Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The gnat

I haven't mentioned the financial scandal in my Church (not my parish or diocese, which are above reproach in every way) on my blog until now. Even though it was in the Washingotn Post and currently in Commonweal and people around the world have known about it for years, I didn't want to draw the attention of its existence to someone who might be considering a conversion to Orthodoxy, or to an Orthodox of weak faith. But today, it occured to me that I, by not mentioning it, was doing the same thing the bihops of my church are doing, trying to hide the facts. I do not anticipate writing a lot about this scandal or the people involved. I am only mentioning because I do not want to be like those who want to sweep it under the rug.

Now that I've mentioned it, I want to tell you what I am doing about it.
1. I pray to the Mother of God and to St. Tikhon theEnlighter of America to remove from the ranks of the clergy all those who have lied or stollen money in the course of this scandle. That includes Metropolitan Herman (I am aware of no evidence that Metropolitan stole money. But he has been caught in lies. And he was treasuerer when a lot of money dissapeared.)
2. I call the Metropolitan's office every day and ask him to resign.
3. I've written a letter to my bishop (now retired) asking him to take our diocese out of the OCA and into one of the other jurisdictions of the Orthodox Church.
4. I have ensured that none of the money I give to my parish filters up to the Metropolitan's office or any of his programs.
5. I have written to the Holy Synod and asked them to deal with the situation and not just sweep it under the rug.
6. I ask God to not let my annoyance at the bishops and priests eclipse my view of my own sins. (It is easy to get so worked up over the weeds in your neighbor's yard that you forget to weed the garden of your own heart.)
7. I have written many emails to the Metropolitan Council, urging them to do their job and not just be a rubber stamp for Metropolitan Herman.

I probably won't mention this situation on this blog again. Hopefully, through God's mercy those who have done wrong will repent, come clean, and we can all get on with our mission.

Bubbies Pickles

Last night I went grocery shopping. It was late. It was so late that my regular stores, the stores where I usually shop, Trader Joe’s, Piazza’s (but not for frutas y verduras, usually), and Whole Foods were closed. I had to go to Safeway, which is the largest grocery store chain in California. If a product is made by Kraft, ConAgra, Nestle, or Unilever it is sold by Safeway. They tend to not carry products unless they are made by huge producers. It doesn’t make financial sense for them.

One of the things I bought last night was Claussen Dill Pickles, a Kraft Foods product. I bought two jars for less than I usually spend on one jar of of my usual brand of pickles. I was very excited. But not just by the price. Why? Because since the second Monday of Pascha I’ve been on a diet (I want to live to 50) and dill pickles are something I can eat as many of as I like.

When I got home I opened my jar of pickles, admired their color, took one out of the brine, tasted it and almost spat it out. It tasted sweet and chemically. I thought to myself, “What? Why would a pickle taste this way? All you put in dill pickles is water, salt, vinegar (sometimes), herbs, and spices.”

So I looked at the list of ingredients. But the first thing I noticed when I looked at the label is that each serving of theese pickles has five calories (that’s kcals for my british reader). That shocked me. A serving of pickles usually have less than 1 calorie each. What was going on here?

I continued to read: “ Fresh cucumbers, water, distilled vinegar, salt, contains less than 2 percent high fructose corn syrup, dried garlic, spices, calcium chloride, sodium benzoate, dried red peppers, natural flavors, polysorbate 80.”

Why is there corn syrup in pickles? Disgusting! This is a jar of kosher dills not sweet gerkins. And why the preservatives sodium benzoate and polysorbate 80? By definition, pickles are preserved. Once cucumbers are pickles and and put in a barrel or jar they last for years and years. This makes no sense to me.

Beginning with this post I am going to begin compile a list of good, pure, wholesome, good-tasting foods that are available to SF Bay area residents. The first item on that list is Bubbies Dill Pickles. (I've mentioned them on this blog before). They contain no corn syrup, no polys, no benzoates. They are good pickles that taste the way God intends pickles to taste. The list will be in the right margin of this blog.

Monday, April 23, 2007

My article

My guest editorial was printed on Friday. I'm on Page 23 of the paper version. Here is the link to the online version. It was very difficult getting it down to 600 words from its original 1300 words. Essentially, I left the conclusions in but cut out most of the supporting arguments for those conclusions.


