Friday, April 30, 2004

Well, it has been a stressful day. I negotiated my departure from AllDorm. I'm no longer an employee but am an independant contractor. That status will give me the freedom to finish up the deals I am working on and do other things, besides. Cyndi found out that we might be losing our apartment. The owner of the property has not been paying the management company, which is Cyndi's employer. Looks like we will have a place to live until the 31st of May but after that, well, who knows?

You said you'd like to read what EXFC said in reply. I don't have the email they sent me anymore, but, essentially, he defended the use of the Masoretic text, showed me that if I had clicked on a link I would have seen that they know there are 19 different churches that make up the Orthodox Church, and asked how you and I can possible be frineds. (He looked at the blog.)

Well, now that's just great. Here i go and set aside about a half hour for blogging, and I spend most all of it reading and digesting the big-ass post on your dialogue. Seriously, I'd like to hear what kind of response you get on that. I do tend to agree with a lot of hat they say, but i also agree with you on some stuff as being against them.

Did I tell you we are going to Hawaii a week from Monday? 10 days in paradise. At least then i have a valid excuse for not blogging.

Next week on the menu for us is going to be 'I've never made this before" week. I've got this recipe book I've put together over the past couple of years, but there are still some thing in there I've never made, and some new stuff also. For example, there's a recipe for 'Shrimp with Sake Garlic Sauce'. As son as I get it figured out, I'll post the menu.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

That's funny about our blog being listed first. But it makes sense; Blogger/Blogspot is owned by Google.

I got stranded in Palo Alto today. Spent almost the whole day bumming around on University Ave.
If you go to google.com and put in the name Ronnie Lorenzo, our blog is the first thing to pop up.
There is a group called ExOrthodox For Christ. I'm not sure they were really Orthodox, though. A lot of the things they say seem more directed against the Roman Catholic Church. Also, some of their stuff reminds me of the anti-catholic stuff I've seen in Jack Chick comic books. Below is an email I sent to them. I received thirr permission to use their copywrited material on this blog. The text is word for word what appeard on their website on April 28, 2004.

Hi, I took a look at your site and just can't figure you guys out. It seems to me that you must have only been nominally Orthodox because a lot of what you say is half right; it is as though you know something about the Orthodox Church but you have some gaps in your knowledge. I'm really not interested in arguing or debating, but perhaps you will let me help you understand the Orthodox Church you left. We'd like to have you back.

The text from your page on the Beliefs of the Eastern Orthodox Church is below. My comments follow each of your statements. When in this email I say you are correct or incorrect I'm not judging your theology or your interpretation of the Bible. I'm not adressing what you belive in that regard at all. I am only saying that your statement about Orthodoxy is or is not correct. Obviously, all people are free to believe anything you want about God.

XOFC: "There are many people not familiar with the beliefs of the Eastern Orthodox Church"

Matt: This is correct.

XOFC: "(The "Eastern Orthodox Church" would include the 3 key Orthodox Groups: the Russian Orthodox Church, The Greek Orthodox Church, and the Orthodox Church of America [OCA] )."

Matt: You got three of them but, actually, the Orthodox Church is composed of 19 different churches around the world. You can see a list of them at this website: http://oca.org/pages/orth_chri/Orthodox-Churches/index.htm . You might want to update your website.

XOFC: The Eastern Orthodox Church believes that Salvation is an ongoing process, not something obtainable as a result of exclusive belief in the Atoning Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, His Death & Resurrection.

Matt: This is only partially correct, or rather is not really detailed enough to accurately state the Orthodox teaching. For Orthodox salvation is not just getting into heaven, or being forgiven of sins. Rather, it is a relationship with God, or as the Apostle Peter said, it is partaking in the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4) Also, as I am sure you have read, the Apostle Paul wrote, "By Grace are you saved through faith" (Eph 2:8). So, obviously, we Orthodox affirm that we are saved by grace through faith. (Disagreeing with an apostle is a non-starter.) And we know, the faith of the church in Rome was famous (Rom 1:8) But the Apostle Paul said to them "But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. (Rom 13:14)" Why did he say this if they were already saved? Well, the Orthodox answer to this question is that belief in Jesus must be combined with putting that belief into action -- feeding the hungry, ministering to others, etc. Both are essential. But combined with those positive works of ministery are the negative, or resistive works of fighting and killing our own flesh. Again, the Apostle Paul is instructive in this regard. He teaches us in his letter to the Galatians (Ch. 5) that we must combat those works of the flesh and must live in the Spirit. For we who live in the Spirit wait in faith for the hope of righteousness. (Gal 5:5) And three times in the first chapter of the Epislte of James we read that faith without works is dead. So, if James, the brother of the Lord, The one who was the fisrt bishop of jerusalem said this, we are not about to disagree with him. For indeed one can "believe" in Jesus' death and resurrection and yet lead a life that betrays that belief. Hence belief alone is not sufficient. The Lord said, "Not all who say 'Lord, Lord' will have a place in my Kingdom."

XOFC: The Eastern Orthodox Church believes that it is not possible for anyone to have definite knowledge of their own salvation (or the salvation of anyone else) prior to physical death.

Matt: This is correct but needs some explanation. We believe that God is sovereign and who He saves is really up to Him, not us. Our knowledge is limited. Judas was once one of Jesus' closest twelve disciples. Today he is in Hell. The thief on the cross was, well, a thief. But he went to paradise.

XOFC: " The Eastern Orthodox Church denies that man is born with sin. Further, the Eastern Orthodox Church teaches that man can will himself to not sin. As such, these teachings negate the need for the death and resurrection of Christ, and the need to believe in his exclusive atonement for our sins and salvation by faith in Jesus Christ alone."

Matt: Again, this is partly true. As I am sure you know, Roman Catholics and the vast majority of Protestants follow the teaching of St. Augustine (who, by the way is an Orthodox saint.) on Original Sin. The Orthodox have a different understnding of Original Sin. The Orthodox Church teaches that, while everyone bears the consequences of the first sin, the foremost of which is death, only Adam and Eve are guilty of that sin. (But we are all guilty of our own sins, so its not like we don't need a Redeemer.) The western churches (with a few exceptions) teach that everyone bears not only the consequence, but also the guilt, of that sin.

XOFC: "Since the Eastern Orthodox Church denies original sin. However, the EOC also advocates the theory that humans can simply will themselves to stop sinning of their own free will. This leads many in the EOC to a state of confusion: they know that their denomination teaches that they can be "without sin", yet those who attend Eastern Orthodox Churches freely admit that they do sin. Many orthodox have left the Eastern Orthodox church to find churches that provide a view of mankind that is more consistent with human nature as all of mankind actually experiences it: a state of being "fallen" or imperfect. (At their new churches, Orthodox people then learn the true centrality of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and understand the importance of his sacrifice on the Cross - this frees them up to Trust Jesus Christ exclusively and totally, thereby doing away with the internal compulsion of trying to obtain salvation by one's own good works). "

Matt: As for being able to will ourselves not to sin, that is not something I have ever heard an Orthodox Christian say. In fact, because our experience of sin is so great, we pray often for God's mercy, that He will deliver us even from temptation, because we are weak and quick to fall. Maybe what you are thinking of is our belief that as we mature in the faith, we will be better at resisting temptation? We are very quick to say that we are fallen and imperfect. And again, we do not try to buy salvation by doing good works. Rather the Orthodox church teaches us to live our salvation through good works. Salvation is by God's grace.

XOFC: "Those who stay within the EOC are left with this dilema: how to worship Christ while maintaining - doctrinally - the futility of His death and resurrection...which EOC doctrine affirms is largely irrelevant. EOC catechism usually emphasizes works of personal devotion Those who stay within the EOC are left with this dilema: how to worship Christ while maintaining - doctrinally - the futility of His death and resurrection...which EOC doctrine affirms is largely irrelevant. EOC catechism usually emphasizes works of personal devotion Those who stay within the EOC are left with this dilema: how to worship Christ while maintaining - doctrinally - the futility of His death and resurrection...which EOC doctrine affirms is largely irrelevant. "

MAtt: Wow! I can hardley believe you said that! Are you sure you used to be Orthodox? Haven't you heard the Paschal Troparion? "Christ is risen from the dead/Trampling down death by death/And upon those in the tombs bestowing life!" The Crucifixion and the Resurrection of the Lord are the most important events in history. They are constantly referenced in our liturgies. Had Jesus not died and defeated death we would still be dead in our sins, there would be no ressurection.

XOFC: "EOC catechism usually emphasizes works of personal devotion ...as a substitutionary basis for one's personal sense of redemption through the rather than on the completed death & resurrection of Jesus Christ."

Matt: I've read three different Orthodox catechetical works and do not remember seeing anything like what you are saying in any of them. However, it is true that we tend to not put too much trust in the way we feel. Our emeotions are still influenced by our fallen nature so we tend to be wary of them.

XOFC: To this concept, the Orthodox Church has given the nice sounding name of "Theosis", which is the process of EOC adherence learning to accept their own Godhood as they are able to save themselves.

