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Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Pretty good day, so far. Got my homeowork done for class tomorrow. Took the little boy swimming. Did some pool maintenence.

I am roasting a beef bottom roast right now.

Tonight's menu:

Cold roast beef
French onion soup
Watermelon

The little boy is taking a nap. He got a pretty hard work out in the pool. He holds on to my neck and we dive deep so he can grab leaves off the bottom ot the pool. (There is a very large camphor tree at the deep end of the pool and it is constantly dropping leaves.) I think we did about four dozen deep dives. When we come up to the air the little boy usually says "whew, hard." I always say "Good job. You are a good worker." It is a lot of fun.

While the little boy is napping I need to make some phone calls to get some work done here at the apartments.


Tuesday, June 29, 2004

This just in from the Oil Your Rifle Department....


Which Enemy of Humanity said:

"We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."

A) V.I. Lenin
B) John Kerry
C) Mao Tse Tung
D) Pol Pot
E) Hillary Clinton
F) Edward Kennedy
G) Dracon
H) Maxmillian Robbespierre


Answer: Here.

Lest we forget, Islam is evil.
Jeff,

Yes, you did mention it earlier (june 18) and I said I was not available. I'm not available to help anyone do anything in the month of July. But this brings up something, maybe something better not brought up, but here it is anyway. Since you and I have been friends, three times I have asked you to help me move but you were not able to help. These last two times I was almost desperate. Actually, the last time I was really was desperate and had to borrow money to hire a day laborer to help me move all of my stuff before the rain ruined it. I never pressured you, I didn't even ask you twice. I assumed you would help if you could. The same is true of me. I would help Elizabeth move if I could. I am a little bit insulted that you would try to guilt me into helping, bribe me with food even. I've helped you move three times since we've been friends; I think you know I am not afraid to bend my back to move a friend's stuff. But I am not available to help anyone move in the month of July.


Monday, June 28, 2004

Matt,

On Sat July 10 (I think I mentioned this before) Elizabeth is moving and REALLY NEEDS your help. I can't do it alone and she has a slipped disk in her back and can't do much either. There is dinner afterwards, but she NEEDS your help that Saturday.

Today has been interesting. I took Cyndi to the train station at 5:30 and came home and put the little boy back to bed. Then I did morning prayers, made coffee, ate a piece of baguette. Then the little boy woke up and I gave him a bath and breakfast.

We went to school and I paid tuitiuon and bought the book for the class I am taking. I was surprised to see so many people on campus for a summer session.

I also found out (a little late since this is the last day of the fast) what his fast is about.


Sunday, June 27, 2004

Yesterday: We went to the blessing of Claudia's tomb stone. It has been two years since she reposed. It was our first time to go to a tombstone blessing. It was very moving. She fell asleep shortly before we began attending Holy Trinity Cathedral so we have not met her yet. But in the two years passed her husband has become dear to me.

The cemetary where Claudia's body is buried is in the Piedmont area of Oakland. It was my first time to be over there. The Piedmont is beautiful. I think I might like to live there if I don't make it back to San Francisco.

The cemetary was beautiful too. It is where Crocker (jis tomb looks like a small multi-spired church), Mills, and Cogswell (huge obilisk with shruberies, and a fountain.) are all buried there.

Last night Cyndi and I played scrabble (Cyndi won, 274:248. She wins 99% of all scrabble games we play.) and Go. I won the Go game but only because Cyndi doesn't know how to play.

Today Cyndi and I cooked the meal for after liturgy. We had talked about making salad nicoise but at the last minute changed the menu. We maid red lentil dal served over whole grain brown rice, dry curried vegetables (Essentially it is 10,000 spices, a little vegetable oil, potatoes, peas, and cauliflower, shaken together in a big pan and baked in the oven.) Desert was sliced melons (crenshaw, cannary, & homeydew), bunches of red flame seedless grapes, and California navel oranges. For drinking there was good strong coffee, red and white wines, lemonade, and 5 pitchers of Arnold Palmers on ice.

I talked to the Choir Director today. Next week he is going to begin teaching how to ring the bells. I am so excited I don't think I'll be able to sleep until then.

Friday, June 25, 2004

I'm realizing how tough it is at work to give coherent answers to stuff that may take a bit of research. So I've touched on the may 28th post and will get to the rest of it, which deserves more attention than I can give here when i get back
All right, let me get to a couple of things from the May 28t post, as best i can remember.

You ask what things I am questioning. Most of them are things I always have, but since our discussions they have come back to forefront again. Things such as why the Protestant church has so little regard for history. It is exceedingly rare to even have Luther or Calvin quoted on one thing or another. When i did a team-preaching gig at our church a couple of months ago I even pulled out a quote from Augustine. I've said this before, but most Christians don't know of anything written before 1980.

I also question why we so often bend our teaching to the itching ears of the public, what Paul explicitely told Timothy NOT to do in 2 Tim. I refer here, of course to the seeker-sensitive movement which I think we both agree is a pile of crap. I'm actually reading MacArthur's book on that now called "Hard To Believe" and it really gets me fired up. i think you'd enjoy reading it also.

I have no idea what 'trombone shout bands' refers to except that it must include some pretty cheap gin.

As far as Mt 16:18 goes, the interpretation of this has always been a sticking point between Catholics and Protestants. The sticking point is to what 'this rock' refers to. Does it refer to Peter or to his confession? Grammatically it cannot refer to Peter because of the use of the third person (this) If Jesus had meant Peter, he would have said 'you' and not 'this' Therefore it must refer to the confession.
As far as your post on may 30, when (evidently) I said that I accepted some council's decision for why the canon is what it is and then later denied that i had said that...well, I refer to Walt Whitman who said "Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself"
For the first time, I looked at your connection on the blogt to the books on Amazon that you want. There's one that I'd really like to read, and that is "The Illumined Heart" Feel free to get me a copy for my birthday (July 29)
Oh, yes, Bernard and the Knights Templar. What I read of his did not have any connection to the Knights, but it seems to me that they are a bit of a blot on his history and contributions to theology. No, I don't have any specific quotes, etc to support it, but it seems to be the general feeling that I got from some of the background reading.
Your post on June 24 serves as a perfect example of how you think. You start off with some ramblings about hat you and Anselm are doing and all of a sudden there is a segue into your new hobby, coin collecting. Next thing i know, I'm getting a treatise on Solomon and his armor-bearers along with a brief rant about how our country is going to hell in a handbasket because we don't have real gold in our coins.


Makes me proud to be your friend.
Christa and I just booked 3 days at Sorensen's fir teh first week in September. You can find it at sorensensresort.com We stayed there 2 years ago for couple of days and it is just a wonderful, perfect place. It's on the eastern side of the Sierras just east of Carson Pass on Hwy 88 and about 20 miles south of Tahoe.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Not too much going on today.
The boy and I slept in till 10. Then we went swimming. Had pancakes for breakfast. Did a credit check on a prosective tenant. The boy and I went hunting for abandoned snail houses (shells of dead snails). He likes them. We were collecting them and putting them on the sidewalk then a big gust of wind came by and blew them all away.

While he was napping I cleaned the kitchen and started the laundry.

I think I am going to start a collection of those state quarters. So far, I have Florida and Ohio. I have a lot of work ahead of me.

As long as we are talking about U.S. numismatics I think I'd like to mention one of my pet peeves: The U.S. Golden Dollar. It contains no gold. It is: a pure copper core sandwiched between to plates of magnanese brass. (Magnanese brass is 77% copper, 12% zinc, 7% manganese, 4% nickel.) This reminds me of the story of the shields of King Solomon's body guards.

As you might remember, King Solomon had a boyguard of 300 men who carried shields made of beaten gold. His heir the wicked Rehaboam lost these shields in a war with Egypt and had to replace them with shileds of brass.

So what does it say about our country that we used to have real gold and silver money but now we make a coin of brass and call it gold?


No word from Jeff. I emailed him yesterday to see if he is still doing the blog. I thought he would be more into it once he got his computer set up at home. Makes me kinda sad. I had high hopes for this little corner of the internet.

