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Monday, May 31, 2004

You know what? I have no idea who Bob Schieffer is. I haven't watched TV in 3 years and I've forgotten most of the names and faces of the minor people. I still remember Buckley, McGlaughlin, Koppel, Rather, Jennings, Leher, and Brokaw, but that is about it. I get most of my news from NPR, the BBC World Service, and the Wall Street Journal. But I follow the news much less than I used to.
Well, today we went back on the Southbeach diet. I like it. But it is going to be really hard when the Apostles Fast starts in a few days. Between the fast and the diet I'll only be eating radishes and raw boccoli. Ugggh.

Have been doing homework all day. (Ask me anything about the igumentary system. Go ahead. I dare you.) Also finished the cardiopulmonary unit. Have a test on Wednesday.

Todays other activities: laundry, keeping the little boy out of trouble (Mostly. Let's just say it is a good thing skin grows back.), grocery shopping (Very easy to do in the first two wweks of the shouth beach diet.) Credit check on prospective tenant. (that was kinda fun.)

Thinking about doing this. It looks like more fun than the bodrhan and it is very Pacific Rim. Also, it looks like it involves less drinking. But I'll have to wate until September when my schedule lightens up some.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

One more reason why suburbs (i.e. San Jose, Los Angeles, Santa Clara, etc.) suck and CITIES (i.e. Heaven, San Francisco, Paris, Rome, London, Vienna, Prague, etc.) are the best places to live.
Actually, I don't want to add George and Bryan to this blog. Here is why:
1-I think you and I have an intersting dynamic already.
2-You have trouble keeping up with what I post. I thought that would change when you got your new computer but it hasn't. (I was going to list all the unanswered questions by date and time but the list got so long that it was obnoxious. ) I don't think you will be able to keep up with more people on the blog.
3-None of them have commented on anything either of us has said on this blog. . I don't see George, Bryan or Keith contributing much to a blog. George doesn't even answer emails, I don't see Bryan as being interested in participating in a serious discussion, and Keith has a new wife to enjoy. Why do you think they would contribute to a blog?
4-We have an ongoing conversation (at least when you bother to respond to the things I write) and I don't think that the others would read everything and get caugt up.

However, I see nothing wrong with using the Five Men Blog that I set up set up for that purpose. If you want to proceed with it I will need their primary email adresses, and at least one link to a website that is in some way reflects their character. I wouldn't want that blog to take away from this one.


About the recipe posting: Do you remember the top ten books thing you wanted to do back on January 16? I totally got behind it. You went nowhere with it. I'd be happy if you would just try to keep up with the main topic. As you might remember, the whole reason we started this blog is because two years ago you said you accepted the canon of the Bible because some council said it . A couple of months later when I asked why you belive that council regarding the canon of Scripture but not on infant baptism you denied ever haveing said you relied on the council for the canon of scripture. This blog was started to keep a record of what each of us says.

Now , having said that, in my post of 1:20 pm on May 28 I asked about a dozen questions and made several responses to your post of 12:14 pm. But you've not responded.

I can't comit to a any social activities this Summer. I have a very intense Medical Law and Ethics class starting in June.

I can't remember if I told you or not, but ELizabeth is going to Chile the first part of July to teach for a year. We are trying to schedule some sort of get-together for her by the end of June. I thought a good idea would be for us to have another cooking contest then.

I am also putting together a new daytimer for myself and need all your contact info (just email it to me) along with your, Cyndi, and Anselm's birthdays along with your anniversary.

Another thing I though would be great to do is post what it is we are cooking on a week-to-week basis. One of my favorite parts of this blog is reading the descriptions of what you are making. Plus, it should make Bryan and George envious!!!
I forgot that we wanted to add Bryan and George onto the blog. All you need is there email addresses, right??

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Just got home from the Vigil a about fiftenn minutes ago. It was sooo amazingly awsome.
Observations:
1. At one point our bishop, who is very old, seemed to stumble during one prayer. It sounded like he was having trouble saying the names of the saints and their titles in the right order. (The George Great Martyr / The Great Martyr George) I felt sorry for him. But then a little while later he was standing near me and I saw the book the subdeacon was holding for him. It was written in Greek. He was reading it in Greek but saying the words in English! I'm astounded. I knew he was fluent in Russian and Slavonic, but had no idea he knew Greek well enough to translate on the fly during a service.
2. He seemed to really enjoy greeting everyone and annointing them with oil. I mean it really made him happy.
3. After the service, the choir director was taking the choir over a piece of music they screwed up (it was the prayer to grant the bishop long life). The bishop came out from the altar and, immediately, everyone stopped talking; the choir stopped singing, and all faced the bishop. He just laghed and said, "Please , continue." Then he walked over to the choir and teased them about messing up the prayer for his long life.
4. The deacon almost set the place on fire. Dropped buring coals onto the carpet. It will have to be replaced.
5. I greeted Fr. Tom in the usual way one greets a priest (kiss hand, request blessing) and learned that one does not do that in the presence of the bishop. That when the bishop is present no one else blesses.
6. The deacons and subdeacons really are the ones who make sure everyone is in their right places, saying the right things, holding the right items. It was interesting to watch them work. I feel sorry for any priest who has to serve a liturgy without at least one subdeacon.

Icons: A few minutes ago I was in the little boy's room, getting him ready for bed. He had just been playing with an angel Christmastree ornament that looks like a baby in a diaper with a Santa hat and gold plated wings. I thought I should show him a more traditional image of an angel so I got the Ikon of his guardian angel off the wall, a majestic, fearsome, and vigilant spirit. He kissed it and hugged it . Then he wanted all the Icons. Sooo...down from the shelf came the Holy Prophet Samuel. ("You have the same name: Samuel. He prays for you.") He kissed the Icon and handed it back to me. Then he wanted the big Virgin and Child. He kissed the infant Jesus. ("He loves you.") He kissed the Theotokos. ("She's Jesus' Mommy." "Jesus' Mommy?" "Yes, Jesus Mommy.") Then he wanted the tiny Icon of Jesus on the cross. He looked at it. I've never really looked at it because it is so small and my eyes are bad: I cant see any detail on it. But the little boy looked at it a long time. looked at me and said "Jesus ouchie" and kissed His pierced feet.






St. Isaac of Syria said: "Do not distinguish rich from poor, do not try to find out who is worthy and who is unworthy. Let all men stand before you equal in good."

A major part of my job is doing exactly the opposite of what St. Isaac said to do. Yesterday I had to tell two people I could not do business with them because they were too poor. Today I looked at the bank book of a woman who has made almost $10,000 in deposits in the last month, owns a resaurant, and dresses out of vogue magazine. I can do business with her. But really its not me, it is my employer. I protect the person who owns the property from tenants who won't pay their bills or are irresponsible. But everytime I see someone who needs a place to live I feel so sorry for them. I remember what it is like to need a place to live but not be able scrounge together $300 a month for a room in a flophouse, let alone $825 for a 1 bedroom apartment. I hate turning people away.

Life is strange.

Friday, May 28, 2004

# 1 stupidist thing I've ever said to a 2 year old: "Little boy, you have to understand that your mess-making is intolerabe. You must stop making messes."
Allow me to respond to several of your posts in one. I will list them by time you posted.

12:51 What ideas have you ben questioning?

12:48 No you didn't. I haven't read it. What did you like about it?

12:45 Trombone shout bands!!!

12:14a Did you mean men were God's agents? The doctrine of inspiration is not something I have ever understood well so I'm not arguing with you here. I'm just asking for clarification. I've always heard that men were the agents of the Holy Spirit, not that the Holy Spirit was the agent. Did you mean something different?

12:14b I thought it was interesting that when talking about spiritual authority you did not mention Matthew 16:18 or John 20:23. How do you fit these into your theology of spiritual authority?

12:14c I disagree with you when you say "as individuals", unless you are treating the word individuals as synonymous with members. Even 1 Peter 2,which you quote, indicates that there is a certain thing to which the members belong; It is called a nation, a people, a priesthood. Not individuals, except as part of the greater thing. God is building a city, not a suburb of single family detached houses. Notice: St. Paul does not say "You are each priests and kings".

12:14d I am not sure, but I think that in your exegisis of Hebrews 10 you are confusing the Levitical Priesthood (cohenim) with the Priesthood (presbyterate) of the Church today. They are different things; The OT priesthood offered the blood of animals and has come to an end, the NT priesthood offers the Spiritual Sacrifice (1 Peter 2:5) of Christ's body and blood, and continues as long as He continues (e.g. forever) because it exists not as a forshadowing but as a participation in His priesthood.

12:14c So, how do you know you have all the right books for your Bible? How are you sure you are not missing any? How do you know you don't have any spurious books? You accept Eccleseastes but reject Sirach. On what authority?

11:53a You know, we don't say the Protestants have not received grace. (I would have to deny the prophecy of Amos if I said that.) And you are baptized, after all. But just as you could not worship with a JW or a Mormon because they deny certain truths that you hold to be essential, Orthodox can not worship with heterodox for the same reason. (I am not saying you are the equivalent of a Mormon or a JW. So get your knickers out of that knot they just got tied up in.) For instnace, Evangelical Protestants deny two clauses of the Nicene Creed (You denied one of them in you post of 12:14), and aren't sure what you believe about a third. For us, every single letter of the Creed is as non-negotiable as the doctrine of the Virgin Birth is to you. We can not participate in the worship services of people who deny what we hold to be true. It is not loving for us to blur the faith. It is not because we think we are better than others; it is because we have received something very precious and do not want people to be confused about what it is. If they are confused about where truth is where will they flee when there flawed doctrine crumbles?

11:53b You can't call me a schismatic for holding that Orthodoxy is true. We haven't changed the faith or our definition of the word "Church" in 2000 years. Others have, we haven't.

