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Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Is Kerry what America Needs?

The news this morning is all about John Kerry's win in the New Hampshire Democratic primary (with various news outlets attempting to hang the Clintonian mantle of "comeback kid" on him for his "come back" in the polls - which really means a "come back" in media perception, but nothing much more real than that).

John Kerry seems to be a formidable candidate, a man by whom America could do worse. But is he really? Rich Lowry provides some facts about Kerry here and Mackubin Thomas Owens some additional ones here that are sure to come out in the ensuing Presidential campaign if he is indeed the Democratic candidate. If you are even the least bit tempted to think about voting for Kerry you owe it to yourself to read these two brief articles. Kerry seems every bit the Clintonian politician, discarding convictions as necessary and willing to say practically anything if it will get him elected.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Mid-life crisis

No, not now and not in reference to the previous post. When I turned 39 all of the sudden I realized that my somewhat meandering life would really never quite be the spectacular success I had always assumed I would eventually get around to (don't you love the self-deceit and conceit of the pathological procrastinator?). I had left one career for a church and people that had failed me misserably. I had started another career that not only was not particularly monetarily rewarding, but could be quite depressing as well. After 11 years of marriage I looked at my wife and wondered had I ever really loved her. Outwardly I thought I looked like a failure and inwardly I certainly felt like a failure.

Now, I blamed no one but myself for the state I perceived myself in. I knew I had made my own bed, I just was tired of laying in it! To make a long story short, I did a lot of things that next year I'm ashamed of and pretty much made those closest to me as utterly miserable as I was. I suppose in those times the seed of my pilgrimage to Orthodoxy was planted, though I certainly had no clue for several years. Just after I turned 40, though, it struck me that, hey, I was still here, still living and breathing and 40 didn't feel a whole lot different than 39 or 38 or even 30 for that matter. I also realized that no matter what else a man might accomplish in his life, no matter how small or how great, it was his children that were his legacy and family that mattered. I looked at my children and saw what a success they were in terms of the type of people they were turning out to be and what a blessing from God they were (and are!). I realized (once again) that "love" wasn't simply something between the sheets or a Hollywood movie, but where the nitty meets the gritty in every day living with another human being to whom one is committed.

With this dawning, I slowly began to crawl out of my funk and draw closer to God, Whom I had pushed away as having failed me almost as much as I had failed myself. I began to recognize life as a pilgrimage and that our life's story is not complete this side of eternity. Due to that awareness I was not afraid to re-evaluate long cherished beliefs about God. This, over the course of a number of years (and not a few set backs) eventually brought me face to face with the Ancient Faith. Suddenly, so many things in my life seem to take on a new relevance as I perceive the hand of God at work, imperceptibly directing me, not so much along a path as toward a goal of which I was unaware in its fullness.

When I am in Church I am at home. I am at rest. I am at peace. I belong though I can call only a few by name and though I rarely participate in any of the "social" functions. I am in "heaven on earth" and my soul is at rest. And while, in once sense, my seeking is over, I know my journey has only begun.

Pray to God for me, a sinner!

Monday, January 26, 2004

I'm realizing I'm Old

Well, at least older. Standing in Church yesterday for the litany for the Catechumens it struck me that I'm older, a good bit older, than all the other catechumens standing there. Whereas they all appear to be in their late 20s to early 30s, I'm in my late 40s. Reading the various blogs out there, it strikes me that I'm older than most of my fellow bloggers (at least the Orthodox and almost-Orthodox ones I've come across) as well. I confess I don't feel that old, but I realize that in person I get treated by these folks like I'm, well, older, not part of their peer group - which I'm not, though part of me feels like I am, or at least should be. But I can't. I've been married 20 years, have two teenage children and am in the last half of my life.

Many of y'all reading this may not be married, or even out of school. If you're just coming to Orthodoxy, your life may not have been so set already that it is a truly earthshaking endeavor. Parents may be your biggest worry rather than a spouse or almost-grown children.

Some things get a whole lot easier the older you get. Your perspective changes, hopefully you don't take yourself quite so seriously and the little things of life seem so much more precious than they did when you were younger. But some things are harder. You don't "have your whole life ahead of you" anymore. Radical changes are truly, well, radical, and they affect many more people than just yourself. And you don't fit in. Others making the same choices are much younger, most of those your own age have already "been there, done that".

