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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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Monday, March 30, 2009

Baptism=child abuse

Initially I wasn't going to say anything about THIS article, since it seemed to be just another in a long line of atheist publicity stunts. But, the quote in which infant baptism was equated with child abuse forces me to say something.

I really do not have too much trouble imagining this becoming a serious legal issue in a generation of two. More and more, I expect, exclusionary religions - no matter how nuanced their expressions - are going to be seen in a light not dissimilar to how we currently see white separatists. The state stepping in for the "good" of a child who is being indoctrinated with "hate", really isn't difficult to envision, is it? Eventually anything short of absolute moral ambiguity is going to be seen as unacceptable and deemed hate. "Hate speech" laws are already trumping free speech all over the world...it's only a matter of time.

Additionally, if these folks thing Anglicans are torturing kids with THEIR Baptism, they ought to see ours. Theirs are like "time outs" while ours are like trips to the woodshed.

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 7:46 AM [+]
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6 comments

Friday, March 27, 2009

That was then, this is now

From this article...

Barack Obama used to get very upset about federal budget deficits. Denouncing an "orgy of spending and enormous deficits," he turned to John McCain during their presidential debates last fall and said, "We have had, over the last eight years, the biggest increases in deficit spending and national debt in our history…Now we have a half-trillion deficit annually…and Sen. McCain voted for four out of five of those George Bush budgets."

That was then. Now, President Obama is asking lawmakers to vote for a budget with a deficit three times the size of the one that so disturbed candidate Obama just a few months ago. And Obama foresees, for years to come, deficits that dwarf those he felt so passionately about way, way back in 2008.


Gee...I don't know why I get so cynical about politics! Oh course the overall irony is that we almost ALWAYS forget campaign promises no matter the candidate - and they know it. Precious few of us have the mental or time wherewithal to "review the tapes." Lesson: false advertising is perfectly legal and should be expected, buyer beware.

I'm beginning to think we ought to move our election/campaign process into a new format...perhaps something like "American Idol"? Would we notice if we did?

Addendum:
How could I resist this? My only complaint is that the current treasury department would have painted over the part of "The Chart" that reads "Let Fail."


As a side, this is NOT an endorsement of SouthPark. That said, Susan...I want to use this method for our financial decisions. You get a chicken ready and I'll make the chart.

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 7:32 AM [+]
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0 comments

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

More Atheist Evangelism, but no fertile soil for them here

I tossed this article up on facebook and noted that I actually agreed with the evangelistic message the atheists were presenting. For your review, the two quotes are:

Susan B. Anthony: "I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires."

and...

an Albert Einstein quote: "If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed."

First to Ms. Anthony: clearly she's not spent much time in the context of Orthodoxy. If I heard from God only those things that fulfill my own desires, you can bet I'd be living a completely different life. Well...somewhat different - if you know what I mean. The reality is, of course, that what I know about God doesn't validate much of anything with regard to MY desires, quite the contrary. It's not even MY knowledge of God, it is the community's knowledge of God and THAT knowledge is a constant challenge to my desires. CONSTANT.

I do, naturally, know the context that Ms. Anthony (and the fundamentalist atheist evangelists) are working in here. They speak to those sorts of Christians who spend far too much timing worry about God's microscopically (impossibly) specific will and
far too little time with the blatantly obvious general will: that we should be purified, illumined, and deified (as the Fathers termed it). Spend a healthy amount of time in the effort of the latter and you'll have precious little time to confuse your own will with God's in regard to the former.

Now, Herr Einstein. The big question, of course, is: WHY should one ever be "good." (operating under the assumption that we generally all agree on what "good" means to begin with.) If you've read anything of the Atheist Arch-Bishop and Evangelist Richard Dawkins, then you know that "good" deeds (shall we agree: any act we could perceive to be largely unselfish) "evolved" because they were ultimately advantageous to the organism and allowed them to propagate their own genes moreso than others. In a complex human society, one can indeed imagine that giving off a perception of "goodness" would earn one more mating opportunities and more quality mates. So if indeed this is the reasoning for being good and we assume that we actually do maintain some unique degree of freewill in the matter, then what motivation for being "good" does an atheist find save for avoiding social punishment and earning social rewards? Thus the irony of the atheist evangelism message in this case is that they must actually offer a defense for being good as much as any theist must, and I'd personally argue that they have a much harder time offering an explanation that squeezes themselves out of Herr Einstein's condemnation than I do.