It has been reported that scientists have discovered the sun singing.

Amazingly, God already revealed this to us.

When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? (Job 38:7)
Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light. (Psalm 149/148: 3)

This amazing discovery of the scientists reminds me of that guy from USC who thinks people might live to 120 years of age. What is wrong with our society that an educated person can know so little about the Bible? Of course, we can live to 120.

And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. (Gen. 6:3)

Next thing you know, scietist will discover that there is stuff that exists.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Gen. 1:1)

Thursday, April 19, 2007


You know all that stuff I said about TV in my last post? Well, I might have to take it all back. In the world to come I want to be Emmitt Smith. (And check out his shoes!!!)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Watch What Your Servants are Teaching Your Children

Not too long ago I heard a story. An old man said to a young boy, "There are two wolves inside you. One is evil, one is good, and they are fighting for control of you."
The boy asked, "Which one will win?"
The old man answered, "The one you feed."

It reminded me of something I read by St. John Chrysostom. He told parents to make sure that household servants are not a corrupting influence on children. When I read it I felt confirmed in our decision about no television in our house.

But today, I wasn't fast enough in turning off the radio. Anselm heard about what happened at Virginia Tech. I was busy making lunch and didn't even notice that he was sitting at the table with his mouth open, shocked by what he was hearing. He asked me in disbelief, "People kill themselves?" I said, "sometimes".
"What happens to them?"
"I think they go to Hell because they have given up all faith and have turned their backs on life, the greatest good thing God gives people."
I turned off the radio. I wish I hadn't been listening.

Peggy noonan wrote about the media and its influence on children.

Think of it this way. Your child is an intelligent little fish. He swims in deep water. Waves of sound and sight, of thought and fact, come invisibly through that water, like radar; they go through him again and again, from this direction and that. The sound from the television is a wave, and the sound from the radio; the headlines on the newsstand, on the magazines, on the ad on the bus as it whizzes by—all are waves. The fish — your child — is bombarded and barely knows it. But the waves contain words like this, which I’ll limit to only one source, the news:
. . . was found strangled and is believed to have been sexually molested . . . had her breast implants removed . . . took the stand to say the killer was smiling the day the show aired . . . said the procedure is, in fact, legal infanticide . . . is thought to be connected to earlier sexual activity among teens . . . court battle over who owns the frozen sperm . . . contains songs that call for dominating and even imprisoning women . . . died of lethal injection . . . had threatened to kill her children . . . said that he turned and said, “You better put some ice on that” . . . had asked Kevorkian for help in killing himself . . . protested the game, which they said has gone beyond violence to sadism . . . showed no remorse . . . which is about a wager over whether he could sleep with another student . . . which is about her attempts to balance three lovers and a watchful fiance . . .
This is the ocean in which our children swim. This is the sound of our culture. It comes from all parts of our culture and reaches all parts of our culture, and all the people in it, which is everybody. . .

(Read her whole article here.) She was writing in the context of the killings at Columbine. But the excerpt above seems applicable to Virginia Tech, and Abu Ghraib, and even my own life. I know that in my own life 5 - 10 hours of television almost everyday when I was growing up almost ruined me. Pro-wrestling, and Star Trek, and Dirty Harry taught me that violence solves all problems. M*A*S*H, Happy Days, and the Love Boat taught me that women were for my pleasure.

A few days ago when I took the DVD of the movie Happyfeet (its about anthropomorphized penguins on the make) out of the computer and Anselm protested because it was a present from his Granny I felt kind of bad. I felt like every kid in America has seen this movie. My Mom paid good money for it. Was I being too cutious? Until I read Ms. Noonan's words I thought, maybe, I was being too protective. But now, I am convinced, I did the right thing. I was starving the evil wolf.


