Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Noticias! Noticias! Mas Noticias!

Jeff and I talked on the phone. To those of you who've contacted me to let me know I've been a butt, thank you.

Over the next couple of days, this blog will be transformed. Our friends Bryan and George will be joining us.

It ought to be fun.

I never feel like we cover the same ground over and over. However, I have often felt that just when we get started on something you disappear or change the subject.  Or when you do adress something you throw out a statement and offer no support for it.  I often feel like you just want to do witty banter, as though we are at a blogosphere cocktail party.  That is not what I am interested in.

A couple times you've said I don't question the teaching of the Church.  My questioning began when I was a Protestant.  You don't seem to realize that for the most part, I believed Orthodox doctrine before I knew anything about the Orthodox Church.  For instance, it was during the late 90's that I began to believe in aposotlic succession and the real presence of Jesus in the eucharist. 

But if you are too busy, you are too busy.  I'm sorry you've felt pressure to be part of something in which you weren't interested.

Oh, and I'm very proud to be a Protestant.  No, I am not my own Pope, etc, but rather read and study the Scriptures and follow Jesus.  But I've also got a discerning spirit, where I can compare what an individual or a church does, copare it to what Scripture says and have a pretty good idea whether they are correct or not.  i find it to bd a bit of a pity that you do not examine or question anything the Orthodox church does or believes but just accept it blindly.

Yeah, two blogs would probably be too much.  But I'm thinking that maybe I'd want to concentrate on the other one rather than this one.  I'd look forward to the interaction with Bryan and George.

For me, this blog seems to be ending its usefulness.  There are a couple of reasons for this.  The first is that your expectations for me on it are not what my expectations are.  i blog when I can and don't have time to go into depth on everything.  You often sound peeved or frustrated that i don't blog as much as you.  Well, I do what I can and that's about it.

Secondly, I'm just losing interest in it.  It seems that we go over  lot of the same ground over and over and  at times it becomes drudgery for me.  maybe i don't put the effort in that you expect because I'm not as into it as you are.

Anyway...what do you think? (yes, I know you think sundried tomatos are a waste of good sunshine)

Jeff, I am worried that if you try to do two blogs you will do neither of them well. Already you have trouble keeping up/paying attention to this one. This is evident by your infrequent posts and misreading (as though you skim) of my posts. Tell me what you are thinking. Why do you want to do two blogs if just one is so difficult for you?

Also you ought to check out the comments to my post of 12:12 am on July 21. It is interesting to me that our blog serves as a forum for other people to have conversations.
Regarding the woman writing her disertation on dibetes and demons: As Luther taught, every Christian is their own pope and council. How can you a say she's whacko? Oh, yeah, I forgot, you are your own pope and council, too. You are both well within the Protestant tradition.
I haven't had a chance to do much here recently because of my summer class.  In fact, from Sunday night to tonight I will have Caleb will have seen me only for about 15 minutes (of course I've seen him in his crib asleep, but not the other way around)

Another example of some of the way some of us Protestants can be a bit out in left field.  There is a girl in my class who is working on her PHd and is doing her thesis on the idea that diabetes is a spiritual condition caused by demons.  I'm surprised Fuller is letting her do that.  There are certain Pentecostal Charismatics that remind me of someone's crazy Uncle Louie who you want to lock in the attic when company is over.  That said, she is a great woman and a joy to have in class.

Fr. R.J. Neuhaus says about the Roman Catholics ordaining women,"...it would be the end of any hope for reconciliation with Orthodoxy, for, if there is anything certain in history, it is certain that the Orthodox will never ordain women",in an essay published in the current edition of First Things.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

For some strange reason, Dems think these photos are embarassing to Sen. Kerry. Proabably no one dislike the Dems as much as I do, and probably noone likes pointing out their failures more than I do, but I can't figure out why anyone thinks this is a big deal. I mean, Senators go on tours of Gov't facilities all the time. I remember a congressman or something going through Air Assault School when I was at Ft. Campbell. Nobody thought that was weird. We thought it was dangerous for the politician because he wasn't physically fit, but heck, nobody thought it was wrong. What I think is that the Dems are looking for something they can label "Republican Dirty Tricks".
Something written by St. Tikhon (He is one of the patrons of my parish):

"If someone should say that true faith is the correct holding and confession of correct dogmas, he would be telling the truth, for a believer absolutely needs the Orthodox holding and confession of dogmas. But this knowledge and confession by itself does not make a man a faithful and true Christian. The keeping and confession of Orthodox dogmas is always to be found in true faith in Christ, but the true faith of Christ is not always to be found in the confession of Orthodoxy... The knowledge of correct dogmas is in the mind, and it is often fruitless, arrogant, and proud... The true faith in Christ is in the heart, and it is fruitful, humble, patient, loving, merciful, compassionate, hungering and thirsting for righteousness; it withdraws from worldly lusts and clings to God alone, strives and seeks always for what is heavenly and eternal, struggles against every sin, and constantly seeks and begs help from God for this."

Weeee!!!!! I just got my complete Financial Aid package for school! I have to tell you something, first. A couple of days ago I found out the the IRS is after me for 2002. It was an error I made that is costing me thousands of dollars. In 2002 it would not have been a problem. But right now it is a huge problem. (I've been reading up on federal prisons.) But, now I will have the money to pay my taxes AND afford day care for my little boy one day a week so I can take a chemistry class!!! I am so relieved!

Thank you God!

Thank you, Mother of God!
Thank you, St. Matthew!
Thank you, St. Nicholas!
Thank you, St. Elizabeth!
Thank you, St. Panteleimon!
Thank you, St. John!

Monday, July 26, 2004

Thinking more about your post of 9:38 this morning. I think that part of the reason the Liturgy does not get stale is that it is something we anticipate all week long. It is the culmination of a week of prayers, especially on the last few days of the week when we pray canons at home and then join with the rest of the church for the Vigil on Saturday night.

Also, about the contents of the liturgy and their effect on me, there is a time during the liturgy, called the anaphora, when the bread and wine are transformed by the Holy Spirit to be the Body and Blood of Jesus. Something else happens right then. I'll give you the text so you can see it yourself. It is electrifying. It is the most amazing thing. I think it is how we approach the cup without getting killed. My comments are in parentheses):

"Priest : Remembering, therefore, this command of the Savior, and all that came to pass for our sake, the cross, the tomb, the resurrection on the third day, the ascension into heaven, the enthronement at the right hand of the Father, and the second, glorious coming we offer to You these gifts from Your own gifts in all and for all.

(Notice that we are remembering things that have not happened. How? During the liturgy we exist not just on earth but in the kingdom of Heaven. We are in Christ. He is eternal and remebers all things even things that have not yet happened in thime. And also notice that we are giving something to God, we are giving him not our corrupt selves, but something he has given to us.)

People: We praise You, we bless You, we give thanks to You, and we pray to You, Lord our God.

Priest: Once again we offer to You this spiritual worship without the shedding of blood, and we ask, pray, and entreat You: send down Your Holy Spirit upon us and upon these gifts here presented.

(Did you catch that? The Holy Spirit does not just come on the bread and wine, He comes upon "us", and He is the Spirit of Life. There can be no staleness where He is. And He is the One who enables us to offer ourselves to God, and offer the Bread and Wine to God.)

And make this bread the precious Body of Your Christ.

People: Amen.

Priest: And that which is in this cup the precious Blood of Your Christ.

People: Amen.

Priest: Changing them by Your Holy Spirit.

People: Amen. Amen. Amen.

(Christ is present! Stale? Are you kidding me? It is the most amazing thing in the Universe, that God would become bread and wine, to be eaten by people. And I am witness to it everytime I am at the Liturgy.)

Jeff, I know you don't read the comments (heck, you harley read what I post.) but Karl saw your question about staleness and directes you to this site. (And after reading it I wish I'd read it a long time ago. The author has been known to me a long time from the Yahoo "Orthodox-Convert" list. I had no idea he had such a well developed web-site.
More filler as we are waiting for you for you to get back to me...

A Lutheran priest from SoCal visited our parish two sundays ago. (He is attending a summer session at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.) We had a nice talk during breakfast after liturgy. He was surprised that I had read Luther's Comentary on Romans ("Most Lutherans don't even read that!") I think he will wind up converting to Orthodoxy. His story kinda remided me of Jaroslav Pelikans. He just realized he'd always been Orthodox. I think that is a little bit like what happened to me. Anyway, here are some Jaroslav Pelikan quotes:

"The only alternative to Tradition is bad tradition."