Matt: Actually, this is a gross misstatement. We are not a bunch of Shirely McClains. It is true that we believe that we are saved by becoming like God. But this is by His grace and love, not by our discovering an inate "God-ness". We are trasnformed. And this transformation has only barely begun in any of us. Even after our resurrection on the last day, we will still be striving to go, as C.S. Lewis put it in his book The Last Battle, "higher up and further in"

XOFC: Historically and Factually, The Eastern Orthodox Church routinely uses extra-biblical sources (such as the Apocrypha) to justify doctrines 1) found nowhere in the Bible and 2) which contradict the teachings & doctrines of the Bible.

Matt: Yes. This is a mostly true statement. We do believe the Bible is part of a larger Christian Tradition. However, the books you refer to as Apochrypha we regard as part of the Bible. Also, the Bible is at the core of the Tradition.

Now as for contradicting Scripture I don't have a better answer for you that to quote Elder Cleopas of Romania on the Tradition of the Orthodox Church:

"The Church of Christ determined the truths of the faith, according to the long course of Tradition, through the teachings and canons of the holy Oecumenical Councils, decrees and the Symbol of Faith [The Creed], and with confessions [of Faith] by holy and wonderworking hierarchs such as were made at the many local synods which have been held continuously since the days of old. At these synods the authenticity and genuineness of the holy Orthodox Faith was firmly established, primarily therein where it was attacked by the existing heresies of the time. From the totality of such synods appears the irrevocable and inalterable content of Holy Tradition. This is understood when you examine closely the essence of the following conditions:
- Do not sanction conceptions that contain inconsistencies amongst themselves or contradictions with the apostolic Tradition and Holy Scripture. (A teaching is to be considered worthy of “Tradition” when it stems from the Saviour or the Holy Apostles and is directly under the influence of the Holy Spirit.)
- The Tradition is that which has been safeguarded from the Apostolic Church and has an uninterrupted continuity until today.
- The Tradition is that which is confessed and practiced by the entire universal Orthodox Church.
- The Tradition is that which is in harmony with the greatest portion of the fathers and ecclesiastical writers.
When a tradition does not fulfil these stipulations, it cannot be considered true and holy, and consequently cannot be considered admissible or fit to be observed."

XOFC: The Eastern Orthodox Church believes in communication with the Dead, and in their ability to intercede for us or on our behalf to God the Father. This is an ancient pagan practice that is explicitly forbidden by the Bible and Christianity, since it places the practitioner in the position of sinning and of being deceived by demonic spirits taking on the form & identity of those who are deceased. Communication with the dead is a forbidden practice of the occult that opens a person up to Spiritual Deception which the Eastern Orthodox Church has encouraged by using Christian terminology to make it seem alright. Many people are unknowingly deceived ,and then cannot figure out why God seems so distant to them...in many cases, their occult practice stands in the way...The Eastern Orthodox Church believes that its members can pray to Mary and that she can intervene or talk to Jesus Christ on our Behalf.

Matt: We do not believe that people who have died in Christ are really dead. Jesus said he is the resurrection and the life. It simply is not possible for one of his own, someone who has "put on Christ" to die. Sure the body dies and returns to dust, but the spirit and soul live on and are concsious. But how do we know those of us in heaven are concious of us? Well, remember Hebrews 11? We are surrounded by all of the champions of the faith who have gone on before us. It's like we are in a stadium, still struggling and fighting against sin, the flesh and the spirit of this world, but they are in the stands cheering us on. God doesn't seem distant to me. We believe we can ask any Christian to pray for us, living or dead (but again they we do not believe they are really dead).

XOFC: "The Eastern Orthodox Church believes that Salvation [which they re-define as "Union in Christ"] comes through the process of partaking of the Eucharist, believing that the Eucharistic Host (wafer/bread) becomes the physical Body of Jesus Christ. "

Matt: The Orthodox do not use wafers. Roman Catholics use wafers that they call hosts. The bread used by Orthodox is called the Lamb, and is leavened. Are you sure you used to be Orthodox?

XOFC: "The Eastern Orthodox Church rejects Eternal Security and believes that Christians can loose their salvation."

Matt: This isn't really true. We just see that we are not really saved until we have finished the race. It is a question of what is salvation. Please see my explanation regarding your 4th statement. Of course, you know about 1/2 of Evangelical Protestants reject the Calvinist doctrine of Eternal Security.

XOFC: "The Eastern Orthodox Church rejects the doctrine of the Priesthood of Believers, and believes that the Priests in its hierarchy stand spiritually on a level which is superior to laymen, giving priests the ability to understand the Bible in ways that Orthodox Church goers cannot understand as a result of their own study of the Bible. "

Matt: Man, you are so close on this one. As you might remember from your baptism and chrismation, you were tonsured a priest. (that is what that hair cutting stuff was all about.) All Orthodox Christians, the clergy and laity alike, are called to the priestly ministery of offering the Eucharist, but each according to their rank. A deacon would not dare to take the place of a bishop. A layman would not dare to take the place of a deacon. But all work together to offer worship to God. Now while it is true that at their ordination, the clergy (priests and bishops) receive a special charisma to teach, it is not true that the layity do not share in that ministry. St. Justin Martyr was a layman but was also one of the best and earliest teachers of the faith. And of course there are plenty of lay teachers in the Orthodox Church today. Just look at the faculty list at www.svots.edu . a large percentage of the professors there are laymen. Or visit any sunday school in any Orthodox church and you will see.

XOFC: "The Eastern Orthodox Church believes that Protestants are Heretical Schismatics who have departed from the true faith, this despite the fact that most Orthodox groups are fighting amongst each other, concerning competing claims of spiritual supremacy, several of them having declared each other to be Schismatics."

Matt: Actually we believe that Protestantism is heresy. But we do not usually label protestants as heretics. To be a heretic a person would have to be Orthodox and then repudiate one or more of the Orthodox Church's teachings. Most Protestants do not fall into that category. We usually refer to protestants as Western Christians or as Heterodox Christians. Being a heretic is a very personal thing and requires a personal choice to leave Orthodoxy. That is a choice most Protestants have never made. We do see that there is a radical schismatic tendency in Protestantism. In Orthodoxy the tendency is there, too. By God's grace we will overcome it.

XOFC: "The Eastern Orthodox Church fosters the impression that the Orthodox Church of American is independent or "autocephalous" (their term - not ours), without disclosing the fact that the Orthodox Church of America is little more than a rubber-stamp of the Greek Orthodox Church ruled as an Autarchy from Mt. Athos."

Matt: This is incorrect. If you spend some time looking at the website to which I refered you you will see that there are several Orthodox Jurisdictions in North America. The OCA is the only autcephalous jurisdiction on this continent. The other jurisdictions are under the protection of bishops in Europe and Asia. I think you might be thinking about about the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese which is under the fairly tight control of the Patriarch of Constantinople. But that has nothing to do with Mt. Athos, which is a semi-autonomos region of the Republic of Greece. What is your source for this?

XOFC: "The Eastern Orthodox Church teaches that its rituals are handed down from eons past, in holy reverence with great care taken to preserve the original and authentic liturgy of the past. The historical record constantly contradicts this, and continues to demonstrate that most of the Liturgy of the Eastern Orthodox Church dates to not earlier than the 1600, even after the time of the Protestant Reformation."

Matt: Again, this is partially true. While some of the details vary from place to place and time to time, the faith expressed, and the basic stucture of the liturgy have remained unchaged since, well, since the beginning. Our liturgy is based on what goes on in heaven in the heavenly temple. But if you want, you can pick of a copy of St. Justin Martyrs writings and see an outline of the Orthodox Liturgy that was being served in Rome in 2nd century A.D. Another thing to remember is that most of the liturgy is Scripture.

XOFC: "The Eastern Orthodox Church Hierarchy is constantly taking increasing steps to find reconciliation with the Roman Catholic Hierarchy, in meetings and gatherings designed to validate counterfeit claims of legitimacy that do not withstand historical scrutiny."

Matt: I am not sure what you are refering to so I can't comment other than to say the Orthodox Church seeks reconcilliation with all Christians.

XOFC: "The Eastern Orthodox Church fosters the concept that it is the Church of the Seven Councils, suggesting that it agrees with the first 6 historical worldwide Ecumenical Church councils which took place in Early Church History. Yet the historical facts are clear: The Teachings of the 7th council - to which the Eastern Orthodox Church subscribes - are clear and direct contradictions to the teachings of the 6 Church Councils which preceded the 7th. "

Matt: Ive read Edinburgh Editions of the acts and canons of all 7 councils and I can't figure out what you are talking about. If you are going to say something like this you really ought to give more details. Do you mean dogmatic decrees disagree with each other or do you mean that canons have been changed? Can you give examples?

XOFC: "The Eastern Orthodox Church claims to believe in the Septuagint as its key Text. The main problem with this concept is that no 2 copies of the Septuagint accord (agree) with each other. How then can we tell which Septuagint is the right one to read or follow ? Contrary to popular mythology, it is not as though there were dozens of copies of the Septuagint lying around - for purposes of Textual Comparison. No, the oldest copies of the [supposed] septuagint are the following:

1. Codex Vaticanus - (known to even those scholars during the Reformation who rejected it as a corrupted manuscripts)

2. Codex Sinaiticus - this it the copy of the corrupt manuscript discovered by Constantin von Tischendorf, when he went to the Middle East to search for ancient manuscripts.

