Sunday, February 29, 2004

I just noticed that you blogged last night. You have a computer at home now? That is excellent!!! What kind of gin are you using in your martinis these days? You should post your paper on the psalm. I'd love to read it.

We just got home from church. Wow! I was amazed. I'm not used to orthodox churches with several hundred people and only two of them old. Also, there were more kids than I could count. Had Kind of a modern feel to it though. But I really liked the iconography. All of the titles were written in English so I could tell who I was looking at.

Well, the boy is napping. Cyndi is cooking for the service in SF tonight. I need to do homework.

Glad your computer is up and running. Looking forward to your reply to my post of Jan 27, which was an answer to a question of yours.

Quick note on yesterday:
Went to SF in the Morning. Cyndi had to do some work for one of her clients in SOMA. Me and the boy went to Katz's bagels on 16th Street (I love the old neighborhood. Can't wait to move back). Then went to the Geary Street Cathedral to venerate the relics of St. John of Shanghai and S.F. Met a cool deacon. Saw a startling icon. It was a crowd of Chinese people. THe superscript was "The Martyrs of the Boxer Rebellion". I don't know anything about the Boxer Rebellion. I'll have to do some reading. After that, me and the boy took a spin through the Presidio, met up with Cyndi on Nob Hill, and then the three of us went to dim sum at Ton Kiang. (Most dim sum is lent friendly). Then we went for a walk around stowe lake in Colden Gate park. Then to vigil at Holy Trinity Cathedral. It was a great day.

Well, off to church, now. Today we are going to St. Stephen's in Campbell. Tonight we'll be in SF for the pan-orthodox Vespers.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Just a cool Saturday night here. Christa is off at a scrapbooking evening with some of the ladies from church. I'm writing a paper for class on psalm 19 and drinking a Martini. It's amazing how much clearer I can think with a Martini.

Friday, February 27, 2004

Socialization issues: I have very strong bias against psychology so I'll try not to get all vehement on this. In general, I think peer to peer "socialization" is over-rated, especially among teens. It mainly reinforces immature behavior and attitudes. I think that it is a contributing factor to 25 year olds acting like 15 year olds. He will be primarily socialized with adults so he can learn to be an adult. (He already wears silk-lined gray flannel pants and shirts with buttoned-down collars.) But as for interacting with people his own age: There the parish. There are several boys his age in the parish, and I imagine they will all be serving as altar boys at the same time. As he gets older there will be Cub Scouts, then Sea Scouts. And of course, he has many cousins within four years of his age. And then there are the sports leagues. His mother wants him to soccer, baseball, and swimming. I want him to do boxing, riflery, and lawn bowling (Golden Gate Park has excellent facilities). We'll work out some sort of compromise.

Henri Nouen: I've never read anything by him. Isn't he a Roman Catholic Cardinal?

I get the idea that there is a group of people waiting with salmon-egged (baited) breath to see me answer the famous jan 27th post. I hope I'm worthy.
I like the quotes in response to Price and Hinn. Have you ever read henri Nouwen's "Silence of the Heart"? I read it when I was right out of college. Id never heard of the Desert Fathers before then. I remember tht it had a pretty profound effect on me at the time. Perhaps it's time to reread it.
I can't remember if i told you or not, but Christa and I got out of town last weekend for her birthday. We went down and spent the night in Monterey, walking on the beach, eating seafood, hanging out in Carmel, etc. It was the first night she had ever spent apart from Caleb (except, of, course, all those years before he was born). Thak God for Grandma and Grandpa!
By the way, if you hadn't noticed, I'm saying 'howdy'.
Christa and i don't know yet whether we will homeschool Caleb or not. How do you propose to deal with socialization issues?????
The Red Koreans probably already have you catalogued. Another email address from you makes littel difference
So, I'm surfing through the official state website of the Red Koreans (aka sencond member of the Axis of Evil) when I came across this chilling statement: "We track and log your internet address". Should we expect anything less from them?
Okay, somebody, please tell me how it is that I get Orthodox books from Amazon at a lower price than I get them from SVOTS Press or Conciliar Press.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

I don't know if you know this or not, but Cyndi and I are about 100% decided to homeschool the little boy. There are at least three reasons for this.
1. I had horrible experiences from the 1st-7th grades but had fabulous experiencebeing homeschooled 8th through 12th grades. (I noticed while reading some Florovsky last night that my high school Greek is coming back to me!!!)
2. Cyndi and I have been observing the cruelty of children to each other. For instance, the other day we were at Barnes & Noble, in the childrens section. Anselm said "hi" to a buch of kids about his age and older. Every one of them acted like he was a freak and moved quickly to get away from him. We do not want him to become so distrustful.
3. There are things we want to teach him that are not going to be taught in school. There will be things taught in school we do not want him to learn.
Anyway, I was looking at Karl's blog and he had a link to this very cool homeschooling site. Thanks, Karl.
Here is a worthy charity.

As you might know Israel/Palestine has experienced a dramatic decrese in the Christian population. Christians are caught between a hyper-defensive Jewish state and murderous Islamic terrorists. Their economic liberty is severly inhibited. As Palestinians they are persecuted by the Israelis. As Christians they are mistrusted by the Muslims.

St. George Parish in Taybeh is helping to alleviate the suffering of Christians in the Holy land via a novel approach to housing. You can learn more about it here.

If you are looking for a way to give money this Lent, you might want to consider this project.

