Friday, November 30, 2007

A Real da Vinci Code

It seems that The Last Supper did have some secrets to reveal after all these years. But they are musical, devotional, and Christian. Read about it here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Ron Paul

Ron Paul is reaching out to us, I guess. (or Clark is acting on his own. I don't know.) I decided to vote for him months ago, but I hold no delusions. He is a politician, after all. And we are instructed by the Church to, "Put not your trust in princes or sons of men in whom there is no salvation". So having said that, and fully expecting the enemies of God, the Church, and humanity to prevail in the elections, let me say HOOOORAYYYY!!!! For Ron Paul!! (You have my vote, Paul! But it won't be enough.) and direct you to the letter below.


An Open Letter to Orthodox Christians, on Behalf of Ron Paul
by Clark Carlton



Dear Brothers and Sisters:

The 2008 US presidential election is almost a year and a half away, and yet the various campaigns are in full swing. With states vying to move the primary season up into late 2007, it is time that we as citizens of the United States start to think about who we would like to see elected to the White House next year.

Before I express my own thoughts about the upcoming election, let me begin with a couple of obvious, but nonetheless vital, observations. First of all, reasonable people – and certainly the reason-endowed sheep of Christ’s flock – can disagree about political philosophies and the relative virtues and vices of particular candidates. I do not believe that there is one "Orthodox" answer to some of the questions that I will raise below. In other words, I will question neither the purity of your faith nor the sincerity of your commitment to Christ if you disagree with my thoughts.

Such circumspection is necessary because our Lord did not deliver to us any particular "political philosophy." When the Pharisees tried to trap Him with a question about money He replied simply, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s." Later, the Pharisees accused Him of trying to put Himself in the place of Caesar. When Pilot asked Him about this He replied, "My Kingdom is not of this world." St. Paul admonished Christians to obey those in civil authority – even though they were pagans – but later writers, living under intense persecution, were somewhat less enthusiastic about their allegiance to the Roman Empire.

Finally, in the fourth century the Roman Empire underwent a slow and sometimes painful process of Christianization. (Eusebius’ rose-colored version of events needs to be taken with a grain of salt.) This eventually gave rise the Byzantine theory of "symphony" between Church and state. There is no question that the conversion of the Empire had many benefits, chief among them the development of a genuinely Orthodox culture – with all of its artistic, literary, and architectural achievements – and greatly increased missionary expansion. At the same time, however, there was always a very real danger of identifying – confusing, really – the state with the Kingdom of God. Indeed, the actual history of Roman Orthodox symphonia is a decidedly mixed bag. Our calendar is full of saints who suffered exile and even torture at the hands of the "most pious Christian Emperors" (Athanasius, Chrysostom, and Maximus to name but three). The point is that Orthodox Christians throughout history have lived all over the world under quite diverse political circumstances. While Byzantine symphonia holds an honored place within the history of the Church, one cannot claim with any theological seriousness that this is the only Orthodox political philosophy.

This leads me to my second observation, which is that contemporary American culture is far removed from that which has developed within traditionally Orthodox lands. Therefore, I do not for one minute believe that the political principles that I shall advocate below are necessarily exportable to other cultures. Frankly, I would be delighted to see the restoration of an Orthodox monarchy in Russia. (For the record, I do not subscribe to the Third Rome theory.) However, there is absolutely no chance whatsoever of such a thing happening over here. And frankly, I would not want it to happen even if it were possible because our culture is so profoundly different from the Russian culture, which is the product of a thousand years of Orthodox influence.

Keeping these observations in mind, we must begin with the principles that make the American system unique in the world. Certainly most of the nations of the developed world could be termed "democracies" in some sense, and yet it is clear that our political culture is quite different from that of France or Germany, or even Mother England for that matter. The political principles that undergird the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are technically known as "political liberalism" and go back to the empiricist philosopher John Locke. ("Liberalism" in this sense is quite different from the typical modern use of the word.) The differences between Locke’s approach and that of Continental philosophers like Rousseau and Kant are crucial to understanding the uniqueness of the American political system.

According to Locke and his spiritual heirs such as Thomas Jefferson, the function of government is to secure the liberty of individual citizens. Thus, the American political philosophy begins with the individual. Of course, for the Orthodox, individualism is a very problematic notion, one that is intimately connected to our understanding of the Fall of Man. Yet, we must keep in mind that no secular political philosophy could possibly do justice to the Orthodox concept of persons-in-communion. Given the choice between secular individualism and secular collectivism, a good case can be made that individualism is preferable.

The belief that the purpose of government is to secure the liberty of its citizens necessarily entails limited government. The equation is quite simple: the bigger the government is, the more it tries to do, the less freedom is available to its citizens. The purpose of government within the American tradition, then, is neither to make its citizens righteous nor to take care of them from the cradle to the grave, but to protect their God-given liberty.

The American form of political liberalism is not a perfect system by any stretch of the imagination, and we must always be wary of granting America a sort of messianic status as some Evangelical Protestants have done. Nevertheless, I firmly believe that given our political, social, and cultural history, the kind of government envisioned by Jefferson is by far the best form of government for Orthodox Christians in America who wish to live their lives in pious obedience to the Gospel and the Tradition of the Church.

This political system will not guarantee righteousness – no government can – but it does guarantee the fundamental conditions of liberty in which a life of true evangelical righteousness can blossom. Neither will this system guarantee that every citizen is "taken care of." Yet, we must not forget that the admonition to feed the hungry and clothe the naked was addressed to the Church, not to Caesar. Sometimes we confuse the two and expect the government to do our work for us. This is an abdication of our evangelical duties to the poor, not their fulfillment. At any rate, a limited government would mean a more expansive role for the Church within society, whereas an expansive government necessarily means a diminished role for the Church. For example, the Roman Catholic Church in California has had to alter its participation in the state’s adoption system because of state rules regarding same-sex couples. Government involvement always involves government regulation.

This example, however, illustrates the fact that the kind of government we have now at all levels bears little resemblance to the system envisioned by Jefferson and the other founders of our Republic. All three branches of the federal government – branches that were created precisely as checks on each other’s power – systematically ignore the limits imposed upon the federal government by the Constitution. The Congress passes all manner of legislation not authorized by the Constitution, limiting the freedom of the public through an ever-increasing network of laws and taxes, while at the same time almost completely abdicating its constitutional duties in regard to foreign policy and war. Presidents, for their part, routinely abdicate their duty to veto unconstitutional legislation and act as a check on congressional spending and instead have taken to themselves the almost monarchical power to promulgate their own laws (Executive Orders) and to wage war without a congressional declaration. (The last time Congress declared war was 1941.) And rather than keep the other two branches of government in line with the Constitution, the judicial branch instead rewrites legislation or invents new laws simply by fiat. (That is how we ended up with Roe vs. Wade.)

In short, the problem we face is that while the constitutional form of government envisioned by Jefferson may well be the best form of government within our cultural context, yet, quite clearly, this is no longer the kind of government we actually have. The question is whether or not this form of government can be restored to the American people. I believe that it can and that the presidential election of 2008 is the key to this restoration.

I am 43 years old and for the very first time I will be voting for a presidential candidate rather than against the other guy. I am convinced that Congressman Ron Paul of Texas, a candidate from the Republican Party, is the single most important presidential candidate in my lifetime. I make this bold statement because he is the first presidential candidate that I have ever heard who clearly understands the philosophical foundations of our republic and who is committed to governing in accordance with the Constitution – including abiding by the limitations placed on the power of the president.

In more than seventeen years as a US congressman, Ron Paul has never voted for an unbalanced budget. He has never voted for legislation that is not authorized by the Constitution. He does not even participate in the congressional pension plan. His consistent, principled stand for constitutional government has earned him the nickname, "Dr. No."

While opposing runaway congressional spending, Congressman Paul has also been an indefatigable opponent of runaway executive power. Committed to the constitutional principle that only Congress can declare war, he voted against the resolution approving of President Bush’s war plans for Iraq. (Congress refused to actually declare war, so they passed the buck by granting the president the "authority" to go to war.) Furthermore, he voted against the Patriot Act, which represents one of the gravest threats to individual liberty in American history. He stood almost alone among Republicans in this. (He also opposed President Clinton’s illegal war against our brother Serbs!)

Some have tried to portray this position as being contrary to conservative and Republican principles. Yet, Congressman Paul knows well that non-interventionism is the traditional Republican stance. The foreign policy of the present Republican administration is designed by a clique of former Trotskyites who have embarked on an imperialistic program of perpetual war abroad and ever-greater government power at home. Ron Paul understands that…

There is nothing conservative about an undeclared war against a country that has not threatened us.
There is nothing conservative about threatening other countries (Iran) with a pre-emptive nuclear strike.
There is nothing conservative about "spreading Democracy" at gunpoint.
There is nothing conservative about suspending or ignoring habeas corpus.
There is nothing conservative about warrantless searches.
On the contrary, these are all the actions of leftist, totalitarian governments. The failures of the Bush administration are not the result of traditional Republican principles; they are the result of the abandonment of traditional Republican principles. Quite frankly, Ron Paul is the only traditional Republican in the race.