You might think that Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus agree with each other. Nothing could be further from the truth. Tischendorf states that Both of these 4th Century texts were part of the 50 Bible that Eusebius commissioned for Constantine [worshipper of Sol Invictus/Mithras]. However these two Bible manuscripts disagree with each other in more than 2,000 (Yes, Two Thousand) places. Further, these two manuscripts have more Bible verses which disagree with each other, than that agree with each other. (These manuscripts however, are held in high regard by the Roman Catholic Church)Please recall that Tischendorf - (A tenured German professor at the height of Biblical Criticism within the Anti-Reformation German Educational system ) - left to find manuscripts of the Bible because he accepted the myth that the Biblical text used by the Christian church for 1800 years - could not - be the real, actual, literal Bible. Both of these comprise the oldest copies of the Septuagint. Again, we must make the point that it is hard to understand how the Eastern Orthodox Church can claim to value the Septuagint and base its theology on the Septuagint- if it cannot even find 3 copies that agree with each other.{Contrast this with the Greek Textus Receptus, which accords with more than 95% of all Bible Manuscripts found to date, in all countries}."

Matt: First, you seem to be saying that the Textus Receptus is superior to the Septuagint. If that is true, you are comparing apples and oranges. The Septuagint is the Old Testament translated into Greek in Egypt during the reign of Ptolemy II Philadelphus(287-47 B.C.). The Textus Receptus is a New Testament majority text put together by Desiderius Erasmus in the 16th Century A.D.. So of course it agrees with most early texts of the New Testament. It was designed to do just that. That is the definition of a majority text. Two websites will serve you well are: http://www.skypoint.com/~waltzmn/TR.html and http://www.solagroup.org/articles/faqs/faq_0032.html

Now about discrepencies between texts: Among the oldest texts of both the NT and the OT there are very few errors of consequence and no important doctrines rely on questionable texts. All Christians have textual problems.

Now, if you want to talk about the Septuagint, it is widely known that most (though not all) NT quotations of the OT are taken from the Septuagint.

Yes, Septugint is the "official" translation of the OT used by the Orthodox Church. The oldest framents of which date to the 1st Century BC. There are also complete edtions by Origen (died in A.D. 256) and St. Ambrose (died A.D. 397). Most Protestant translations are based on various copies of the Masoretic Text, the oldest fragments of which date from the 9th Century A.D. (I do not know how the dead sea scrolls play into the history of the Masoretic or the Septuagint.)

XFOC: "The Eastern Orthodox Church often retains its commitment to non-answers suggesting that all inconvenient questions are a "mystery" to which none can know the answer to."

Matt: I tend to think of this as humility, not a way to avoid difficult questions. For instance, the Incarnation is a mystery. We do not understand how God can become a man. How can something larger than the universe live in a virgins womb? The Crucifixion is a mystery. How can he who is the Lord of life submit to the cross? Our only response to these things can be silence and awe.

So, without trying to convice you of the truth of the claims of the Orthodox Church, I hope I have been able to explain what we believe a little bit better.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

In the couple of months when I was overlapping Protestantism and Orthodoxy I was going to a church in S.F. called Cornerstone. This article from Touchstone Magazine reminds me of that church:

"Her song had a different effect on me than I suspect she thought it would. It did, perhaps, bring me closer to Jesus, but by bringing me closer to the sinfulness of my own heart, the kind of heart that would be excited to lust by a pretty woman begging to be filled, and that would be instructed by its conscience to avert the eyes until she was done with her performance."

But to be fair, I did see something like this at an Orthodox church once. Not in the actual temple, of course, but in the parish hall. It was during the "Only Christ" conference I went to a few years ago, about the same time I was going to Cornerstone. There was a young woman (17-19?) who sang a song to open the conference. She was dressed a little immodestly. I looked around and almost every man in the room was looking at the floor while she was on stage.
Jeff, you haven't remarked on my post of Monday April 19. (Just trying to keep us on topic.)
I haven't take the job yet. Cyndi and I are trying to work out some schedule problems. We have political objections to daycare and strive to avoid it.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Did I ever tell you how much I love to read your writings on cooking? I'm referring, of course, to the chateaubriand (it should be one word)

So did you take the new job? What is it??
It's no surprise that you enjoy brining. I know how many times you've enjoyed being pickled

Speaking of dinner, I made risotto tonight for the first time (asparagus risotto from epicurious.com. Even with all the work involved, it was well worth it!!!!
Thanks for the research on Ronnie. What is actually happening is that an existing customer of ours is selling his car(leased through us) to Ronnie. Ronnie has to come in to do paperwork and is actually paying 30K towards the car also. Funny thing-the 30K he was going to bring in was cash, but can't accept that because we're not a ban branch. So Ronnie has to get a cashiers check. I'll be in the office on Thurs, so I'll give you and update then.
Interesting stuff on Orthodoxy, marriage, and contraception here.
Jeff I don't know if you'd be interested in coming to this or not, but you might be. It is a fairly rare occurance.

SAN FRANCISCO -- His Grace, Bishop TIKHON of San Francisco and the Diocese of the West, Orthodox Church in America announces that Archimandrite Benjamin's Episcopal Consecration will be celebrated at Holy Trinity Cathedral, San Francisco, California, on Friday, April 30, 2004, and Saturday, May 1, 2004 . The canonical election will be held at 6:00 PM on Friday, April 30, 2004 , followed by Great Vespers.

Divine Liturgy and the Consecration of Archimandrite Benjamin as Bishop of Berkeley and Auxiliary to His Grace, Bishop TIKHON will be celebrated on Saturday, May 1, 2004 . His Beatitude HERMAN, Archbishop of Washington, Metropolitan of All America and Canada, primate of the Orthodox Church in America, will preside at the service which will be begin at 9:30 AM.

Archimandrite Benjamin was born Vincent Peterson in Pasadena, CA on June 1, 1954 and was baptized and chrismated at Holy Virgin Mary Cathedral, Los Angeles, CA on April 27, 1972. In 1978 he was awarded a Master of Divinity degree and Certificate in Liturgical Music from Saint Vladimir Seminary.

A prolific musician, he served as choirmaster at parishes in Detroit, MI and Los Angeles and as chairman of the Orthodox Church in America's Department of Liturgical Music. He was ordained to the Holy Diaconate on November 15, 1987 by Bishop Tikhon at his home parish, which he served for 10 years as deacon and youth and education director. The following year he was tonsured a riasophore monk by Bishop Tikhon and further tonsured to the lesser schema by His Eminence, Archbishop [now Metropolitan] Herman at Saint Tikhon Monastery, South Canaan, PA. In 1991 he was elevated to the rank of archdeacon.

On July 19, 1997, he was ordained to the Holy Priesthood by Bishop Tikhon. In 1999, Igumen Benjamin was was transferred to the Diocese of Alaska. In addition to other responsibilities, he served as dean of Saint Innocent Cathedral and later as administrative dean of Saint Herman Seminary, Kodiak, AK. He was elevated to the rank of archimandrite in 2002. In January 2004 he was reassigned to Holy Virgin Mary Cathedral, Los Angeles, and appointed Chancellor of the Diocese of the West.

Upon his consecration to the episcopacy, Bishop-Elect Benjamin will serve as Auxiliary to His Grace, Bishop Tikhon of San Francisco, and as such will continue to be Diocesan Chancellor.

Holy Trinity Cathedral, the site of the consecration, is the oldest Orthodox community in the contiguous United States. The Cathedral, established in 1857, is the seat of the Bishop Tikhon of San Francisco and the Diocese of the West, Orthodox Church in America. For further information, please visit www.holy-trinity.org or contact the event chairman, V. Rev. Victor Sokolov, Cathedral Dean. 415-673-8565. consecration@holy-trinity.org.

Ronald “Ronnie” Lorenzo was the acting-boss of the Rizetello crime family (operating in L.A., San Diego, Philly, and Miami) from 1989-1992. He was reputed to be "the man to see" in L.A.

The Rizetello organization is one of the smaller families. It has never been as large in numbers or as wealthy as the big families such as the Bonannos, the Genovese, and the Gambinos. He is rumored to be a fraternal member of the Bonanno family. It might be the case that Lorenzo’s Rizetello family is just a branch of the Bonanno Family.

Lorenzo is closely connected to Joey Ipolito (son of the founder of Murder, Inc.). and, in fact, the two shared a house in the 1980s.

He owns or owned a chic restaurant in Malibu called “Splash” and a pizza place in Brentwood. He is not actually involved in running either place.

Ipolito and Lorenzo nurtured a relationship with O.J. Simpson. It is believed that they used O.J.’s NFL connections to influence gambling revenue.

Through a friendship with James Caan he recruited several fringe Hollywood personalities to deal cocaine for him. Caan later attended Lorenzo's trial for consiracy.
In 1993 Lorenzo was sentenced to 11 years in a federal prison for conspiracy to import and distribute cocaine. In 1998 he appealed his conviction (represented by a “mob lawyer” named Luskin) and lost. I don’t know when he actually got out of prison.