Donations may be sent by check to Taybeh O.C. Housing Project, P.O. Box 867, Ramallah, Palestine VIA ISRAEL.

Donations may also be sent electronic transfer to Arab Bank-Ramallah, Swift code ARABPS 22090, Al Balad Branch Account # 9090-662656/4/510 Taybeh Orthodox Club Housing Project, Via the Arab Bank New York, swift code ARAB US33.

If a USA address is prefered, donations to help Taybeh can be made out to:

Metropolis of Boston Holy Land Housing
And maild to: The Metropolis of Boston, 162 Goddard Avenue, Brookline, MA 02445.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Jeff, remember when we were talking on the phone yesterday? We were talking about Fred Price driving a Rolls, and Benny Hinn buying a multi-thousand dollar coffee table. Well I came upon a couple of Orthodox snippets today, and I thought they were on topic. Here they are:

"Be subject to all in every good work, except to those who love possessions or money." - St Isaac of Syria
(I think that one takes care of Price and Hinn.)

"A brother who had sinned was turned out of the church by the priest; Abba Bessarion got up and went with him, saying, "I, too, am a sinner." " - Sayings of the Desert Fathers
(I think that one takes care of me.)

The Wisdom Jesus Son of Sirach. That is what I read last night. It freaked me out a little bit because on Monday night I prayed something like "God, please take my sin away from me and make me humble and strengthen me to resist temptation, but please do not humiliate me in the process". I used the word "humiliate". Now here is why I was kind of freaked out by what I read lst night. In the second chapter of Sirach it says:

"My son, if you come to serve the Lord, prepare your soul for temptation. Set your heart aright, and endure....Whatsoever is brought upon you take cheerfully, and be patient when you are humiliated. For gold is tried in the fire, and acceptable men in the furnace of adversity. "

So, there it is. God has made it plain that if I am going to be his servent, I will have to endure temptation and will be humiliated. But there is hope. Psalm 50 (51) says: "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice." All of this bone breaking and humiliation ends in joy. Have mercy on me, O God.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

I'm a little bummed. I had a long list of things I wanted to do today and barely got any of them even 1/2 way done. And as you can see by the time on this post I am not at church tonight. very bummed about that. But I did manage to read the book of Tobit today. It was fun.
Okay, everyone. I just talked to Jeff. He has been out of town, sick with the flu, and is still computerless and probably will remain computerless until next week. But he did say that he is going to adress my post of Jan 27 as soon as he gets the new machine. I don't know about you all, but I am looking forward to it.
Jeff, you haven't posted anything in a long time. What's up? Are you out of town or something?

Monday, February 23, 2004

Well, I just got the boy to bed, did the dishes, ate two olives and a big glass of Metamucil. Aside from its advertised use, it is really good for making you feel full when you are eating a lot less. It also does all the good stuff for your heart that oatmeal does. But since I don't eat much oatmeal I do a lot of Metamucil.
Church tonight was amazing. Nothing like doing Orthodox services with a bunch of former charismatics. At my parish, Holy Trinity, mostly just the choir sings. At St. Stephen's everybody sings. Its pretty neat. Also, their music is very middle eastern sounding, which is appropriate since they are Antiochian.
Now, the Canon of St. Andrew of Crete is amazing. It is a very long song that is broken up into parts, each part being sung on the different nights of the first week of lent. I was in tears about the middle of the second ode and had to kind of distance myself from it to keep from blubbering.

Here is a section of the 1st Ode:

"Where shall I begin to lament the deeds of my wretched life?  What first-fruit shall I offer, O Christ, for my present lamentation? But in Thy compassion grant me release from my falls. Come, wretched soul, with your flesh, confess to the Creator of all. In future refrain from your former brutishness, and offer to God tears in repentance. Having rivaled the first-created Adam by my transgression, I realize that I am stripped naked of God and of the everlasting kingdom and bliss through my sins. "

If you are interested in reading the whole thing click here. Or just pop into any Orthodox church on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday evenings of this week.

After Church, Anselm and I stopped by Starbucks and said "Hi" to Cyndi.

Well, it is very late and I am very tired. Goodnight.

I'll be glad when you have a new computer, Jeff.
27 days and no reply to the post of Jan 27. Is this capitulation? Is this resignation? Hmmmm. I do not know.
Lent has begun. It started at Verspers last night, which is actually the first service of Monday. And yesterday was the last day for eating dairy food. After the liturgy the parish had fondue. But Cyndi and I generally do not like fondue so we went to Goat Hill Pizza and had a cheese pizza with red onions, olives and spinach. It was very good. We got to see our regular waitress. When Cyndi was pregnant with Anselm we went there every coupe of weeks. And then after he was born, that waitress was the first non-family member to hold Anselm. Since we've lived in the South Bay for almost a year now, we haven't been to Goat hill very much. But as I said, we went yesterday. The waitress was thrilled to see the boy again. She calls him Anselmo. I am going to get back to San Francisco.

Back to what this post was going to be about, this is the first day of lent. The readings today were from Isaiah, Genesis, and Proverbs. (I think we read through the whole OT during Lent.) I don't know how it is usually done by the Orthodox but what Cyndi and I do in the morning is click on the light and lay in bed, pray "O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, Who art in all plces and fillest all things, Treasury of blessings and Giver of life, come and abide in us as cleanse us of all impurity and save our souls, O Good One." Then we read the passages for the day. We usually read the sermons, too. THen we get out of bed light a candle, stand before the Icons and pray the morning prayers. But during lent we add this prayer to the usual prayers:

O Lord and Master of my life
take from me the spirit of sloth
lust of power
and idle talk.