We've decided to make salad nicoise for church on Sunday. This means I have to miss the blessing of Claudia's tombstone so I can do prep-work on Saturday. But Cyndi will go and give me a full report. You know , for a small parish like ours (maybe 60 people?) we sure are a busy parish.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

With about a half hour to spare, I just emailed my last assignment for the Spring Quarter. Summer Quarter starts on Monday the 28th. Been a long day. Glad I got it finished.

Hey, Jeff, are you still doing this blog?

I was just thinking about something my good friend Franny said at the little boy's birthday party. Someone had asked me about the Orthodox fasting requirements, and after I explained them Franny (AKA worlds most conservative Roman Catholic, well maybe Mother Angelica is more conservative,but only by a smidge.) said, "Wow, I don't think I could do your religion." I've been thinking about her saying that for a long time. Of course, at one time all Christians were doing my religion. In fact, during the fourth century, the Christianity of northern Italy was more severe in its ascetic practice than non-monastic Orthodox practice is today. And of course if you look at the earliest English cookbooks you will see that they are full of fasting foods because about half the year there was no meat, fish, or dairy in the diet. (Yuck! I hate eel!)

And anyway, one doesn't do Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy does us. My friend Karl put this quote on his blog that really sums it up nicely. Fr. Seraphim Rose said:

"Orthodoxy is not merely a ritual, or belief, or pattern of behavior, or anything else that a man may posses...thinking that he is thereby a Christian and still be spiritually dead; it is rather an elemental reality which transforms a man, gives him the strength to live in the most difficult and tormenting conditions, and prepares him to depart with peace into eternal life."

"This is deeper than mere right doctrine; it is the entrance of God into every aspect of life lived in trembling and fear of God. Such is an attitude produces the Orthodox Way of Life which is not merely the outward customs or behavior that characterizes Orthodox Christians, but the whole of the conscious spiritual struggle."

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Today is the Day of St Alban the Protomartyr of Britain (ca 287)

Troparion in tone 4
In his struggle your holy martyr Alban,
Gained the crown of life, O Christ our God.
For strengthened by you and in purity of heart,
He spoke boldly before the judges of this world,
Offering up his head to you, the Judge of all!
So you read Bernard of Clairvaux. What did you think? What do you make of his suppot for the Knights Templar?
I don't suppose I will ever again write anything as horrible as this letter to my two oldest sons. I just finished it. I will decide on July 1st if I will send it.

"Dear Billy and Devon,

Over the last three years I have sent you more than 60 letters and cards. You never answered any of them.
I have sent you gifts but you have never written or called to let me know you received them. (Except you, Billy. You made sure to tell me you hated the gifts I gave you.)
For four years I have begged you to let me know when your various sports teams were playing so I could come to your games. But you never provided me with a schedule of your games.
When you have come to visit me you have been ill-mannered, disrespectful, derisive, and ungrateful. It has been as though you were executing a well-planned campaign to humiliate me infront of my family and friends.
I have tried to arrange times for us to take trips together, but you either ignored me or told me you didn’t want to go.
Except for one phone call from Billy a year ago, you have never called me on the phone.
I’ve asked you to come live with me but you have not responded.
On several occasions I have called you on the phone and you have refused to talk to me.
I do not entirely blame you for this. I am sure the hatred your mother and I have for each other has made your relationship with me difficult. Nevertheless, I see no reason to force myself into your lives. At 15 and 16 you should know what you want.
I am finished. You’ve worn me out. You’ve won. You are free of me. You shall not receive another letter, phone call, gift, invitation, or visit from me. I shall not give you any more news about your aunts, uncles, and cousins. I shall not tell you when your grandparents die. I shall not tell you when your new brothers or sisters are born.
You know how to contact me if that is what you want to do. And if you do contact me I will respond with love and joy and enthusiasm. I feel no bitterness toward you, only love. Writing this letter is terrible for me, but every time you disrespect me you sin against God, and that is even more terrible. I have no desire to be the stone that causes you to stumble. I am not going to try to force you to interact with me. I hope someday you will contact me, but until that day there will only be silence from me.
I love you both very much. I have missed you for years. I miss you now. I will miss you as long as I live.

Dad"

Monday, June 21, 2004

Jeff, click here to hear Mama Fred explain how Western Christians (both Protestant and Roman Catholic) view sin and the attonement differently from the Orthodox.
My recommendation is to take Caleb with you and go to Mama's in Oakland. But if you could delay your breakfast with Christa to Sunday I would have a different recommendation for you: Leave your son with a babysitter and go to brunch at the Garden Court in the Palace Hotel.

So, any minute now, you are going to post an answer (Hopefully, well thought out and complete because you've had a month to write it.) to the May 28 post, right?
I just did a loan for Thomas Keller. Should have asked for some fois gras along with the contract.

What is a really good place for breakfast in SF? Christa and I are going to have a breakfast date (sans CAleb) on Saturday and I need some suggestions.
This is my report of the weekends activities.

Saturday morning: I attended Divine Liturgy and ordination of a man to the diaconate. The bishop spoke briefly at the end of the liturgy. Summary of comments: The diaconate is the best office in which to serve the Church because that is all a deacon does: Serve. It has none of the difficulty of being a priest or a bishop who are responsible for discernment. He also put a different spin on that "judge not" passage. It is possible to send someone to hell by judging them a good person when their heart is wicked. While I was doing that Cyndi and Anslem went to Samuel P. Taylor state park.

Saturday afternoon: After Church, I walked west on Union Street (from Van Ness) to Filmore then from up to the Marina where I watched the yacht races. But as I was walking I stopped by Plumpjack and had a an Old Fashioed followed by a Salty Dog. While watching the yacht races I smoked a Fonseca 2-2 Maduro.

Saturday evening: Cyndi and I went to the vigil service but only long enough to go to confession. It had been a long day so we didn't stay for the whole service.

Sunday morning: We went to the Hierarchical Liturgy and saw a guy ordained to the priesthood. It was a very moving service. The bishop spoke again. He said something that is very similar to something I said on this blog a few weeks ago. He said homosexuals to what they have always done and are powerless to harm marriage; the people who harm marriage are the ones who get divorced. He also encouraged widows not to remarry but to remain single. I have heard a lot of preachers. I have never heard someone like Bishop Tikhon, or like Bishop Kalistos. I don't know if it is just these two men or if it is something about being a bishop; they do not talk like men who have read a text and are explaining to it an audience. They talk like Dads who are totally filled with love for their kids.

Sunday afternoon: After church we wen't to Cyndi's sisters house on Nob Hill and had a fruit tart from Tartine and coffee.

Sunday evening. Cyndi and I drove to my parents house and dropped off my Dad's Father's Day present. We also dropped off the little boy so we could see the new Harry Potter movie. It was a pretty good movie. Then we wen't to Sushi Sho with my parents and some of their friends.

Oh, I almost forgot, My Father's Day present fom Cyndi: A gorgeus oversized coffee mug with neck ties painted on it. My Father's Day present from Anselm: Two books: Be Boy Buzz and Homemade Love by Bell Hooks. Very good books.

Right now: The boy and I have discovered that the squirrel likes penut butter.

About the CD of Orthodox funeral music: There is no better way for us to learn the theology than the hymns of the Church. In the case of the funeral service, we learn about eternal life, the judgement, sin, repentence, justification, paradise, and the resurection.
I made the world-famous cioppino last night. A pot of that juice should last a few days. I found that it is much better the second day.
You bought a Cd of funeral music for Cyndi on her birthday???????????????

Christa and I are headed out of town next week again. She has a wedding near her parents place and we are going down for about a week. She's flying down with Caleb on Saturday afternoon and I'm driving down on Sunday. I'm actually going to work Mon-Wed seeing if I can get some new dealers around that area. We're also going to spend July 4 with George, doing a BBq and watching fireworks. SHould be fun.