"I'm aware of it [the modern discomfort with creeds]. I don't share it."

"The interesting thing though is the world is much more pluralistic than it is relativistic. And those are often equated in the secular west."

"If we're going to have wait for one billion Muslims to become relativistic, if that's the way we're going to get religious understanding, we're going to have to fasten our safety belts."

"It is not enough to Christianize Africa, we have to Africanize Christianity."

"There was a Norwegian who loved his wife so much he almost told her."

I love this picture.It never gets old.
I don't know why you are trying to change the subject again. Are you going to reply to that post I spent all night writing?

Nevertheless, I have not experienced the staleness you talk about. In fact, yesterday, I was in tears. But I do not go to church for warm fuzzy feelings. (I stopped being Pentecostal a long time ago. However, as we know from Acts 13:2 and other events in our history, the Holy Spirit speaks in the Liturgy.)

Also, and this is very important, I am not the intended audience for most of the liturgy. The liturgy is the work the church does. Except for the Gospel, Epistle, Beattitudes, and the Sermon (if there is one) the entire liturgy is directed toward God. Just take a look at this one short prayer from the liturgy:

"It is meet and right to sing to You, bless You, praise You, thank You and worship You in all places of Your dominion; for You are God ineffable, incomprehesible, invisible, beyond understanding, existing forever and always the same; You and Your only begotten Son and Your Holy Spirit. You brought us into being out of nothing, and when we fell, You raised us up again. You did not cease doing everything until You led us to heaven and granted us Your kingdom to come. For all these things we thank You and Your only begotten Son and Your Holy Spirit; for all things that we know and do not know, for blessings seen and unseen that have been bestowed upon us. We also thank You for this liturgy which You are pleased to accept from our hands, even though You are surrounded by thousands of Archangels and tens of thousands of Angels, by the Cherubim and Seraphim, six-winged, many-eyed, soaring with their wings,singing the triupmhant song, proclaiming, crying out, and saying: Holy, holy, holy, Lord Sabaoth, heaven and earth are filled with Your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna to God in the highest."

This is Heaven. This is why I was created. It is all I ever want to do. Hopefully, if I finish the race it will be my reward. How can this get stale?

And of course, there is the eucharist. Is it possible to tire of eating the body and blood of Jesus?

Okay, a new question.  This really isn't theological as much as personal.  How do you keep the liturgy fresh to you?  how does it not become something you merely do by rote?  This is one reason why it is highly unlikely that I would ever be in a liturgical church is that a liturgy becomes too repetitive to me.  Remember, I did the liturgy in the Catholic church until college and it got to the point that everything became so repetitive every week that it no longer meant much of anything to me.

How do you keep this from happening to you?

By the way, I'm going to send you Bryan and George's email so we can do the alternative blog also.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

I'm going to try to answer you thoughoughly. It might take some time and a few very long posts. I will always give the time and date of the post of yours to which I am replying.

First, I want to address your post of 3:34 pm yesterday.

It seems that you did not actually read what I wrote about Nicea II and the early history of Icons. If you had read what I wrote you wouldn't have said that I "blatently contradict" myself. Also, I assumed you knew that we do not just pump out doctrinal statements for the sake of keeping copyists happy.

In general, we only define dogma when the Faith is being threatened. For istance, there was no official statement by the whole Church on the relationship between the Father and the Son until Nicea I, no official statement by the whole Church about the relationship between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit until the council of Constantinople, no official statement by the whole church about the dual nature of Jesus until the council of Chalcedon. No official Church-wide statement on Icons until Nicea II. But, all of these doctrines were taught from the founding of the Church. They were all part of the Church's Tradition. But when heretics, such as Arius and Nestorius began teaching contrary to the Tradition it became necessary for the Church to say, "We believe X but we do not believe Y" Thus councils were called and the Holy Faith confirmed.

That is what happened at Nicea II, the most recent of the Ecumenical Councils. The Council did not "create" a new doctrine. Please look again at what I wrote. I try to use words very exactly. I said the council "promulgated" and "decreed" the dogma concerning Holy Ikons. In fact, I actually wrote that the "doctrine was not being invented by the bishops." As I explained previously, the praxis and dogma of venerating icons was ancient by the time the Second Council of Nicea declared that it is a dogma of the Catholic Church. So, I hope you see that I did not "blatently contradict" myself. Please let me know if you do or do not understand this.

Now I will turn my attention to your post of 3:22 pm of yesterday. This is the one that is going to take several posts, over several days for me to answer. But let me jump to the very last thing you said: "By the way, I've given you answers over and over for why Scripture is accurate, objective, and authoritative."

I think that when you write this you are replying to my question of why you believe you are a better interpereter of it than all of the church fathers, and even the early reformers. I am not questioning the authority of the Bible; I am questioning you. You have never answered how you can explain excising several OT books. Until the Reformation, all Christians regarded Tobit, Sirach, the unabriged Esther, etc. as part of the Bible. (Granted, St. Jerome, who came under the influence of some Jews had some questions for a while, but he came around, too.)
So, how do you know you have all the right books in your Bible?
How do you know you are interpereting it correctly when you disagree with Luther, and Zwingli on whether or not Jesus has siblings related by blood? (To say nothing of every single Christian who lived before the reformation.) How do you know you are interpereting the Bible correctly whn you reject baptismal regeneration when you ..... I think I made my point I won't go down the list of all of the ways your interperetation of the Bible differes from the historic Christian Faith. Again, I am not questioning the Bible; I am questioning you.

Now, let me touch, briefly, on Jesus' brothers and sisters. (It is not an argument I enjoy making, because it does not do anything for me. As far as I can tell it doesn't affect my salvation at all. Also, it is a lot of work: digging through a bunch of books just to show you that you're wrong. I still do not know why it is so important to you. This isn't really a big deal to me, except that you seem to think the Church has made an error.) Here is what your wrote:

"Scripture records brothers and sisters of Jesus. Later, you develop the doctrine that Jesus had no brothers and sisters."

The Orthodox Church does not disagree with Holy Scripture. (After all, it was our members who wrote it.) We affirm that Jesus had brothers and sisters. But we do not limit the words "brothers and sisters" to mean only siblings sharing a blood relationship with at least one parent. If I used that definition in my own life I would not be able to call Ken and Mark my brothers. I would not be able to call Rebecca my sister. And, if you don't mind me mentioning it again, you are outside the historic Christian Faith on this. You are even beyond the radicalness of the Reformers.

I don't need to remind you that I used to be a pretty radical Calvinist, myself. I read much of his writings and here are just a few things I came across but somehow never really saw:

Regarding Matthew 1:25 John Calvin maintains in his commentary:
"Those words of Scripture do not mean that after His birth they cohabitated as man and wife..." (John Calvin NT Commentaries Vol. 3, p. 71).

"In the Hebrew manner relatives of any sort are called 'brethren'...It is therefore very ignorant to imagine that Mary had many sons because there are several mentions of Christ's brethren" (John Calvin, NT Commentaries Vol. 3, p. 71).

Ahhhh, but I forget, you are a better interpereter of the Bible than Calvin.

Zwingli, then? You and Zwingli agree on the non-sacramental nature of the the sacraments, perhaps you will also agree with him on Mary? Let's see. Here is what he says: "I firmly believe that Mary, according to the words of the gospel as a pure Virgin brought forth for us the Son of God and in childbirth and after childbirth forever remained a pure, intact Virgin." (Zwingli Opera, Corpus Reformatorum, Berlin, 1905, v. 1, p. 424.)

Bummer, He's probably the one Reformer who's doctrine is most like yours. Too bad he wasn't as good at interpreting the Bible as you are.

Oh, I know, how about something published by that great Evangelical Protestant publisher Thomas Nelson. I think I gave you my copy of Vines Expository Dictionary of Bible Words so you can look this up for yourself if you don't believe it. Here it is: Second, the word for brother (or sister), adelphos (adelpha) in Greek, denotes a brother or sister, or near kinsman. Aramaic and other semitic languages could not distinguish between a blood brother or sister and a cousin, for example. Hence, John the Baptist, a cousin of Jesus (the son of Elizabeth, cousin of Mary) would be called "a brother (adelphos) of Jesus." In the plural, the word means a community based on identity of origin or life. Additionally, the word adelphos is used for (1) male children of the same parents (Mt 1:2); (2) male descendants of the same parents (Acts 7:23); (3) male children of the same mother (Gal 1:19); (4) people of the same nationality (Acts 3:17); (5) any man, a neighbor (Lk 10:29); (6) persons united by a common interest (Mt 5:47); (7) persons united by a common calling (Rev 22:9); (8) mankind (Mt 25:40); (9) the disciples (Mt 23:8); and (10) believers (Mt 23:8)." (From Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Thomas Nelson, Publisher.)