But give rather the spirit of chastity,
and love to thy servant.

Yea, O Lord and King
grant me to see my own errors
and not to judge my brother;
for Thou art blessed unto the ages of ages.


It is the Lenten Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian.

Tonight I will go to church at St. Stephen's in San Jose. This is the Church that used to be a Vinyard. We will sing the Canon of St. Andrerw of Crete. it is one of the longest and most heart wrenching songs I have ever heard. I love Lent. But I love all the feasts and fasts. It is hard to say I love lent anymore than I love Nativity or the or the finding of the head of John the Baptist. I think the loss of the church calendar is one of the saddest things in Evangelical Protestantism. Long ago, before I ever knew of Orthodoxy I remember the joy I felt when I realised that I could pray along with other Christians I had never met, and in the Words of the Anglican Hierarch, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, join my prayers to that great river of prayer that ascends to Heaven.

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

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Well the little boy is asleep, taking his nap. His godmother babysat him this morning while Cyndi and I took three loads of cubicles to the dump. We discovered that they would not be recycled. Aparantly, it costs less to mine iron ore out of the earth, add some carbon, and smelt it into steel than it costs to remove the fabric covers from the steel frames of the cubicles and melt them down. That made me sad. The amount of stuff we waste is amazing. It's not like there is an endless supply of iron ore. I vaguely remember something about iron production in the Sun, from an astronomy class I took once. If my memory is correct, I think iron is the heaviest element the Sun is able to produce. Makes me wonder where the gold, and lead came from. Hmmmm.

Friday, February 20, 2004

Jeff, I don't know if you are aware of this or not, but on Wednesday when George brought up St. Leo the Great, it was actually St. Leo's Feast Day. (I don't remember why he brought him up in conversation, do you?)

I'm guessing you have given the Jan 27 post many hours of thought and research and are ready to blast my argument out of the water. (ha ha ha! not very likely!) I can hardly wait for you to get your new computer.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Jeff, thanks for comming to dinner last night. Sorry about the whole sesame oil thing. As soon as Cyndi gets recipe to me for the bulgar lentil salad I'll post it here. Thanks for bringing the gin, too. It's been too long since you, george, and I have had martinis together. But I feel bad about one thing, I had cigars and totally forgot to bring them out. George is spending the night again tonight. I'm really looking forward to you getting your computer.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Islam is evil and a threat to the United States.
First it was the SecDefs fabulous poetry. Now he is a kung fu master.
The Archpriest Paul Tarazi, Th.D. is going to be teacing at my parish's annual lenten retreat. It ought to be interesting. The title of his lecture series is "Apocalypse Now" and deals with the book of Revelation. Are you interested in coming?
Jeff, you might be interested in this article written by an 18 year old Eagle Scout. It remided me of last year at this time when I had to tell a little girl in my parish that I couldn't buy her cookies. But I talked to her mother and found out that I could give money directly to the Troop without supporting the national office.

"Across America, Girl Scout cookie sales are in full swing. Last week, Girl Scouts of America officials announced a sales record for Washington, D.C. as 4.2 million boxes of Samoas, Thin Mints, and other cookies were sold in the nation’s capitol." (More)

Monday, February 16, 2004

The house blessing went really well. I was only expecting my priest and my parents/siblings/nephews/neices to show up. None of my family came. But that was more than offset by the people from my parish. Along with Father Victor came one of the sub-deacons and the choir director (he brought service booklets for everyone). Also, many of the faithful came. It was more crowded than the Christmas party. At one point during the service I carried a candle and lead the priest from room to room as he splashed Holy water on everything, and everyone in the house chants prayers. He pointed to a door and lifted his eyebrows. I said “Its just a closet”. His very serious reply was “Demons sometimes lurk in closets. Open the door.” I opened the door.

Also, yesterday was the Sunday of the Last Judgement. Below are excerpts from the various services.

'When Thou shalt come, O righteous Judge, to execute just judgment, seated on Thy throne of glory, a river of fire will draw all men amazed before Thy judgment-seat; the powers of heaven will stand beside Thee, and in fear mankind will be judged according to the deeds that each has done. Then spare us, Christ, in Thy compassion, with faith we entreat Thee, and count us worthy of Thy blessings with those that are saved.'

'Behold there comes a day of the Lord almighty, and who shall endure the fear of His presence? For it is a day of wrath; the furnace shall burn, and the Judge shall sit and give to each the due return for his works.'

'The Lord comes to judge: who can endure the sight of Him? Tremble thou, my wretched soul, tremble and prepare for thy departure.'

'When the thrones are set up and the books are opened, and God sits in judgment, oh what fear there will be then! When the angels stand trembling in Thy presence and the river of fire flows before Thee, what shall we do then, who are guilty of many sins? When we hear Him call the blessed of His Father into the Kingdom, but send the sinners to their punishment, who shall endure His fearful condemnation?'

'Fear and trembling beyond all description are there: for the Lord will come and try the work of every man. And who will not mourn for himself?'

'I lament and weep when I think of the eternal fire, the outer darkness and the nether world, the dread worm and the gnashing of teeth, and the unceasing anguish that shall befall those who have sinned without measure, by their wickedness arousing Thee to anger, O Supreme in Love. And among them in misery I am first...'

