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.
While the Left and Right trade rounds over who's worse the Tea Party or the OWS, I have largely avoided the entire nonsense but stubmled upon what I thought was an interesting article. No, there's nothing new here, it's the same old "social gospel" most of us have heard about before - just dressed up amidst the ongoing political marginalization wrecking havoc on our government and even our churches.
Of course I have some very serious "issues" with the author here. First of all can anyone claim to speak for the OWS protests in terms of what PRECISELY they are protesting and what changes PRECISELY they want to see done? If and when that is ever accomplished then how exactly do we decide if what is being protested and what is being called for is in fact Christian? Sure it's easy to say that we Christians are to love and care for the poor, but does that care and concern possibly stop when we are forcing other people to do it for us? Can we vote away our Christian duty? Again, I understand the desire to do what we think is right, but I just don't see Christ giving a great deal of concern to political solutions. The author of this article talks about Jesus hanging out with tax collectors and whores and the down-trodden...yes, yes, and yes. But He wasn't seeking to bureaucratic social services program for them...He was seeking these people's souls.
"Blessed are the poor (in spirit - ahem!)" I'm not entirely sure I understand why the author at once lauds being poor and then apparently seeks to politically end poverty (an utter impossibility if our Lord is to be believed). Christians may be called upon to reject materialism, and consumerism, and even wealth itself...but I do not believe we are called up to utilize the force of law to persuade others to follow "The Way" (However that is defined.)
"The Way" is not a path to social justice. It is a path to Theosis. Miss this truth and you've certainly missed the Chruch - with or without "christianese". Jesus doesn't redeem the poor from their poverty; He redeems the dead from death! Our participation in this New Life will certainly include seeking to help the suffering and to put others before ourselves. But I'm less inclined to think our Christianity plays itself out very well in the political arena. All I see there (on both sides) is idolatry, atheism, quest for power, and desperate searches for a heaven on earth that cannot succeed.
In our Lord's example I see neither Tea Party nor OWS protesters, on the contrary I see God incarnate come to save that which was lost: the lives and souls of His beloved creation. I see Him looking into the hearts of men and women and CHANGING them from the inside-out. Got that? INSIDE-OUT. The most important social justice in the universe is that He conquers death. What room for politics in that? HA! I'd say not much. Politics may be an important hobby for many (and I've my opinions for sure), but let's not mistake where the Church is really to be found.
I recall an old Mike Stand song in which he sings: Forget the bombs that destroy our world; a million times over we kill ourselves, a million times over we need to learn; that in this life we make our choices: serve ourselves or walk in the footsteps of love...
Social Justice? Well how's it working out in that passion filled and storm tossed heart of yours? I won't bother you with that over-quoted saying of St. Seraphim...y'all know it. We can't vote this world into the Kingdom. Left and Right need to get this...so do I. Now, back to killing myself and my neighbors while dreaming of a political savior to make it alright.
Apparently Denmark has begun taxing saturated fat in what they claim to be an effort to reduce their "obesity epidemic." I say "claim" because I really don't know how anyone can look at the history of sin taxes (or even outright bans) on things people love and actually believe them to be effective at reducing their usage. The cynic in me rather suspects this is just a clever way to raise revenue under the guise of trying to protect people from this "magical food" (as Nick Gillespie puts it so well) that makes us fat. A few thoughts:
First, let us assume that the "obesity epidemic" is real or as bad they claim and not an artifact of sliding scales and labels. (It is actually debatable) Well, what has caused it? We've been given lots of answers, but I think the real issue is far more complex than a simple 6,000 paged bit of legislation can solve. None-the-less we are perpetually given new reasons for the "epidemic."
One famed cause usually given for the "epidemic" is Fast Food. Yes, evil saturated fat robber barons have strapped us to racks and force fed us with greasy foods until we became addicted. So says Morgan Spurlock in his "documentary" and to no small degree the evils of fast food became a part of popular "wisdom" to the point that government HAD to come save us threatening and sometimes implementing legislation of various sorts. Oddly enough I just read an article which demonstrates that despite the fact that due to pressure fast food joints virtually making us sign liability forms telling us exactly how much fat is in the food we ordered and despite the fat that we can opt for apple slices instead of French fries in our kids' happy meals, our eating habits have not changed there at all. In other words when we are asked if we want the evil clown restaurant to serve apple slices we say YES! But when asked if we want apple slices when we order food there we say NO! The lonely apple slices have all turned golden brown almost matching those delicious fries - except in taste. Nobody wants a salad in place of their Whopper! So the public health Nazis who thought the fast food robber barons were to blame need to wake up and realize that they are simply selling us what we WANT!
