Thursday, September 30, 2004

Today

Woke up early. Made breakfast (baccon, sliced apples, toast w/ butter and honey, coffee) for Cyndi and the little boy. As we were getting dressed he said "Go to beach?" Cyndi said "Why not?" I said, "Okay!" So, Cyndi went to work and me and the little boy went to the beach.

Getting to the beach at Santa Cruz from San Jose means taking Hwy 17 "over the hill". It is a pretty (and dangerous) drive through a redwood forest. Today it was foggy.

When we got to the beach it was too cold to go swimming. So we just walked around and played in the sand. There were some people playing volly ball. A couple of sail boats were anchored about 100 yards out from the breakers. I made a necklace out of dried kelp for the little boy. It took a while, but I think I finally got him to understand that his necklace has nothing to do with Saint Nicholas.

When it got too cold by the water we walked up to the boardwalk. All the rides were closed, but the arcade was open. At first I wasn't going to go in. (I don't like the noise of video ardades.) But then I remembered all the fun I had playing ski ball in that very arcade when I was a boy. I wondered if they still had the old machines. They didn't. They had brand new souped up ski ball machines!!! Well, I bought the little boy two games. He won six tickets and then traded them for a smiley face ring, 4 plastic centepedes, and 1 plastic scorpion. He was very happy. Oh, but you should have heard him scream with delight as he played the game. It was soooo excellent!

After ski ball we drove out on the municipal warf. (It is really a pier but they call it a warf. I don't know why.) We looked at sea lions lounging on the rafters of the warf. (I guess they thought it was too cold to be in the water, too.) The boy really enjoyed that. Then we bought some fried calimari and french fries from the resaurant at the end of the pier. We also fed some french bread to the gulls.

We got home about 1:30 in the afternoon. We took a nap together. Then I dropped the little boy off at my mom's house on the way to school.

Cyndi quit her job today. She is tired of recruiting and is going to be working for the company I work for. They are going to pay for her to go to school and get a real estate license. She is totally stoked. This is such a great thing for us. Right now she spends 10-11 hours per day at work PLUS 2 hours commuting. With her new job, she will be on call all the time, but generally, will have a 100% flexible schedule. Oh, and she found out that she is getting a huge bonus from her current employer.

We both had very good days.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Diffuclties

I have discovered over the last few days that it is impossible to do homework while the little boy is awake. Blogging is easy. Working around the apartments is easy. Cooking is easy. Those don't requre though. But homework, especially, math is impossible. Today has been very difficult. He tore a page out of my math book. He insisted on sitting on me. I just gave up. He has been dancing and jumping yelling "I love daddy". I just felt like throwing him across the room and yelling "shut up and be still." (Don't worry , I didn't do it.) But I guess I'll just have to do homework at night after school while he and his mother are sleeping. This is going to be a hard quarter.

Dog Notes

A seminarian at Holy Cross is posting notes from his dogmatic theology class. Pretty interesting.

Examples:

* The whole of God's plan for salvation is manifested and recapitulated in the three main Sacraments of our Church: Baptism, Chrismation and Eucharist. In the early Church (and today), the Orthodox liturgy of initiation -- the making of a Christian -- included all three, even as salvation does. To be saved we must become a *new* creation, we must die and rise with Christ (Baptism); we must be filled with the Holy Spirit, whom Christ sends to us as a seal and comforter (Chrismation); and we must be in communion with Christ as we sanctify the world (Eucharist). The rite itself includes the fullness of revelation, and our askesis is to maintain and re-live this.

* The Holy Spirit played a great role in the life of Christ Himself: Christ was incarnated by the Spirit and raised by Him (the Creed emphasizes the former and St. Paul the latter). Thus, the *mystical* Body of Christ is vivified by the Spirit as well.

Monday, September 27, 2004

A letter to Dr. Bouteneff

Dear readers,

If you followed a link to this post and were looking for my words to Dr. Bouteneff, well.... I deleted them. I wish I had never written them. After he wrote back to me I realized that he is well intentioned and even though I think he is wrong in politics, he is more holy than I am.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Pie, Godfather, Theologians, and a Hymn I grew up singing.

I'm baking an apple pie. I put it in the oven about 7 minutes ago. Very excited. When Cyndi and I read the Little House books to each other we noticed that our forefathers often ate pies for breakfast. So, tomorrow we will have apple pie - made from all organic ingredients. I even grated the nutmeg myself. Problem with the top crust though. A little worried. But I think Cyndi and the little boy (who have been in bed for a couple of hours) will be happy in the morning.

Note about the little boy: He has seen some pictures of his Godfather. Now evertime he sees a bald man with a beard he says "Godfather?"

Working on a reply to Dr. Bouteneff's paper. I'll post it here when I finish it and send it to him.

All evening I've been hearing this song in my head:

Are You Washed in the Blood?

I grew up singing this song almost every Sunday. Oh, how my heart aches for all the people I used to go to church with. They introduced me to Jesus. They taught me the Bible. They asked me, "Are your garments spotless? Are they White as snow? Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?" I wish God would do something and cause them to see that Orthodoxy is the Church who's porch they are standing on.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Problems, the little boy, lots of comments

I have a major plumbing problem going on here at the complex. One leak turned out to be three leaks. Walls being torn out. Tenants disturbed. ARRRRGH!!!!

I've been so busy with stuff that the little boy has been bored. I'm going to go play with him on the grass in a minute. Right now he is playing with his adding machine, an old IBM.

I needed to have a lease ready for signature today but my prionter isn't working. ARRRRGH!!!!

Erica wrote a little post about the inner life of the Holy Trinity that has generated more than 40 comments.WOW!

Ever wonder which Chronicle of Narnia are you?

Click here and find out.

I've been wondering about a couple of things, does anyone know what to think of that prince in the Silver Chair? Who is he? What are we supposed to think of him? The three heroes are easy. Actually, the invisible knight is hard to understand, too. Hmmm. If anyone has any ideas I'd love to hear them.

joke

There is this atheist swimming in the ocean. All of a sudden he sees a shark in the water, so he starts swimming furiously towards his boat. As he looks back, he sees the shark turn and head towards him. He's scared to death, and as he sees the jaws of the great white beast open, revealing its horrific teeth, the atheist screams, "Oh God! Save me!"In an instant, time is frozen and a bright light shines down from above. The man is motionless in the water when he hears the voice of God say, "You are an atheist. Why do you call upon me when you do not believe in me?"Confused, and knowing he can't lie, the man replies, "Well, that's true I don't believe in you, but how about the shark? Can you make the shark believe in you?" The Lord replies, "As you wish," and the light retracts back into the heavens. The man feels the water move once again. As the atheist looks back, he can see the jaws of the shark start to close down on him, when all of sudden the shark stops and pulls back. Shocked, the man watches as the huge beast closes its eyes, bows its head and says, "Thank you Lord for this food which I am about to receive..."

Friday, September 24, 2004

Aikido and evening prayers

Tonight was my first aikido class. First impression: It is a lot of hard work. Second impression: Oh, I like this thing about not hitting back. All we have to do is get out of the attackers way. How neat! Third impression: Why does the instructor keep talking about energy flow? Am I going to find out in a couple of weeks that this is incompatible to Christ?

Prayer. The little boy and I did evening prayers together. He got a new Icon (the Resurrection of Jesus) and was pretty excited about seeing it in his Icon corner. After prayers I bless him with the candle and invoke the prayers of the saints of the day and the Holy Prophet Samuel. As I'm walking out the door he says "More daddy". So then I do it again and name a bunch more saints, usually moving West to East, e.g. Ss. Herman, Innocent, Alexis, Raphael, Patrick, Columba, Brigid, Edward, Martin, Iraneus, Ambrose, Gregory, Anthony, Athanasius, ....ending with the Theotokos).
Now, here is the cool value added benefit (When I was in advertising I talked about 'cool value added benfits' a lot. I kinda miss talking like that.): I am learning about all of these saints I name and am beginning to love them. I kind of expected to learn about them but I never expected to begin to feel love for them. But when I am praying I am filled so with the memories of what they have done and how they finished their races, and now they are praying for my little boy... I can hardley keep from crying long enough to finish praying.