One of the books I was reading for my class on Western Spirituality was some of the writing of Bernard of Clairvaux. One of the editors of it was a guy you mention here every so often, kallistos Ware (I think he's a bishop or something). When the book was put together he was a lecturer in Eastern Studies at Oxford.
September when is tomes was a good song. I think family members usually do the best duets. (Everly bros., Andrews sisters.) It took me a while to figure the song out. Because of the Baby reference I thought it was about an abortion at first. But now I think it is about somone looking back at their life (and not with much thanksgiving) and looking forward to death. It could be a funeral song in some churches.

If you are interested in funeral music, I bought a CD full of it for Cyndi's birthday (yesterday). This is the Evlogateria for the Dead in Tone 5. On the same CD you can find the most beautiful arrangement of the Trisagion Hymn I have ever heard.

An email with the info you requested is on its way.
Okay, I admit this is blackmail. I will reply to your May 28th post IF, and only IF, you provide me with your info that I asked for last month (address, home phone, email, b-days and anniversary date). AND...you must find and listen to Rosanne Cash's duet with Johnny (the last song he ever did) 'September When It Comes'. Once I am satisfied that you have met these requirements, then I shall respond to May 28th.

Friday, June 18, 2004

The May 28th post...oh, yeah...hopefully this weekend.

I've got big problems with my computer today. I downloaded Thoreau's CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE and now none of my command keys will work.
On the 10th it is probable that I will be up to my eyeballs in homework for Medical Law and Ethics.

Sparki answered your question about the man in the paris Airport. (Thanks, Sparki. You saved me some work.)

In a strange coincidence to your martini making jokes, I found out last night that my Dad has Parkinson's Disease.

So, um... when are you going to get to my post of may 28?

If you can come to either of the ordination services this weekend I think you would enjoy them.
ELizabeth is moving on Sat July 10th. Are you available to come help out?? Since it's manual labor, you might have to wear jeans.
All right, let me rephrase my janet REno/ martini question and see if you get it now.

Do you think Muhammad Ali can mix a good Martini?

Do you think Michael J. Fox can mix a good Martini?
That's a cool little theology game. I just saw the title before I got to it and was planning to have this big long debate on my theology, etc. But then it's just a little game.
What was the story about the Iranian guy who was in Charles de Gaulle Airport for 20 years or so? We are going to see the movie THE TERMINAL tonight which is very loosely based on it and I would like to impress them with my knowledge.
What kind of theologian are you?

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Today is the commemoration of a sait I've never heard of: The holy martyr Nectan of Hartland. He suffered for Christ in Devon in the 6th century.

And a piece of history is going home.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

The Chatechism of Somkes and Shots.

Q: Why would someone wait until the sermon to take a smoke break?

A : Because the sermon is the only part of the Divine Liturgy that is not necessarily inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Q: Is the rest of the Divine Liturgy inspired?

A: Yes. The rest of the Divine Liturgy is always inspired, infallible, inerrant, holy, and full of grace. (However, this doesn't mean that, sometimes, the choir couldn't benefit from a bit more rehersal time.)

Q: Can the sermon ever be inspired?

A: Yes.

Q: Can you give an example?

A: The Paschal Homily of our Father among the Saints, John Chrysostom has been recognized as inspired.

Q: How do we know it is inspired?

A: Because once each year the whole Church preaches it; it has become a de facto part of the Divine Liturgy.

Q: But isn't that a circular argument. known by the technical name "begging the question"?

A: Yes.

Q: Wasn't "begging the question" shown by Aristotle to be a logical fallacy?

A: Yes

Q: How can a church that claims to be infallible accept a cirular argument?

A: There might be two possible answers to this question: 1)God created logic, which is a tool human beings use to know creation, and He is not subject to it; 2) At the present time our knowldege is limited.

Q: Are there examples of heresy being spoken in a sermon during the Divine Liturgy?

A: Yes. Through the ages there have been occasions when terrible heresies were spoken during the sermons.

Q: Do you know the name of the worst heretic?

A: Yes, but I won't mention his name and his name will pass on.

Q: Why not drink vodka or ouzo during the sermon. Why smoke?

A: An Orthodox Christian can not eat or drink anything on the morning before he receives the Holy Mystery of Communion, but nobody ever said anything about smoking being forbidden. (Well, James I did but he wasn't Orthodox, and was stupid besides.)

Q: Are the sermons long enough to smoke a good cigar?

A: Generally, no. Well, maybe a Fonseca 2-2, but no way are you going to fit a Punch Gran Cru Robusto into the space of most Orthodox sermons.

Q: So pretty much, if you don't have a connection at the Fonseca factory who can slide you some of those very rare 2-2's your stuck with sucking on Lucky Strikes. Is that what you're tellin' me?

A: Yes, but there is one exception.

Q: Well, lay it on me.

A: Orthodox priests who converted from Protestantism still try to do long sermons. Essentially they add a 1/2 hour to 45 minutes to the liturgy. That means one thing: Break out the Macanudos, Baby. Its time to clip a tip and fire up the Zippo.

Q: Surely you jest!

A: Only about smoking during the sermon. And don't call me "Shirley".


Well, I guess I'll take your word that $200 tequila is good. Do you drink it straight? I remember when I met your brother at Compadres in Palo Alto he ordred a shot of Tequila that cost $25. I was stunned. I had a shot of something that cost $10 and I didn't enjoy it. After that I had Margharitas. I have a brother who is really into tequila, too. We ought to get our brothers together.

In order for Janet Reno to make a Martini she would have to call in the FBI's hostage negotiation team ("To save the children"), open fire on innocent law-abiding citizens, then emolate them. In my opinion, there are easier and less expensive ways to fuel a continuous still. But if we allow her to burn our fellow citizens to death then, heck, why not let her make some Martinis.

It is one thing for Reagan to drink beers with Tip O'Niel. They had that whole Irish thing going on. But drink martinis with the Butcher of Waco? It makes me sick just to think of it. I am nauseated just thinking of her. She should have been given life in Leavenworth.
Do you think Janet Reno can mix a good Martini??
I think my favorites of the bumper stickers are "Put out the cigarette, the sermon's over" (feel free to substitute 'vodka' for cigarette), the pro-baklava one (what about being 'pro-spanakopita????')

If you had $200 tequila, you'd feel different about it. Trust me on this one.

Loved teh bit about Anselm bewing distracted and how that is like our spiritual lives. It reminds me of 1 John 2:16. How often me are distracted by the lust of the lust of the flesh! isn't it stupid how a piece of string is often more attractive to us than God???

I'll get to the may 28th post in a day or so. That was almost 3 weeks ago!!! Just like the orthodox, always bringing up the past

Hey, why don't you give me a call some night this week? We haven't actually talked for a while.
I just made second breakfast (eggs, canadian bacon, lychee fruit, mango/pineapple juice, sour dough bread) for the little boy. First breakfast (at 7:30a.m.) was a half a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a glass of milk. He is a bit like a Hobbit when it comes to the frequency of his meals.

SInce it is the feast day of the Holy Prophet Amos I read his book. I also read Matthew Chapter 3 in an effort to understand something I saw in the Ikon of the Theophany at church on Sunday. Interestingly, St. John the Forerunner and the Prophet Amos had similar messages.

I only have one aprtment available right now. In the past few days I've shown it to 7 different people, including the one this morning. I am having a horrible time renting it. And I can't figure out why. The price is low, the carpet is new, the stove is new, the paint is new, it has a new ceiling fan, it has a new hood over the stove, theres a pool.... I just cant figure it out. Nobody seems to want the place. I'm even offerring $0 rent for the first month!

Still waiting to see what you say to my post of 1:20 p.m. on May 28. That particular post has:
a. A question in respose to your post of 12:51 p.m.
b. A question regarding the reading you mentioned in your post of 12:48 p.m.
c. A four part response to your post of 12:14 p.m.
d. A three part reponse to your post of 11:53 a.m.

I was supposed to have a meeting with my boss today but she is a no show. So, I think me and the boy might go swimming or walk up to Barns and Noble.

Today is the commemoration of three well known saints: The Holy Prophet Amos, Blessed Augustine of Hippo, and St. Jerome.