11:53c You mentioned Hinn and Copeland. Why not Luther? Have you forgotten that Luther was willing to excise the Epistle of St. James because it didn't agree with his theology of "Sola Fide"? Have you forgotten that when he was told that critics were challenging him for adding the word "allein" (english= alone) to his German translation of Romans 3:28 he responded "Tell them Dr. Luther will have it so". (If you are wondering what the source is for this quote you should look in the set of books George and I bought you a couple of years ago. Philp Schaff's History of the Christian Church Vol VII, p362. Have you read them yet?).

And what makes that very different from Zingli saying the text of John 6 doesn't mean what everyone up to that point (except gnostics) said it meant, or Henry VIII claiming the right to interpret the Bible for himself, even if it meant 6 wives? For Protestants these words of Luthers are as true today as they were 500 years ago: in his enim, quae sunt fidei, quilibet Christianus est Papa et Ecclesia.

These are not rhetorical questions. But they are the questions that drove me away from Protestantism.








If I haven't told you so before, I have learned a lot about Orthodoxy by listening to you and reading your posts, etc. Before we started, I knew virtually nothing about it and always considered that denomination over there in Eastern Europe doing their own little thing. But I have become much more educated and our discussions have made me question a bit some of the things I have always taken for granted.
Did I ever mention that I read Bede in college for a class on Early English Lit? I went back and read it again a few years after that, and I remeber enjoying it a wee bit.
Mama Fred looks a bit like Angela. is there a Daddy Wilma out there somewhere? Oh, wait, that's Big Big Precious Precious Daddy Wilma.
Your question from April 19th seems to be on the source of spiritual authority. Your ultimate spiritual authority is the Orthodox church. My ultimate spiritual authority is the Scriptures as written to man from God through the agtency of the Holy Spirit. Does spiritual authority reside in people? To a limited extent, I would say yes, since we are a 'holy priesthood' (1 Pet 2:5) We are to be accountable to one another for sin (James 5:6) We are to encourage one another to grow in our faith (Heb 10:25). As individuals, we can now enter into God's presence instead of going through a priesthood (Heb 10:19-22). So there is a sense in which spiritual authority does belong to the individual, but it is an authority that is derived from Scripture, not from a particular church, sect, or denomination.

But it is also true that God raises up men who seem to have a special power of the Holy Spirit to act as witnesses in particular eras. I am thinking of such as Isaiah, Paul, Augustine, Wycliff, Calvin, Wesley, Spurgeon, Tozer, etc. These, and others like them, are specially equipped by God to speak a particular message to their particular generation and time.

So, to sum up...

Spiritual authority comes through Scripture as being God's Word to His people. Individuals can and should use this authority in their dealing with others. Those who try to create their own spiritual authority should be avoided at all costs (do you hear that, Mr. Hinn and Mr. Copeland??)
I just looked at your post on the family services, etc. Reading stuff like that REALLY turns me off to Orthodoxy. I read a lot of what you send me, and a lot of the writings of Orthodoxy are beautiful and soul-inspiring. But when i see a post like that, it doesn't draw me to Christ, make me want to come to a service, etc. You have not put on the 'new self' (Col 3:10) but instead are putting on narrowness and schism yourself.

YOU ARE A BETTER MAN THAN THAT, MATT!!! There are times like this when it seems that Orthodoxy is actually turning you from Christ.
Here is a problem I have. And I really am not sure what to do. I know what other orthodox do, but each of those seems wrong to me. Here is the situation:

My family is a family of protestant pastors. Everytime they get together they have a little service of some kind. This is a problem because as an Orthodox I can not participate in their services. We do not belive in a least common denominator, or "mere" Christianity. To participate in the services of the heterodox could lead to confusion, causing the heterodox to belive that the Orthodox think what they are doing is good enough.

I understand that Mama Fred who speaks to a lot of heterodox groups just sits or stands politely while the Presbyterians, Baptists, etc., are doing their thing and then gives her talk. Apparently, she is able to do this with out feeling like she is participating in the services. So that is one option, just go there and stand.

And that is what I have done in the past. I've just stood there with my hand in my pocket, working the knots of my prayer rope, saying the Jesus Prayer (on the 33 small knots), the Trisagion (on the bead), and the Creed (on the cross).

But a couple of times they have asked me to pray. I hate that. What do I do then? Am I allowed to do this? I know the Holy Canons say I can not pray with them. But can I pray in their presence? Can I pray an Orthodox prayer? I remember a Greek bishop praying at the Republican Convention back before I knew anything about Orthodoxy, so I guess it can be done. That is what I have done. "O Heavenly King..." is usually what I pray in this situation.

The other two options are full participation, and non-attendence.

Why is this a big deal right now? Because this Sunday afternoon, there is a reunion of about 400 former hippies that my Mom and Dad helped come out of their communes back in the 70s and become various shades of Protestant. They will have a service. I'm expected to be there. I guess I'll stand there with my hand in my pocket.

Damn the Schism. Damn the Reformation.


Thursday, May 27, 2004

Today is the day the Orthodox Church rememberss Bede the Venerable.

At least one of his books is still in print.


SAINT BEDE OF JARROW By Vladimir Moss

Our holy Father Bede the Venerable was born in the year 673 on the lands of the monastery of St. Paul at Jarrow in Northumbria. At the age of seven he was entrusted to the first abbot of Jarrow, St. Benedict Biscop, and after his repose to his successor, St. Ceolfrid. There is a tradition that during a plague that swept England during St. Ceolfrid's abbacy, only the abbot and the young Bede were left to chant the services.

At the age of nineteen Bede was ordained to the diaconate by St. John, bishop of Beverley, and to the priesthood by the same holy bishop when he was thirty years old. "From the time of my receiving the priesthood," writes Bede, "until my fifty-ninth year, I have worked, both for my own benefit and that of my brethren, to compile short extracts from the works of the venerable Fathers on Holy Scripture and to comment on their meaning and interpretation. And while I have observed the regular discipline and sung the church services daily in church, my chief delight has always been in study, teaching and writing." In addition to 25 commentaries on the Holy Scriptures, he wrote his famous Ecclesiastical History of the English People, several lives of the English saints, a Letter to Egbert (a long work to the archbishop of York, which may have stimulated the founding of the famous school of York) and other works. If his contemporary, St. Aldhelm, may be considered (with Caedmon of Whitby) the Father of English poetry, then the Venerable Bede must be considered the Father of English prose and history.

So successful was he in fulfilling this calling, that his works became the staple education of generations of Christians in the lands of North-West Europe. St. Boniface, the enlightener of Germany, wrote to England for copies of his works, and on hearing of his repose said: "The candle of the Church, lit by the Holy Spirit, is extinguished." And Alcuin, the abbot of St. Martin's at Tours, called him "the school-master of his age". Alcuin related that Bede used to say: "I well know that angels visit the congregations of brethren at the canonical hours. What if they should not find me there among my brethren? Will they not say, 'Where is Bede? Why comes he not with his brethren to the prescribed hours?"

St. Bede's last illness and blessed repose was described by Cuthbert, later abbot of Jarrow:- "He lived joyfully, giving thanks to God day and night, yea, at all hours, until the feast of the Ascension. Every day he gave lessons to us, his pupils, and the rest of the time he occupied himself in chanting psalms. He was awake almost the whole night and spent it in joy and thanksgiving. And when he awoke from his short sleep, immediately he raised his hands on high and began to give thanks. He sang the words of the Apostle Paul, 'It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God'. He sang much else besides from the Holy Scriptures, and also many Anglo- Saxon hymns. He sang antiphons according to our and his custom, and among others this one: 'O King of Glory, Lord of Power, who this day didst ascend as Victor above all the heavens, leave us not orphaned behind Thee, but send us the promised Spirit of the Father, Alleluia.' And when he came to the words 'leave us not orphaned behind Thee', he burst into tears. Then, an hour later, he began to sing again. We wept with him; now we read, then we wept; but we could not read without tears. Often he would thank God for sending him this illness, and would say, 'God chasteneth the son whom He loveth'. Often, too, he would repeat the words of St. Ambrose: 'I have not lived so as to be ashamed to live amongst you; neither do I fear to die, for we have a good Lord.' Besides the lessons which he gave us, and his psalm-singing during these days, he composed two important works - a translation of the Gospel of St. John into our native tongue [probably the first translation of the Gospel into any western language except Latin], and extracts from St. Isidore of Seville; for he said, 'I would not that my pupils should read what is false and after my death should labor in vain.'

"On the Tuesday before the Ascension his sickness increased, his breathing became difficult, and his feet began to swell. Yet he passed the whole night joyfully dictating. At times he would say, 'Make haste to learn, for I do not know how long I shall remain with you, and whether my Creator will not soon take me to Himself.' The following night he spent in prayers of thanksgiving. And when Wednesday dawned he desired us diligently to continue writing what we had begun. When this was finished we carried the relics in procession, as is customary on that day. One of us then said to him, 'Dearest master, we have yet one chapter to translate. Will it be grievous to thee if we ask thee any further?' He answered, 'It is quite easy: take the pen and write quickly.' At the ninth hour he said to me, 'Run quickly and call the priests of this monastery to me, that I may impart to them the gifts which God has given me. The rich of this world seek to give gold and silver and other costly things; but with great love and joy will I give my brethren what God has given me.' Then he begged every one of them to celebrate the Liturgy and pray for him. They all wept, mainly because he said that they would not see his face again in this world. But they rejoiced in that he said: 'It is time that I go to my Creator. I have lived enough. The time of my departure is at hand; for I long to depart and be with Christ.'

"Thus did he live till evening [the eve of the feast of the Ascension, May 26, 735]. Then the scholar [Cuthbert] said to him: 'Dearest master, there is only one sentence left to write.' 'Write quickly,' he answered. 'It is finished. Raise my head in thy hand, for it will do me good to sit opposite the sanctuary where I used to kneel and pray, that sitting thus I may call upon my Father.' So he seated himself on the ground of his cell and sang, 'Glory to Thee, O God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit'; and when he had named the Holy Spirit he breathed his last."