'How shall it be in that hour and fearful day, when the Judge shall sit on His dread throne! The books shall be opened and men’s actions shall be examined, and the secrets of darkness shall be made public. Angels shall hasten to and fro, gathering all the nations. Come ye and hearken, kings and princes, slaves and free, sinners and righteous, rich and poor: for the Judge comes to pass sentence on the whole inhabited earth. And who shall bear to stand before His face in the presence of the angels, as they call us to account for our actions and our thoughts, whether by night or by day? How shall it be then in that hour!'

'But before the end is here, make haste, make haste, my soul, and cry: 'O God who only art compassionate, turn me back and save me!'

Also, yesterday was Meatfare. The last day for eating meat before the beginning of Great Lent. This is Cheese Week, when all dairyfood in the house is consumed prior to lent.


Friday, February 13, 2004

Poping water baloons in zero-Gs.
Well, regarding the conversation with Bry, at that time all three of us rejected the idea that Baptism actually did anything. Therefore, it was easy to shoot it down. Bryguy's argument had form without content. Also, he never argued from history, as I remember. He knew it was the right thing to do, but didn't know why. I know why.

What kind of computer are you going to get. As for internet options I totally recomend SBCs DSL. It is the best I have experienced.
Do you remember a conversation we had with Bryguy at his rehearsal dinner about infant baptism? Every arguement he used then, we both shot down. Now you are using those very same arguments. I do find it a bit entertaining that you can now argue for the same positions that you used to be against with the same vigor.
Oh, you plate spinner, you. All I'm looking for is an answer to my post of Jan 27. But, as for Ss. Mary and Joseph...

I'll let an authority greater than me answer that question. In his booklet, Facing Up to Mary (I gave you a copy of this three years ago and asked your opinion, back when I first encounterd Orthodoxy and was trying figure out if it was true. Did you not read it?), Fr. Peter Gilguist says: "At this point, however, a very valid question can be raised. If she remained a virgin, why does the Gospel of Matthew tell us that Joseph knew not his wife until after Christ was born (Matthew 1:25)?

"From a Scriptural standpoint, the presence of the phrase "until she had brought forth her firstborn Son," does not automatically mean that Joseph must have known her afterward. This is because in both Greek and Hebrew the word 'until' or 'to' can have several different meanings. We find it in II Samuel 6:23: "Michal, daughter of Saul, had not child to (until) the day of her death." It is used again in Matthew 28:20 where the risen Christ says "Lo, I am with you always, even to (until) the end of the world." And in Deuteronomy 34:6 we read "Moses was buried in a valley in the land of Moab, but no one knows his grave to (until) this day."

"Obviously the use of the word in these passages does not imply that Michal had a child after her death, that Christ will depart at the end of the world, or that Moses' burial place was discovered the day Deuteronomy 34:6 was written. By the same token, the word 'until' in Matthew 1:25 does not mean that Joseph and Mary began a sexual union after Christ was born. Such a teaching is found nowhere in Scripture and is contrary to the consistent voice of the entire early Church."

Yeah, I know, I need to get to the jan 27 post. Hopefully this weekend! it will help when we finally get our new computer (the next week or so, and then I'll be blogging a whole lot more, because I can do it downstairs at night after Christa goes to bed...maybe with a martini in hand.

You know, I've never heard your dad preach. I feel like I've missed out. He's a great man. You are really blessed to have him and your mom as your parents.
I've been reading through the first few chapters of Matthew the last few days and I'm seeing for the first time what a prominent role Joseph had in Matthew's story. he really seems to be the human hero. God gives him 4 dreams with instructions on what to do and he carries them out flawlessly. Mary seems to play very much of a background role in Matthew, but Luke does seem to show her a bit more prominently.

But a question also arose on the mary/virginity issue (I thought it was a dead issue, but something else came up). What does the Orthodox church do with Mt 1:24,25, which seems to clearly say that after Jesus was born that Joseph and Mary had 'normal' marital relations.
Something kind of sad happened last night. My Dad is preaching at the PCG church in Campell and my mom invited us to go. I explained that I couldn't miss a Sunday liturgy if it is at all avoidable. I could tell it hurt her feelings. But, I just realised that being a PCG church they will be having a service on Sunday night, too. So I called my mom and found out Dad is preaching Sunday night, too. So, Ill be able to hear him preach. It will be the first time in several years.

You know, the hardest part of being Orthodox is not the fasting, the prayer rule, or any of the other obvious stuff. For me the hardest part is the division in my family. My sister thinks I think I am better than her, my Dad feels like I have abandoned everthing he taught me. But in reality, I only began to uderstand my wickedness when I began reading the saints. Sure, Reformed theologians talk about total depravity, but the Desert Fathers understood the anguish of it and explained how to combat it. And if anything, Orthodoxy is the telos of what my father taught me... "Jesus is not 50% God and 50% man" and here his voice would rise and fill the room, no matter how large, and say "He is 100% God! He is 100% man! And that is why you are saved! HALLELUJAH!" Isn't that St. Athanasius?

And in another one of his sermons I remeber him saying, "You are not saved because Jesus loves you. You are saved because the Father looves you. He loved you before he ever spoke the world into existence. You are saved because while you were a slave to sin, the Father sent the Son that 'whosoever believeth in him should not perish'. He is not willing that any would perish. He does not enjoy sending people to hell. He is not an old man in the sky waiting for you to sin so he can hit you with a club. He is the Father and he loves you. And while you were yet a long way off He saw you you, and He ran to you. And He hugged you to put a new coat on you." Isn't that the Sunday of the Prodigal Son? Yet, Dad thinks I have turned my back on him and everything he taught me. It breaks my heart.