Lorenzo is a known associate of the suspected assassin Anthony Pellicano. Pellicano is known as the “problem solver” for Hollywood’s rich and famous. (He found the body of Elizabeth Taylors dead husband).

Lorenzo also has convitcions for kidnapping and extortion. Nice customer you have there, Jeff. I just want to know what kind of interest rate you gave him.

See what you can find on the web on a Mafia guy named Ronnie Lorenzo. He's coming in our office on Thursday to pay off a car. Evidently he's the head of some crime family in Los Angeles.
Okay, here's my commitment. From 10:30 to 11 Pm tonight, I'll be on the blog reading and catching up.
By the way, Caleb is more of a prodigy than we thought. In the NFL draft last weekend, the Cincinnati Bengals drafted Caleb Miller in the 3rd round.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Well, just now getting a break. The boy is asleep. the laundry is done. Still have some homework and dishes to do, though. But before I get to that, I want to mention dinner tonight, or at least part of it.

I bought a Diestel turkey breast from the butcher yesterday. Today I cooked it. But I adapted the recipe from an article in Cooks Illustrated (The most fabulous cooking periodical published in the English language!) that I read last year.

The most important thing I did with this turkey breast was brine it. I know it sounds sickening. All of that salt. How can it possibly taste good? But I am now a fan of brining. It is amazing. The effect it has on poultry is absolutely marvelous. If it werent for the fact that I understand the scientific principles involved, I would say it is miraculous.

Essentially, I just soaked the piece of poultry in salt water. (3 cups salt disolved in 2 gallons of water). I let it soak for two hours. Then I rinsed it quickly under cold running water and dried it under a fan.

Next comes the rub. in a small pan I toasted 1 tsp each of dry mustard, cayenne, dried ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and allspice. When it was toasted I mixed it with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

I rubbed the spices and oil into the breast. I made sure to get in under the skin as well as on top of the skin and on the rib side of the breast. I put the breast on a rack in a roasting pan, put the pan on the bottom shelf and cooked on 400 (F) until the skin was brown.

I do not know how to describe the beauty of that turkey breast. It was full of so many complimentary flavors it can only be compared to olfactory bonanza that is walking beside a brook in the redwood forests of the Santa Cruz range. But that is not the most amazing thing. No, that must be, has to be the moisture. I know you have had dried out and stringy turkey breast. Probably every thanksgiving of your life. Well, let me tell you, brining prevents that. Brining takes what all my life has been tolerable at best and turns it into something to yearn for. It makes what in the past has always been mostly flavorless and dry and brings out the essence of the turkey. The flesh of that bird becomes majestic and full of grace. I felt honored to eat that bird. I will no longer call it the turkey. From now on it is the Turkey!
This was a pretty good weekend. Saturday I showed the vacant apartments while Cyndi worked in SF. (Did I mention that she is liquidating a software company’s office?)

Sunday we drove up to San Francisco for church but the boy was sick the whole way up there. He’s been sick ever since his birthday party. Coughing, sneezing, low fever (99 to 100 F). When we got to church we just thought about all of the other kids and the old people there and decided that it would be wrong to expose them to an unknown disease. So, we just went in to light a candle and drop off an offering. Then we went and got bagles at Katz’s on 16th street.

Last night I made dinner. An enormous cut of chateau briand. (Three inches thick and 11 inches in diameter.) The steer had been raised on natural grass pasture and fattened on organic oats and corn (not on a feed lot) before slaughter. It was a happy steer. I salted and peppered it, and threw it on the grill over low heat. While it was cooking I wielded my Henckelsto make a series of 1mm deep cuts on the top side. Splashed it with a little red wine and olive oil. After a while, I increased the heat, and I turned the steak over so that the cooked side, which was slightly concave, was facing up.

The beautiful thing about the concave quality of a cooked steak is that it forms a shallow bowl. The shallow bowl is perfect for containing a sauce or other treatment. While it was still cooking I spread a wedge of very ripe Roquefort all over the steak. I took it off the heat while it was medium-rare, slightly chared on the bottom. It was perfect.

In addition to this I made garlic bread. I used a loaf from Acme. 50/50 mixture of olive oil and unsalted butter. 3 cloves garlic, minced.

I also made a salad of quartered kumquats (sweetest I’d ever tasted. It was amazing.), halved red flame seedless grapes, and thinly sliced red onion. The dressing was balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

I also made something artistic. I bought an aquarium at a pet store (you should have seen Cyndi’s face when I told her I had to stop by a pet store to pick up something for supper! It was fabulous!) Anyway, I bought this fishbowl, put fruit cocktail in the bottom of it, filled it with blue Jell-O and put Swedish Fish in it. It looks good but next time I’m going to do a bigger fish bowl and include some plastic aquarium plants.

As for wine, it was horrible. It was a non-vintage caberet sauvignon from Prosperity Wines. I bought it for the label. Cyndi thought it looked like something by Diego Rivera. I thought it had some soviet realist influences. Either way, the wine was hideous. Lesson: Buy the wine, not the label.

Last night, I also finished this book about Fr. Arseny. It was overwhelming.

Cyndi and I are in the market for a used Vespa Scooter, or the like.

Friday, April 23, 2004

My boss gave me most of what I wanted but I still went on the job interview, and got the job. Boy, God really has worked this out for me. Thank you for praying.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Jeff, you said you are taking a class on spirituality. And the while it is true that St. Augustine is Orthodox, you might want to check out other Orthodox writers. (St. Augustine is a difficult read. At least he was for me. I think I had to read every paragraph of City of God three or four times before I understoood it.) An easy way to do that is by picking up a copy of the April 2004 issue of Theology Today. (Click here and scroll down to where it says "click here to view the table of contents") It is published by Princeton Theological Seminary. Of the writers in this issue, I've read sermons by His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch. I've also an read interview of the Blessed Metroplitan Anthony, one book by His Grace Bishop Kallistos, and a book by the Anglican Canon Hugh Waybrew. I think you'll enjoy this issue of Theology Today.

And thank you very much for your prayers. I really do appreciate them.

Hmmm. Now that I think of it, maybe the problem I had understanding St. Augustine is that I was reading him in a Political philosophy class, not in a theology class. Maybe we were trying to figure out what he was saying about politics when he wasn't even talking about politics. I should read the book again, but as a Christian, not as a political science student. I'll add it to the list. (It's a long list.)
I'm sorry to hear about the job stuff. I'm surprised you have'nt already been looking for a job. When I wass praying for you and Cyndi the other night (and I do weekly, without fail) I was praying for your financial situation. Hopefully God's going to do some good stuff soon!(He has to, it's in His job description)
I take it from your comments that you do not like Earth Day?

When I was at Irvine, they had a school festival every year in the spring just around Earth Day. I can't even remember what it was called, but the Earth Day people used to be out there in force.

Why can't we have a God Day? Oh, wait, that's Easter (or Pascha)
Good poem by Kipling. I'd never heard that one before. Matter of fact, I've never read anything of his but The Jungle Book, and that's been a few years.

I'm going to work my way back through the blog of the last few days, throwing in comments when then are needed and probably also when they are not.
On Huw's Blog he is talking about whether or not he can, based on the teachings of the past, stand up to people and say they are wrong. It reminded me of my second favorite non-sacred poem.

Note: Copybooks were used in grammar schools to teach penmanship. At the top of each page was a heading, invariably a wise saying. Students practices writing by copying the saying on each line below the heading.

The Gods of the Copybook Headings By Rudyard Kipling

As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race, I make my proper
prostrations to the Gods of the Market-Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn.
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breath of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market-Place;
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch.
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch.
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings.
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Heading said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul; But, though we had
plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Heading said: "If you don't work you die."

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four-
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man- There are only
four things certain since Social Progress began:-
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,

And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wobbling back to the Fire;
And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins

When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

Today is Earth Day.
Three facts about Earth Day.
1-The first Earth Day was on April 22, 1970
2-V.I. Lenin was born on April 22, 1870
3-Richard Nixon, who signed the Earth Day Proclamation is also the president who instituted wage and price controls, and signed the 1973 Farm Bill resulting in enormous expansion of the food stamp program.

Draw your own conclusion.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Pray for me. Work has become very difficult. In addition to making very little money I am being put in a position I absolutley hate. Can't go into details. Friday should be interesting. I told my boss what I would like to have happen and Friday is when he is going to let me know if it is possible. I have a job interview scheduled 4 hours after I'm supposed to hear from my boss.

Wasn't it epicurious who said the best life is the life of repose drinking moderate amounts of wine and eating olives? He might have been onto something. Beats being in the advertising business. That's the truth.
Here is an informative site that shows some differences between Orthodox, Romon Catholic, and Protestant Bibles.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

I just discovered the Number One Rule In Life. Never sneeze while you are peeing
Oh, yeah, blogging...Kinda forgot about it for a few days. I'll try to catch up stuff over the next day or so. I don't think I've even looked at it since Friday or so.

