Friday, February 29, 2008

Synodicon of Orthodoxy: Part 8

To them who confess with word, mouth, heart, and mind, and with both writing and icons the incarnate advent of God the Word,

(Eternal Memory 3x)

To them who acknowledge in Christ one Hypostasis, with different essences, and attribute to the one Hypostasis both the created and uncreated, the visible and invisible, the passible and impassible, the circumscribable and uncircumscribable; and then who apply on the one hand, to the Divine essence uncreatedness and the like, and, on the other hand, acknowledge with word and icons that the human nature has the other attributes accompanying circumscription,

(Eternal Memory 3x)


To them who confess... the incarnate advent of God the Word...: This was the whole issue. It wasn't about pictures per se. It was about whether or not God became real touchable and seeable stuff.

To them who acknowledge in Christ one Hypostasis, with different essences...: the manishness of Jesus did not fade way, was not burnt up by the Godness of Jesus. He remained one Person but with two deifferent essences. We can not say, "Yes, yes. Jesus is the God-Man but he was really essentially God." No, he essentialy is God and he essentially is man. If he is otherwise he is not the Christ.

(Eternal Memory 3x): Here the whole Church prays that God (who else has an eternal memory?) remember in His kingdom those who confess this doctrine


After more than a week of wearing my sunglasses I have my new glasses. I no longer have to choose between dark (and looking stupid at night) or blurry. My wife bought me Flexons.

Synodicon of Orthodoxy: Part 7

But thanksgiving unto God and the Master's trophy of victory against the adversaries is proper here; as for the contests and struggles against the iconoclasts, another discourse written more fully will declare them. Therefore, as a kind. of rest after the desert sojourn, on the journey to reach the noetic Jerusalem, and not only in imitation of Moses, but also in obedience to the Divine Command, we considered it right as well as obligatory to inscribe on the hearts of our brethren, as on a pillar constructed of large fitted stones smoothed for the reception of inscriptions, both the blessings which are due to those who keep the law, and also the curses under which transgressors put themselves.

Wherefore we say thus:


God and the Master's trophy: The God and Master are easy to uderstand. But what is the Master's trophy? I think it means his bride the Church.

Another discoursee: Meaning this synodicon

right and obligatory: passing on the tradition isn't optional

a pillar constructed of large fitted stones smoothed for the reception of inscriptions: That's a pretty good description of what the churchis supposed to be in this world.

both the blessings which are due to those who keep the law, and also the curses under which transgressors put themselves. Wherefore we say thus:: having read those curses and blessings writtendown by Moses we know we are about to read a long list.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Soy un Californio (an assignemt for my community formation class)

There is no city or small area that I think of as my physical community. Rather, I think of all of California as my physical community. I am a Californian. Soy un Californio.

When I think of California, my mind usually turns first to the great caballero El Alcalde Castro, and his sons and daughter who, together with the Franciscan friars first settled the land around San Francisco bay, and who lived among the hunter-gatherer bands of the Pomo people. And I think to myself, The Castros would be proud of us if they could see us today. They would love what we have done with their grassy land. They would be amazed by the ports of Oakland, San Francisco, and Redwood City. They would gape at the trains, the freeways, and the airports. The scale of our industry and commerce - the mines and quarries, the refineries, the salt works, the factories and skyscrapers. They would marvel at the computer Industry of Silicon Valley.

I live in Silicon Valley. When Google shares go up, or when Apple releases a new product, or when AMD files a new patent, or when Intel suffers, or when Yahoo! stumbles, or when Nettaxi goes out of business, I know about it. But I know about it because my neighbors, and family, and friends work at those companies and the companies that supply and serve them. I’ve been to the garage where Hewlett-Packard was started. I have met the man who built the first personal computer. The streets of Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Santa Clara, San Jose, and Cupertino are where I drive and walk every day. But I was not born here. I was born on the other side of the Diablo Mountains. I was born in Modesto, in the great cornucopia called the San Joaquin Valley.

When I leave Silicon Valley and travel Pacheco Pass east, over the Diablo Mountains, and see the plain of the San Joaquin spread out before me my heart thrills. I do not grow apricots, or cotton, or plums, or almonds. I don’t own one tree. But, every fruit and nut on every tree in that valley is mine. I do not own one steer, but when I see the herds of cattle being fattened for slaughter in their feed-lots along I-5 my heart swells with pride. As a boy I played in the canals that criss-cross that valley. I ran up and down rows of orange, olive, and plums trees that surrounded my uncle’s rancheria. That great Central Valley, from Redding in the north to Bakersfield in the south is mine. I have breathed in the dust stirred up by the farmers of that valley. I have lived my whole life eating the produce of that valley. That valley is in me. It loves me and I love it.

