Thursday, December 31, 2009

This is true...

Whatever happens it is still going to be 2010 anno domini, the year of our Lord.

That makes all the difference.

This is not a joke...

A Danish newspaper declares that President Obama is "greater then Jesus". 

I guess 2009 can't end soon enough...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

It's a strange world...

My Facebook page had, as part of its rotating series of ads, an advertisement for a men's waxing service including a "brazilian" wax. I googled it just because while I had heard of waxing this was the first time I had heard of this particular form.

All I can say is owwwwwwwwww!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The sleet...

is already starting to fall, lightly now but with great fury in a few hours. They say up to 20 inches of snow will fall with rain and frozen ice mixed in. The world will go still for Christmas whether it wants to or not. 

Nativity services at St. Elias have been cancelled, a victim of what will come. I had been hoping everything would move south or north but the center of the storm is bearing down on us and even leaving the house looks like it will be a chore. I am at once comfortable with the idea that the people of St. Elias will at least be safe in their homes and disappointed that this evening will pass us by. I mark my years by Christmases and absent a Liturgy the evening seems, well, absent. 

Yet all is in God's hands. There is much I don't understand but this I do. 

If I don't get back to writing for a few days know that I will be out with the snowblower, cutting a hole in the snow even as it continues to fall and filling the air with its distinct and comforting note. Be blessed this Christmas and may it's Gift be in your heart always.

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Memory Eternal...

It has been reported that his Eminence, Archbishop Job, of the OCA Diocese of the Midwest unexpectedly fell asleep in the Lord this morning.

May his memory be eternal.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

It's things like this...

that reaffirm my doubts about capital punishment. Had this man been sentenced to death...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

PC greeting for the season...

Please accept with no obligation, implied or explicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2010, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee.

Hat Tip to Mr. Baltz.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Gluttonous fasting...

For those of you who come to visit and are not Orthodox this period of time, despite the songs you hear at the mall, is not "looking a lot like Christmas...". Historically, in both the Eastern and Western forms of the ancient Faith this period, the weeks before Christmas, is a fasting time called Advent, or Nativity Lent. Less rigorous then the Lenten fast, except for the period of December 20-24 in the East, it still is a time when we are to limit our diets while increasing our prayers and charitable endeavors.

This, of course, is not regularly practiced in large swaths of Christian America. Most American Christians haven't even heard of this ancient practice and in a world where the weeks following Thanksgiving are largely an orgy of commercialism and consumption the idea of restraint in any period of the year, let alone now, is radical. Even many Orthodox Christians take a "wink, wink, nudge, nudge" approach to the fast before Nativity (Christmas).

For me the largely vegetarian part of the fast is not particularly difficult. My diet is predominantly vegetarian anyway and as I get older I'm less inclined to eat meat at any time of the year. I just don't like it that much. So I suppose a person looking at me from the outside would see that I'm largely in technical compliance with the rules of the fast. But is my "technical fast" a true fast?

Looking back I'm not sure. It's amazing how skilled a person can get in finding foods that technically meet the fasting requirements but are largely absent from its spirit. Twizzlers, a favorite candy of mine, are completely fast eligible in the technical sense of the word as they have no meat or dairy products (come to think of it they really don't have any natural ingredients) but is eating a "vegetarian" candy really fasting? No.

Yet another issue looms for me, quantity. It is quite possible to gorge yourself on vegetables and I've figured out, on many occasions, how to stuff myself while appearing to piously keep the fast. Gluttony is gluttony whether its ice cream or carrots and to consume more than I need is not only a bad health practice but also hardly an example of fasting in the best sense of the word.

That's the hardest deception for me to face, the illusion of fasting. Because of it I can feel like I have fasted but in fact my heart and soul are still in that place of feeding things which should not be nourished. The deep and true blessings of the fast, of any fast, still elude me if I have only managed nothing more then keeping chocolate out of my mouth or feasted at a salad bar.

Knowing that it's quite probable that after more then a decade in Orthodoxy I'm still just now learning to fast.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Call me a climate skeptic...

but its a wisdom born out of time. If you live long enough you develop an informed naivete, a kind of hope that people will be their best selves, Christian faith helps with that, but with one eye open just in case. I'm not, for example, sure I believe the caricature of every person concerned about the global temperature being a wild eyed communist bent on establishing a new world order but at the same time I'm skeptical about predicting weather 20 years from now when the meteorologist on TV often can't get it right for next week.

The truth is there is an argument for conserving the environment and seeking to live on this planet as gently as possible. It's a moral and spiritual argument rooted in the Christian tradition that all creation is God's and that we are merely stewards of it as we pass through this life. It's a beautiful argument based in the mystery of God and humanity and when practiced can be part of a larger and more whole kind of existence in the world.

Sadly, in our world of materialism there is no God and so no appeal can be made to anything truly and deeply spiritual. At best we can create a kind of secularized mythology but its power is tied to its substance and lacking both it has no real ability to convince, only coerce. Without something of higher substance to relate to it can only achieve its aims by fear. So we are given pictures of exaggerated apocalyptic scenarios in an attempt to manipulate us and if the evidence is not strong enough well, then, change the computer model to make it so.

In the end, the great failure of the global warming debate may be the failure of secular religions to inspire, built as they are on houses of sand, and that may actually open the door for an understanding of creation rooted in the heart and soul of humans responding in love to their Creator if people of Christian faith will take the time to learn what they believe and act on it.