This reminds me to ask, how have you enjoyed reading St. Augustine? You know, I am a little bit surprised that your class on spirituality is reading the Confession instead of the Rule of St. Augustine. The Rule is a practical "how to" guide for spiritual living.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Jeff, I just read some of the other entries to that Bumpersticker Contest.

Here are some of the funnier ones.


1. Eastern Orthodox: The only Church with the word "Easter" in its title.
2. Put out the cigarette; the sermon's over.
3. Pews are a Western heresy
4. you might be orthodox if...
...you're 15 and you have Varicose veins!
...you have rug burns on your forehead for 50 days out of the year.
...you have the words "consubstantial", "hypostasis" or "filioque" in your vocabulary.
5. My Church wrote your Bible.
6. Horn Broken, Listen for Anathema
7. You think that's religious fundamentalism? I'LL show you religious fundamentalism.
8. Orthodoxy -- Ancestors you can't remember are part of our Church
9. Being Saved
10. Orthodoxy: If It Aint' Broke....
11. Orthodoxy: Pro-Life, Pro-Christ, Pro-Baklava!
12. Honk if you know what this means: IC XC NIKA
13. 51% Atkins-Friendly
14. When in doubt, cross yourself.
15. Orthodoxy: It's like Ethnicity without the color!
16. The Orthodox Church: Not Only Standing for the Truth, But Never Sitting Down Either
17. Orthodoxy: Faithfully maintaining the tradition started at the Tower of Babel.
18. I'm so Orthodox I don't even change my oil.
19. The Orthodox don't need Jerry Springer--we have parish council meetings.
20. FILI-NOT-OKAY
21. Orthodox Christianity: Not New, Not Improved
22. In case of rapture, can I have your car?
23. Orthodoxy: Kickin' it old school since 33 A.D.

I think there were 23 better enteries but this is the one the judges liked: "I'm not a member of any organized religion. I'm Eastern Orthodox."





Maria Khoury asked me to help publicize the existence and plight of the Christians in the west bank town of Taybeh. Here is an article whe wrote for Middle East Window.
In other news, I watched the little boy throw a marker off the balcony to the grond below. I told him to go get it and he started down the stairs with much enthusiam. But three steps down he got distracted by a piece of string. I had to tell him again to get the marker. Two more steps and he got distracted by the pool man. I had to tell him again. another step and he was distracted by his shadow. I had to tell him again to get the marker. No fewer than 10 minutes and 8 distractions later, he brought me the marker. Isn't that exactly like our path to heaven? The task was simple. Get the marker. The way is clear. The goal attainable. But so many distractions. Thanks be to God that he does not let us stay distracted, but sends prophets, and preachers, and books, and saints, and sometimes angels to prod us along to the goal.

I don't undrstand $200 tequila. I have trouble with $30 tequila. Its a trash drink. Thats why you mix it with salt and lime. It's all about pain, and shouting, and shooting pistols into the air. It's what we drank in the Regiment when we played that head butting game. (Before the Colonel banned it.)
A couple of more quick notes on the marathon trip...

I invented a new drinking game based on the aftermath of the marathon.

Everytime Christa mentions that she has just run a marathon...take one drink
Everytime she says she is sore or stiff...take two drinks

Everytime she leans on someone or something for support...take three drinks


I also had a tast of $200 tequila. I didn't know they made it that expensive. My brother collects tequila and says it is the second-most expensive one. The most expensive is $300 a bottle, but has a crystal decanter thrown it.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Wow, busy weekend. Won't go into all of it. But here is the short version. Homework all day saturday until it was time to leave and go to San Francisco. Anselm and I hung out at Boulange in Cole Valley for about 1/2 an hour while Cyndi shwod a flat to some prospective tenants. After that we went to the Vigil service at church. The priest who heard my confession asked me "is that it?" as though I hadn't sinned enough should come back after I'd done something really bad.. I know he didn't mean it that way but that's the way it sounded. I'm still smiling about it.

Then this morning was Divine liturgy. I hadn't slept well the night before (blanket malfunctions) and was having trouble being attentive. I didn't really get into it until the Litany of Fervrent Supplication.
We said goodbye to our good friend Vasilios today. He is moving to Korea. He converted from the Vinyard about 6 years ago. I'll miss him. I think this makes me the lone former Pentecostal in my parish.

This afternoon I went grocery shopping and then Cyndi and I cooked together. (It is so nice that she is home in the evenings now.)

After dinner I read out loud to her and she folded the clean laundry. Right now am drinking a belgian ale. It is extremely yummy.

If you are interested, Next weekend will be another busy one at church.
Friday: 6 p.m. : Great Vespers served by Bishop Tikhon
Saturday 9:30 a.m. Hierarchical Divine Liturgy with Ordination to the Holy Diaconate
Saturday 6:00 p.m. Vigil
Sunday 9:30 a.m. Heirarchical Divine Liturgy with Ordination to the Holy Presbyterate
The sunday after that, Cyndi and I are cooking for the parish.

When you were in Disney Land did you ride the Twilight Zone elevator ride? If so, what did you think?

Have you given any more thought to my post of 1:20 p.m. on May 28?



Friday, June 11, 2004

GIN UPDATE!!!!!!!!

Sir Robert Burnett's has a bit of a sharp tast to it, indicating it might be cheap. But it was free, so I'll deal with it
A couple of quick comments on your fashion tips.

You say that jeans are only for manual labor. Now I know why you don't have any
Penny loafers are also appropriate for backpack trips, if you recall

When have you ever used your tie as a belt??? That must've been SOME party that I missed

By the way, Anselm and the snail remind me of the two of us on the backpack trip. Hint: I'm playing the Anselm role

Where did you go to dinner in Sf?? You know I like hearing these things.

Thanks for the Colson bit. Very encouraging.
One of the great things about Ronald Reagan that I will alway remember is that he never took his jacket off in the Oval Office because he had such great respect for it. Clinton, on the other hand, took more that his jacket off
Well, guess who is back from So Cal??? (Hint: it's me) ANd, as always, you've left me a load of things to look at. I'll get to some of them tonight, but I want to tell you about our trip.

SHe is still down visiting with her parents and is flying home tomorrow afternoon with Caleb. In the meantime, I get to do some of MY stuff. For example, I'm at the computer eating a piece of Petrale Sole and listening to Merle Haggard. By the way, if you've never heard him do 'A Place To Fall Apart', you need to find it. A little later I'm going to make a Martini with Sir Robert Burnett's gin. My brother gave it to me. It's about half full (I'm starting to sound like Hemingway, I know) When he had his hip replacement surgery, my dad went down to help out for a few days, and got this bottle of gin to make Martinis. Sometimes my dad will buy the most excellent spirits, and other times it's the cheap stuff. ALso, I've never heard of Sir Robert Burnett's, so I have no idea if it's really cheap or really good. I'll let you know once I've tried it.

But, anyway, the marathon. Christa did GREAT!! She finished in 6:43, which is pretty good for a firsttimer. ALthough she is the one who did the running, I felt as if I were the one who got the workout!! She had a prescribed course to follow. I, on the other hand, felt like I was in the movie 'Twister' (about tornado chasers) I was driving all over San Diego, parking and then trying to rush over to where she should be just before she gets there. I met her at the beginning, and Miles 10, 13,20 and 23. I did miss getting to the finish line on time because that's where everyone else was and it was on a military base, so there was extra security to go through.

We then did Disneyland the next day because it was her sister's birthday. Caleb's first trip also, and he did pretty well. He LOVED "It's A SMall World". He was utterly fascinated by everything. Well, most everything. He and Donald Duck did not get along too well, and there's a classic picture to go along with it.
A few minutes ago I read a report in the Washington Times about mourners filing past President Reagan's coffinin shorts, flip-flops, and t-shirts. This is further evidence of the sartorial stupidity of our culture. I just want to ask, when was President reagan ever seen in shorts, a t-shirt and flip flops? Never. And the only time he ever wore blue jeans was when he was chopping wood or clearing brush. He was wearing jeans as they are supposed to be worn, as work clothes. Hmmmm. I remember when I was in the 5th grade I saw a picture of President Hoover fishing in a trout stream. Do you know what he was wearing? A tie. That is what he was wearing, damn it. And he looked pretty sharp. As I recall, the jacket he was wearing was tweed and he was crowned with a jaunty sports cap, wicker creel on one hip. He respected fish enough to dress for them. But apparantley the mourners don't respect President Reagan enough to dress for him.