Wow, that is really messed up. Even the good Baptists at Thomas Nelson have been mislead. They should know better than to publish a book that might suggest "brother" can mean something other than siblings sharing a blood relationship with at least one parent. What are they? Crypto-Orthodox or something?

Before I forget, I'd like to get some input from everyone's favorite Church Historian, The onetime heretic (Hey, everyone makes mistakes now and then besides, Arius was really good at interpreting the Bible.), the Bishop of Ceserea, His Grace Eusebius.

As you know from reading Eusibeus' book, "History of the Church" St. Symeon followed St. James as bishop of Jerusalem. (Look it up for yourself. It is at 3:11) Did you notice that he is one of the Lord's relatives? Did you notice what it said about Symeon's parentage? It says he is the son of Cleopas. But what else does it say about him? It says he is the symeon the Gospel mentions. (I really do hope you are looking at this in the book right now.) Now, get out your Bible and take a look at where in the Gospels this man is mentioned. You'll find it in Matthew 13:55.

How can this be? How can can this man be the son of the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the son of cleopas. The answer is simple. Here is how it worked.

1. Joseph and Cleopas are brothers.
2. Cleopas died and left a widow and several children, including Simon
3. The widow, whos name is Mary, goes to live with her husbands Brother, who is St. Joseph.

This is not as difficult to understand as it might seem to you right now. Just take a look at a few verses of Scripture:

Matthew 27:56 - This has Mary the mother of James and Joseph.
Mark 15:40, 16:1 - This has Mary as the mother of James the Less and Joses
John 19:25 . this talks about "his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas"

Now, leaving aside George Foremon who named all of his kids George, it is very unusual to give siblings the same name. So let me reitterate: Mary the Mother of Jesus is the near kinswoman of Mary the wife of cleopas, who is the mother of James and Joses and Simon, et al.

This is further explained in the fragmets of St. Hegesippus. (Died in A.D. 170) But I have a feeling you are not going to read the whole thing so here are the parts that pertain to what I am talking about:

"Some of these heretics, forsooth, laid an information against Symeon the son of Clopas, as being of the family of David, and a Christian. And on these charges he suffered martrydom when he was 120 years old, in the reign of Trajan Caesar, when Atticus was Consular legate in Syria. And it so happened, says the same writer, that, while inquiry was then being made for those belonging to the royal tribe of the Jews, the accusers themselves were convicted of belonging to it. With show of reason it could be said that Symeon was one of those who actually saw and heard the Lord, on the ground of his great age, and also because the Scripture of the Gospels makes mention of Mary the [wife] of Clopas, who, as our narrative has shown already, was his father. The same historian mentions others also, of the family of one of the reputed brothers of the Savior, named Judas, as having survived until this same reign, after the testimony they bore for the faith of Christ in the time of Domitian, as already recorded. He writes as follows: They came, then, and took the presidency of every church, as witnesses for Christ, and as being of the kindred of the Lord. And after profound peace had been established in every church they remained down to the reign of Trajan Caesar: that is, until the time then he who was sprung from an uncle of the Lord, the aforementioned Symeon son of Clopas, was informed against by various heresies, and subjected to an accusation like the rest, and for the same cause, before the legate Atticus; and while suffering outrage during many days, he bore testimony for Christ: so that all, including the legate himself were astonished above measure that a man 120 years old should have been able to endure such torments. He was finally condemned to be crucified...."


..."and after James the Just had suffered martyrdom, as had the Lord also and on the same account, again Symeon the son of Clopas, descended from the Lord's uncle, is made bishop, his election being promoted by all as being a kinsman of the Lord."

Oh, lets talk about that "until" in Matthew 1:25. You made a big deal out of that in the past. You claim is that this verse means that Mary and Joseph had sex after Jesus was born. But, come on Jeff, you have a degree in English. You know "until" does not mean that the state following the word "until" has to be different than the state leading up to the word "until". If you insist on your meaning, Psalm 72:7 means that God's righteousness and peace will someday cease. If you insist on your meaning, I Corinthians 15:25 means that Jesus's reign will come to an end. If until always means what you say it means does Christ abandon us at the end of the world? (Matthew 28:20)

But lets go back to what you originally said in the post to which I am replying: You gave this dogma, Mary's perpetual birginity, as an example of the Orthodox Church creating new doctrines. I have shown you the antiquity of the dogma; I have shown you the reasonableness of the dogma. But I'd like to mention one more thing, the Holy Spirit is with His Church. I can not believe that He would let the whole Church, everywhere in the world fall into error. For that to happen would mean that He had not lead the Church in to all truth, but had lead the Church into error. That can not be.

Now, for whatever reason, you have this visceral reaction to anything that seems like it is Roman Catholic. I guess it might have to do with what you see as the Roman church's tendency to give the honor due God to other beings. You need to understand that it is not because we are trying to exalt Mary that we believe she didn't have sex. Sex is not filthy. Rather, it is because her Son is so holy that we do not let this dogma slide out of the Tradition. I know we have talked about Ezekiel 44:2 before and you couldn't see how it was talking about Mary. But let me ask you something, if God is so holy that a gate would be shut to all men because God passed through, is it too much to think that a vagina would be shut because God passed through it?

So, there you have it. The Bible, the words of Calvin and Zwingli, the testimony of Eusibius and St. Hegesippus, Vines Expository Dictionary, and the unanimous agreement of all of the oldest Churches (By this I mean the Orthodox, the Roman, and the Oriental). You are disagreeing with a lot of people here, even the founders of your own movement. Are you sure you are right? If you are sure I'd love to see your reasoning.

I'll try to get to your statements regarding infant baptism and baptismal regeneration soon. But I've been working on this since 9:30 pm yesterday and it is time for me to hit the hay.

Oh, before I go to bed, you can't just say "Scripture says X. But later you changed it to Z." That is not an argument. It is just a thesis statement. You should be able to back that up with evidence.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Oh, you said this in your post and i don't know how I missed it.  You created official teaching in the 8th century.  How can you sy, then, that you do things they were in the early church?  You've just blatantly contradicted yourself.

Oh, this is easy.  Did the church believe 'A' at one time and then did not believe 'A' at later time??  You bet.

1.   Scripture records baptism as only being for believers.  yet in the 3rd century the church decided to baptize babies.

2.   Scripture records the brothers and sisters of Jesus.  Later, you develop the doctrine that says Jesus had no brothers or sisters.

3.  Scripture says we are saved by faith in Christ.  Later, you say that we become saved through baptism.

And there are others.  But you can't face the fact that you have changed what Scripture says.  These words of Scripture were written by the 80's at the latest (the exception being John, Revelation, etc)  Then hundreds of years later, you change Scripture or twist it to make it say what you want it to say.  Why are you not horrified at this?  Why do you not question anything your church does?  I reject any church that teaches doctrine contrary to Scripture.  by the way, I've given you answers over and over for why Scripture is accurate, objective and authoritative.


No, you have not told me about 'coming-out' (always a dangerous term in SF) as a pro-lifer.  Entertain and indulge me

Did you hear that a new record was set last week in the 100-yard dash?  It was the Filipino army leaving Iraq.  Chalks up another nation to the weenie club.  They should have sent in even more troops.

Let me add a quick note onto my previous seminary note.  There are times when I wish I was at a place which was slightly more consiervative, such as Talbot or even Dallas.  Fuller is on the conservative end of seminaries, but is not the most conservative.  It could be worse.  I could be going to Princeton SEminary and be trying to figure out even if there is a God

The question of what I am learning is seminary is probably a bit important, since I am getting out in 8 months.  Probbly the best thing is an increased ability to think theologically.  I know this may sound vague, but that's pretty much the goal of college also.  It may not be the specific things that you learn, but rather the ability to think critically and constructively.  So, not, I'm not wasting my time.  But i wonder what I will do in APril when I'm done.  What will i do with all the time on my hands?


Why is Harris such a great restaurant?  There are probably more reasons for this restaurant than for any other on the list.

First of all, the have a Martini on the menu as a appetizer.  They have these olives that are so big they look like they have a pituitary problem.  And so woody they should be in Toy Story 3.  The martini actually comes in a little pitcher that rests in a tub of ice so you can pour as much or as little into the glass as you would like.  Great piano jazz music, too.