A Christian motivated ONLY by fear or expectation of reward, is completely missing the point of the Christian message. Such motivation will only ever lead to one acting good, but our goal as Christians isn't to just act, but to become! This is also in part why the Eastern Orthodox message of salvation is seemingly so foreign to the Protestant vision: our goal is NOT to be "declared righteous" or to be deemed "legally forgiven" or to have in essence a contractual agreement with God like a "get out of jail free" card. Our goal is literal HEALING and TRANSFORMATION. It is not legal innocence and purity, it is ontological innocence and purity. Like children who seek not to just act like their father out of fear of be being beaten or in expectation of being rewarded, but like children seeking to become like unto their father in the context of love and relationship. There's a huge difference.

I will offer one addendum though: the development of virtues takes practice and to practice the virtues means you have to act the part no matter what you may feel. This may seem like a form of deception and putting up a false facade, but don't go there. It is will power and it is like cultivating the soil with a plow: hard and painful work. But you keep at it and in time fruit will be born quite naturally. But we do not do these things out of fear. And we do not do these things out of expectation of reward. We do them for Love. Any good parent knows the difference and can see it a mile away in the actions of their kids.

So, in any event, perhaps the atheist evangelists will inspire some conversation, but I do truly believe that the question they THOUGHT was custom made for theists, is equally their own.

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 7:32 AM [+]
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3 comments

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Don't forget to recognize the little crosses you refuse to carry

Fr. C's homily today could have been written for as a rebuke for my morning. I was terribly grieved to learn that I was going to be late in order to run a necessary errand for my daughter. I acted like a jerk. Apparently I was only thinking about big crosses (as if I really want one of those????) and was neglecting the everyday crosses I am called to joyfully take up.

It's unfortunate that the term martyr is popularly used these days to describe a whiner desperate for sympathy they don't deserve. That's not our motivation for taking up our crosses at all. It's a privilege. So, open my selfish eyes Lord.

The life of a Christian is ALWAYS martyric and every moment contains a decision to be made in that regard.

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 3:18 PM [+]
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1 comments

Friday, March 20, 2009

Evil Rich Executives

Well, I risk going against the popular tide here; becoming the proverbial curmudgeon at the water cooler. But what the hay:

Some friends were discussing the populist and politician drummed up horrors we've be hearing about with regard to AIG Executives collecting their bonuses from money we, the tax payers, gave the company. As I read two short posts two of them made, what they said seemed far more sober than the ongoing water cooler mob's calls for these execs heads on pikes. Our politicians riding the torrent doesn't help. Some of what I babble here I must credit to my fellow LOGgers.

Look, I get that we don't like these guys making truck loads of money to begin with and then additionally getting their bonuses after we all paid to save the company which they apparently could not. (Now, I won't even try and argue my belief that we should never have bailed them out to begin with. If you hate that these folks are getting all this bonus money instead of being fired for driving their company into the ground, might I suggest that the best way to teach a child a lesson is to let them fail sometimes?) Anyway, it's an easy task to drum up anger for rich people and for some reason this is especially true of executives. The truth is, bonuses such as these are the absolute norm in the industry and if you expect to attract talent to your executive leadership positions, your company will offer bonuses and pay absurdly high salaries. There is not an evil country club cabal making these decisions, rather it is a little thing called the free market. It is the same free market that earns a guy who can effectively throw balls through nets about a million times more than I make doing infectious disease research. Or the same market that emboldens an actor to say he NEEDS 30 million dollars for making one movie. It's the very same market that allows for Bono to make millions upon millions of dollars for singing pretty and writing thoughtful lines of verse. For some reason we are more forgiving of some rich people for being rich than others.

I suppose if we had to bail out a sports club (ahem...paying for their stadiums) we would perhaps garner a degree of hatred for the insane salary A-Rod gets? You know, we'd sit around at lunch eating our mac n'cheese while pontificating that, "Nobody is worth that much money! It's immoral!" But largely we don't.

