Saturday, September 29, 2007

I wish I could have a more topical blog.

I look at other people's blogs and i think to myself, "gosh, they have really neresting things to say. All I do is put up lists of my daily activities." Oh, well. C'est la vie, Que sera sera, and Damn the torpedoes.

I was listening to a music station today, which is a very rare occurance, when allof a sudden, they played "Someone Will Think We're in Love" from the original cast recording of OKLAHOMA! It just made my afternoon. There's nothing like show tunes to pep up one's day.

My friend Jeff (who used to blog with me here) was laid off today. He has been with the same bank for 11 years and today, without warning, they closed his department and laid everyone off. Please pray for him.

I was looking for an akathist to pray for him and his family (his Dad is dying of cancer, too.) when I came across It has tons of cool prayers.

Athanasia, did great in the second interview yesterday and is doing the third "interview" tonight. She is shadowing the emergency response dispatcher at a Stanford football game. It is down to her and one other candidate. If they make her an offer they will have to do a background check. That will take through January. In the meantime, it looks like the yucky stuff I mentioned is working out. Thank you for your prayers.

I took the boys to the beach at Half Moon Bay yeasterday. I expected it to be cold and foggy, and that we wouldexplore tide pools. Instead it was warm and overcast so we got in the water. Much fun. We had calamari at a little beach side place. It was very strange. It was just heads/bodies. No tentacles, which, as everyone knows, are the best part. It makes me wonder what they are doing with the tentecles. Also, it almost made me ask for my money back. But since I didn't ask before I ordred (I will from now on) I held my tongue and tried to be thankful. I wasn't successful, but I faked it for the boys.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

This Day

Well, I didn't get to bed until after 2 this morning. Then Basil was awake at 6:11 a.m. We read books (The Runaway Rice Cake, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, Stone Soup, Chicken Soup With Rice, You Are My I Love You, Love You Forever, Katy and the Big Snow, The Runaway Bunny, and several others.) until Anselm woke up about 8 a.m. Then morning prayers followed by oatmeal, toast and bananas for breakfast. Then Anselm did some school work as I re-read some books to Basil.

At 10 a.m. Anselm had his science class. (THey are still on acids and bases. Anselm has a whole collection of lab equipment now.) so I drove him to that. During that hour Basil and I went to the library and the park.

After we picked up anselm at science we came home and I made the boys lunch of sardines on toast, dolmas, hummus and pita, and sparkling water. Then it was nap time. An hour and a half later we woke up and it was almost time to take Anselm to his acting class. On the way there we stopped by Peet's and I got them milk and a peanut butter cookie to share. I had iced coffee, black.

After dropping Anslem off at acting Basil and I went to Mitchell Park, the one I mentioned a few days ago. When we picked Anselm up an hour later it seemed like a good time for ice cream, so we went to Rick's. Anselm hand pumpkin, and Basil had strawberry. Wow! What a mess!!! Good thing we were sitting on the sidewalk where it didn't matter too much.

Then we came home and I popped the 1970 Television version of "Horton Hears a Who" DVD int the computer and tried to do some of my school reading. That did not work out too well, since Basil lost interest in the movie about 5 minutes into it. I read and re-read and re-re-re-re-read The Best Mouse Cookie to him while Anselm watched the movie. After the movie, Anselm did some more school work while I read some more books (I don't remember which) to Basil.

Then it was time (6:30 p.m.) to go get mommy at her office. I picked up burritos at La Bamba on the way. When we got home, she did the dishes while I got the boys ready for bed. Then Athanasia did evening prayers with them and got them into bed, and then went to bed herself, while I swept and mopped the kitchen floor.

Starts again in 6 hours.

Not a bad life.

If you get a chance, please pray for Athanasia tomorrow. She has two different things going on at work that are causes of great stress for her. Also, she has a job interview in another department of the University at 1 P.M. tomorrow.