Second, the setting.  It's like a men's club from the 60's (which, if done right, can be a great thing)  Highback leather booths, dark mahogany wood paneling.

THird, the valet parking.  No, I'm not kidding.  i was there once with friends, and as we were walking out the front door, the valet pulls up with my car.  Hadn't given the ticket to anyone or anything, they just saw us getting ready to leave and went to get the car.

Fourth, that smelly ranch on Hwy 5 really does have a purpose

Fifth, the compnay I have been there with.  Matt and I have been there several times just for Martinis and appetizers.  But we had an incredible party there once.  Our friend Bryan Carter was moving to Boise and we had a goodbye party for him at Harris.  Every guy there wore a coat and tie.  For some of these people, it is the only time I have seen them wear a tie.  Our guest list included George Halley, Jeff Miller, Matt Karnes, Keith Joreski, Bryan Carter, Zack Gleason, Gary French and Marty Ostrowski.  That night alone would be enough to put it on the list.

Sixth...the food.  I haven't even mentioned it yet, but the steaks are sublime, if such a term can be given to beef.  The best I have ever had, far and away.  It's not a cheap place, but a once a year type of place.  Matt, we need to have Martinis there soon

Jeff, all of this blogging stuff is easy. Just copy and paste the text of your notes into the "create" text box of blogger. Christa can show you how in 2 minutes. Also, since you are using the windows operating system you have a very easy time putting links in your posts. What this means is that just by clicking on a couple of buttons you can put links in your posts. (I'm using a Mac so I have to type the HTML by hand. I'm a little bit envious of you for that reason.)

So, what do you hope to get out of studying the Dead Sea Scrolls? Hmmm. Actually, I've kind of wondered for a long time what you are getting out of your seminary experience. The couple of times I've gone to class with you I wasn't very impressed. And you almost never talk about the things you are learning. (Well, there was that one time when you took a class in which the professor tried to get you to strip away as much of the Bible as you could in order to find the "essentials"). You mentioned the reading you did for the spirituality class, but did not comment on anything you read. Are you sure you aren't wasting your time?
What is even worse than putting vodka in it and calling martini??  If it is vodka, then martini should NOT be capitalized.  Why is it that you can just put stuff in a Martini glass and call it that?  I've been hearing about sour appletinis that just disgust me.

Oh, my professor said it was okay to put the class notes on the blog.  Of course being technologically deficient, i' going to email them to you and let YOU figure out how to do it.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Surfing news: Following a link from the blog of my Kum I wound up reading a description of the broadsheets of the New York Times as sacred pages of the blue-state Bible

School news: I don't know if I mentioned it or not, but I and 7 other students (out of 40) have maintained perfect scores in the Med. Law and Ethics class. That is until the test last Thursday. We just got the results back from that test. Now there are only two of us. It is a lot of pressure. I still have one more paper to write and the final exam. The exams are easy. Well, they are easy for the way my brain works. It is like playing Trivial Pursuit. Its just spitting out facts. For other people that kind of thing is difficult. Nine people failed last Thursdays exam.

I still am not enjoying the course. I don't like the teacher. I think I am only trying so hard to show her that even though I disagree with her I am able to master the crap -"everyone's value system is equal to everyone else's value system. You can't say yours is better than some one else's"- she is teaching. Of course, her value system says it is okay to kill babies. She makes sure to let us know every session.

Well, I'm not just trying to prove something to the teacher. There is a practical benefit. Externships are assigned based on major GPA. I want my externship to be at a pro-life hospital.

That reminds me of something funny. Did I ever tell you about coming out as pro-life when I worked at SF Weekly?

It is just driving me nuts. From him saying Christians and Muslims pray to the same god, to starting a war against Iraq without a good reason (Hello! The Red Chinese or the North Koreans are HUGE ENORMOUS threats. Iraq is a nothing, was a nothing, and probably always will be a nothing.), to not taking on the abortionistas full-steam, to the orwellian sounding clear-skies act, I have been very dissapointed in President Bush. (Of course, I was already annoyed at him for saying Jesus was his favorite philosopher. Jesus is The King of the universe who demands absolute loyalty and worship. Not a guy who sits around telling you what he thinks about things.) So, I am going to do something I have never done. I am going to vote for a non-Republican candidate for President. So, now my choice is between Michael Peroutka of the Constitution Party or Michael Badnarikof the Libertarian Party.
They are both pro-life, both pro-gun, and both favor role for the national government that is much less intrusive than we live with now.
I, too, have fond (if slightly hazy) memories of The Brooklyn. I knew we were off to a good start when I saw that the waiter was a grown man who knew how to tie a tie, and did not ask if I wanted vodka in my Martini. (What is up with putting vodka in a drink and calling it a Martini?) I do not posses a vocabulary that is adequate to describe the beatific majesty of the filet mignon rondolets in Roquefort sauce. If the heavens declare the glory of God, it is fair to say that the gastronomic arts on display at the Brooklyn are an adequate rival to the stars. As a teenage girl in love for the first time is a joy to behold, as a baby with a popsicle causes a smile to spread across my face, as a pregnant woman is beautiful beyond all comprehension, so is a plate of food at the Brooklyn. It is elegant and refined without being sissified. It is elevated to high art without being pretentious. And it is pure in its presentation. To this day my mouth waters when I remember the oysters (such a wide variety!) and the cedar baked salmon topped with caviar. Whenever I cook beef or salmon, it is the Brooklyn I remember and try to emulate. (And, yes, Martini is always capitalized.)

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

So why is the Brooklyn at the top of my list?  Matt knows exactly why, but for the uninformed masses out there, here's why.  I can't remember the year, but our friend George Halley has a sister in Seattle who needed help moving and they figured out that it would be less expensive to fly the three of us up, put us up at a hotel and have us move her and her family than to hire professional movers.  Needless to say, the move was a BITCH!!!

There were 2 different locations for the stuff to move in, including an apartment building with the stuff on the 5th floor.  Oh, did I mention that it was raining? It is Seattle, after all.  Did I mention that they had such a steep driveway that the moving van couldn't go up it.  Did I mention the steep driveway???

At the end of this monster of a day, George's sister Gail gave her credit card to George and told him that she had made reservations for us at a place called The Brooklyn and to have "as much of whatever we want".  Of course we asked George about this particular phrase and he said that was exactly what she meant.

So the 3 us of spent $270 at a posh steak and seafood restaurant, eating oysters, drinking Martinis, having steak, salmon, dessert and port wine.  What was so good about it was not only the food but also the warm and loving fellowship with two of the best friends anyone could ever ask for.

Was it really that good or was it my imagination?  Was it a dream?  I needed to find out.  So a couple of years later when George got married in Seattle, we went back to The Brooklyn, not once but twice for drinks and appetizers after the rehearsal dinner and the wedding.  The high point of it for Matt was not only the good food and friendship this second time, but that he tried to pick up on the same waitress on consecutive nights.  Struck out twice, too.  Buddy, that's called wearing the bronze sombrero.

So...The Brooklyn.  I'd love to hear Matt's reflections on it as well

In your first paragraph you used the word "deficient". That was very interesting; it reminds me of a time Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld was explaining types of knowledge. I won’t get into what he said but if you Google "rumsfeld known knowns" you will find some fascinating reading. Now back to the matter at hand. There are at least two types of non-knowledge:
1: When a person says something is true when the opposite is the case that is error. The persons statement is wrong. For instance, about 12 years ago I made a statement about the definitiion of the word diadem that was incorrect. I lacked knowledge but thought I had knowledge. Rumsfeld would call that an "unknown unknown"
2: When a person does not address a topic because they do not have knowledge that is deficiency. For instance, I do not know about the biology of marine worms so I do not talk about them. That does not mean I am mistaken about them. It merely means I lack knowledge. Rumsfeld would call this a "known unknown".

Now, you did not get to the central point of my question, and perhaps that is because I implied it without stating it clearly: When all Protestants disagree with each other (They do and always have. I gave Henry VIII, Luther, and Zwingli as three examples of Protestants who disagreed with each other at the beginning of the reformation) how do you know who is right, who you should follow? Do you really think that every individual Christian is his own"papa et ecclesia"?

Now, as for your saying that the Orthodox have no way of dealing with error: We do. It is called the council. When pernicious heresy arises in the church we get together in a council. And when the whole church agrees that something is true we recognize the hand of the Holy Spirit in it. It worked in Acts, in worked at the 7 Ecumenical Councils, it still works. And not always formally, as at the councils. But often informally, as in the recognition of the Canon of Scripture, or in the development of the liturgies.

