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[The Creation of the Chicken]

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.
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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Why sign the Manhattan Declaration?

Being collected by THIS website (which I know nothing about), but these interviews are worth watching.

Igumen Sergius, Abbot of St Tikhon of Zadonsk Orthodox Monastery

Fr Valery Shemchuk, Assistant Priest at St Nicholas Cathedral, Washington DC

Metropolitan Jonah

Fr. Alexander Webster

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 8:19 AM [+]

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

He hates the stars! Stay away from the stars!

The ever-occurring, seemingly increasing Atheist wants to sterilize all public evidence of Christmas story. Not content to let our broader culture and society make a mockery of the season through less overt secularization and commercialization, this guy (as do many more) would have us whitewash all public places of all religious notions...including, it would seem "stars." I wonder what legislation this man would like to see introduced to blot out the nighttime skies which it would seem have [carl sagan]BILLIONS AND BILLIONS[/carl sagan] of religious references. (Psalm 19:1) This really is almost laughable, were it not so sad.

The irony in all this is that while Atheists fight to whitewash our public places of all religious signs, we are not left with a neutral-to-religion environment, but rather we are left solely with a place demonstrating overt signs of the religion of atheism! The more and more we make religion devoid in our public life, the happier atheists become...in no small way we are not fulfilling the establishment clause, in fact we are establishing a state religion of secularism.

I've no solutions or suggestions to offer...it's just sad that we have reached this point. Thankfully Mr. Sutley cannot blot out the skies.

And I love the portion of the story where the county caves and has all religious symbols removed (HOW ON EARTH DID THEY DECIDE WHAT WAS A RELIGIOUS SYMBOL AND WHAT WASN'T??? I'd be half tempted to go through and bitch about candy canes being a religious symbol!) "so that we can celebrate the season yet not appear to endorse Christian or other religious doctrines."

What, pray tell then, are we celebrating?!??! Let's stop pretending...sometimes I seriously see a powerful advantage to celebrating Christmas on the old calendar.

Well I'm not going to dwell too much on this sad direction our culture is heading - I've a nasty head cold that has left me a tad curmudgeonly. I will instead consider this: a house along the road that I have traveled to the park and ride for the last three years has always had a large sign displayed during the Christmas/Advent season that read simply "Bah Humbug!" It always made me a little sad to see it. But, I noticed this year that the sign is gone and the home is thoroughly wrapped in bright lights. I never saw a "for rent/sale" sign, so I'm operating under the happy assumption that someone had a Scrooge-like experience and is now filled with the joy of the Nativity...and they've brilliantly displayed thousands of little stars...reminding me Mr. Sutley-grumpy-pants of the star of Bethlehem (10,000x)!

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 6:56 PM [+]

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Dances with Blue Wolves

I'd heard that James Cameron's decade-in-the-making movie "Avatar" is an exotic fantasy principally geared to stimulate the jolly-glands of persons with a decidedly left-leaning persuasion. And yep, that's pretty much true. Good night, what a waste of time this film is...it's about as realistic as floating mountains, which in fact, the film ironically includes. Yes, it's "Dances with Wolves" but on some powerful progressive amphetamines. Cameron's not even shy about perpetuating the myth LIE of the noble savage...he's downright blatant and quite over-the-top with the liberal utopia of the Na'vi people. And seriously, when they whoop and hollar, I'm fairly certain he just ripped some audio from "Dances with Wolves." Sure, I can imagine that humanoids who evolved on another planet would sound exactly like Native Americans on earth...and then when speaking English, they would equally strangely have an African-sounding accent. The Na'vi are the perfect "in harmony with nature" people...and they live in a glow in the dark utopia where it would seem everything harbors some degree of bioluminescence. While visually appealing...it's patently absurd and is clearly being used as a tool to show just how beautiful it all is in comparison with the evil, money hungry, corporate humans....sigh...how stereotypical. Seriously, Mr. Cameron, "Unobtainium?" How can you get away with that!

The movie is trumpeted as being in 3-D, but its characters and plot are completely one dimensional. There was a time when we'd complain about one dimensional characters, but Cameron appears to be totally getting away with astonishing one dimensional stereotypes all over the place. The Na'vi are PERFECT, the military and corporate types are evil (the former just want to kill Na'vi while the latter just want money at all costs), and the scientists can read the situation precisely...and gosh darn it they mean well - we even get the obligatory scientist vs. military/corporate showdown. You'd have to be brain dead not to see where this film is headed and were it not for its visual appeal I seriously would have walked out on it.

