Wednesday, December 31, 2003
Also, I just got the boy to bed. Cyndi is at work. She gets off at 11:45pm. I have a bottle of Agrapart and Fils in the cooler, and polished up the silver stemmed champagne flutes. (Cyndi bought them at Gumps for our elopment.) Ready to toast in the new year as soon as she gets home.
Oh, price range on the car for my dad: US$6,000-$8,000.
Orthodox jargon: I hadn’t noticed that. I guess I am reluctant to say an Orthodox is dead. Especially, since they pray for me and I for them.
Tradition in general: You rely in tradition too, you know. There is a tradition that there are certain books in the New Testament. There is no inspired Table Of Contents from the hand of an St. John or St. Paul. The same is true for the Old Testament. You don’t know that St. Matthew wrote his gospel except by Tradition.
Tradition and communion: But you mentioned communion so let’s stay on that for a bit. You said we use 1st Corinthians as a source for that practice. I would say we don’t. The church at Corinth was doing something they had been taught by St. Paul. And they were screwing it up. St. Paul’s lnstruction to them regarding communion was not prescriptive, rather it was were corrective. Nowhere in the text of those letters does he say "This is communion and this is how it should be done." He assumes they have been taught and have drifted from that teaching. (As we know from St. Clement’s letter a few years later, the church at Corinth drifted from other Apostolic teaching, as well.) And I think St. Paul might have had Corinth in mind when he said this to the Thessalonians: "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle." It’s like he’s is saying, "I shouldn’t have to write you a letter. My teaching is true, whether spoken or written." That is what we are saying. That is what the bishops have always said. Just read through St. Iraneus of Lyons. But, in order to accept that you have to really believe in the Church as the Body of Christ, not just a group of people who share certain aspects of faith in God.
Tuesday, December 30, 2003
Take time to be holy
Speak oft with thy Lord
Abide in Him always
And feed on His Word
Make friends of God's children
Help those who are weak
Forgetting in nothing
His blessing to seek
How do we know, for example, about The Lord's Supper? What is the source of that tradition? That's easy. We go to 1 Cor 11 and we know the source. YOu can't do that with a lot of tradition, and thus its truthfulness is called into question.
Monday, December 29, 2003
Your dad was looking for a car and onyl wanted to spend $1000 at the most. His best bet (or yours, actually) would be to look at autotrader.com and see what they have. You can put in a whole bunch of specifications and it will spit out everything that fits that. None of my dealers are going to have anything that inexpensive, so autotrader is probably the way to go.
C.S. Lewis takes on Freud. The setting is a conversation between The Green Witch on one side, and the newly liberated Prince Rillian, Jill, Eustace, and Puddleglum on the other side. Lewis has the Green Witch make the same argument that Freud made in “Civilization and Its Discontents”. Freud’s argument is something like this: “God doesn’t really exist. What does exist is the yearning to have a parent. So, humans make up a god that reflects all the best qualities of an idealized parent.” Lewis answers this charge in an interesting way. First, Prince Rillian et al, are not able to argue against the witch. They try and fail. The witch simply states over and over again that what everyone knows to be true, that the sun, the sky, the stars, and Aslan exist, is really false. And she claims that each is a fantastic exaggeration of things that really do exists. She says the sun is just an exaggeration of a lamp. She says that Aslan is just an exaggeration of a house cat. The four heroes flounder. They are at a loss. They fall back on an argument that is kind of like this: “Well, if it is fantasy it is a better than this reality”. But the prince and his three rescuers are soon deluded by the soothing music and beautiful voice of the witch (and no small bit of magic.) They almost are lost. But one of the four, Puddleglum does something startling. He puts his foot in the fireplace. The reality of pain liberates his mind from the soothing comfortable chains the witch has woven around his mind. The witch is exposed as a serpent-monster and finally hacked in twain.
Now here is a note about Puddleglum the Marshwiggle. He is used to physical hardship. When he first met up with Jill and Eustace at the beginning of the book, he was living in a wigwam, in a swamp, living on fish and eels. He was living mostly alone but could see the wigwams of other Marshwiggles.
After yesterdays reading I have no doubt that Lewis based this character on Orthodox Christian monks. The monks of my church only eat fish, and often live semi-hermetic lives. I do not know how I didn’t see it until yesterday. But what finally gave it away was when he put his foot in the fire. He denied the comfort of his flesh in order to see more clearly. That is what monks do.
The second thing that happened in the story was the veneration of an Icon. After the defeat of the Green Witch, an image (ikon) of Aslan miraculously appeared on Prince Rillians shield. Prince Rillian, Jill, Eustace, and Puddleglum each kissed the image of Aslan! What was that!? How can that be!? Lewis was a Protestant! An Anglican! And the Anglicans explicitly deny the Second Council of Nicea! They are officially iconoclasts, yet here is one of their greatest writers affirming up the iconodule position! Indeed, the Orthodox faith!
I wonder if the good Evangelical Protestants at the Marion Wade Center at Weaton College know about this. Do they know what they have? Do they know they house the writings of an under-cover Orthodox theologian?
Sunday, December 28, 2003
The first is called the Sermon of St. John the Theologian. Scholars disagree about when it was written. Dates range from the 3rd to the 5th centuries. They also disagree about who this John is.
The is also a series of three sermons by St. John of Damascus
None of these sermons is considered to be the source of the tradition. For us it is kind of like that quotation from the book of Enoch that appears in the Epistle of Jude. Enoch is a freaky, mostly made up book. But the part of what it said was true. And the church recognized that and brought it into Her Tradition. The book of Enoch talked about some true things. But those true things had been passed down from the time of Enoch as oral tradition, and were not written down until the time of the Ptolomies. Imagine that. From mouth to ear and mouth to ear from before the Flood until some Jew in 200 B.C. decided to write it down. And at least part of that Oral Tadition was true. But the Book of Enoch is not part of the Tradition. We do not look to the book of Enoch for truth. We look to the Tradition of the church, "The pillar and foundation of the truth" too find the truth. Sometimes parts of the tradition are adopted by those outside the church (Jehovah's Witnesses being an example). But that does not mean we look to those outside the church for validation of the Tradition. We do not look to the pseudipigraphal Book of Enoch for the true transmission of the Tradition. We look to the Church.