So, these are my rules for men's fashion:

1. Only wear jeans when performing manual labor.
2. Athletic shoes, no matter how much they cost, who's logo is on them, how comfortable they may be, are only for wear while engaged in athletic endeavor,
3. Men should only wear shirts with collars. T-shirts are underwear.
4. flip-flops are only appropriate in public showers.
5. Ties should be tied with one of three knots: Windsor, 4-in-hand, Half Windsor, unless you are wearing a bow tie, in which case, you tie it like you are tying your shoes.
6. Cufflinks with inlaid mother of pearl, onyx, or opal should only be worn with tuxedos
7. Never wear suspenders (braces) and a belt at the same time. If you can't even trust your pants, how is anyone going to trust you?
9. White socks: unless they are silk AND you are in the tropics AND you are wearing white oxfords, a white panama hat, white trousers AND smoking a big cigar YOU ARE WRONG!
10. When should you wear a tie? Whenever you are in public and not expecting to have to play a game of pick-up football. (Keep a rugby shirt in the trunk of your car for unforseen sporting events)
11. When is is okay to wear penny loafers? Whenever your jacket and trousers are different colors and neither of them is black.
12. Oxfords vs. Loafers vs. Pumps.
Oxfords: Fine for all occasions, unless they are two-tone or wingtip. Two tone is appropriate for play activities, such as taking the kids to the boardwalk or to the zoo. Wingtips are appropriate for all occasions before 5 p.m.
Loafers: I don't like loafers, except penny loafers. See rule 11 for penny loafers.
Pumps: Only with a tuxedo. Patent leather and/or velvet only
13. Button Down Collars: Not with suits. Preferably with khakis or cords. They are casual shirts and really should not be worn by men older than 35.
14. Collar stays: Plastic, no. Metal, yes. You do not want that collar to move. An immovable collar tells everyone who sees you that you rule your clothes, they do not rule you.
15. White shirts. They go with everything. Keep several in your closet at all times.
16. Short pants. Fine for southern Florida and the torrid zone. Outside of those locales. please try to limit their wear to the backyard.
17. Trousers: If you are portly pull them up so that the waist line is at the place of the greatest circumerence of the trunk. If you are not a man of corpulent size then the waistband of your trousers should be ever so slightly above your hip bones.
18. Navy blazers. Yes you should have at least one. For casual occasions combine them with a white shirt, striped tie, khaki trousers, & brown shoes. For more dressy occasions wear the blazer over a white shirt, solid tie, grey flannel pants and black oxfords. Unless you are a member of a regiment, sporting club, or some other organization that maintains formal membership do not sew any patches or crests on your blazer. To do so is pretentious.
19. Rings: Liberace is dead. Each hand gets one ring. Additionally, the right hand gets a pinkie ring if you are a mobster or a member of Phi Theta Kappa.
20. Tie tacks are useful and elegant. However, they are easily lost. (I have a friend who lost a 1 carat diamond tie tack.) I recommend not wearing a tie tack you can not afford to replace.
21. ID bracelets. Do you forget who you are? No? Then don't wear them. Your a man. Do not forget that. Everything you wear should say: "I know the score." ID bracelets say, "um, who am I?"
22. Camel hair, tweed, courduroy: In the northern hemisphere they should not be worn between Easter (variable) and Constitution Day (Sept 17).
23. Seesucker may only be worn between Memorial Day and Labor Day but not on either day.
24. Unless you are an orthodox monk or cleric, the rule for hair and beards is as follows: Short hair: any beard length is appropriate. Long hair: Short beard. (Think Charles I)
25. If you take off your tie and wear it as a belt you had better start singing and dancing, or at least be shaking martinis.
26. Pastel colored trousers: Only for men over age 55, or on a golf course.
27. Hats. If you are going to wear a hat remember these rules: A) Straw hats have same date constraints as seersucker. B) If anything you are wearing is brown you must wear a brown hat. c) If nothing you are wearing is brown, you must wear a grey or black hat. C) Baseball caps are for baseball players. D) Cowboy hats are for cowboys.
28. Boots are for cowboys, soldiers, and construction workers. They are for people engaged in manual labor. See rule #1.
29. Always wear a jacket and tie in public.
30. Always wear a black tie (not a bow tie) to funerals and wakes.
31. "Formal" on an invitation = White tie, white vest, and tails. (unless it is before 11 a.m. in which case it means morning clothes.
32. "Semi-Formal" on an invitation = Tuxedo with any color of tie and vest (or cumberbund).
33. "Casual" on an invitation = tie and jacket. (or even a suit if it is a business party; which is really a work event, not a social event.)



Thursday, June 10, 2004

As I write this, the little boy is sitting at the bottom of the steps watching a snail crawl slowly by. He points at it every few seconds and says "Go!".

Last night we went to SF to have dinner with my wife's sister and her husband. It was a good time.

Here is a little article my priest (I know you know he was Russian, but I don't think you know he was a Communist before he met Jesus) sent me this morning:

The Question of Good and Evil

Chuck Colson

June 8, 2004

This past weekend, an historian remarked that the twentieth century in America will be divided into two eras. The first half of the century will have been defined by Franklin Roosevelt and the second half by Ronald Reagan.

I did not know Reagan well, but on the few occasions we met, I was struck by his personal gentleness and his compassion. He loved to tell the story of a ministry that we have been involved in, Agape House in Jefferson City, Missouri, which houses people when they come to visit their family members in the nearby prison. He would talk about Agape House with a bit of a lump in his throat. He honestly cared.

But that's not the reason he will define the second half of the twentieth century. He will define it because he had the boldness to make a sharp break with American foreign policy by calling evil by its right name. Whether it came from a well formed Christian worldview or from his unfailing intuition, Reagan defined good and evil in a way that reflected Christian truth, and this is what changed the course of history.

I was with Richard Nixon as he tried to navigate through an unpopular war in Southeast Asia and played the Chinese and the Soviets against one another to keep the communist bloc from uniting. We were tough with our military response in Vietnam but at the same time offered all kinds of goodies to the Soviets.

We believed that we needed to come to an understanding with the Soviets, to control the arms race, to co-exist without the constant threat of destroying one another, and to de-escalate the Cold War. Nixon knew that the Russians were willing to outspend us on arms, and he was not getting the support he needed from Congress. The best policy, we determined, was d?tente: Try to make agreements and stabilize the balance of power in the world.

President Ford embraced and even advanced exactly the same policy. So did President Carter.

But when Reagan was elected, all of that changed. He started talking about the "Evil Empire." At one time I thought he was being overly simplistic and said so in Christianity Today. But he was right; I was wrong.

Reagan dared to challenge the Soviets on the basis of morality-good versus evil. Freedom and democracy were good, tyranny and communism evil. And so at the Berlin Wall, Reagan challenged Soviet tyranny with the unforgettable words, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" And it came down, and the Iron Curtain came down along with it.

When I was in the Soviet Union in 1990, I met with groups of dissidents, mostly Christians who had been underground. We could see then that the Soviet Union was crumbling, and I asked everyone I met the same question: "What is causing the demise of the Soviet Union?" Every dissident gave me the same one-word answer: "Reagan."
It's part of Reagan's enduring heritage as well that President George W. Bush has completely embraced this Reaganesque and distinctly Christian view of the world. As the greatest of all dissidents, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, pointed out, we in the comfortable West have lost our sense of good and evil and of world struggle. We've abandoned our Christian worldview and become content with our materialistic abundance and the ease it purchases. But in the gulags they never lost sight of good and evil, and to his everlasting credit, neither did Ronald Reagan.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Four things:

1. Wine Recommendation. Yester day I drank a 2002 Crane Lake Cabernet Sauvignon. Full of flavor, not overpowering, no pucker effect.