The fact is, AIG is a mess. That's why they wiggled their way to the great teat of federal aid. And Mamma opened the green milky floodgates (which she didn't have to give)...apparently without preconditions - I suppose because we didn't bother reading the contract that gave AIG the money? Anyway, here we are kids, in essence shareholders of AIG, and as such we ought to want the company to succeed and to do so we should think long and hard before forcing lofty moral idealism upon it while its competitors maintain the game plan of contractual agreements with executives that include massive bonuses (largely regardless of performance - not unlike actors, ball players, or rock stars really.) Additionally not only do we now have the executives having to return the money that was contractually theirs to begin with, but they also have now become populist targets for all manner of frustrated and out of work people who are depserate for someone to blame - and as the press and pundits fan the fires, picture armed guards outside their offices. So, you tell me, when these guys and gals all resign (and they will), what sort of executive talent would seek to step into their old shoes to try and right that company? Who would dare go within a mile of a company under the thumb and microscopic eye of a government, a press, and a fired up populist mob in desperate need for scapegoats and who are all filled with a righteous indignation and mission to right all perceived economic wrongs? AIG is dead. Doomed. It cannot succeed except by being maintained by ongoing federal life support. If AIG were Terri Shiavo, the feds would have opted to starve her to death ages ago...and perhaps they have.

But we the common folk who are paying for all this can now rest easy knowing that some rich jerks are under the spotlight...a spotlight that ought to be pointed at those who stand behind it and are directing it elsewhere. This has all the makings of a "Reality" TV show...all the false drama of a reality TV "actress" asked by a TV executive to behave more bitchy toward her co-stars. We grow positively giddy with self-righteous indignation as we join in the fun of class warfare that is itself a game in which we are pawns. Think about all the noise being made about the insignificant amount of money being given to these AIG executives? You want to talk about disproportionate response? Assuming this money is being used unethically, it is but a minute fraction of our money that is absolutely wasted by our government...an insignificant fraction! It is less than 1/10 of 1% of the money we gave to AIG ALONE! Have we forgotten how precious little of that spending bill our congress just passed (without reading it) that was actually going to go toward anything that could remotely be considered economic stimulus? How much was just wasted pork for political pet projects and silly social engineering programs? By many miles my friends, bonuses paid to AIG executives will do more to help our economy than the 100x or more money that went to all manner of nonsense in that bill, and yet the former is supposed to have us gathering our torches and pitchforks? Heck, we should have already had them and have the capitol building surrounded ready to burn the monster out.

Don't join this hype. Congress just passed a 90% tax on AIG's bonuses (wasting more time and money and very likely violating the US Constitution by doing so) and we can rest easy knowing that AIG is now the RMS Titanic post iceberg roudezvous. The scapegoat is sacrificed and we can revel in the blood spilled. Cheer on the beheading of the wealthy...reign in their excesses...call them to account. But don't think about the politicians and for darned sure don't think about your own fiscal habits. When we hear our president talk about the need to change "a culture" that allows such excess, we must always be sure to think about executives on yachts. Never actresses on yachts. Never politicians on the board of Fannie Mae and dictating what to do with our money. Never somone on government aid who is still managing to buy iPODS. And never...NEVER...about our own hearts yearning for STUFF. It's always the other guy, and by golly we sure got them good this time, dinna we? Haha!

This whole affair has been a cheap carnival ride. A distraction.

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 11:42 AM [+]
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10 comments

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I Want It

There's an old 77's song that many of you are likely familiar with called "The lust, the flesh, the eyes, and the pride of life." It's a fantastic song because it very accurately diagnoses the essence of the human problem. One line of the song goes like this:

well I see something and i want it bam!
right now no questions asked
don't worry how much it costs me now or later
I want it and I want it fast
I'll go to any lengths sacrifice
all that I already have and all that I might get
just to get something more that I don't need
and Lord please don't ask me what for


While I know that I have in my heart said these things (and acted in accord with them), I'm fairly certain that we as a people and a nation have also both individually and collectively said and acted in accord with them. Really a wonderful icon of the passions may be seen in an image of someone maxing out a high interest credit card in order to buy a Wii, knowing full well they will over time pay many times what the device is worth in order to have it RIGHT NOW. Or worse yet, that they will declare bankruptcy and foist the debt upon others.

I quite accidentally stumbled upon a documentary recently called "I.O.U.S.A." and it is a documentary that ought to scare us. In essence it suggested to me that the "77's" song might be considered as a replacement to our national anthem. Like far to many individuals, the government simply has not even tried to be fiscally responsible and has instead promised us the world for free. And we believe them and elect them. There's no end in sight to that self-destructive cycle...what moral grounding will ever act as a leash to reign in our collective desire to be overfed and to never sacrifice for whatever feeding we do get.