As for errors that creep in over centuries, I reject that categorically. It is the nature of tradition that things are passed down. We can see where things were not passed down, such as the Liturgy of St. Mark, or the Celtic liturgies. We know what they are. We know when they were practiced. But they were not passed down, that is they were not tradited. So we do not practice them now.

I guess we could say that things crept out of the tradition. But I think you will be hard pressed to find anything that crept into the tradition.

Here is what you would have to prove:
1: That the Church believed "A" at some point in time
2: That at a later point in time the church believed "non-A".

Theoretically, I suppose you might be able to do it. But lets just take the latest official dogma promulgated by the Orthodox Church: The rightness of the veneration of Holy Icons. The Second Council of Nicea decreed that it is right to venerate the Holy Ikons in the 8th century. So we have to ask, is that when the doctrine crept in? Obviously not. It is important to remember that the practice that was decreed at the council was being defended by the bishops, not being invented by the bishops. It was being defended against Iconoclasm, a novel teaching that really took off just a few years before the council. But lets look back to the 4th Century and the writings of Bishop Eusebius. He was not wild about ikons, yet he admitted to seeing portraits that were painted of the Apostles while they were still alive. He also mentions seeing a statue of Jesus in Caesarea-Phillipi that was erected by the woman Jesus healed of bleeding. He also mentions the Icon Not Made By Hands, an Icon made by Jesus himself. But Eusebius was not the only person in the Ancient Church opposed to Holy Ikons. In AD 305 a local synod in Spain taught that venerating Icons was idolatrous. So why do bishop Eusebius and the Local Synod of Spain stand out? For two reasons:
1: They are exceptions to the rule. Overwhelmingly, Christians gave honor to Icons as symbols of Jesus and the saints.
2: Both Bishop Eusebius and Spanish synods are famous for their infidelity to the Holy Orthodox Faith. You know of Bishop Eusebius’ heresy. But you might not know of the Spanish synods' heresy. In two different instances the pastors in Spain acted in zeal not according to knowledge. Once, in their zeal to safeguard the teaching of the Divinity of the Son, they tragically introduced the "filioque" to the Creed. And again in their zeal to suppress idolatry (which might really have been happening.) they went too far and taught contrary to the Faith received from the Fathers.
To reiterate, in all of the major centers of Christianity (Rome, Jerusalem, Alexandria, Antioch) the use of Icons in worship was well established. Eusebius and the Spanish synod stand out for their deviation from the truth.

But let us go back even farther that the 4th Century. Let’s go back to the first century, to AD 64, to Nero’s persecution. At that time St. John, St. Paul, St. Peter were alive. And let’s go down into the catacombs. Contrary to popular misconception, Roman Christians did not live in the catacombs. They only gathered there to worship. And what would you find there on the walls? Icons. In fact, you would find the "orans" icon, the same style of icon that is on the east wall, behind many (most?) Orthodox altars. So you see, in the Orthodox Church, there is no creeping in. But there is, sometimes, discontinuing of tradition. (For instance, we decided a long time ago to no longer depict Jesus as a lamb in artwork, even though it was common in the 1st century.)

And of course there is the text of the Bible itself. You know the use of Icons in the OT so I won’t go into it (unless you want me to), but even in the NT the use of icons is alluded to. You might not know this, but the Book of Revelation is set in the Liturgy. By this I mean that many of the acts that take place only make sense if it is understood liturgically. Take the first chapter. On orthodox altars are seven candles. And Christ is present on the Altar in the midst of the seven candlesticks. At one point the Apostle John hears Jesus talking behind him and turns around. This tells us that the Apostle was presiding at the liturgy. Only the serving clergy would ever have thier backs turned to the altar. But back to icons. The image of the beast (God have mercy on us!) is a reference to something all first century Christians understood, something all Orthodox Christians understand. It is the icon of the antichrist. People will worship the beast by worshiping his evil icon. Just as subjects of pagan Rome bowed and burned incesnse in front of portraits of the Roman Emporers. Just as Christians bow and burn incense in front of icons of Jesus.

Nevertheless, the central point I was making in the post to which you were replying is that there is in Protestantism no agreement in anything. (No, not even the Resurrection of Jesus. Spong and Packer are in the same church, and partake of the same cup.) Luther’s "Three Solas" are still repeated by people such as R.C. Sproul, even though it is plain that Luther made up one of his "solas" and added it to the text of Romans. The teaching on divorce and re-marriage varies from Protestant church to Protestant church. Lutherans and Baptists disagree on the nature of Communion. Yet all appeal to Scripture "alone". Do you think that is the way it is supposed to be?

Doesn’t it make more sense that Christ gave his Church knowledge and that that knowledge has been passed down in Scripture, in other writings, in the oral tradition of the church, and that the Holy Spirit is leading that Church into all truth? That the Holy Spirit lives in the Church and keeps Her from error so that on the last day She is presented to the Bridegroom without spot or wrinkle?

Or do you really believe that God intended for us to all kind of muddle along and hope we get it right? I mean, there is even a whole protestant denomination that rejects the practice baptism and communion. If they are right it doesn’t matter. But if they are wrong about what happens during those acts (e.g. the washing away of sin & ingesting God to receive imortality) they might go to Hell.

I guess what I am getting at, the question I have asked you scores of times, is how do you know anything? Are you saying, a priori, the Bible you have in your backpack is true? And if that is what you are saying, are you likewise saying that you are a better interpreter of the Bible than are all of the Saints through the ages who held that one’s sins are washed away by the water of baptism, that the Gifts become the Body and Blood of Jesus, that Saints intercede for us, that the Holy Spirit speaks through church councils, that the Church has the power to remit sins, and a host of other doctrines you reject?
How do you even know the Bible you have in your backpack contains all the right books?

I doubt you would do it, but I wish you could live as an Orthodox for one month and just see what happens.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

This is kinda a sub-category, but I promise to take it to the end.
Top 5 Restaurants I have ever been to:
1.       The Brooklyn
2.       Harris
3.       Moose's
4.       Trader Vic's
5.      B.J. Chicago's Pizzeria
Of course there's probably a couple I'm forgetting and this might expand.  Over the next couple of days I'm going to expand on why these are my favorites.

Was Luther right on everything???  Of course not.  Same with Zwingli, Knox, Calvin ,etc.  But that also is true for Augustine, Chrysostom, Justin martyr and pretty much everyone throughout theological history.  Everyone and every church is deficient in their theology at some point.  Remember, now we only "see through a glass darkly".
There is a big difference between Luther, Zwingli and Hinn, Copeland and the rest of that motley crew.  The REformers may have been wrong at particular points (Luther with james, etc), Hinn, etc. are wrong in the totality of their theology.  They present God as a giant vending machine at times and make up theology on the spot (remember Hinn getting a revelation that Adam could fly because you cannot have dominion over something unless you can do everything that they can do)
Have there been Protestant interpretations of SCripture that are wildly erratic?  You bet.  We both could come up with a list.  Most Protestants can just ignore those.
But it seems to be that correcting error in the Orthodox church is a tough thing to do, escpecially error that crept in centuries ago.  I refer to the contradictions between Orthodox theology and Scripture (no need to repeat them.  I think we're both aware of what they are, or at least what we have discussed on them) which worked their way into 'tradition'.  It seems to me that once something is in the 'tradition', it's very difficult to get it out.

As you can probably tell, I'm working backwards.  You said on thye 16th that your priest preached on the Epistle de jour rather than the gospel and that he usually preaches from the gospel.  Is that personal preference on his part or is that an Orthodox thing (the term 'thing' is used with the greatest respect possible).
Most Protestant churches preach primarily from the NT and even there frm Paul's letters a lot.  MacArthur is almost exclusive from the Nt.  He says that he is a minister of the New Covenant and that is what he should preach on.  I agree with that, to an extent, but as Bernard Bell would say, "are you just going to throw out 2/3 of the Bible by ignoring the OT"?

Okay, I know I'm doing bits and pieces here, but I'm REALLY going to try on August 8 to be there.  What are your options on cooking?  Are you limited on what you can make?  Well, obviously, because of the size of the group, but I mean as far as type of food, etc.

I looked at the icon for St Geoffrey.  Looks a bit like Richard Harris (post-booze, pre-death)  Definitely Celtic.

Oh, I've decided of Cafe Kati.  You can find it at Cafekati.com  It came down to that and Betelnut but I decided I wanted something a bit quieter and from what I've read Betelnut can be a bit loud.

