the Virgin' (Christmas Eve 9th Hour); 'older than ancient Adam', He lies in His mother's arms; the Lord of Glory, who 'looses the tangled cords of sin', is wrapped is swaddling bands; He who is the divine reason (Logos) rests in a manger of beasts without reason (aloga); He is fed with milk who gives food to all the universe. Passages such as these are more than a rhetorical tour de force: the are intended to make the members of the Church realize, in some small measure, how strange and amazing a thing it is that God should become very man. As the worshiper stands in spirit beside the crib, it is not enough for him to see, lying in the straw, 'gentle Jesus meek and mild'; he must see more than this - the Son of God, begotten of His Father before all ages, Light from Light, true God from true God.
Reader Christopher Orr has a very intriguing post that I must recommend. I will give you a preview of one portion I found particularly insightful - especially for new or potential converts to Orthodoxy who may be struggling with the "foreignness" of Orthodoxy:
In many ways, the very foreignness of the Byzantine Rite helps to take it outside of cultural ownership allowing me to focus on the message and meaning. I have no cultural baggage associated with Byzantine vestments, with icon styles, with chant/choir styles in the same way that a black robe vs. cassock vs. suit vs. casual clothes would send strong cultural signals in a Lutheran congregation. The Byzantine form has become universalized in its particularity, for me, as long as I can understand most of the things being said. It's only language that makes an Orthodox service 'foreign' to me; a Mass of the Western Rite served in Latin would be just as off-putting and foreign - heck, a non-denominational praise service in Spanish would leave me feeling out of place.
Kick em when they're Down Usually in Western Washington we get to enjoy snow for about 24 hours before it turns to rain. Not so this year. Since the 12th we've been dealing with sub-freezing temps (as low as the teens) and a variety of snow storms that have left us with about a foot of snow and others with much more. More in the forecast tonight. I've not been to Church since the 12th and I made it to work ONCE last week (Tuesday) and not again until today - but this was in part due to a really nasty cold I've gotten amidst all of this snow, and it is STILL lingering much like the snow. Sunday night we lost our power. I'd been wondering how long before all those branches I heard creaking under the weight of snow would land on a power line. Thankfully we got electricity back before the following night.
We'll see what happens tonight. Many services have been canceled already it would be a shame to lose more - albeit wholly understandable. I'm still astonished that more snow is coming. ENOUGH ALREADY!
Somehow...I got sucked into facebook. If you got sucked into it as well and would like to be "friends"...look me up: James Ferrenberg.
I have some thoughts on Nativity that I'll post later.
A STRONG FRONTAL SYSTEM WILL SPREAD PRECIPITATION INLAND OVER WESTERN WASHINGTON STARTING SATURDAY AFTERNOON AND CONTINUING THROUGH MUCH OF SUNDAY. A COMBINATION OF BLIZZARD CONDITIONS... HEAVY SNOW...STRONG WINDS AND ICE BUILDUPS ARE EXPECTED.
A MAJOR WINTER STORM IS ON TAP THIS WEEKEND. HEAVY SNOW IS EXPECTED TO DEVELOP ALONG THE COAST ON SATURDAY AFTERNOON AND THEN SPREAD INTO THE INTERIOR OF WESTERN WASHINGTON EARLY SATURDAY EVENING. HEAVIEST SNOW WILL OCCUR ON THE KITSAP PENINSULAUH OH...ALONG HOOD CANAL...AND FROM OLYMPIA AND CHEHALIS WEST TO THE CENTRAL COAST NEAR OCEAN SHORES. 10 TO 18 INCHES OF SNOW IS EXPECTED CLOSE TO HOOD CANAL. OTHER LOCATIONS WITHIN THIS AREA SHOULD GET 5 TO 12 INCHES OF SNOW.
They are saying that high pressure on the eastside of the cascades and the low approaching us will have the cold air in the east rushing through the valleys of the mountains (possibly generating sustained winds of 50-70mph for folks near the mountains - brings back memories for us when we lived in Sultan where we saw similar winds though not nearly this strong)...and this rush will in essence pin the weather on top of us and let the snow dump and dump and dump.