Update: Thank you for your prayers. The interview went very very well. She has a second interview on Friday. Even if she doesn't get the job, this interview has done much to encourage her. As for the other things, the yucky things she is dealing with at work, well, they still exist.

A short paper for school

I'm taking some classes online from the University of Massachusetts. My professors seem to be communists.

One of them wanted me to write a three paragraph summary of a paper written by the people at this place. I had to do more.

This is what I wrote:

The first thing the article does is explain that the the CEOs and managers of financial services firms such as brokerages and investment banks received large year-end bonuses. It describes the people who received these bonuses as “the Modern American Grinch”.

The article goes on to show how during what the authors call “America’s Golden Era from 1946 to 1973” productivity increases and wage increases for what the authors call “front line workers” were closely linked, but how from 2000 through 2006 productivity increases have not resulted in wage increases. The article contrasts the wage increase for that period with the end of year bonuses for the Wall Street CEOs. There were many charts and graphs used to show this. The “comparative economic fate of Wall Street CEOs and teens” was the most comical of these. I suppose, it was intended to make me feel outraged that bankers make more money than teenagers.

Quoting Dr. Seuss again the article concludes by saying the Wall Street Bankers and Corporate CEOs “have ‘found a new way to keep Christmas from coming’ for America’s front line workers.”

1. In the Dr. Seuss Book, the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, the Grinch character was a thief who stole the property of the Who’s of Whoville because he didn’t want them to enjoy Christmas. In fact, he wanted to keep Christmas from coming. It seems to me that the authors of the Article miscast the Wall Street CEOs as the Grinch. They did not steal the money, rather they were paid for serving their clients. It seems that the spirit of Grinch most nearly resides in the authors of the article, for they begrudge the bonus recipients as much as the Grinch did begrudge the Whos of Whoville.

2. Unemployeed Teenagers. If they are under the age of seventeen I have to wonder why they are not in school. If they are 17,18, or 19 they can join the army. But to compare the income of a teenager to the income of a highly productive banker is asinine. What do they do in the economy that is even close to being comparable? One sells shoes at the mall, or cleans a painter’s paint brushes, or parks cars. The other provides liquidity to the economy, finances loans for business expansion, helps people buy and sell shares, brings new financial products to the market, and helps the savings of a hundred million people grow. By all means, let’s make sure the banker gets paid the same as the teenage shoe salesman in the mall.

3. Use of the phrase “front line workers”. This seems to belittle the work of the CEOs and bankers. Another way of looking at this is that the CEOs are hired by the boards to make money for the shareholders, and that that all other employees are merely assistants to the CEOs. The main worker in the firms are the CEOs. It is they who receive the charge to grow the shareholder’s capital by any legal means, they who assemble and lead teams, they make the deals, they keep morale up in the face of setbacks and obstacles, they keep the company running smoothly, and with any luck, they make money. They create wealth. It’s like a ship. Or better yet, a naval battle. I am sure, I know for a fact, that there were many brave men aboard the U.S.S. Saratoga, the U.S.S. Hornet, the U.S.S. Enterprise and the other warships the United States sent against the Empire of Japan at the Battle of Midway. Every gunner, pilot, fireman, medic, and engineer was important. But they were all carrying out the will of one man, Admiral Nimitz. It was his will that said fight and kill and risk everything and win. So too does the CEO direct the firm toward victory. And if he doesn’t he is no CEO.

4. Finally, the article says something that comports neither with experience nor with Dr. Seuss’s book. The article ends with these words: “Who Stole Christmas from America’s Workers? One only needs to look at distorted CEO pay and Wall Street compensation to see where the Grinch has been resurrected. They have ‘found a new way to keep Christmas from coming’ for America’s front line workers.”

In answer to this I need only direct the attention of the articles authors to the end of Dr. Seuss’s book. For The Whos of Whoville did not suffer a loss of Christmas. Who ever heard of Christmas not coming? It always comes. Unless, like the authors of the article, one thinks money is a requirement. But, of course, if they really think the things money buys - presents and trees and wreaths - are requirements to celebrate Christmas, that not having these things can “keep Christmas from coming”, and if they think Christmas can be stolen, well, they are not really celebrating Christmas. They do not even know what Christmas is. So, I would invite them to learn about Christmas, and maybe their eyes will see and their ears will hear and their hearts, like the Grinch’s heart, will grow “grow three sizes larger”.