Good idea about posting the notes on the blog.  Let me get my professor's permission (which I'm sure he'll give) and I'll do it.
So why do i like Monte Cristo?  That's a question I've never been about to clearly figure out, but let me try.
It was the first classic novel I ever read.  I was a freshman in High School and we were handed this 400 page novel to begin with.  Only about 7-8 years ago, did i realize that it was the abridged version and the whole book is 1100 pages.  A lot of questions were unanswered in the shorter version.  I also really liked it in high school, maybe because it was the first book of that quality that I had ever read.  Up until that point, it had been mainly Hardy Boys and Star Trek novels.
At it's heart, it is an adventure story about a man wrongly imprisoned during the end of the Napoleonic Era, and when he escapes from prison discovers a treasure of incredible wealth.  This allows him to take on the identity of the Count of Monte Cristo (along with the identities of Lord Wilmore and Abbe Busoni) and avenge himself on the 4 men who had put him in prison, each for vastly different reasons.
It is also incredible easy to read.  Yes, there's a fair amount if history, but a lot of it is at the beginning.  There is a bit of a philosophical underpinning regarding the word of Providence in people's lives, but the philosophical musings do not take over the story.  It comes to life as few books I have ever read do.  The characters are so fully drawn it is amazing.  I've got pictures in my head of many of the characters, such as Edmond Dantes, the Abbe Faria, Danglars, Caderrouse, Fernand and M. de Villefort.
If you've never read it, I highly recommend it.

If you read the blog you know I have been learning to play the recorder. I'm not great but I am able to play to written music and have been able to figure out the fingering for some songs I have no music for.

Well, the little boy loved my recorder to death. Really. I mean last week he totally destroyed it. I've been missing it ever since. I really have enjoyed picking it up at odd times and playing Ode to Joy or Home on the Range or the National Anthem. But since last week I haven't been able to.

Since it is July Cyndi and I have been doing the preliminary planning for our Third Day of Christmas Party. Lust like last year everyone will have do do something to entertain everyone else. You might remember that last year I sang and acted out all the parts of Good King Wenceslas (and gave a hagiograhy lesson in the process), the boys Godmother (my Kuma) read a story about a painting, and someone else lead us in singing the 12 Days of Christmas.

Cyndi and I have decided to learn Christmas songs arranged for recorder duets. Toward that end yesterday, I ordered two of these babies. They should be here by Friday. I can hardly wait.

Of course that was before I found out that I have to spend $300 on my car. Have I mentioned that I hate cars? I think they are expensive, contribute to ugly architecture (garages on the front of houses), foul the air, and caused the death of any American urbaness not hemmed in by water. I can't wait until I move back to SF (or Boston or Manhattan or Paris or London) and never have to drive again.
What is it about Count of Monte Cristo that you like? A 3,000 word essay in response to this question is totally accptable. (hint hint)

I have another test in my Med Law and ethics class tonight. I do not enjoy this class.

I had a meeting with my boss and her boss today. THey said I am doing a good job. I'm glad. I don't really feel like I am doing a good job. I always feel like there are so many little projects that I can't get to.

Here is a better idea for the Dead Sea Scrolls Class. Post the notes on the blog.

Speaking of posting notes on the blog. You told me to select one topic and you would stick with it. I did. Are you going to stick with it?
I've gotten into one of my favorite books again.  I'm rereading 'The Count Of Monte Cristo'.  It had been a couple of years and i wanted to read something somewhat familiar while doing the Dead Sea Scrolls class.
That started last night, by the way.  It's a tough two weeks, but the last time I have to do a summer intensive.  The class is really good.  the professor's name is Michael Moore (insert joke here).  He's a pastor at a church in Phoenix.  He reminds me a bit of myself, or at the least the way I would like to be, with a good mix of theology, practical application and humor.
He does email all his notes for the class to us.  If you like, I can forward them to you.  Let me know if you'd like that

Monday, July 19, 2004

Jeff, in case you want a non-Roman Catholic source for your Christian name (i know the RC church gives you the willies) you can check out a Byzantine Ikon of St. Geoffery here. I think it looks a little cartoonish but it is the only Ikon of this saint I have ever seen. It would be nice to see an Ikon of St. Geoffery by Tsagalakis or another more traditional iconographer.

We are cooking August 8. I don't know the menu yet. We are still trying to decide.
Yes, Caleb cooperated beautifully.  One of the best things that Caleb does is go down to sleep very easily.  I don't think we kow how blessed we are with that.
Yes, I agree that Protestant churches tend to gear services towards the people.  This is especially true of seeker churches.  My gut tells me that this is an outgrowth of the increased individualism that we have been seeking for so many years.  If a church won't meet my needs, then I'll go elsewhere.  But I believe that a service should be geared first and foremost towards worship of God and not towards a felt-needs mentality

I'm leaning towards either Betelnut or Bix.  I'm going to sit on it until tomorrow and then decide.
Yes, I would REALLY like to make it to church with you again (esp if you are cooking!!).  August looks pretty wide open right now.

You can come to our church. No Calebs there. And you would be the first Jeff, too.
Caleb got stung by a bee today.  Christa said they were the biggest tears he'd ever had.  He's been taking swim lessons last week and this and the bees love to come around after when they and a couple of other friends sit by the pool and have a picnic.
Oh, another couple at our church had a baby boy and named him Caleb.  Now we're going to have to change churches

Of those you mentioned, I've only been to Bix and that was during my heavy drinking years. I don't remember it very well. I think I had a good time though.

Cyndi and I are cooking for the parish agin in August. Can you come?
I am trying to decide on the restaurant in Sf that Christa and i are going to for my birthday at the end of the month.  I've got it narrowed down to Cafe Kati, Bix, Betelnut and Kokkari.  Any input from you on this would be GREATLY appreciated.

How was Friday night? Did Caleb cooperate? Oh, when are you going to get to my last post of July 12?
Weekend Update:
Saturday: Cyndi and I worked in the church garden. Rented a hedge clipper and weedeater. The gaslone powered weedeater was really neat. I want one. Gasoline powered hedge clippers are heavey and cluncky. The Garden looks better but it still needs a lot of work.
Sunday: Returned the rented hedge clipper and weedeater. Added a quart of oil to the car, put air in the right rear tire, bought gas, and drove to church. We arrived just as the bells were ringing. People walking by stopped to listen. People driving by had stopped their cars to listen. When the ringers finished the people outside applauded.
Father preached on the Epistle reading yesterday, a very strange thing. He almost always preaches on the Gospel reading. There were some protestants visiting. I think one will probably be back. The others were just visiting their sister and looked bored out of their minds. The fundamental difference between most protestant services and the Divine liturgy is that the direction of most of a protestant service is directed toward the edification of the people in the pews. In the Divine liturgy, most of the service is directed toward God. It is work that we all come together to do. When we pray for the peace of the whole world we are laboring with God, to give peace to the whole world. I think that it would help visiting protestants a lot if someone could clue them in to what we are doing before they arrive.
Last night we finished reading On the Banks of Plum Creek to each other. We only have three of the Little House books left then we will have to find something else to read to each other.
I think reading out loud too each other might be my favorite part of being married.

Friday, July 16, 2004

I hope Caleb cooperates with your plans. Anselm has never been easy to get to sleep.

Pickle recommendation: bubbies
Christa and I have now established Friday night as our date night at home.  We put Caleb down a bit early, about 7 and then I make a romantic dinner, maybe we'll rent a movie and just generally have an enjoyable evening with each other.
Tonight's menu
Australian Lamb Chops broiled in a lemon-thyme sauce
Yukon Goldf Potatoes roasted in olive oil with fresh sage and rosemary
TOmatoes with mozzarella and basil.  For this, I make a basil vinaigrette, chop up some fresh basil and cut the mozzarella into small cubes.  I take off the top of the tomato and scoop out the insides, then fill the tomato with the mozzarella, the basil and drizzle in the vinaigrette and replace the top.

Just a quick note with more to come later today.
Keith is going to be a father.  Yes, Sheryl is pregnant.  I guess that leaves little mystery about how their honeymoon went

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Because of a car alarm I was able to see a beautiful moon rise this morning. It was followed pretty quickly by a beautiful sunrise.

Today is the feast of St. Vladimir. I wish I could be in church.

Holy Equal-To-the-Apostles Great Prince Vladimir, in Holy Baptism Basil, the Enlightener of the Russian Land
Kiev, Rus, Russia (1015)

Troparion in tone 4
O Holy Prince Vladimir,
You were like a merchant in search of fine pearls.
By sending servants to Constantinople for the Orthodox Faith,
You found Christ, the priceless pearl.
He appointed you to be another Paul,
Washing away in baptism your physical and spiritual blindness.
We celebrate your memory,
Asking you to pray for the suffering Christians of Russia,
And for us, your spiritual Children.