Alcuin writes that miraculous healings were wrought at the relics of St. Bede, and that portions of them were taken to York, to Glastonbury and to Fulda in Germany, where they were placed in the crypt with St. Boniface. The rest of his body remained at Jarrow, where great numbers of pilgrims came to venerate it. In the early eleventh century, however, the priest Alfred Westow secretly took some of his relics to Durham cathedral, where they remain to this day. When his friends asked him where the bones of the Venerable Bede were, he would reply: "No one knows this better than I do. Dearly beloved, consider this a thing most firmly and most certainly established, that the same shrine which contains the most holy body of Father Cuthbert, contains also the bones of the teacher and monk Bede."

There are several stories about how St. Bede came to receive the title 'Venerable', which is first known to have been given him at the Council of Aachen in 836.

One of these stories tells that late in life Bede became almost blind. One day some jesters came to him and said that there were some people in the church waiting to hear the word of God. In fact there was no-one there except the jesters. So, ever anxious for the salvation of others, the saint went to the church and preached, not knowing that it was empty. When he had ended his sermon, he prayed, and, instead of a human response, he received one from the angels: "Amen, very Venerable Bede".

Holy Father Bede, pray to God for us!



The wisdom of Martin Luther in regards to marriage...

"There is a lot to get used to in the first year of marriage. One wakes up in the morning and finds a pair of pigtails on the pillow (Luther meets the Godfather??) which were not there before."

"Good God, what a lot of trouble there is in marriage! Adam has made a mess of our nature. Think of all the squabbles Adam and Eve must have in the course of their nine hundred years. Eve would say, "You ate the apple". and Adam would retort "You gave it to me"
Christa and I are doing much better. Some of it might have been Hawaii stuff and her being busy with flowers now. We were just kinda missing each other for a time. We've got a date night for SAturday (sorry) so we can reconnect a bit more. It's the only night this week where we are both free. She has a bit wedding on Saturday. We're going for sushi and also to seek Shrek 2.

Thanks again for your family advice. I like the no TV rule. We probably should watch less than we do (and I don't think we watch all that much). I'd much rather have a good book.

I'll get to the APril 19th post tomorrow. I don't even have a clue what it is, but I'll be on it like a bum on a baloney sandwich.

I'm also a bit confused on you and Cyndi's job situation. Last I knew, you were freelancing for alldorm and working for a shoe store. Now Cyndi is a medical recruiter and you are an apartmene manager??

Oh, by the way, Christa is doing her marathon in SAn Diego next Sunday. Please pray for her. I think George and Mike are coming also.
Here's a couple of quick recipe ideas...

Last night Christa and I had big spinach salads for dinner. Obviously, there's spinach in it, but also mushroom, bean sprouts, scallions and bacon bits. We cut up some chicken tenders from Safeway and use them also. There's a great spinach salad dressing in the stores also. Take out the bacon bits, and it would probably work for one of your fasts.

Tonight, we had veal sauted with sage and Merlot. The big advantage for this is that you get to open a good bottle of Merlot. Which I'm drinking now.


My first day managing the apartments seems to be going okay.
Apt 17 - leaky faucet - fixed.
Apt 25 - hole in bathroom window screen - replaced.
Apts 22, 21,&27 - scheduled cleaning before new tenants move in.
Major plumbing problem. 1/2 of our 30 units lost hot water. Plember can't be here until 6 pm. I hate galvanized pipes. They are time bombs waiting to go off. There is no excuse for not using copper.

So far, so good.

This is Cyndi's first day of her new job. (The reason I am managing the apartments now). She is working a s a medical recruiter.

Jeff, I thought you were going to post some of your Fuller papers here.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Below is some stuff I gave to my parents to read. They are coming to the Festal Vigil of Pentecost on Saturday night and I think this will help them understand what will be going on, some of the things they will hear, some of the things you they will see. I'm posting it here for you, for the same reason.

1. "Pentecost" By: Archbishop Dmitri

"And there appeared to them cloven tongues as it were of fire, and it sat upon every one of them: and they began to speak with divers tongues, according as the Holy Spirit gave them utterance." (Acts 2:3-4)

Following His Ascension, when the Savior fulfilled His promise and sent the Holy Spirit, the Comforter appeared to Christ�s followers as tongues of fire. As a result of the Spirit�s operation the disciples spoke in languages foreign to them and were guided as to what to say.

It is extremely significant that on the day of Pentecost the manifestation of the Holy Spirit should take the form of tongues, and that the first results of the disciples� baptism of the Holy Spirit should be the ability to speak in languages other than their own.

First, it affirms the universal character of Christ�s mission, one which was wrought for all nations, resulting in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Furthermore, the Divine Services sing of Pentecost in terms of being a reversal of that which took place at the Tower of Babel (Genesis, chapter 11). "Of old the tongues were confounded because of the audacity in the building of the tower, but now the tongues are made wise because of the glory of Divine knowledge. There God condemned the impious because of their offence, and here Christ hath enlightened the fishermen by the Spirit. At that time the confusion of tongues was wrought for punishment, but now the concord of tongues hath been inaugurated for the salvation of our souls." ("Glory...now and ever," verse for the Aposticha at Pentecost Vigil) "Once, when He descended and confounded the tongues, the Most High divided the nations; and when He divided the tongues of fire, He called all men into unity; and with one accord we glorify the All-holy Spirit." (Kontakion for the Feast)

At Babel a false unity established out of pride led to a scattering of all men, confusion among the citizens of the earth. Diverse "tongues," in this case, became indicative of divisions, man�s inability to understand God, his fellow man and environment. On Pentecost, however, the many "tongues" of the Divine Spirit became a sign and source for unity, a profound unity established through love for Christ that can only be granted by God Himself.

Of great significance as well is the fact that the fruits of the disciples� labors on Pentecost was the addition to the Church of about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:41) Here we begin to understand what our Lord meant when He told His chosen ones that they would henceforth be fishers of men. Hearing about such a large number of individuals brought into the Church by Peter and the eleven, we recall that during Christ�s earthly ministry it was only when the disciples obeyed His will that they caught such an enormous catch of fish that their "net brake." (Luke 5:4) "Blessed art Thou, O Christ our God, Who hast shown forth the fishermen as supremely wise by sending down upon them the Holy Spirit, and through them didst draw the world into Thy net. O Befriender of man, glory be to Thee." (Troparion for the Feast).

What happened on that fiftieth day after our Lord�s resurrection was the filling of the disciples with the Holy Spirit, their transformation into the Church. Pentecost is the day of the Church�s founding. From this point in time the disciples were empowered to do what our Lord told them: "As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you." (John 20:21)

The record of what the disciples did from the day of their "empowerment" is clearly a matter of history. We know that even in St. Paul�s time the Gospel had gone as far as Spain in the West and we are told as far as India in the East. By the beginning of the fourth century the Emperor Constantine not only stopped the persecution of Christians but gave the Church an official status. Christians to some measure, by this time, occupied every city and town. And there were still those who were willing, if necessary, to give their lives for Christ. From that time as well, the Church never lost its conviction that Jesus had given it the strict mandate to "catch" the entire world, to bring all men into His net. The disciples � and those who came after them � were convinced that their message, committed to them by Christ, was vital, a matter of life or death. This is why they were able to convince so many, because they themselves were convinced.

Speaking of our contemporary situation, it can be said that somewhere along the line, many Church members have lost this sense of urgency with regard to the Faith. Orthodox Christianity has become, for not a few of its adherents, simply the national religion of certain people, part of their culture, their ethos. The very thought of Orthodoxy being of vital importance because the world�s salvation depends on it, is utterly alien to numerous individuals.

But, thanks to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, many in the Church have come to understand the profound implications of Christ�s words to His disciples on a particular occasion, when they could do nothing for a man who needed healing: "Bring him to me."

The Church in our own time is regaining its deep commitment to this command relative to the entire world: "Bring him to me." We must bring those in need of healing � and who is not in need of the healing that Christ brings? � to our Lord, the only true Physician of souls and bodies.

Let us take time then and analyze to what extent we have been able to comply with Jesus� command. If the truth be told, given the number of Orthodox in this country and the resources now available, we have not lived up to our potential in terms of making new disciples. At least one reason for any apparent failures lies in our own lack of conviction. We must ask ourselves, therefore, are we convinced, each of us individually, that our Orthodox Christian Faith is the most precious thing that we possess, that it is absolutely essential for those with whom we come in contact to know about it? By and large, according to how we live day to day, many of us would have to answer "no" to the above questions. And yet for the Body of Christ to grow the answer must be "yes." We cannot impart to others what we ourselves do not have. Christianity is so maximalistic in terms of what is expected of man � we speak of being crucified with Christ and losing our lives for His sake and the Gospel�s � that for anyone to believe the claims of its adherents, the Faith must be seen lived out by those who preach it. Thus, relative to the Feast of Pentecost, our own mission in the United States begins with an appreciation for what has already been given: "the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit." At our Chrismation, which is our personal Pentecost, the same Spirit was bestowed for our enlightenment and transformation, so as to empower us to be "invincible warriors" and witnesses for the Faith as were Christ�s disciples 2000 years ago. (Festal hymns taken from The Pentecostarion published by Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Boston, MA.)




2. Rublev�s Trinity

(A speech given by Frederica Mathews-Green for Beeson Divinity School conference on the Trinity, October 2003; published in The Cresset, April 2004.)