So, even though there are be ancient sermons about the Dormition, we do not look to those ancient references to determine the truth. And they are not regarded as the sources of the tradtion. They are seen as any sermon is seen, that is as a coment upon an already existing tradition. The Truth resides in the church, because the Church is the Body of Christ and He is the Truth. (In case you are still wondering if I think the Church is people or institutions, I think it is neither. I think it is the Body of Christ.)
Tuesday, December 23, 2003
We saw Return of the King today. Movies have reached there telos. There is no point in anyone ever making a film again. It is not ontologically possible for another film to be made. Directors should fold up their chairs and retire. Cinematographers might as well smash their cameras. We have reached the end. There is nothing left to be achieved.
Thanks for clarifying denomination and institution for me. I have some thoughts on that but I am so busy this week i might not get to them for a few days. As you can tell it is after midnight. I've been up since six-thirty this morning and it has been go go go allday. Tomorrow through Sunday will be the same.
Monday, December 22, 2003
I'm not in the office this week. Very busy with church, and Devon is here.
Sunday, December 21, 2003
How do you know i don't think we're still living in N.T. times? I feel you are putting words in my mouth which aren't there. On that subject, i believe that N.T. says we are living n the last days (thank you, writer of Hebrews). Okay, instead of N.T. times, let's use the first century. Same thing.
Saturday, December 20, 2003
The only part of Narnia i ever read was the first one. I remember particularly the words about Aslan (paraphrased) that said, "No, He is not safe. he is very dangerous. But He is good".
You may not be saint like those you mentioned, but I do think it is important to remember that, as Christians, we are also called saints. That is how Paul refers to believers and i take comfort in that, knowing God has done that in my life.
I do not believe the church is any one denomination or a particular institution. Such institutions did not exist in N.T. times and only developed later, although there are hints of this in the Pastoral Epistles.
I believe that every church which is solid in its theology (although I still believe that every church is theologically deficient in one way or another) will have both true believers and false in it. In this regard, I am reminded of Jesus' parable about the wheat and the tares. Every church is going to have its tares in it and those will only be revealed at the end. ALong with that thought, i think we will be very surprised both whom we see in heaven and whom we don't.
The church is composed both of a community and individuals. On this note, I refer to both 1 Cor 12:12 and 1 Cor 12:27. Both verses show this, that the church is both a community of faith and individuals who follow Christ.
'Something's Gotta Give' with Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton. Good movie, but one that you forget about the next day.
'Mystic River' with Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and kevin Bacon. What a fabulous movie. This is oen of those that you just don't forget. Probably the best thing that both Tim Robbins and Sean Penn have ever done.
I didn't receive any great insights from reading Dawn Treader except for at the end of the book, when King Caspian, Lucy, Edmund and the rest of the adventurers had made it through the most difficult part of the journey. That is when one idea I had never thought of before hit me. You can do a lot of hard work in reaching salvation, prep-work it could be called. But a point comes when you just have to sail into the narrow Eastward-moving current and let God pull you to Him. It serves as a metaphor for me becoming Orthodox. How many hours did I spend trying to wrestle truth out of the Bible? How many adventures did I have on the Lonely Isles of calvinism, dispensationalism, & pentecostalism before I slipped into the current that draws me East to Moscow, Jerusalem, Constantinople, and Alexandria, and eventually to that mystical east where Christ himself will appear? But still the current is narrow. Nothing but love keeps me on course.
In the Silver Chair something else is going on. In this book Aslan is almost nowhere to be seen. And when he is seen it is by a girl who do not know him. She is given a mission by Aslan and four signs, which she is to repeat to herself morning and evening lest she forget. No fabulous adventures are going on like in the other books, no amazing appearances of Aslan. Just bad weather, hard roads, and distractions. During the course of the story she gets distracted from her mission, thinking only of comfort, and stops repeating the signs. And lands herself and her companions in a castle of giants (I'm not sure but I think the giants are getting ready to eat them). Oh, I should also mention that the girl and her companions have totally blown three of the four signs. But! They are still accomplishing their mission, or, rather, Aslan is accomplising it and they are just kind of there. It like he is saying, "Wow, you guys really suck at this stuff, you are not at all like my followers who came before you. But that's okay. I still call the shots and the ineptitude of my followers is not going thwart my plan."
So, what does this mean to me? It means a couple of things. Just doing evening prayers is not enough. I need to consistantly do morning prayers. Those a re the hard ones for me. I like my bed in the morning. I hate getting out of it. And when I do get out of it there is rushing around to get ready for work, getting Anselm dressed and fed, making cofee, etc. that has to be done. But! I must remember to stop for 10 minutes, light a candle, bow before the Icons, and pray. Much depends on it.
The other thing is this. I'm not a saint like Nicholas, Seraphim, Simeon, or John. I haven't seen visions, I haven't actually seen the Christ. But I still have a mission. I still have signs to follow. I can't forget them.
And speaking of saints, today is the feast day of St. Ignatius, whose words lead me to Orthodoxy.
O Holy Hieromartyr Ignatius, you lent yourself to the Apostles' way of life and succeeded them on their throne. Inspired by God, you found the way to contemplation through practice and prayer; wherefore you became a perfect teacher of truth, fighting for the faith unto the shedding of your blood. Intercede with Christ God that He may save our souls.
Lord Jesus, help me follow.
Well, I have to stop blogging now. My youngest son is tangled in the computer & telephone cords.
Friday, December 19, 2003
Just bring two bottles of champagne. Nothing too expensive since it is going to be mixed with "jus du l'orange". We will serve at 10:30.
It looks like my friend, Reader Andre might be coming. You saw his ordination pictures a couple of weeks ago.
So, are you a Boodle's man now?