Kontakion in tone 8
O Most glorious Vladimir, in your old age you imitated the great Apostle Paul:
He abandoned the things of a child, while you forsook the idolatry of your youth.
Together with him, you reached the fullness of divine wisdom:
You were adorned with the purity of holy baptism;
Now as you stand before Christ our Savior,
Pray that the suffering Christians of Russia may be saved!

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

Lord Jesus, save us.
Jeff, it was great having you over for lunch. Here is a link to those sermons by Bernard Bell I told you about. It was his series "Good, Bad, Better, Perfect".

In the Orthodox Church we sing the following words at Ascension:

"Human nature, which had fallen by corruption, you raised up, O Christ, and by your ascension you exalted and glorified us with yourself.
"You were taken up in glory, King of the Angels, to send us the Comforter from the Father. And so we cry out: Glory, O Christ, to your ASCENSION!
As the Saviour had ascended to the Father with his flesh, the hosts of Angels were struck with amazement, and cried out: Glory, O Christ, to your ASCENSION!"

Every time I hear these Ascencion hymns of the Orthodox Church I think of Bernard Bells sermons. I'm not sure he is happy about it, but he is a mjor reason I am Orthodox. I suspect that if he ever really listens to what he is preaching he will become Orthodox.

Got the results from my first test in Medical law and ethics. Out of a class of 40 only 5 students had perfect scores. I was one of the five.

I two weeks we have to present an abstract of a bioethical article to the class. Last night we were supposed to give the instructor the article. I chose an article on smallpox vaccination in light of talmudic law by the head of the ethics panel at Albet Einstein hospital. The instructor said I may not use that article because it was based in religion.

I tried to explain that it is not possible to have non-theistic ethics, that it always results in "what ever is is right" or inescapable silopsism. She wouldn't hear it. I didn't even get a chance to explain that Plato's Euthyphro dialogue precludes the kind of multi-cultural bioethics she is excited about.

I really do not like this class.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

This just in from the Miracles Department: Woooo! Hooooo! I found out that I am getting financial aid for school! All tuition is paid for. I only have to pay for books and lab fees! Thank you, God! Thank you, Ss. Nicholas and Elizabeth and Panteleimon

Udate from from the Music Bureau: I forgot to mention that Saturday night was my debut playing the bells at church. I played the 3rd and 4th highest pitched bells. (we have 7 all together). It was a lot of fun. I flubbed my first note by holding the clapper too long but after that I think I did okay.

Personal Aside: Jeff, I'm wondering what is going on with your posting. You seem to be posting from work and not from home. I thought you were going to be doing more writing at home so you could have your books handy.

This just in from the Signs of the Times Department: Human Tagging.

Flash Report From Civilisation Desk: As soon as we were airborne, an obviously stressed stewardess addressed me by my first name. “How nice to know we were in school together,” I told her with a smile.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Okay. Here is a stand alone topic, taken from past discussions but truely something finite and a worthy thing to talk about.

You have often criticized Hinn and Copeland for their unusual interpretations of the Bible. But wWhy 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 Zwingli saying the text of John 6 doesn't mean what everyone up to that point said it meant, or Henry VIII claiming the right to interpret the Bible for himself, even if it meant he could have six wives?

It seems to me that the entire Protestant experience, from Luther to Copeland, is based on private interpretation; for Protestants these words of Luther's are as true today as they were 500 years ago: "in his enim, quae sunt fidei, quilibet Christianus est Papa et Ecclesia".

Let me tell you why I've never completed a response to the may 28th post and only half-assed it on my one response. It's that I can't remember the context of what we were talking about (especially the bit about the trombone shout bands). And i hate trying to go back 2-3 months to try to figure out what I was thinking (I have a hard enough time with remembering the morning when I get back from lunch!)

So here's my idea.drp that post and start on something new, which I WILL stay up to date on and not let fall by the wayside.
Anselm answering the phone reminded me of a phone call I got last week. I picked it up and said "Hello only to hear a tiny voice on the other end say "Hello Uncle Jeff". Now, I have a 5-year old nephew, but this voice was not his and just kept playing along until I found out who it was. Well, it turned out to be Emily Carter! All of a sudden, she asked Bryan about Uncle Jeff in California adn Bryan asked her if she wanted to talk to me. She did, Bryan dialed the phone and we were off to the races.

We had ELizabeth over for dinner last night. She leaves for Chile on Wednesday. I gave her your email address and she's going to keep in touch when she's down there. Christa wants us to make a trip to Chile next spring, and I must admit I'm intrigued by the idea. We want to do something a bit exotic for our 5th anniversary and I'll be just done with Fuller then. When else would we ever have a chance to go to Chile?? Who knows what will happen.
Oh, about your Dead Sea Scrolls Class: Can't make it. But I would love too. Hey, I thought you were going to post some of the papers you wrote for school. I'd really like to read your Knights of Malta paper. Did you ever hook up with anyone from the chapter in Menlo Park?
Well here we are, almost half way through July and you havn't made much progress in your response to my May 28 post. You gave a little bit of effort on June 25, but nothing before or since. Regarding the things you are questioning: Do any of the things you are questioning pertain to you? Do you question any of your beliefs or practices, or do you only the tendency of other protestants to be blind to history? Yes I know this is kindo of going off in a new direction, so, let's wait until you finish replying to my post of May 28 (which was in response to things you wrote.). I don't like to have too many thoughts in my head at once. I don't have a lot of romm in there.

If you are going to be on Stevens Creek on Wednesday come on by. I'll have lunch ready.

It made me glad to read that you are steering Caleb in the right direction.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

You made a note about Bishop Tikhon possibly going bad. I've had potato salad that went bad. Is that the same thing??
I was just reading an old Bon Appetit magazine with Caleb (he liked the pictures) and there was an articvle on how some newspeople would make their turkeys at home. They had (and pictures also) Paula Zahn, Aaron Brown, Connie Chung and Lou Dobbs. I pointed at the pictures of the first 3 with Caleb and on each one I said, "Liberal" and went right down the list. Loud Dobbs who does 'Moneyline' on CNN I don't know much about. But after doing this with Caleb 3 times, he began to point at them and make baby noises that all started with 'L' Another great conservative on the way.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

I am going to be down on Stevens Creek on Wednesday. Do you want to do lunch?

Friday, July 09, 2004

While zipping around the Vatican's website I came across this interesting thing. It is interesting simply because it is such a violation of Apostolic Canons X and XLV. Since both the East and West accept these as being church law, neither Roman Catholic clergy, nor Orthodox Clergy are allowed to participate in the services of heretic groups. Yet, here is the head of the Roman Catholic Church together with the head of the Church of Constantinople celebrating a Mass. Obviously, there is no Roman Catholic authority higher than the Pope (Catholic readers, correct me if I am wrong about that) but I have a feeling that Patriarch Bartholomew has received several hundred telegrams from his fellow Orthodox Bishops reminding him that he did a no-no. But heck, I don't think I could pass up a chance to be so close to St. Peter's relics either. So me? I'll cut the Patriarch some slack. Besides, my bishop is Tikhon. He is the one I have to follow, unless he goes bad. (Bishop have a tendency to do that, so we spend a lot of time praying for them.)
Please, do not forget that Islam is evil.
Oh, one more thing...

You know who St. Polycarp and St. Ignatius are. You know St. Polycarp was a disciple of St. John's. you know St. Ignatius was the the third bishop of Antioch (St. Peter was the first), you know both of these men had grown up in Churches where the Apostles had recently labored. Have you read St. ignatius' letter to St. Polycarp? Have you read St. Polycarps letter to the the Church at Phillipi? I know you have them because I gave them to you a couple of years ago. Have they been sitting on your shelf while you read MacArthur, who you know you agree with before you read him?
The point I was trying to make with the acts passage: I was trying to give that as an example of people skipping past things in the Bible and not delving deep. That by not going below the surface spares them from having to face people like St. Jerome. That is all. Please, do not think I am trying to say that one verse in acts is the authority for using candles and lampadas.

As for reading the Bible through an Orthodox lens... Probably not yet. But I hope so. I pray so. But don't you think that reading the Bible through an Orthodox lens is qualitativly different from reading through a Evangelical Protestant lens? After all the Orthodox Church has been around since Pentecost. The same can not be said of the Dutch Reformed, the Evangelical Free Church, or the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.