Unfortunately the film was made before the culmination of our current nightmare where we've opted to go further into debt than ever before as a means of trying to solve our already massive debt problem. The economic reality alas I think, is begging for a very serious and painful adjustment that no one wants and everyone is apparently convinced we needn't suffer. And the politicians make their promises in strict accordance to our itching ears.

I've seen enough documentaries (ala Michael Moore) to know that they are often in dire need of some balance, I really think that a debate format for a documentary would be profoundly more informative, rather than having to sit through a highly nuanced media lecture from one person and their opinions. But, this said, I still think the film is worth seeing and has many undeniable points. I don't think any of us can reasonably disagree with the reality that our lavish lifestyle is largely being maintained by debt. It is, quite simply, a facade. One that may be falling down at the moment.

I'm not sure that trying to prop it up with more debt is the way to solve anything. I worry that we are just postponing the inevitable?

Additionally, I sometimes I wonder about the popular notion that posits: "These days in order to maintain the same lifestyle as our parents, we are forced to have two income homes." For some people this is probably completely true, but I'm not at all convinced that it is an overall truth that is reflective of a fundamental change in our economy, except that we see today a vastly larger market of STUFF ("must haves") out there and a vastly larger appetite for it all. Think about the vast array of things that we "must have" today, for which our parents at our age had absolutely no concept. For many of us, when we wished for some form of entertainment we'd be given a $10 football; not a $300 XBOX. We had no need for $100/month cable TV or $65/month high speed internet or $150/month cell phone service or an ungodly amount of money for the cornucopia of kids' expensive extra-curricular activities that somehow I - as a kid - managed without. Tag on a dozen smaller "services" like Netflix and soon enough you've got a tremendous amount of resources going out the door that our parents never had to worry about. So, we add a second income and you suddenly add even more expensive costs: daycare, pre-prepared foods, dining out, extra vehicle or at least extra maintenance and gas. And, absolutely no time is left available for much of anything...all the luxuries in the known world serve us and we STILL seem to have no free time - at least that we can perceive. It all becomes another vicious cycle out of which we can see no escape. I note this as an example of how we have largely overextended ourselves...all of us. Can we even imagine our lives without the comforts of our new and ever improving iPODS, iPhones, TV's, Internet, etc etc? We talk about tightening our belts, but have we known anyone ever to do it unless they absolutely had to do so? For instance if someone's budget had to suddenly give up something, would they typically choose their Cable TV or their scheduled savings deposit for their retirement? As the documentary showed, precious few American's save money anymore - why should they? We have Social Security and Medicare coming to us, right? I hold myself out there as an example of a slowly recovering economiholic.

It's profoundly easy to look at AIG bonuses and cry foul. Harder to look with judgment at a woman paying for her groceries with a welfare debit card (money as much ours as AIG's money is ours - or China's, from whom we borrowed it) while listening to an iPOD that many of us who pay for our own food cannot afford. And harder still to look at our own checkbooks and prioritize with a truly purified mind. Perhaps too hard.

Well...we could just sit back and listen to the 77's.


...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 7:40 AM [+]
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1 comments

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Cue the Circus Music

I'd say THIS pretty much sums up the mainstream media's understanding of religion. Alas, does anyone think any light will shine?

Satan is laughing I suspect.

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 8:48 PM [+]
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0 comments

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

It's always fun...

...to see what the press manages when reporting on religion in general and Orthodoxy in particular.

Orthodox Metropolite Amfilohije holds an icon-lamp in Belgrade's Congregational church, Tuesday, March 17, 2009, as he leads memorial service liturgy marking the fifth anniversary of ethnic riots in Kosovo. Ethnic Albanian mobs attacked minority Serbs on March 17, 2004, and 19 people died. Minority Serbs in Kosovo lack basic rights nearly 10 years after NATO bombing ended Serbia's rule there, Serbia's President Boris Tadic said Monday and urged the U.N. and European Union officials in Kosovo to 'establish the rule of law' and provide security for the citizens.

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 9:41 PM [+]
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8 comments

Some cool things to explore

National Geographic Article by Serge Schmemann with a really cool photo gallery. Ahem...how about a white robe of some sort for those Baptisms, eh? Sheesh! They are apparently working their way toward the way they were done originally I guess.