We visited the Christmas Tree Lane in Palo Alto tonight. Fulton Street off of the Embarcadero. I was more interested in the architecture. You know what? It doesn't look to me like it would be too difficult to design neighborhoods like that. Modern suburban architecture just sucks. And here is why: The architecturral feature that is most prominant on modern suburban houses (from the 1950's on) is the garage. Take a drive through the older part of Palo Alto, San Luis Obispo, or any suburban development from the 1920's through the 1940's and compare it to, say, the Blossom Hill area of San Jose or the Cherry Chase neighborhood of Sunnyvale, or any massive tract-house development, and you will see what I am talking about. There has been a horrible decline in architecture in the past 50 years. It is proof that oure culture is failing.
O RADIX JESSE, qui stas in signum populorum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem gentes deprecabuntur: veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.
O ROOT OF JESSE, that stands for an ensign of the people, before whom the kings keep silence and unto whom the Gentiles shall make supplication: Come, to deliver us, and tarry not. Amen.
Congrats on the job stuff. DOes that mean you are going to be more financially solvent?
WHat is the scoop for the 27th? What time? What am I bringing? How do we get to your place? Does God exist? Who invented liquid soap and why?
On Monday, you need to pick a copy of the Oakland Tribune. There's kinda an article on Christa in there. I dropped her and Caleb off at Oakland Airport yesterday so she could go see her parents. There was a reporter from the Trib doing a feature article on women traveling during the holidays. So there's Christa, with a big suitcase, a diaper bag, and Caleb in a baby backpack wearing a Santa suit. The reporter took pictures, etc and she's going to be the focus of this article.
Thursday, December 18, 2003
I think the first thing is that it lets me relax. I used to be so “on guard” when I was in church. I was always thinking, “Is this hymn Scriptural?” or “Did the preacher teach right doctrine in that sermon?” I don’t have to do that anymore. In the Orthodox church, every word of every service, every prayer, every icon is inspired by God (with the possible exception of the sermon, which is usually short and in most services is not even given). I can relax and catch the wave of prayer that saints for thousands of years have been praying. I can join with them in their prayers, knowing that I am praying in the will of God. I can say, “this is the Church, the Body of Christ. I am safe here. My wife is safe here. My children are safe here.” And if a priest gives a whacko sermon, it stands out like a sore thumb because there is 2,000 years of living tradition, inspired tradition correcting any heretical or faulty teaching.
But I can relax in another way, too. When I was a Protestant, I felt like I had to know everything. Because my faith was based on the Bible I felt like I had to make every verse of scripture harmonize with every other verse of Scripture. But as an Orthodox, I can say “hmmm… well now, those inscriptions nailed to the cross above Jesus’ head are different from Gospel to Gospel. Isn’t that neat?”
Then, of course, there are the really important things: the Holy Mysteries. The Orthodox Church gives me the real Body and Blood of Jesus, the Tree of Life from which our primal ancestors were separated. It gives me real Healing. It helps me Repent and be Reconciled to God. It sanctifies my Marriage, converting it from a mere contract to a means of salvation.
But there are other things, so many that I can’t number them. The blessings of meat and cheese at Pascha, the blessings of water, the blessings of candles, the eighth day prayers for infants, the forty day prayers for new mothers…. In short the total conversion of life into worship and thanksgiving. When Adam sinned, it was primarily a failure to give thanks, to think God was holding back some good thing from him. But what the Orthodox Church does, is not just put people back in the Garden of Eden, it elevates us to Heaven. But I can’t describe that.
This article is by Fr. Daniel Daly, and appears on page 5 of the
2002 issue of "The Word" magazine.
Several years ago during the Christmas season, a religious program on television caught my attention. The program featured a discussion on the dangers of cults, especially to young people. I found myself agreeing with the panelists as they warned young people about the hazards of dabbling in the demonic. Given the many "New Age" movements, the warning seemed timely.
During the interview, however, one participant made a statement that shocked me. " ... and the Christmas tree is pagan too ...," he asserted. The Christmas Tree? Pagan? Could it be that something most of us enjoy so much might be actually pagan in origin? Despite its growing commercialization, the Christmas tree is still associated with the fondest memories of our early childhood. Who does not remember approaching the tree on Christmas morning? Today people are so captivated by it that some even put it up in November! It finds a place in the homes of believers and unbelievers alike.
Most people are aware that the Christmas tree came to America withimmigrants from Germany, but just where did the Christmas tree originate? Are its origins to be found in paganism, as the speaker suggested?
The Christmas tree does not date from early Germanic times. Its origins are to be found in a tradition that has virtually disappeared from Christianity, the Liturgical Drama. In the Middle Ages liturgical plays or dramas were presented during or sometimes immediately after the services in the churches of Western Europe. The earliest of these plays were associated with Mysteries of Holy Week and Easter. Initially they were dramatizations of the
liturgical texts. The earliest recorded is the _Quem quaeritis_ ("Whom do you seek?") play of the Easter season. These plays later developed into the Miracle and Morality plays. Some were associated with events in the lives of well-known saints. The plays were presented on the porches of large churches. Although these liturgical dramas have now virtually disappeared, the Passion Play of Oberamergau, Germany is a recent revival of this dramatic form.
One special mystery play was presented on Christmas Eve, the day which also commemorated the feast of Adam and Eve in the Western Church. The "Paradise Play" told the well-known story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Paradise. The central "prop" in the play was the Paradise Tree.... During this play this tree was brought in laden with apples. The Paradise Tree became very popular with the German people. They soon began the practice of setting up a fir tree in their homes. Originally, the trees were decorated with bread wafers commemorating the Eucharist. Later, these were replaced with various kinds of sweets. Our Christmas tree is derived, not from the pagan yule tree, but from the paradise tree adorned with apples on December 24 in honor of Adam and Eve. The Christmas tree is completely biblical in origin.
The first Christmas tree dates from 1605 in Strasbourg. By the 1700s the custom of the Christmas tree was widespread among the German people. It was brought to America by early German immigrants, and it became popular in England through the influence of Prince Albert, the German husband of Queen Victoria.
The use of evergreens at Christmas may date from St. Boniface of the eighth century, who dedicated the fir tree to the Holy Child in order to replace the sacred oak tree of Odin; but the Christmas tree as we know it today does not appear to be so ancient a custom. It appears first in the ChristianMystery play commemorating the biblical story of Adam and Eve.