Last night we got pounded, though we only got a couple more inches here, some places got more than a foot. Temperatures in the teens tonight. It was 18 years ago to the day that I had my wild 8+/- hour torturous drive from Redmond to Kirkland during a storm that gave us nearly knee high snow at Northwest College. That remains an epic adventure in my memory. We'll see what happens tomorrow.
Given the meteoroligcal track record it will probably just rain. But once in awhile they get it right.
They have the New Testament available for download HERE. Notice who the work is offered in honor of on page 7. You can peruse the website and form your own opinions of how it compares/contrasts with the OSB. It looks to me like they have contracted with a "Print on Demand" company to offer soft and hardback versions for purchase.
I will say this much: I LOVE the format. I've never much liked the divided columns of most Bibles. A billion years ago or so I used to have this really cool leather bound pocket NT that had the same full page format and I really really like it. I've no idea whatever happened to it, but it was an NIV so I don't count it too great a loss.
I'm going to invest some more time in checking this out.
Well, I guess THIS shouldn't surprise me. Yes, as a fat guy I might be tempted to take this personally, but really the issue is about freedom and the government trying to be our ever-interfering and knowing better than us mother.
Hey, why pick on soda???? I'm fat and I hardly drink ANY soda. Why not MORE tax on beer? Candy? Chips? Sofas? Cable TV? Red meat? Bacon? Eggs? (Remember how eggs have gone back and forth on the public opinion healthy scale?) Tax Penalties for not belonging to a health club? Or maybe they should just leave us fat people alone and admit (like homosexuality) that it's in our genes. Whew...I feel so free and liberated now. Please deep fry that beef fat for me and put it on a stick. Yum! (Hey, not my fault...I've no control here.)
Anyway, who gets to decide what food or behavior is unhealthy? Popular vote? So-called "experts"?
The irony in this story is the part about public health officials cheering this tax and acting as if this is actually going to reduce consumption of "the dew" et. al., let alone cure the obesity epidemic. "Soda's too expensive...please pass the deep fried twinkie and a bottled water." Yeah, sure...problem solved.
Meanwhile, as the article shows, the state is counting its revenue before it hatches...basing their plans upon what exactly? I thought this was to HELP us poor senseless people choose NOT to drink soda? LOL...yeah right...hey, they needed money and a benevolent cause to obtain it.
Just wait until the state provides our healthcare...at which point they'll have a REAL VESTED interest and a moral obligation in this sort of mothering behavior. We'd better all hope our little food or behavior fetishes (whatever they may be) never ends up as a blip on the government nanny radar.
It's all so stupid...if we cannot educate people out of bad eating habits (combined with the reality of early death), you think a bit of taxation will do it?
I think I'll batter up and pan fry a can of coke for dinner tonight. And then try and ponder where this will all end.
Susan has the weekend pretty much covered. I can only say that I am honored and humbled simultaneously to be given the opportunity to serve the Church as a Subdeacon. For Christmas I'm hoping to get a "Dress-Up Bishop" doll and an "Action Nave" in order to practice my duties.
On another note, it remains still today essentially as cold as it ever gets here in Western Washington and snow is in the forecast for tonight-tomorrow. At this point there is no end in sight to the air we are borrowing from Canada and Alaska. I spent a good deal of time splitting more wood while Susan is having to continuously break up ice in the farm critters' water.
Frozen mud is much much more to be desired than thawed.
I've been giving a good deal of thought to eternity lately. Not enough to really make any life shattering changes - though I should - but perhaps it is a beginning. So much of what we do is so futile. I was particularly considering the time we spend filling our brains with knowledge and it occurred to me what a loss it all is to simply take it to the grave. Sure we may pass it on and indeed that is a noble cause...but does such knowledge bear upon OUR personal eternity?
What efforts are we making in the here and now to prepare ourselves for eternity? So many Scriptures warn us about focusing on things that will ultimately just burn up like chaff. (You fool, this night your soul shall be required of you).
Like Clifton, I too, used to have grand plans for my life. I think that part of maturing is learning to reconcile our dreams of accomplishment with the reality of them. And true wisdom is coming to know that even the most seemingly mundane accomplishments can have powerful ripples in eternity. This should no longer surprise us. AND, it should not surprise us at all to find just how difficult are THESE accomplishments.