This is good. Go to maninblack.net and look at the "September (when it comes)" video. It's Roseanne Cash and Johnny, the only duet they ever did and it was released about a month before he died. The video is basically different family pictures, but it's pretty good
Which one of the following TV characters owned 300 acres of farmland?

a) Oliver Douglas
b) Charles Ingalls
c) Sam Jones
d) Amos McCoy
e) Zebulon Walton

Is: a) Oliver Douglas of Green Acres, who traded the high life of Manhattan for the greenery of Hooterville. On that note:

Green acres is the place for me.
Farm livin' is the life for me.
Land spreadin' out so far and wide.
Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside.

New York is where I'd rather stay.
I get allergic smelling hay.
I just adore a penthouse view.
Dah-ling I love you but give me Park Avenue.

...The chores.
...The stores.
...Fresh air.
...Times Square

You are my wife.
Good-bye, city life.
Green Acres we are there.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Caleb was cranky? I didn't notice. He seemed happy to me. He is a sweet boy.

Regarding the third paragraph of your post of 1:21 p.m. on April 16 - It occurs to me that anything I suggest to you as being needed you will say is not needed because of your understanding of what the Bible is. You have constructed a tautology.

Also in that same post, someone named Daniel asked you a question I have asked you many times, a question you have never answered.

Now, before I go on with the rest of your post of April 16, which takes us into the area of the sufficiency of Scripture, I want to go back to your post of April 3, which was a respnonse to my answer to you, made on Jan 27. (see how I stay on topic?)

Lets look at the passage in Deuteronomy 17:8-12 that I mentioned and which you say does not work for my argument. Here is the text:

"If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, [being] matters of controversy within thy gates: then shalt thou arise, and get thee up into the place which the LORD thy God shall choose; And thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and enquire; and they shall shew thee the sentence of judgment: And thou shalt do according to the sentence, which they of that place which the LORD shall choose shall shew thee; and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they inform thee: According to the sentence of the law which they shall teach thee, and according to the judgment which they shall tell thee, thou shalt do: thou shalt not decline from the sentence which they shall shew thee, [to] the right hand, nor [to] the left. And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest that standeth to minister there before the LORD thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel. "

Now compare that to this passage from Acts 15:

"And they wrote [letters] by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren [send] greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, [Ye must] be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no [such] commandment: It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell [you] the same things by mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;"

Do you remember what I was talking about when I mentioned these two passages in my post of Jan 27? I was talking about God giving people authority, actually, giving institutions authority. In the Deuteronomy passage He gave authority to the Cohenim and the Levites. In the Acts passage we see Apostles, at least one bishop (James the Brother of the Lord) and the presbyters gathered in a council claiming the authority to speak for God. God expects the leaders of his people to be obeyed by his people.

So, where does that authority reside today? With every individual Baptist? With the Elders at Peninsula Bible Church? With the General Board of the Pentecostal Church of God? With the Missouri Synod? I would have to laugh with St. Iraneus and say "Who laid hands on them?"

What do you think? What happened to that group of Apostles, bishops, and presbyters? Did they disappear? Did God leave his church without shepherds? Or did he raise up shepherds outside the protocols of ordination as alluded to in the Pastoral Epistles?

(I'm not through, but I'll stop here to see what you have to say.)
ELIZABETH GOUGH UPDATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Eliabeth, come June, is moving to Chile to teach for a year. We might have some sort of going away thingy at teh end of May. I think Karin will be in town then also.

I really enjoyed the party on Sat. I would have loved to stay longer, but Mr. Caleb was getting increasingly cranky and fell asleep almost as soon as I put him in the van.

Friday, April 16, 2004

I really enjoyed your post of 1:21 pm. I'll get to it sometime this weekend. I often feel like I am the one on the offensive. I like it when you punch back. Makes me feel less like a bully. Could you do me a favor with your scripture references? It would be helpful to me if you would link to the text.
While I've got a couple of seconds now, let me address a question you asked last week about how I know that Scripture gives me everything I need.

There is no 'silver bullet' verse on this one. But there are enough other ones which deal with the sufficiency of Scripture to build up a good solid case. I still direct you to 2 Tim 3:15-16. The issue here is not the inspiration of Scripture but rather what it is good for. I would also throw out 2 Peter 1:3, Psalm 119 and John 6:68.

But there's also another way to look at the question. What is there that Scripture does NOT give me? The answer is nothing. It is complete as it. It teaches on the doctrine of God, Jesus, Satan, sin, redemption, etc. And on and on. There is nothing in relation to God or spiritual matters that it does not cover, and in a way which is complete for our needs.
Anselm's Godfather is proposing a summer movie club. Essentially, people get together, watch a list of movies over the summer, and write about "salvation" in those movies on the blog. I haven't talked to cyndi, and I will be in school for six weeks this summer, but would you like to try to do it?
I am really sorry my reply to Kristie was so upsetting to you. That was not my intention. Also, I'll concede that many if not most scholars deny the authenticity of the Paul-Seneca correpondence. It is also hard for me to believe St. Paul wrote it. As I said, I don't think it is worth reading. I've just never seen anything that says he didn't write it.
Just for the reccord this is what I said to Kristie.

I sent a quick one line email that said, "Unless you are there with the blessing of the local Orthodox bishop you shouldn't be going."

I then thought I should give her more information, so I sent this message: "Here is the webpage for the Church of Ukraine. ( http://www.orthodox.org.ua/ ) They have been there for almost 1,000 years. Your efforts there will only cause confusion. I urge you not to go. I realize that the website is in a foreign language, but if you go to this website (http://www.oca.org/pages/orth_chri/Orthodox-Faith/index.htm) you will learn more about the faith of the church of Ukraine, and all Orthodox Christians. Please, do not go there and tear down what is only now being rebuilt after 70 years of state imposed atheism and persecution."

Jeff, I don't have to defend the church of the Ukraine to you. It has suffered terribly, and the blood of it's thousands of martyrs is defense enough for it.

If I believe that her efforts are going to harm people it would be wrong of me to remain silent. Why, exactly are you so upset? You've known for a long time that I believe the Orthodox church is THE Church. If it wasn't I wouldn't have converted.

You are out of line in responding to Kristie the way you are. If the Orthodox church was doing its job over there, there'd be no need for any foreign missionaries to go. Evidently they have fallen asleep at the wheel. You need to reexamine your ever-narrowing, provincial, sectarian point of view and ask forgivenss for your sin which is abhorrent to our God. And yes, I'm pissed at you.
I glanced at some stuff on the supposed correspondance between paul and Seneca. The general consensus is that they are 4th century forgeries, written either to commend Seneca to Christians or to commend Christianity to students of Seneca.

It is also clear from reading the letters, especially the parts attributed to Paul that it is not written in Paul's style nor is the language very "Pauline". It doesn't seem to be authentic.
Not a chance I would even suggest moving the time. The whole point of starting at in the middle of the night is so that we can begin the Paschal liturgy at 1 minute after midnight, which is the earliest time the rubrics allow us to do it.

I got the email about Kristie Reed's trip. I wrote to her and told her that unless she has the blessing of the local Orthodox Bishops in those countires she shouldn't be going there. I think it is horrible the way American Evangelicals have swarmed eastern Europe spreading heresy among people weakend by 70 years of state enforced atheism. If they want to help the people of eastern Europe they can do so by donating their time and money to the OCMC and the IOCC.
Cool pictures. I really like the guy in the bunny ears. Do you think for next year you could get them to schedule it earlier in the evening to accomodate those of us who used to be, but no longer are night people??

Kristie Reed is going on a Missions Trip to Eastern Europe in June. I'll forward you a copy of the email she sent me on it.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Jeff, since you and Christa couldn't make it to Pasha this year let me show you some photos.

Here is a picture of Cyndi, Devon, Anselm and me. You can't see it but Anselm is wearing a gold silken tie with a blue fish print.

Here is a picture of Fr. Victor yelling "Christ is Risen!"

This is a pictue of the chandalier the Czar Saint Nicholas II gave us. it had been taken down right after Christmas and we only got it back on Palm Sunday. It had to be rewired.

This guy with the beard is Dr. Eisner. He was very comforting when Cyndi a miscarriage last year. He is a neat guy. When he is not in church he wears dark shades and a striking black beret.

As you can see, Holy Trinity Cathedral, our little temple was packed with people.

This is a picture of the most senior sub-deacon. He doesn't serve in the altar anymore, though. He is a history professor at SFSU. He is also one of the five men who wore tuxedos that night. He is the only man who wore bunny ears.

Of course there was the Procession around the outside of the church in which we remember the women who went to the tomb and discovered it empty. I always wonder what the people Driving buy on Van Ness at midnight think.

Here is Fr. Victor reading the Gospel for Pascha. Interestingly, it isn't about the resurrection. It is the first Chapter of John.

And of course the whole point of Jesus coming was to save us and make us like him. (You are what you eat.)

There was dancing.

There was eating. A lot of eating. This is just one of the desert tables. I wish I had a picture of the drinks table to show you. It would have you in tears. Lets just say, the only time I ever drink Crown Royal is at Pascha. It is sooooo good that I am afraid to drink it at any other time.