Ah, well, such is life. If you think about it, say a prayer for me sometime...

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Lies, Myths and Downright Stupidity

And some downright deception as well! I didn't catch John Stossel's report the other night, but I have a lot of respect for him bucking the common culture and prevailing wisdom of the media establishment. Print version of his report may be found here. Just by way of comment, some of these "myths" are perpetuated deliberately by people who know better (e.g. DDT) because it is politcally expedient for them to do so (IOW, they get votes, donations and get to stay in power or extend their influence over those in power). Never swallow wholesale anything put out by advocacy groups or those with a personal interest in something being true - odds are they aren't giving you all the facts!

Those little miracles

This morning in his sermon Father Jacob shared how his message came about. He followed his normal practice of looking through various materials and studying various Fathers on the subject of Zacheus and came up with what he thought was a good outline of the important points he wanted to communicate. Saturday night he talked with another priest about the sermon, apparently another normal practice of bouncing messages off someone else so he (and the other priest) get a bit broader a perspective. The other priest asked if shouldn't they be concentrating on the love of God as exemplified in the story of Zacheus. Apparently that was in a different direction than Father had gone, so he cut him off and share the direction he thought they should go. The other priest was enthusiastic, but Father shared that as he communicated what he had planned it just felt flat, a little lifeless.

Then, this morning he was reading in St. Silouan's biography and came across a passage that fit right in with what he had planned to speak upon. He marked the passage and came to Church. Once he got to Church he accidentally dropped the book and when he picked it back up he couldn't find the passage he had marked. However, the back flap of the dustcover had gotten caught in another section toward the back of the book. When he read that section, guess what it was about? You got it, Zacheus and the love of God! So, Father finally took the hint and that's what he spoke on. Now, it's easy to dimiss all that as coincidence, but it just seems to me another of those "little miracles" that God sends the way of people who are earnestly seeking after Him.


Saturday, January 24, 2004

e. e. cummings

I confess I have never been much for poetry, but I have enjoyed learning of the e. e. cummings poem, "one's not half two. it's two are halves of one" which Bishop Seraphim has alluded to a couple times now. The whole poem may be read here. What I especially like is the second verse (or whatever they are called), where cummings writes:

minds ignorant of stern miraculous
this every truth-beware of heartless them
(given the scalpel,they dissect a kiss;
or,sold the reason,they undream a dream)
Read that again and let it sink in. Can you get a better literary allusion than "given the scalpel, they dissect a kiss"? In an age and culture prone to over analyse every little utterance and action, can we learn to accept God's miracles as they come and the form in which they come? We are so often convinced we have failed to touch God, to receive from Him, and in taking the scalpel to the kiss, we overlook His touch, the love He sends our way, the little miracles that so often direct our feet they way they needed to go.


Friday, January 23, 2004

Who's zooming who?

You are probably already aware of the Patriarch of Constantinople's meeting with Cuba's dictator, Fidel Castro. Dissecting Leftism had a comment about this meeting yesterday. Today, he's posted an email he got in response from a Catholic priest who observed:

If Castro thought the Orthodox were any threat to his power, they wouldn't be there. If they are not a threat to tyranny, they are hypocrites. If Castro can use them for bragging rights, then they are as compromised in Cuba as they were in the Soviet Union.
The gratuoutous and uninformed slur aside (how many RC martyrs were there in the 20th Century?), one can't help but wonder who is using whom? While I am wholeheartedly against any appeasement with Castro's regime, one can certainly make an argument that the Patriarch has used Castro's desire to whitewash himself to instigate true spiritual healing of this poor nation. Certainly Castro will use the visit to attempt to put the lie to the reported oppression in Cuba and make politcal hay against the United States. But suppose, just suppose, the Church truly takes root in this country and helps to heal a nation and a people? I don't see in the stories I've read where the Patriarch gave Castro much to crow about, though perhaps I've just missed it. That the people of Cuba now have more intimate access to, as the Patriarch put it, "...life with Christ, life in Grace” is perhaps worth the momentary appearance of being used by Castro.