But, I'd still like to see an answer to my post of January 27.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Jeff, you've been a no-show since Monday. Are still around?
Well, if you read my post of February 5 you know about Mother Maria. I just found out yesterday that the Exarchate of Western Europe has recognized her sanctity.

Holy Mother Maria, pray to Christ our God for us that He will save our souls.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

I do not think my parents will become Orthodox but my Mother told me something that made me very happy. A couple of days before my birthday she was taken to the hospital in severe pain. (No, the physics do not know what caused it.) When they got to the hospital they immediatly put her on morphine, but while in the ambulance she was in so much pain she could not think. She told me the only thing in her mind was pain. That and memory of the sub-deacon at my church saying "Lord have mercy" over and over again during the Nativity Royal Hours. She said that that when the ability to think had left her, and all other prayers abandoned her, she was able to pray "Lord have mercy". And He did.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Hmmmm. 14 days and still no answer to the my post of January 27. I don't know what to think of that.

Monday, February 09, 2004

I'm sorry. You misunderstood who I was referring to as apostles, and who I was referring to as bishops. Actually, St. Luke is an Apostle. The same way St. Barnabas is an Apostle. I didn't mean to say he is one of the 12. St James the Just, of course, is a bishop, appointed by Ss. Peter, James, and John. (You'll read about that in Eusibius). St. Jude? He is an Apostle, too. Here is the text of the Kontokian for St Jude the Brother of the Lord:

Kontakion in tone 2
"You were chosen as a disciple for your firmness of mind:
An unshakable pillar of the Church of Christ,
You proclaimed His word to the Gentiles,
Telling them to believe in one Godhead.
You were glorified by Him, receiving the grace of healing,
Healing the ills of all who came to you,
O most praised Apostle Jude!"

As for bishops not being around until the end of the 1st century, I guess I don't know what you mean. I know you have read the New Testament. I'm assuming you've taken Greek at Fuller. You must be familiar with the vocabulary. I let you explain to me why bishop (Grk.=episkope) does not mean bishop.

As for denying baptism to babes, you stand against Christ, the Scriptures, and the Church. I don't know about Tertullian But I do know Scripture and some church history. Luke 18:15–16 tells us that "they were bringing even infants" to Jesus; and he himself related this to the kingdom of God: "Let the children come to me. . . for to such belongs the kingdom of God."
This is why on Pentecost Peter preached, "Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children" (Acts 2:38–39). Notice, this is not just for the adults who were repenting, but for their children, too.
The apostolic Church baptized whole "households" (Acts 16:33; 1 Cor. 1:16), a term encompassing children and infants as well as servants. While these texts do not specifically mention—nor exclude—infants, the very use of the term "households" indicates an understanding of the family as a unit. But how can this be? Households are not saved, only individuals. I'm not so sure about that. Even one believing parent in a household makes the children and even the unbelieving spouse "holy" (1 Cor. 7:14). Then why should children of that believer be denied Baptism? The kingdom is theirs, Jesus says, and they should be brought to him; and this means baptism.
Baptism is the Christian equivalent of circumcision, or "the circumcision of Christ": "In him you were also circumcised with . . . the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead" (Col. 2:11–12). Thus, like circumcision, baptism can be given to children as well as adults. The difference is that circumcision was powerless to save (Gal. 5:6, 6:15), but "baptism . . . now saves you" (1 Pet. 3:21).

Was the practice ever questioned? Kind of. In the third century, there was a dispute about it in Carthage. Some people wanted to baptize immediately, some wanted to baptize on the 8th day because of the close connection to circumcision.

But between the New Testament and the controversy at Carthage, there was some stuff written.

"He came to save all through himself; all, I say, who through him are reborn in God: infants, and children, and youths, and old men. Therefore he passed through every age, becoming an infant for infants, sanctifying infants; a child for children, sanctifying those who are of that age . . . [so that] he might be the perfect teacher in all things, perfect not only in respect to the setting forth of truth, perfect also in respect to relative age" (St. Iraneus, Against Heresies 2:22:4 [A.D. 189]).

"‘And he dipped himself . . . seven times in the Jordan’ [2 Kgs. 5:14]. It was not for nothing that Naaman of old, when suffering from leprosy, was purified upon his being baptized, but as an indication to us. For as we are lepers in sin, we are made clean, by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord, from our old transgressions, being spiritually regenerated as newborn babes, even as the Lord has declared: ‘Except a man be born again through water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven’ [John 3:5]" (St. Iranaeus, Fragment 34 [A.D. 190]).

"Baptize first the children, and if they can speak for themselves let them do so. Otherwise, let their parents or other relatives speak for them" (Hippolytus, The Apostolic Tradition 21:16 [A.D. 215]).

"Every soul that is born into flesh is soiled by the filth of wickedness and sin. . . . In the Church, baptism is given for the remission of sins, and, according to the usage of the Church, baptism is given even to infants. If there were nothing in infants which required the remission of sins and nothing in them pertinent to forgiveness, the grace of baptism would seem superfluous" (Origen, Homilies on Leviticus 8:3 [A.D. 248]).

"The Church received from the apostles the tradition of giving baptism even to infants. The apostles, to whom were committed the secrets of the divine sacraments, knew there are in everyone innate strains of sin, which must be washed away through water and the Spirit" (Origen, Commentaries on Romans 5:9 [A.D. 248]).