Friday, September 21, 2007

This is not encouraging

"Other studies have shown that college students are much more likely to vote and be civically engaged than non-students, she adds."

Since the college students failed a very basic civics test, this is nothing to be excited about. In fact, it rather irks me that the people who scored so badly on this test are from elite universities and are going to be fast-tracked into running our society. We might as well have an addle-brained hereditary peerage.

(In case you are wondering, I got a 93.33% and am kicking myself for the 4 questions I got wrong because they were things EVERY AMERICAN SHOULD KNOW!!!)

Hat tip to Mateo for pointing mentioning the test on his blog.)

Thursday, September 20, 2007


After dropping my wife off at work the boys and I went to visit my mother. She seems to be doing better, given all of her horrible health problems. Basil runs to her and gives her a big hug every time he sees her. We visited for a little over an hour. Then we when to the library and then grocery shopping.
We got home a little after lunch time. I made taquitos for the boys but they didn't like them. Then it was time for Basil's nap. Getting him to take a nap is sooooo difficult. It is always preceeded with much wailing, many tears, and no small amount of thrashing. It is horrible. But eventually he falls asleep. While he was sleeping I helped Anselm make chocolate chip cookies. When Basil woke up we took the cookies to mommy's work. The guards at the gate (she works at the SLACC Guesthouse, inside the perimeter of a U.S. Dept. of Energy laboratory operated by Stanford University) got some cookies (they always are nice to the boys when we go through the gate.) but most of them went to my wife's employees. Anselm took them in while I waited in the car with Basil. According to Anselm they were pleased.
Then Cyndi and the Boys and I went out for Chinese food. It was good. Chef Chu is deservedly famous. (Only, I don't like his egg rolls.)THen Cyndi brought the boys and I home while she went back to her office to work on a paper for school. I watched Millions with the boys and got them into bed. Now I am starting in on my school work. Oh my. What a life.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Petition

Signature #95 is that of Princess Daria Obolenskaya. I didn't know she was still alive.

Autumn began this week

The last melon and the tomatoes are gone.
The first squash and sweet potato are in our stomachs
And there are more waiting.
Oatmeal with maple syrup for breakfast.
Strong winds banging shutters
Howling around eaves of the roof.
Pilot lights, quilts, afternoon naps on blustery days.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Life is so busy

I have been super busy with Anslem and Basil all week. Anselm put together his first string of letters today and wrote his first word: book. It was very exciting. Now if he could just remember the difference between j and g I'll feel like he is going to learn how to read okay. Science has been fun: measurement, states of matter, etc. Its not quite as much fun as the astronomy we were doing last Winter, but Winter is almost here again and now we have binoculars! We'll be able to see some cool stuff in the heavens this Winter.

I think Basil broke his nose today. He fell face first onto concrete. It was pretty gruesome.

Both the boys and Athanasia are still sick with colds. I feel so sorry for them. I've had a bit of a runny nose, but except for that very mild symptom I've been fine. But Athanasia, Basil, and Anselm have had it pretty bad.

No swimming last week because of illness. THough on Friday morning I took the boys on a long walk to Deer Hollow Farm. To get there one has to walk 1.1 miles through the gorgeous foothills of the Santa Cruz range. THe hills on this side or the San Anrdreas Fault are covered with brown grass (its the dry season) spotted with large green oaks. We saw many deer, wild turkeys, and quail. One ground squirrel poked its head out of its hole as we wee walking by. Basil talked to it and it talked back. Anselm wanted to hold it and when he bent down to get it it ran back underground. The walk there was okay. But when you have a 2 year old it takes a very long time to walk 1.1 mile. The return walk took even longer. The whole excursion, including the 30 minutes we spent at the farm took almost 4 hours. Exhausting. I miss being able to buckle Basil into a stroller. Oh, well. It won't last for ever and then I'll wish he was 2 again. I already miss when Anselm was 4. Life zooms by too quickly.