Update

It has been a couple of days since I've said anything about this so, just so you don't forget...
Islam is evil and wants to kill you and rape you.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

The sexual preocupation of the media humanity haters

Below is a snippet I pulled from Wonkette

"The LA Weekly has followed up on the Raw Story's lead and outed Republican California Congressman David Dreier, and many people are taking particular delight in it: Dreier represents a very conservative district, and has repeatedly taken anti-gay positions -- and not just your standard Federal Marriage Amendment-type stuff. According to the Weekly, he even voted against "the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program designed to give shelter to the impoverished sick, and against funding for the federal ADAP program that furnishes the poor with the AIDS meds they need to stay alive." (more)

Apart from "out-ing" closeted homosexuals (I don't know how I feel about that) the thing that struck me is that Wonkette described Dreir's opposition to HOPWA as as an "anti-gay" position. Only the humanity haters (my new name for what some call the Left) could possibly see this as having anything to do with homosexuality. It has everything to do with the rights of individuals to control their own property. And the ADAP program, Wow! She thinks that is about sex, too. It isn't. It is about the rights of taxpayers not to have public monies used for private gain.

Are the Haters of Humanity just stupid? Why do they see everything through sex colored lenses?

Long day yesterday. THoughts on being a dad.

School went from 3pm to 10 pm with only a couple of 10 minute breaks. After school went grocery shopping. The little boy wanted bacon and eggs for breakfast yesterday but I didn't have any for him. I wanted to make sure I had some for him this morning. Anyway, I can already tell that Clinical Procedures is going to be my favorite class this quarter. Math is just hard work.

I Just read this article and it got me to thinking about what I can do to make my little boy strong and competitive. I've given lots of thought to how I will make him gentle and humble and compassionate. But not much thought to developing these other more typically masculine charachter traits.

I guess forcing him to learn how to swim and to jump into the pool even when he is afraid has been a good thing. I did it mainly because we have a pool and it would be dangerous for him not to be comfortable in the water, able to swim to the side an pull himself out. I have no desire to find a dead 2 year old floating in the pool. But now I'm thinking that it was a good character development exercise too. Maybe he has learned that if he faces his fears and works hard he can overcome that of which he is afraid.

But what next? He's only two and his mom and I have amazing nutso schedules. (We don't even see each other awake except for on weekends. And do you know what this does sex? It might as well be Great Lent! But that is a different problem. Right now I'm talking about being a dad.) I think I need to make an effort to take him to the woods, or to the beach and let him does some exploring falling down getting knoked over gettings bruised and scraped.

As for sports (not something I've ever been good at) I guess I'll try to get him into a rugby league or something. And, of course when he is four I'll teach him how to handle a pistol and shoot without blinking. When he is nine he can join the cub scouts.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Chemistry and neckwear and singing

I am enjoying my chemistry class.
I got the new Beau Ties catalog today.
The little boy woke me up at 7. He was still in his bed but he was singing the Triagion and "God grant you many years".

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Homesick

The loveliness of Paris
Seems somehow sadly gay
The glory that was Rome
Is of another day

I've been terribly alone
And forgotten in Manhattan
I'm going home
To my city by the bay

I left my heart
In San Francisco
High on a hill
It calls to me

To be where little cable cars
Climb half-way to the stars
The morning fog
May chill the air
I don't care

My love waits there
In San Francisco
Above the blue and windy sea
When I come home to you
San Francisco
Your golden sun will shine for me

Monday, September 20, 2004

First night of school, Right vs Left

School was dismal. This class is going to be hard. Problem with night classes: The bookstore is closed when I am on campus. I have homework due wednesday but don't have the right book. Hmmmm. I'll have to figure this out in the morning.

In other news I read this article about the recent popularity of Nazi-ism in Germany. The thing that caught my attenttion was the first line in which the author refers to the "far right". This is one of my pet peeves.

If you and I were to sit down and talk for a while you would probably say "Wow! Matt is a right wing nut job." But I have nothing in common with the Nazis. I am neither a nationalist nor a socialist. (the contraction of those two words in German is the origin of the word Nazi.) How is it that I, a libertarian (or a classical liberal it you prefer that label) and strict constructionist can be far right, and neo-nazis can also be far right? Simply put, it isn't possible.

What is the origin of right and left in politics? For that you have to look back to France before the Revolution. In the States-General of 1789 (the first States-General since 1614) the noblemen who supported the king sat on the right side of the room. Those who opposed the king sat on the left. That's it. Pretty easy, huh?

Both Germany and the U.S. are federal republics. Which means there is no king to support or oppose. So what are journalists talking about when they write about the right or the left? I think "far right" is code for "people we don't like". Now look at this: Both the Naziz and the Communists believe in state socialism. But one is typically called far right and the other is typically called far left. (except, I remember when I was a kid Breszhnev was called far right and Solzinitzen was called far left. Oh, this is confusing.)

Here is how I look at it. I don't even bother with right and left because outside of 18th century France the terms are meaningless. I prefer a liberty scale. Here is how it works:
There is a number line. ZERO is complete anarchy. TEN is complete totalitarianism.

I'm not aware of any ZERO societies but I suppose that in theory there could be one. But in practicality, people like to excercise power over each other so it is unlikely that there ever was or ever will be a society that earns a ZERO on my liberty guage. Any society with a Zero rating can not survive. Anarchy is destructive to society. Even angels have ranks and orders. Sinful men simply can not exist in anarchy. Even self-described anarchists will admit this if you can get then to stop blowing things up and talk in a normal speaking voice. (Actually, self-described anarchists are rarely true anarchists. They want someone to have power, just not the people who currently have it.)

Now let's look at the other end of this spectrum: TEN I'm not sure any state has ever made it all the way up to TEN either, though the Communists and the Nazis both tried really hard. I suppose I would give the Soviet Union a 9.6 and to Nazi Germany I'd give a 9.5. Well, maybe the Spartans deserve a 9.6, too.

How I would rank the various political parties on the liberty scale:

Peace and Freedom Party at 9.6
German Greens at 9
US Greens at 8
Israeli Labor Party at 8
British Labor Party at 7.5
German Christian Democrats at 7
British Torries at 6.5
British Republicans 5.9
U.S. Democrats at 5.2
U.S. Republicans at 5
US Constition Party at 4.5
US Libertarian Party at 3

Communion

I wasn't able to go to Communion yesterday. And it kind of bummed me out. Anyway, I've been thinking about communion and how St. Ignatius of Antioch really turned me around. He really turned me around on two things: Communion and the Church. Here is one of my fave St. Ignatius quotes:

"Let no one do any of the things pertaining to the Church without the bishop. Let that be considered a certain Eucharist which is celebrated by the bishop or by one whom he appoints. Wherever the bishop appears, let the congregation be present, just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church." (Letter to Church of Smyrna)

Why is it one of my favorites? Because it give me so much comfort. The last couple of years that I was a protestant I was plagued by doubt. But here St. Ignatius tells us how to be certain. I know a lot of people make a big deal out of the mystical nature of the Orthodox Church. But I love it for its concrete-ness.... I see it, taste it, smell it. I know where it is. I listen to the bishop or, more often "one whom he appoints" leads me in the liturgy and I have no doubts. Sometimes I feel like the Apostle Thomas. I want to feel the holes in his hands and side. But Jesus wants more than that. He offers me his blood for drink and his flesh for food.

Jesus offers more than just the facts of his life. He doesn't just give us the four Gospels and say "Learn my biography. Test is on Friday." The life of his church is not just a big Bible-Trivia game. (Which is sometimes what it seemed like to me when I was a Protestant.)

The Apostle John says as much in the opening of his first letter.

"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ."

He gives us the facts: "Heard", "seen", "looked upon", "handled". But what is the meaning of that physical reality? "Fellowship". In the liturgy, in the chalice, God comes to me (because I can't get to where he is) and is not just handled, seen, and looked upon, but is truely eaten and becomes part of me. He lets me be with Him. The cherubim puts down his flaming sword and I am allowed to eat of the Tree of Life.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Gossip

Blessed Seraphim Rose said, "How much hope there is for those who do not trust in themselves too much and are not overly-critical of others! And how little hope for those whose orientation is the opposite!"