How legitimate is it to use a fir tree in the celebration of Christmas? From the very earliest days of the Church, Christians brought many things of God's material creation into their life of faith and worship, e.g., water, bread, wine, oil, candles and incense. All these things are part of God's creation. They are part of the world that Christ came to save. Man cannot
reject the material creation without rejecting his own humanity. In Genesis man was given dominion over the material world.
Christmas celebrates the great mystery of the Incarnation. In that mystery God the Word became man. In order to redeem us, God became one of us. He became part of His own creation. The Incarnation affirms the importance of both man and the whole of creation. "For God so loved the world ..."
A faith which would seek to divorce itself from all elements of the material world in search for an absolutely spiritual religion overlooks this most central mystery of Christmas, the mystery of God becoming man, the Incarnation. "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us." Enjoy your Christmas tree.
Very Rev. Daniel Daly is pastor of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, Grand
Wednesday, December 17, 2003
Speaking of Royal Hours, would you like to meet us there? It is such a wonderful service. (actually 4 very short services strung end to end and sung. I suppose it is about 99.9% biblical texts.) You should hear the hymns. If you come I recommend reading the service first. I've noticed that some people who do not have orthodox ears yhave trouble understanding what is going on. (A friend of mine heard a CD of Orthodox Christmas music I was playing the other day. After a while he asked if my church does anything in English. I was shocked by his question because the whole CD iss in English. ) I can send you a copy via email, if you'd like.
To thee the Champion Leader, I thy servant give thank offerings of victory. And as thou has that power which is unassailable, from every danger deliver me, that I may cry out unto thee, Hail, thou bride without bridegroom!
Tuesday, December 16, 2003
Don't you think that guilt is an appropriate feeling for slacking off of training? Also, It's not like I'm tearing my clothes, pouring ashes on my head, and saying "woe is me". I'm not wallowing in guit. Also, its not that I think I sinned. It's more like I let the team down. What good work might I not be able to do 5 or 10 years from now because I slacked off in training? Now I'm back on the training regimine.
Monday, December 15, 2003
Ummm... By definition, fundamentalists are not whacky. B.B. Warfield was a fundamentalist. Do you know the origin and meaning of the word, fundamentalst? It originated at Princeton, when a group of faculty were trying to combat heresies. They published a series of booklets (or maybe it was just one book, I don't remember.) called "The Fundamentals". I think they were financed by the same guy who funded Biola. Anyway, the booklets were each about a specific doctrine, such as the virgin birth, the resurrection; the things the modernists were questioning. These scholars were adamant that if someone denies these doctrines then he is not a Christian. Fundamentalists do not all wear white shoes and light blue double knit polyester suits. Of course, being Orthodox I would say the fundamentalists do not recognize all the fundamentals. In fact, most of them would not be considered Christians by people such as St. Iraneius, St. Ambrose, or St. James.
As far as thinking myself as being EVFree or not, that's just kinda the denomination i've fallen into. I agree with most everything in their doctrinal statement. That doesn't mean that it is the only place I'll serve. I think I will try to avoid denominations or churches that fall too much one side or the other. No mainline denominations such as Methodist, Lutheran, etc. But no wacky fundamentalist church either. I could be happy in the EVFree church, but Im' certainly not limiting myself to it.
I guess I don't know what you mean my mysticism. Could you elaborate? Hmmm if you want to be more mystical then you might want to start coming to church with me on Saturday nights.
As to the color of the flu awareness ribbons, i think they should be puke-color. You know, kinda an off-pink. Why do we need to we aware of the flu? i was at the mall on Sunday, and I was certainly aware of it.
no, i do not think all Christians are mystics. Some certainly are more than others. For example, I would say that BRian Morgan is a bit of a mystic, whereas John Hanneman is not. As with all things Christian, it can be easy to swerve too far one way or the other. I think if yo uare too mystical, then you can lose touch with the world, but if you are too doctrinal in your thinking and teaching (for example, John macArthur), then perhaps you lose touch with any sense of the mystery of God. I for one, would like to be a bit more mystical than I am. That's why a lot of my spiritual reading these days is not in areas related to doctrine but rather in areas of spirituality.
Sunday, December 14, 2003
Today is the Sunday of the Forefathers. We commemorated all the OT saints. A very long list. It was good to hear it recounted last night at the Vigil. The vigil is where most of the teaching takes place. Sundays are for the liturgy, sure there is a sermon, and Fr. Victor and Fr. David are both good preachers, but, the theology seems more powerful when chanted and sung. Maybe because that is because, as Fr. Thomas Hopko says, thesermons are not really inspired the way the rest of the the Bible, the Icons, and the rest of the liturgical texts are. I don't know.
Friday, December 12, 2003
Thursday, December 11, 2003
So, to back up to a few questions asked earlier in the blog that you might have missed:
1. What do you think the church is?
2. Are you still interested in spending a weekend at the monastery?
3. Do you not think of yourself as EV Free anymore?
4. Regarding the baptist distictives, do you know what you believe?
5. What did yout think of my biography of St. Nicholas? (Okay, so this is a new question. Sue me.)
6. What color should the "flu awareness ribbons" be?
7. Aren't all Christians "mystics" simply by virtue of being Christians? (Here is a pretty good article about mystery.)
To be fair I never answered your question about why I was thinking about the Trans-Sahara Highway. Here is the answer: I was thinking about slavery in Mauratania and how they transport slaves. Then I got to thinking about what a difficult thing it must be to build a road on sand dunes. So I decided to find out if it had ever been done. i discovered that yes it is being done and it is not easy, and is probably a futile undertaking.
"No man will have God for His Father in heaven who refuses to have the Church for his Mother upon the earth. Just think, O devout soul, of the many thousands who go down to hell every day, for the reason that they are outside the bosom of the Church. . . The Holy Church of God . . is as a Mother because she daily bears spiritual sons of God. . . Meditate , O devout soul, upon the worthiness of the Church, and take heed lest thou do anything unworthy of her. The Church is thy spiritual Mother; take care that thou despise not her voice as she speaks to thee. She is thy Mother, and through Word and Sacrament thou oughtest draw all thy spiritual nourishment from her." (John Gerhard, Sacred Meditations, Meditation 23)
It should be noted that in Gerhard's day the Lutheran Church still regarded itself as a reforming movement in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. I'm not sure they still think of themselves in that way. Anyway, all he is doing is restating something the Council of Carthage and St. Cyprian said many centuries earlier.