Now I am not claiming that Ron Paul is perfect, and neither is he. Paul is not running for "Savior of the World," but for president of the most powerful nation on earth – a nation that is so far removed from its founding principles that it is now one of the greatest threats to freedom in the world, both at home and abroad. The United States has certainly become a threat to our Orthodox brethren around the world. Witness the US-backed persecution of our brethren in Kosovo and Palestine. Certainly the Christians in Iraq are much worse off now than they were before the US invasion. Furthermore, if current policies continue in place, we will be headed for an inevitable confrontation with a resurgent Russia. Our children and grand-children may be in for another Cold War – only this time we may just be the Evil Empire.

I believe that Ron Paul is uniquely qualified to turn our country from this disastrous course and return her to her constitutional foundations. In particular, he possesses two character traits essential for this task. These are traits to which every Orthodox Christian should aspire: personal integrity and humble obedience.

It is a sad commentary on our society that integrity is not a trait we have come to expect from our politicians. As the GOP candidates crawl all over themselves to claim the flag of being for "family values," it is fascinating that the (current) top four candidates (including Fred Thompson) have seven wives between them. Ironically, the Mormon is the only one who is not a serial bigamist! In addition to the fact that Ron Paul has been married to the same woman for fifty years (five children, seventeen grandchildren), his voting record after more than seventeen years in Congress is the very picture of consistency and principled dedication. Indeed, he seems to be from another century altogether. The Scripture enjoins us: "Let your ‘yea’ be ‘yea,’ and your ‘nay’ be ‘nay.’" Whether you agree with all of Ron Paul’s positions or not, you know exactly where he stands today and can be assured that he will not change his principles tomorrow for the sake of political expediency.

Within our ascetical literature, one virtue stands out as the surest way to achieve Christ-like humility and love, and that is the virtue of obedience. When Ron Paul became a US Congressman he took an oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States." That oath has determined every vote he has cast in the House of Representatives. In other words, he placed himself in obedience to the Constitution. He has never voted for a House bill that is not specifically authorized by the Constitution. Again, I am not suggesting that Congressman Paul is an Orthodox saint; he isn’t. But his humble obedience to his oath of office is an example for us all. He certainly behaves as "one under authority." (Imagine how much better off our Church would be in North America if our bishops always acted in accordance with the canons!)

Furthermore, as a conservative Protestant and as an obstetrician by trade, Congressman Paul has consistently opposed abortion – far more consistently than most of the other Republican candidates. Most importantly, however, Paul opposes abortion on sound constitutional as well as religious grounds. This means that he will be able to make a clear and credible case why the most fundamental right of all – the right to live – must be guaranteed to the unborn.

I have never contributed to a presidential campaign before. I have never put a political bumper sticker on my car before. And I have never written a letter like this before. I have done all three because for the first time in my life I truly believe that there is a chance to return this nation to the rule of law under the Constitution. Traditional Republicans feel betrayed by the Bush Administration, and anti-war and pro-civil liberties Democrats are beginning to see through the hypocrisy of their own candidates. The time is right for a man like Ron Paul, and Ron Paul is precisely the man we need for these times. As Judge Andrew Napolitano recently commented after reviewing a litany of tyrannical, post 9/11 "homeland security measures": "We need a Ron Paul in the White House more desperately now than we ever have at any time in our history."

If you are interested in learning more about Ron Paul, please go to RonPaul2008.com.

Asking for your prayers for our Nation, I remain,

Yours in Christ,
Clark Carlton
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Dr. Clark Carlton is assistant professor of philosophy at Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville, TN. A graduate of Carson-Newman College, St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, and the Catholic University of America, he is a sought-after speaker on Orthodox issues. He is the author of the five-volume Faith Series from Regina Orthodox Press, and his weekly podcast, "Faith and Philosophy," can be heard on the Internet at Ancientfaithradio.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sacrilege?

This piece was written for performance during Lent, for the support of orphans. What was intended as a work of beauty and mercy, the students of Northwestern University have attempted to change to comedy at best, or sacrilege at worst. Probably, they have not been taught the importance of this music and have been infected with the spirit of disrespect that has permeated our society since at least the 1950s. Nevertheless, when one knows the words and has heard the Word, even this strange version can direct one toward repentance, piety and joy.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Music for Worship/Music for Other Things

Father Steven has an interesting post on his blog...

"I have spent plenty of time with youth of both highschool and college years, who have been nurtured in Orthodox life. They’re not anti-music, etc. (indeed I like a lot of contemporary music and appreciate my children sharing it with me), but these same youth know what it is to worship God and when it is time to lay aside “all earthly cares” and offer God praise that is worthy (if any praise can be worthy) and in a spirit that is yielded to God and not something else. Presenting the Gospel to youth in America very much means to draw them beyond the boundaries of their own “niche” and into the glorious liberty of the sons of God." (Read it all)

Orthodox Music

The last post I did, the one about bringing Tahitian music into the Church was a joke - kind of like Bishop Tikhon's joke about Barbershop Qurtet music. But the music was beautiful, wasn't it?

The thing about Orthodox Christian music that makes it very difficult for us to adopt other forms of music is that much of it is of Heavenly origin. We all know the story of the Trisagion Hymn: Anatolian child who was liften up into a tornado and heard the angels singing. And we know how in the 1st (or was it the 2nd?)century an angel taught St. Ignatius of Antioch to use antiphony. THere is more to it than that, though. Below is a paper I wrote for school a year ago. It isn't the best structured paper, but the facts are all researched. There is a problem with posting footnotes that I haven't figured out, but I've included the bibliography and will be happy to email the paper with footnotes to anyone who wants a copy.

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A Preliminary Inquiry into the Spiritual Origin and Significance of the Eight Tones

By Matt Karnes

A visitor to an Orthodox temple is likely hear a reader announce “the prokeimenon in Fourth Tone…” and this might be the only hint a first time visitor notices that there is something markedly different about Orthodox Christian music. Oliver Strunk of Princeton University has pointed out, rightly, I think, that “one striking characteristic of the Eastern Service book is that each melody – indeed, each text intended for singing – is headed by some indication of its mode.”# The eight tones or modes (Greek: ekhoi - tone and mode are only two of the possible English translations of this word.#) are the “eight different melody stores or variants”# in which all Orthodox Church singing is firmly rooted. The term “mode” can be confusing to Westerners. The reason for this is that in the West modality is predominantly associated with a certain scale, while in the Byzantine system, the mode is defined by types of melodic patterns that are grouped together, each group forming the mode.# This modality is not merely happenstance, rather it is ancient tradition - from the creation of the world#, and it is spiritual – reflecting or participating in the music in heavenly realms. Therefore we read Ben Sira’s words praising, Isaac, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, and Enoch, in Ecclesiasticus 44:5, which can be translated “such as adapted music according to tradition”.#

The idea of spiritual power residing in, or being controlled by music is not confined to the Orthododox Church or the people of God in the Old Testament. For example, in Indian religion each mode is mystically connected to a god or goddess.# Also, in the Chinese Book of Ceremonies there are prescriptions for which melodies can be played at certain time of the day so that disorder can be avoided.#
In Plato’s Timaeus is written the story of the demiurge# who created the world according to Pythagorean# mathematics and musical theory#. This resulted in a World-soul and human soul that are in relation to each other according to their shared ratios, or harmonia. Therefore Plato writes,

“… so much of music…is granted to us for the sake of harmony; and harmony, which has motions akin to the revolutions of our souls, is not regarded by the intelligent votary of the Muses as given by them with a view to irrational pleasure, which is deemed to be the purpose of it in our day, but as meant to correct any discord which may have arisen in the courses of the soul, and to be our ally in bringing her into harmony and agreement with herself; and rhythm too was given by them for the same reason, on account of the irregular and graceless ways which prevail among mankind generally, and to help us against them.” #

Thus we can see that in the great human civilizations in India, Greece, and China there is a shared notion that music is more than mere vibration of air on timpanic membranes. Rather, music is deeply spiritual or magical.

Yet there is one extremely important civilization I have yet to discuss: Egypt. Egypt is so important because of Moses. According to Philo, “…[Moses] speedily learnt arithmetic, and geometry, and the whole science of rhythm and harmony and metre, and the whole of music, by means of the use of musical instruments…” #

Assuming Philo’s information is correct, there are two reasons why we need to take note of it. Firstly, Moses is a bridge back to the hierophantic tradition of Egypt. The Egyptian hierophants believed in the spiritual power of music (all art, really), as though it was magic. And their influence is known to have set music into forms that remained unchanged# even after the reforms of the 18th Dynasty.#

Secondly, unlike he did with images#, Moses never prohibited the use of music, which seems very odd, given the sacral context of music in Egypt and the jealousy of the God of Abraham.# But does this mean that the spiritual tradition of the ancients was passed down to the Orthodox Church? Can we even be sure that the tradition made its way from Abraham to Moses without being polluted by Egyptian idolatry? Maybe.
The conservatism in the music of the Church (both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament) is well known. For example, Wellesz mentions the fact that after thousands of years of separation the tune formulae for the Psalms is essentially the same in modern Persian and Moroccan synagogues, the 10th century Roman Church, and the modern Orthodox Church.# But that has more to do with the structure of the music than with the spirituality or theology of the music.#

One doesn’t have to look very hard at the Old Testament to see the post-Exodus Israelites’ “belief in the power of music”#. Elisha used music in the miraculous watering of a valley.# David used music to relieve the torment King Saul endured at the hand of an evil spirit.# David#, Job#, and Jeremiah# all expressed concern because of their enemies’ singing. Though these and many other Old Testament passages# show us the theology in the music, they don’t seem to say much about modality in Israelite religious music. However, such references do exist.