I have a friend who, it seems to me, is very quick to bring me news of the moral failings of Christians in public life, especially if those Christians are Pentecostal/Charismatic TV preachers. But he is also quick to tell me of the moral failings of other people not famous, but known to both of us. I used to think he was really bad for being a gossip. I used to think I was better than my friend because I did not go running to tell him the failings of others. As I was thinking about this today I saw that my feeling superior to him was just as wicked as his gossiping.

Sin sure is sneaky.

The Science

I've heard economics called the "dismal science" but this is some thing new. I suppose it could be called the squishy science.

Why I'm not voting for Bush but why you should.

I live in California. Bush will lose this state by at least 10% points. My vote for him is wasted. So, I am going to vote for either the Libertarian Party or the Constitution Party, both of which have platforms that are more in line with what I believe. But if you are in Ohio, Maine, Colorado or any of the other "battleground" states and want to stop this, then you should vote for Bush.

This does not mean that I think the evil practice will end right away. It could be ended today if the Congress would act. (And don't even get me started on the Supreme Court. Congress has the power to limit their appelate jurisdiction but congressmen are cowards.) But Bush and the Republicans are more susceptable thant are the Democrats to pressure from the people who want to end this variety of barbarism.

Okay enough politics. "Put not your trust in princes and sons of men, in whom there is no salvation." I have to keep reminding myself of that.

I only had 14 tenants tell me which storage units they are using. The deadline was yesterday. Today I cut locks off. I bet I hear from all of the other tenants who didn't respond to my request very soon after I cut their locks.


Friday, September 17, 2004

Long Day

Long day, but much fun. The little boy and I spent most of it playing. But we didn't go swimming. I think I mentioned the slipped cartilige in my left jaw. Well, it turns out that I have an ear infection. Swimming makes it worse. So for the next couple of weeks no pool for me. But we did spend a couple of hours watering the grass with a hose. Well, he spent a goodly amount of time watering me. It was fun.

Cyndi and I are cooking for the parish on Sunday. Well, we actually started the cooking tonight. Made a tray of Hello Dolly. (Cyndi thinks they'll stay fresh. She knows about things like that.) Tomorrow we will make the pecan pies, brine the chickens, and do as much of the other prep work as possible. Of course, this means we're going to miss Glendi! this year. Oh, well. If the Lord tarries, perhaps, we can make next year.

Those of you who prayed for Cyndi's job interview: Thank you. It looks like she got the job. She doesn't know her start date yet.

If you get a chance, pray for H. He is my son's Godfather and is afflicted by a hurricane right now.

Gotta like a Sec. of State with a sense of humor:
Washington Times asks Powell if he intends to stay on for a second term. Powell to aide: "Oh, God. I thought I told you, Emily, to call over and tell them. . . I serve at the pleasure of the president."

School starts Monday. Filled with trepidation.

This just in from the Saying it like it is Desk:
David Gelernter in the The Weekly Standard said George Soros' comparison of America to Nazi Germany:
Has the Republican Congress decreed a U.S. version of the Nuremberg race laws? Has the administration transformed every American news source into a propaganda machine? Demanded that Jews (or anyone) be fired? That Jewish (or any other kind of) shops, businesses, professionals be boycotted? Propaganda posters everywhere? Students thrown out of schools? Secret police grabbing people off the streets? Children urged to inform on parents? All opposition parties banned? Churches harassed? A "Bush Youth" that every "Aryan" boy must join? Storm-troopers holding torchlight parades, singing hate-mongering war songs? Gigantic communal fines levied against Jews (or anyone else)? State-sponsored pogroms? Massive regimentation and rearmament? A f├╝hrer cult and special schools to train disciples? Brutal suppression of all regime opponents? No? Actually America under Bush resembles Nazi Germany in no way whatsoever, isn't that so?

Yesterday

Life here at the complex was pretty difficult yesterday. The plumber and I looked all over the place for the source of a leak in one of the exterior walls. The good news is that we found it. The less good news is that fixing it is going to require tearing the ceiling out of one of the apartments.
Wait! It gets worse! A very conservative hindu woman lives there and refuses to have the workmen there on a weekday because she can not be in the apartment at the same time as a man to whom she is not married if her husband is not there, too.
Solution: I scheduled the work for a Saturday.
Wait more problems! Their little girl has life threatening asthma and can not be in a dust apartment. That means that the ceiling has to be repaired as soon as possible. And the apartment has to be dust-free as soon as possible.
Solution: I have scheduled sheet rock hangers to come in on the heels of the plumbers, and a cleaning service to come in on the heels of the sheet rock hangers. All on a Saturday.
Saturday work is at time and a half.
There goes the landscaping budget.
You know wht the problem is? The people who built these buldings were only thinking about short term profits, so they used galvanized iron pipes, knowing that copper was superior and would last longer.

Cyndi has a job interview today. She is pretty excited. Please pray for her.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Evening Update

Just home from SF. Wow! What a busy day. Plumbers. Meeting with boss. Parking space issues here at the complex. Still dealing with the offending air conditioner. Playing with the little boy. Gardeners. (I want to fire our gardner. I'm going to give him 30 days to straighten out his act.) Shopping. Dinner at my sister-in-law's house on Nob Hill. (I made Carolina Cole Slaw. ) On the way to her house I had to pick up my wife's uncle. He is staying with a distant relative in this really cute neighborhood on what I always think of as the "other side" of Stern Grove. I could totally dig living in one of the little houses near Wawona and Escolata . Anyway, just got home. Nearly exhausted. But have to write a letter to the tenants letting them know they won't have water between 10 am and 2 pm tomorrow. Oh, and evening prayers.

Another Joke

Some friars needed to raise more money for books for the school, so they opened up a small florist shop to raise funds. Since everyone liked to buy flowers from the men of God, a rival florist across town thought the competition was unfair. He asked the good brothers to close down, but they would not. He went back and begged the friars to close. They ignored him. So, the rival florist hired Hugh MacTaggart, the roughest and mostvicious thug in town to "persuade" them to close. Hugh beat up the friars and trashed their store, saying he'd be back if they didn't close up shop. Terrified, they did so, thereby proving that "Only Hugh can prevent florist friars."

More little things

I just had a meeting with my boss. She wants me to get a real estate license so I can take care of more properties. (It would include a nice raise!) But I wont have time to do it until January.


Fr Joseph posted these little snippets on his blog.

"No one is so good and full of pity as God, but even He does not forgive those who do not repent." - Mark the Hermit

"We're not Orthodox in order to escape the gaping jaws of hell. We're Orthodox in thanksgiving for what God has done for us in the Incarnation." - Archimandrite Damian, Abbot - Ascension Monastery

"To come to the pleasure you have not ... you must go by a way in which you enjoy not."-St John of the Cross

"Perhaps knowledge is but the effort of a mind that resists the headlong fall and holds back in the midst of temptation."-Dennis de Rougemont

"The 'school for saints' has never found it necessary to bring its curriculum up to date."- Evelyn Underhill

"When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear." -Thomas Sowell


Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Best movie of 1994

When everyone else was seeing Pulp Fiction and other cine-plex fare, I was really into Art House movies. So instead of Pulp Fiction, I saw Cemetary Man. Essentially, it is a zombie movie. I don't remember the plot at all. In fact, because I saw DeadAlive in the same theater I get the two mixed up in my head. (No. I am not a zombie movie fan. I just saw every movie that played in that theater from 1992 to 1996.) Anyway, there is a guy who is the caretaker of a cemetary in a small town in Italy. Problem: People keep coming back to life. Part of his job is to put them down again with a shotgun blast to the head. Sounds gruesome, right? Well, if you can get past that it is absolutely hillarious. Well, it was in 1994 when I was 25 and drinking a lot. (About a gallon of gin per week.) Maybe I wouldn't find it funny now. I know that I liked David lynch films back then, too. But the Mullholland Drive, the last Lynch film I saw made me feel like I needed to take a bath.