To the east of The Valley are the mountains called Sierra Nevada, home of the great trees, the Giant Sequoia, the largest living thing, perhaps the oldest. Viewed from the little Valley town of Ivanhoe close to the center of the range, the mountains are high but the ascent is gradual. At the southern end of the range they meet the San Gabriel Mountains and rise up like a sheer wall behind Los Angeles.

La Ciudad de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles
. That beacon on the Pacific calling out across the continent, across the Pacific, the terminus of the famed Route 66, the largest and most complex city in the United States is unfathomable. The freeway interchanges are unknowable. The super rich in Malibu and Beverly Hills living with the cholos from el barrio on the eastside, the third generation surfers eating tacos made by the hands of a girl from Juarez who’s been in the country for less than a week. The nightclubs along Sunset Boulevard. This is all mine. My heart beats with the movie industry and I decide whether or not to invest in Dolby’s 3-D technology as I read Variety, my computer, my dresser, and the bananas I fed to my sons for breakfast all entered the country at the port of Long Beach. I sing with los mariachis…

¡Más te quisiera,
más te amo yo,
y toda la noche la paso
suspirando por tu amor!
y toda la noche la paso
suspirando por tu amor!

And I drive farther south on I-5 along the coast to the city that seems like Disney Land: San Diego, so clean it hardly seems like a real city. And while there I visit Mission San Diego, the southernmost of the California Missions. And moving north again hear choirs singing the dawn hymn El Cantico del Alba as I retrace the steps of the Franciscans: El Camino Real connecting the twenty-one missions from sun-drenched Mission San Diego near the Mexican border to the mist-watered Mission Sonoma in the wine country north of San Francisco. Along the way I stop at Mission San Juan Capistrano to greet the swallows as they return on March 19, and at Mission San Luis Rey, the richest and most beautiful of all the missions, and San Juan Bautista where chickens descended from those of the friars still roam the streets of the town, and on north to Mission Dolores in San Francisco, where the Orthodox Christian Saint Peter the Aleut was martyred and buried in a mass grave by Jesuits. And finally, across the Golden Gate bridge and into the wine country, where the first grapes were planted at Mission Sonoma. These missions - they are mine. And I am theirs.

But I can not stop at Sonoma. The redwoods and the coast are calling. North. North along the winding road along the top of the cliff. The white of the breakers below echoed by the white of the sheep grazing above. Occasionally a deer lying on the side of the road, covered in turkey vultures looking like hooded demons in the swirling mist. Out to the west the fishing boats that call Fort Bragg and Eureka home. And eventually I come to Fort Ross, the southern most settlement of the Russians. Where every year Orthodox Christian pilgrims assemble at the little wooden chapel and pray for the souls of the departed settlers whose bodies are buried in the California soil. And Fort Ross is my home. As is Mendocino, and Fort Bragg, and Eureka full of beautiful Victorian houses, and the little town of Crescent City on the Oregon border. They are in me. And I can not but love them. But I head east across the wilderness into the deep deep forest and up into the Cascade Mountains. Redwoods turn to pines and the fog quickly goes away. The sun shines hot and the only person I’ll see for hours is a lone mounted ranger hunting for poachers.

Now I near Mt. Shasta, a volcano not entirely dormant. And on the lake I see the speed boats and the water skiers. I pop the lid off of a San Francisco brewed Anchor Beer and take a long swallow as I watch the people play. Later I’ll drive (All Californians drive. But the best cars are the lowriders made by the homies in east Los Angeles.) down to the abandoned resort at Leonard’s Hot Spring (Near Cedarville) and soak for a while, letting the hot California minerals seep into my skin. Then south to Lake Tahoe with the deep clear water, and farther south through the Sierra Nevada passing all the ski resorts on the way to the gold country – Angel’s Camp, Columbia, Sonora - were prospectors still find gold today, where I panned for gold as a boy.

And finally, down the west side of Sierra’s, across the Central Valley again, to Oakland where Durant, Folger, Crocker, Hays, Maybeck, Morgan, and two of my friends are buried at the Mountain View Cemetery, and where I have eggs benedict for breakfast at Mama’s and then cross the Bay Bridge into San Francisco.