2. Cool quote from a Church Father: "The Holy Orthodox Church has never perceptibly changed from Apostolic times, and, therefore, no one can go astray in finding out what She teaches. Like Her Lord and Master, though at times surrounded with human malaria-which He in His mercy pardons-She is the same yesterday, and today, and forever the mother and safe deposit of the truth as it is in Jesus "
- St Raphael of Brooklyn

3. Still waiting to see what you do with my post of 1:20 p.m. on May 28.

4. No new pregnancy to announce yet, but we have chosen St. Zoya to be her heavenly patron, and thus lend her a name if the child is a girl. No progress to report on a boy's name.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Read two interesting things today.

1) In Partly Cloudy Patriot, Sarah Vowell writes about groing up in rugged Montanta but now living a sissified life in Manhattan. She knows that she should be more like Teddy Roosevelt and lead a more rugged life, but she really likes sitting in a comfy leather chair and watching HBO in her New York apartment. Reminds me of the comforts of sin. We see the benefits of righteousness, but they are hard work. Sin is easy, and comfortable.

2) I've been thinking about how the two times I have seen my bishop I didn't say anything to him. But what am I supposed to say to a bishop? He has already blessed me. He has already served me the body and blood of Jesus. Well, today in the Sayings of the Desert Fathers I read this:
"Three fathers used to go and visit blessed Anthony every year and two of them used to discuss their thoughts and the salvation of their souls with him, but the third always remained silent and did not ask him anything. After a long time Abba Anthony said to him, 'You often come here to see me, but never ask me anything,' to which the other replied,'It is enough for me to see you, Father."

My co-religionst, James is talking about death and hell on his blog. He thinks that instead of asking "Did he/she know the Lord" it is more sensible to ask this question: "Now that he/she obviously knows the Lord, how will they respond given who they are and who they have become?"

Wow, that is a scarry question. I predict terror. Will I be like wax? Straw? The chaff that is blown away. Can't presume anything. I know my heart. My deeds are not much better. Not much gold here. I better start working on theosis a little harder. I am so happy it is a fast time again. What did the Prophet King David say? Ah yes 'purge me'. That is what the fast is for. But even when I keep it with my body (Ha! like I even did that today.) I break it in my mind.

I know, Jeff, that you are going to think this is guilt talking. It isn't. It is clear sightedness. I see a little bit what I am. I see a little bit what God is. I am afraid. If I run to sin now, what will I do when I die?

I used to wonder why we sing "many years" to people in our church. I think it is because we know that real repentence takes time. None of us wants to die before we have repented. At least I don't.

Monday, June 07, 2004

How was the Marathon? Did she finish? Is she okay? You know the first guy who did a Marathon died. They are not safe.

Have you given much thought to my post of 1:20 p.m. on May 28? There is a lot of stuff there waiting for a response.
Have you ever wanted to know how the USAF plans to defend us? Or attack someone else? Same thing, really. Here is how. Can't you just see some young O-2 getting all excited about putting together a powerpoint presentation for the J-3?
Friday night I went to my kuma's daughter's HS graduation. It is a special program for 40 students (20 seniors, 20 juniors) from the Santa Clara Unified school district. It is called middle college.

Saturday: I don't remember what we did during the day but on saturday afternoon we went to SF. Cyndi had to show a house in Cole Valley. While she was doing that Anselm and I sat at a side walk table at Boulange. I had a large capuccino (served in a bowl.) He had a orangina and pain au chocolat. It was all good.

When Cyndi was through we went to Flax to by a present for her sister. Then off to church. But we forgot that one of the hated events was happening. Yes, it was the Union Street Festival. Parking was not possible. So after a couple of circuits we went home.

On Sunday morning we did not brave the parking situation again, so we went to church at St. Lawrence's in Felton. We saw a bumper sticker for their boys rugby team. It said "He who bleeds with me today shall be my brother." Very cool.


Remarks at an Ecumenical Prayer Breakfast in Dallas, Texas

August 23, 1984

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, very much. And, Martha Weisend, thank you very much. And I could say that if the morning ended with the music we have just heard from that magnificent choir, it would indeed be a holy day for all of us.

It's wonderful to be here this morning. The past few days have been pretty busy for all of us, but I've wanted to be with you today to share some of my own thoughts.

These past few weeks it seems that we've all been hearing a lot of talk about religion and its role in politics, religion and its place in the political life of the Nation. And I think it's appropriate today, at a prayer breakfast for 17,000 citizens in the State of Texas during a great political convention, that this issue be addressed.

I don't speak as a theologian or a scholar, only as one who's lived a little more than his threescore ten -- which has been a source of annoyance to some -- [laughter] -- and as one who has been active in the political life of the Nation for roughly four decades and now who's served the past 3\1/2\ years in our highest office. I speak, I think I can say, as one who has seen much, who has loved his country, and who's seen it change in many ways.

I believe that faith and religion play a critical role in the political life of our nation -- and always has -- and that the church -- and by that I mean all churches, all denominations -- has had a strong influence on the state. And this has worked to our benefit as a nation.

Those who created our country -- the Founding Fathers and Mothers -- understood that there is a divine order which transcends the human order. They saw the state, in fact, as a form of moral order and felt that the bedrock of moral order is religion.

The Mayflower Compact began with the words, ``In the name of God, amen.'' The Declaration of Independence appeals to ``Nature's God'' and the ``Creator'' and ``the Supreme Judge of the world.'' Congress was given a chaplain, and the oaths of office are oaths before God.

James Madison in the Federalist Papers admitted that in the creation of our Republic he perceived the hand of the Almighty. John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, warned that we must never forget the God from whom our blessings flowed.

George Washington referred to religion's profound and unsurpassed place in the heart of our nation quite directly in his Farewell Address in 1796. Seven years earlier, France had erected a government that was intended to be purely secular. This new government would be grounded on reason rather than the law of God. By 1796 the French Revolution had known the Reign of Terror.

And Washington voiced reservations about the idea that there could be a wise policy without a firm moral and religious foundation. He said, ``Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man (call himself a patriot) who (would) labour to subvert these . . . finest [firmest]\1\ (FOOTNOTE) props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere Politician . . . (and) the pious man ought to respect and to cherish (religion and morality).'' And he added, ``. . . let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion.''

(FOOTNOTE) \1\White House correction.

I believe that George Washington knew the City of Man cannot survive without the City of God, that the Visible City will perish without the Invisible City.

Religion played not only a strong role in our national life; it played a positive role. The abolitionist movement was at heart a moral and religious movement; so was the modern civil rights struggle. And throughout this time, the state was tolerant of religious belief, expression, and practice. Society, too, was tolerant.

But in the 1960's this began to change. We began to make great steps toward secularizing our nation and removing religion from its honored place.

In 1962 the Supreme Court in the New York prayer case banned the compulsory saying of prayers. In 1963 the Court banned the reading of the Bible in our public schools. From that point on, the courts pushed the meaning of the ruling ever outward, so that now our children are not allowed voluntary prayer. We even had to pass a law -- we passed a special law in the Congress just a few weeks ago to allow student prayer groups the same access to schoolrooms after classes that a young Marxist society, for example, would already enjoy with no opposition.

The 1962 decision opened the way to a flood of similar suits. Once religion had been made vulnerable, a series of assaults were made in one court after another, on one issue after another. Cases were started to argue against tax-exempt status for churches. Suits were brought to abolish the words ``under God'' from the Pledge of Allegiance and to remove ``In God We Trust'' from public documents and from our currency.

Today there are those who are fighting to make sure voluntary prayer is not returned to the classrooms. And the frustrating thing for the great majority of Americans who support and understand the special importance of religion in the national life -- the frustrating thing is that those who are attacking religion claim they are doing it in the name of tolerance, freedom, and openmindedness. Question: Isn't the real truth that they are intolerant of religion? [Applause] They refuse to tolerate its importance in our lives.

If all the children of our country studied together all of the many religions in our country, wouldn't they learn greater tolerance of each other's beliefs? If children prayed together, would they not understand what they have in common, and would this not, indeed, bring them closer, and is this not to be desired? So, I submit to you that those who claim to be fighting for tolerance on this issue may not be tolerant at all.