In the superscription to the 12th Psalm is this word, ‘al-hasseminit# The whole phrase could be translated “For the chief musician in the 8th tone”.# In 1 Chronicles 15:20-21# both the 1st tone, ‘alamot and the the 8nd tone, ‘al-hassemint are mentioned, almost in a way similar to Jesus use of A and Ω in Revelation.#


Bibliography

Drillock, David, Byzantine Chant, Jacob's Well, Fall-Winter 1998-99, http://www.liturgica.com/html/litEOLitMusDev3.jsp#byzantine Accessed 8 December 2006

Philo, De Vita Mosis, I, 23. http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/yonge/book24.html
Accessed 9 December 2006

Plato, Timaeus (Trans: Jowett, Benjamin), http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/timaeus.html Accessed 9 December 2006

Pythagoreanism, EncyclopÊdia Britannica. Accessed 9 December 2006 from EncyclopÊdia Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-68377

Seppala, Hilkka, The System of the eight Ekhoi and Orthodox Church Music in Finland, Ortodoksisen teologisen laitoksen julkaisuja no:22 (Joensuu, 1996)

Seppala, Hilkka, The Solemn Recitation, Byzantium and the North, Acta Byzantina Fennica, Volume IV (Finnish Association for Byzantine Studies: Helsinki)

Strunk, Oliver, Essays on Music in the Byzantine World (W.W. Norton & Co.: New York, 1977)

Wulstan, David, The Origin of the Modes, Studies in Eastern Chant Volume II (Oxford University Press: New York, 1971)

Wellesz, Egon, A History of Byzantine Music and Hymnography (The Clarendon Press: Oxford, 1949)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Do We Have Missionaries in Tahiti?

Given the fact that the music of the Orthodox Church has seen at least one major change (e.g. the Russian polyphonic harmonies) we can only hope that these guys dressed in read are soon illuminated, and that their music is sanctified and brought into the service of the Church. Do we have any missionaries in Tahiti?

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At the beginning of world, God created the light, the ground and the sky.
God created the bond of the life.

Such a canoe posed on the sea pushed by the wind.
The bond, this umbilical cord of old times, a guide, a sign for times to come.

The bond welds the ground and the sky so that are born peace, wisdom and kindness.
The bond welds the ground and the sky so that is born the life.


Friday, November 23, 2007

The Entrance, Thanksgiving, and Frosty the Snowman

The Feast of the Entrance went well. I was excited since Anselm really seemed to get excited about it. I read the account of the feast from the Prologue, showed him the Icon and explained it to the best of my ability. He also got a piece of candy.

The candy is a lesson from the Jews. I read a book a long time ago about a little boy who on the first day of Hebrew school kissed the Torah and found it sweet; the master had put a drop of honey on the Book. So now, on each of the 12 Great Feasts the boys get a piece of candy.

Thanksgiving we did the traditional Thanksgiving liturgy at the Cathedral. (If anyone is interested contact Reader Stephen at HTC for the changeable texts.) Then we feasted with the rest of the parish. Much fun. And I learned some exciting news! Bishop Benjamin is moving into the rectory next to the Cathedral, and is going to move a couple of monks from the Monastery of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco to the rectory, too. And here is the answer to my prayer: There are going to be more services!!! Not that I will be able to attend anymore than the few attend now, but I have been thinking for the longest time that if we had the Cathedral open in the afternoons and evenings, our neighbors might pop in on their way home from work, light a candle, and say a prayer.

Today, I took Basil to the park while Athanasia and Anselm made Christmas cards and began getting Christmas presents ready. It was a good chance for me to read St. John Chrysostom's sermons on Lazarus and the Rich Man. (WOW! I don't know what to make of those!!!!) While I was reading and keeping one eye on Basil I was smoking my corn cob pipe. After a little while I heard a little girl say, "I think it's Santa. He's smoking a pipe." I guess, with my long graying beard, big belly, and red shirt I kinda sorta looked like Santa. But another little girl corrected her misperception saying, "No its not, stupid. Its a corn cob pipe. He's Frosty the Snowman!"

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Icon of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple

This is pat of a paper I wrote for school a couple of years ago on the Icons of the 12 Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church.
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The Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple (November 21)

This feast is not one of the earliest feasts of the Church (1). However, there is evidence that it was being celebrated in the 4th Century.(2) The major figures in this Icon are Mary “the first and only woman to enter the Holy of Holies(3)”, her parents Ss. Joachim and Anna, and her kinsman the priest St. Zacharias. Like all of the Feasts and their Icons, this Feast and Icon are not just commemorations of historical (4) events. This Feast is instruction in the way of holiness. In the Icon we see the role of parents and the Church in the formation of young souls. Mary did not enter the Temple alone, but was with her family and the priest. We also see that the way to sanctification is gradual. There are fifteen steps (the number varies according to the iconographer) she ascends. There are three chambers she walks through (again, this varies according to the iconographer). The point of this is that sanctification does not happen in an instant. We must progress from the courtyard (active life) to the Holy (natural contemplation), then from the Holy to the Holy of Holies (Knowledge of God) (5). We must ascend the steps one at a time – “precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little and there a little”(6).

Finally, we must see the cause of the great joy permeating this Feast. Even though “the angels are astonished to see the Virgin enter the Holy of Holies(7)”, Mary was replacing this Temple of stone. She was becoming the Temple of God. And she, the prototype of all Christians goes ahead of us and shows us what is in the future for all who love Christ: To be temples of God.


1 Ouspensky and Lossky, Op. Cit., 153
2 A Monk of St. Tikhons Monastery, Op. Cit., 160
3 Quenot, Michael, The Icon: Window on the Kingdom (Crestwood. New York: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1996), Page 51
4 Two famous and very influential American priests, Fr. Thomas Hopko and Blessed Seraphim (Rose) are in disagreement concerning the historicity of this event. However, they both see the feast as a very important revelation concerning the attainment of holiness.
5 Ouspensky and Lossky, Op. Cit., 153
6 Isaiah 28:10
7 Vespers of the Feast

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

District of Columbia v. Heller, 07-290

The Supreme Court of the Unted States has agreed to hear the appeal of a decsion in which the District of Columbia suffered a crushing defeat of its hand gun ban. This will be the first time in my life that the Supreme Court will tackle the 2nd Ammendment.

The question the Court has to decide is if the word "people" means "individuals" or if it means "the states". Regardless of how one feels about handuns, it is critical to read the word people as individuals since to do otherwise does violence to the rest of the constitution.

For instance, what does the 1st Amendment right of the "people to peacefully assemble" mean if "people means "the states"?

What does 4th Amendment 'right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures" mean if "people" means "the sates"?

What of the tenth amendment which says. "the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."? Does that make any sense if it means "reserved to the states respectively, or to the states"?

What of the 17th Amendment, whereby the Senate became electable "from each State, elected by the people thereof"? Can "people" possibly mean "the state" here?

Let us hope that even in the case of hand guns, "the people" means "the people" for if it ever begins to mean "the state" tyranny is upon us and the blood of our ancestors was shed in vain.

Now should we amend the constitution to repeal the 2nd Amendment? That is a different question and is entirely within the powers of the people and the states. It is not within the power of the Supreme Court.

Fragmentation

Readers of my blog are probably familiar with my thesis that cars, air conditioners, televisions, and suburbs do much to destry communities. The journalism blog Get Religion has a discussion going about fragmentation going on in the area of Protestant worship.

Back in the 1990s Pensula Bible Church had problems figuring out what style of music to have in the services. When I first started attending in 1991 they had a pipe organ (I am no fan of pipe organs unless they are playing Bach) by the time I left there 10 years later, there was no pipe organ and almost every sunday the music was provided by a really good light rock ensemble. The change was very gradual and if you didn't attend over a period of years it would not have been noticeable. Thinking about what worship should look like (including giving a lot of thought given to the re-runs of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy on EWTN) totally primed me for seeing Truth in the worship of the Orthodox Church.

Question: Is fragmentation in worship a symptom or a cause of fragmentation in communities? Or are they both symptoms of something else?

Cranberry-Walnut Pie

For Christmas there are three things I always want.
1. My Aunt Nettie's fruited molassas balls
2. My eggnog
3. My wifes cranberry-walnut Pie


But cranberry-walnut Pie is good for Thanssgiving, too.


Here is the recipe:


Cranberry-Walnut Pie recipe (from an old Bon Appetit)

Flaky Pie Crust (1 dough disk, see below)

¾ cup packed golden brown sugar
2 large eggs
¾ cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped
Whipped cream


Position rack in bottom third oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Butter 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 13-inch round. Transfer crust to prepared dish. Trim crust edge to ½ inch overhang if necessary. Fold over-hang under, forming dough edge. Crimp edge decoratively. Freeze 15 minutes.

Beat sugar and eggs in large bowl to blend. Whisk in maple syrup, butter, vanilla and salt. Stir in walnuts and cranberries. Pour filling into prepared crust.

Bake pie 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degree F. Bake until filling is set, about 35 minutes longer. Transfer pie to rack, cool completely. (Can be prepared 8 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.) Serve with whipped cream.