I admit that I am a little late to the party. I didn't know that my government was even thinking about independence (from Serbia) for Kosovo. But as I was cruising around the State Department's website I came across this. I looks like the war our country waged against Serbia wasn't enough. Now we want to take part of their soverign teritory, but not only that, the heart and cradle of Serbian Orthodoxy and turn it over to Muslims. Hven't the Orthodox in Europe suffered enough?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Pass the Duchy

I never knew what "Pass the duchy on the left hand side" meant. I loved the song as a teenager, 13 or 14, I think. I sang the song enthusiastically while riding around Tampa with my cousin in his 1975 white Lincoln Continental. I loved that song but I had no idea what it meant. I kind of guessed it had something to do with a nostalgia for the British Socialists and a desire to break up the Duchy of Corwall. (I was a bookish kid.) It turns out I was wrong.

Today I was reading a movie review and saw that the correct spelling is dutchie. Well, I thought to myself, "I wonder if there is a Wiki article on this". So I searched, and lo and behold, someone had written an entry on the song. Now I know what the line "pass the dutchie on the left hand side" means. I kind of miss my original idea of a bunch of skinny black leftist boys singing about the destruction of the British aristocracy.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Thou Shalt Not

Of all of the 10 commandments there is only one that strikes agaist God, the state, and the person. The proscription against giving false testimony is that one commandment.

By giving false testimony the liar acts against God, who is Truth.
By giving false testimony the liar undermines the authority of the state, making it an object of scorn among righteous people.
By giving false testimony a liar unleashes the awful and frightening power of the state against the innocent person.

A liar has been found among us. She has given false testimony. She has subverted the state. She has accused people of doing that which they have not done. She has acted against God. Her name is Crystal Gail Magnum.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Sharpton Not Sharp

I do not know anything about Don Imus. I have never heard his radio show. But havin worked in radio, and having known some "on air personalities", I am not surprised that he said what he said. But what galls me is Al Sharpton condemning him. Sharpton said:

'It is our feeling that this is only the beginning. We must have a broad discussion on what is permitted and not permitted in terms of the airwaves'

I remember Sharpton speaking into a megaphone, threatening race-violence and inciting riot during the Tawana Brawly investigation. I remember him even accusing the district attorney in the case of being a rapist.

I am not a Democrat (neither a Republican) so let me say to any Democrats out there, please, figure out how to make Sharpton go away. Like the smell of dog shit, his words in service of race hatred are offensive to me.

Beslan Martyr?

I remember hearing about a Greek national who was in Beslan when the Muslims attacked and took the students hostage. He was a teacher in the school and was killed while protecting a girl from one of the terrorists. I assume he is Orthodox since more than 90% of Greeks are Orthodox. I've wondered for a while if anyone is going to declare him a martyr and when we will start seeing Icons of him. Does anyone know?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Global Warming (deniers) on the Wiki

"Our team ... has discovered that the relatively few cosmic rays that reach sea-level play a big part in the everyday weather. They help to make low-level clouds, which largely regulate the Earth’s surface temperature. During the 20th Century the influx of cosmic rays decreased and the resulting reduction of cloudiness allowed the world to warm up. ... most of the warming during the 20th Century can be explained by a reduction in low cloud cover." - Henrik Svensmark, Danish National Space Center

Read (here) a long list of scientists who are skeptical of the "science" behind the current global warmong scare.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

School and Bright Week

Last night during prayers Athanasia chanted "O Heavenly King". When she was through I remeinded her that we don't do that until Pentecost. She then pretended to be a Protestant and insisted that I find in writing who said we don't chant "O Heavenly King" until Pentecost, and why not. It was very funny. She sounded very authentic. Hours later I am still laughing about it.

We finished book two of the Chronicles of Narnia. It was so much fun to watch Anselm get so excited during those last two chapters. Today we went to the Library and checked out book three.

Bright Week is going well. Yesterday I BBQd lamb chops for the boys lunch. I've discovered that brandy, super fine sugar, and a bit of campari shaken with ice and strained in to a cocktail glass makes a very nice refreshment. Tomorrow night we are making a big ham dinner and taking over to my Mom's house. I am having fun just yelling "Christ is Risen" at random moments and hearing Anselm yeall back "Indeed he is Risen". Is there any better way to teach the faith to children? I love being Orthodox. Everything about our lives can be about the Faith if we just pay attention. Going to a paschal liturgy Thursday morning. I've discovered that a mixture of sour cream and blue cheese is much much better than mayonaise for making tuna salad.