When John Kennedy was running for President in 1960, he said that his church would not dictate his Presidency any more than he would speak for his church. Just so, and proper. But John Kennedy was speaking in an America in which the role of religion -- and by that I mean the role of all churches -- was secure. Abortion was not a political issue. Prayer was not a political issue. The right of church schools to operate was not a political issue. And it was broadly acknowledged that religious leaders had a right and a duty to speak out on the issues of the day. They held a place of respect, and a politician who spoke to or of them with a lack of respect would not long survive in the political arena.

It was acknowledged then that religion held a special place, occupied a special territory in the hearts of the citizenry. The climate has changed greatly since then. And since it has, it logically follows that religion needs defenders against those who care only for the interests of the state.

There are, these days, many questions on which religious leaders are obliged to offer their moral and theological guidance, and such guidance is a good and necessary thing. To know how a church and its members feel on a public issue expands the parameters of debate. It does not narrow the debate; it expands it.

The truth is, politics and morality are inseparable. And as morality's foundation is religion, religion and politics are necessarily related. We need religion as a guide. We need it because we are imperfect, and our government needs the church, because only those humble enough to admit they're sinners can bring to democracy the tolerance it requires in order to survive.

A state is nothing more than a reflection of its citizens; the more decent the citizens, the more decent the state. If you practice a religion, whether you're Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, or guided by some other faith, then your private life will be influenced by a sense of moral obligation, and so, too, will your public life. One affects the other. The churches of America do not exist by the grace of the state; the churches of America are not mere citizens of the state. The churches of America exist apart; they have their own vantage point, their own authority. Religion is its own realm; it makes its own claims.

We establish no religion in this country, nor will we ever. We command no worship. We mandate no belief. But we poison our society when we remove its theological underpinnings. We court corruption when we leave it bereft of belief. All are free to believe or not believe; all are free to practice a faith or not. But those who believe must be free to speak of and act on their belief, to apply moral teaching to public questions.

I submit to you that the tolerant society is open to and encouraging of all religions. And this does not weaken us; it strengthens us, it makes us strong. You know, if we look back through history to all those great civilizations, those great nations that rose up to even world dominance and then deteriorated, declined, and fell, we find they all had one thing in common. One of the significant forerunners of their fall was their turning away from their God or gods.

Without God, there is no virtue, because there's no prompting of the conscience. Without God, we're mired in the material, that flat world that tells us only what the senses perceive. Without God, there is a coarsening of the society. And without God, democracy will not and cannot long endure. If we ever forget that we're one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.

If I could just make a personal statement of my own -- in these 3\1/2\ years I have understood and known better than ever before the words of Lincoln, when he said that he would be the greatest fool on this footstool called Earth if he ever thought that for one moment he could perform the duties of that office without help from One who is stronger than all.

I thank you, thank you for inviting us here today. Thank you for your kindness and your patience. May God keep you, and may we, all of us, keep God.

Thank you.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Are you going to go hug a tree?? Maybe you will even consider backpacking again
Well, have fun in southern California. Hope Christa doesn't get hurt. Today hasn't been to busy. I fed the boy, he fed the suirrel. We're going to go swimming in a few minutes. Later tonight I am going to Anslm's Godmother's daughterter's HS graduation.

I wrote a letter to the president today. Here is what I said to him.




Dear Mr. President,

I am a Republican and a conservative. I have been since I was fourteen years old. When I was too young to vote I got all of my friends who were old enough to vote to register as Republicans and vote for President Reagan. When finally I was old enough to vote, I cast my first vote for your father in his race against Governor of Massachusetts. Even when I was homeless I sacrificed and gave money to Republican candidates for congress. (They all lost, but I have hope that someday Anna Eshoo will be defeated and someone who belives Adam Smith will replace her.) And, of course, I voted for you and will vote for you again. (I always vote pro-life). I say all of this because I want you to know that I am a Republican, a party loyalist, and a lover of liberty, just like you. So when I disagree with you on something, please do not dismiss my words saying, "Ah, he is a Californian from the Bay area, he is not a real Republican".

Mr. President, I am worried about your administration’s environmental and agricultural policies. We are conservatives. That does not mean that we should rape the countryside in pursuit of wealth. It means we should conserve what is good. And as beautiful as our traditions of liberty and the rule of law are the land we live on, the water we drink, the air we breathe and flora and fauna with which we share the continent. I am worried, Mr. President that in you desire to make all Americans richer (something I am for) you will actually make us poorer by destroying, or allowing others to destroy our natural treasures.

Mr. President, you and I are both Christians. You are Methodist. I am Orthodox. But we read the same Bible. We know that God created the world and gave our ancestor Adam authority over it. Adam was set in a garden. Not to destroy, not to abuse, but to govern and tend. We are never going to get it totally right. But we can try to do it better than we are. And though your desire to make us all richer is a good desire, it is important to remember our King’s teaching: "The love of money is the root of all evil."

Specifically, I am worried about pollution trading. It makes sense for some pollutants, such as Carbon Dioxide, which disperse around the planet in a matter of weeks. But it makes no sense with heavier materials, such as mercury, that stay in one place and make "hot spots". Right now your administration is promoting the trading of pollution credits for mercry pollution from coal burning power plants. This is a very bad idea. Mercury kills. It should not be traded. It should be banned. Will there be economic dislocation? Yes. But if that is the cost of preventing birth defects, protecting the supply of fresh water, and guaranteeing edible fish for our grandchildren, I think it is a fair price to pay.

I know there is an argument to be made for the rights of the power generators to engage in their business. But I remember a very moving speech by Pat Buchanan (No, I never voted for him). Perhaps you remember it, too. In that speech he said, "There is no right to do wrong". I agree with him. There is no right to pollute the planet with mercury, pollute the food supply with GMOs, cut down forests faster than they can grow back, pollute trout streams or, pave over the wet-lands that filter our water and provide homes for migratory water fowl. All of these things are evil. They destroy what God has made, what He called good.

Mr. President, please take the long-sighted approach and save our natural resources. Because, even though there is no right to do wrong, there is a duty to do what is right.

Respectfully,

Matt

Well, I'm glad we're agreeing on something This will be my last post until i get bck from So Cal and the marathon.

It seems that most Christians will fall into one ditch or the other. On one hand, there are those Christians who believe that Jesus has done it all to the extent that they need to do nothing at all. They love Eph 2:1-9 but tend to use the black highlighter on vs 10. On the other hand, there are those who continually beat themselves up over their lack of good works, feeling that they are not 'good enough' for God. Certainly there are ascetic people in history who have fallen into this error. But perhaps the more common error is those who don't feel they can come to Christ because they have made such a mess of their lives. God could never accept them because they have been too bad or have sinned too much.
I read the Eaugene Peterson piece. Thanks. And yes, you are right. That is very similar to the Orthodox way. You know, the Orthodox do not say that we are right and everyone else is totally wrong. We recognize that God has revealed himself to all human beings. Some have a greater understanding than others. The budhists have a pretty good understanding of ascetic practice. They do not know what it is for, but they have a decent grasp on how to do it. Muslims have a really good understanding of the transcendence of God. But they know exceedingly little of His love. So it stands to reason that somone who reads the Bible and pays attention will learn how to pray. On this... I don't know...Cooperation(?)... Eugene Peterson is pretty close to , if not right on, the bills eye.
I just wish that I held up my end of the endeavor as well as God holds up His end.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

The following is from Eugene Peterson (John Hanneman's favorite author). I ran across this in his book THE CONTEMPLATIVE PASTOR and it's one of those things that puts a new perspective on things. I daresay it sounds almost Orthodox (if I am beginning to understand Orthodoxy correctly) I also very much agree with what he says. It's one of the longest things I've ever put on the blog, but I need to do the whole thing so it will make sense. It deals with him studying Greek and finally coming to understand the 'Middle Voice' tense.