San Francisco, where regardless of the date of your arrival, you count as a native if you’ve ever jumped onto a moving cable car, kissed a woman at the top of the Lion Street stairs, or recovered from a hangover at Puerto Allege. This place, San Francisco, where the longshoremen broke the back of the shipping companies. San Francisco where the slot machine, the television, the Martini, the Cosmopolitan, Irish Coffee, the Mai Tai, the Mimosa, and the fortune cookie were invented. San Francisco the home of Holy Trinity Cathedral, the first Orthodox Christian parish in the United States. This is my home. It is mine. Drinking martinis in the Starlight Room at the top of the Sir Francis Drake, eating a steak at Harris’s, flying kites at the Presidio, standing in clouds of incense at Holy Trinity while the deacon intones the ancient litany and I reply “Gospodi pomiliui”, drinking coffee from little cups at a sidewalk café on Columbus Street in the shadow of the TransAmerica Pyramid. But this is not all. I have to keep driving. This time, south along California Highway 1.

I arrive at Half Moon Bay where I take my children every October to get their Hallowe’en pumpkins. Then to the formerly secret beach at Bonny Doon Rd. where we body surf with the seals. Then on to Santa Cruz where we ride the Giant Dipper, at the Board Walk and get lamb suvlaki and baklava at Vasili’s. Then south to the Secliff where my boys and I fish off the pier and play in the waves. Then back over the Santa Cruz Mountain and in to Silicon Valley where lay my head down on my pillow, and whisper into the cool summer night,

“Amo California.
California es mi corazón.
Gracias, Dios, por hacerme a un Californio.”

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Lent is almost here! We are going now to buy our kites for Clean Monday. We already have a good supply of Comet and Windex.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I think we know where Archbishop Paul stands.

"In the East, before and after the falling away of the see of Rome, we find Augustine with neither followers, nor authority. No Ecumenical Synod honoured him as St. Gregory of Nyssa was honoured with the title "Father of Fathers" by the Seventh Ecumenical Synod. The Fourth Ecumenical Synod listed Augustine among "the holy Fathers of the Third Ecumenical Synod." But we know that he did not attend this Synod because he had died ten months earlier! His name was on a list of bishops that was either outdated when the Third Ecumenical Synod was summoned, or it was inserted in the record by someone for their own purpose. He was never hailed as "the Great" or "the Theologian." Neither is there a feast day, nor churches erected in his honour, nor troparia composed for him (until our own times), nor sons named for him (as some were named for St. Augustine of Canterbury, "Enlightener of England"), nor icons to his memory, nor mention in the ancient books of the saints, such as the tenth century Menologia of St. Symeon Metaphrastes, the Tcheti Minei of Metropolitan Makari (d. 1564), nor later in the Menaion of St. Dimitri of Rostov. We have no knowledge of any miracles either performed or connected with his grave, no fragrance of sanctity emanating from his body. The only thing we do know about his death is that he died reciting a passage from the pagan philosopher Plotinus."

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Why We Homeschool

"Every child in America entering school at the age of five is insane because he comes to school with certain allegiances toward our founding fathers, toward his parents, toward a belief in a supernatural being, toward the sovereignty of this nation as a separate entity...It's up to you teachers to make all of these sick children well by creating the international children of the future."

Chester M. Pierce, M.D., Professor of Education at Harvard, addressed the Association for Childhood Education International - (April, 1972).

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Nazi Era Law Forces Homeshooling Families to Flee Germany

Home-school Germans flee to UK

A 1938 law designed to ensure state control of all children has provoked a family exodus to Britain

Charlie Francis-Pape and Allan Hall in Berlin
Sunday February 24, 2008
The Observer

Families are fleeing to the UK from Germany to escape a law introduced by Hitler that could lead to their children being taken into care if educated at home. One father, who arrived in Britain with his wife and five children last month, has told The Observer that his family had no choice after being warned that their children would be taken into foster care unless they enrolled them at local schools. Another, who fled in October, said he believed the 70-year-old law was creating hundreds of refugees and forcing families into hiding to protect their children.

Home-schooling has been illegal in Germany since it was outlawed in 1938. Hitler wanted the Nazi state to have complete control of young minds. Today there are rare exemptions, such as for children suffering serious illnesses or psychological problems. Legal attempts through the courts - including the European Court of Human Rights - have so far failed to overturn the ban.

Klaus Landahl, 41, who moved in January from the Black Forest in Germany to the Isle of Wight with his wife, Kathrin, 39, said they had no option but to leave their home, friends and belongings in order to educate their five children, aged between three and 12, legally and without fear. 'It feels like persecution,' he said. 'We had to get to safety to protect our family. We can never go back. If we do, our children will be removed, as the German government says they are the property of the state now.'

The family now live in Shanklin, surviving off savings while Landahl seeks work to support them. His wife said they chose home-schooling to spare their children from bullying and to allow them to focus on their individual interests. 'In school in Germany they expect you to be like everybody else; you cannot be different,' she said. 'If you don't have the correct clothes, like Nike and Adidas, or if you wear the wrong colour, other children will not accept you.'