In other news, I began taking classes from UMass Boston this week. We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Mercy Mery Mercy

Joe Zawinul died today. He wrote the jazz classic Mercy Mercy Mercy, which was recorded by many artists. I dont know a lot about jazz. Most of it makes no sense to me. But I know what I like. I like this. This is a video clip of the tune by the Birdland Big Band. I love the drummer.

Grace through a phone call

I called Metropolitan Herman today. He wasn't available and I wound up talking to his assistant. What began as kind of an uncomfortable call became beautiful grace-filled experience. This might be the best part of being a Christian, even when we disagree with each other we are joined by that Cup, and we recognize God dwelling in each other. Now I have a new friend and we are looking forward to seeing each other when he is in San Francisco for bishop Benjamin's enthronement. God is so much better than I deserve. Glory to Him for ever.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Death to the World

Call me slow, but I just found out that Death to the World is being published again. But this time, instead of being published by monks, it is being produced by a group of people who found Holy Orthodoxy while in the punk rock lifestyle.

Friday, September 07, 2007

First Field Trip

As regular readers might know, we are homeschooling. But we are doing so under the umbrella of our local school district's Independant Study Program. So far all seems to be going okay. Today was the first field trip.

We drove to the Marine Mammal Center on the Marin headlands. It was much fun. The group of kids were all K-3. The program was perfect for them. They went out on the beach and did a prctice rescue (following all normal procedures)on an injured stuffed harbor seal. Anselm carried one corner of the cage. Later, after the rescue, transport and exam, Anselm was part of the feeding team. He got to intubate the seal.
After that we had to drive to Sausalito so I could get cash to pay the bridge toll.
Then we drove home through Golden Gate Park. It was a nice first field-trip. Anselm had fun and we are looking forward to the next one.

Also, it was nice to get out of Silicon Valley. We have had a forest fire over by Mount Hamilton for the pst 3 days and the valley is full of smoke. Can't even see the hills surounding us.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

On Incense

A few days ago I posted something on incense. But because of differences between the computers I was using the spacing was hoorible and the post was impossible to read. I deleted it.

I am trying again, now. As I said then, this paper is part of a very large book I give out to the men my friend Jeff brings to Holy Trinity Cathedral each year. (Jeff is a pastor at an Evangelical Free Church in the East Bay and once a year he takes a handful of men through a year of intense Bible study and a tour of other churches.) Below is the paper.


On Incense

By Matt Karnes

Occasionally, a Protestant friend will ask me why we Orthodox Christians burn incense. Of all the questions I have been asked by my Protestant friends this is the most puzzling one. I mean burning incense to worship God is straight out of the Bible!
Of course, Orthodox Christians do not play liturgical archaeology, trying to figure out what the early Church did so we can copy them. We just do what we have received, trusting the Holy Spirit to keep our dogma and practice right. But for a Protestant, who is usually interested in doing what the early Church did, and is always interested in doing what the Bible says ought to be done, incense ought to be a no-brainer. There are three lines of complementary reasoning. Let’s look at the evidence.

I. Old Testament History and Prophecy
When God gave Moses instructions for building the Tabernacle (Exodus chs. 30,39, & 40) he said there would be a special altar for burning incense and that incense would burn on that altar forever. But we know that Israel failed to burn this incense. When King Hezekiah began to reign he said to the priests and Levites…

“…our fathers have trespassed, and done [that which was] evil in the eyes of the LORD our God, and have forsaken him, and have turned away their faces from the habitation of the LORD, and turned [their] backs. Also they have shut up the doors of the porch, and put out the lamps, and have not burned incense nor offered burnt offerings in the holy [place] unto the God of Israel. Wherefore the wrath of the LORD was upon Judah and Jerusalem, and he hath delivered them to trouble, to astonishment, and to hissing, as ye see with your eyes.” (2 Chronicles 29:6-8)