You know what the problem with David Lynch is? He makes these movies that technically, and naratively, and in everyother way are the best movies ever made. But there is always something in them that stinks. It's like a gorgeus pie on a shelf. I looks good. It looks like pie in a Crisco advertisement in a food magazine. And boy, does that pie smell good. The smell makes you think of the midwest in the forties and women baking pies for church socials. And you cut yourself a slice of that pie, (is it peach or berry?) and just go to town with it. And oh! it tastes good. But you can tell that something is different. There is a flavor you think you recognize, but not really, its not something you have ever tasted, but somehow you know it. Something is wrong. Something is dreadfully wrong. Only when the pie is sliding down your throat do you realize that the baker put a piece of shit in the pie-filling. Now this isn't true of all his movies. I really only mean it about "Blue Velvet", "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me", "Dark Highway", "Wild at Heart", "Eraserhead" and "Mulholland Drive". "Dune" doesn't count (Lynch didnt have creative control.) And the "The Straight Story" is an exception. That was a very good movie. In every sense.

Hmmmm. Now that I think of it, Maybe Lynch is dealing in the extremes of human exerience. Maybe he is saying in all of those polluted movies that no matter how things look on the outside they are diseased on the inside. Maybe in "The Straight Story" he sees that there really can be good in the world, that Martin Luther is wrong, and not every act of man is tainted by the fall. But you know what the weirdest thing about David Lynch is? He seems to be saying, "This world sucks! I want a better world.", while at the very same time he is making the world an uglier place. I think this is illustrated best in Blue Velvet in which two teenagers living a mythic 1950's American life are plunged into a world of murder, transvestitism, rape, kidnapping, and drug abuse. And, yeah, we can agree with his thesis (Satan runs Hollywood) in Mulholland Drive but do we really have to look at all of that yuck?

Paging Mr. Lynch. Paging Mr. Lynch. We all want the world to be a beautiful place, David. Please, stop making it uglier while telling us it is uglier and should be better. Just make it better like you did in "The Straight Story".

Well, anyway, if you like zombie movies, Cemetary Man is worth the price of a 2 night rental.

Other news: I bought most of my textbooks for the Fall Quarter today.

What I am listening to as I write this: "Harley-Davidson" by Bridget Bardot.

Islam is evil, but it isn't the real enemy.

Fr. Joseph wrote:

"Our government may build a multinational coalition against terrorism in order to do battle with our attackers. But, as has always been the case, we truly only have one enemy. That is, the enemy of our salvation, the Devil. And, in spiritual warfare, there is no greater weapon than the sign of the Life Giving Cross of Christ. It is the Cross that subdues the enemy! It is the Cross that delivers fallen mankind! It is the Cross that is victorious!"

(I don't know how to post a link to exactly what he wrote. Sorry. But if you go to his blog and scroll down to his post of Sept 11 you will be able to read the whole post.)

Alaskan Orthodoxy

When I first read some of the writings of Bishop Nikolai I thought he was a little severe. But according to this article on the BBC website, it looks like he is doing something right. But there is one error in the report. The Church in Alaska has at least 88 parishes, not 49 as the BBC reported.

Islam is Evil, but so what?

Today is the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross!

O Lord, save Thy people, and bless Thine inheritance
Grant victories to Orthodox Christians over their adversaries
And by Thy Cross
Preserve Thy habitation!

O Christ our God,
Who wast voluntarily lifted up on the Cross,
Grant Thy mercies to Thy new people named after Thee.
Gladden with Thy power Orthodox Christians
And give them victory over their enemies.
May they have as ally that invincible trophy, Thy weapon of peace.

Monday, September 13, 2004

A joke

My friend George, who moves large space craft around in the sky above us, sent me this joke:

A woman in a hot air balloon realized she was lost. She lowered her altitude and spotted a man hiking on a trail below her.

She shouted to him, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."

The man consulted his portable GPS and replied, "You're in a hot air balloon approximately 30 feet above a ground elevation of2346 feet above sea level. You are 31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitudeand 100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west longitude.

She rolled her eyes and said, "You must be aRepublican.""I am," replied the man. "How did you know?""Well," answered the balloonist, "everything youtold me istechnically correct, but I have no idea what to make of your information, and I'm still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help to me."

The man smiled and responded, "You must be aDemocrat."

"I am," replied the balloonist. "How did youknow?"

"Well," said the man, " You don't know where you are or where you're going. You've risen to where you are due to a large quantityof hot air. You made a promise that you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. You're in exactly the sameposition you were in before we met, but somehow now, it's my fault."

A few little things

A tennent abandonded their apartment on Friday. Have to take posession of it today. I get to learn something new.

Burned my thumb lighting the lampada before the Icon of Christ Pantocrator today. That will teach me not to play with fire before I've had the first cup of coffee. (Ahh. But I am out of coffee. Today I am drinking tea.)

Supper on Saturday: Pork chops stuffed with prosciutto and guyere. To make this dish you need a fairly thick pork chop. Brown the pork chops in a buttered pan. Take them out of the pan before they are finished cooking. Using a very sharp knife, butterly the chops and carefully place 2 slices of procsiutto on the bottm slice of the pork chop. Try to cover the bottom part of the chop with the prosciutto without very much over-hang. Put thin slices of guyere on top of the prosciutto, close the pork chop, fasten with a treen toothpick. Throw a handfull of chopped scallions into the pan set the pork chops on the scallions. Cook a little bit. Turn the pork chops over. The scallions should be charred. Pour 1/2 cup of Marsala Wine on the chops. Cook until done. While cooking shred 3 or 4 more slices of prosciutto. When the pork chops are done remove from the pan and put them on plates. throw the shredded prosciuto into the pan add more Marsala Wine and deglaze. Pour this thick sweet sauce on the porck chops. I served the pork chops with pasta (boiled and suteed in fresh sliced garlic and olive oil), green salad, and a 2000 Sonoma Cabernet. Bon appetite!

Cyndi beat me at a game of Go last night. I predict that she will win from now on. I am with go the same way I am with Chess. I love the games and teach them to everyone who will learn, but then they start beating me about the 4th or 5th game.

Tonight is the Festal Vigil for the Exaltation of the Cross. I've never been to this service. I can hardly wait!

Oh, I also discovered while shopping for pants on Saturday that I am no longer a 48 around the waist. I am a 46! This is so cool because now I do not have to shop in the big and tall stores. I can actually buy my pants in the stores most men shop in!!! Why is this so good? It means I can spend less money on clothes and have a greater selection. Hooray!

Cyndi and I signed up to cook for the parish next Sunday. We are not sure how we are going to do that and go to Glendi, too. Usually we take most of Saturday to do the prep work.


Saturday, September 11, 2004

Memory Eternal

His Beatitude Petros VII, Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa;
His Eminence, Metropolitan Ireneos of Pilousiou
His Eminence, Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Karthagena;
His Grace, Bishop Nektarios of Madagascar;
Archimandrites Arsenios and Kallistratos [Economou];
Deacon Nektarios Kontogiorgosand 11 others were lost lost in a helicopter accident.
(Reuters story here.)

Memory Eternal!

Friday, September 10, 2004

What are you going to do?

"Sorry, it won't do. As I mentioned last week, I wrote a couple of days after September 11 that weepy candlelight vigils were a cop-out: the issue wasn't whether you were sad about the dead people but whether you wanted to do something about it. Three years on, here we go again.
We can all get upset about dead kids, but unless you're giving honest thought to what was responsible for the slaughter, your tasteful elegies are no use." (Read the whole article from the Jerusalem Post here.)

Is a war of extermination too much to ask for?

I put my little boy to sleep a little while ago. About 30 seconds ago I saw these pictures. This little boy with the wound in his leg, and his back missing is about the size of my little boy........ until now, a photograph has never made me cry. What do we do about this? My whole life I have been hearing about Muslim ter....

I started this post as a call to iradicate Islam. But I just realized that this dead little Indonesian boy was probably Muslim.

O God, save us. Holy Martyr Yanis, pray to God for us.

My little boy is growing up

He already has a thing for blonds. (When he sees a woman with blond hair he usually says "pretty".) But tonight something really neat happened. He sang the Trisagion prayer with me!!!!