So, Jeff, you asked me onetime what I think the church is. What do you think it is?
I’m feeling much better. My lungs are still a little congested but other than that every thing is okay.
Wednesday, December 10, 2003
I get to go to Vespers tonight. We almost never have the time to get to a midweek service. I'm very very excited.
That means doing things not in my division. For instance, I am helping the Campus Partnership Team put together a deal with Stanford, and I am doing the prliminary work on a media buying business that concentrates on college newspapers.
I came across the blog of a girl at Biola who is in the honors program there. You have to read what she wrote. It is so moving that I had to wipe away tears.
The swedish chef was one of my fave muppetts. My alltime faves were the two old guys in the balcony. Man, I miss that show.
Oh, that is bringing the champagne, not drinking it. And no need to go high-end with them. They will be for mimosas, mainly.
Tuesday, December 09, 2003
I think a dough wisk is just another kitchen gadget. I'm not afraid to get my hands dirty with food. Sometimes it gets to the point after dinner that Christa looks at the kitchen and wonders if the Swedish chef from the Muppets was in town.
12/23: 6 p.m. Royal Hours of the Forefeast of the Nativity. These are the services of the First, Third, Sixth and Ninth Hours combined into one continuous service. This is in honor of the Forefeast of the Nativity.
6 p.m. Festal Vigil (Great Compline and Matins) This is Cyndi's favorite service. We do this thing in which wine a bread is blessed, people kiss the cross (the Orthodox version of singing "The Old Rugged Cross"), the priest annoints everyone (orthodox, catholic, protestant, and atheist) with oil of blessing. Then everyone gets some of the wine and bread. And it tastes very good.
10 a.m. The Nativity According to the Flesh of Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ, Festal Divine Liturgy
The shrimp was very good, but there's no real recipe. Just stir-fry some shrimp and throw in some veggies (we usually use frozen ones). The sauce is one you can get at any store in the Asian section. It's a littel jar that says 'Black Bean Garlic Sauce'. Very good stuff. Oh, and serve it on rice.
Brunch is not an Orthodox thing. Religion breakdown of invited guests
non-pentecostal Evangelicals: 7
New Agers: 1
But, in as much as most Protestants do not celebrate the 12 day feast of Christmas, but Orthodox do, it is an Orthodox thing. But, don't worry. There will be no incense or prostrations. The only "religious" thing we will do is pray before we sart eating. The prayer will be either the"Our Father" or one of the two hymns bleow followed by "Lord Jesus Christ our God, bless this the food and drink of thy servants for thou art holy always.":
Troparion of the Feast:
"Thy Nativity, O Christ our God,
hath shone forth the light of reason upon the world;
for therein those who worship the stars
have been taught by a star to worship Thee,
the Son of righteousness,
and to know Thee, the Dayspring from on high.
O Lord, glory be to Thee!"
Kontakion of the Feast:
"Today the Virgin giveth birth unto the Transcendent One,
and the earth doth offer a cave to Him Who is unapproachable.
Angels and shepherds give glory,
and the magi journey with the star.
For unto us a Child is born, the Pre-eternal God!"
Also, we will greet everyone with this greeting: "Christ is Born!" To which the customary response is "Glorify Him!" But most people don't know the customary response. "Good morning" or "merry Christmas", or even, "Hi, its good to see you" are fine.
So are you going to bring a story, song, or game? I'm doing a song, my wife has a game that involves songs, and I think devon is going to read a story.
Oh, yes Devon will be here. I'm very excited. He said he wants to go shopping for a tie to wear for the brunch. He's going to help me with the cooking, too.
Monday, December 08, 2003
Jeff, I thought you were EV Free? Do you know what you believe?
Dinner for tonight is stir-fry shrimp in a garlic black-bean sauce.
I also remember him teaching on Jeremiah 18. Wow what a powerful set of sermons those were. But he is such a nut. To him Christianity is a source of pride. His knowledge does not lead to repentence. He is like Satan in that respect.
He was one of the up and coming stars of the Assemblies of God. But he got into a fight with the state of California and went of the deep end. My Dad new him back in the 60s. Said he was one of the best preachers he ever heard. But something happened to him during his fight with the State. Dad says a spirit of rebellion entered him. I think he might be right.
Nope, my parents didn't go to church with me. They are both in very poor health. I don't theing they will be alive much longer. They said they want to go to church with me on Christmas Eve but that is going to be such a long service that I am trying to discourage them from going.
I am still sick. I was just on the phone with a client and had to end the call because of my coughing.
I've noticed that you still don't put links in your posts. Did you ever learn how? all you have to do is highlight the text, click on the icon of the globe w/chain links, enter the URL and hit Okay.
Sunday, December 07, 2003
Who's The Man in the Red Suit?
I have a photo album with nine photographs of me and Santa Claus. Every year from 1969 through 1977 my mother dressed me up and took me to get my picture taken with Santa Claus. One year I was too sick with the mumps to go out, so my brother Ken dressed up like Santa Claus for the picture. But who is Santa Claus? Why do people dress up like that every year? Why do we pretend that he gives gifts to children?
Let’s start with his name, Santa. This is the first clue. Santa is derived from the Latin word "sanctus", which means holy. It means that whoever this Santa Claus is, he is filled with God. Or in the words of the St. Peter it means that he partakes in the nature of God. So we know that Santa Claus is not an ordinary man. He is a holy man, a saint. But what about Claus? Where does that come from? Well, in some parts of northern Europe, Klause, and Klass, and Claus are all ways of saying Nicolas. I know you already know this, but whenever we talk about Santa Claus we are really talking about Saint Nicholas.