H/T: Rdr. Christopher Orr

And, this cool site in honor of Saint Patrick's Feast.

H/T: Clifton ala Facebook.

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 10:49 AM [+]
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1 comments

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Gospel in a sales pitch

This article by Terry Mattingly reminded me of an Evangelism class I had to take while attending Northwest College. I distinctly recall feeling like the class was a little stale and the program it espoused overly rehearsed - particularly for a denomination like the AG which prides itself on being so moved and prompted by the Holy Spirit. Now I look back upon the notion of such a class as being utterly absurd, because the most lasting and effective evangelism I have ever seen happen has taken place because someone led a life worth following. And then someone did.

What do I mean?

Well how many times did Jesus say to his followers: "follow me"?

Should we not as followers of Christ lead lives that will be a far superior witness to people than "witnessing" according to a script - no matter how well designed? We sit idly upon centuries of Spirit inspired Tradition that Mr. Carter so well notes is sorely lacking in other circles. Something tells me that "The Prayer of Jabez" or the text I had to buy for my evangelism class isn't going to stand the test of time, but those things that do stand that test are the sorts of things that really have been purified and tried with success in the human heart, soul, and mind. And it waits for us...much of it within my sight right now - likely gathering dust or unattended.

It's not about attracting people. It's about CHANGING people. I'm still a disciple in training...but the wealth and depth of materials I have at my fingertips in the Orthodox Church really is a condemning reality for me. How lazy I am. The spirit of sloth is rampant in me. You Orthodox out there know the Lenten Prayer I need to have change me.

In a way, I suppose, the whole of the Christian life is an evangelism class. To that degree, an Orthodox Evangelism class might perhaps start with a session on curbing the passions, know what I mean?

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 6:37 PM [+]
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0 comments

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Obligatory Evangelical Collapse Post

I've had no fewer than 6 people separately suggest this article to me...after I'd found it by way of my own wasted time surfing. Ahem...I don't mean the article is a waste of time, but rather that I waste time usually. Anyway...clearly this article is popular.

I've known about the "Internet Monk" for a long time now and in fact I rather suspect I've blogged about something he's written once or twice. Presently he's headlining a reposted oldie suggesting answers to "Why do they hate us" (evangelicals that is.) I think it goes along rather well with the much hyped Evangelical Collapse article.

I don't disagree with much of anything he has to say here, but I think there is one point I'd add and this is imply this: Ummm...you should expect to be hated.

Secularization is not a social phenomena that will foster intolerance for evangelicals alone, oh no, make no mistake about it. They are of course a vocal and highly visible target - you know, the squeaky wheel that gets the oil - but let's not kid ourselves into thinking that we are going to be able to dress up and retain "o"rthodox Christian values and theology and thereby make it more palatable to an ever increasingly secularized society. You may make it less "threatening", but I suppose that just depends on how far the secularization process leads.

I agree that voracious participation in the culture war has particularly painted a target on Christians armed in that fight, but it seems to me that you really only have two options: give up and let the dreaded "other" side win, or you seek to eliminate the need for such hotly contested battles. In other words: quit allowing and encouraging the government to have such much sway in our lives such that we become worried about the policies it will enforce upon our personal lives and the lives of others.

In my mind, what is most concerning about the bleak future for evangelicals that iMonk paints is NOT that people will abandon it and it will collapse, but that government will seek to stifle it legally in some way. Isn't this the logical extension of a strong and heavily endowed government in the hands of "Public leaders [who] will consider us bad for America, bad for education, bad for children, and bad for society."

All too brief mention is made about this frightening possibility: "Intolerance of Christianity will rise to levels many of us have not believed possible in our lifetimes, and public policy will become hostile toward evangelical Christianity, seeing it as the opponent of the common good." This prophecy ought to concern us very deeply and I'm surprised it is so quickly glossed over in the post. It seems to me that this is a huge point.

You've heard the illustrative proverb: "First they came for the Jews, but I wasn't a Jew..."

Any homes schooling families out there? I'm sure you can all relate to us stories of the odd looks you sometimes (often?) get from people when they learn that you are homeschooling your kids; looks that say: "Isn't that bad for children, education, and society?" Didn't matter if you were evangelical, did it?