I believe it was Aristotle who is supposed to have said: “The greatest of victories is the victory over self."
How's that for grand accomplishments? Ripples galore.
Fun with Weather When our map looks this colorful, its indicative of some serious potential fun.
Predicting snow in western Washington is almost as reliable as astrology. Up until the moment flakes start falling, it is STILL very much a crap shoot. But, it is looking more and more like we are receiving a little Advent present from Alaska. Here is what the NWS is saying at the moment...keep in mind, I live on the Kitsap Peninsula but am presently sitting in a lab in downtown Seattle.
RAIN WILL CHANGE OVER TO SNOW IN SOME LOCATIONS ACROSS WESTERN WASHINGTON LATE THIS AFTERNOON INTO TONIGHT. THE BEST CHANCE FOR SNOW LATE THIS AFTERNOON WILL BE OVER THE KITSAP PENINSULA. AS THE LOW MOVES FURTHER EAST THIS EVENING A PUGET SOUND CONVERGENCE ZONE WILL DEVELOP OVER THE CENTRAL PUGET SOUND. PRECIPITATION IN THE CONVERGENCE ZONE WILL SWITCH OVER TO SNOW. IN THE CENTRAL SOUND OUTSIDE OF THE CONVERGENCE AREA THE PRECIPITATION WILL REMAIN AS RAIN UNTIL LATE TONIGHT WHEN THE AIR MASS WILL BE COOL ENOUGH FOR THE SHOWERS TO CHANGE OVER TO SNOW. A WIDE RANGE OF SNOW AMOUNTS ARE POSSIBLE WILL SOME LOCATIONS IN THE WARNING AREA GETTING LITTLE IF ANY SNOW WHILE IN THE CONVERGENCE ZONE AS WELL AS OVER THE KITSAP PENINSULA AS MUCH AS SIX INCHES OF SNOW IS POSSIBLE BY SATURDAY MORNING.
This could end up being VERY interesting because it also sounds like we are going to have VERY cold (for us) weather settling in for the next week, which means if we actually do get snow it won't be going anywhere for awhile - very unusual for us. Either way, it is always fun to sit beside the warmth of the woodstove and watch the weather radar to watch and see when and if the snow is actually coming - and then watching it fall silently amidst the green cedars. (Add in a bottle of Snow Cap and a lovely wife and the kids dancing outside...and by golly, I reckon that's a little piece of heaven)
Take a look at the temps for next week: The coldest I've ever experienced in Western WA was 13 degrees.
Anyway, let it SNOW....ummm....after I get home tonight. The other interesting factor is whether or not this might play havoc with our plans with Bishop BENJAMIN this weekend. I'm scheduled to be ordained a Sub, but at this point that is totally up to God. (as if it wasn't before?)
I had just gotten home from taking some of the kids to see "Celtic Yuletide" (a concert featuring Michael Londra and Irish folk singing, dancing etc) when Susan told me about the VERY strange animal noise she heard while in the barn. Now keep in mind, it gets dark here around...oh...say...1pm. Okay, that's an exaggeration, but sunset today IS officially 4:18.
Anyway, I'll let Susan describe the beastly noise that had her in "fight or flee" mode - either here or her blog.
Later I was charged with the task of rescuing Mina who could not resist taking a shock getting over the invisible fence to chase something, but upon returning could not bring herself to cross back. Typical of her. She'll sit in the woods, outside the parameter and bark.
Unfortunately getting her takes a fair amount of coaxing because she knows what is going to happen when she is dragged over THE line. And so I tread out into the woods with slippers, a headlamp, and a bowl of food.
As I kneel down I begin to realize how eerie the forest can be in the dark. The lamp pierces a good 5 feet of the blackness, but no more. This forest behind my house is very likely the largest undeveloped woodland within 20 miles of Seattle...I've heard between 600-700 acres. As I knelt there I could see Mina's eyes glowing, but she continued to be hesitant to come, despite my calls and the food. Suddenly I hear a deep and heavy "whump...whump!" It came from further out into the woods - but not TOO FAR away - and it sounded to me like someone dropping very large rocks or logs onto soft earth. The only animal I could think of that could make such a noise would perhaps be a horse...a BIG horse with big hooves stomping the ground...perhaps. It rather freaked me out though and I suddenly found myself at once wanting to be out of the woods and wishing I had a sidearm with me.