"As to what pertains to the case of infants: You said that they ought not to be baptized within the second or third day after their birth, that the old law of circumcision must be taken into consideration, and that you did not think that one should be baptized and sanctified within the eighth day after his birth. In our council it seemed to us far otherwise. No one agreed to the course which you thought should be taken. Rather, we all judge that the mercy and grace of God ought to be denied to no man born" (St. Cyprian, Letter to Fidus, Letters 64:2 [A.D. 253]).

"If, in the case of the worst sinners and those who formerly sinned much against God, when afterwards they believe, the remission of their sins is granted and no one is held back from baptism and grace, how much more, then, should an infant not be held back, who, having but recently been born, has done no sin, except that, born of the flesh according to Adam, he has contracted the contagion of that old death from his first being born. For this very reason does he approach more easily to receive the remission of sins: because the sins forgiven him are not his own but those of another" (St. Cyprian, Letter to Fidus, Letters 64:5 [A.D. 253]).

I could could go on through thousands of years of writings. But I'll sop here at the first recoded controversy about infant baptism. In short, Jeff, you are wrong to deny baptism to any Christian child. You are being stingy with God's grace and love.

And if this is spinning plates, sorry. Just keep going with the post of Jan 27. We can pick up bishops, Baptism, and the Eucharist later.

(I'm sorry I didn't link to all of the referenced works in this post. But I'm on a Mac right now and writing in all the links by hand is such a pain.)

I found interesting your distinction between the West and East on the issue of salvation. I agree that there is a minimalist tendency in the West as far as salvation is concerned. There's probably too much emphasis on "Believe on The Lord Jesus and you shall be saved". I think it is good to examine Scripture to see what it says about salvation, but to try to scrape by with the minimum is abhorrent.

A few years ago, John MacArthur wrote a book called "The Gospel According To Jesus", which was a response to those who said all you had to do was have faith and you were saved, even if nothing else in your life ever changed as a result. There are some who hold to that position because they want to focus on grace. MacArthur's book took the position that you cannot have Jesus as Savior only, but you also must have Him as Lord (probably a Protestant way of expressing an Orthodox ideal, and i do agree with it)

I'd probably take a middle ground between the West and East positions as you described them. I believe it is important to ask those questions. But I also agree that we should be obedient to God in all things and try to please Him in all things.
Just a quick not on some of the things ofvwhich we agree regarding Scripture. Luke and Jude were not apostles. ALso, to call some of them bishops is a bit of a stretch since that term did not come into common use until near the end of the first century. Therefore, to call Paul a bishop would quite probably be to give him such a title retroactively.

I wasn't really bringing up the Eucharist. It was just to make a point on something else. We probably hold that off for another time. i don't want to be like the guy in the circus trying to keep all the plates spinning at the same time.

I'm going to try to get to some more of your jan 27 post later tonight. I probably should read the whole thing before I comment on any of it!

As far as services with you, we are gone the weekend of the 21-22. It's Christa's birthday and we're gong to Monterey without Caleb (he's 10 months old and can probably stay by himself . We're busy on the 29th as well, but we'd probably be up for something in March if there's anything interesting.
I read Mark's post. He is, of course, wrong when he says that the church has practiced infant baptism right from the beginning and that it is included in the earliest written documents. It is not in the Nt (we've agreed on this) and it does not really show up in church history much until (I believe) Tertullian in the mid-third century.
Hey, we are having two unusual Sunday evening services this month. One is Forgiveness Vespers. This is the service during which Great Lent starts. It is on February 22. The other service is a Pan-Orthodox vespers on the Sunday of Orthodoxy on Feb 29. You are invited to both.

Also, did you read Mark's comments on what you wrote?
Oh, yeah. He wasn't a saint by any means. Overly concerned with riches and power. I found Eusibious to be a difficult read. He is mostly just names and dates. He might mention a controversy, say who was involved, when it happend, and which side won, but never explain the issues involved.

So, are you still working through my post of Jan 27?
i started reading a bit of Eusebius this weekend (well, actually, just the introduction). A couple of things surprised me. The first is that he was never canonized. The second is that he seemed to be on the wrong side of the Arian controversy until the last minute when he jumped to the right side. This would probably raise the question of whether he really believed Athanasius or whether he just wanted to be on the winning side. The thid things is the comment that he wasn't really that much of a thinker...he just knew a lot and his church history book is not so much a product of original thinking and analysis but rather a collection an synthesis of what others had said and written

Friday, February 06, 2004

I while back I posted something a roman Catholic friend gave me concerning the RCCs preparation for confession. I thought I might post this tool that I use when I am getteing ready for confession. I think it seems more pastoral and less juridical than that list of the Roman Catholics.

A Preparation for Confession
by St. John of Kronstadt
I, a sinful soul, confess to our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ, all of my evil acts which I have done, said or thought from baptism even unto this present day.

I have not kept the vows of my baptism, but have made myself unwanted before the face of God.

I have sinned before the Lord by lack of faith and by doubts concerning the Orthodox Faith and the Holy Church; by ungratefulness for all of God's great and unceasing gifts; His long-suffering and His providence for me, a sinner; by lack of love for the Lord, as well as fear, through not fulfilling the Holy Commandments of God and the canons and rules of the Church.