A few little things

1. Found some used lawn bowls on-line for $35. Not too pretty, but functinal.

2. Priced Bocce Balls at target.
A. The cheepest set was made of heavy plastic. and came in a heavy plastic carying case. Price: $18
B. The mid-priced set was very good. Heavy resin balls. canvass and leather carying case. Price: $54
C. Eddie Bauer Bocce Ball set. Looked the same as the mid-priced set, with the exception of Mr. Bauer's name on each ball. Also came in a pretty wooden carying case. Price: $118


What do you do?

An Orthodox Christian in an other part of the country, in another jurisdiction signed a contract with me for many thousands of dollars. I gave him a huge discount for the sake of our brotherhood. The money was due months ago but he has not paid. He does not return phone calls, he does not respond to letters. I just found out yesterday that my company is suing him. I hate this situation. I am embarrassed than an Orthodox Christian is doing this. The comapny is being hurt financiually. I am being hurt financially. I know where he goes to church. Should I contact his priest?

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Overdose Update

She is home from the hospital.
No permanent physical damage.
She is seeing a psychiatrist on an outpatient basis.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Air Conditioners

I hate them. I mean, I really hate them. (Hey, I lived in south Florida and know all about Statuary Hall, so I can say this.)

Top 10 Reasons Why I hate Air Conditioning:
10. Nothing says "I'm a wimp who can't handle the outdoors" like sitting in front of the air conditioner on a gorgeous summer day.
9. Air conditioning kills our reptile friends.
8. Two words: Legoinnaires Disease.
7. When the air inside a closed area is cooled by an air conditioner, the air outside the air conditioned area is heated. (It's science.) This means that if I want to use an air conditioner to cool my house I have to make everyone outside my house a little hotter. That is very selfish.
6. Energy-efficient air conditioning (Oxymoron?) requires that office building windows do not open. This leads to disease and death!
5. Air-conditioners suck up electricity, resulting in electricity shortages on hot days.
4. Air-conditiners are one leg of a technological triumvirate of cultural degredation.
3. People have lived on this planet for 6,000 years. And the vast majority of them did it without air conditioning. Yet many people act like air-conditioning is a God-given right. It isn't.
2. Air conditioners = noise pollution.
1. One of my tenants installed a window air-conditioner today. I explained to her that they are not allowed. She told me she looked in the lease and the lease doesn’t say anything about air conditioners. I explained that I do not allow window mounted air conditioners for aestetic reasons (What next? Cars up on blocks in the carports?) and that modifications to apartments can not be made without my written permission. She said, “Well, they were allowed before you were the manager.” I said, “Yes, they were. They are not allowed now.” (We also had a 50% vacancy rate before Cyndi and I took over the management or the property. We currently have zero vacancies, and a major reason for that success is the appearance of the property.) She said, “But I have a heart condition and have to be kept cool. I can give you a letter from my doctor.” I didn't say anything to that but thought, "What a I, your second grade teacher? I don't want a letter from your doctor. Besides, if you have a heart condition, lose 300 lbs. You'll be amazed what that does for your heart." This situation has not been resolved and her air conditioner is installed. I emailed my boss to get her advice on how to deal with the situation. Not six hours after the air conditioner was installed another tenant asked me if the rule about air conditioners has been changed. I can feel this situation spiriling out of control and I see a court room in my future. I really hate air conditioners.

And besides all of this, Islam is evil.

Zell Miller for President!!!!

Okay, sure it links to MTV. but you have to read this!!! Isn't that great? I love this guy.

Why I say Islam is Evil

A few people, either via email, the comments section, or even face to face, have either commended me or disagreed with me for saying "Islam is evil".

This is the defense of my oft repeated (on this blog and on this one) statement that Islam is evil.

1. Theological Defense
I am a Christian. I believe that Jesus is the eternal Son of God, one of the Holy Trinity, that through him all things exist. That there never was a time when he did not exist, that he is absolutely Divine, with The Father and the Holy Spirit. That the Son of God became a man and that his name name is Jesus. He is 100% God. He is 100% man. Neither his Godhood nor his manhood is deminished in anway. God became man because of love. Be became man to save mankind. And he is the only way to be saved.

But that was 2,000 years ago. And the Bible (as a Christian I also believe the Holy Spirit, who is also God, speaks in the Bible.) says that in later times false teachers would arise. That some people would be seduced by evil spirits and teach the doctrine of demons.

Now here is what Koran says about Jesus:

"He [Jesus] said: 'I am indeed a servant of God. He has given me revelation and made me a prophet; He has made me blessed wheresoever I be; and He has enjoined on me prayer and charity as long as I live. He has made me kind to my mother, and not overbearing or miserable. So peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again)!' Such was Jesus the son of Mary. It is a statement of truth, about which they (vainly) dispute. It is not befitting to (the majesty of) God that He should beget a son. Glory be to Him! When He determines a matter, He only says to it, 'Be,' and it is" (19:30-35).

"And behold! God will say [i.e. on the Day of Judgment]: 'Oh Jesus, the son of Mary! Did you say unto men, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of God?' He will say: 'Glory to Thee! Never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, You would indeed have known it. You know what is in my heart, though I know not what is in Yours. For You know in full all that is hidden. Never did I say to them anything except what You commanded me to say: 'Worship God, my Lord and your Lord.' And I was a witness over them while I lived among them. When You took me up, You were the Watcher over them, and You are a witness to all things'" (5:116-117).

"Christ, the son of Mary, was no more than a messenger; many were the messengers that passed away before him. His mother was a woman of truth. They had both to eat their (daily) food. See how God makes His signs clear to them; yet see in what ways they are deluded away from the truth!" (5:75).

But the Bible records this conversation: "[Jesus] saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed [it] unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 16:15-17)

This is a problem. As Aristotle teaches us, A is not equal to non-A. No matter how we try, it is not possible to make the Statements about and by Jesus that are found in the Bible agree with the statments by and about Jesus that are found in the Koran. Either the Bible is wrong, or the Koran is wrong, or they are both wrong. For reasons I won't go into right now, I belive the Bile is true (in every possible meaning of that word.) And if the Bible is true, and Koran disagrees with it, then it necessarily follows that the Koran is wrong.

But does the fact that the Koran is wrong about Jesus make Islam, the religion of the Koran evil?

Well lets see. Lets take two little pieces of the Bible and try to figure this out. In the Gospel of John are these words:

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life for God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved." (John 3:16-20)

It is God's will to save people. It is God's love that prompts Him to send the Son. The light of God has come into the world but some hate te light. Some refuse to believe the light. Some prefer the darkness.

Let me ask, is anything more evil than hating the God who made you and loves you?

"But wait", you defenders of Islam say, "Muhamed claimed to receive his revelation from an angel. Doesn't that count for anything?" Well, yes, he did claim that he received a revelation from an angel in A.D. 612. But do you remember one of the first things I said in this post? I mentioned a passage in the Bible that says in the latter times people would teach the doctrines of demons. Here, let me quote Saint Paul for you: "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils" (I Timothy 4:1) and also let us look at something written by Saint John: "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. " So yes, I agree, an angel (or more properly a devil) did transmit the Koran to Mohamed.

But you defenders of Islam, you who say I should not call call Islam evil, you say, "Christians and Muslims serve the same God, after all it wasn't any old spirit that appeard to muhommad in that cave in A.D. 612, it was Gabriel himself, the very angel who annouced the Birth of Jesus, one of the seven holy arcangels."

Um, no. It wasn't Gabriel. About 600 years before Mohamed heard the voice of the demon Saint Paul wrote: "And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light."


2. Historical Defense
I think most people agree with me that killing poeple is evil. I think even most Muslims agree with me on this. But lets look at the history of Islam.

Early in the 620's Mohamed convinced the people of Medina to let him become their ruler. As the governor of Medina he became tyrannical and cruel. At one point he sacrificed one hundred camels to emphasize a preachment he made from the back of a camel. In 629, under the command of Muhammad, Muslims put the sword to the Jews of Khaybar as an example for all others who were refusing to accept Islam as their religion. Six hundred Jewish men were put to death and all of the women sold as slaves. He used private assassination. He added many wives to his family and concubines. He married women whom he had never even seen and some who were already married. To effectuate this he obtained from Allah a special law entitling him to exceed the usual number of wibes. He finally coveted Zaynab, the wife of his adopted son Zaid. Zaid obligingly divorced her but when the young woman demanded a revelation to sanction the union. The "angel Gabriel" was happy to produce one.