Flaky pie crust (Makes one 9-inch or 10-inch crust.)

1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup cake flour
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
2 tablespoons chilled vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
3 tablespoons (or more) ice water

Mix both flours, sugar and salt in processor. Add butter and shortening. Using on/off turns, process until mixture resembles very coarse meal. Add 3 tablespoons water. Process until large moist clumps form, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic; chill until cold and firm, about 1 hour. (Can be made two days ahead. Let soften slightly before rolling.)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Ancient and Modern

"Well, take last week for instance. The Bedouin from the desert are always bringing their sick to us for healing. Normally it is something quite simple: we let them kiss a relic, give them an aspirin and send them on their way." (Read the whole thing here.)

Prayers answered

You will remember past posts in which mentioned yucky things at my wife's work. Well, through an employee mediation office on Stanford most of her problems were resolved. At the end of the process the mediator encourged her saying, "you could keep fighting but think about this: you are moving on in less than a year, do you really want to keep fighting for the last little bit?" So, even though there are still some issues (such as the fact that she supervises 9 employess and is classified as an administrator, even though other people in the dept. are classified as managers when they only have 4 direct reports) she got the money she was promised when she took the job.

But what about "moving on?" Today she has a fourth interview with the Stanford public safety dept. and a first interview with the Medical school.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

This is pretty neat

Today I was asked to be the Godfather of two girls who are converting next month. I'm pretty excited. I just ordered their Crosses.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Anaphora Prayer of St. Basil the Great

For a class I am taking from UMASS Boston that is tought by a real live Communist I am writing a paper titled "The Orthodox Christian Understanding of the Duties of the Rich and to Poor to One Another". I've been looking for a quote (so far unsuccesfully) of St. Basil the Great's where he says something like "The duty of the poor is to pray for the rich, and the duty of the rich is to give to the poor." Nevertheless, I have been very much enjoying, even to the point of distraction from the task at hand, the search for the quote.

For example, I just came across his Anaphora prayer. And it brought back so many good memories, such as Nativity last year at St. Stephen's when, in the middleof the night, little kids in their velvet and plaid holiday garb were asleep all over the floor while it was beeing prayed.

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The Anaphora Prayer of St. Basil the Great (Source abba moses )

(This sublime prayer, encompassing all of salvation history, is said by the priest at the consecration in the Divine Liturgy of St Basil the Great.)

O You Who Are, O Master, Lord, God, Father Almighty and Adorable! It is truly proper and just and befitting the majesty of your holiness that we should exalt You, praise You, bless You, worship You, give thanks to You and glorify You, the God Who alone exists, and that we should offer to You this our spiritual worship with a contrite heart and humble spirit; for it is You Who have graciously bestowed upon us the knowledge of your truth.

Who can speak of all your mighty works and make all your praises heard? Who can tell of your miracles at all times?

O Master of All, Lord of heaven and earth and of all created beings both visible and invisible! You sit on the throne of glory and look upon the depths; You are invisible, unknowable, indescribable, without beginning and without change, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our great God and Savior. He is our Hope, the Image of your goodness, the Seal of your Likeness, Who reveals You, the Father, in Himself. He is the living Word, true God, Wisdom that existed before time began, Life, Sanctification, Power, the true Light, through Whom also the Holy Spirit was revealed. The Spirit is the Spirit of Truth, the Gift of filial adoption, the Pledge of an inheritance to come, the Beginning of eternal good things, the Life-giving Power and the Fountain of Holiness, through Whom every rational and intelligent creature is given the power to worship You and to send up to You unending glory, for all things are your servants. The Angels, Archangels, Thrones, Dominions, Principalities, Authorities, Powers and the many-eyed Cherubim praise You. Standing circled before You are the Seraphim, each having six wings: with two wings they cover their faces, with two their feet and with two they fly as they call to one another with unceasing and incessant hymns of praise as they sing, cry out and proclaim the triumphant hymn, saying:

People: Holy, holy, holy, Lord of hosts! Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!

With these blessed powers, O Master and Lover of Mankind, we sinners also cry out and say: "Holy are You, truly all-holy!" There is no limit to the majesty of your holiness. You are revered in all your works, for in righteousness and true judgment You have ordered all things for us. When You created man and had fashioned him from the dust of the earth and had honored him as your own image, O God, You set him in the midst of a bountiful paradise, promising him life eternal and the enjoyment of everlasting good things by keeping your commandments.

But when he disobeyed You, the true God Who had created him, and was led astray by the deceit of the serpent, he was made subject to death through his own transgressions. In your righteous judgment, O God, You exiled him from paradise into this world and returned him to the earth from which he had been taken. But You provided for him the salvation of rebirth which is in your Christ Himself.

For You did not turn Yourself away forever from your creation whom You had made, O Good One, nor did You forget the work of your hands, but You visited him in different ways. Through the tender compassion of your mercy, You sent forth prophets. You performed great works by the Saints who in every generation were well-pleasing to You. You spoke to us through the mouths of your servants the Prophets who foretold to us the salvation which was to come. You gave us the Law to aid us. You appointed angels to guard us. And when the fullness of time had come, You spoke to us through your Son Himself, through whom You had created time.

Being the Brightness of your Glory and the Stamp of your Person, and upholding all things by the power of his Word, your Son did not think of equality with You, Who alone are God and Father, as something to be grasped. And so, although He was God before time began, He appeared on earth and dwelt among us. He was incarnate of a holy virgin and emptied Himself, taking on the form of a servant and being conformed to the body of our lowliness so that He might conform us to the image of his glory. Since sin entered the world through a man and death through sin, so your Only-begotten Son, Who is in your bosom, our God and Father, was well- pleased to be born of a woman, the holy Birth-giver of God and ever- virgin Mary. He was born under the Law, so that He might condemn sin in his own flesh, so that those who died in Adam might be made alive in Him, your Christ.

He lived in this world and gave us commandments for salvation. He released us from the delusions of idolatry and brought us to the knowledge of You, true God and Father. He procured us for Himself as a chosen people, a royal priesthood and a holy nation. Having purified us with water, He sanctified us with the Holy Spirit. He gave Himself as a ransom to death by which we were held captive, having been sold into slavery by sin. He descended into the realm of death through the Cross, that He might fill all things with Himself. He loosed the sorrow of death and rose again from the dead on the third day, for it was not possible that the Author of Life should be conquered by corruption. In this way He made a way to the resurrection of the dead for all flesh. Thus, He became the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep, the first-born of the dead, that He might be first in all ways among all things. Ascending into heaven, He sat at the right hand of your Majesty on High, and He shall come again to reward each person according to his deeds.

He left us memorials of his saving passion, these which we have set forth according to his command. For when He was about to go to his voluntary and ever-memorable and life-giving death, on the night when He gave Himself for the life of the world, He took bread into his holy and most pure hands and presented it to You, God and Father, and He gave thanks and blessed it and sanctified it and broke it and He gave it to his holy disciples and apostles, saying: "Take and eat, This is my Body which is broken for you for the remission of sins."

People: Amen.

In like manner, having taken the cup of the fruit of the vine and mixed it, He gave thanks, blessed it, sanctified it and He gave it to his holy disciples and apostles, saying: "All of you drink of this, This is my Blood of the New Testament, Which is shed for you and for many, for the remission of sins."

People: Amen.

"Do this in remembrance of Me, for as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim my death and confess my resurrection." Therefore, Master, remembering his redeeming Passion and his life-giving Cross, his three-day Burial, his Resurrection from the dead, his Ascension into heaven, his sitting at your right hand, God and Father, and his glorious and awesome Second Coming, we offer to You Yours of your Own, in behalf of all and for all.

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

O All-holy Master, since You have enabled us, your sinful and unworthy servants, to minister at your holy Altar, not through our own righteousness, for we have done nothing good upon the earth, but because of your mercies and bounties which You have richly poured out upon us, we now have the courage to draw near to this your holy Altar. Presenting to You the Antitypes of the sacred Body and Blood of your Christ, we pray and beseech You, O Holy of Holies, that by the pleasure of your goodness your Holy Spirit may descend upon us and upon these gifts lying here before You and bless and sanctify them and reveal this bread to be the precious Body of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, and that which is in this chalice to be the precious Blood of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, poured forth for the life of the world.

Unite all of us who partake of this one bread and cup to one another in the communion of the one Holy Spirit. Grant that none of us partake of the holy Body and Blood of your Christ for judgment or condemnation; rather, grant that we may find mercy and grace together with all the saints that have been pleasing to You throughout all time: with our fore-fathers, fathers, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, preachers, evangelists, martyrs, confessors, teachers, and with all the righteous made perfect in the faith, especially with our ever-holy, ever-pure, ever-blessed and glorious Lady, the Birth-giver of God and ever-Virgin Mary.

(The people now sing a Hymn to the Most Holy Theotokos.)

With the holy prophet, forerunner and Baptist, John, the holy, glorious and praiseworthy apostles, Saint [Name]., whose memory we celebrate today, and all your saints, through whose prayers visit us, O God. Remember also, O Lord, the souls of your departed, all those who have fallen asleep in the hope of resurrection unto eternal life. O our God, we pray for the forgiveness and the repose of the souls of your departed servants, [Names]., in a place of light, where there is no sorrow nor mourning. Grant them rest where the light of your face shines.