The Psalmist writes, "Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness," words that fall on deaf ears in a culture that knows as little of beauty as of holiness. Look at new church construction. So many contemporary churches do not aim to be beautiful; they aim to be functional. This might still work out all right, if the designers truly thought the function of a church is worship, but too often the assumed function is communication with the people in attendance, either to teach, uplift, or entertain them. Contemporary worship spaces look more like education spaces or entertainment spaces than like sanctuaries. By contrast, picture a church constructed with an eye to beauty, designed to draw us into the presence of God. It is fitting that it be beautiful, because beauty opens our hearts.
Of course it is not obvious to all that beauty always leads us to God. I once was interviewed by a reporter for National Public Radio, who questioned this point of view. She asked, "Doesn't all the music and painting and artwork in your church distract you from focusing on God?" and I responded, "Tell me this. If your husband takes you out for an anniversary dinner, and there is candlelight and roses and violins, does that distract you from feeling romantic?"
That's how humans are made, to respond to beauty with openness and joy-a truth more apparent to earlier Christians than to many of us today. And just as we delight in the presence of friends, so we might imagine a traditional church in which our joy is heightened by seeing the faces of our friends above us and around us: Christ, angels, and saints through history. My husband went on a mission team to Romania last year, and saw historic churches in which paintings cover every surface, walls and ceiling, inside and out, with images from Scripture and the lives of the saints. Such a sight is an overwhelming experience, but in fact, it is the truth. These images aren't just history-book reminders. In truth, we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. When we worship, they are invisibly alongside us, "in every place lifting holy hands" (I Tim 2:8). When we look around and see these friends surrounding us it is as if for a moment the veil is lifted, and we see what a great company of believers we are.
But there are some things you won't see depicted in churches. There is an important safeguard in the tradition of Christian sacred art that keeps us from falling over into idolatry. It's that we don't make images of things that God has not shown us. You can make a painting of Christ, because he was born and walked on this earth; this human likeness is something God has deliberately chosen to show us, and it would be fearful superstition, if not Gnosticism, to forbid making paintings of Christ.
But you won't see a picture of God the Father as an old man with a beard. God hasn't shown us that. As a rule, you won't see a painting of the Trinity; instead, the Trinity is symbolized geometrically, by a triangle or triquetra.
There is one point in Scripture, however, when God is revealed in three persons simultaneously, and sometimes that event is depicted as a representation of the Trinity. Not the baptism of Jesus; there we see Jesus, and the Holy Spirit as a dove, but only hear the voice of God. When do we see all three visibly? "The Lord appeared to [Abraham] by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men stood in front of him." (Gen 18:1-2).
The painting reproduced on the cover of this issue is titled "The Old Testament Trinity," and it is probably the best-known and most-admired icon among Western Christians. It was painted by Andrei Rublev, a Russian monk, in 1411. He is honored as one of the most gifted icon painters, and you may have seen a film biography of him that came out a few years ago. (If you did, maybe you can explain it to me, because I couldn't make heads or tails of it.)
Though most icons are anonymous, and usually the name of the painter is forgotten, those by Rublev have continued to bear his name, because of his unusual gift. He painted with lightness, clarity, and an ethereal touch that few could equal. There is nothing sentimental about his painting, but instead a great sense of freshness. After the death of the abbot of his monastery, St. Sergius of Radonezh, Rublev painted this icon to hang over Sergius' tomb.
This is not the only presentation of the Old Testament Trinity in the art of Eastern Christianity. Sometimes we see Abraham and Sarah in the background, holding platters of food; in that case, the title is "The Hospitality of Abraham." This style, of the three figures alone, is often used on the Feast of Pentecost.
Note a few of the details in the image besides the commanding figures. We can see in the background the oak of Mamre; the Holy Land is such a treeless place that a stand of oaks would be a well-known landmark. The three figures sit around a stone table that early Christians would have recognized as an altar. The niche in the front represents a tomb; not only the empty tomb of Christ, but also the Christian custom from the time of the catacombs of placing the bones of departed believers beneath their altars. On the table is a gold chalice containing red wine mixed with bread. This is how Eastern Orthodox prepare the Eucharist, by combining leavened bread and wine in the same chalice and receiving from a spoon.
As we look at this icon, can we tell which of the three is the Father, which the Son, and which the Holy Spirit? Theologians would warn us against it; distinguishing the three into separate bodies suggests division, rather than the unity of the Trinity. It would be safer, perhaps, to understand that all three together somehow represent the Trinity.
And Genesis, it is true, doesn't encourage us to fix too closely on distinctions between the "three men." "They" speak to Abraham, but later it is "the LORD" who is speaking. "The men" depart, but "Abraham still stood before the LORD." When the company arrives in the city of Sodom it is no longer "three men," nor "the LORD," but now "two angels."
Whatever is going on here, it's complicated, and Scripture doesn't give us enough information to sort it all out. But this much we can rely on: the three men, or angels, who appear to Abraham and Sarah are a visitation from the LORD: God has appeared to them in the form of three persons.
As I look at this icon, though, I suspect that Rublev did intend for us to recognize the three different members of the Trinity. The Father is on the left. His robe is iridescent, shifting from glowing golden-red to azure blue, a triumph of the painter's art. "You robe yourself in light as in a garment" (Ps 104:2).
The Son and the Holy Spirit both gaze toward him, inclining their heads. There is an expression of deference, which is reflected in the version of the Nicene Creed that Rublev would have recited daily: the Son is begotten of the Father, the Spirit proceeds from the Father. If we imagine this theology of the Trinity represented as a triangle, the point is clearly on the top. The father is the "arche," the source; both Son and Spirit originate in Him.
Not to get too deeply into the minutiae of history, but it was of course a change in Western European Christianity about the turn of the millennium that first suggested adding the term "filioque" to the Nicene Creed, a dispute that eventually led to the Great Schism between Christians east and west. The original Creed, written in the fourth century, said that the Spirit proceeds from the Father; Western Christians wanted to add the word "filioque," "and the Son." At a time when the divinity of the Son was being challenged, it seemed an appropriate safeguard to proclaim that the Son is the source of the Spirit as well. And it seemed Scripturally accurate. After all, "[Jesus] breathed on them and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit'" (John 20:22).
But this confuses the immediate transmission of the Spirit to humans in this world, performed in this case by Jesus breathing upon his disciples, with the question of the eternal origin of the Spirit. At the beginning, the Spirit proceeds from the Father. Later, Jesus says he will ask the Father to send us the Spirit, and he then breathes on his disciples to impart it. But, like the Son, the origin of the Spirit from before all time remains with the Father alone.
What do such words even mean? What does it mean that the Son is "begotten," and the Spirit "proceeds"? I am not competent to tackle such questions. "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it" (Ps 139:5). And when I read over the orders I received when I became a Christian, it doesn't look like I need to know the answer to this question. I just need to do my job as an ordinary believer, following his path and helping others along the way. It looks like prying into the deep things of God is not included in my marching orders. The one thing I can know is that the Father is the ultimate source, as we see here. Both Son and Spirit incline their heads to him.
The Son, in the middle, is wearing a robe of deep purple-red; this is the purple of royalty, rather than the lavender or so-called "royal purple" we think of today. Purple fabric was very expensive; remember Lydia in the book of Acts (Acts 16:14), who dealt in purple goods. It sounds strange today to think of dealing in items based solely on their color, although I did once see a kiosk at the mall titled "All Things Purple," and it was. (I wondered whether the proprietor's name was Lydia.) Today purple dye is produced as cheaply as other colors, but in ancient times the source was a tiny gland at the back of the head of the murex snail. Only the wealthiest could afford it, hence the association with royalty. Over his purple tunic the Son wears a blue mantle, indicating divinity. Both Father and Spirit wear their blues as a tunic.
I should note that when we look at ancient art we shouldn't get too fixed on assigning symbolic meanings to colors. The artist could not just run down to the local Hobby Hut and buy more Blue # 3. If the seeds or minerals necessary for a color were not available or were too expensive, the artist would have to alter the color scheme to suit what he had. Some colors predominate in certain geographic areas for this reason, based on soil and climate conditions. But in some cases, as here, we can draw inferences about the colors used by this masterful painter.
The green mantle of the Spirit, scintillating with light, is another of Rublev's achievements. Green belongs to the Spirit because the Spirit is the source of life. On the Feast of Pentecost, Eastern Orthodox churches are decorated with greenery, boughs and branches, and worshippers will wear green clothing. The Orthodox prayer to the Holy Spirit begins, "O Heavenly King, Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, Who art everywhere present and fillest all things, Treasury of blessings and Giver of Life..."
This sense of the Spirit as the source of life, everywhere present, filling all things, contributes to one of the distinctives of Orthodox theology. That is, it is intimately bound up with daily life. There is no such thing as theology which is purely intellectual. If theology doesn't change you, if it doesn't flood you with light, it's not worth your time.
In the Christian East, a "theologian" is not someone who has thought hard about theological categories and labored at their construction. A theologian is someone who has drawn near to God and experienced his transforming presence in a palpable way. This is what St. Peter means as he writes of our becoming "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Pet 1:4). A theologian is someone who has seen the "Uncreated Light," a reference to the light which shown from Jesus on Mt. Tabor, and which illuminated the Burning Bush without consuming it. Being a theologian is akin to being a mystic-though I hate to use that word, because in the West mysticism seems like an odd calling for odd people, while in Eastern theology it's the whole purpose of the Christian life and the calling of every person: union with God, theosis. Evagrius of Pontus said, in the 4th century, "A theologian is one whose prayer is true."
Some readers have the job description "theologian," and may be thinking that seeing the Uncreated Light is not even on their list of things to do. But how refreshing it would be for all who "do theology" to understand their calling as that of being a source of light for others, a living example of what God can do with a fully-yielded person, someone whose deep meditation on the things of God has led to personal transformation and even holiness. That's the old meaning of the term "theologian."
Contrast this with a framed print I saw in the vesting room of the National Cathedral in Washington. It showed, surrounded by the darkness, a lone candle shining, and the text read: "I was wandering all alone in a dark forest, with only the light of a single candle to guide me, and along came a theologian and blew it out."
We laugh in recognition at that, even if we suspect it of latent anti-intellectualism. But we probably don't have an alternate image in mind of what a theologian can be, since we associate theology so exclusively with intellectual activity. Gazing at the luminous robe of the Holy Spirit depicted here we can imagine an experience of being filled with the light of God and becoming a "theologian" in the true sense.
Son and Spirit, as I said, both bow their heads to the Father. But all three show equality in other ways. Each of them carries a slim red staff, an emblem of authority. Each has a halo, which should not be understood as a flat disk behind the head, but as a globe of light encircling the head, like the sphere around a candle flame. All three gesture toward the chalice with their right hands; the Father and the Son are holding their fingers in the form of a blessing.
Though I have been referring to the three figures as Father, Son, and Spirit, you'll notice that they all look alike. The Son is not depicted in the familiar likeness of Jesus. This visitation to Abraham took place many centuries before the Incarnation. Instead, Rublev has relied on the indication in Genesis that the three resembled angels, and so they are depicted in the way angels usually appear in iconography: as young men with long, curly hair pulled back, no beards, and delicate gold wings.
Notice, too, how Rublev has handled perspective. The top of the table, and the tops of the pedestals the Father and Spirit rest their feet upon, tilt dramatically toward us, as if we are looking down on the scene from above. At the level of the figures' faces, however, we seem to be looking at the three directly from about shoulder height.
This is not a matter of incompetence. A painter who can handle drapery and color as well as Rublev is not ignorant of the method of perspective. As is often the case in iconography, perspective has been intentionally distorted it in order to give us a sensation that the scene is bursting out toward us, with the chalice in the center pressing itself our way.
In conventional painting we expect things to get smaller as they go into the distance; this is called the "vanishing point," and as you remember from elementary school art class, as the railroad tracks go away from you, far in the distance they converge. Yet icons often play with reversing or distorting perspective, in order to increase the viewer's sense of being off-balance and in an unfamiliar, powerful world, or even to feel that the whole scene is rushing toward him, converging on him and challenging him. Sometimes the painting is carefully arranged so that everything gets "larger" as it goes back, and "smaller" in the foreground, so that the "vanishing point" is right about where the viewer is standing. The viewer is the vanishing point; if God did not sustain us, we would vanish.
In addressing a complex theological topic like the Trinity one runs a danger of dryness, and I wanted to offer a bit of refreshment, by focusing on a beautiful example of ancient Christian art. It can be can be an aid to devotion and greater openness to God-an aid to theology. And that is where I will end. Everything we do as we read about, study or discuss our faith should enhance our devotion to God. We should all be on the way to becoming theologians. A theological conference or seminary setting can nurture fellowship and deepen faith, but it can also be an opportunity for the Devil to stir up trouble, by stimulating pride or, conversely, by dashing pride; by undermining self-confidence or by rousing a desire to dominate others.
So be wary, be watchful, and don't let your "theological" activities drag you away from the One you seek to know. "Take every thought captive to Christ" (II Cor 10:5) and take care that you not be led astray. The Evil One comes only to steal, kill, and destroy, and he is indisputably prowling around, seeking whom he may devour. He doesn't stay away just because we label an activity "theological."
We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses; we see them visibly in Christian art, but they are invisibly with us too, in the eternal company of angels and all who love the Lord. That's where we are all going, and when we get there, we'll have to give an account for every careless word we utter. So let us plan ahead for that, and watch our words now. When in doubt, silence is a good option. Because, after all we have said about this icon today, there is one thing we have not yet noted: none of the figures is speaking. The tranquility of their silence is sufficient. I invite you to spend some time in similar silence, and enter further into the mystery of the Trinity.