Are you going to finish what you began on June 25?
Another teen-tiny note on Acts 20:8. To paraphrase Freud, sometimes a light is just a light
Oh, wasit, a couple of more points...

I don't disagree that most, if not all Protestants read SCripture through the lens of what they have been taught or the culture they are in. But you do it too. You read it through the lens of the Orthodox church and believe that to be the correct way.

About John 6, I've read sermons by Ray Stedman, John Macarthur and Gary Vanderet. John Hanneman is preaching on it in September. Evidently is does get preached occasionally. I also don't know what point you are trying to make with Acts 20:8. They talked until midnight and wanted to have some light to talk by. I understand the point that you are trying to make about the light, but to try to pull that out of Acts 20:8 borders on ridiculous.
I don't think that Protestants avoid reading some of the early writings because it makes them uncomfortable. I think most don't evne know about them or who some of the people are. 5 years ago, I would have had no clue who Justin Martyr was. I bet that 90% of the people at my church would have no idea who he is. It's not fear but ignorance. I have no fear of reading them, knowing that a lot of what they wrote is extremely valuable but that they are not correct on everything.

Let's face it...Protestants love whatever is new and exciting. Witness the peonomenal sales of Bruce Wilkinson's PRAYER OF JABEZ (MacArthur refers to this as 'exegesis gone wild') or the seeker-church movement or the Purpose-Driven Life. This goes back to one of my earlier comments that most Christians don't think anything written before 1990 (I've updated it from 1980 is any good)

Oh, by the way, I don't look at any of the comments anymore. For the most part they all say, "Go Matt, refute that heretic!" So, there you go.
I haven't seen you on the blog for the past few days (Hey pot, you're black!!!!!) What's up???
Jeff, you should check out the comments your post of Jume 25 spawned. I'm really impressed with the level of heir discussion.

Speaking of your June 25 post, when are you going to get to the rest of your answer?

Last night my medical law and ethics class had a test. Nothing unusual about that. But the shocking thing was that a woman was removed from the classroom for cheating. She had written some answers on the inside of her sandle.

Yesterday tThe little boy fell in the bathroom and split his cheek open. Lots of blood. I've never needed to use a butterfly bandage before. They are very cool.

Back on June 25 you wrote: "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."

I don't think this is such a mystery. I think the answer is simple. It is uncomfortable for protestants to read the writings of the ancient church because the ancient church was not protestant. I think you might remember me saying that just prior to my first exposure to Orthodoxy I had become uncomfortable even reading the Gospels because they did not line up with my Calvinst dogma. I could't even stand to read all of St. Pauls writings. Although I had not begun mistranslating or excising verses, I did begin avoiding verses because of the pain I felt reading them. Likewise, protestants in reading the Church Fathers avoid what causes them pain.

But this raises the question, why can most protestants read the Bible and not be as offended as when they read the Church Fathers?

I think there might be several reasons for this:

1. They read the Bible through the lens of what they have been taught. For instance, I was a pentecostal, dispensationalist, calvinist. That gave me three lenses through which to interperet the Bible. I could almost always find a way to interperet a difficult passage. The problem was I kept finding more and more difficult passages and I ran out of ways to understand, or my ways of understanding were mutually incompatable.

2. They do not see, or look deeply into things that seem alien to their Christian experience. The "eat my flesh" passage in John 6 is one example. Most protestants ignore it. And most protestant preachers don't preach on it. But in the Church Fathers there is no ambiguity about what this means.

We've discussed John six before so I won't go into it, but even seemingly small things such as the reference to lights in Acts 20:8. If a protestant reads this they just pass right over it not knowing what it means. It is in the other writings of the ancient church that we see what is going on here. And since what is going on is not what most protestants practice they avoid having to face it.

Look at it like this, you are sitting in the typical evangelical protestant Bible church. The lights are probably 100 watt incandescent bulbs. They are there for for the sake of being able to see. There is no mystical or religious significance to them. The lighting is utilitarian. No one would say that there was any mystical or even padeagogical signifigance to them. But the writers of the ancient church, those in the Tradition of the Apostles say differently.

In the second century the Latin Tertulian (not a saint in either the west or the east.)
wrote "We never hold a service without candles, yet we use them not just to dispel the night's gloom (we also hold our services in daylight) but in order to represent by this Christ, the Uncreated Light, whithout Whom we would wander in brad daylight as if lost in darkness".

St. Jerome wrote that candles are lit in church "even in daytime when one is to read the Gospels, in truth not to dispel darkness but as a sign of joy... in order under that that factual light to feel that Light of which we read in the Psalms: Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path."

In the 7th century St. Sophronius of Jerusalem wrote "Lampadas and candles represent the Eternal Light and also that light which shines from righteousness".

At the 7th Ecumenical Council of the undivided church, the Fathers decreed that in the Church the Holy Icons, the Cross, and the Gospel book, and relics of saints are to be honored with lit candles.

So, what does a protestant do with statements such as these, that make plain the fact that they are practicing a different religion from that practiced by the Church for 2,000 years? When I was reading Schaff's Ante-Nicene Fathers I was constantly pulled in three directions: Admit I was wrong, hold that the Ante-Nicene fathers were wrong, or put the books down and pretend I'd never read them. I chose the first option.

And now, what I used to say was dead ritual is alive to me. Every candle and flame speaks to me of He "who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ."

So all of this is packed into one litle verse in Acts. And protestans skip right over it, thinking how blessed they are to live in the 21st century and not have to deal with messy candles and oil lamps.

Regarding your coments about Christa's family: I think television is demonic.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

I know you're busy and all this month, but in 2 weeks I'm taking a summer class at Fuller on The Dead Sea Scrolls. It's Mon, Tues, Thurs nights and all day Saturday from the 19-31st. If you've got some time, why not come? You'd probably be fascinated and we could even have Martinis at the BBC
That's too bad about the moving, but as one who is also in grad school, I understand. Elizabeth will be disappointed not to se you before she goes to Chile, though.

Just for the record (and it's probably on the blog somewhere), I think you asked me to help you move once. I said i was busy but if you really needed me, I'd be there and that was about the end of it.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

I just got off the phone with your brother-in-law Dan (good thing I was near a computer to tell you this!) Looks like he is going to be getting another truck, presumably for the business and wanted to talk about financing. When I picked up the phone and he said, Hi, Jeff, this is Dan Monroe" it took me a second to clue in.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

So here I am drinking a dry Martini (Beefeater and Lejon, extra dry).
You know what my big problem with the this blog is? Whenever I have something really interesting, cool, etc to mention, I'M NOWHERE NEAR A COMPUTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Okay, I had to get that off my chest. A couple notes now and in a little I'm going to give you the big update on our trip down south.

I heard a song I'd never heard before and didn't even know such a song existed! It was Johnny Cash, Travis Tritt and Marty (The Hair) Stewart doing 'The Devil Went Back To Georgia'

Annie Jensen is going to China as a missionary in the next few months. Evidently (this is secondhand from George) God has been doing a great work in her life and she is going to China. Something tells me there aren't a whole lot of Orthodox bishops in China (please don't tell me how many there are) so it's probably okay for her to go

Subject: Activities of July 3-5, 2004

Saturday, July 3
The little boy and I drop Cyndi off at the train station in San Jose each morning at sunrise. So, on Saturday, we all took the train. We rode from San Jose to Palo Alto. Had a horrible culinary experience at the Cheesecake Factory. (Why do I ever expect different from a chain restaurant?) The summer rolls were so poorly wrapped that they were falling apart on the plate. The poststickers were unrecognizable. Anway, it was horrible. The only good thing about the meal was the iced coffee and the service. After that we walked over to a little park where we played with the little boy. Had green tea icecream. Later I did homework.

Sunday, July 4
Liturgy in the morning.
Swimming and homework in the afternoon.
Climbed up the hill behind Cupertino to watch the various fire work shows in the south bay in the evening.

Monday, July 5
Woke up at 5 to drive to Ft. Ross for the annual pilgrimage. Took Hwy 1 the whole way. Much fun. It was fun to get to meet Bishop Benjamin.
Got home about 6 pm. Bought a vaccum cleaner on the way home. Cyndi and the little boy went swimming while I did a little work in the office.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

I just dropped Cyndi off at the train station, and while driving home I heard a story on NPR about the returnof the Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God. It was very surprising to hear the story. I didn't think the world would take note of something like this. I wonder what it means.

Oh yeah. I should mention this, too: Islam is evil.

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