And finally, after all of Lent and Holy Week, we ate MEAT!!!! There were several hams, white trash lasagna, peroshki, smoked salmon, caviar, roast beef, smoled trout, and other assorted animal parts.

There were a couple of pinatas for the kids to enjoy.

Did I mention the vodka? Well, let me tell you. It was flowing like water. And the same goes for champagne.

With God's grace, you can make it next year.

I am so sorry to hear about Caleb's illness. Nothing is more sad than a sick baby. 104 is dangerous. Was his temperature that high for very long? Do the physicians think he will be okay?

We just got our taxes done yesterday. In 2003 with Cyndi and I both working we made less than 1/2 what I made all by myself in 2002. And that was 1/4 less than I made in 2001. This is not a good trend. Actually, 1999 was the high water mark for me. That was when I worked at Nettaxi, during the boom. Thank God Cyndi is an apartment manager and the car is paid for. Otherwise, we couldn't make it.

I don't know much about the nun. Her name is Sister Anne Catherine Emmerich. She bore stigmata of the crown of thorns. Was German. Mel Gibson keeps a relic of hers on him at all times. She had a bunch of visions and recoded them in a book called the Dolorous Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. I think she might have been in the hospital or bedridden or something like that when she had the visions. I'm not sure. I really don't know much about her or the Dolorous Passion. Having seen the movie, you probably know more about that book than I do. I'm more familiar with her book the Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
I know I've been away from the blog for a couple of days, but Caleb has been pretty sick. Some type of virus. He's almost back to normal now, but his fever was as high as 104 a couple of days ago. It's amazing how much having a sick baby just sucks the life out of you. Even though I knew he would get better, his being sick was all I could dwell on. I'll try to catch up this weekend.

We are realy looking forward to seeing you on Saturday at the party. Speaking of birthdays, Caleb is 1 today, and celebrated by going to the doctor.

Tell me more about the vision of the nun. That might clear up the mystery of the blood.
I've been thinking about your question about Mary soaking up Jesus's blood in the movie. Maybe it is something the nun saw. (Gibson based parts of the movie on a nun's vision). Or maybe he is remembering the story of Saint Veronica and having Mary do something kind of like what she did. Kind of like when he conflated Mary of Bethany, Mary Magdalene, the woman taken in adultery, and the woman who annointed Jesus with expensive perfume. I still haven't seen the movie.
I just read this story about a 104 year old scientist at Messiah College. (FYI: When I was a kid, before I joined the Army when I was 17, Messiah was my dream school. I still remember parts of their catalog. I spent hours reading it every day when I was 15 and 16 years old.) So here is this scientist (Ph.D. from Columbia, Director of the Manhattan Project) who teaches at a college where he affirms a two fairly orthodox Statements of Faith. Yet so many in the world think of Christianity as anti-scientific. It makes no sense to me. In my parish of just 55 members there are three scientsts. One is a professor of medicine at UCSF, and two other physicians, one of whom is working on a vaccine for AIDS. One of our former members (he is now in Heaven) was a physicist who worked with Bohr and helped develop the hydrogen bomb. It is just amazing to me that so many in the world think we are idiots. Hmmmm. Maybe it is because if they convince themselves that we are uneducated and superstitious they can say the God we worship is just something in which uneducated people belive.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

I've been giving some thought to your challenges: "You can't build tradition and doctrine on what you don't know. You have no idea what his oral instructions were." and "Can you show me just one thing Paul said that is not contained in Scripture?"

I'll take the latter challenge first. We know from the text of the New Testament that St. Paul wrote letters that never made it into the Bible. The only non-canonical letters of his that we have copies of today (to the best of my knowledge) are the letters he wrote to a Roman named Seneca. I don't know if this is the same Seneca who is the famous statesman but I think it is, because in one of Seneca's letters to St. Paul he mentions his desire to read St. Paul's writings to Nero. St. Jerome mentions the letters in his writings. The letters do not have much in them that is of spiritual importance. The letters were written around A.D. 58 Here is an example:

"Paul to Seneca, greeting. I received your letter yesterday with delight, and should have been able to answer it at once, had I had by me the youth I meant to send to you. For you know when, and by whom, and at what moment, and to whom things ought to be given and entrusted. I beg, therefore, that you will not think yourself neglected, when I am respecting the dignity of your person. Now in that you somewhere write that you are pleased with my letter (or, write that you are pleased with part of my letter) I think myself happy in the good opinion of such a man: for you would not say it, you, a critic, a sophist, the teacher of a great prince, and indeed of all -unless you spoke truth. I trust you may long be in health."

I don't think they are worth reading but if you want to you can read all of them at the Wesley Center of Northwest Nazarene University.

There is also a book called the Epistle of St. Paul to the Laodocians, but I don't think anyone believes it to be genuine.

Now let me take up your other challenge, that we can not build tradtion and doctrine out of what we do not know. This tells me that you do not understand what Tradition is. We do not look at the Didache, or the Epistles of St. Clement, or the Liturgy of St. Mark and construct doctrines out of them. Tradition (paradosis) is that which is passed down. It is not assembled from fragments of scrolls and crumbling parchments found in caves and monasteries.

When I mentioned the Didache, I was not saying that we Orthodox built our tradition of fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays on the Didache. Rather, I was saying that the Didache testifies to the antiquity of the Tradition. We do not consult scholars at the Ecole Oreint in Paris or the faculty of Oriental Studies at Oxford to find out what our tradition should be. Do you consult them to find out what books belong in the Bible? No, you simply take what the church gives you. That is what the Orthodox do regarding tradition.

Now here I am going to quote Elder Cleopas of Romania, a great teacher of the Faith. He was answering someone who, like you, was not sure that the Tradition of the Church is reliable:

"The Church of Christ determined the truths of the faith, according to the long course of Tradition, through the teachings and canons of the holy Oecumenical Councils, decrees and the Symbol of Faith [The Creed], and with confessions [of Faith] by holy and wonderworking hierarchs such as were made at the many local synods which have been held continuously since the days of old. At these synods the authenticity and genuineness of the holy Orthodox Faith was firmly established, primarily therein where it was attacked by the existing heresies of the time. From the totality of such synods appears the irrevocable and inalterable content of Holy Tradition. This is understood when you examine closely the essence of the following conditions:
- Do not sanction conceptions that contain inconsistencies amongst themselves or contradictions with the apostolic Tradition and Holy Scripture. (A teaching is to be considered worthy of “Tradition” when it stems from the Saviour or the Holy Apostles and is directly under the influence of the Holy Spirit.)
- The Tradition is that which has been safeguarded from the Apostolic Church and has an uninterrupted continuity until today.
- The Tradition is that which is confessed and practiced by the entire universal Orthodox Church.
- The Tradition is that which is in harmony with the greatest portion of the fathers and ecclesiastical writers.

When a tradition does not fulfil these stipulations, it cannot be considered true and holy, and consequently cannot be considered admissible or fit to be observed."

This isn't very much different that the standard called the Canon of St. Vincent.

Essentially, Jeff, I think the problem Protestants have is not with Tradition (It is your basis for accepting the Canon of Scripture), but with the Church and the Sacraments. You do not really believe that the Christ is in His church, that the Church really is the Body of Christ (As my priest says: "You are what you eat"), or that the Church is the "Pillar and foundation of the truth."

I will adress your other specific criticisms of my post of Jan 27 later. Right now I have to do laundry and dishes.

You are a highschool pastor type of guy.

I came across this cool line while reading an exegesis of the western church's Ash Wednesday rite: "The best cure for Pelagianism is reality."

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Zelig is my fave woody allen movie. I'd like to throw in a word of support (support is probably too strong a word to use. Actually a criticism of woody allen's critics) for him an Ms Previn. It is a case of non-incest with a non-daughter that he did not have with his non-wife, Ms. Farrow. If he is to be criticized for his relationship with Ms. Previn, he must also be criticized for his relationship with Ms. Farrow. In each case he was having sex with a woman not his wife, and in neither case was the woman his daughter.

Now back to the shredding.
1. Have you given any more thought to my post of 11:58 pm on 4/4/04? Do you see what I am driving at there? How do you know that Martin Luther wasn't right when he took the Epistle of James out of the Bible? How do you know the Puritans were right when they took 1 Macabees out of the Bible? How do you know Joseph Smith was wrong when he added the book of Mormon to the Bible? I don't think you can know any of these things without relying on Tradition. You quoted the "All Scripture is given..." verse, but that is just begging the question, what is scripture? (Also, an argument can be made that that verse was only talking about the Old Testament, including the books you call Apochrypha.)
2. Theology backwards... Hmmmm. I disagree with you. The Church and her traditions predate the existence of Scripture. For instance, the Book of Acts records that the liturgy was being served by the church in Antioch. That is a tradition we practice today, but it was also being practiced before St. Luke wrote about it.
3. When you were listing references that condemn tradition you might have also mentioned Colosians 2:8. It was one of my favorite verses back when I was a philosophy student. I will quote it for you:
“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” . I think this verse goes a long way toward giving you a foundation for understanding tradition.
When the Orthodox refer to Tradition we are not talking about mere customs, such as the Nativity Dinner on 12/24, or eating paska cheese and kulich on Easter. That is just the traditions of men. And we are careful not to be deceived by them. And we are not talking about the traditions of the pharisees which Jesus condemened. It was the pharisees desire to make religion hard for people. That is not the Tradition of the Apostles or of the Lord. Do you remember the Sermon by St. John Chrysostom that you read a few posts back? What is offered to those who kept the fast? What is offered to those who neglected the fast? There is no pharisaical desire to keep people out. Instead there is a desire to pull people up out of the sea and get them into the boat.