I have not preserved a love for God and for my neighbor nor have I made enough efforts, because of laziness and lack of care, to learn the Commandments of God and the precepts of the Holy Fathers.

I have sinned: by not praying in the morning and in the evening and in the course of the day; by not attending the services or by coming to Church only half-heartedly, lazily and carelessly; by conversing during the services, by not paying attention, letting my mind wander and by departure from the Church before the dismissal and blessing.

I have sinned by judging members of the clergy.

I have sinned by not respecting the Feasts, breaking the Fasts, and by immoderation in food and drink.

I have sinned by self-importance, disobedience, willfulness, self-righteousness, and the seeking of approval and praise.

I have sinned by unbelief, lack of faith, doubts, despair, despondency, abusive thoughts, blasphemy and swearing.

I have sinned by pride, a high opinion of my self, narcissism, vanity, conceit, envy, love of praise, love of honors, and by putting on airs.

I have sinned: by judging, malicious gossip, anger, remembering of offenses done to me, hatred and returning evil for evil; by slander, reproaches, lies, slyness, deception and hypocrisy; by prejudices, arguments, stubbornness, and an unwillingness to give way to my neighbor; by gloating, spitefulness, taunting, insults and mocking; by gossip, by speaking too much and by empty speech.

I have sinned by unnecessary and excessive laughter, by reviling and dwelling upon my previous sins, by arrogant behavior, insolence and lack of respect.

I have sinned by not keeping my physical and spiritual passions in check, by my enjoyment of impure thoughts, licentiousness and unchastity in thoughts, words and deeds.

I have sinned by lack of endurance towards my illnesses and sorrows, a devotion to the comforts of life and by being too attached to my parents, children, relatives and friends.

I have sinned by hardening my heart, having a weak will and by not forcing myself to do good.

I have sinned by miserliness, a love of money, the acquisition of unnecessary things and immoderate attachment to things.

I have sinned by self-justification, a disregard for the admonitions of my conscience and failing to confess my sins through negligence or false pride.

I have sinned many times by my Confession: belittling, justifying and keeping silent about sins.

I have sinned against the Most-holy and Life-creating Mysteries of the Body and Blood of our Lord by coming to Holy Communion without humility or the fear of God.

I have sinned in deed, word and thought, knowingly and unknowingly, willingly and unwillingly, thoughtfully and thoughtlessly, and it is impossible to enumerate all of my sins because of their multitude. But I truly repent of these and all others not mentioned by me because of my forgetfulness and I ask that they be forgiven through the abundance of the Mercy of God.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Jeff, I don't want to get off on another subject, but since you raised the question of the Eucharist, it makes me wonder if you ever read my post of Dec 31. In it there is a link to an article about first century worship. If you haven't read it, and it sounds like you haven't, you ought to.
As you said, you are taking my post of Jan 27 "paragraph by paragraph" so though it seems to me that you missed the point I was trying to make in the whole post, I won’t make too much of it. I think that once the general concept is understood the particulars you raise about the mysteries of Baptism, the Eucharist, and Holy Icons will be resolved.

But since it seems you read the first paragraph of my post and didn’t understand what I was saying, I’ll try to make it clear. You keep saying you agree with me that the Church was around before the Bible was canonized. What I said was that the Church was around doing its work before even one word of the New Testament was written down. The Church pre-dates the New Testament text.

Now as for who or what produced the New Testament: I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but I think we agree that these statements are true:
1. That Ss. Matthew, Paul, Luke, Peter, John, Jude, Mark, and James (did I leave anyone out?) wrote the texts.
2. That the men who wrote the New Testament texts were inspired by the Holy Spirit.
3. That being apostles and bishops, those men are important officers in the Church.

Given these areas of agreement, there is still a very large area where we still disagree. I understand that you believe that God inspired individuals to write the New Testament, regardless of their relationship to, or position in the Church, and that the Church is formed by the teaching of those inspired writings. I believe that God gave a Tradition to the Church and that the leaders of the Church, inspired by the Holy Spirit drew from that Tradition and produced the writings that compose the New Testament.

I’m looking forward to reading your response to the rest of my post of 1/27. Oh, I should ask a question: Why do you think everything the Church teaches has to be in the Bible? Is there something in your theology that requires it?
Business deals: One said no. It was the smallest of the group. One will let me know on Monday. The others by the end of the month.
I just read this interesting article about Mother Maria, a nun who might be recognized as a saint. (But one never knows about these things. The decisions of bishops are not easy to predict.)
News flash: Islam is still evil.

Well, you are right about the Roman Catholic Church abandoning the Tradition. There is a reason why they are not Orthodox. But their additions to the Tradition (To be fair I shoulsd say that they call it “doctrinal development”.) are the things that are most troubling to the Orthodox. In the West there seems to be a tendency to say , "What is the least I have to do to be saved". Is baptism really necessary, is alms giving necessary, is raising children necessary, is confession necessary? Those questions get various answers in the Wetern Churchs. In the East the answer is "Why are you asking the question? Don't you want to do everything that pleases God?"
Of course i agree that the church was around before Scripture was canonized. But I disagree with your assertion that the church produced the NT...to an extent. Certainly, men were the recipients of the moving of the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20-21) and wrote the actual words. But you seem to give the intention that the NT is what the church thinks about God, not what GOd has given man about Himself. I would not give credit to the church for producing the NT, but God. But I would agree that the church and the Paul, John, etc. are the ones to whom God spoke. Scripture is ultimately not man's word about God, but God's Word about man.