From Medina, Mohamed and his followers made war (jihad) an Mecca. The caravan raids and battle continued from A.D. 623 into A.D. 630, when Mohamad entered Mecca triumphantly after the entire population quickly converted to Islam. Mecca was established as the religious center of Islam.

Now, lets cover a lot of history very quickly. Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Algeria, Lebanon, Turkey. These are all Muslim countries. They used to be Christian. But Islam has a habit of expanding through warefare. I have no problem calling this evil.


3. A Small Sample of Muslim Terrorism in My Lifetime
One of my earliest memories is of the Munich Olympics. What happened there? Muslims killed a lot of poeple. When was that? 1972?

The next memory I have of Muslims is Teran, Iran in 1979. A group of Iranian students who were angry at the United States attacked and seized its embassy in Tehran, Iran. They were supported by the countries leader, Ayatollah Khomeini.

Then of course, there were the Hostages in Lebanon: 18 Americans kidnapped in the early 1980s. David Dodge was the president of the American University in Beirut. He was kidnapped the first time while he was on his way home from work. He was released, but he was kidnapped again. This time he was killed. His murder was called the most gruesome abduction, torture, and killing of a United States citizen. The terrorists videotaped his torture and murder. A group called the Organization of the Oppressed on Earth claimed responsibility, but the real suspects are the Hezbollah guerillas.

April 1983 - A large vehicle packed with explosives is driven quickly into the U.S. Embassy compound in Beirut. When it explodes it kills 63 people. A group of terrorists called the Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility.

October 1983 - A large truck bomb with 2,500 pounds of TNT smashed through the main gate of the U.S. Marine headquarters in Beirut. 241 U.S. servicement are killed when it expoldes. A French paratrooper base is blown up just a few minutes later and 58 French soldiers are killed. Again, Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility.

December 1983 - Islamic Jihad attacked the US embassy in Kuwaut. 4 killed, more than 60 injured.

September 1984 - Muslims drove van filled with explosives through several barriers and groups of U.S. soldiers and stopped about 30 feet in front of the embassy in Beirut, Lebanon. 12 soldiers and visitors to the embassy were killed.

April 1985 - A bomb exploded in a restaurant where U.S. soldiers liked to eat. The explosion killed 18 Spaniard citizens and injured 82 other people. Only 15 of the Americans were injured, but none were killed. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility.

In June of 1985 I watched this play out on television: Twa Flight 847. This airliner took off in Rome, Italy, but was hijacked and forced to fly to Beirut, Lebanon. Mohammed Hamadei from the terrorist group Hezbollah, Hassan Izz-al-Din from Lebanon, and Ali Atwa another terrorist hijacked the plane. I saw the Muslims throw the dead body of an American off the plane.

October 1985 - The Achille Lauro cruise ship hijacked by four Palistinian men who are members of the Palestine Liberation Organization. They murder a handicapped man from New York and throw his body overboard.

December 1985 - Grenades and Guns are used to Massacre Passengers at Rome and Vienna Airport. At the same time two groups of terrorists, one in Rome and one in Vienna, charge up to the counters of Israel's El Air airline. They throw grenades at the tourists getting ready to fly on the airline.

April 1986 - TWA Flight 840 Bombed. As the plane was beginning to land in Athens a plastic explosive bomb exploded under the seat of the passenger sitting in seat 10F. Four people were killed and nine others were wounded. The terrorist group called Ezzedine Kassam Unit of the Arab Revolutionary Cells claimed responsibility

February 1993 - World Trade Center in New York Bombed. A group of Muslim terrorists are arrested after a rented van packed with explosives and driven into the World Trade Center's underground parking garage. Six people were killed and more than 1,000 are injured in this terrorist attack.

November 1995 - U.S. Military Complex in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is Bombed. Seven people were killed when a powerful car bomb planted by Muslims exploded in front of a military center run by the United States military.

1996 - Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia are Bombed. A fuel truck was parked 35 yards away from a United States military compound. When the truck blew up 19 American soldiers were killed and 500 more people were wounded. The Movement for Islamic Change claimed responsibility for the bombing.

August 1998 - U.S. Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania were Bombed
These Al Qaida attacks happened almost at the same time. More than 5,000 people were injured and 224 were killed when the buildings that they were working in collapsed during the explosions.

October 2000 - The USS Cole was docked in Aden Yemen for refueling. A small craft pulled alongside the ship and two terrorists set off the bomb. The two terrorists were killed and so were 17 U.S. Navy seamen when the explosion blew a 20 by 40 foot hole in the side of the ship.

September 2001 - Four airlines hijacked. 3 reach their targets. Thousands die.

September 2004 - more than 300 killed in an attack on a Russian School. (If Bush is El Cid, maybe Putin will be this era's Vlad the impaler.)



4. A Final Word
Love your enemies. That command to me from my Lord is unequivical. As an Orthodox Christian, I can look back at a long history defeats and invasions by Muslim Armies to the fall of Jerusalem (A Muslim still owns my Lords tomb to this day.) , to the fall of Antioch, to the fall of Smyrna, to the horrible defeat at the Battle of Manzakrit, and finally to the fall of Consantinople. But the command of Jesus is the same: Love your enemies.

My enemies, the Muslims, are still people God loves. They are some of the people for whom He became man. God is All-Loving, Just, and Compassionate, and does not wish the death of a sinner, but patiently awaits his return. The height and breadth of His love was shown to us by the birth, death, and resurrection of His Only-Begotten Son.

Yes, Islam is evil. But Jesus can, has, and does overcome evil by the power of His love.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Continued Correspndence with Bernard Bell.

Hi, Bernard.

I hope you had a relaxing Labor Day. You wrote so much in your email, and every word was so enjoyable thatI hardly know where to begin. But I must start somewhere. It seems only fitting that I start with thanks - thanks to God for spreading His love all over His creation. Thanks for PBCC and my years there. Thanks for the opportunity you have to fill the role of ascholar-in-residence. But mostly, I give Him thanks, for by His great power He who by nature is as impassible as He is unchangeable chose to suffer with me, and for me, by taking on human flesh and suffering as we suffer, in truth suffering in ways we can not even begin to imagine. And I thank Him for the hymn (I heard it often atPBCC.) that teaches this beautiful doctrine in four little lines:

"Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be."

And I thank you for giving me so much of your time. My father, my grandfather, and two of my brothers are, or were pastors. I know from observing them that men in your line of work have very little time to spare, especially for someone not even in their church.

I think you are right about most evangelicals not having a theology of worship. But there is much the evangelicals do have that is beatifuland good. And some, such as yourself, even have a good theology ofworship. (I don't say that to flatter you. I am actually a very critical person.)

I remember the first time I read the liturgies of St. Mark and St. James. I was amazed. At the time, PBCC was trying to find a new worship leader and was worshiping in a different style almost every week. I immediately thought, "Wow! I wonder why we don't worship like that?" Eventually, as you know, I found a church that does worship like that. But, it seems, that in you and your Christmas Eve service, Ss. Mark, James, Basil and Chrysostom have some competition in liturgy writing! (Okay okay, a little flattery, but that was a really good service you put together. I am sure God was pleased. How was it received by the people of PBCC?)

One thing you said in your email I thought was funny. It is something that I have noticed a lot of Protestants do. You said, "In the ancient world this meant falling on your face and paying homage. Today we don't fall on our faces, but still we pay homage." Actually, the Orthodox do still fall on our faces. Quite often, in fact. By theend of Lent I am surprised that I have any skin left on my forehead. Similarly, I remember my Dad used to explain the passage that commands women to be silent in church by saying that in ancient times men and women stood on opposite sides of the buildings, and that women were disturbing the services by talking to their husbands. On Patmos, you and Sue saw that the Orthodox still do this today (at least in some parishes. Another friend of mine has a picture of himself standing in a lake wearing a white bathrobe. He told me that it was a picture of his baptism and that the white robe was something the ancient church used to do. At the time I didn't know it (I didn'tknow anything about Orthodoxy), but the Orthodox still put white clothes on the newly baptized. I also remember being told that in theearly church there were no pews, that everyone stood during the services. It was only when I discovered Orthodoxy that I learned thatChristians still stand through entire services. Time after time, I found that things supposedly only done in the early days of the church are still done by the Orthodox.