I'm not through but the little boy needs my attention. Bye for now.
I REALLY REALLY REALLY wish I was a High School pastor type of guy. PBC Palo Alto is looking for a High School pastor. I'd kill (well, maybe just maim) to work at either PBC
Don't you hate it when you make a really, really good joke and absolutely NO ONE gets it?? We were out at a Thai restaurant Sat night with some friends and one of them ordered a Tofu dish, with the comment that 'it takes on the flavor of the other things in the dish". To which I replied, "Oh, Tofu must be the Zelig of food". Totally blank stares from everyone. Bunch of Philistines.
Don't you hate it when you make a really, really good joke and absolutely NO ONE gets it?? We were out at a Thai restaurant Sat night with some friends and one of them ordered a Tofu dish, with the comment that 'it takes on the flavor of the other things in the dish". To which I replied, "Oh, Tofu must be the Zelig of food". Totally blank stares from everyone. Bunch of Philistines.
Don't you hate it when you make a really, really good joke and absolutely NO ONE gets it?? We were out at a Thai restaurant Sat night with some friends and one of them ordered a Tofu dish, with the comment that 'it takes on the flavor of the other things in the dish". To which I replied, "Oh, Tofu must be the Zelig of food". Totally blank stares from everyone. Bunch of Philistines.

Monday, April 12, 2004

I was reading an old sermon by Ray Stedman and he spoke a about a certain gentleman. I'll wrtie what he said, and you guess who it was. "Many of you have seen a certain fellow television who wears a crazy hat, smokes a cigar, orders people around and demands that they send him money"
I really like that sermon by Chrystostom.

Hey, here's an idea. How about the Church of St. John Chrystostom-Coltrane. Ancient sermons set to sax music.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

This is out of context, so it probably wont mean as much to you reading it as it did when I heard it at one this morning, but here is the Paschal Homily of my father among the saints, John Chrysostom, the Archbishop of Constantinople.

If anyone is devout and a lover of God, let him enjoy this beautiful and radiant festival.

If anyone is a wise servant, let him, rejoicing, enter into the joy of his Lord.

If anyone has wearied himself in fasting, let him now receive his recompense.

If anyone has labored from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If anyone has come at the third hour, with thanksgiving let him keep the feast. If anyone has arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; for he shall suffer no loss. If anyone has delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near without hesitation. If anyone has arrived even at the eleventh hour, let him not fear on account of his delay. For the Master is gracious and receives the last, even as the first; he gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, just as to him who has labored from the first. He has mercy upon the last and cares for the first; to the one he gives, and to the other he isgracious. He both honors the work and praises the intention.

Enter all of you, therefore, into the joy of our Lord, and, whether first or last, receive your reward. O rich and poor, one with another, dance for joy! O you ascetics and you negligent, celebrate the day! You that have fasted and you that have disregarded the fast, rejoice today! The table is rich-laden; feast royally, all of you! The calf is fatted; let no one go forth hungry!

Let all partake of the feast of faith. Let all receive the riches of goodness.

Let no one lament his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed.

Let no one mourn his transgressions, for pardon has dawned from the grave.

Let no one fear death, for the Saviour’s death has set us free.

He that was taken by death has annihilated it! He descended into hades and took hades captive! He embittered it when it tasted his flesh! And anticipating this Isaiah exclaimed, "Hades was embittered when it encountered thee in the lower regions." It was embittered, for it was abolished! It was embittered, for it was mocked! It was embittered, for it was purged! It was embittered, for it was despoiled! It was embittered, for it was bound in chains!

It took a body and, face to face, met God! It took earth and encountered heaven! It took what it saw but crumbled before what it had not seen!

"O death, where is thy sting? O hades, where is thy victory?

Christ is risen, and you are overthrown!

Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!

Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!

Christ is risen, and life reigns!

Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in a tomb!

For Christ, being raised from the dead, has become the First-fruits of them that slept.

To him be glory and might unto ages of ages. Amen.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

I hope you guys have a good Pascha celebration. I know that Cyndi told you I couldn't make it, but I don't know if she told you why. I was under the impression that it started about 7, and ended about 10. That's when the party started and went until midnight or so. I didn't realize that the party didn't start until 1 AM or so. I just couldn't be out that late and make it to church tomorrow.

Friday, April 09, 2004

That's about what i was looking for on fellowship and worship. Just maybe a thread to follow a bit. Is the party next Saturday at your house? What time is it?
Been a super hyper busy week. I'm taking a break from services this morning to do laundry and baking. No time to get deeplyh into worship and fellowship until after pascha.
1. Fellowship: We are images of God. We reject God if we reject people. We are the Church, which is Christ's body (really, not a metaphor.) If we do not love the members of His Body it is likely that we do not love Jesus. Breaking bread together is a requirment. (Translate the component parts of "companion" into English and you will discover something beautiful.)
2. Worship: It is a full body experience. biblically, worship involves bowing singing, sacrifice, icons, vestments. (Read the book of revelation and the works of St. Justin Martyr.) Oh, for Orthodox, worship of the Holy Trinity is not necessarilly supposed to make us feel anything. Sometimes you do, sometimes you don't. But it doesn't mattter, we do it be cuause it is "meet and right to worship the undivided Trinity, one in essence and undivided."
Say hi to Christa for me. Oh the Birthday party: It is next saturday.
Cyndi told me you called and cant make it to Pascha tomorrow night. I understand. There is always next year.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Okay, it's time for some odds and ends.

I think I told you that I'm doing some teacm preaching on Sun the 18th. Our church is about to embark on 'The Purpose Driven Life' (I know you've at least seen it at BandN) Our kickoff is on the 18th and I'm part of the 2 guys preaching the message that morning. The two particular topics that I'm covering are 'Fellowship' and 'Worship' What I would like from you is a bit of perspective on these two topics from an Orthodox point of view. I don't know that I would actually use it in the message, but it's certainly a strong possibility.

My Ring Of Fire hot sauce arrived today. Christa said it is Taco Bell night, so I might be trying it out.

Our bank account got hit with fraud yesterday. Someone (at least that's the name on the check) named Josephine Black had a fake check with my account number on it. It wasn't a legit bank check because it did not have our bank logo on it. Since I work for the bank, I usually pull a bank statement every couple of days just so I can reconcile things, and this mystery check appeared. I got it all taken care of in the afternoon (account closed, new one opened, new checks printed, etc...) but it was still a pain in the Clinton.

We appear to have misplaced our invitation to Anselm's birthday party. Can you give me the scoop on it??

I got my first Diana Krall Cd today (All For You) and it is sublime. She has a new Cd coming out April 27th

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Hi Matt,

Just saw this blogger up and thought I'd send you my greetings.


Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Jeff, just stoppimg in to say hi. Going to Holy Unction at St. Lawrence's in a few minutes. Devon and I went fishing in Santa Cruz this morning. Caught nothing.

Monday, April 05, 2004

The Sf Chronicle's 100 Best Restaurants list is out. Ti Couz got dropped this year for some reason, as did Moose's. Christa and I try to go about a half dozen of them a year, occasionally an expensive one, but sometimes not. That Taqueria place in the Mission is still on it, as is Delfina, which I think you said you and Cyndi liked. You can probably get the list at the Chronicle's website.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Jeff, it is Holy Week. THis means I won't have time to do much, if any, blogging. f you can have the otherguys email me the links for their churches/denominations and any other links I will work on getting our 4 person blog (I still thinks its nuts.) up and running after Pascha.
Now back to making cole slaw out of your post...
I realize that that answer ("All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness") was given in haste. Before dismantle it in the most merciless and cold-blooded way I want to offer you a chance to try again. Look carefully at what I said in my post of 6:12 p.m.
I asked, how do you know that the Bible contains everything you need to know? I never said said Scripture wasn't inspired.
Well it is late. We can take this up after Pascha.
Excuse me, but you call that a shredding??? That's barely a paper cut!!!! I would refer you to Paul's words in 1 Tim 3:16 (I think) which says that ALL scripture is inspired by God, etc...

You guys must be doing a lot better financially if your two-year old is eating caviar!!!!!

We had Caleb's birthday party today, even though his 'official' birthday is't until the 15th. It was at a park up the road from our place. It was a joint party with his two little buddies from church, Parker Hurrey and Joe Cliatt. Parker is 3 days younger and Joe was born in the same hospital on the same day. We didn't know them then because we weren't going to that church yet.

We had 35 people at this party, including Kris Klein (who has lost 85 pounds) and my father (my mom was at the Symphony in SF). We barbequed cheeseburgers and hot dogs and Caleb had chocolate for thei first time in the form of a chocolate cupcake. Needless to say, he devoured it in a hurry and was crying for more.
The shredding begins.
You said "if it was important it would have been included in the cannon". Really? How do you know? Is there a verse that says the cannon of scripture contains everything you need? And if so, how do you know that verse is trustworthy?