Granted, I'm working through this post paragraph by paragraph and some of the things I mention may be cleared up later. Let's go with facts then and not why. The fact is that infant bpatism is not in Scripture. The fact is that icon worship is not in Scripture. The fact is that your understanding of communion as the physical body of Jesus is not in Scripture (John 6 might be another interesting discussion!) There are other examples. Since the Orthodox church does and teaches things that are not in Scripture and regards them as authoritative, the question of why they are not contained in Scripture is still valid.
Some of the Roman Catholic stuff seems to have become increasingly optional over the years. I never heard anything about fasting at all. Holy Days were very rarely emphasized (beyond the big ones like Christmas and Easter) My mom told me that even going to a priest for confession seems to be going by the wayside.

But beyond the specific Catholic references, there's a ton a good stuff in there. i'm actually going to print some of it out and keep it. Guidelines to live by are always helpful
So what has happened to your big business deals??? This was your prayer request post on the 29th (I'm working backwards to the 27th)

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

If you want to stick to one thing, how about my post of 7:36 pm on January 27. That took me a long time to put together. And it was in answer to one of your questions. So lets stick to that subject. (I've always been in favor of staying on point.)
Well, today is my birthday. I am 35. My wife gave me 3 hearts from Joseph Schmidt. They were yummy. My son, Anselm gave me a recorder which I am learning to play. (Woking on part of beethoven's 9th symphony right now.) Also, Cyndi took me and my parents out for Japanese for lunch. I had ebi nigiri, tomagu nigiri, hamachi nigiri, tekamaki, California rolls, edamami, and miso soup. Very yummy. (And yes, it does seem that I totally blew the diet today. But one's birtday only happens once a year.
I'm finally getting to see some of your things from last week. We still don't have our new computer yet, and things are BIG-ASS BUSY at work. so maybe for now we should concentrate on one thing at a time

I like your note on the Publican and the Pharisee. You said that we are not as good as we think we are. Not only that, but we're not as good as we'd like to think God thinks we are. The problem come when we compare ourselves to others. Certainly it the Pharisee compared himself to the Publican, he would think he is so much better. But the model needs to be Jesus, not the guy next to us. Remember, God does not grade on a curve.
FISH RECIPE TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This one should probably go with the low-carb diet. We had it tonight and it was good.

1/3 cup white wine
3 tbs white wine vinegar
2 tbs chopped shallots
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs sugar
1 tbs garlic
1 tbs dry mustard
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 tsp marjoram
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Mix these ingredients together and marinate fish in it about 1/2 hour. This works well with snapper, sole, etc. Just bake it in the marinade and serve.
My pastor's son has been ordained a deacon. Click here to see pictures.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

I guess you haven't read my answer to your question. Do you have nothing to say?

In the meantime...

I do not know what to think of this....

SYOSSET, NY [OCA Communications] – At the invitation of His All-Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and His Eminence, Metropolitan Athenagoras, Protopresbyter Robert Kondratick visited Havana, Cuba January 21-25, 2004 to participate in the consecration of the first Orthodox Church to be built in the island nation in four decades. [more]

Monday, February 02, 2004

I'm wondering.... did you read my answer to your question?
To quote a familiar phrase...I'm not making this up!!!!! There is going to be a new ad campaign for Preparation H which will use 'Ring of Fire' as the theme music. The producer was trying to come up with an idea for it when the song came on the radio. Evidently the phrase'and it burns, burns, burns' hit a bit too close to home.
DUDE, I'M IN ALL THE WAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Yeah, football is bad news. I would try avoiding it. Actually, I have avoided it since I was 21. Can't afford any injuries.

Its been a week (see January 27) since I attempted to answer your question. What do you think?

This just in: Islam is evil.
I had a John Hanneman moment over the weekend. I played football with a lot of the guys from the Young Adults Group at church. I'm 37, and haven't played football in 5 years. Virtually everyone else who played was in their 20's...and I did pretty flippin' well. The old man still has it. Of course today I'm walking like Tim Conway's old man character, but I'll survive.

I still can't get onto the blog at home. The invite you sent me says that it is expired. Can you send it again?

I also just started reading Eugene Peterson's RUN WITH THE HORSES, but when I finish that, I'm finally going to dive into Eusebius' Church History.
Well, I'm trying to read this essay on the incarnation, Tradition, and icons by Vladimir Lossky last night and, I swear, 5% of it is in Greek! I have a very poor memory and even though I passed my greek courses with near perfect grades that was 20 Years ago. I think that anytime greek text is used in a book for the average English-speaking reader it should be transliterated into latin letters AND translated into English. Would tht be too difficult?

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Stuff that happened today:
Went to church. Today is the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee.
Moral: You aren't as good as you think you are, you had better start asking God for mercy, cuz all your good deeds really stink. And, oh, by the way, you think your fasting gets you in good with God? Fat chance. So, this is a fast free week. But it is different from the feast weeks. Those were about eating because you were happy. This week is about eating because to God, eating or not eating don't matter if the heart is the one eating or fasting is evil.

Also, we cooked this morning.
Chicken completely covered in sweet onion, thyme, and oregeno. Cooked till it fell off the bone.
Sauteed chard.
Green salad.
Fresh berries and pears with sauce made from ricotta, cream cheese, and honey.

Oh, I read St. John Chrysostom's Sermons on 1 Cor. 13. What did you think of his explanation of Long-suffering? I was impressed just by the amount of time he gave it.

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