But failure to burn incense to the God was not Israel’s only sin in regards to incense. Beginning in the reign of Solomon they offered incense to idols. Solomon’s error began when he irregularly burnt incense to God in high places instead of in front of the Ark of the Covenant (1 Kings 3:3) and degenerated into burning incense to false gods. (1 Kings 11:6-8). And for the next several hundred years, except for during a few short-lived revivals such as under King Hezekiah, the people of Israel and Judah consistently worshiped false gods by burning incense to them. And God sent his prophets to warn them.
“Your iniquities, and the iniquities of your fathers together, saith the LORD, which have burned incense upon the mountains, and blasphemed me upon the hills: therefore will I measure their former work into their bosom.” (Isaiah 65:7)

“And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands.” (Jeremiah 1:16)

“Then shall the cities of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem go, and cry unto the gods unto whom they offer incense: but they shall not save them at all in the time of their trouble. For [according to] the number of thy cities were thy gods, O Judah; and [according to] the number of the streets of Jerusalem have ye set up altars to [that] shameful thing, [even] altars to burn incense unto Baal…For the LORD of hosts, that planted thee, hath pronounced evil against thee, for the evil of the house of Israel and of the house of Judah, which they have done against themselves to provoke me to anger in offering incense unto Baal.” (Jeremiah 11:12-13,17)

But not only did they offer incense to idols, they offered God’s incense to idols. In describing their spiritual adultery God said to the holy prophet Ezekiel:

“…they have committed adultery, and blood [is] in their hands, and with their idols have they committed adultery, and have also caused their sons, whom they bare unto me, to pass for them through [the fire], to devour [them]. Moreover this they have done unto me: they have defiled my sanctuary in the same day, and have profaned my sabbaths.For when they had slain their children to their idols, then they came the same day into my sanctuary to profane it; and, lo, thus have they done in the midst of mine house. And furthermore, that ye have sent for men to come from far, unto whom a messenger [was] sent; and, lo, they came: for whom thou didst wash thyself, paintedst thy eyes, and deckedst thyself with ornaments, And satest upon a stately bed, and a table prepared before it, whereupon thou hast set mine incense and mine oil.” (Ezekiel 23:37-41)

Did you notice where God stopped talking to the Prophet and started talking directly to his people? The switch happened when God began describing how they committed their adultery with His incense and His oil. It is as though God became so angry at the misuse of things involved in His worship, even angrier than he was because of child sacrifice, that he had to “cut out the middle man” and speak directly to the adulteress.
And God was so disgusted by all of it that he said “Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; [it is] iniquity, even the solemn meeting.” (Isaiah 1:13) He was sick of Israel’s false piety. He was nauseated by the smell of their hypocritical incense. And he sent Nebuchadnezzar against them to enslave them and destroy the Temple, and incense was no longer offered to the LORD.
Eventually, God allowed the Jews to return to their homeland and rebuild the temple. And incense was again offered to the LORD in Zion. But even after the return from exile, the Jews did not regard the worship of God correctly. And God revealed something amazing to the prophet Malachi.
No, he didn’t reveal a time when incense would not be offered. He never had a problem with incense being offered by his worshipers. He was only angered when incense was not offered, when incense was offered to false gods, when His holy incense was defiled, or when people offered incense hypocritically. He never indicated that the incense offerings should stop. Rather, God gave every indication in the Old testament that incense should continue.
What God revealed to Malachi was that a time was coming when God would no longer accept offerings from the hands of the Jews. And instead of incense being burned only in Jerusalem it would be offered around the world.

“For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name [shall be] great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense [shall be] offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name [shall be] great among the gentiles, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 1:11)

The Orthodox hold that we are the fulfillment of this prophecy. Not only has God stopped the offering of incense by the Jews, but from the Sun’s rising to its going down, that is, from east to west, all around the world the gentiles are offering incense to the LORD.