3. Things you may hear during the Vigil Service:

O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth who art everywhere present and fillest all things, Treasury of Blessings, and Giver of Life, come and abide in us, and cleanse us from every impurity, and save our souls, O Good One.


Bless the Lord, O my soul! Blessed art Thou, O Lord!
Bless the Lord, O my soul! And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul! And forget not all His benefits!
Who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases!
The Lord is compassionate and merciful, long suffering and of great goodness!
Bless the Lord, O my soul! Blessed art Thou, O Lord!


O gladsome light, O grace of our Creator's face,
The eternal splendor wearing; celestial, holy blessed,
Our Savior Jesus Christ, joyful in Your appearing!

As fades the day's last light we see the lamps of night,
Our common hymn outpouring, O God of might unknown,
You, the incarnate Son, and Spirit blessed adoring.

To You of right belongs all praise of holy songs,
O Son of God, life giver. You, therefore, O Most High,
The world does glorify and shall exalt forever.


The Great Doxology
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will among men.
We praise Thee, we bless Thee,
we worship Thee, we glorify Thee,
we give thanks to Thee for Thy great glory.
O Lord, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty;
O Lord, the Only-Begotten Son, Jesus Christ; and O Holy Spirit.
O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father,
that takest away the sin of the world, have mercy on us;
Thou that takest away the sins of the world, receive our prayer;
Thou that sittest at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us.
For Thou only art holy,
Thou only art the Lord, O Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.
Every day will I bless Thee and I will praise Thy name forever, yea forever and ever.
Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin.
Blessed art Thou, O Lord, the God of our fathers,
and praised and glorified is Thy name unto the ages. Amen.
Let Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us according as we have hoped in Thee.
Blessed art Thou, O Lord, teach me Thy statutes.
Blessed art Thou, O Lord, teach me Thy statutes.
Blessed art Thou, O Lord, teach me Thy statutes.
Lord, Thou hast been our refuge in generation and generation.
I said: O Lord, have mercy on me, heal my soul, for I have sinned against Thee.
O Lord, unto Thee have I fled for refuge, teach me to do Thy will, for Thou art my God;
For in Thee is the fountain of life, in Thy light shall we see light.
O continue Thy mercy unto them that know Thee.
Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.
Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.
Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.
Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.




The Six Psalms

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will among men.
O Lord, Thou shalt open my lips, and my mouth shall declare Thy praise.

Psalm 3
O Lord, why are they multiplied that afflict me? Many rise up against me. Many say unto my soul: There is no salvation for him in his God. But Thou, O Lord, art my helper, my glory, and the lifter up of my head. I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and He heard me out of His holy mountain. I laid me down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord will help me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people that set themselves against me round about. Arise, O Lord, save me, O my God, for Thou hast smitten all who without cause are mine enemies; the teeth of sinners hast Thou broken. Salvation is of the Lord, and Thy blessing is upon Thy people.
I laid me down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord will help me.

Psalm 37
O Lord, rebuke me not in Thine anger, nor chasten me in Thy wrath. For Thine arrows are fastened in me, and Thou hast laid Thy hand heavily upon me. There is no healing in my flesh in the face of Thy wrath; and there is no peace in my bones in the face of my sins. For mine iniquities are risen higher than my head; as a heavy burden have they pressed heavily upon me. My bruises are become noisome and corrupt in the face of my folly. I have been wretched and utterly bowed down until the end; all the day long I went with downcast face. For my loins are filled with mockings, and there is no healing in my flesh. I am afflicted and humbled exceedingly, I have roared from the groaning of my heart. O Lord, before Thee is all my desire, and my groaning is not hid from Thee. My heart is troubled, my strength hath failed me; and the light of mine eyes, even this is not with me. My friends and my neighbors drew nigh over against me and stood, and my nearest of kin stood afar off. And they that sought after my soul used violence; and they that sought evils for me spake vain things, and craftinesses all the day long did they meditate. But as for me, like a deaf man I heard them not, and was as a speechless man that openeth not his mouth. And I became as a man that heareth not, and that hath in his mouth no reproofs. For in Thee have I hoped, O Lord; Thou wilt hearken unto me, O Lord my God. For I said: Let never mine enemies rejoice over me; yea, when my feet were shaken, those men spake boastful words against me. For I am ready for scourges, and my sorrow is continually before me. For I will declare mine iniquity, and I will take heed concerning my sin. But mine enemies live and are made stronger than I, and they that hated me unjustly are multiplied. They that render me evil for good slandered me, because I pursued goodness. Forsake me not, O Lord my God, depart not from me. Be attentive unto my help, O Lord of my salvation.
Forsake me not, O Lord my God, depart not from me. Be attentive unto my help, O Lord of my salvation.

Psalm 62
O God, my God, unto Thee I rise early at dawn. My soul hath thirsted for Thee; how often hath my flesh longed after Thee in a land barren and untrodden and unwatered. So in the sanctuary have I appeared before Thee to see Thy power and Thy glory. For Thy mercy is better than lives; my lips shall praise Thee. So shall I bless Thee in my life, and in Thy name will I lift up my hands. As with marrow and fatness let my soul be filled, and with lips of rejoicing shall my mouth praise Thee. If I remembered Thee on my bed, at the dawn I meditated on Thee. For Thou art become my helper; in the shelter of Thy wings will I rejoice. My soul hath cleaved after Thee, Thy right hand hath been quick to help me. But as for these, in vain have they sought after my soul; they shall go into the nethermost parts of the earth, they shall be surrendered unto the edge of the sword; portions for foxes shall they be. But the king shall be glad in God, everyone shall be praised that sweareth by Him; for the mouth of them is stopped that speak unjust things.
At the dawn I meditated on Thee. For Thou art become my helper; in the shelter of Thy wings will I rejoice. My soul hath cleaved after Thee, Thy right hand hath been quick to help me.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. Glory to Thee, O God.
Lord. have mercy.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Psalm 87
O Lord God of my salvation, by day have I cried and by night before Thee. Let my prayer come before Thee, bow down Thine ear unto my supplication. For filled with evils is my soul, and my life unto hades hath drawn nigh. I am counted with them that go down into the pit; I am become as a man without help, free among the dead. Like the bodies of the slain that sleep in the grave, whom Thou rememberest no more, and they are cut off from Thy hand. They laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness and in the shadow of death. Against me is Thine anger made strong, and all Thy billows hast Thou brought upon me. Thou hast removed my friends afar from me; they have made me an abomination unto themselves. I have been delivered up, and have not come forth; mine eyes are grown weak from poverty. I have cried unto Thee, O Lord, the whole day long; I have stretched out my hands unto Thee. Nay, for the dead wilt Thou work wonders? Or shall physicians raise them up that they may give thanks unto Thee? Nay, shall any in the grave tell of Thy mercy, and of Thy truth in Thy destruction? Nay, shall Thy wonders be known in that darkness, and Thy righteousness in that land that is forgotten? But as for me, unto Thee, O Lord, have I cried; and in the morning shall my prayer come before Thee. Wherefore, O Lord, dost Thou cast off my soul and turnest Thy face away from me? A poor man am I, and in troubles from my youth; yea, having been exalted, I was humbled and brought to distress. Thy furies have passed upon me, and Thy terrors have sorely troubled me. They came round about me like water, all the day long they compassed me about together. Thou hast removed afar from me friend and neighbor, and mine acquaintances because of my misery.
O Lord God of my salvation, by day have I cried and by night before Thee. Let my prayer come before Thee, bow down Thine ear unto my supplication.