The Passion

I'm picking up a lot of good stuff from other's blogs today. This from Clifton's Priest on Mel Gibson's "The Passion":

This afternoon I attended a special showing of "The Passion of the Christ," followed by a live stage interview with Mel Gibson.

There are several things I would note about this film.

First, there is nothing new here. Except for a couple of dramatic adaptations (a crow pecking the eyes of the unrepentant thief on the cross, for instance), it is essentially what you have in the Gospels.

Second, there is nothing "shocking" or emotionally wrenching here, unless one has neglected the traditional pieties of the Church. Those who follow the ancient Christian custom of meditating on the sufferings of our Lord at the Daily Canonical Hours (a custom for which we have written testimony from the early years of the third century), or who habitually pray the standard akathists of Our Lord's Passion or of the Holy Cross, or who regularly make the Way of the Cross, or who regularly pray the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary, or who simply ponder the Gospel accounts of the Lord's Passion each day will find nothing here that they don't already know or have not thought about deeply.

One Orthodox commentator has complained about all the blood in the film, saying that the emphasis on the Lord's blood is not "Orthodox." Folks who feel this way, I suggest, may want to review the Epistle to the Hebrews and ask themselves why this epistle is read in the liturgical services of the Orthodox Church toward the end of Lent.

Third, (and I do not push this one too hard) I wish the producers had consulted an Orthodox Christian with respect to the placing of the two thieves. The "good thief," as is known to every Orthodox Christian who has reached the age of four, should be on the Lord's right, not His left.

Fourth, I was very struck by the use of the Psalter in this film. Jesus is pictured as praying the Psalms at several points in the film. The Psalms that are cited are those very familiar to those who pray the Daily Canonical Hours.

Fifth, everyone should see this film. That includes teenage kids, who will need a note from their parents to see a film that is rated "R".

This seems like a movie to see, and to take non-believers to if you can!


Sin vs. Evil

Karl has an interesting post (and comments) that made me want to explore the difference between sin and evil, between being a "sinner" and being "evil". My comment there:

Obviously we are all sinners, we all "miss the mark". But are we all "evil". I would contend we are not and that simply because we recognize ourselves as sinners does not mean we cannot recognize and condemn evil when we see it.

Stranger in a Strange Land

Well, that's how I feel tagging along with Bishop Seraphim in his journey in Russia. I am enjoying it though.

Anti-smoking Facists

For the record, let me state first off that I do not smoke. I have at various times in my life, but not for many years now. I'm glad I don't smoke given all the negatives but, to be honest, part of me wishes I still could. I liked smoking, for the most part. I smoked a pipe for a short period of time and I liked that also (though pipe smoke, sadly, never tastes as good as it smells).

Now, smokers are one of those classes of people in American society upon which it is acceptable to look down upon and castigate (this is the one area I appreciate European attitudes more than American self-righteousness). No doubt many of them are killing themselves (although smoking does not, despite the impressions to the contrary, inevitably lead to disease - the majority of smokers do not die from a smoking related cause, one of my grandmothers smoked for what must have been almost 80 years, died at 94, still smoking, of a non-smoke related disease), but many are not. However, we are quickly becoming a nation of anti-smoking facists. Laws are passed to ban smoking even in places where mostly smokers congregate, and its all done based on some pretty shoddy interpretation of scientific studies. Of course, it's for our own good so, it the eyes of some, that makes it all right. The end justifies any means, even outright deception. Here is just one example of the tactics of the anti-smoking facists.

What's this have to do with Orthodoxy? Nothing other than I detest self-righteous hypocrisy that attempts to impose its vision of what's right on everyone else and obfuscates the truth to do so. Forgive my rant.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Guilt Free Abortion?

The article at Orthodoxy Today is extremely powerful. It is written by a woman who, in her own words, murdered her unborn 21 week-old son. She is the classic example in the world's eyes of someone who should have had an abortion and should feel no guilt whatsoever about having done so. The only problem is that reality simply doesn't comform to the PC mantra's of the anti-life industry. Just a brief quote from the article (you really should read the whole thing):

Self-hatred may be the worse sin? I know it is certainly the worst feeling. After I killed my baby, self-hatred became my whole life. Subconsciously I thought suicide to be too easy an out (much like the notion that lethal injection is too easy a punishment for many really brutal murderers). So I did not kill my physical body as I had killed my child; instead I committed emotional and spiritual suicide.
May God have mercy on her and us all!