Furthermore, we entreat You: remember, O Lord, your holy, catholic and apostolic Church, which is from one end of the universe to the other; give peace to Her whom You have obtained with the precious Blood of your Christ, and preserve this holy house until the end of the world. Remember, O Lord, those who offered You these gifts, and those for whom and through whom they were offered, and the intentions for which they were offered.

Remember, O Lord, those who bring offerings and do good works in your holy churches, and those who remember the poor; reward them with your rich and heavenly gifts. For their earthly, temporal and corruptible gifts, grant them your heavenly ones, which are eternal and incorruptible.

Remember, O Lord, those who are in the deserts, mountains, caverns and pits of the earth. Remember, O Lord, those who live in chastity and godliness, in austerity and holiness of life. Remember, O Lord, this nation and her civil authorities, those who serve in the government and the armed forces. Grant them a secure and lasting peace; speak good things in their hearts concerning your Church and all your people, so that we, in their tranquility, may lead a calm and peaceful life in all godliness and sanctity. In your goodness guard those who are good, and in your Loving-kindness make those who are evil good.

Remember, O Lord, the people here present as well as those who are absent for honorable reasons. Have mercy on them and on us according to the multitude of your mercies. Fill their cupboards with every good thing. Preserve their marriages in peace and harmony, raise the infants, guide the young, support the aged, encourage the faint-hearted, reunite the separated. Lead back those who are in error and join them to your holy, catholic and apostolic Church. Free those who are held captive by unclean spirits. Sail with those who sail, travel with those who travel by land and by air. Defend the widows, protect the orphans, free the captives and heal the sick.

Remember, O God, those who are being judged, those who are in prison, in exile, at hard labor and those in any kind of affliction, necessity or distress.

Remember, O Lord our God, all those who entreat your great Loving- kindness, and those who love us and those who hate us, and those who have asked us to pray for them, unworthy though we be. Remember all your people, O Lord our God. Pour out your rich mercy upon all of them, granting them all the petitions which are for their salvation.

You Yourself remember, O God, all those whom we have not remembered through ignorance, forgetfulness or the multitude of names, since You know the name and age of each, even from his mother's womb. You, O Lord, are the Help of the helpless, the Hope of the hopeless, the Savior of the bestormed, the Haven of the voyager, the Physician of the sick. Be all things to all mankind, for You know everyone and their request, every home and its needs. Deliver this [city, village, habitation, monastery], O Lord, and every city and countryside from famine, plague, earthquake, flood, fire, sword, foreign invasion and civil war.

Remember among the first, O Lord, our [Patriarch and/or Metropolitan, Archbishop or Bishop], preserve them for your holy churches in peace, in safety, in honor and in health for many years, so that they may faithfully dispense the word of your truth.

People: And all mankind.

Remember, O Lord, the servants of God, [Names]., and grant them salvation, visitation and the forgiveness of their sins.

Remember, O Lord, every Orthodox hierarch who rightly dispenses the Word of your truth. Remember, O Lord, according to the multitude of your mercies, my own unworthiness. Pardon my every offense both voluntary and involuntary, and do not withhold the grace of your Holy Spirit from these Gifts here set forth because of my sins.

Remember, O Lord, the priesthood, the diaconate in Christ and every clerical order. Let none of us who stand about your holy Altar be put to shame. Visit us with your Loving-kindness, O Lord; manifest Yourself to us through your rich compassions.

Grant us seasonable and healthful weather. Send gentle showers upon the earth so that it may bear fruit. Bless the crown of the year with your Loving-kindness. Stop schisms among the churches, pacify the ragings of the pagans and quickly destroy the uprisings of heresy by the power of your Holy Spirit. Receive us all into your Kingdom, showing us to be children of the light and children of the day. Grant us your peace and love, a Lord our God, for You have given all things to us.

And grant that with one voice and one heart we may glorify and praise your most honorable and sublime Name, of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and forever.

People: Amen.

Which way does she turn?

This is interesting. Who knows how accurate it is, though. (yes, I see it revolving clock-wise.)

Blood

"Then I turned my attention to the Communion cloths, and I quickly discovered something: When you wash Communion cloths, the water turns...the color of blood." (whole thing here

Friday, November 16, 2007

Lists

A reader of this blog took kind-hearted issue with the lists I posted earlier today. It is true that they are the product of intellectualism and a tendency in the West to boil-down everything, even those things that should not be boiled-down. (If you boil down a T-bone steak you do not arrive at the essence of the steak, rather you are only left with a bone.)

A better, more Orthodox way to think about sin and improvement of our walk in Jesus is found in the Mystery of Confession and the preparation for that Mystery.

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St. John of Kronstadt's Preparation For Confession


A meditation for those preparing to stand before the Creator and Church community in the awesome Mystery of Holy Confession, thereby being given the renewal of a second baptism.

I, a sinful soul, confess to our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ, all of my evil acts which I have done, said or thought from baptism even unto this present day.

I have not kept the vows of my baptism, but have made myself unwanted before the face of God.

I have sinned before the Lord by lack of faith and by doubts concerning the Orthodox Faith and the Holy Church; by ungratefulness for all of God's great and unceasing gifts; His long-suffering and His providence for me, a sinner; by lack of love for the Lord, as well as fear, through not fulfilling the Holy Commandments of God and the canons and rules of the Church.

I have not preserved a love for God and for my neighbor nor have I made enough efforts, because of laziness and lack of care, to learn the Commandments of God and the precepts of the Holy Fathers. I have sinned: by not praying in the morning and in the evening and in the course of the day; by not attending the services or by coming to Church only halfheartedly.

I have sinned by judging members of the clergy. I have sinned by not respecting the Feasts, breaking the Fasts, and by immoderation in food and drink.

I have sinned by self-importance, disobedience, willfulness, self-righteousness, and the seeking of approval and praise.

I have sinned by unbelief, lack of faith, doubts, despair, despondency, abusive thoughts, blasphemy and swearing.

I have sinned by pride, a high opinion of my self, narcissism, vanity, conceit, envy, love of praise, love of honors, and by putting on airs.

I have sinned: by judging, malicious gossip, anger, remembering of offenses done to me, hatred and returning evil for evil; by slander, reproaches, lies, slyness, deception and hypocrisy; by prejudices, arguments, stubbornness, and an unwillingness to give way to my neighbor; by gloating, spitefulness, taunting, insults and mocking; by gossip, by speaking too much and by empty speech.

I have sinned by unnecessary and excessive laughter, by reviling and dwelling upon my previous sins, by arrogant behavior, insolence and lack of respect.

I have sinned by not keeping my physical and spiritual passions in check, by my enjoyment of impure thoughts, licentiousness and unchastity in thoughts, words and deeds.

I have sinned by lack of endurance towards my illnesses and sorrows, a devotion to the comforts of life and by being too attached to my parents, children, relatives and friends.

I have sinned by hardening my heart, having a weak will and by not forcing myself to do good.

I have sinned by miserliness, a love of money, the acquisition of unnecessary things and immoderate attachment to things.

I have sinned by self-justification, a disregard for the admonitions of my conscience and failing to confess my sins through negligence or false pride.

I have sinned many times by my Confession: belittling, justifying and keeping silent about sins.

I have sinned against the Most-holy and Life-creating Mysteries of the Body and Blood of our Lord by coming to Holy Communion without humility or the fear of God.

I have sinned in deed, word and thought, knowingly and unknowingly, willingly and unwillingly, thoughtfully and thoughtlessly, and it is impossible to enumerate all of my sins because of their multitude. But I truly repent of these and all others not mentioned by me because of my forgetfulness and I ask that they be forgiven through the abundance of the Mercy of God.

Things to consider during Advent

The Seven Grievous Sins
1. Pride
2. Greed
3. Lust
4. Anger
5. Gluttonny
6. Envy
7. Sloth

The Seven Capital Virtues
1. Humility
2. Liberality
3. Chastitiy
4. Mildnes
5. Temperance
6. Happiness
7. Diligence

Nine ways of participating in another's sin
1. By counsel
2. By command
3. By consent
4. By provocation.
5. By praise or flattery.
6. By concealment.
7. By partaking.
8. By silence.
9. By defense of the sin committed.

The Chief aids to Repentance
1. Prayer.
2. Fasting.
3. Performance of the spiritual
and corporal works of mercy.


The Chief spiritual works of mercy
1. To admonish sinners.
2. To instruct the ignorant.
3. To counsel the doubtful.
4. To comfort the sorrowful.
5. To suffer wrongs patiently.
6. To forgive injuries.
7. To pray for the living and the dead.


The Chief corporal works of mercy
1. To feed the hungry.
2. To give drink to the thirsty.
3. To clothe the naked.
4. To ransom captives.
5. To shelter the homeless.
6. To visit the sick.
7. To bury the dead.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Taylor, the Latte Boy

If anyone reading this is a person who might resonably be expected to buy me a Christmas present, might I recommend a CD containing the song "Taylor, the Latte Boy" by Kristin Chenoweth?

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Crab Season

There is more news on the crab front.

San Jose Mercury mentionsw the Governor talking about an investigation of the USCG. Does he have the authority? They also say there will plenty of crab but it won't be local. To that I can only say, what's the point of it if it isn't local? The fun is waiting all summer for crab season to start and then celebraing the beggining of the Nativity Fast with a crab. (For my non-Orthodox readers, during fasting periods such as Advent and Lent Orthodox do not eat meat or fish, but invertebrates may be et.)