It's so simplistic, I'm quite sure my 13 year old could see the shallowness of it all...but I suspect if the plotline measures up to your Chomsky flavored interpretation of Earth's history then you'll love it. Maybe that's how it is seeing good reviews? At least "Dances with Wolves" at least showed Native American tribes fighting one another...though I've always wondered how the Pawnees feel about being the "bad" tribe in that film. The Sioux get to be the noble savages! NO FAIR!

Look, can we please have some reality? I don't think anyone doubts that the wiping out of Native American tribes is lamentable...but in the grand history of life it is not an unusual thing done solely by Europeans. People have displaced others for as long as people have lived on earth, and if they haven't displaced people, they have certainly displaced "pristine" (i.e. "peopleless") environments - which I think would also be deemed as lamentable by the environmental folk. Yes, once North America was invaded by "native" Americans. So there is nothing unusual about this behavior, what IS unusual is that we look back and feel bad about it. In fact we make movies to remind us of how bad we are..."Avatar" is perhaps an example. And please can we dispense with the "perfection" of native peoples? It's so trite, really. Cameron's movie is, ultimately, naive, simplistic, overly idealistic, and preachy and were it's message not so agreeable to most people and its effects so amazing, it would be an utter flop.

Addendum: I had meant to also mention one more intriguing part of the film, which is in regards to the Na'Vi's pantheistic religion. Not unusual for Hollywood for sure, but the funny part that struck me is how the well-meaning scientists "prove" that the Na'Vi religion has a scientific basis: the whole of Pandora (the world they live on) is literally interconnected and the Na'Vi can tap into that "network" (aka consciousness)...blah blah blah.

An interesting NYT Op-Ed on the rise of Pantheism, particularly displayed in "Avatar".

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 3:53 PM [+]

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Mystery Solved

Susan was out and about the chicken's playground while I was loading up for a dump run, when she came upon the original plastic stake which identified the cones in this picture as "Northern Brewers Hops." And having had my first experience of brewing without "hop pellets" I am totally ready to make use of these bad boys next summer. Here's what Beer Advocate has to say about em:

Northern Brewer is a bittering-type cultivar, bred in 1934 in England from a Canterbury Golding female plant and the male plant OB21. Northern Brewer has been used in the breeding process of many newer varieties. This cultivar http://www.blogger.com/post-create.g?blogID=3544035is grown in England, Belgium, Germany and the USA.

A strong fragrant hop with a rich rough-hewn flavor and aroma, ideal for steam-style beers and ales. Northern Brewer has a unique mint-like evergreen flavor. (alpha acid: 8.0-10.0%/ beta acid: 3.0-5.0%)

If I have any left, I'll let Susan use them for their medicinal use. I'm going to have to see if my Mom (who lives in the middle of HOPS country) would grown me a few vines.


...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 9:57 PM [+]

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Atheist Christmas

Story HERE.

I'm not exactly buying the persecuted atheist bit. Yes, being an intolerant loudmouth ("she 'believes all that crap'") will buy you all manner of ostracization, simply saying: "I don't believe in God" is a whole other matter. My favorite line of personal intellectual betrayal is when self-professed atheists defend their use of a home "Christmas" tree:

"Sacred trees are an ancient custom. It's pretty, it smells nice and it's pagan."

LOL! Yes, as long as as it isn't "Christian" it's fine. The "tree god" is perfectly cool for us atheists, but not the God-Man Jesus. Please, people, you are making my hemorrhoids flare from laughing so hard.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 10:29 PM [+]

Call for help

Many moons ago I posted a link to a series of lectures by Fr. Michael Oleksa HERE. Somehow one of the copies I saved ages ago was corrupted and now seems to contain two overlapping recordings slightly offset and are not listenable. Unfortunately these files are no longer available on the website. Did anyone else happen to save them? I am particularly looking for Lecture 2 Tape 2.