Monday, January 19, 2004

Update on Comments

BTW, for those who don't otherwise know, Blogspeak has gone kaput. However, Haloscan imported their whole user base, comments and all. So, while I am now using Haloscan for comments, all the old comments (what there were of them) are still there. So, c'mon, make a comment, it don't hurt! ;-D


Title of this Blog site

Most of you probably realize the name of this blog site is "philalethia", i.e. "love of (or for) truth". It's part of the url. However, the title on the top of the page is supposed to show up in the Greek alphabet. The font used is Symbol, since my assumption is that most users will have it installed on their machines. This looks just fine when using MS Internet Explorer. However, if you use Netscape or one of the Mozilla incarnations (I use Firebird and love it), it comes out "filaleqia". This is how I have to spell it so it transliterates properly in the symbol font. For some reason, the Mozilla based browsers do not recognize the font attribute to render this in symbol. I confess I can't figure this out. I probably should just make a small graphic for the title, which would undoubtely look better and and be the same on all browsers, but I'm lazy. If anyone knows why Mozilla based browsers act this way, don't hesitate to inform me.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

The time may be approaching

We had another baptism at Church this morning. This time the candidate was a young boy, about 4 years old or so. After service, when going up for the blessed bread, Father again alluded to when I would be chrismated and asked "how does Holy Saturday sound?" I said it sounded good (I mean, what else are you going to say to your priest?). So, all things being equal, it just may be that in 12 weeks I will be Chrismated. Seems reasonable to me. Far enough away to not worry about yet but close enough to light a little fire under me.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Sanctity of Life Sunday

As you probably know, this is sanctity of life Sunday. I recall being a young Methodist pastor, just out of seminary, a little more than 20 years ago. The Pro-life moment was still in its infancy and I had been reading tracks from Melody Green (this was even before Keith Green had been killed) on abortion. I started collecting pro-life material from all over and trying to education my parishoners. Unfortunately, not too many were interested but I can still remember thinking this is the abolition movement of the 20th Century. Didn't think it would still be such a struggle 20 years later. But not to despair, surveys show the younger generatiion considerable more "pro-life" than Boomers. So there's hope for the future.

Metropolitan Herman (OCA) will be speaking tomorrow on the steps of the Surpreme Court. You may read his Archpastoral Message.

Again we pray for the children of God condemned to death by the unjust judgement of men: that the Lord our God would soften the hearts of those who seek their violent destruction, and rescue those who are being led forth to the slaughter, we diligently pray Thee, O Lord, hearken and have mercy!

O most merciful, all gracious and compassionate Lord Jesus Christ our Savior, Son of God: we entreat Thee, most gracious Master: look with compassion upon Thy children who have been condemned to death by the unjust judgement of men. And as Thou hast promised to bestow the heavenly kingdom on them born of water and the Spirit, and who in blamelessness of life have been translated unto Thee; and Who said, "Suffer the little children to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven" - we humbly pray, according to Thy unfailing promise: grant the inheritance of Thy kingdom to the multitude of spotless infants who have been cruelly murdered in the abortuaries of this land; for Thou art the resurrection and the life and the repose of all Thy servants and of these innocents, O Christ our God.

Turn the hearts of those who seek to destroy Thy little ones. We beseech Thee to pour forth Thy healing grace upon them, that they may be convicted in their hearts and turn from their evil ways. Remember all of them that kill our children as on the altars of Moloch, and render not unto them according to their deeds, but according to Thy great mercy convert them: the unbelieving to true faith and piety, and the believing that they may turn from evil and do good.