And that brings me to the theology of worship in the Orthodox Church. It is what most of our books are about. You will be hard pressed tofind many books on systematic theology, or even many books on dogmatictheology, (We don't think much of Aquinas or Barth. But Orthodox libraries are packed full of books on prayer and worship. If moreOrthodox knew about him they might like Tozer.) A lot of people translate the word "ortho-dox" as "right thinking". But in my very first catechism class I was told that it is just as easily translatedas "right praise". In fact, worship so permeates Orthodox theology that when we call someone a "theologian" we do not mean someone with advanced degrees who writes books about God. No, when we say someone is a theologian we mean that he has reached heights of prayer and worship that enable him to see the uncreated light of God. The first type of person, the one with advanced degrees and a lot of knowledge is merely an academician. True theologians are people who worship and see God.

When I said that we don't spend much time with Revelation, I should have been more precise. We don't read from it during the services like we do the other books of the Bible, but it is still read and studied, and incorporated into the services, (More than 90% of theDivine Liturgy is either quoting Scripture or alluding to Scripture,and a sizable amount of that is from St. John's last book.), and portrayed in Holy Icons. The feeling I get from reading Archbishop Averky's commentary on Revelation ('m reading it right now) is that it is a basic book that reinforces the message of the Gospels and leads one to worship as the Orthodox worship. In other words, we are already worshiping as Revelation teaches, and if you cling to theGospel and live in Christ, the most we have to worry about from theAntichrist is some temporary discomfort. It is much more important to keep our wedding clothes clean than to speculate about when the Antichrist will come or who he is.

I know you are reading Clendinin's book (I read his essay "Why I am not Orthodox" when I was a catachumen but have not read anything else by him.), and have a lot of work at PBCC, but if you want to get glimpse of the Orthodox theology of worship, you might want to buy a book titled "For The Life of the World" by Fr. Alexander Schmeman.You can buy this book (he wrote several books) of his at this website: http://www.svspress.com/index.php?cPath=62_71&osCsid=2302fc05a908d41b540a4654e394e5e0

If you are really interested in Orthodoxy, you might want to read "The Orthodox Liturgy" by an Anglican named Hugh Wybrew. He uses the tools of modern literary criticism to explain the development of theOrthodox liturgy. Sometimes, I think he is out in left field but still he is informative. The "Orthodox Church" by Timothy Ware (now BishopKallistos) is also informative, and for me holds some authority, since it is written by a hierarch of my Church. Bishop Kallistos was a Protestant and wrote this book for Protestant readers.

I do not know much about the Anglicans (other than their birth in King Henery's marital problems and their recent recent troubles with homosexual clergy. Hmmm. Not too very seemly bookends on that church. ) but St. Benedict is an Orthodox Saint, and his Rule, as he wrote it, is entirely Orthodox. I've been told that some Orthodox monasteries still use his Rule, but generally, Orthodox monks and nuns follow a daily cycle of 9 services (coresponding in number to the 9 ranks of the angelic beings). I live in the world so my prayer rule is different from that of a monk, but I think this is what mostOrthodox monks and nuns do:

Vespers
Compline
Nocturns
Matins
1st Hour
3rd Hour
6th Hour
Divine Liturgy
9th Hour

The liturgical day begins, as it does for the Jews, at sundown. So intheory the first service of each day is Vespers. But in practice, the 9th Hour from the preceding liturgical day is prayed at the beginningof each days Vespers service.

There isn't much I can tell you about Compline and Nocturns. I've never been in one of those services. At least, I don't think I have. (Sometimes, during Holy Week I am not exactly sure which service we are doing. It seems like we are in the church more than we are out of it. ) But the Hours are short services that can be prayed in about 20 minutes time. Occasionally, I will pray the 3rd or 6th hour, but it is not part of my Rule. For your convenience, I'll put the text of one of the hours services at the end of this email.

It is the practce of the Slavic churches to meld parts (or all) of 9thHour, Vespers, Nocturn, Compline, and Matins into one long and coninuous service. These are called Vigil services. They can last any where from two hours to all night long, ending with the DivineLiturgy.

At my parish (www.holytrinity.org) the Vigil service on Saturday nightis about 2 hours long. If you are interested, you might want to comethe Vigil service on September 13. It is a special type of Vigil,called a Festal Vigil. The festal vigils are probably my favoriteservices (not including Nativity and Holy Week services.) Unlike the Liturgy and some other services, there is no part of it in which you may not participate. Also, I don't think there is anything in it thatwould make you, a Protestant, uncomfortable. (I am assuming that youknow we do not adore Icons.)

Anyway, if you'd like to come try to be there between 5:30 and 6 PM. The services are in English.

My prayer rule is very different from that of a monk. It consists of:
Evening prayers (http://www.antiochian.org/evening-prayers)
Morning prayers (http://www.antiochian.org/morning-prayers)

and these two prayers said at the end of evening prayers:

PRAYER OF PARENTS FOR THEIR CHILDREN AND FOR RELATIVES AND FRIENDS:
O God, our heavenly Father, who lovest mankind, and art most mercifuland compassionate, have mercy upon thy servants (Name those whom youwish to remember) for whom I humbly pray thee, and commend to thygracious care and protection. Be thou, O God, their guide and guardianin all their endeavors, lead them in the path of thy truth, and drawthem nearer to thee, that they may lead a godly and righteous life inthy love and fear; doing thy will in all things. Give them grace thatthey may be temperate, industrious, dilligent, devout and charitable.Defend them against the assaults of the enemy, and grant them wisdomand strength to resist all temptation and corruption of this life; anddirect them in the way of salvation, through the merits of thy Son,our Saviour Jesus Christ, and the intercessions of his Holy Mother andthy blessed Saints. Amen.

A PRAYER OF MARRIED PERSONS:
O merciful God, we bessech thee ever to remind us that the marriedstate is holy, and that we must keep it so; grant us thy grace, thatwe may continue in faithfulness and love; increase in us the spirit ofmutual understanding and trust, that no quarrel or strife may comebetween us; grant us thy blessings, that we may stand before ourfellows and in thy sight as an ideal family; and finally, by thymercy, account us worthy of everlasting life: for thou art oursanctification, and to thee we ascribe glory: to the Father, and tothe Son, and to the Holy Spirit: now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Of course, many other prayers are said as needed, these are just the 4formal prayers I say each day before the Icons.

As for your discussion of latreneuo and proskuneuo: I agree with youbut I do think we should be careful not to define them to rigidly.For instance, the honor Abraham gave to the men from whom he boughtSarah's grave was proskuneuo. And Orthodox will call the honor theygive to Icons proskuneuo. And the honor given to the bread and winewhen the Holy Spirit comes upon them and changes them is alsoproskenuo. But in the case of Abraham and Holy Icons, the Orthodoxwould not admit that either is latreneuo. But in the case of the HolyGifts, that worship is both latreneuo and proskuneuo. It is hard tosay, at least it is hard for me to say always what the differencebetween the two types of worship are. I know the difference betweenthe worship I give to God, and the lesser honor I give to every otherthing, when I am offering one or the other of them, but I do not knowthe langages well enough to know what to call the various worshipfulacts.

I'd love to hear more about your trip to Patmos and the 7 churches. Although, I understand that Christ was faithful to His word of judgement against some of them, and they no longer exist.

Let me know if you want to come to the Festal Vigil on the 13th, or any regular vigil on a Saturday evening.