Saint Nicholas, who is revered as a saint, a bishop, and a real person by Orthodox, Byzantine Catholic, and Roman Catholic Christians, entered into legend among the Protestants of western Europe. Though reverence for the saints has been de-emphasized and neglected within Protestant countries, sometimes even outlawed, the memory of Saint Nicholas could not be repressed. He emerged in the popular culture as Santa Claus, Saint Nick, Sinter Klaus, and other names. Always, he is a kindly man who gives gifts to others -- especially children -- during the Christmas season. Gradually, his gifts came to be given on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day rather than on the proper day for the celebration of Saint Nicholas, December 6. Orthodox Christians still celebrate his feast day by giving gifts of candy to their children on December 6. (Candy canes remind us that St. Nicholas is a bishop, a shepherd of men’s souls.)
But why? Why is this man so loved and honored today, exactly 1,660 years after his death? Why should we remember him today, especially when we consider that a lot of people hated him while he was alive? Who was he? What did he do that warrants this kind of memorial to him year after year?
For the answer to that question we have to journey across the sea and back many centuries to the city of Myra in Lycia, which is in modern day Turkey.
At a time and place when being a Christian was a crime, Archbishop Nicholas was a very public Christian. By the power of the Holy Spirit he preached Jesus Christ in public, did miracles, and even stopped the killing of a political prisoner by grabbing executioner’s sword with his bare hand. But the act he is most remembered for, and the origin of giving gifts in his name, is rescuing three girls from lives of prostitution. All the details of the story are not known, but this is what we do know. There was a poor family in city of Myra that did not have enough money to provide for their daughters’ dowries. So they were going to sell their daughters to a brothel.
St. Nicholas was not willing for that to happen so he decided to give the family money so the three girls could get married. That is all we know. Some legends about this event are very elaborate and involve throwing socks filled gold through windows in the middle of the night. The legends might be true but no one is sure. All we know for sure is that Bishop Nicholas saved the three girls with a gift of money. But there is more to St. Nicholas’ story than his acts of mercy.
On February 23 in the year 303, the Emperor Diocletian began one of most brutal persecutions of Christians in history. (Only the Communists in the 20th century were more cruel.) Holy books were burned, and altars desecrated. Christians' homes were confiscated and their furniture was thrown in the street. So many Christian men and women were martyred that the executioners were exhausted and took turns at their work.
During these years of persecution, Saint Nicholas was imprisoned and branded with hot irons. He was beaten. He was pinched with metal pliers and pieces of his skin were torn off. After his skin healed he would be tortured again. But he never denied the Lord Jesus. Eventually, Diocletion died and a new emperor took the throne and after many horrible days of suffering, Nicholas was set free.
After the persecution ended, and after the new Emperor, St. Constantine legalized Christianity Satan attacked the Church in a more insidious way than before: From the inside.
A popular preacher in Alexandria, Egypt, the presbyter Arius began teaching that Jesus was not really God. Arius deceived many Christians. And by his false teaching took many people to Hell. Even some of the most important bishops had embraced this demonic doctrine.
But the evil dogma of Arius was not just damaging the church. It was also causing riots throughout the Empire. The Church and the Empire were under attack. St. Constantine had to do something. So, in A.D.325 the summons went out to the bishops scattered around the world. From Britania and Gaul in the West to Assyria, Persia, and even India in the East; from the far reaches of the frozen North, to the blazing deserts of Africa in the South, all the bishops of the church, including St. Nicholas, were called to city of Nicea to deal with the teaching of Arius and settle the question of Christ’s divinity. Not all the bishops could come, some were too old or in poor health, and the bishops from India and Persia were forbidden the right to travel by the Parthian Empire. But eventually, enough bishops, or their representatives arrived and the meeting could start. The council began when St. Constantine set the Gospel book on the throne and asked the very old and much loved Alexander, Patriarch of Alexandria to explain what was going on. So the old Alexander, assisted by his deacon, Athanasius told what Arius had been teaching and how the Synod of Alexandria had deposed Arius and excomunicated him and his followers.
The bishops from far away, who knew nothing about this controversy, wanted to hear Arius’ side of the story. So Arius was given a chance to speak. He stood up, and filled with perversity began to sing a song about Jesus not really being God. All the bishops were stunned! Here was a man ordained to the priesthood who, without even having the excuse of being tortured was denying Christ! There was uproar in the hall as the godly bishops, including ssome who had survived Diocletian’s tortures for loving Jesus, were exclaimied their horror and outrage at the demonic words of the song.
It was all too much for Saint Nicholas. He was so infuriated that he walked up to the evil man and hit him in the mouth! Some versions of the story say he threw the Gospel book at Arius.
But bishops are not allowed to hit people, not even arch-heretics. Immediately, the other bishops deposed Saint Nicholas. They stripped him of his position as Archbishop of Myra, and threw him out of the council.
Did St. Nicholas regret his hasty action? I’m sure he did. He was a bishop and loved God, yet he hit another man, who, though filthy with sin, was nevertheless, made in God’s image.
St. Nicholas was no longer a bishop. But he was still a Christian and wanted to use his talents to serve God’s people. So, he built an orphanage. After he finished building one orphanage, he built another orphanage. He spent the rest of his life and all of his fortune taking care of parentless children.
Later, not long after he was deposed, the other bishops of the church decided that St. Nicholas had suffered enough, and that the church had suffered enough, and restored him as bishop of Myra. But as was his practice from his youth, he never gave up his asceticism, as some bishops did. He refused to live lavishly. He kept the fasts, prayed constantly and God rewarded him by giving him the gift of miracles. Just as our Lord multiplied bread and fish, to feed the hungry, St. Nicholas prayed over food and saw it multiply to feed his city during a famine. He even raised some people from the dead.
Covered by God's love, Saint Nicholas suffered abuse as he chose to follow Christ. His life was a gift to others and to God, as ours should be.
St. Nicholas died on December 6, 343 at the age of 73. But the story does not end there.
He was buried in his cathedral and from that moment on, just like with the body of the holy prophet Elisha, his body would heal people. The sick and infirm who came close to his body were healed of diseases and filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit.