O Holy Master, Almighty Father and pre-eternal God, Who alone made and directs all things; Who rises up quickly against the evil of the impious ones; who, by providence, teaches Thy people preservation of justice and the obliteration of evil on earth; Who condescends to raise up warriors for the protection of the people of God: we entreat Thee with compunction, that as Thou didst give David power to defeat Goliath, and as Thou didst condescend through Judas Maccabeus, to seize victory from the arrogant pagans who would not call on Thy Name; so too, grant protection to us, Thy servants against the enemies rising against us as we go forth to do spiritual battle against the evil one and those who do his will rather than Thine.

For Thou art a merciful God, and lovest mankind, and unto Thee do we send up glory: to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.

From a Molieban for the Victims of Abortion

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Who's miserly?

I remember once getting into a "debate" with a co-worker many years ago about charitable giving and who was better for a society, religious people or non-religious. Well, a major survey has answered this question definitively, those with religious faith both give and volunteer in percentages signicantly higher than their secularist comrades. See the story here.

Blown Away...

...and certainly left speechless. Yesterday when I got home from work I was in a somewhat grumpy mood feeling very unappreciated by my family (do we hear the tiny violins playing?). Well, my wife hugged me and then proceeded to tell me about something she had been saving as a surprise for me. She had remembered months ago that I had shown her a particular icon of St. David of Wales on the Internet that I especially liked. Well, she has spent the past month off and on searching for a copy of it for me. She had even talked to the orginal writer of the icon. His price for another was out of reach ($1500 for a 5x7 - ouch!), but she contacted the priest at the Church in Wales that has the original and he believes he may have some reproductions and that if so, he would provide her with one. Now, how cool is that? It is especially cool in light of my wife's aversion to my pilgrimage into Orthodoxy. Sometimes its interesting to see God move!

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

What can I say?

Picked up this "what famous leader are you?" test from some James' Paradosis. What can I say?

New Comments

Since there's no telling when blogspeak will be back in business, I've switched over, at least temporarily, to HaloScan. I may switch back when blogspeak is back up. Depends on how many comments I get in the mean time versus how many had been left with blogspeak.

Darn Floor, Big Bite

I don't listen to much "christian" music anymore, haven't for a long time. Even in my evangelical, charismatic days I thought so much of it had become vacuous and shallow. One of my favorite bands, however, was (and is) Daniel Amos. Always probing, always questioning, never settling for the "christian" status quo, their music usually asks more questions than it answers. The main man of the band and principal song writer, Terry Scott Taylor, is often rumored to be Orthodox, but I have never been able to track down a truly definitive source on that. At any rate, one of my favorite albums and songs is "Darn Floor, Big Bite". It's based on a couple of things, first of all an incident involving a gorilla that had been taught sign language. During an equake, the gorilla signed "darn floor bad bit, trouble trouble". The refrain of the song changes throughout, but one incarnation is:

Darn floor -- big bite
You are earth, water and light
Darn floor -- big bite
Can I ever hope to
Get it right, can't get it right
The implication, obviously, is that when it comes to God we speak of that which we cannot comprehend just as the gorilla spoke of the earthquake.

Another source for the song is the poetry of Lithuanian born poet Czeslaw Milosz, who was reared in Poland with a Roman Catholic education. The opening lines of the song are based upon Milosz' "Unattainable Earth":
You touch my hair and cheek sometimes
Feel in yourself this flesh and blood
My poor flesh and blood
My poor flesh and blood
God had to become man for us to even begin to have a real concept of Him and the only way we truly can come to know Him is in and through the Son Who reveals Him to us. On the way to Orthodoxy, Daniel Amos helped raise the right questions and even shed a little light.
Darn floor -- big bite
You are love
Fire and light
Darn floor -- big bite
Can I ever hope to
Get it right
Can't get it right
Darn floor -- big bite
You are twilight
Dark and bright
Darn floor -- big bite
You are beautiful
A terrible, terrible sight!

How embarassing

My family moved to Georgia when I was 13 years old. That was quite some time ago as I'm now approaching 48. Except for a six month or so period the fall of '78 into early '79, I've lived in Georgia ever since then. While those in the Northeast or out on the "left" coast might consider Georgia backward, I have, for the most part, thoroughly loved living here, especially in Athens (home of the University of Georgia and the Georgia Bulldogs!) and in the Metro Atlanta area.