Your servant,

Matt

(In the email to Bernard the 1st Hour Readers service was appended here)

Monday, September 06, 2004

The evening and an update on the overdose

Just got home from the little boy's Godmother's house. She had us over for supper: Baked chicken, green beans, carrots, little russian chocolates and borscht. It was very good borscht. I had two bowls. Cyndi and I brought a salad made of butter lettuce, sliced figs, stilton, candied (with maple syrup) and toasted pecans, and champagne-balsamic vinagrette. The people present were my wife, the little boy, the Godmother, the Godmother's motorcycle dealers (a very nice couple named Kari and Gail), Godmother's 19 year old daughter, and her friend. It was a very nice evening. We talked about motorcycles, Yellowstone, Russia, and generally just had a nice pleasant evening.

When we got home I checked on the tenant who overdosed. She is still in the hospital. Might have ruined her kidneys but the doctors are not yet sure. When she talks she babbles incoherently. The M.D.s don't know yet if the babbling is psychological or physical, temorary or permanent.

Suicde Attempt

One of my tenants got into a fight with her boyfriend last night. That was in San Francisco. She left him up there and drove home. This morning I saw the boyfriend crawling in her window. (He has keys but often loses them. I've seen him crawling in the window before. Pot kills brain cells.) Then I saw the police arrive. I ran to the apartment to see what was the matter. The police officer asked me to move the furniture out of the living room. A fire fighther helped me and we moved everything out of the way as the paramedics carried a limp blue body from the bedroom. They set up a little emergency room in the apartment. Intubated her and started an IV drip. She had come home after the fight with her boyfriend and taken a bottle of prescption pain killers. She is alive and is at the hospital now. The police officer said they do not know how long her respiration has been supressed. They do not know if she suffered brain damage. At least she is alive. All of this happened in the last hour.

The morning

As I write this I hear my wife and son in the pool swimming. His laughing 2 year old voice makes me so happy I have trouble holding back tears. I am so amazaed that God has given me this family. He is so good to me.

Reading Archbishop Averky's comentay on Revelation. (Thank you Ian for finding it in the church library for me.) I have noticed something about Orthodox Bishops. (I have verly limited experience with Orthodox bishops so this opinion might change later.) They do not write like Evangelical Protestant teachers. They do not build arguments for their interpretations of Scripture. They simply say: This passage means X, or theis verse means Y. This is a very different way of doing theology. It doesn't allow for discussion but requires submission. Ouch! Being Orthodox is not easy.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Pain and Suffering

It has been a very difficult couple of days. Among other things, my left transmandibular joint is inflamed and I am unable to close my mouth. It is very painful. Spoke to one of the M.D.s who is a member of my parish. She said I probably have a slipped cartalige and that I need to make an appointment to see a doctor. I hate going to see doctors. As a class, their customer service skills are well below those of the average advertising salesman. It is always a yucky experience.

Found out this morning that I am broke. Forgot to count transportation expenses in the budget (about $100 per week) and over spent.

The temperature of the air in San Jose is 88 degrees (F). The ice pack I put on my jaw melted in 10 minutes. Miserable.

In other less whiney news, Cyndi and I ate at a Greek tavern across the street from our church last night. We've been saying every week for a coupel of years that we need to eat there, so last night we were in SF early and decided to eat dinner before the vigil. (This was before I found out that I am broke.) The food was amazingly good. Lamb suvlaki, fried zuchini, other stuff. The waitress complimented me on my Greek pronunciation. The meal ended with a big huge piece of freshly made baklava. I highly recommend O Mythos on Van Ness, just north of Green.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Our First Treaty

I read this at www.orthodoxytoday.org/blog :

“In the name of the most holy and undivided Trinity.”

This is how the Treaty of Paris began, which ended the eight-year long American Revolutionary War.

The Treaty continued: “It having pleased the Divine Providence to dispose the heart of…Prince George the Third…to forget all past misunderstandings…between the two countries…”

The Treaty was signed this day by the American leaders Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, the second President, and John Jay, the first Chief Justice, and ends with the phrase: “Done at Paris, this third day of September in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-three.”

Agreeing with a Democrat

It is not often that I a gree with a Democrat on issues of public policy, especially abortion. But this woman has written something that I think everyone should read.

Happy Happy Joy Joy/Question about Revelation

The people I thought I was going to have to evict have given me their 30-day notice!!!! Boy, what a relief that is. I hate evictions.

Q: In the book of Revelation when Jesus is dictating the letters to John, are the people who "overcommeth" all martyrs? That's the idea I am left with after reading the seven letters. Can any Orthodox readers of this blog direct me to an Orthodox commentary on these letters?

Anarchists?

I heard that anarchists were protesting at the Republican National Convention. I was a little bit shocked by that. In fact, I was wondering why they weren't shot on site. After all, anarchists are, by definition, enemies of civilization and anti-human monsters. Then I did a little reading and discovered that these people doing the protesting are not really anarchists. They are just lost and confused. I wonder what happened to these kids to make them adopt such an ugly name for themselves. After all it is a name that out evils all other names. Might as well call themselves Child Molseters, Rebels, Nazis or Satan.

Water Water Everywhere

An electrical valve exploded here at the aprtments last night, about 11:30 PM. Veryvery wet. Thankfully, the water is all outside in the carports. Plumber is coming today to fix. Oddly, I know that at least 20 of the tenants have seen gushing torrents of water but only three have called me to let me know about it.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Changes

Jeff and Bryan are no longer contributors to this blog. Jeff lost interest and Bryan had issues with Google (owner of blogger.) I will however keep the blog going. I'm not sure it will be as interesting as before, but it will be what it will be.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

The Election is Over

I heard Senator Zell Miller's speech (download here) on NPR while waiting for Cydi at the train station tonight. WOW! Let me say that again. WOW! Kerry is a bloody (if the undead have blood) pulp. How can he go on? He is down down down and there is no getting up after that series of body blows. He has been dismantled like a Camry in a L.A. chop shop. I heard an NPR commentatator say Kerry was decimated. Another said he was evicerated. I never heard anything like it in my life time. This speech by Zell Miller is in the same class as the Cross of Gold speech. Or Churchill's "Fight them on the beaches" speech. It might even be as important as Ronald Regan's "Evil Empire" speech, and I was in the audience when that speech was given. This election is over and Kerry is not the winner.

And besides all of this, Islam is evil.

Put not your trust in princes and sons of men

I've been following Steve Waldmans coverage of the Republican Convention. (They're my peeps, if you haven't noticed.) One of his posts yesterday had this quote from Rudy:

"The speech had one fascinating religious moment. Describing the moments after the 9/11 attacks, he said, "Spontaneously, I grabbed the arm of then Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik and said to Bernie, 'Thank God George Bush is our President.' And I say it again tonight: Thank God George Bush is our President.""

It remided me of one of my 9/11 memories. I was trying to get home (Mission Doloros neighborhood) from my office in the financial district. While trying to get home I was stuck in a group of people near the Civic Center. A woman short, dreadlocked, black, many piercings was crying and reading her little Bible silently. I said to her "Psalm 46". She looked at me for a moment then turned to that Psalm and read aloud....


Psalms 46
To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, A Song upon Al'amoth.

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore will not we fear,
though the earth be removed,
and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
though the waters thereof roar and be troubled,
though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.
Selah.
There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God,
the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her;
she shall not be moved:
God shall help her, and that right early.
The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved:
he uttered his voice, the earth melted.
The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.
Selah.
Come, behold the works of the LORD,
what desolations he hath made in the earth.
He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth;
he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder;
he burneth the chariot in the fire.
Be still, and know that I am God:
I will be exalted among the heathen,
I will be exalted in the earth.
The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.
Selah.

Two score people turned to hear her read and were comforted by the word of God. Blessed is she who readeth.

Happy New Year!!!

Today is the first day of the church's year. Happy New Year!!!!

Troparion in tone 2
O Creator of the Universe,
You appointed times by Your own power,
Bless the crown of this year with Your goodness, O Lord.
Preserve in safety Your rulers and Your cities:
And through the Intercessions of the Theotokos, save us!

Kontakion in tone 4
O Creator and Master of time and the ages,
Triune and Merciful God of all:
Grant blessings for the course of this year,
And in Your boundless mercy save those who worship You and cry out in fear:
O Savior, grant blessings to all mankind!