Let me know ASAP

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 10:08 AM [+]

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Fathead Part II

I noted earlier that I may add a bit more on the topic once I finished the latter half of the movie "Fathead." While the first half is a breath of free and fresh air filled with wit and UNcommon sense wisdom, the latter half left me with a great many questions. The first half tells us how the "obesity" epidemic is, at least in part, contrived by a sliding scale slid too far; that neither McDonald's nor any other corporate identity is responsible for your poor health - YOU are; that there is no conspiracy of Fast Food profiteers bent on addicting you to their food. The latter half takes on the popular (aka "consensus") science of our health and in particular our cardiovascular health. One is inclined to think that the filmmaker and those he interviews are akin to "global warming deniers" (who, by the way, lately seem to be seeming less and less crazy don't we they?).

The one BIG load of "bologna" (but certainly not the only one) he claims we've been fed is that a diet high in saturated fat is a leading cause of heart disease. In fact, he claims that There’s never been a single study that proves saturated fat causes heart disease.

This, to me, seemed a rather amazing claim. And so I set out on a literature search and found myself rather surprised. Tom Naughton is not entirely wrong...far from it actually. One big trial I stumbled upon was the WHI Dietary Modification Trial which happened to be the most ambitious and expensive long term study on the effect of diet and some specific diseases such as Cancer, Heart Disease, and Stroke. Started in the 90's during the height of our "low fat" government marching orders, they focused on the belief (hope?) that those in the study following a lower fat diet would demonstrate a marked decrease in risk...but they didn't. Not at all. Read about the study here. Now of course, with all studies, this one has its flaws. And despite the findings the summary article linked above still finds need to remind us that fats really are bad for us...specifically mentioning the need to get away from "saturated fats", claiming that replacing them with "natural vegetable oils can greatly reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes." Really? Citations please?

I ask because just prior to reading about this study I found the little treasure I was looking for: a review article. In the scientific world a review article is one that surveys as many published articles on a given subject as is possible and tries to formulate them into a concise conclusion. This one happened to be titled: "A Systematic Review of the Evidence Supporting a Casual Link Between Dietary Factors and Coronary Heart Disease" published in the Archives of Internal Medicine 2009; 169(7):659-669. Let me quote and summarize the relative portions of their conclusions:

We found strong evidence that trans–fatty acids are associated with CHD risk, but weak evidence implicating saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids and total fat intake...Our results support an association between foods with higher glycemic index values and CHD outcomes. Metabolic studies have shown that higher glycemic index scores are associated with coronary risk factors, such as higher fasting triglycerides and lower high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels.

I am going to continue investigating, but clearly there is a great more at play here than I was led to believe. Notions that fat (or at least some kinds of fats) are okay and that certain carbs are bad is contrary to what I was always told. Though, as the Harvard review noted, we HAVE in fact been hearing about good fats vs. bad fats lately. I suspect there is more to learn.

So, I do suggest seeing "Fathhead" and taking some time to check out the information that's out there. Many thanks to my wife who no doubt grew tired of my poo-pooing things she's told me about this. But that doesn't mean my dear that the flood gates are open...as I've always said I will make an honest effort to look into the science on such issues and in this case I think you were largely right. So...in lieu of toast or oatmeal, we'll have bacon and eggs for breakfast, right?

Ahem...after the fast.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 2:52 PM [+]

Monday, December 07, 2009

Tolerant Orthodoxy

The following is a quote from "A History of Christianity" by Donald Treadgold. The underline portion is a section that I believe has an error - it doesn't seem correct to me. The text I have is a 1979 edition and it comes from the chapter entitled "The Christian contest with Rome" (P. 45). I'd be interested to know if anyone has a different edition and might check if a correction was made. But, mainly I would be interested in commentary and discussion on this passage. In particular, what do you think Treadgold meant in the last sentence?

Heresy may be defined as separation from the Church in belief, as contrasted with schism, which is separation in organization (without separation of belief). Mere challenge, dispute, or even error does not establish heresy or schism, but rather persistence in a deviant path after it has been clearly explained to be such. “Heresy” nowadays is a term apt to be used to imply that the ideas in question are original or innovative. In fact, however, heresy usually originated not in a new idea or practice, but in exaggerated and excessive attachment to an old one – to a valid element of the faith; the overemphasis often tended to lead to a distortion of the part which might eventually distort the meaning of the whole. It was thus characteristically the orthodox (those who followed “the true teaching” of the church) Christians who were concerned about the whole spectrum of thought and action of the faithful and for whom any single issue needed above all to be kept in proper perspective, whereas the potential or actual heretics were much more apt to be passionately interested in a small number of issues or in one alone. There followed from this circumstance that have led to the use of the aphorism, “the more orthodox, the more tolerant.” The history of Christianity is a long and complex one, and situations can be found in which that aphorism seems inapplicable, even radically so. The twentieth-century reader, however, probably needs to realize that the widely received doctrine of our time may gravely mislead him in considering the issue.