I simply do not believe that by "finding new forms of Christian vitality and ministry" we are going to witness an evangelical phoenix rise up from the ashes in a new and more relevant form. I don't think the answer is to scramble to find ways to not be hated by a culture that by any sane account hates God, but rather to make sure you are being hated for the right reasons. Anything "new" and "exciting" will titillate for awhile, but a firm faith grounded in rich traditions and sacrificial love may go down in flames too, but a thousand witnesses around it will be saved.

My overall point is: if the future is as bleak as iMonk makes it out to be for evangelicals, well we should all be worried - or in faith NOT be worried.

You see my impression of the direction in which the ideological free market is heading is one where consumers don't care to see a new and improved Christianity, on the contrary, they have no interest or perceived need for any such product at all! At best the hippest Christians will be seen as well dressed and "cool" Amway salesmen and at worse they will all experience the ugly side of an intolerant "public policy." Either way, I don't care if you listen to all the hottest rock music, use all the most relevant and high tech techniques in your worship (of course you wouldn't call it worship...surely there's a hipper name than that), vote liberally, or even eschew all that you can about evangelicalism, if you proclaim the Incarnation and Resurrection you will be seen as insane.

It was the blood of martyrs and NOT their willingness to be appealing that became the seeds of the Church. I don't think we'll reach that point again (then again, did the Orthodox Christians in Russia around 1913 say the same thing?), but I also recognize that all four Gospels records more than once our Lord warning us that we will be hated.

It's easy to be hated for the wrong reasons - we are good at that. Much harder to be hated for Holy reasons. But make no mistake, this culture has a hard time suffering true Sanctity. The paradox is that at the same time, deep inside us all, I think we have an innate sense of need for the Holy.

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 1:25 PM [+]
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Monday, March 09, 2009

If not some ideology, then what? Science itself?

Well here's the article trumpeting the president's Embryonic Stem Cell decision.

I'll just challenge the president on a few of his points that I find to be patently absurd.

"Our government has forced what I believe is a false choice between sound science and moral values...we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology."

How exactly is this a false choice? You harvest a human embryo and let it divide a few times, tear it up and let it divide some more - perpetually growing them and then using them experimentally. There's a moral value to be had there, no? In return for tinkering with human embryos you stand a chance to assist or perhaps even cure some fairly ugly ailments. So, sorry Mr. President, there IS a moral value choice to be made here and a pretty serious one at that.

Secondly, ideology had better inform our scientific decision, sir. For what else would possibly suggest to us that the good Dr. Mengele's experiments were morally unacceptable, if not some sort of moral vision of the world? An ideology if you will. What "scientific facts" would inform us that such experimentation is unacceptable?

I'll also go right ahead and jump into the scientific fact, which anyone who reads my blog knows already, that we've made tremendous strides with ADULT stem cells.

Science, politics and religion have long intertwined and conflicted with each other. In his actions Monday, especially with the stem cell decision, Obama is emphasizing more the science than the religion

Again, science tells us NOTHING about the sacredness of ANY human life. Is this philosophical rocket science here or what? Science offers no moral compass whatsoever. It has as much to say about morality as a bag of hammers. It is utterly unable to say when human life begins (except perhaps arguably at conception...when else?) and it certainly cannot say when it ought to be protected, cherished, and nurtured...as opposed to being grown, harvested, experimented upon, and then killed.

So, when do we emphasize the science and when do we emphasize other sources of human knowledge and experience that actually do speak to the concept of morality?

Promoting science "is about letting scientists like those here today do their jobs, free from manipulation or coercion, and listening to what they tell us, even when it's inconvenient — especially when it's inconvenient,"

Wrong, wrong, wrong. A thousand times wrong. Science is NOT the end all deposit of human wisdom. I'm sure, if you think hard enough, you can fathom an area or two where we might actually want to manipulate or coerce the science industry, no? No?

Well the president apparently can think of at least one:

Obama also said the stem cell policy is designed so that it "never opens the door to the use of cloning for human reproduction." Such cloning, he said, "is dangerous, profoundly wrong, and has no place in our society or any society."

Hmmmm...how convenient. Now, how many scientists out there are going to feel the PINCH...the manipulation and coercion...that prevents them from cloning human beings. You will of course note the key word: "reproduction." Why is it key? Well, if you take a multi-cellular human embryo and separate the cells and begin growing them for experimentation, guess what you have essentially done? You got it...cloning. Each new "daughter cell" is a human being, fully capable of having a blog in 12 years or so in which they can sound off in favor of Embryonic Stem Cell research, if they should so choose.