II. The New Testament and the Early History of the Church
II. The New Testament and the Early History of the Church
From Matthew to Revelation the New Testamant shows that incense is used to worship God.
The Gospel of Matthew records the first gifts given to Jesus. These gifts, as everyone knows, included incense. This makes complete sense given that in ancient cultures gods were worshiped with offerings of incense. Thus the fulfillment of the prophecy of Malachi 1:11 began with the Magi who worshiped Jesus.
In the Book of Revelation, which the Orthodox look to as more of an instruction manual for worship than as an omen of things to come, one reads of John seeing an angel burning incense before the throne of God, and of an angel throwing a burning censer to earth.
In between the Gospel of Matthew and the Book of Revelation lies the rest of the New Testament. And, not surprisingly, it does not contain a command from Jesus or any of the Apostles that can be interpreted as a command to stop burning incense to God. On the contrary, we know that the Apostles continued to worship at the Temple, where incense was continuously being offered to God. That seems to be all there is to it. But is it really? What about St. Stephen and the other deacons?
When thinking about Stephen there seem to be two things to consider. First is the Iconography. The Iconography of the Orthodox Church follows certain rules. The most important of which is, only paint what others before you have painted. This is important because we know that Stephen burned incense before the Lord from the Icons. Every extant Icon of him shows him holding a censer. Now why should this matter? Because the Orthodox regard innovation with great suspicion. The last thing an Orthodox Christian, especially an Iconographer, would want to be called is an innovator. If, say, in the 12th century icons suddenly appeared showing Stephen with a censer in his hand when hitherto Icons showed no censer there would have been riots. There would have been councils called. Iconographers would have been anathematized. Bishop would have been deposed. But there is no record of any such disturbance.
The second part about Stephen and the other deacons is the very name deacon. If we look at the description of angels as ministering spirits in Hebrews 1:14 we will see why this matters. Here is the text arranged inter-linearly (Greek text in root form):

Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to
eisi ouchi pas leitourgikos pneuma apostello eis

minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?
diakonia dia mello kleronomeo soteria?

Two of the four words used to describe angels are liturgy and deacon. And what is the Orthodox deacon’s main liturgical role? It is to offer incense and prayers to God. What is the liturgical role of the angel in Revelation 8: 3-5? It is to offer prayer and incense to God. In this, at least, the angel and the deacons share their work.
And this explains why so many Christians before A.D. 318 went to the deaths rather than burn a pinch of frankincense before a stature of the Roman emperor. They knew from Scripture and from watching their deacons in Church that incense is only to be burned to God.
Here, I think I should mention the argument made by some protestant anti-Catholic polemicists. It has been said by some of them that there is no reference to incense in Christian worship prior the the 5th century. I do not know how to answer this except to say that, perhaps, this is a case of confusion coming about because the Liturgy of St. Pope Gregory (also called the Liturgy of Pre-sanctified Gifts) is an evening liturgy and includes the famous verse “Let my prayer arise as incense, and the lifting up of my hands be an evening sacrifice”. But this should not be a cause for confusion since the Jews chanted this same verse in their evening prayers long before there ever were Christians. And among the Jewish services early Christians adapted for their own use was the evening prayer service.

III. Worship and the Heavenly Temple

When Moses built the tabernacle he was following a pattern that God showed to him in Heaven.

And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. According to all that I shew thee, [after] the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make [it].” (Exodus 25:8-9)

Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, [that] thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.” (Hebrews 8:5)

Additionally, in the Jew’s Talmud holds that Moses followed the pattern of heavenly things:

“It was taught: R. Jose b. Judah says, An ark of fire and a table of fire and a candlestick of fire came down from heaven; and these Moses saw and reproduced, as it is written, And see that thou make them after their pattern, which is being shown thee in the mount. Will you then say the same [of the tabernacle], for it is written, And thou shalt rear up the tabernacle according to the fashion thereof which hath been shown thee in the mount! — Here it is written ‘according to the fashion thereof’, whilst there ‘after their pattern’.” (Menacoth 29a)

This idea of the heavenly temple is further reinforced by a striking correspondence between the Book of Numbers and the Book of Revelation. In Numbers chapters two and three is the record of the placement of the Israelites around the Tabernacle. They are arranged in groups. Moses’ family, the 12 tribes, the three sons of Levi and the 8 grandsons of Levi. There were 24 groups and each group had a leader.