My youngest son loves caviar. I just spread the last of it on two little pieces of rye bread and he scarfed one of them and ate half the caviar off of the other one. While I've been typing this.

Hey are you coming on Saturday night?

Saturday, April 03, 2004

I am so glad you finally read the Jan 27 post. I will shred your objections to tiny pieces later. Right now I am barely able to fuction as I drove 9 hours 8 hours to pick up Devon (son #2), interacted with the ex-wife, drank 2 douvble martinis, ate caviar, and a fabulos dinner of heavey guage pasta with mussles and shrimp. Toatally un able to do the necessaery shredding at this poitn. Will shred tomorroe. Weeee!

FYI: Augustine is Orthodox. (But we do quibble with his explanation of original sin.)

Okay, after further review, I guess it is the Jan 27th post on tradition that we were talking about. I couldn't even remember what it was about.

My first quibble is that you seem to be doing theology backwards. I also criticize hard-core Calvinists because they tend to do the same thing. You start with your theology (in your case, tradition. For Calvinists, predestination) and then work backwards to find Scripture to support your point of view. The correct way to do it is to opne up the Scriptures and derive your theology from that.

I also still quibble about the Church producing the N.T. This would be an appropriate way of stating it if the ACTUALLY stated that they were going to produce such a work. It is the Church which produced the Nicene Creed, etc. But it was individuals (yes, part of the Church) empowered by God to write the N.T. documents.

Yes, Scripture does, from time to time appeal to teachings which do not appear in the canon. But, and usually more forcefully, tradition is condemned. Jesus condemnation of the Pharisees in Mt 23 comes to mind, as does Mt 15:1-9 and Is 29:13. By the way, I do like MacArthur as a teacher of Scripture, but I don't always agree with his conclusions. Sometimes he reminds me of Mikey from the Life cereal commercials- he doesn't like anything or anyone. He's against Campus Crusade, Promisekeepers, etc. I haven't read Sola Scriptura, but I would think his comment would refer to tradition that is contrary to Scripture.

Can you tell me what it was that Paul told the Corinthians in 1 Cor 11:2? Of course you can't. That is lost to us. YOu can't build tradition and doctrine on what you don't know. You have no idea what his oral instructions were.

The Dt 17 passage doesn't work for your point, either. Vs 10 says to do what they tell you. But vs 11 says that their judgment will be in accordance with the sentence of the law. The context here is not tradition, but how the already given, written law will be interpreted in individual cases.

In 2 Thess 2:15, the same issue seems to be here as in 1 Cor 11. We certainly know the instructions given by letter. But we don't know what the oral ones were. Once again, we are on fairly firm ground by assuming they do not contradict each other.

Regarding the 2 Tim passage. Of course there is a need for faithfl men to be taught the truth and for that to be passed on. Nothing Paul would have said would have contradicted what he wrote down. But can you show me just ONE thing that Paul said that is not contained in Scripture?

The 2 John and 3 John passages have the same problem. We know what he wrote, but not what he said. How do you know it was church or doctrine-related? How do you know they weren't talking about things that had nothing to do with faith, Jesus, etc. Surely that could not have been the only thing they talked about at all times.

Granted, I don't much about Zwingli (except that he comes last in the Reformation dictionary) and I don't always agree with macArthur, but your reimagination of history does seem a bit farfetched. I don't believe they really contradict what Paul said.

By the way, no one really knows who wrote the Didache. Historians tell us that it was probably written to a particular church at a particular time to deal with particular issues. Does that mean it should become universal? Probably not. If it was that important, it would have been included in the canon.

On some of these theological discussions we are having, I think we both know that we may not resolve at lot at times and we shouldn't go back and forth just for the sake of debate. At least on my end, like with the Mary debate, we should just kinda say that we are done with a particular topic.
Was it the Jan 27th post on tradition that we were supposed to talk about? I thought we had gone over all of that and decided that I was right and you were wrong

Friday, April 02, 2004

I picked up a couple of interesting things on the Internet tonight I thought I'd tell you about. First of all, you need to check out ringoffirehotsauce.com It's the best hot sauce I've ever had, My brother, who's really into hot sauces, got me a bottle several years ago and I finished it off way back when. I found it on the internet today and got a bottle of the hot stuff plus a bottle of their green tomatillo sauce. What makes it such a great hot sauce is that it is not simply just hot. Some hot sauces (like Dave's Insanity) are just hot. This actually has a fabulous flavor to it also.

I also got the books I need for my class on Christian Spirituality. I'm reading Augustine's Confessions and his Enchiridion, John Calvin's Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life, Martin Luther's Three Treatises, Bernard of Clairvaux' Selected Writings, Teresa of Avila's The Interior Castle and John Wesley's CHristian Perfection. I also picked up a Merle Haggard Cd. Gotta have some balance.
I looked at the March 16th entry and I really like it. Now that I have a decent computer and can do some work after Christa has gone to bed, I'm not as sporadic and can probably stay on topic. I know there were times when trying to get me to stay on a topic was like trying to keep a frog in a bucket.

The other thing to keep in mind is why it is that we are doing it. Sure, we are having theological discussions and debates, but we are also staying in close touch with each other's lives. THat would be the best part of having the other guys on it.
I loved that bit about the French. Any nation that eats snails and calf heads has a few issues.
Okay, it is probably time for my review of 'The Passion of the Christ'. With a movie as bloody and gory as this, the terms like or dislike do not really apply. But the movie did not have much of a profound effect on me. Is it because I had read the reviews and knew what I was in for? Was it because I knew the story so well? I'm not sure. But I did not spend most of the movie bawling as I've heard a lot of people did.

This Jesus was bland. He did not act but instead reacted. That does not seem to do justice to the Jesus I know. He did not seem to be a fully developed character. In fact, the only character who did seem fully developed was Mary. THe two or three times when I did get a bit emotional, it was because of her, not Jesus.

From strictly a cinematic perspective, there was no backstory to the movie. Of course, it is assumed that everyone knows why Jesus is being crucified. But there is none of that in the movie. There is an assumption of knowledge that, if it were any other movie, would not work.

There is one thing I'm still a bit curious about in the movie. After Jesus is whipped in the courtyard and removed, Mary takes a towel and soaks up a lot of the blood there. Why??? I can't come up with anything that sounds plausible

One thing the movie does well is give a glimpse at the horror of a crucifixion in a way that no other movie has ever done. It might even seem to be excessively bloody at times. But it does seem to be close to the historical records of what a crucifixion was.
I just read this in an essay by Deborah Malacky Belonick of St. Vlad's Seminary:

Answering a calling produces a miracle. Poignant are the words of Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow (1782-1867), who expressed this idea beautifully in a sermon that he gave on the day of Annunciation:

"During the days of the creation of the world, when God uttered his living and mighty words: Let there be… the Creator’s words brought creatures into existence. But on the day, unique in the existence of the world, when Holy Mary uttered her humble and obedient Let it be, I would hardly dare to express what took place then – the word of the creature caused the Creator to descend into the world."

A few years ago when I was taking a clas in U.S. foreign policy I suggested that the U.S. Should take a certain course of action. The professor replied "Oh, but France wouldn't be to happy abou that."
I said, "So what? They're just the French."
The professor was aghast and said with a tone of shock, "But they think of themselves as a great world power."
To which I said, "Great world powers don't get conquored twice in one century".

I am happy to point you in the direction of someone who shares my opinion of the French.
"Gang violence has dropped, but Christian accountability group violence is up sharply," says police chief Roy Gilman. "It's a sub-set of suburban crime we're concerned about." (Read the whole story)

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Bummer about the counseling class. This is just my opinnion but I don't think it is something a person can learn in a classroom. You are probably better off without it if you don't have to have it for the degree.

About asking the others to join: See my post of March 16.
My diploma is going to be M.A. in Theology. The Counseling class fell through. So I'm going to be taking an audio class on Christian Spirituality. It's going to revolve around the spirituality of Catholicism, Reformed and Arminianism. No mention of anything Orthodox. I'll probably mention something about that. We're going to be reading Augustine, Calvin, St John of The Cross, etc. I'm really looking forward to it because I've never really had a chance to read some of this stuff.

So Anselm is talkative. I wonder where he got that from.

Do you want to officially invite George and Bryan to be part of the blog? I've mentioned it to both of them and they are interested. Especially Bryan, who really wants to be able to connect with us on a spiritual and theological level. He really misses that part of our old San Jose group. That is actually what I was talking to him about the night before he had his accident.

I don't know where the closest Rubio's is to you. Probably have to find it in the phone book.

Oh, and let me tell you about my lunch today!!! I took a dealer to Scott's Seafood in Palo Alto. Of course we started with Oysters on the Half Shell. I then had some Roasted Porcini Raviolis with sauteed Jumbo Prawns in a Tomato Cream Sauce. Needless to say, I ain't eatin' dinner tonight.

Saturday morning I'm finally going to get to the Jan 27th post. I can't even remember what it was about at this point.

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