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.
Apparently it's time once again for the news media to drag out a new story about some scientist preaching his (always "his" it seems) atheism. This time it's Hawking. And my oh my, he seems to be getting bitter in his old age saying heaven is merely a story to soothe the fears of those afraid of the dark. Maybe he's right. But, so? Does that necessarily make the story untrue?
I certainly used to believe that and rather enjoyed trumpeting such triumphalism and asserting that I wasn't afraid of the dark. But you know what...SHHHH....when it got to be late into the night and the house would be dark...sometimes I'd get a just a little tiny bit scared. Sometimes I'd turn a light off in the basement or garage and then get a sudden urge to RUN out of that room and into the light. And sometimes when I laid in bed alone I would ponder the nothingness of death and it would send a bit of a shiver down my spine and it would drive me to think of something more calming like food or sex. Avoid the subject of death...gird my loins to maintain the facade. So, my guess is, Hawking's bravery is also a bit of a facade...not to his fault of course, for we all have our facades. It's just that his supposed lack of fear of death is no apologetic for atheism I'm afraid.
And really, Dr. hawking, do you think that the question, "Why is there something rather than nothing", is one that science can really answer? I am not a physicist and so I grant that I might be absolutely wrong, but it seems to me that this is clearly a philosophical question. Is there any more or less science and faith involved in his notion of "Spontaneous creation" than in "'Let there be Light...'"? I agree that the question is not an apologetic for God. Really...God needs no apologists anyway. But something from nothing? Takes some faith doesn't it?
And speaking of the religion of atheism (disguised as science), I hear that the folks claiming the rapture will take place this weekend are being capitalized upon by the local congregation of the scientific faithful. It's a very clever little campaign intended to propagate the idea that science answers all of life's questions. Good times!
We Orthodox are of course tempted to laugh along with them. The Lord knows we've no wish to be lumped in with those wacky fringe Christians. But let's pause and keep in mind that these religious atheists would snicker no less at our belief concerning what happens each and every Sunday morning in Orthodox Churches around the world. I'm not trying to suggest an us vs. them decision needs to be made here...just suggesting we keep in mind that if they ever run out of REALLY crazy Christians to mock they'll hammer on us supposedly less crazy ones. So I'll be praying for the REALLY wacky Christians...God grant them MANY YEARS!
When the communion prayer first included this: "I will not speak of Thy mysteries to Thine enemies" was it perhaps in part to protect believers who might have been persecuted at the time? Clearly it stems from the time when the Liturgy of the Faithful was exactly that. Does anyone know how old that prayer is? Or maybe it's a "pearls before swine" thing? Both? It's interestingly linked to Judas' betrayal. Hmmm.
WRT your question, I sincerely wish that Orthodox sacraments not be photographed, video taped and spread all over the web. It's very odd for example, that our women cannot go into the altar, but the whole world -- atheists and criminals alike -- is allowed in through Youtube to see *everything* in the altar.
The latest baptism I went to had multiple people taking pictures and videos. It's very distracting, and on a deeper level, I would observe that we Orthodox go to great lengths to promote sacred space by using ancient forms of singing, ancient art, ancient lighting, and then we add to it the modern penchant that if you miss something, you can always catch it later on Youtube; this is a psychological factor that impacts the experience and turns it into something else. Sacraments aren't activities: they're mysterious events that can't be repeated, can't be experienced through an iMac monitor, they should be treated with much more respect and discretion.
Take a nice picture after the service on the ambo, if you must.