Eugene Peterson and the 'Middle Voice'

At the time I thought only that I had nailed down an elusive piece of Greek grammar. Years later I realized that I had grasped a large dimensin of being and a way of prayer. I was the slowest in the class but by no means the only person to have difficulty coming to terms with the middle voice. Active and passive voices I understood, but middle was a new kid on the block. When I speak in the active voice, I initiate an action that goes someplace else: I counsel my friend". When I speak in the passive voice, I receive the action that another initiates: "I am counseled by my friend". When I speak in the middle voice, I actively participate in the results of an action that another initiates: "I take counsel". Most of our speech is divided between active and passive; either I act or I am acted upon. But there are moments when such a contrast is not satisfactory: two wills operate, neither to the exclusion of the other, neither canceling out the other, each respecting the other.

My grammer book said, "The middle voice is that use of the verb which describes the subjects as participating in the results of the action." I read that now, and it reads like a description of CHristian prayer-"the subject as participating in the results of the action." I do not control the action; that is a pagan concept of prayer, putting the gods to work by my incantations or rituals. I am not controlled by the action; that is a Hindu concept of prayer in which I slump passively into the impersonal and fated will of gods and goddesses. I enter into the action begun by another; my Creating and Saving Lord, and find myself participating in the results of the action. I neither do it nor have it done to me; I will to participate in what is willed.

Prayer and spirituality feature participation, the complex participatin of God and the human, His will and ours. We do not abandon outselves to the stream of grace and drown in the ocean of love, losing identity. We do not pull the strings that activate God's operations in our lives, subjecting God to our assertive identity. We neither manipulate God (active voice) nor are manipulated by God (passive voice) We are involved in the action and participate in the results but do not control or define it (middle voice). Prayer takes place in the middle voice.

But the farther we travel from Eden, the less use we have for the middle voice, until it finally atrophies for lack of use. We either take charge of our destinies (active voice) or let others take charge and slip into animal passivity before forces too great for us (active voice). The gospel restores the middle voice. We learn to live with praying- willing involvement in an action that we do not originate. We become subjects in an action in which we are personally involved.

At our human and Christian best we are not fascists barking out orders to God and His creatures. At out human and Christian best we are not quietists dumbly submissive before fate. At our human and Christian best we pray in the middle voice at the center between active and passive, drawing from them as we have need and occasion but always uniquely and artistically ourselves, creatures adoring God and being graced by Him, "participating in the results of the action"


It's been a busy week without much time to get to blogging. Christa and I are leaving bright and early Sat morning to drive to So Cal for the marathon. We'll be back on Tuesday afternoon. We may get a chance to see George, but it is looking less likely all the time. By the way, you might want to call George. He may have some news for you
Wow what a day, so far. Two tenants had their cars vandalized. Two refrigerators stopped working. Tile had to be replaced in a bathroom. One garbage disposal broke.
And I have to evict someone for smoking pot.
On the lighter side, the turkey is ioin the oven now. (Slow cooking at 200 degrees.) I am using a spice rub of cardomom, clove, cinaman, cayenne, and dry mustard.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Just got home 1/2 hour ago. Boy long long long long day. After the test went grocery shopping. Picked up Cyndi at the train station. Went to dinner at Tao Tao. Very excellent chicked with snow peas. The little boy preferred the fried wontons. O, Man! It was so hard to resist the fried wontons!

FYI: I'm brining a turkey breast over night.
Along the same vein of my last post is this item by a guy who read C.S. Lewis when he was a campus minister at Stanford back in the 1970's.
Remember that Army recruiting campaign from the 1980's : "We do more before 9 a.m. than most people do all day". I feel like that today. Been up since 5. Took Cyndi to the train station in San Jose, dropped some papers off at my boss's house in Santa Clara, rushed back here to do a pre-move in walk-through with a new tenant, morning prayers and lampada maintenence, cooked breakfast for the little boy, organized my homework, called the IRS about a tax problem, talked to my mom about my dad's doctor and how I think he needs a new one, got the little boy dressed, made coffee, read to the little boy. I'm ready for a nap!!!

Remeber back during Advent when Cyndi and I read the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis? Well, I've wondering about all the Orthodox stuff I came across in his books. What was his exposure to the OIrthodox Church? I came across a little information on the website of a man who does not like C.S. Lewis and who thinks Evangelical Protestants are being taken to Hell by C.S. Lewis's writings:

"Q: I have not read the whole book [JACK: C.S. Lewis and His Times, by George Sayer, a biography about C.S. Lewis], but someone drew my attention to a certain section describing a holiday where George Sayer, C.S. Lewis and C.S. Lewis' wife, Joy, went off to Greece. C.S. Lewis attended some Greek liturgiesand a Greek wedding. I was quite surprised that Sayer quotes C.S. Lewis as telling him that of all the liturgies he'd ever attended, he preferred the Greek Orthodox liturgy to anything that he had seen in the West, Protestant or Roman Catholic. Then he went on to say that of all the priests and monks that he had ever had the opportunity to meet, the Orthodox priests that he ran across in his sojourn in Greece were the holiest, most spiritual men he had ever met. C.S. Lewis referred to a certain look they had, a sense.
I know you are a scholar and an expert on C.S. Lewis, so I'd like your comments. I find it odd to read this pro-Orthodox statement stuck in the middle of a biography being sold by a Calvinistic, Protestant publishing company. This brings up a point: isn't it strange that C.S. Lewis is an "evangelical hero" when he certainly cannot be described as Protestant, let alone "evangelical" in the classical sense?"

"A: Howard: You've put your finger on a very, very interesting point. I had an article in a Roman Catholic magazine called CRISIS several months back on this very point: on C.S. Lewis and his evangelical "clientele." Not only is it an irony, it is a contradiction. Lewis would have been appalled by the evangelical adulation of his work. He would have been horrified, even enraged by a lot of what he would see today in American evangelical circles. He was not a free church evangelical. C.S. Lewis was a sacramentalist, an Anglican who really did not want to pursue the ecclesiological question further than he did. He resisted, rather angrily sometimes, the Church questions. But he was not at all attracted to Protestant evangelicalism, or even Anglicanism. Actually I can bring it in closer than just George Sayer's speaking about C.S. Lewis' attraction to the Greek Orthodox liturgy. Lewis himself, and I probably can find the quote for you, in one of his letters, I think it's in LETTERS TO MALCOLM, Lewis speaks of having been at an Orthodox liturgy and he said he loved it. He said some stood, some sat, some knelt and one old man crawled around the floor like a caterpillar! He absolutely loved it! "



I am going to bed now. It has been a nutso day. Have a midterm tomorrow. I think I am ready. Its on the endocrine and cardiopulmonary systems. Oh went to Barnes and Noble to get that book. They didn't have it. But they did have a CD called hooked on Cartoons. It contains all the classical music used in Disney and WB cartoons. The little boy has never seen cartoons but he loves the music. Oddly, the one peice he doesn't see thrilled by is the William Tell Overture. But he really likes the Ride of the Valkyries.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Hey, Did you see that Ronnie Lorenzo's boy, Anthony Pellicano is in trouble?
Well, its a pretty nice morning. The workmen are reparing a broken pipe (Have I mentioned that I hate old galvanized pipes?), I just finished a log entry. I'm drinking coffee while the little boy feeds almonds to a squirrel that lives on the property. The squirrel, a largish Western Gray is pretty brave. It even comes inside the office sometimes.

For breakfast, the boy had sliced braeburn apple, my own freshly-ground peanut butter (Here is a recipe, but I prefer it without the added oil. Just pure peanut goodness.), and mozzarella cheese for breakfast. I had 6 oz tomato juice, psyllium husks (Having watched my mother suffer for the last 15 years I have a developed great fear of diabetes.), and a handful of almonds.

I have a friend who read the Da Vinci Code and said something about how she thinks Jesus could have been married. I was shocked. I didn't know how to respond. I looked for a refutation of the Da Vinci Code written by an Orthodox but couldn't find one. So I wrote to the Orthodox Question Box to get advice. (Thanks for posting the the link, Huw.) Lo and behold, a hierarch, Bishop Savas of Troas wrote back to me. He said there are several good books but said this one was best. I think the little boy and I are going to walk over to Barnes and Noble today and pick up a copy for my friend.

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