"profoundly wrong, and has no place in our society or any society."

How so? On what basis? We are cloning dogs, sheep, cats...from what wellspring of morality is the president withdrawing this judgement here? Scientific facts we must assume, right? Isn't that what those of us who oppose Embryonic Stem Cell research were just told by him? So which "facts" are leading him to this rather ideological sounding position?

Whatever you may think of the previous presidential office holder, he was in fact - IMHO - absolutely spot on RIGHT with this:

President George W. Bush limited funding because of "fundamental questions about the beginnings of life and the ends of science."

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 9:51 PM [+]
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Saturday, March 07, 2009

FeastofFeasts.org

I'm looking forward to it. (both the website and the REALITY!)

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 8:53 PM [+]
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The Anticipated Embryonic Stem Cell News Article

Wow...I'm surprised at how obvious the subtle bias is in this article. I think this is one amongst many examples of how so many news articles are facades for opinion pieces. Read THIS carefully. First the Title and the first sentence:

Stem-cell policy change liberating to researchers: Eight years of frustration are close to an end for scientists seeking ways to use embryonic stem cells to combat illness and injury.

Rather gives the impression that scientists were in a sort of researchers Auschwitz and the policy change was the Allied Army. It also gives the impression that the whole of the scientific community is celebrating and benefiting from the "liberation." This is of course not at all true because there are MANY scientists with moral objections to growing and harvesting and destroying humans. More than that, they have gone a very very long ways in showing the amazing utility of non-embryonic stem cells which I have long been noting here as often as I have heard about them. (Don't tell the Obama admin that THIS site still is up - I'm sure it'd be gone the very next day. But even this is a partial list.)

The long-promised move will allow a rush of research aimed at one day better treating, if not curing, ailments from diabetes to paralysis...

That's not a quote; that's a statement from the article. And then....cue the ominous music:

But it stirs intense controversy over whether government crosses a moral line with such research, and opponents promptly denounced the move.

Based on what you've read so far, what "move" have opponents denounced? The destroying of human life? Nope, "a rush of research aimed at one day better treating, if not curing, ailments from diabetes to paralysis." Boy, opponents must be like Nazi storm troopers or something, eh? Surely the next paragraph will give some explanation as to why someone might be opposed to this, right? Some sympathy for the Nazis...even if akin to the film "The Reader"?

Not so much, we immediately get a one sentence definition of stem cells followed by further explanation of their incredible potential to help people - further emphasizing, I guess, their wonderful Utopian potential.

Perhaps the next paragraph?

Nope, a quote from a survivor of the researches holocaust.

And then...at...last...

But the research is controversial because days-old embryos must be destroyed to obtain the cells.

There we go...some reasoning at last. Wow, maybe opponents aren't Nazis? Hold on for the next line before you decide:

They typically are culled from fertility-clinic leftovers otherwise destined to be thrown away.

Ahhh...so, the opponents aren't so much evil as they are just stupid with regard to common sense utilitarianism! These little babies would be thrown away otherwise so why not take them, divide them up, endlessly grow them over and over again and destroy them and manipulate them for our usage. (Wait a second...who's acting more like Dr. Mengele here...quit confusing us James.) As if further argument would be required: Key word here: "TYPICALLY."

So in a two sentence paragraph the opponent argumentative point is made and demonstrated to be moot. Wow, no bias here at all.

The article then goes on to discuss ONE advance in embryonic stem cell research that took place even in the concentration camps - followed by more quotes from holocaust survivors about how people in essence are dying and suffering for lack of cures in the last 8 years. No discussion yet of ANY of the MANY advances made with non-embryonic stem cells.

And then at last a point is offered for opponents. Unlike all but a couple of the other pro points before, this one of course comes as a quote from a Nazi.

"Taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for experiments that require the destruction of human life," said Tony Perkins of the conservative Family Research Council. "President Obama's policy change is especially troubling given the significant adult stem cell advances that are being used to treat patients now without harming or destroying human embryos."

Astonishingly the article will now read like an online debate between friends as this little argument is followed by an "Indeed....but" statement, not from a proponent holocaust survivor, but the writer(s) of the "news" article itself. This is amazing...this writer is arguing with his/her quote source. Surely they taught you NOT to do that in journalism school? No? Not to let another source argue? Apparently not.