But I've lived in a good number of places in Georgia, rural, urban and suburban. And rarely have I ever been embarassed for my state. There were those early days with Lester Maddox as governor (oh my) and then Billy Carter... and then there's Jimmy Carter. I confess that in 1976 I supported Jimmy Carter for president. He was a self-professed evangelical Christian, of which I also newly (a couple years or so) confessed. He was our governor and he simply had to be better than Gerald Ford. After a few years of the "misery index", double digit inflation, gas lines and the debacle of the Iranian hostage crisis, I felt far different.

For a long time after he lost his re-election bid, Carter was the model of an ex-president. His endeavors with Habitat for Humanity were (and are) truly inspirational. But Jimmy just doesn't seem to have a clue when it comes to the world stage. Oh, he is very good at getting his name in the headlines, pontificating and appealing to all the "right people" (meaning liberal, secular elites whose religion is "democratic" socialism"), but he simply doesn't seem have a clue as to how the world really works and seems far more enamored with symbolism rather than substance (for the left, it matters not whether what you do actually brings about a good, it simply matters that you did it with good intentions).

Now James Earl Carter, III is going to come out in support of Howard Dean. Now there are plenty of reasons not to support Dean (or any national Democrat for that matter - you did read Touchstone Mag's "The Godless Party" didn't you?), having the support of a former President with one of the miserable records in office ever would seem reason enough to give one pause.

Jimmy, stick to Habitat and leave political endorsements and observations to those with a clearer vision of reality!


Tuesday, January 13, 2004

It's called "accountability"...

I know a lot of bloggers (at least those concerned with religion and the right to life) are probably commenting upon the latest move by Roman Catholic Bishop Raymond Burke of La Crosse, Wisconsin, who has issued a formal decree barring pro-abortion Catholic politicians from receiving Holy Communion. Too many people seem to think that all opinions and actions, as long as they are held and done "sincerely" or for what they perceive to be "good reasons", should carry no negative consequences.

Many Church-State separatists will no doubt scream something about the interference of the Church into State matters, but even given that Jeffersonian interpretation of the First Ammendment (though it is debatable that even Jefferson meant the phrase "wall of separation" in the manner it is interpreted by secularists today), the good Bishop is simply reminding his flock what the responsibilties are for being a "Catholic", and for participating in the Eucharist. One is not allowed to simply compartmentalize one's life and say this area is subject to my faith but this area is not. That's not a living faith, that's a convenience, a sentimentality, a custom, but it is not faith.

St. Paul writes in Romans chapter 1, that his apostleship was given "... to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations." (Romans 1:5 RSV) "Faith" is not some nebulous set of beliefs or feelings, it is an active walking in the Way of Christ. Bishop Burke is simply reminding his flock of that fact and, as shepherd, drawing them back to the Way. These representatives have a right to believe and vote the way they want. What they don't have a right to is to claim to be "good Catholics" (or "good Orthodox" or "good Christians" of any stripe) while publically and defiantly refusing to live the faith, and they don't have a "right" to the Body and Blood of the Lord.


Monday, January 12, 2004

Blogspeak is down...

...if you're wondering where the "Comments" are, like I was, Blogspeak says it's down but should be back up by this evening.

Well, now they're saying their account has been suspended by their webhost. No reason, and they seem pretty upset about it. Hopefull this will get rectified shortly.

Friday, January 09, 2004

The Quality of Mercy

William Shakespeare wrote a long time ago:

The quality of mercy is not strained; It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed- It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes.
And I realize that our Lord declared "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."

But I have a hard time working up any merciful feelings towards those executed by the State for heinous crimes. In the news this morning is this story about an execution in North Carolina. The story, as most in the mainstream media concerning the death penalty, is subtly slanted to evoke sympathy for the condemned. I'm sorry, I have a hard time working up sympathy for this guy when I think of the store clerk he murdered who never had a chance to even have a life, much less hold a daughter in his arms.

I know, perhaps, I should have more compassion, but my sympathy and compassion is used up for the victims of this crime (who are more than just the man murdered, but all his friends, family and community), I just don't have any left for those who callously and selfishly take whatever they wish no matter the cost and then seek to manipulate the emotions of society in order to avoid the consequences.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner!