...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 7:54 AM [+]

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Fathead: Policy vs. Education

My wife had me watching this editorial film (recall from a previous post that I do not believe these sorts of films should be called “documentaries”) entitled “Fathead” last night, which I am looking forward to finishing SOON. In initially it was going to be an expose' on how public health agencies are largely erroneous about the dangers of high fat diets, but instead this film is for the most part a reasoned answer to Morgan Spurlock's “Super Size Me.”

Now, similar to what I had to say about “Food, Inc” I felt that Spurlock's film had SOME good points, but also some bad points...some VERY bad points. Such as the not quite overt proposition that evil tyrannical food corporations are systematically killing their customer base and therefore there is a great need for government (Our savior!) to come and rescue the helpless victims of the obestiy/fast food genocide. (Or something like that.) On it's face this is absurd and Tom Naughton's answers Spurlock on point by point, handily. (In my mind of course, this is like shooting fish in a barrel...but others may find themselves enlightened by “Fathead”'s message.)

Now “Fathead” was obviously made on a VERY tight budget, but what it lacks in media sophistication, it easily makes up for with it's IDEAS and well-reasoned points. (Thus far...I'm about half-way through the film.) Look, there are PLENTY of good reasons to generally avoid fast food, but “evil corporations bent on killing you to make a profit” isn't one of them. I think we all know that fast food is cheap precisely because of how it is produced and it's overall quality and as Naughton aptly demonstrates, no one is really being fooled with regard to the extent with which these foods are calorie rich. I thought the brief little (poorly made) animation of the CSPI (Center for Science in the Public Interest - an absolute tyrannical organization wholly devoted to regulating you into "health." I even noticed they have an article at top of their website claiming that "'self-regulation proving insufficient'") superhero sweeping in to save a hapless consumer of fast food was a perfect example, because it demonstrated how regulation and taxation can be used to absolutely steal YOUR personal liberty.

Public Health Science is an interesting field in which more and more people are earning their advanced degrees. However, I am concerned with the extent to which people are exiting these programs with a sense of mission. A mission, not to educate the public with their research findings, but rather to set public (i.e. GOVERNMENT) policy. The difference between these two missions is that the former treats humans as individuals capable of ingesting (pun intended) information and deciding for themselves, while the latter mission treats humans as a herd in need of management. Just like the CPSI guy, PHS superheros will lobby the government to intervene on our hapless behalf and protect us from the evils inflicted upon us, since we have absolutely no means of protecting ourselves (e.g. with our “fully functioning brains.”). So the government, responding to the “emergency” of the obesity “crisis” jacks up the price of McNuggets via a “fatty food tax” (they'll have a far more clever name) and then they'll regulate (i.e. FORCE) the fast food corporation to carry a government subsidized product they will call McCarrots, which will cost a fraction of their actual value. And viola! We've cured the obesity epidemic, because as “Food Inc” told us: most people who are fat, are fat because they cannot afford healthy food and now that they can get cheap subsidized McCarrots and can no longer afford highly taxed McNuggets, their previous lack of freewill and common sense will mysteriously return to them and they will suddenly make the RIGHT dietary choice out of necessity. Thank God the government was there to save us poor people!

“Fathead” also does a great job of explaining the rather sudden arrival of the “obesity” epidemic. Instead of the shrill voices that warn of impending doom, they rationally explain how the “sudden” rise of obesity can be easily explained simply by how public health agencies have decided to define “overweight” and “obese.” This is not, of course, suggesting that there's nothing wrong with obesity, but rather simply to suggest that many people considered to be obese by PHS folk probably shouldn't be losing any sleep over the matter. I write as one who absolutely is obese, but hardly EVER passes through the doors of a fast food restaurant. So, alas, my lawsuit against them won't go far.

I may say more about the film after I finish it, but thus far I heartily recommend it. Have some buttered and salted popcorn while you watch.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 8:00 AM [+]

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