Psalm 102
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all that He hath done for thee, Who is gracious unto all thine iniquities, Who healeth all thine infirmities, Who redeemeth thy life from corruption, Who crowneth thee with mercy and compassion, Who fulfilleth thy desire with good things; thy youth shall be renewed as the eagle's. The Lord performeth deeds of mercy, and executeth judgment for all them that are wronged. He hath made His ways known unto Moses, unto the sons of Israel the things that He hath willed. Compassionate and merciful is the Lord, longsuffering and plenteous in mercy; not unto the end will He be angered, neither unto eternity will He be wroth. Not according to our iniquities hath He dealt with us, neither according to our sins hath He rewarded us. For according to the height of heaven from the earth, the Lord hath made His mercy to prevail over them that fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our iniquities from us. Like as a father hath compassion upon his sons, so hath the Lord had compassion upon them that fear Him; for He knoweth whereof we are made, He hath remembered that we are dust. As for man, his days are as the grass; as a flower of the field, so shall he blossom forth. For when the wind is passed over it, then it shall be gone, and no longer will it know the place thereof. But the mercy of the Lord is from eternity, even unto eternity, upon them that fear Him. And His righteousness is upon sons of sons, upon them that keep His testament and remember His commandments to do them. The Lord in heaven hath prepared His throne, and His kingdom ruleth over all. Bless the Lord, all ye His angels, mighty in strength, that perform His word, to hear the voice of His words. Bless the Lord, all ye His hosts, His ministers that do His will. Bless the Lord, all ye His works, in every place of His dominion. Bless the Lord, O my soul.
In every place of His dominion, bless the Lord, O my soul.

Psalm 142
O Lord, hear my prayer, give ear unto my supplication in Thy truth; hearken unto me in Thy righteousness. And enter not into judgment with Thy servant, for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified. For the enemy hath persecuted my soul; he hath humbled my life down to the earth. He hath sat me in darkness as those that have been long dead, and my spirit within me is become despondent; within me my heart is troubled. I remembered days of old, I meditated on all Thy works, I pondered on the creations of Thy hands. I stretched forth my hands unto Thee; my soul thirsteth after thee like a waterless land. Quickly hear me, O Lord; my spirit hath fainted away. Turn not Thy face away from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit. Cause me to hear Thy mercy in the morning; for in Thee have I put my hope. cause me to know, O Lord, the way wherein I should walk; for unto Thee have I lifted up my soul. Rescue me from mine enemies, O Lord; unto Thee have I fled for refuge. Teach me to do Thy will, for Thou art my God. Thy good Spirit shall lead me in the land of uprightness; for Thy name's sake, O Lord, shalt Thou quicken me. In Thy righteousness shalt Thou bring my soul out of affliction, and in Thy mercy shalt Thou utterly destroy mine enemies. And Thou shalt cut off all them that afflict my soul, for I am Thy servant.
Hearken unto me, O Lord, in Thy righteousness, and enter not into judgment with Thy servant.
Thy good Spirit shall lead me in the land of uprightness.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. Glory to Thee, O God.
ag�
Today I met a man who works for the Thomas Kinkade Company I made a joke about protestant icons. He didn't think it was funny. I was struck by this statement on the company's ""official website". (Does that mean that the other one is unnoficial?)

"Alone with my family, safe, peacefully savoring the glories of God's majestic creation - That is my image [Note: image is English for ikon.] of THE GOOD LIFE. I invite you to enjoy it with me."

Here is my problem with what Mr. Kinkade wrote: If by good life he means the life of strugle that the church militant is living, his paiting of it is woefully inaccurate. This life is warfare against the flesh, the world, and the devil. Also, he is wrong about who is present in the good life. As much as I like the religious right, which I think I am part of, it is wrong to put family at such a central position. Read the NT regarding family. It contains no illusions. Family is difficult. From children wasting parents' money to even betraying parents to the powers of this world, the picture drawn of human families in the NT is not all light a pastels, as Mr. Kinkade would have us believe.

Jesus created a new family. A family who's blood is his blood. And the obligations to that family are more important that to the family of one's flesh. (I'm thinking of Jesus instruction to the man who wanted to bury his father before he comitted to following Jesus.)

The other thing about Mr. Kinkades statement that is revealling is the use of the word "alone". We are not now and never will be alone. We are in the Church. Ahhh but Mr. Kinkade is not. He seems to be following the Tradition of Roger Williams, who brought the Baptist faith to this continent. As we all know, Roger Williams famously ended his life alone. Why? Because according to him, no one in America but he believed the true Gospel. Alone is not an option for Christians. True Christians are forced into the hurly burly of the Church, with fighting bishops, and disagreable saints, and noisy kids, and crazyy old babushkas and yiayias.

In this crucible of faith, people learn to love each other as Christ loves them. And all the velveteen rubs off of them and they become REAL.


Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Category: Like I have time for anything else in my life.

As you know, I've been learning to play the little woodwind instrumet known as the recorder. But I think it might be too gentle for me. The blood of my ancestors in me would rather me play the bagpipes. But who has the time (or patient enough wife) to learn to play the bagpipes? Soooo.... that only leaves one coice for me: The bodhran.

You can see and hear a bodhran here. (It isthe hand-held drum-like thingy.)

In doing some research I came across some funny bodhran jokes.

1. Fellow walks into a pub in Belfast with a plastic bag under his arms.
The bartender asks "What's that?"
"Six pounds of semtex", he answers.
"Thanks be to Jaysus; I thought it was a bodhrán!"

2. Then there was the bodhran player who remembered that he had left his bodhrán in his unlocked car. Rushing back, he opened his car door to find two more bodhráns in the back seat.

3. A bodhran player was sick of the band abusing him, and decided to start his own. He walked into a music shop, planning to buy the first instruments he saw.
"Give me the red saxophone and that accordion!", he said.
The assistant said, "You play the bodhran, don't you?"
"That's right. Why?"
"Well, the fire exinguisher I can sell you - but the radiator stays.

4. What's the only proper way to play a bodhrán?
With an open penknife.

5. What is the difference between a bodhrán player and a terrorist?
Terrorists have sympathisers.

6. Why do bodhrán players find it difficult to enter a room ?
They never know when to come in.

7. What's the difference between a bodhrán and a trampoline?
You take off your shoes when you jump on a trampoline.

8. Bodhrán care is simple... Rub gently with lighter fluid and ignite.

9. Then of course there was the fiddle player who, while visiting the local pub, was asked for a dollar to help pay for the funeral of a local bodhrán player.
"Here's two dollars;" he says "bury another."

10. What is the difference between a dead bodhran player lying in the road and and a dead rabbit lying in the road?
The rabbit might have been on it's way to a gig.

11. Is a bodhrán-player a musician?
Is a barnacle a ship?

12. What do you call a bodhrán player with a broken wrist?
A huge improvement.

13. How is pre-mature ejaculation like a bodhrán solo?
You know perfectly well what's about to happen, but you can't do a thing about it.

14. What's the difference between a bodhran player and a drum machine?
You only have to punch the rhythm into the drum machine once.

15. What's the difference between a bodhran and an onion?
Most people cry when they cut up an onion.




This is one of my favorite days, simply because it has such a strange sounding commemoration: Third finding of the Head of Saint John the Baptist

On this day we celebrate the Third discovery of the honorable head of the Forerunner; Martyr Demetrios the myrrh-streaming.

There are not enough days in the calendar year to set aside one for every religious commemoration. But of the 365 days of the solar year allowed us, each could bear some mention of the great St. John the Baptist without wearing thin the reputation of this mighty figure of Christianity. Referred to as the prefiguration of Jesus Christ, he is remembered on more than one occasion even though it be in seemingly grisly reference to the head that was severed from his body to grant a favor by a callous monarch to a scatterbrained girl.

The eminent St. John the Baptist is commemorated by the Orthodox Church in five different observances as follows: (1) The Conception of St. John the Baptist on September 23, (2) The Nativity of St. John the Baptist on June 24, (3) The official Feast Day of St. John the Baptist on January 07, (4) The First and Second Findings of the relics of St. John on February 24, and (5) The Third Finding of the Relics of St. John on May 25. It is only fitting that St. John, the forerunner of the Savior for whom he prepared the way, be given at least these five commemorative days if only for the fact that Jesus himself said of him in the Gospel of St. Luke (7.25-28): “Behold, they which are gorgeously appareled and live delicately in the king's court. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet. This is he, of whom it is written. Behold, I send my messenger before thy face which shall prepare the way before thee. For I say unto you, among those who are born unto woman, there is no greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he that is least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he….”