One day it was noticed that a clear liquid was trickling from the coffin of St. Nicholas. People who touched this liquid were healed, so the monks who took care of the cathedral moved the coffin over a metal grate on the floor so people could stand in the room below it and be showered with the holy myrrh. For 740 years the relics of St. Nicholas were kept in Myra and guarded by monks.
But the Empire of the Christians was under attack from the Muslims. And finally after more than 300 years of war, the Muslims took the area of Lycea, and set about burning down churches, defacing icons, and destroying relics of saints. But God was not willing for the body of his holy servant Nicholas to fall into the hands of the Muslims.
One of the monks guarding the body of St. Nicholas had a vision and was told that some people were coming to rescue the relics and move them to a safe place.
Those people were sailors from the town of Bari, Italy. They set sail to rescue the relics of St. Nicholas in 1087. With three ships, and prepared to die fighting their way through the Muslim navy they made straight to Lycia, but they encountered no enemy ships. They landed, expecting to have to fight through an army of Muslims, but there was no army. The way to the cathedral was clear of enemies.
When they got to the cathedral and opened the coffin to remove the body they did not smell death and rot, but they smelled to odor of flowers coming from the beloved saint’s body. They quickly got the relics back to their ships and set sail for Italy.
They landed at Bari, Italy on May 9, 1087, and according to Archdeacon John, who was present when St. Nicholas’ relics were brought into the church, about 30 people suffering from various ailments had gathered at the cathedral hoping to be healed and were, in fact, healed when the body of St. Nicholas arrived.
The relics of St. Nicholas have rested in Bari, Italy to this day, and Holy Myrrh (That is what the clear liquid is called.) still flows from his body. And thousands of people make pilgrimages there every week to honor this great man of God and be healed of their diseases.
But the story does not end there. Since the death of St. Nicholas he has been a favorite Saint for the naming of Churches. By the year 430, just a few decades after his death there were five churches named after him in Constantinople. If you look in the phone book of any major city you will find several Churches named after St. Nicholas. (In case you are interested, there are two in San Francisco, one in San Jose, and one in Saratoga). One of those churches named after St. Nicholas was in New York City.
I say "was" because it was across the street from the World Trade Center and on September 11, 2001 it was destroyed when the Muslims attacked the United States. But the church is being rebuilt. My church has helped them buy new bells, other churches have contributed money for construction, and icons, and liturgical vessels and all the other things needed in an Orthodox Church. Even the mayor of Bari, Italy gave $500,000 to help rebuild the church. But something special is being given.
For a thousand years the relics of St. Nicholas have been kept in the cathedral of the Archbishop of Bari. But that is about to change. Pope John Paul II is sending the relics of this Saint to our country to rest in the altar of the rebuilt Church of St. Nicholas in Manhattan. So, for the people of New York City, Santa Claus really is coming to town.
"You appeared to your flock as a rule of faith, an image of humility and a teacher of abstinence. Because of your lowliness, heaven was opened to you. Because of your poverty, riches were granted to you. O holy bishop Nicholas, pray to Christ our God to save our souls."
Friday, December 05, 2003
Brenden manning: Didn't mean to sound harsh. I don't know his biography. All I know about him is that he used to be a catholic priest (The Orthodox view on this is kind of complicated, but, in shorth, we do believe the the RCC has valid orders and that their clergy recieve grace sufficient to their office when they are ordained.), that he took a vow to be celebate, and that he walked away from both. I do not know what led to him becoming a drunk and leaving his priesthood behind. I have no idea what it is like to be a Franciscan. And I do not know Brendan Manning's particular situation. It's just that when ever I hear his name my mental caption for his is "failed priest, vow breaker".
Emphasis on God's love: nothing wrong with this. Every night I pray, "O Christ our God who art worshiped and glorified in all places and in every hour, who lovest the just and showest mercy upon the sinners, who callest all men to salvation through the promise of blessings to come..."
Christmas party: We never received the invitiation. We can't make it. We already have plans in SF from 5 to 9 that evening. But thanks for inviting us. I always enjoy your parties and am sad to be missing it.
Benny Hinn: What you stated was not exactly my former view of him but is close enough. My current view is that he is a liar and a showman and might be leading people to hell. I do not think God has given him the gift of healing. If he repents, God will forgive him.
That being said, I'm surprised at your harsh criticism of him as a 'failed priest and a vow-breaker. Isn't the Catholic system as much to blame, as they would let a priest basically become a homeless alcoholic? Funny thing-if he were Orthodox, he'd probbly still be a priest because they are allowed to marry where Catholics aren't.
Benny Hinn came up yesterday (lunch almost did also at the mention of his name) You used to say that you thought he was gifted at healing but abused his gift. What do you think now??
Wednesday, December 03, 2003
I am having to learn way more Javav than I ever wanted to learn for this little project of ours.
Since the beginning of the epidemic in 1982 through 2000 there have been, 448,060 reported AIDS deaths (Source: Centers for Disease Control). That means that from 1982 through 2000 there have been an average of 24,892 AIDS deaths per year.
So, what color are the flu awareness ribbons and why don’t I ever see people wearing them?
Tuesday, December 02, 2003
"Spiritual maturity is giving up the illusion that I can ever be alone"
"All difficulties in prayer can be traced to one cause-praying as if God were absent" (Teresa of Avila)
"Every bush is a burning bush. A few stand transfixed. The rest sit around and pluck blackberries" (Elizabeth Barrett Browning)
Panda goes into a bar, orders a sandwich and eats it. Then pulls out a six-shooter, peppers the shelf of bottles and the mirror behind the bar, and walks out. Bartender non-plussed, panda tells him to "look it up." Encyclopedia conveniently stowed under the bar, says
"Panda--bearlike mammal from Asia, eats shoots and leaves."
I don't know what book it is from but here is the quote:
"When the "me generation" turns to religion - which has been happening very frequently in the past several decades - it is usually to a "plastic" or fantasy form of religion: a religion of "self-development" (where the self remains the object of worship), brainwashing and mind-control, of deified gurus and swamis, of a pursuit of UFO's and "extra-terrestrial" beings, of abnormal spiritual states and feelings."