Really, the only dangerous animal around here are bears. And I would have thought that by December they would be napping. So it really only left a few options: Bigfoot, Aliens, Skunk Ape, Yeti, or a ghost. Any of which could throw big rocks or logs at me if they felt inclined.
Mina heard it, but it didn't immediately cause her to freak out. I, on the other hand, called out again to her - with a bit of anxiousness in my voice. As if to say that I'd happily leave her dumb hind-end out in the woods for Sasquatch to eat. (They are omnivores, I assume?) Finally she relented (maybe the noise solidified her initiative to get back to the house too?) and we made quick work of the distance between the front door and the sight of the cryptozoological experience.
I still have no idea what it could have been. I heard nothing but the "Whumps" at all and I'd think any critter big enough to dislodge a rock (more like a boulder) or log would have made other noises as well. Unless...it was throwing them at me from a distance.
As if Kwanzaa were not "made up" enough for ya, how about "Festivus" from Seinfeld? (Presently, the blogger spell check is accurate with the former, but not yet the latter). It was a hilarious episode, but if anything demonstrates the retard tax we ought to impose on our legislators (for being retarded and for being legislators) then it is truly this.
No further commentary would do this justice, really. Sorely tempted though I may be, I'll only add this: well, nevermind. On second thought...I just want them to give me a tax break for having to put up with the state government being overtly and blatantly retarded beyond all comprehension.
I'm still shaking my head: I give these people money to function. Much ado was apparently made recently when Jon Stewart asked Mike Huckabee why we should trust the government with nuclear weapons but not with handing out bread to people. Well duh! Blowing stuff up is EASY! Heck you can tell any pimply faced 13 year old boy to "Go blow that up!" and he will do it...and do it well - enjoy it even. But, running an effective charitable organization is at LEAST as complex as deciding on sensible holiday decorations.
Consider this post my little contribution to that venerable tradition of Festivus: "The airing of grievances."
But seriously, this really is getting out of hand. Somewhere out there in the real world of human contact and day to day living, people will STILL simply say "Merry Christmas" and no one will come unglued.
Recently I was introduced to an evangelical church of sorts and as I perused their website I did what I usually do at every new church website to which I am introduced: I looked for a statement of beliefs. Instead I found a statement of "core values" that really had little to say about theology specifically, but far more about methodology of ministry. One of these values particularly struck me, in part because I know that for many who subscribe to it, they see the Orthodox Church as the very symbol of everything this particular value warns against.
We will continually search for new and culturally relevant ways to present Christ's message...[and] discontinue activities and ministries that have lost relevance and effectiveness.
Let me be blunt...at what point does relevance end up being little more than fashionable? I mean, is the power of the Gospel message hopelessly lost because the presenter lacks a hip new "Cold Play" T-Shirt? If so, maybe the "power" wasn't there to begin with? Or maybe the power is found somewhere altogether different?
Yes, big complex programs and stratagems, I suppose, will need constant revision and change in order to maintain appeal...BUT...the message, no scratch that, the LIFE isn't found in programs or stratagems!
I know this has the tendency to sound trite, but if we want to talk about activities to engage in that will deliver the message of LIFE to the world, well how about we try living the Christian life! It is without question, THE most important activity we can do to present Christ's message.
However, what happens - as seems to be more and more the case - when living that life is irrelevant to our culture? Do we abandon it?
As I see it, neither my (nor the Church's) mission here is to be relevant to the culture (like a TV program's ratings or a political election), but rather we are here to show a radically different way of being. People love to talk about how Christ related to people, but they often fail to note how many times people walked away from Him in disappointment - unable to give up that part that of themselves that anchored them too firmly to the world - which includes their culture I would presume.
We are going to offend this culture at some juncture and perhaps at many junctures. But you know what? When I think of people who I would deem to be holy (yes I mean that), I see people who are often quite attractive to others, despite what they may lack in their ability to be "relevant" to culture, people gravitate toward them. There is a relevance...a deeper relevance...that cannot be captured in programs and activities. It's a state of being. Purified and illumined I suppose.