As far as schooling goes, we are concentrating on two things right now. Anslem is doing reading and atletics. That is about all. For athletics he is doing soccer and he is taking fencing lessons.

I've been accepted into a distance program from the University of Massachusetts. I'll begin working on a B.A. in Community Studies in the Fall.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Last Email

It is difficult to describe the joy of the eastern Paschal celebration. After a long hard Lent, and after a heart-breaking Holy Week when the struggle against sin, the nearness of the Judgement, and the suffering and death of Jesus have been exposited through song, liturgy, poetry, ascetic acts, and scripture everything is washed away, or better, illumined in the white incandescent brilliance of Pascha. The darkness of Saturday is driven away as every candle is lit, and every door is opened, and black vestments are exchanged for white. Every bell rings loud and long as people cry out the good news in whatever language they know. The Greeks announce "Xristos Anesti!" While the Italians reply "In Verità è Risuscitato!" The Russians shout "Hristos Voskresee" and those of us who only know English reply "Indeed He is Risen! And the bishops priests and deacons are in constant motion hugging, kissing, censing the flock. And the Ethiopian women do that lululululululu thing that they do. (I lulululuv that!) And the choir leads us in the Troparion over and over again...

Christ is risen from the dead,
Trampling down death by death,
And upon those in the tombs
Bestowing life!

I can not even begin to describe the joy. But it just gets better and better. At a certain point the bishop, beaming, looks over his flock and says, "The catachetical homily of our father among the Saints, John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople." And then he proceeds to read the following words to a room full of smiling weepy people...

"If any be pious and a lover of God, let him delight in this fair and radiant festival. If any be an honest servant, let him come in and rejoice in the joy of his Lord. If any have wearied himself with fasting, let him now enjoy the recompense. If any have worked from the first hour, let him receive today his just reward. If any have come after the third, let him feast with thankfulness. If any have arrived after the sixth, in no wise let him be in doubt; in no way shall he suffer loss. If any be later than the ninth, let him draw nigh, let him not waver. If any arrive only at the eleventh, let him not be fearful for his slothfulness, for the Master is munificent and receiveth the last even as the first; He giveth rest to him of the eleventh even as to him who hath wrought from the first hour. He is merciful to the last and provideth for the first; and to this one He giveth, and to that one He showeth kindness. He receiveth their labours and acknowledgeth the purpose, and He honoureth the deed and praiseth the intention. Wherefore, enter ye all into the joy of our Lord, and let the first and the second take part in the reward. Ye rich and ye poor, join hands together. Ye sober and ye heedless, do honour to this day. Ye who fast and ye who fast not, be glad today. The table is full: do ye all fare sumptuously. The calf is ample: let no one go forth hungry. Let all enjoy the banquet of Faith. Let all enjoy the wealth of righteousness. Let no one lament his poverty, for the Kingdom is made manifest to all. Let no one bewail transgressions, for forgiveness hath dawned forth from the tomb. Let no one be fearful of Death, for the death of the Saviour hath set us free. He hath quenched Death by being subdued by Death. He Who came down into Hell, despoiled Hell; and Hell was embittered when he tasted of Christ's Flesh. Esaias, anticipating this, cried out and said: Hell was embittered when below he met Thee face to face. He was embittered, for he was set at nought. He was embittered, for he was mocked. He was embittered, for he was cast down. He was embittered, for he was fettered. He received a body, and encountered God! He received earth, and met Heaven face to face! He received what he saw, and fell whither he saw not! O Death, where is thy sting? O Hades, where is thy victory? Christ is risen, and thou art overthrown! Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen! Christ is risen, and the Angels rejoice! Christ is risen, and life doth reign! Christ is risen, and there is none dead in the tomb! For Christ is raised from the dead, and is become the first-fruits of them that slept. To Him be glory and dominion unto the ages of ages. Amen."

But like Christmas, Pascha is not over in a day. It is a season and at every service of the Divine Liturgy during Pascal-tide the eastern Christians (e.g. the Orthodox and the Byzantine Catholics) will sing what has become my favorite hymn.