As expected, we see the corresponding number of leaders in the temple in Heaven: “And round about the throne [were] four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.” (Rev. 4:4)

There is also the correspondence of the seven lights to consider. In the throne room of God in are seven lamps or candlesticks (Rev. 4:5) while in the Tabernacle there was a 7-branched lamp.

In addition to the echoes of the Heavenly Temple to be seen in the Tabernacle, there is correspondence between the throne room of God and Solomon's Temple that bears on this matter. Before the throne of God there is a glassy sea (Rev. 4:5) while in Solomon's Temple there was a bronze sea ten cubits in diameter. But there was no sea in Tabernacle Moses erected in the wilderness. When was the existence of the Heavenly sea revealed? I don’t know. But there is an extremely bizarre text known as the Zohar used by Jewish Kabbalists (who are reported to be wizards) that says the plan for the Temple was revealed to David who relayed it to Solomon.

“Then he began to expound to them this verse: A song of degrees for Solomon (li-shelomoh). Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it; except the Lord guard the city, the watchman waketh but in vain (Ps. CXXVII, 1-2). Said he: ‘Was it Solomon who composed this Psalm when he built the Temple? (for li-shelomoh could be understood to mean "of Solomon"). Not so. It was King David who composed it, about his son Solomon, when Nathan came to him (David) and told him that Solomon would build the Temple. Then King David showed unto his son Solomon, as a model, the celestial prototype of the Temple, and David himself, when he saw it and all the activities connected with it, as set forth in the celestial idea of it, sang this psalm concerning his son Solomon.” (Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 164a)

This seems to make sense, given David’s provision for the building of the Temple (1 Chronicles 22 & 29) and especially since God actually appeared to David at the threshing floor of Ornan (2 Chronicles 3:1). David could hardly provide the necessary material for the Temple if he did not know the pattern of the Temple!

Having established that the Temple and Tabernacle on earth are merely copies of the Heavenly Temple, that is the throne room of God, we can now look at incense. When St. John saw Heaven he saw that

“… another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer [it] with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, [which came] with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.” (Revelation 8:3-4)

You might ask, but what does this prove? Doesn't this just point to some spiritual truth? No. I do not think so. It is truth and it is spiritual, but that does not make it insubstantial. It does not make it less real. Think about that. Is Heaven less real than earth? Not at all.
Interestingly, this is a theme the Protestant writer, C.S. Lewis returned to over and over again. In his preface to Paradise Lost he wrote, “Everything except God has some natural superior; everything except unformed matter has some natural inferior.” Consider our experience of love. Isn’t it drastically inferior to God’s experience of love? The same is true of earth and Heaven. This place is barely real at all when compared to Heaven. Lewis called this world the Shadowlands, because that is all it is, a shadow of something more real. In his book the Last Battle, Lewis explains the idea like this…

"Perhaps you will get some idea of it if you think like this. You may have been in a room in which there was a window that looked out on a lovely bay of the sea or a green valley that wound away amoung the mountains. And in the wall of that room opposite to the glass there may have been a looking glass. And the sea in the mirror, or the valley in the mirror, were in one sense just the same as the real ones: yet at the same time they were somehow different — deeper, more wonderful, more like places in a story: in a story you have never heard but very much want to know. The difference between the old Narnia and the new Narnia was like that. The new one was a deeper country: every rock and flower and blade of grass looked like it meant more. I can't describe it any better than that: if you ever get there you will know what I mean. It was the unicorn who summed up what everyone was feeling. He stamped his right fore-hoof on the ground and neighed, and then cried: "I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia so much is because it sometimes looked a little like this. Bree-hee-hee! Come further up, come further in!"