Crabs and Oil

For some time now I have though it a proof of God's love for San Francisco that dungeness crab season starts on thesame day as the Nativity Fast. We usually buy a crab on the first day and maybe one or two more during the 40 days. And that was been the plan for this year. But a freighter ran into the San Francisco bay bridge a few days ago and spilled 58,000 gallons of bunker fuel into the bay. That fuel has since been flushed into the pacific ocean and seems to be settling down on the best area for crabbing, a trianular area with corners in San Francisco, the Faralon Islands and Point Reyes.

Yesterday, the Governor declared a temporary ban on the taking of marine animals for food. Scientists are doing testing to see if the crabs and other creatures (a lot of shark is cought in the same area) are safe to eat. I guess we'll know in a couple of weeks.


"Thus they provoked him to anger with their inventions: and the plague brake in upon them." Psalm 106:29

"Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions." Eccl. 7:29

Monday, November 12, 2007

I really like this guy

Am I the only one who thinks the news guy is making fun of him?

Almost Melt Down

Last night after dropping of pictures of my Mom at my sister's house (for the video at the memrial service) I went to the local Target to pick up a couple of things for my son Billy in Afghanistan. (We have to mail Christmas presents early for them to get there in time.) My son Basil was with me. Looking at all of the Christmas decorations (you know, snow globes, ribbon, bronze stag heads, Santas, stockings, fancy plates and glasses, ornaments, wreaths, etc.) Basil kept saying "Pretty, Daddy, pretty." And I was thinking of my son in Afghanistan, and my son Devon who I haven't seen in almost two years but who is comming to his Granny's memorial service, and my son Anselm who can't hear, and that Christmas is my mother's favorite holiday, how in the hot summer she would play Christmas records.... And I started weeping right there on the stationary aisle. I got it under control, but it was a little unsettling. I don't usually do stuff like that. Maybe I'm not getting enough sleep.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Good Story

"The librarian even remarked once: "Comrade Sergeant, you are reading so much atheistic literature...Watch out you don't become a believer!" It was as if he'd had second sight! "The Atheist's Dictionary" became my first study book on Christian dogmatics. I open it on "A" - "Ascension", and read the explanation. I carefully copied into my notebook the description of the event and it's importance for Christians, brushing aside the atheist rubbish. In this manner I discovered practically all the principal dogmatics of the Church."

Read the whole thing here.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Land Use

I am taking these classes from the university of Masachusetts in the hope of becomeing a city planner when the boys are older. The classes areall on-line. Part of what we do is have very long written discussions about the readings. It is fun to take classes in something I am interested i and will, Ihop, lead to making money. Below is my opening statement in the discussion. It is very informaland not in essay form.

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What measure(s) do you think need to be used to make housing more affordable for all? Is housing affordable in your community? Should all communities be responsible for making affordable housing?

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Some of the answers I give will might seem strange but I am trying to think about this problem while holding several not always compatible ideas in my head at once.

Affordability: The San Francisco Bay area is extremely expensive. If you buy a house here you should expect to lay out a considerable amount of money. If you want to buy on the Peninsula or in San Francisco you are going to spend a huge amount of money. But does expensive mean unaffordable? Well, for some people, yes. But for others, no.

As you all know, I live at the southern end of the Peninsula, in the North East corner of Santa Clara County. The county is a huge area encompassing Silicon Valley, the mansions and wineries along the Santa Cruz mountains, the lowland slums of east San Jose, the hyper-rich tech millionaires of Los Gatos, Palo Alto and Monte Sereno, the great expanses of tract houses in Sunnyvale, and the ranches and farms of Gilroy and Morgan Hill. The Median HHI in Santa Clara County is $78,000. But what does that mean for house prices?

In most of the country, houses cost about 5 or 6 times the median income*. That means that in the Bay area house prices “should” be about $450,000. But the Bay area is an extremely desirable place to live. There is great demand for housing here and even though other California metropolitan areas are seeing their housing prices collapse (In sacramento, out Capitol there are one or two houses for sale on every block, and half of those are in foreclosure) ours are holding steady, with a median well above that theoretical $450,000. The median price is about $700,000. And in some extremely desirable parts of the Bay Area (e.g. Cupertino, Palo Alto, the Oakland hills, Tiburon, Marin, the northern half of San Francisco) there are still bidding wars where houses/condos have lines of buyers waiting with cash in hand. So, obviously, someone is able to afford these prices. Just not me.

Liberty: It bugs me to no end when governments tell people what they can and can’t do with their property. Especially, when the owner of the property wants to build housing. I lived in Cupertino for a couple of years and was driven nuts by the people there. Aside from the fact that they wouldn’t let me grow corn in my front yard or build an indoor firing range in my back yard, they were what I think of as Housing Nazis. They actually had more code enforement officers than police officers. On the street where I lived were four undeveloped lots that were owned by the same peson who owned one of the adjoining properties. He wanted to build 12 2-bedroom condominiums on those four lots, and was willing to pay for the necessary sewer and water upgrades for the hole street. But some of the neighbors freaked out. They were worried about the condos not fitting in with the ranch houses. There were petitions, law suits, angry zoning commission and city council meetings. You would have thought it was a proposal to build a crack house. They wanted ranch houses or nothing. Now here is the problem with ranch houses. They sit sideways on the lots and I do mean “lots”. That’s right. Each ranch house takes up two lots. So instead of housing for 12 families, only housing for 2 families was approved.

Single-Family Detached Houses: I hate them. I think they (along with television, automobiles, and air conditioning) have ruined communities in our country. The Central Valley of California (where most of the fruits and nuts you eat come from) is being paved over as single family detached houses spread like a rash over the countries most productive farm land. Won’t we all be sick with regret when we can’t find an almond, or a fig, or a raisin, or a plum or a kiwi? Or when a jug of Carlo Rossi wine costs $12 instead of $4 because the vineyards have been buried under asphalt, swimming pools, and lawns? Or think about this scenario: When we run out of oil and all of the farms that used to surround our cities have been turned into tract-house sprawl how are we going to get food to where we live?

Street design: I have lived in San Jose and in San Francisco. San Jose (the more populous of the two cities) talks a lot about revitalizing its downtown. This is something San Francisco never talks about. I think a major reason for the difference is that the streets of san Francisco were planned and build before the automobile was a major social influence. That means the streets are more narrow, the side walks are wider, and the blocks are shorter than are typically built. Its difficult for cars, but it seems to be great for the city: People actually enjoy walking around. Which means you don’t have to have cars, which means you can build more housing since you don’t have to worry about where to put cars. San Jose has wide streets, narrow (in comparison to SF) sidewalks, and long blocks. It is easy to drive around in San Jose. But it is difficult to walk around SJ. You have to have a car. Which means you have to have someplace to put a car. Which means there is less space for housing.


So to answer the questions:
1. What measure(s) do you think need to be used to make housing more affordable for all?
I agree with some of what Euchner recommended.
- Allow development on government owned land. I agree with that whole heartedly. What I don’t agree with is “fits the historic character of the community”. That means no skyscraper condos, it means, in almost all of the Bay area nothing higher than 1 story. Even in the denser areas it means nothing higher than 3 stories. What’s the point of going through the hassle of development f its just to build another single family detached house?
- Experiment with split-rate tax system. Such a plan isn’t possible in California. Since 1979 our Constitution requires that property taxes are based on the last purchase price. We do not trust assessors to value our houses. That is for the market to decide. Also, all tax increases have to be approved by the voters and that isn’t going to happen.
- I do not understand “as-of-right” zoning. I would only have 4 zones: Not developable (wetland or earthquake hazard), agricultural, high-density mixed use (residential/commercial/light industrial), heavy industrial.

In addition to Euchner’s recommendation I would do the following:
- Abolish public housing. Instead I would turn every housing project into condominiums and give them to the current residents. This would have two benefits: It takes someone off of the government teat (always a morally dubious place to be) and creates a whole host of property owners, who if they are smart can parley that property into changed lives. It also will encourage builders to build in the neighborhood since they will be able to get high prices that they otherwise would have. In San Francisco it was estimated that being within 2 block s of a housing project took 15% - 25% off the value of a property. For example, my wife and I were thinking about buying a 10 unit Edwardian but the reason we didn’t was its proximity to a notorious project, where even police feared to go. Also, I know of three large vacant lots near housing projects where no one is willing to build.
- Repeal Rent Control Laws. Some rent control is worse than others. San Francisco is bad (for the reasons mentioned in the Consumers’ Research Magazine article) but Berkeley on the east side of the Bay is worse. The number of rental units in that city has actually declined since they passed their rent control ordinance.
- Declare vacant buildings a nuisance and condemn them after 90 days of vacancy. According to anecdotal evidence (the word of a postman) ¼ of the buildings in San Francisco’s most blighted neighborhood (BayView/Hunter’s Point) are unoccupied. They are owned by speculators waiting for the market to raise the price (a new light rail line is going in) before they sell. The speculators are not willing to rent to people because the rent control ordinance also makes it almost impossible to evict a tenant.

2. Is housing affordable in my community: I already answered this. It is very expensive but because people are paying for it, it is by definition, affordable..