It was St. Theodore the Studite (feast day, November 11) who had written in some detail about the third discovery of the “kara” (head) of St. John the Baptist, a most precious relic of Christendom which seems to have been intact at least until the ninth century. Since then it has been fragmented so as to appear in several shrines throughout the Christian world. According to St. Theodore, the skull had been kept in Constantinople intact, only to be stolen and eventually returned. What is now certain is that the fragmented skull is preserved in bits and pieces in the Mt. Athos monastery, as well as in Jerusalem, Hungary, and other places not really determined.

The historian George Kodinos maintains that the “kara” (head) of St. John was taken from Jerusalem to Cilicia by followers of a Macedonian group considered to be Christian heretics and then ordered by the Emperor Valens to be placed in Constantinople. After disappearing from its appointed spot, it turned up again; and on the order of Emperor Theodosios it was placed in a shrine in an area known as Ebdomon (Seventh). That fragment, which is venerated on Mt. Athos, rests in honored glory in the Monastery of Dionysios.

The left hand of St. John was stolen by Turks and is now on display with other Turkish artifacts in the Museum of Topkapi in Istanbul, formerly known as Constantinople. The Christian finds comfort in the fact that although a hand of this beloved saint might rest in a most unlikely place, his spirit is in the hearts of the followers of Jesus Christ throughout the globe.

Quite naturally, the fragmentation and dissemination of the relics of St. John have given rise to stories stemming from the early centuries down through the ages, past the crusades to the present day. If they were all to be believed, there would be as many silvers of St. John's earthly remains as there are sands in the desert. It is enough, therefore, to accept what has been written by St. Theodore the Studite and an historian who took great pains in researching the matter.

In the official observance on May 25, the “Third finding of the Kara” of St. John the Baptist is observed with the memorial hymn whose words are as follows: “Verily from the earth rose the head of the Forerunner, bequeathing to believers incorruptible rays of healing, gathering the crowds of angels from above and calling below the races of mankind to address their voices in unison to Glory of Christ God.” To this the Christian of any denomination can add a humble and sincere “Amen.” .

Orthodox Saints Vol.02 by George Poulos.
Another one for the 'Boy-I'm-getting-old' department.

Gary Burghoff (Radar on MASH) turned 62 yesterday
Or how about...

We'll dust off the liturgy and then we'll polish off the food
Here's one for your bumper sticker contest:

Come for the liturgy
Stay for the vodka
Top selling evangelical devotional books as reported by Lark News:

1. Growing Closer to God Than You Did Last Month (Zondervan)
2. You're Getting Warmer: More Incremental Steps Toward Intimacy with God (Thomas Nelson)
3. Now You're REALLY Close: The 2004 "Almost There" Devotional (Multnomah)
4. The Radical Teen's Funky-Awesome Life Path Adventure Devotional, with Commentary by Television Superstar Kirk Cameron! (InterVarsity)
5. Finding God Through the Inspired Paintings of Thomas Kinkade — A Classic Country Churches Devotional (Angel-Painter of Light Books, Inc.)

Monday, May 24, 2004

Jeff, I really do not want you to think that I was criticizing how you and Christa work out your marriage. Cyndi and I do what works for us. You should do what works for you.

Now to change the subject: The oniondome is having a contest to come up with the next big Orthodox bumper sticker. (I thought "Our Church Wrote Your Church's Bible!" was good but I guess they didn't like it.) Anyway, these are my enteries:


1. Which thief went to heaven? The Orthodox know.

2. Eat God!

3. Up, down, up, down, up, down, up. Thank God for
confession.

4. Experience church in an unknown tongue. No, not
pentecostal. ORTHODOX!

5. Pray the Trisagion!

6. Celebrate St. Patricks Day the way St. Patrick
would have celebrated it.

7. Become like God! Ask me how.


Also, I came across this very intersting conversation.

And have you given any more thought to my post of April 19?

The road to hana sounds like fun. And bbq-ing sounds like fun. Do you know how to put links in your posts?




Let me reflect on some of the marriage stuff you said and get back to you tomorrow on it.
Hawaii, Part II.

Yes, we did spend 10 glorious sun-filled days on Maui. We stayed at a great resort called the Napili Kai Beach CLub (napilikai.com)just north of Lahaina and Kaanapali. We spend a lot of time on the beach and at the pool with Caleb, who absolutely loved the beach. Of course, he tried to eat sand.

Our one long excursion was to take the infamous 'Road to Hana' (Hana being a resort town on the opposite end of Maui and only accessible by a 50 mile, 2-lane road through a rainforest. We got about 2/3 of the way to Hana and stopped at some waterfalls and hiked around a bit.

We didn't go out to eat a whole lot, because prices on Maui are generally 25-30% higher than on the mainland. There were some BBq pits at the resort and we took advantage of them. But we did have a great meal at a place called Sansei, a Japanese place with some of the most unusual and tasty sushi I've ever had.

Did I tell you that Caleb never really adjusted to Hawaii time? Yep, that's right, every morning at 5:30 AM, he was up and ready to go. About the third day, Christa and I realized that it would be best if we took turns in the morning taking him out (it was already light then) until the other had a chance to sleep more.
That is a very intersting question. We don't actually have anything like a three point plan to stay intimate. Without sounding like I am criticizing your marriage (After all, if it works for you and keeps your marriage strong that's all that matters), I have always been surprized at your and Christa's desire to not be with with each other or with Caleb at at various functions. I'm remembering how happy you were to have Caleb spend the night with his grandparents, you visiting my church without Caleb and Christa, you and Caleb coming to Anselm's Birthday Party without Christa and you coming to dinner without Caleb and Christa. It seems like you guys look for opportunities not to be together.

It has seemed to me that you and Christa are trying really hard to hang on to the freedom of singleness and childlessness. If that is what makes your marriage good, then by all means, continue. I am not saying that that is bad. But it must be difficult. I don't think I could do it. In a way, I already have done it with my first wife and oldest two sons.

So, what do Cyndi and I do? We surrender to being mates and parents. Which is difficult in its own way, and when the children are grown and move out it might be very painful for us. But right now it seems to work. If you want specifics about how we stay close, here are a few things that we do, but again its not like we sat down and said lets think up a bunch of things that will help us be close to each other.

1. The Morning Prayersand The Evening Prayers: We say morning prayers seperately but at night, we pray the evening service together while Cyndi nurses Anselm.

2. Reading. After Anselm falls asleep Cyndi and I read to each other. (Right now we are reading the most recent book by Alexander McCall Smith.)

3. The Calendar. God regulates our days. We have found that the Church calendar has been a unifying force in our lives. Each day we read the same verses, commemorate the same saints or events, eat the same diet. This extends to sex. Our sex life is regulated. During the fasting periods sex is forbidden because of prayer. During monthly menstruation sex is forbidden out of respect for the holiness of her body. During the feasing periods sex is required because of the joy of the feast. Even the most intimate and private aspects of our marriage are given over to the control of Christ.

4. Inclusion: We include the little boy, Anselm in everything. We rarely go places where we can not take him. I have taken the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder as my model for this.

5. No Television. Ever. Among other bad things television does, it gets between people and hinders connecting. It also gives people unreal and selfish ideas about what life is suppoed to be like.

Hope this helps.



Sunday, May 23, 2004

I just realized that I had a whole page-long post about my Hawaii trip that didn't make it onto the blog. Bummer. I'll see if I can reconstitute it tomorrow.


Okay, a question that really doesn't relate to theology but more towards parenting. How did (or do) you and Cyndi keep close and intimate with Anselm on hand? What I mean is, the energy that Christa and I used to put into our relationship is now largely being channeled into Caleb. We've recognized that this is an issue to deal with and are starting to do so. An example of this was in Hawaii where it seemed like one of us had charge of Caleb and the other was off doing something. So my question is, how did you deal with this in your marriage?
Did I tell you that I read Bob Schieffer's memoir while in Hawaii? It was really good. I'll lend you my copy if you like. Some of it was history I knew, but he also had a bunch of stories which were unfamiliar and some that brought back some historical events which were a bit moe obscure. He wrote about the Argentina/England Falklands war (I'd pretty much forgotten about it). ALso, he covered the John Tower hearings under Bush I (when Tower was rejected for Defense Secretary). One tidbit from that was that Sam Nunn was offered the position first and turned it down, only to be the head of the committee that rejected Tower.
Oh Boy! Oh Boy! Oh Boy!!!!! I just found out that my bishop is going to be here for Pentecost . This is so excellent!!!! As for the service to which you should come, Sunday or Saturday, it is hard to say. I think that it will be easier for you to pay attention on Saturday night, but Sunday is very festive. On Sunday, there will be the the Heirarchical Liturgy, the procession, the kneeling vespers, and a big feast. Hmmmm. I would say that if you want to listen and learn what Pentecost is all about, come to the vigil service on Saturday night. Yes. That is the one you should come to. My parents will be there on Saturday night, too.

Here is why Saturday is the better service for you to come to: Last night was the vigil for the fathers of the first ecumenical council. Almost the entire service was about the defeat of the arian heresy. The first OT reading was from Genesis where Abraham assembled an army of 318 men to rescue Lot. (What does that have to do with the 1st council, you ask? Well, 318 bishops were assembled by St. Constantine to rescue the Church from Arius.) The second reading was that passage I showed you a while ago about God instituting the priesthood to speak for Him. And the 3rd OT reading was about Israel's responsibilities to the nations. And then there were all of the poems about the council. The same thing will happen at Vigil for Pentecost on Saturday night. All kinds of thigs from the history of the Church, from Adam through today will be brought in to the service to explain what Pentecost is about. Sunday is really the celebration of what was preached on Saturday night. (the liturgical day starts at Sundown.)

Cyndi and I signed up to cook for the parish on the last Sunday of June. We're making salmon.

I remember that Christa had questions about confession. My bishop wrote this. It might answer her questions.

In other news, I came across this fun website.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

I was reading the book Praying with Icons this moring. (I have political differences with the author but he is good on Icons.) and came across this line. "Don't spend money on icons. Instead go out on the street and see Christ in the faces of the poor."