Is there really an angel in heaven offering incense before the throne of God? Yes. There is. And that angel and his incense are more real than the deacons and the incense they burn in Orthodox Christian temples.
So, given all of this, let me ask my protestant readers a question: Why don’t you worship God the way he is worshiped in Heaven, the way Malachi said He would be worshiped on earth, the way the Orthodox have always worshiped Him? Can you be sure you are really worshiping God if you are not doing it according to the instructions He has given? Othodox doesn’t just mean “right believing” it also means “right worshipping”. So consider this your invitation.
There is nothing stopping you from worshiping God the way he wants to be worshiped. There is nothing stopping you from joining the community of believers that has existed since Pentecost so many years ago. Taste and see that the Lord is good.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

My Son is a Paratrooper

Look at this. That is my son's unit. See that machine gun in the top picture? My son does that! Lord, make his aim true.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Funny (but true enough) Stuff

I just read this over at my friend Matt's Blog. I guess he found it at

1. Scenario: Jack goes quail hunting before school, pulls into school parking lot with shotgun in gun rack.
1957 - Vice principal comes over to look at Jack's shotgun. He goes to his car and gets his shotgun to show Jack.
2007 - School goes into lock down, and FBI is called. Jack is hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.

2. Scenario: Johnny and Mark get into a fist-fight after school.
1957 - Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up best friends.
2007 - Police called. SWAT team arrives. Johnny and Mark are arrested and charged with assault. Both are expelled even though Johnny started it.

3. Scenario: Jeffrey won't be still in class, disrupts other students.
1957 - Jeffrey sent to office and given a good paddling by the principal. He returns to class, sits still, and does not disrupt class again.
2007 - Jeffrey is diagnosed with ADD and given huge doses of Ritalin. Becomes a zombie. School gets extra money from state because Jeffrey has a learning disability.

4. Scenario: Billy breaks a window in his neighbor's car and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt.
1957 - Billy is more careful next time, grows up, goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman.
2007 - Billy's dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy is placed in foster care and joins a gang. State psychologist tells Billy's sister that she remembers being abused herself, and their dad goes to prison. Billy's mom has affair with psychologist.

5. Scenario: Mark gets a headache and takes some aspirin to school.
1957 - Mark shares aspirin with principal out on the smoking dock.
2007 - Police called. Mark is expelled from school for drug violations. Car is searched for drugs and weapons.

6. Scenario: Pedro fails high school English.
1957 - Pedro goes to summer school, passes English, goes to college.
2007 - Pedro's cause is taken up by state. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist. ACLU files class action lawsuit against state school system and Pedro's English teacher. English banned from core curriculum. Pedro is given a diploma anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak English.

7. Scenario: Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from 4th of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle, blows up a red ant bed.
1957 - Ants die.
2007 - Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Homeland Security, and FBI called. Johnny is charged with domestic terrorism. The FBI investigates parents; siblings are removed from home; computers confiscated. Johnny's dad goes on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

8. Scenario: Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee. He is found crying by his teacher, Heather. Heather hugs him to comfort him.
1957 - In a short time, Johnny feels better and goes on playing.
2007 - Heather is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces three years in state prison. Johnny undergoes five years of therapy. Johnny sues Heather and the school, settles for $2.5 Million.

Saturday, September 01, 2007


This is pretty neat. St. Vladimir's Seminary Press has made available audio from their summer institute on death.

This is pretty gross. One can have a corpse transformed into a diamond. I'm not making this up. What's wrong with a coffin?

I just recently watched Master and Commander on DVD. (We have a new iMac Duo.) There was a funeral scene in that movie that had me in tears. The movie is worth renting. Perhaps, it is not for young children.

My friend Jeff, with whom I used to blog received some bad news today. His dad has inopperable cancer. It looks pretty grim. If you get a chance, please, pray for Bill.