3. Should all communities be responsible for making affordable housing? I’m not sure I understand this question. If it means should all governments build housing for people, or subsidize rents, or something like that, then no. No communities should be responsible for making affordable housing. But if the question means should government remove unnecessary obstacles such as setbacks, height limits, 2 to 3 bathroom to bedroom ratios, minimum lot sizes, and garages (as long as one man is homeless it is immoral for the government to require housing for cars.) then yes.


*This doesn’t mean that the people with median incomes are buying median priced houses. Only the top 60% can realistically qualify for a mortgage. That bottom 40%, unless they do a TIC on a duplex, or some other “non-traditional” arrangement should get used to being renters.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Love

Today while I was doing dishes (though at the end of the day who can tell?) we heard on the radio the story of a U.S. Army Medic who was made a member of the Legion of Honor for his actions on D-Day. After the news story Anelm said, "Dad, he's a good man"
I said, "Yes. He did a good thiing."
Anslem said "Can I help the soldiers who fight the Nazis?"
"We defeated them a long time ago. Before I was born. They are no more", I replied.
"How did we defeat them?" he asked."
"When France was enslaved to the Nazis we sent hundreds of thousands of soldiers to fight the Nazis and drive them out of France. Many men, like the ones we heard about were killed on the beach. And though we left 9,000 dead Americans buried in the ground of Normandy, France we still freed France from the Nazis", I answered.
Then Anselm said something I was not expecting,"I wish I had been born earlier."

The Long Story

Some of my readers from a few years ago might remember that I tell my boys the Long Story. I start with the fist Day and go until they fall asleep, which usally happens somehere around the Flood or the Tower of Babel. Thursday, Anselm was playing with a treen statue of the Holy Prophet Moses that my Dad bought in Bethlehem during his pilgrimage. Anselm asked me why the top half of the staff was shaped like a snake. So, I tried telling the story of the Exodus but he asked, "How did they become slaves?" So I had to talk about Joseph being prime minister of Egypt and how his family came to Egypt to escape famine. But my son asked, "Why did joseph go to Egypt?" So I had to el him about the coat of many colors and about how his brothers sold himinto slavery. (boy was he shocked by that.) but then he asked, "Why was Abraham was in Cannan anyway?" So I had to start over with the sojourn out of Ur of the Chaldees. But the questions kept coming and he wasn't satisfied until I took the story all the way back to the Flood. It was kind of funny. He wanted to know exactly how it fit together.

But I;m the same way. I suppose that's part of why I am Orthodox. I am thrilled every year when we stand and listen to the recitation of Jesus' entire geneology. And I love being able to identify the Orthodox through every century from Jesus' Holy Apostles on. To be able to look at Iranaeus, Justin, Ignatius, Nicholas, Athanasius, Patrick, Basil, Gregory, Photius, Cyril... and be able to say "See all those guys? I with them." The story is old and long but the parts are not lost to us.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Illness

We have all been sick for the last few days. Last Thursday through Saturday Basil had the coughs, snots, and pukes. Athanasia has had a sore throat, at least, I think she has. She is not the type of person to complain. I have a sore through at a headache. And for the last 9 days Anselm has had a cough. On Tuesday he had a small fever. The same yesterday. Today he kept saying, "what?" every time I said something to him. He could only understand me when he was looking at my mouth. So then I had him close his eyes and point in the direction of my snapping fingers. He couldn't hear. So, off to see Dr. Gali. (He asked me if I had put oil in the boys ears. I wonder if he asked that because he is Orthodox and assumed that I would have put blessed oil in Anselm's ears. I'll try to remember to ask him next time I see him.) Anselm has sinus and ear infections and a 10 day course of antibiotics.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Uncle Fred and Aunt Nettie

Last night my friends Jeff and Christa reminded me of how welcome they felt at my Unle Fred and Aunt Nettie's house when they visted a few years ago. And that got me to thinking about how everyone always feels welcome at Uncle Fred and Aunt Nettie's house. Their house has been a hospice, a campground, a refuge, a conference center, and a retirement home and an orphanage for hundreds of people. For the first 12 years of my life I was at their house every Thanksgiving and Christmas (
In case you are wondering, I will be posting Aunt Nettie's recipe for fruited molassas balls as we get closer to Christmas.), and usually a few days or even weeks in the Summer.

The first fig I ever ate (except for those in fig newtons) was off of their fig tree. The same is true of persimmons and pomagranites. My cousins and I would spend whole days in their pool. And once we got into a milk fight with the goats. There are no open canals around there now, but when I was a boy there were canals all over the place. My cousins Jamie and Brian and I would build wooden boats and race them in the canal. I always lost, but I was thre years younger. And one Thanksgiving we went "swimming" in a big mud hole. It must have been cold, but when you're six years old you don't notice things like that.

I think that was the same year my cousin Rick accidentally shot my brother Mark. They were 14 and fifteen, if I remember correctly. They looking for pheasant. Strangly, they thought it would be a good idea if they approched the center of a field from opposite directions. Well, the predictable happened, and Mark's new down jacket got the arm ripped open by Rick's charge of birdshot. It could have been much much worse.

When my Uncle Fred's mother moved into a double-wide mobile home behind the pool I would visit her and we would watch the Merv Griffin and Mike Douglas shows together. When I was 10, shortly before she died, she gave me a quilt. Each block is patchwork butterfly. Some of the seams are comming out of it and I suppose it is worn out. But I love it and often sleep under it.

My Aunt Nettie's mother, my maternal Grandmother also lived on the property. (it was actually in this mobile home where I slept nights.) I know she loved me but I was always a little afraid of her. She had ornamental chickens from asia that my little dog loved to chase. So she didn't like my dog. To a little boy that is a big deal.

I have more memories of that place and the people who lived or passed through there than I can possibly write down. But one of my favorites is of a Bingo game that occured the day after Christmas when I was 11. Everyone in my family sings. All of my anunts (6 of them), my mom and dad, uncles, cousins - we are our own choir. And we do that family harmony thing that only family can do. Well, during the bingo game Aunt Lena was the person who was drawing the numbers and calling them out. But Uncle Fred's mother couldn't hear Aunt Lena's voice so he would repeat the number. After the first three or for times, Aunt Nettie a began repeating them along with Uncle Fred. Then someone else joined in but singing. Then we all started singing the numbers in a very solemn 8 part harmony. It was like Aunt Lena was leading us in the world's silliest call-and-response hymn. Eventually, Aunt Lena and Aunt Joan and some of the younger cousins fell apart laughing and we got back to the game.

And there were many nights when we stayed up till dawn playing cards or Monopoly, or later when my two oldest sons were little boys, Risk.

A few years later, after I was grown and married and divorced, and after my parents were retired, Uncle Fred asked my parents to move into his mother's place. I guess it had been sitting empty since she died. Those five years that my parents lived there were, I think, the happiest years of their lives. They weren't exactly healthy, but they were healthy enough to get along without help. They did a great thing for my two oldest sons during those five years. They brought them to that place each year for the whole summer. So now, those two grown boys - one fighting in Afghanistan and the other asking me about wedding rings (I don't know who I am more afraid for.) - have memories of running through the same orchards, swimming in that pool all day until the slow summer sun goes down, eating BBQ tri-tip on the patio, shooting guns (when they were five or six I set up targets in the eucalyptus grove and taught them to shoot pistols.) and watching TV with the old folks.

Well, I heard tonight that both my Uncle Fred and Aunt Nettie are in very very bad health. It doesn't look like they can come to my Mom's memorial service; sickness prevents travel. I'm going to see if I can't adjust my schedule so I can go visit them soon. I hope I am able to do for my children and nephews and nieces what my parents and unles and aunts did for me, my siblings, and my cousins - provide a place that always feels like home. But first, I guess I'll have to buy a farm. My wife says we can start looking next July.

I apologize to my handful of regular readers for writing about my family so much. But it seems that these last few months all I can think of is my family.

Memorial Service

Last night I went to the memorial service for my friend Jeff's dad. I only met him a couple of times but I really liked him. After surviving the depression and serving in the Navy during WWII he got a job selling fiber canisters. (I learned about fiber canisters last night. They are pretty neat. Superior to cardboard boxes in every way.) Bill, that is Jeff's Dad's name, had that job for 40 years. FORTY YEARS!!!! He raised two sons, coached little league, was himself an Eagle scout and helped his sons earn their eagle scout badges. He smoked cigars and drank martinis. The thing that was really neat was that so many people fro different parts of his life all came together last night. There were people from work, little league, boy scouts, neighbors, and even a couple of people like me who onlymet him briefly but liked him very much. One speaker summed him with these words. "Bill was easy to be around."

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Cleaning Out My Parents Last Home

With the death of my mother a week and a half ago my siblings and I have been having to go through her stuff; also my Dads stuff that she kept after he died last December. I just got home from spending three hours there tonight. Anselm was with me. While I was fighting back tears the whole time he was having a blast. One of the last things my Mom said to me was "I always want my grandkids to be happy when they visit my house." Though I miss my mother and father so badly I wish I could die I am glad Anslem was there tonight, and that his last memory of their last house together will be of having a good time going through closets, looking at pictures, and eating all of their candy.