Indeed...But even researchers who work with varying types consider embryonic stem cells the most flexible and thus most promising form — and say that science, not politics, should ultimately judge.

Here, I will argue...quite vehemently. Let me be clear with CAPS: SCIENCE SHOULD NOT BE THE ULTIMATE MORAL JUDGE OF ANYTHING! Any good scientists will tell you the same thing: science makes no moral judgments, it is never in any position to tell you anything other that what is...never what ought to be. See the difference? I'm teetering on the edge of a rant here because I'm sick and tired of this notion that WE are NOT the dictating voice of morality to our scientists. Add on top of this the nonsense that ANYTIME you want to try and end a debate you claim your opponent is playing politics? Pish tosh...you are ALL playing politics! How is it not playing politics for the president to enact a political policy that will take our tax money so some scientists and pharmaceutical companies can play Dr. Mengele with embryos? But somehow asking that this not be done is playing politics?

So the argument against the advances and morally superior use of non-embryonic stem cells is that baby harvesting is just easier. Brilliant. It's easier so morality is swept aside.

I'm left to wonder, was there ever a time when one could read the news and actually get a non-biased story? Despite my own bias, I'm relatively certain I could write a news article that tells both sides on this issue...but I'm not sure reporters even try anymore. I think these days they see their job more as being some moral agent of change rather than actually informing people of news.

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 8:21 AM [+]
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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

In case you didn't know...

The OCA's department of Christian Education has a great many COOL resources HERE. The image here is an example of the 300+ free clip art images available. Many other things as well. Nice work.


...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 10:03 AM [+]
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3 comments

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Walk deliberately

Do be sure to take some time with Rdr. Christopher Orr's post HERE.

This Lent I am going to attempt to walk through life like I walk through church in hard soled shoes, or in the kind of shoes that squeak on the polished wood floor. I am going to try to walk softly, deliberately, prayerfully aware of the noise I am making, prayerfully aware of how my actions resonate with and disturb others;

A wonderful analogy.

My soul, O my soul, rise up! Why art thou sleeping? The end draws near and soon thou shall be troubled. Watch, then, that Christ thy God may spare thee, for He is everywhere present and fills all things.

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 8:40 AM [+]
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Monday, March 02, 2009

Archpastoral Message of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah at the beginning of Great Lent 2009

HERE.


I felt this was exceptionally well written and deserved more of my particular attention:

"Let our fasting be accompanied by the refusal to indulge in judgment and criticism of others: gossip, slander, suspicion and innuendo, all that is hateful to God. Let us fast from meat, as we fast from the carnality of hatred and resentment of others, which is the source of our passions, pain and addictions. Let us fast from cheese, as we cut out the bitterness that curdles the joy in our lives, the pure milk of love. Let us fast from eggs, so that the seeds of corruption do not hatch in our souls. Let us fast from oil, so that we do not grease our lips to slander and fry our neighbor. Let us fast from wine, that we might remain sober and watchful, to maintain the purity of our souls, minds and hearts."

Amen.

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 10:56 AM [+]
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Forgiveness

...and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

The implication is rather clear. If you seek forgiveness, you had better be giving it. I surely seek that from you, whoever you may be, reading this blog. That may seem strange, however, one need only look back through my history here to see very clear signs of my passions being in charge...sigh...I've long thought of deleting posts or erasing histories in those arenas that I now find embarrassing. I suppose Paradosis is and has been for me a record of a journey...I hope and pray it is one that shows a bit of light; a bit of the story of my being led (dragged?) towards the reality of the Incarnation and Pascha. I'll let the past remain I guess...hopefully, intertwined in all the shadows of absurdities are the flickerings of light - like driving past trees while a low hanging sun on the horizon causes us to squint from time to time. Perhaps not.

In any event, even if my blathering here has not offended you and even if you know me and I've somehow managed not to sin directly against you (as far as you know)...I still need your forgiveness. We don't live in an individualist vacuum. It's not just me and Jesus. It's me, God, and all of creation. We all find ourselves outside the gates of Eden now and it's cold here. Forgiveness of one another for being out here is a warming fire. God grant that we share it with one another so that in the fullness of time we may be led back home.

I've nothing more really to say about forgiveness, however I would offer THIS from Hieromonk Damascene.

I wish you all a profitable season of repentance.

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 8:46 AM [+]
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