It is most needful that we focus on that deeper sort of relevance rather than the other, I think.
Overnight Evolution of St. Nicholas in Myra This is an image taken of the bronze statue given by the city of Moscow to the city of Demre (formerly Myra) in 2000. It was well received and given a prominent place in the main city square before the church of St. Nicholas. However, in 2005, Demre's mayor and the city council decided that they needed to get rid of the statue and replace it with something more "recognizable" worldwide...here is what they came up with, in ALL ITS PLASTIC GLORY.
The Russian statue was relegated to a small space inside the church yard and was additionally demoted off the top of the Earth, perhaps in answer to protests from the overwhelming Muslim majority there? Who knows.
Sad to see. An icon of modern life I suppose and if I'm honest, it's often an icon of my life too.
A St. Nicholas Movie? Notice of this flim was sent by a friend to our Parish email group...it looks hopeful. I would suggest downloading the trailer because it hung up a lot for me when streamed...HERE is a direct link. If not prompted to save, simply "Save Page as" under "File" once the stream begins.
Anyway, these sort of small scale productions traditionally suffer from two big problems: bad script/acting and over-extending themselves in scope. Without much money how does one try and do a period piece like this? The costumes and sets alone can drain a small budget VERY quickly. A talented filmmaker can work their way around that, but it takes a good deal of talent and a very good script. It CAN be done, but it's perilous ground to tread when competing with Hollywood and their unending supply of money to provide spectacular in-your-face effects, costumes, and sets which can sometimes hide a bad script and acting.
St. Nicholas is wonderful and his story is worthy of telling...I hope they do it well.
Now, THIS, is cool! But the thing is...if these "dogs" are collared and marked, then clearly this is not really news, but for some reason the local news media ore only now reporting it...despite the fact that this conservation group got their pics back in July. Anyway, I'm glad to see them....on the other side of the state.
Here they captured the pups howling:
Reminds me a great deal of the coyotes around our neck of the woods.
Just the other day I was upstairs and I happened to be looking out the window when I saw something white bolt across our driveway and into the woods behind the barn - so fast I could not tell what it was, but assumed it was one of our cats. Well, the dogs saw it and they went nuts and as they barreled down to the scene I saw a huge bird jet from one forested area to another over the same path that the cat had taken.
The dogs stopped short (heeding their invisible fence) and barked unto ages of ages. And then suddenly the bird appeared out of the woods and was headed directly toward my window. It was then, in the sunlight (a rarer thing to see this time of year than this bird), that I could see it was a Bald Eagle. It banked west and passed directly between the house and the cabin at window level...and was technically as close as I've ever been to this beautiful animal in the "wild."
It then occurred to me that this graceful creature was looking to make a meal of my cat! And then it further occurred to me that it just flew alongside a pasture full of 40+ fat and tasty chickens. So I ran outside to...well...I'm not sure what I was going to do. But, the eagle was nowhere to be found.
I guess I've long since gotten over obsessing about the sinking ship of the ECUSA, but I was a bitter and a rabid atheist for longer and so I am still intrigued by the workings of what has become an organized religion.
Inflaming the culture wars and specifically the "Battle for Christmas" the Freedom from Religion Foundation has gotten into the fray by having our state capital building decorated with a sign. A sing that no doubt inspires someone to truly consider atheism as a way of life full of love and joy. It certainly carries with it the same spirit of a Nativity Set, A Menorah, or a "holiday" tree. The sign reads:
Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds
From that font of wisdom, the Church Lady, I'd offer: "Well, isn't that special." What a joyful message! Can you imagine if the Christian display said something (anything at all really) akin to this? Your beliefs are dumb and cause you to be mean and stupid. Nice.
It's all so stupid too, because all they really have to do is go to court and have everything removed from the state capitol and voila, you have your sterile, secular, government holiday. But, instead, our stupid state government puts this sign up for them and in so doing offends so many of their potential converts. Talk about lame atheistic evangelism...I'll bet the Nativity scene is far more effective for the Christians.