I've been wondering, why are stopping at the M.A. ? (and which M.A. program are you in? Are you doing the general format Theology M.A. or one of the specializations?). Isn't the M.Div. what most of the churches you will be applying to be looking for?


Friday, May 21, 2004

Well, much has happened in the last few days.
Had my second test in my med. vocab. class. I didn't do well. I am doing worse in this class than I have ever done in any class I have ever taken. I just haven't been studying.
The owner of the apratments came by today. It was nice getting to talk. He was very impressed with the grounds, and liked Cyndi's idea for putting in a deck by the pool. Also it was good to show him 100% occupancy. (as of today)
The little boy showed some pertusis-like symptoms this afternoon. If they show again we will take him to the doctor. He has been coughing since his birthday party but when we took him to the doctor a couple of weeks ago his lungs were clear. Kind of like when your car makes a noise except for when you take it to the mechanic.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

The Vigil service for Ascension is being served right now. But Cyndi is at work until midnight and I just got the little boy to bed. But is is such a beautiful service, I wish I could be there. Below is part of a catchism that can be found at www.Orthodox.net:

Q: What significance does the event of the Ascension of Jesus Christ have for the Christian?

A: Christ ascended to Heaven as man and as God. Once he became a man, being at the same time, as always, perfect God, he never put off His manhood, but deified it, and made it, and us capable of apprehending heavenly things. The Ascension is a prophecy of things to come for those who love God and believe in Him in an Orthodox manner. Those who believe and live according to this belief will be in the heavens, in the flesh, with Him, just as He now abides in the Heavens in the flesh. Our flesh and souls will be saved, because Christ made human flesh capable of deification.

We also call to mind the promise of the Holy Spirit, since Christ mentions this promise He had made before to them, and it's advent is tied to His ascension thusly:

"Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. {8} And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: {9} Of sin, because they believe not on me; {10} Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; {11} Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged." (John 16:7-11)

What Christ has done for human flesh and our souls is impossible to understand, but the church, with sweet melody, meditates with fervor and thanksgiving and precise theology in her services.

"O Christ, having taken upon thy shoulders our nature, which had gone astray, thou didst ascend and bring it unto God the Father" (Matins canon for the Ascension, Ode 7)

"Having raised our nature, which was deadened by sin, Thou didst bring it unto Thine own Father, O Savior" (ibid.)

"Unto Him Who by His descent destroyed the adversary, and Who by His ascent raised up man, give praise O ye priests, and supremely exalt Him, O ye people, unto all the ages." (Matins canon for the Ascension, Ode 8)

Since the disciples were "filled with great joy", we who are Orthodox in belief and way of life should naturally be this way also, and should hasten to the temple to meditate upon the magnificent truths and promises in the ascension by listening carefully to the divinely inspired theology, sung in sweet melody. If we pray with care, and expectation, having valued divine worship above our worldly cares, surely God will enlighten us and noetically teach us the true meaning of Christ's Ascension.


Tuesday, May 18, 2004

I've been having trouble this entire period of Pascha. for weeks now I have been homesick for Lent. I just read an amazing article about C.S. Lewis and asceticism that made the feeling of homesickness accute. I suck at fasting. But I am better at that than I am the feasting. I think that part of it is that I struggle harder against sin during lent. I am not yet strong/mature/vigilant/holy enough to relax during the feast times. Sin waits at the door.

Hmmm. I wonder to what degree reading C.S. Lewis as a child contributed to me becoming Orthodox as an adult?

Sunday, May 16, 2004

This has not been a day that lived up to my plans for it. As you know we drive from San Jose to San Francisco to do the Divine Liturgy. But today when we got off the freeway in San Francisco, we discovered that the road we needed to take to get to the church was blocked off. Many roads were blocked off. Why? The Bay to Breakers. There are several things I do not like about San Francisco: They are the Bay to Breakers, the San Francisco Marathon, the Pride Parade, the Folsom Street Fair, and the Union Street Festival. Each of them takes place on a Sunday, and each of them blocks off the northern 1/3 of the City, which is where my church is. It is very annoying.

So, this morning we were not able to get to church. So we decided to go to an other nearby Orthodox Church, Mission of the Synaxis of the Holy Theotokos. But just as we were getting there (via many detours because of the Bay to Breakers) we realised we were late and that the service was almost over. Synaxis starts 1/2 hour earlier than Holy Trinity. Arrrrgh!!!!!!

So, we went to Katz's bagels on 16th street.. After that we took a ride on the J Line through Noe Valley. It was a nice ride. (But wht else is to be expected on one of the prettiest urban railway lines in the U.S.A.? ) we came back via the same line and got off at Dolores Park. The boy watched some people playing tennis, and they gave him a ball. He had fun passing the ball back and forth under the fence with the woman who gave it to him. Then he had fun rolling the ball down the hill. (He enjoys the Law Gravity. I can't wait till he discovers the Law of Biogenesis and Kepler's Laws. ) Then we walked over to our favorite grocery store, Bi-Rite on 18th street. Cyndi went shopping while I and the boy played ball with a big old goldren retriever outside the store. (It was waiting for it's master.)

Something that is really nice about San Francisco, maybe any dense city, is the sound of church bells. At various times during the morning, and in different neighborhoods, we heard them. It was neat. Even though the world was busy running the Bay to Breakers, and some Christians were not able to make it to church, the churches still held services and announced the reading of the Gospel, ot the consecration of the bread and wine, or the Creed, or just the start of the service with bells. In a happy and reverent voice the little boy said "bells!" If you are interested, you can hear the bells of my church here.


On friday I was transporting a gas canister in the back of my car. (I had to take it to the welding supply shop to get it refilled) Had to throw on the brakes. The canister slid and collided with the back of the drivers seat. Snapped the steel frame of the seat. Driving is difficult. Yesterday went looking for replacement seat. The delaership wants about $1,000. Went to the junkyard. No Accuras. But there is a welder who will fix it for about $300 on monday. Well, off to church now.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Well, the day is just about over and I thought I would throw a few thoughts on the wall and see if any thing sticks. As I write this I am drinking one of my fave cocktails: 1 oz Gin (it is always capitalized.) and 4 oz water, ice.

1. Today I rolled down a grassy hill . It was a lot of fun. The little boy gets a monthly magazine from the National Wildlife Federation that tells stories about various animals. In thlatest issue there are wolverine brothers, one of which enjoys tumbling in the grass. For the last few days the little boy has been going out in front of apartments and tumbling down the hill like the baby wolverine. (The hill falls about three feet over 6 feet so it isn't very steep.) Today, after he had gone a couple of times he said, "Daddy tumble". So I tumbled. It was a lot of fun. So did it again. The little boy cackled with delight. I think I will have to tumble in the grass every day.

2. Still waiting for your reply fo my post of April 19.

3. I've been thinking about the upcomming presidential election. I always vote a pure pro-life ticket (Si, como no?) But this year there is the whole terrorism thing. If the state is destroyed or even seriously hindered by terrorists it doesn't matter if it is a pro-life government running the state. So, who will be the terror of terrorists, the defender of our borders and avenger of our dead? This is not a very hard question to answer. Just look at who votes for the two candidates. Who would would I rather have commanding our might? Who knows more about hunting down our enemies and killing them? The women's studies faculty at Dartmouth? Or the members of the NRA? For which candidate will most if not all of the Dartmouth professors vote? (Nader does not count.) For which of the candidate will most of the NRA members vote? On national defense I think I trust Joe Bob in an NRA hat over Prof. Ackerman in her Birkenstock's . (Ha! I'm actually wearing Birkenstock's as I write this!)
(But I am very annoyed by the Prsident's environmental record. Mercury pollution in the air should not be tradeable. It should be banned. He seems to have forgotten that conservation and conservative are related words.)

4. I went shopping today and got a good deal on lamb shanks. Below is the recipe for the dish I will make on Saturday.

BRAISED LAMB SHANKS WITH CARAMELIZED ONIONS AND SHALLOTS

Lamb Shanks
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound onions, sliced
5 large shallots, sliced (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary or 2 teaspoons dried

6 3/4- to 1-pound lamb shanks
all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups dry red wine
2 1/2 cups canned beef broth
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 bay leaves

Potato and Root vegetable mash
3 large russet potatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds), peeled, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 rutabagas (about 1 3/4 pounds), peeled, halved, thinly sliced
6 small parsnips (about 14 ounces), peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces

3 tablespoons olive oil

For lamb shanks:
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in heavy large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add sliced onions and shallots and sauté until brown, about 20 minutes. Mix in 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary. Remove from heat.

Sprinkle lamb shanks with salt and pepper; coat lamb with flour. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. Working in batches, all lamb shanks to skillet and cook until brown on both sides, about 10 minutes per batch. Using tongs, transfer lamb shanks to plate. Add 1 cup dry red wine to same skillet and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Pour into Dutch oven with onion mixture. Add remaining 1 1/2 cups red wine, canned beef broth, tomato paste and 2 bay leaves to dutch oven. Bring to boil, stirring until tomato paste dissolves. Add lamb shanks, turning to coat with liquid.

Bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until lamb is almost tender, turning lamb shanks occasionally, about 1 1/2 hours. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Uncover Dutch oven and boil until liquid is reduced to sauce consistency, stirring and turning lamb shanks occasionally, about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

For Mash:
Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Add potatoes, rutabagas and parsnips. Boil until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Drain well.

Return vegetables to same pot. Mash until coarse puree forms. Mix in 3 tablespoons olive oil. Season vegetables to taste with salt and pepper. (Vegetable mash can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Rewarm over low heat, stirring frequently.) Transfer vegetables to bowl and serve.

Spoon Potato and Root Vegetable Mash onto plates. Top vegetables with lamb shanks and sauce. Sprinkle lamb shanks with additional chopped fresh rosemary and serve.

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