The Angel cried to the Lady full of graceRejoice! Rejoice!
O pure Virgin!Again, I say rejoice!
Thy son is risen from His three days in the tomb!
With Himself He has raised all the dead.
Rejoice, rejoice, O ye people! Shine! Shine! Shine, O new Jerusalem!
The glory of the Lord has shown on thee.
Exult now, exult and be glad, O Zion.
Be radiant, O pure Theotokos,
In the Resurrection, the Resurrection of thy Son.

(Have a listen the the Choir of Holy Cross church in Linthicum, Maryland sing this hymn

I hope you have enjoyed these messages. This is the last you all will hear from me until Advent.

Christ is Risen!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Looks bad

Well, I'm not sure we are going to make it to the Paschal Divine Liturgy this year. Thusday night Basil was sick, so Cyndi stayed home with him. Friday morning, Anselm was sick, too. If we miss Pascha it will be par for the course. It has been a tough year. I think having kids ought to count as an ascetic endeavor.

In other news. Cyndi had the interview at AAU on Thursday. She didn't want the job.

Friday, April 06, 2007


Basil is sick so Athanasia stayed home with him. But Anselm and I went to Matins of the 12 Gospels at HTC Thursday night. It was served by 1 bishop, 3 priests, 1 deacon, 2 subdeacons, 2 readers, and a fabulous choir. And I got to ring the BIG bell for the Gospel readings. Once for the first reading, twice for the second reading, and so on. What that meant is that Anselm and I hung out in the bell tower for the whole service. Because I had to ring the bell at the right time I had to read along in a service book. One thing I notices is that we skipped the Prayer with Head Bowed. We also skipped most of the canon. I'll try to remember to ask someone why we skipped those parts.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

We've lost the Paska Recipe

I am going to start working on the Paska later today. So Much of last night was spent looking for the recipe. I couldn't find it.

All I can remember are theese four things:
1) it called for farmers cheese
2) it called for grated boiled egg yolks
3) it called for raisins.
4) it has to be in the mold on wednesday night to be ready to take to church on Saturday night.

I searched all over the internet looking for something close. This is the closest I have come to finding my old recipe.

Ingredients: 18 - hard boiled eggs / 3 pounds Farmers cheese / 1 pint whipping cream / 3 cubes unsalted butter / 3 cups sugar /
Press the Farmers cheese through a sieve. (This is the hardest part of the recipe) I usually use a wooden spoon and press it through a wire strainer a little at a time. Separate the egg yolks from the whites. (You will not be using the whites). Press the egg yolks through the sieve. Cream the sugar and butter together. Beat in the egg yolks. Beat in the cheese. Add whipping cream and mix well. You will place the mixture into a strainer lined with about 3 layers of cheesecloth. You will need enough cheesecloth to wrap up and over the top of the cheese. Place the cheese mixture into the cheese cloth lined strainer. Bring the ends of the cheese cloth up and tie the ends on top of the cheese in a knot. Place the sieve into a larger bowl suspended with enough room for the cheese to drain without sitting in the drained liquid. Place a plate on top of the cheese an place a heavy rock, brick, or other weight on top of the plate. Refrigerate over night. (
From )

What recipe do you use?

UPDATE: I searched this blog and found the recipe I use. I love blogging!!! Its like filling a great big huge filing cabinet with notes on my life.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Lazarus Palms

This past weekend was really good, from my totally subjective point of reference. Saturday night vigil with my friend Jeff and his men went well. I got to the church at six but it took me 1/2 an hour to find parking. After that it went very well. After vigil I took them on a tour of the cathedral, introduced them to the choir director and one of the priests, showed them some of the relics. After that we walked up to Ginger and Wasabi for some Q&A. I was surprised by how few the questions were. Tey did ask about the differenes between Orthodox and Roman Catholic Marian dogma. This brougt up original sin. One of the men was surprised that we understand original sin differently that Roman Catholics and Protestants. I don't think the others knew exactly what I what I was talking about, but I didn't spend a lot of time explaining it because I don't knw how to explain it with out discussing the errors of St. Augustine and Anslem of Canterbury, and that would have taken too long. Overall, it was a good evening.

On Palm Sunday Dr. S made her traditional meal of baked salmon. I could smell the onions a block away from the cathedral. Very extremely yummy. It was announced that Bishop Benjamin will be with us from Holy Thursday through Pascha. Very happy about that. I haven't seen him since last Summer.