You know what? As I reflect on my exploration of Saddleback, I think it is fair to say they do not offer meat, not even milk, and barely any colostrum.
Faber was a Protestant who converted to Roman Catholicism and wrote some hymns for that church. Sometime in the 1800s That is all I know about him.
Nursing: Well, because of all of the changes in my life (moving threee times, working nutso hours) I had to put nursing school on hold after the spring 2003 term. I am starting up again in January at De Anza College. My ultimate goal is to be a hospice nurse but there is a lot that has to happen between now and then.
So, I thought you might like to read a little bit about Holy Water. This was written by Fr. Thomas Hopko (Former dean of St. Vladimir's Seminary):
"Sometimes people think that the blessing of water and the practice of drinking it and sprinkling it over everyone and everything is a "paganism" which has falsely entered the Christian Church. We know, however, that this ritual was practiced by the People of God in the Old Testament, and that in the Christian Church it has a very special and important significance.
It is the faith of Christians that since the Son of God has taken human flesh and has been immersed in the streams of the Jordan, all matter is sanctified and made pure in him, purged of its death-dealing qualities inherited from the devil and the wickedness of men. In the Lord's epiphany all creation becomes good again, indeed "very good," the way that God himself made it and proclaimed it to be in the beginning when "the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters" (Gen 1:2) and when the "Breath of Life" was breathing in man and in everything that God made (Gen 1:30; 2:7). The world and everything in it is indeed "very good" (Gen 1:31) and when it becomes polluted, corrupted and dead, God saves it once more by effecting the "new creation" in Christ, his divine Son and our Lord by the grace of the Holy Spirit (Gal 6:15). This is what is celebrated on Epiphany, particularly in the Great Blessing of Water. The consecration of the waters on this feast places the entire world -- through its "prime element" of water -- in the perspective of the cosmic creation, sanctification, and glorification of the Kingdom of God in Christ arid the Spirit. It tells us that man and the world were indeed created and saved in order to be "filled with all the fullness of God" (Eph 3:19), the "fullness of him who fills all in all" (Eph 1:22). It tells us that Christ, in who in "the whole fulness of deity dwells bodily," is and shall be truly "all, and in all" (Col 2:9, 3:11). It tells us as well that the "new heavens and the new earth" which God has promised through his prophets and apostles (Is 66:2; 2 Peter 3:13, Rev 21:1) are truly "with us" already now in the, mystery of Christ and his Church. Thus, the sanctification and sprinkling of the Epiphany water is no pagan ritual. It is the expression of the most central fact of the Christian vision of man, his life and his world. It is the liturgical testimony that the vocation and destiny of creation is to be "filled with all the fullness of God" (Eph 3:19). "
Speaking of biographies, I've just started one on Tozer (St. Aiden, to you)which was written right after he died in 1964. I didn't know he was as much of a mystic as he was. He's a big proponent of someone named Frederick Faber, who I have never heard of.
Monday, December 01, 2003
Helicopters are scary. I never got used to riding around in them.
Nope I haven't listend to the Johnny Cash boxed set. I usually don't buy outtake albums, just for the reason you said.
I came across a neat online bookstore, eightday books. This is what they say:
"Reality doesn't divide itself into religious and literary and secular spheres, so we don't either. We're convinced that all truths are related and every truth, if we pay attention rightly, directs our gaze toward God. One of our customers found us "eclectic but orthodox." We like that."
I have a feeling they carry no "purpose driven" or "late great" books.
I don't know if you've read about many of the Holy Martyrs of the communist years but one of them, Grand Duchess Elizabeth" is very dear to me. I read her biography when I was a catachumen. Her story was a mjor motivator for me to begin training to be a nurse. This has been a difficult autumn with all the moving and I have had to interupt my attending of classes. I'll be starting classes at De Anza in January.
There is another saint (I call him a saint but I don't know if it is official or not). His name is Father Arseny. He was born in 1893 and reposed in 1973. mimeogrpahed stories about him were handed from hand to hand by the Christians of Russia during the persection. These stories have been collected now and are in a book. Here is an excerpt from one of the books about him.
"One of the sick men told him that his name was Sazikov, Ivan Alexandrovich. Father Arseny prayed quietly while he was helping him. Sazikov noticed it and mumbled, ''you're praying, eh, Priest?! You pray to get forgiveness of your sins and this is why you help us! You're afraid of God! Why's that? Have you ever seen Him?'' Father Arseny looked at Sazikov with surprise. ''How could I not have seen him? He is here among us and unites you and me!'' ''What are you saying, Pop? God is in this barracks?'' he laughed. Father Arseny looked at him and said quietly, ''Yes, I see his presence. I see that your soul is black with sin, but there is room in it for light. Light will come to you Sazikov, light and your Saint, Saint Seraphim of Sarov will not abandon you.'' Sazikov's face distorted, he trembled and whispered with hatred, ''I'll kill you, silly priest, I'll kill you -- I don't know how you know things. I hate the way you think.'' Father Arseny turned around and walked away repeating, ''Have mercy on me, a sinner!'' While he was doing his work he prayed the akathist, his rule of prayer, vespers, matins, and all the other prayers a priest must pray. . .Sazikov, a hardened criminal, perhaps a murderer; Fr. Arseny, in the world an eminent art historian and now a priest-monk -- both thrown together, as were unknown millions of common and political prisoners, into the unspeakable horror of Stalin's gulag. Eventually the light did come to Sazikov; and the darkness could not overcome it."
Frederica Mathews-Green reviewed the two two books about Fr. Arseny. But that is not how I found out about them. When I was a catachumen, a woman in my church who used to be a spirit medium introduced me to them. She said, "The goal of every Christian is to become like Fr. Arseny because he became like Christ".
Did you by chance get the new Johnny Cash boxed cd set? Pretty flippin' incredible. Two of the best are his take on Neil Young's 'Pocahontas' and Bob Marley's 'Redemption Song'. The latter is a duet with Joe Strummer, former lead singer for The Clash. Of course, since it's a box of outtakes, some of the songs just don't work. Johnny's version of 'Wichita Lineman' just blows.