My father was a preacher. He has many books, and many of them I read when I was a boy. When they moved into this little apartment a few years ago they got rid of most of them but they kept one case full. Among them a seires called the Biblical Illustrater. (It is out of print now but there is a software version available.) It is probably, the best and most thorough commentary on the Protestant Bible in existence. When my Dad was pastoring in Los Angeles back in the 1960s the congregation there bought the books for him. Each volume was purchased and dedicated by a different person in the congregation. I started reading them when I was about 13. The text was so tiny (my astigmatism wouldn't be diagnsed until I joined the Army at 17) that I would get headaches from working so hard to see the words. But I loved them. I am sure that after my Dad died she kept them for me. I left them in their apartment. I don't have room for them. I can hardly believe that they are going to wind up in a pulp mill.

I don't have room for any of the stuff I brought home tonight. Pictures, mostly. But also some of my Dad's highschool report cards. My Mom and Dad's wedding certificate. My Dad's attendence and punctualty awards from elementary school - two years without being tardy or ansent! I took both my Mom's and Dad's 8th grade diplomas. My dad's adoption decree (he was a foundling).

Tonight I saw posters of my Mom when she was a teacher at summer camps in the 1950s. Anselm said, "She was very pretty. When did she get old?" I bet she wondered the same thing. I read some of her notes from when in the 1980s, as director of Christian Education for her denomination in Florida, she taught seminars for Sunday School teachers. I found songs, articles, and poems she wrote.

I took my Dad's minister's manuals (My mother gave one to my friend Jeff, who's father just died, a couple of months ago when he had to do his first wedding.). Essentially, they are sevice books for ministers in non-liturgical denominations. For my Dad being a Protestant he sure had a high view of the calling to be a pastor. The service he wrote for ordinations, which I only heard twice is really beautiful, being mostly quotations and paraphrases of St. Paul.

I was born in February 1969. In August 1969 my biological father murdred my biological mother. I have no memory of them and talking about them is to me like talking about a stranger one hears about on the radio news. I know it happened, but I don't even know what the people looked like. The mother of my biological mother suddenly found her self with a whole bunch of kids, including me. She was a member of the church pastored by my Dad. He had been by a couple of times to check on her, and each time he said to my Mom, "You need to go and see that baby", by which he meant me. But each time my Mom, who ws a teacer and a mother of three, said, "Billy, I don't need to go see a baby. I am with kids all day long." But on August 17, my Mom and Dad's wedding anniversary, he went and got me. I was only wearing a dish rag for a diaper. Be fore he took me into his house he said "Sh-sh-sh-sh-sh-shhhhh" and he carried me into the the kitchen where my Mom was doing dishes. I am told that I did not make a noise and that she didn't know we were standing there. When she turned around and saw us standing there I became her son. A few days later she wrote this (my sister found it in my Mom's papers):

"What do I need with you, little boy
Looking so solemn with big blue eyes
There with Daddy holding you close
Smiling because of his big surprise?

What do you need with me, dear little one
Old enough to be your granny-
Why to love each other, what else? My son.
So God gave you to our family.

Thank you, God."


Yes. Thank you, God.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Touchstone Published My Letter

One of my fave magazines published a letter I wrote in response to a a picture in an article dealing with relgious studies in academia. If you look in the November 2007 issue of Touchstone Magazine (Website is here. but I don't think they put the letters on the website.) you will find the letter. I expected them to only print one or two excerpts but am pleasantly surprised that they published the whole thing, giving me about 13 column inches. My subject was a bref history of the religion program at Stanford University. My favorite paragraphs arethe last two, reproduced for you here.

"Today Stanford's religion department is very meager: It only offers Ph.D.s in Buddhist studies, Judaism, and Modern Western Religious Thought and Practice (with much emphasis on post-Kantian German ethics, as though that has much to do with religion at all). The religion department at Stanford can not even compare to that of other universities in its rarified stratum, such as Harvard and Chicago, to say nothing of Christian universites such a Gerogetown and Biola, to which none of the previously mentioned schools can hold a candle.

"And therin is the main problem. There are no candles. If you visit Stanford's Memorial Church, you will see a building that is bult to look like a RomanCatholic church, full of breathtakingly beautiful icons of Jesus the Lord, his mother the Blessed Virgin Mary, and other saints. But there are no candles burning before those icons. There is no worship. And there are no relics in the altar. That is the heart of the problem with the study of religion as just one more academic subject. But you knew that when you selected the photograph for the article, didn't you?"

If you are not a subscriber to Touchstone Magazine you should become one. They regularly publish much better stuff than my letter.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Mulled Ale, Champagne, and Pate de Foie Gras

In the book, The Wind in the Willows, there is a scene of friendship and domestic beauty that brings tears to my eyes and howles of laughter from the mouths of my son Anselm. If you have not read the book let me give you some background. Mole has come out of his hole, has made friends with Rat and the two of them have been traveling around since the spring of the year. On a mid-winter night they were walking back to the Rats house on the river bank when Mole was suddenly seized by the compulsion to return to his own home. Upon arriving Mole is ashamed of hiself for bringing his friend Rat to his little for-months-abandonded house. Mole is dejected but his friend (and never a truer friend has there been) Rat is determined to be of good cheer, and sets to dusting and cleaning the little house. Mole joins him and is starting to feel a little beter when he realizes that they are hungry and have no food.

If you read these words with the right inflection there is no way you can but smile, and perhaps shed a tear of joy.

---

"Rat", he moaned,"how about your supper, you poor, cold hungry animal? I've nothing to give you - nothing - not a crumb!"

"What a fellow you are for giving in!", said the Rat reproachfully. "Why, only just now I saw a sardine-opener on the kitchen dresser, quite distictly; and everybody knows that means there are sardines about somewhere in the neighborhood. Rouse yourself! Pull yourself together, and come with me and forage."

They went and foraged accordingly, hunting through every cupboard and turning out every drawer. The result was not so very depressing after all, though of course it might have been better; a tin of sardines - a box of captain's biscuits, nearly full - and a German sausage encased in silver paper.

"There's a banquet for you!", observed the Rat, as he arranged the table. "I know some animals who would give their ears to be sitting down to supper with us tonight!"

"No bread!" groaned theMole dolorously: "No butter, no-"

"No pate de foie gras, no champage!" continued the Rat, grinning. "And that reminds me - what is that little door at the end of the passage? Your cellar, of course! Every luxury in this house! Just you wait a minute."

He made for the cellar door, and presently reappeared, somewhat dusty, with a bottle of beer in each paw and another under each arm. "Self-indulgent beggar you seem to be, Mole", he observed. "Deny yourself nothing. This is really the jolliest little place I was ever in. Now, wherever did you..."

----
My little boys, Basil and Anselm have been walking around for two days saying, "No pate de foie gras! No campgne!" and busting up laughing.

Just as Rat and Mole were about to tuck into their supper they heard the field mice outside in the fore-court caroling. Mole explained to Rat how the field mice were a local institution and that he often in the past would invite them in for a drink or a meal. At rats urging the two friends stepped outside to listen to the sining. The song is beatiful but I won't reproduce the lyrics here.

Rat in his exuberance invited the field mice into moles house, gave some coin to one of the mice to run to a shop and bring back food enough for all. Whale waiting for the mouse to return with the food they chit chatted and had what to me seems to have been a lovely good drink.
---
The Rat meanwhile, was busy examining the label on one of the beer bottles. "I perceive this to be Old Burton," he remarked approvingly. "Sensible Mole! The very thing! Now I shal be able to mull some ale! Get the things ready, Mole, while I draw the corks."

It did not take very long to prepare the brew and thrust the tin heater well into the heart of the fire; and soon every field-mouse was sipping and coughing and choking (for a little mulled ale goes a long way) and wiping his eyes and laughing and forgetting he had ever been cold in all his life.

---

Here occured a scene where Mole encourged the mice to recite lines from a play they had ltely put on. But it wasn't long before the food arrived.

---

"Under the generalship of Rat, everybody was set to do something. In a very few minutes super was ready, and Mole, he took the head of the table in a sort of dream, saw a lately barren board set think with savoury comforts; saw his little friends' faces brighten and beam as they fell to without delay; and then let himself loose - for he was famished indeed - on the provender so magically provided, thinking about what a happy homecoming this had turned out to be, after all. As they ate, they talked of old times, and the field-mice gave him the local gossip up to date, and answered as well as they could the hundred questions he had to ask them. The Rat said little or nothing, only taking care that each guest had what he wanted, and plenty of it, and that mole had no trouble or anxiety about anything.

"They clattered off at last, very grateful and showering wishes of the season, with their jacket pockets stuffed with rememberances for the small brothers and sisters at home. When the door had closed on the last of them and the chink of lanters had died away, Mole and Rat kicked the fire up, drew their chairs in, brewed themselves a last night cap of mulled ale, and discussed the events of the long day. "

---

There is a little more to the chapter, and it is beautiful in a homey way. nd it is a good story to end a day with. A good story for the boys to hear after baths and prayers as they rest their heads on their pillows and close theit eyes.

Today I decided to find a recipe for mulled ale. It was easy enough, as Google seems to know all. But I can not find fire-heated tin immersion heaters anywhere. I can find electric immersion heaters, but none of the variety that are described in the passage you have just read. If any of you, respected readers, have heard of where I might find one would you, please, tell me where that might be? I think they might be put to good use this coming Nativity Feast.