The other famed cause is a simple one (to the simple-minded): Fat makes us fat. I think we are closing in on about 40 years now of being lectured about the dangers of fat and cholesterol. The government has been educating us about the goodness of their carb rich food pyramid for a very long time. And consider how long we have been marketed to with low fat food alternatives - the demand being so high such that they even went so far as to try sell us some sort of synthetic fat that had the tendency to make us soil ourselves. And we bought it because we feared the evils of fat more than massive skid marks - such is our love for fat. But, ironically research has shown that we as Americans have in fact reduced our overall fat and cholesterol intake, but alas our waistlines do not correlate. Furthermore there is a great deal of evidence to suggest that much of the data we have relied upon for the "fat makes us fat" or "cholesterol gives you heart attacks" memes are terribly unreliable. The fact of the matter is that nutritional studies are notoriously difficult to do and from all I've read I believe the jury is still very much out on just how bad fat (and its various forms) are for you. Please consider spending sometime at Chris Masterjohn's website. Many posit that the shift to carbs (thank you US Government sponsored food pyramid)- especially the refined sort - are just as much to blame for our ongoing epidemic and likely added to it the wonders of adult onset diabetes.
The blame game goes on and on...and I'll mention one more: advertising to kids. You see our kids witness all those cartoon commercials for super deep fried sugar frosty malted corn bomb cereal and they force us parents to buy it for them. Obviously as our kids get fat we MUST blame the advertisers. Surely not the parents who bought such garbage for the kids - and furthermore allows them to eat it while watching TV which only allows them to be fed more advertising. And remember: no one can be expected to resist the evils of advertising. Such is the evil power of such evil. It's irresistible evil I tell you! I think they use the dark side of the force to cloud our judgment. Not unlike the government and their public health lackeys who are bent on being our nannies....the only difference is that we can't shut their taxes or bans off like we can the TV.
They'll tax until their hearts are content. Once they ban bacon I'll be joining the local pork cartel and will render their war on bacon even less successful than their war on drugs! I'll find ways to hide the hogs in my backyard from the night vision helicopters and such. Remember friends, I can supply all your pork needs when the time arrives. They may make vegans out of you, but they'll have to pry the pork rinds out of my cold dead hand!
By the way, as most of you know I'm obese. I think it's due in large part to beer...which is a decidedly ZERO percent fat food...which is why I drink it - it's the liquid version of the top of the food pyramid for crying out loud!
I had the best of intentions to blog here more often once I left Facadebook, but I'm finding that real life and particularly my new (almost a year now) job is monopolizing my time.
This period of Internet silence on my part has led me to consider what exactly I have to say and why. Is this just like Facadebook in slow motion where I can put up my facade or pontificate with the equivalent of longer forms of Internet bumper stickers stupidly thinking I can change the politics or religion of others? I still have my convictions, I'm just weary of doing fruitless drive-by's on their behalf.
I'd like to think not. Why is it important to me that I get my opinions out in public? Is it important to me? Does having a blog by default imply it is important to me? I'd like to think I've no illusions with regards to my ego or pride, but I probably have a plethora of varied illusions and admitting so makes me no less subject to them. This is what I'm thinking about now:
Does it benefit one to have a clear vision of oneself and yet apparently be utterly unable to do anything about it? I like to think I'm a good person because I am pretty confident (uh-oh) I know my faults, my flaws, my passions, and my failings; whereas "bad" people are seemingly incapable of seeing their real selves. It's a nice and lazy fantasy I like to tell myself.
If I'm not growing and progressing can I really consider myself one of the good guys? In truth I'm worse than the worst of blind sinners, because I can see and yet...
Yeah a few choice scriptures come to mind with regard to knowing the good one ought to do and not doing it.
I still hold out hope that writing my thoughts down here can be redeemed from my online ego. I've come a long way from the person eager to argue religion and politics online...well...there's that ego again.