Thursday, January 08, 2004

A "practical" God?

A discussion of this is already going on at two blogs, Huw's Doxos and Erica's Catechumen's Walk. My thought (as asserted in the comments at both sites), that God is as much "practical" as He is "extravagant". C. S. Lewis wrote about being "surprised by joy" and, for some reason, that speaks to me of the extravagant love of God. I just cannot view the Incarnation as "practical". "Necessary", yes, given God's goal to redeem this creation, but assuredly not practical. I am often shamed over the practicality with which I approach my own relationships, I believe God's love to be as above "practicality" as heaven is above the earth. Perhaps we could say it subsumes practicality, since there is nothing impractical about it. But to limit God to mere practicality fails to do Him justice, IMO.


Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Have We Forgotten?

I received this link in an email today. It is, obviously, concerning 9/11. I recall, as you probably can, quite vividly the immediate impact of those events on me. I was just a short time into my pilgrimage to the Ancient Faith, was running a radical Arminian website and, over the next week, replaced the home page with a memorial to those killed in New York, Arlington and the fields of Pennsylvania. It had various pictures and some Orthodox prayers lifted from somewhere. It stayed that way for weeks. I eventually shut the sight down, but moved the page to here. The link above reminded me that I had promised never to forget. I haven't, but sometimes I just need a reminder. Take a moment, view it, and pray - for those lost, for those left behind, and for this country.


Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Worship of the Trinity made manifest

We sang the troparion over and over:

When You, O Lord were baptized in the Jordan
The worship of the Trinity was made manifest
For the voice of the Father bore witness to You
And called You His beloved Son.
And the Spirit, in the form of a dove,
Confirmed the truthfulness of His word.
O Christ, our God, You have revealed Yourself
And have enlightened the world, glory to You!

How marvelous. As Father stated in his homily, Christ's sanctification of the waters in His baptism includes the waters that make up us all. Every human being enjoys to some extent what God wrought in that act. What a profound thought! Even when we reject Him, God has not left us alone. His grace surrounds us and, indeed, pervades our very being, attempting to draw us to Him and participate in fullness.

After the Vigil last night and Divine Liturgy this morning, Theophany has a whole new meaning for me. I had viewed it before as sort of a "sign post", a declaration by God - now I see it as a salvific act, something that impinges on and impacts more than simply my rational mind.

Today You have shown forth to the world, O Lord,
and the light of Your countenance has been marked on us.
Knowing You, we sing Your praises.
You have come and revealed Your-self,
O unapproachable Light.

Let us worship the Holy Trinity!

Monday, January 05, 2004

Happy New Year and a Merry Theophany!

Haven't written in more than a week - I really haven't had the time - no, seriously! I made it through the Nativity Liturgy on Christmas Eve. Being in my late forties and a habitual early riser (normally 5:00 AM every morning) I was worried about a service that began at midnight. Thought I would take a nap in the evening but didn't. That afternoon was spent with relatives on the north side of Atlanta then a drive through rush hour (mercifully light for once) traffic across town to home.

Drank two cups of coffee, which wired me, so my daughters and I engaged in what has, over the past dozen years, become a central Christmas eve tradition, watching the George C. Scott version of A Christmas Carol, absolutely the best film version ever, being also the closest adaptation of Dicken's classic short story (you have read it, haven't you?).

After the movie I was off to catch the last of Nativity Matins and then Divine Liturgy. Wife and daughters went to a Midnight service at the Christian Church they attend. I confess to being quite surprised at how many people were at Matins a little after 11:00. Sunday mornings there are seldom more than 5 to 10 people at Matins. Christmas even there were probably already 3 or 4 dozen, and more came in after I got there.

Of course, it was a new and marvelous experience for me and the 2 and 1/2 hours I was in Church seemed to fly by. While we have always tried to focus more on the birth of Christ during the Season ("Jesus is the Reason for the Season"), this year was even more centered around our Lord, at least for me. These past 12 days have literally flown by and now Theophany is upon us. Another "first" for me. Am looking forward to the Vesperal Vigil this evening and Divine Liturgy tomorrow. Mostly I'm just looking forward to being in the presence of the Holy Trinity!