Jonathan Skeet, who is British-born, said that he, his wife and five children, aged between two and 11, were driven from Lüdenscheid after the authorities froze their bank account, removed money from it and confiscated their car. The former aid worker fled in October and chose the Isle of Wight because of its large home-education network. In Germany, he said, the family were blackmailed and threatened with the loss of their children in an attempt to force them back into mainstream school education.

'It was crippling,' he said. 'When we lived in Germany we wanted to live a very inconspicuous and quiet life. But instead we ended up in direct confrontation with a very powerful state.'

The 43-year-old nursing home worker said they wanted to home-school because they were worried about the state of the German education system. 'We were concerned that the atmosphere in schools in Germany had become very rough and ready. We thought our children were too young to deal with that. '

About 800 families are believed to educate their children at home illegally. Stephanie Edel, who runs the Schulbildung in Familieninitiative, a German organisation that aims to support those who educate at home, said that last year some 78 home-schooled children fled Germany with their parents. 'It is very dangerous to home-educate here,' she said. 'Home-educators have to learn to expect anything and have to be ready to leave overnight.'

In 2006 the UN sent a special rapporteur to assess Germany's education system. He reported that necessary measures should be adopted to uphold parents' rights to educate children at home where necessary and appropriate.

Last year, in an extreme example, 15-year-old Melissa Busekros was removed from her family. Her mother, Gudrun, said more than 15 policemen took her to a psychiatric unit for psychological tests. After refusing to be tested, Melissa was placed in a foster home. She escaped on her 16th birthday and has since been left alone by the authorities.

Her mother said: 'All of the supposed independent experts are paid by the government, so they say what the social workers tell them to say in court.'

Both domestic and EU courts have ruled in the German state's favour on numerous occasions in recent years.

Abortion Also Kills Women

I think we all know women who have been presured into abortions they did not want to have.  The Telegraph has a story about one such woman who, betrayed by the man who "loved" her, killed her umborn twins, and then killed herself.    Read the whole report.

So this will be a rarer occurence, won't you, please consider a gift to Martha and Mary House?

Where People Like to Live

When I was a little boy I loved Sesame Street. Not because of the puppets or the stories. I was fascinated by the idea that everyone knew everyone else, that people usually walked everywhere they went, and that Mr. Hooper's store was right there in the middle of it all. When I was 9 or 10 my parents and I drove to San Francisco to visit some friends. I was amazed by the old victorian with oddly shaped rooms and bay windows. When I was 11 I had a school field trip to the Financial District of San Francisco. I knew right then that this was where I wanted to live. When I was 17 and visited NYC on an 18 hour pass from Fort Monmouth I was even more blown away. People playing three card monte and selling "meat on a stick" were every where. here was an old woman telling stories, and people were gathered around her listening. I ate spring rolls and jellyfish at an illegal Vietnamese restaurant in a basement of an apartment building in an alley in Chinatown, I saw the ships in the harbor and rode the subway. I walked up Broadway from Battery Park to Union Square and drank it all in with my eyes. I was in love with cities. When I was older still, I visited New York again, but on business and was even more impressed with the speed at which things happened. I did online gambling deals with hyper connected Ultra-Orthodox Jews, and Online education deals with cutting edge ad agencies. And later I visited Boston on business but took three hours off to read Plato in the main reading room in the library on Copely Square. It was civilization at it's finest.

It has long been my contention that most people want to live in cities or on farms. In the last half of the 20th Century it seemed like suburbs, which were intended to have the best of both, but really didn't, were proving me wrong. But this article in the Atlantic which uses real estate prices as evidence, provides my vindication.

It was 30 years before I was able to live in a City with sky scrapers and wide sidwalks full of people; where I knew my neighbors and my grocer and my dry cleaner and could walk to fifteen restaurants, two bookstores a laundrymat, a shoe repair store, a high school, two parks, a subway station, a printer, an opthamologist, two furniture stores, an art gallery, three churches, a grocery store, and much much more within three blocks of where I lived. It only lasted a brief time, not even two years.

I know that when the Lord returns I will live in a real city again, in fact, it is the prototype, the telos, the eschaton, the fulfillment of all cities made by human hands. But until then, it sure would be nice to live in one made by human hands again.

Saturday Soundtrack: Adultery Burns Like a Ring of Fire

My dad listend to both kinds of music: Country and western, so I heard this song many times while growing up.

Back in the 1960s Johnny Cash was a wild, out of control, hard drinking, pill-popping speed freak. You might remember that in 1965 he was baned from the Grand Ole Opry for breaking out the stage lights.

"The band kicked off a song, and I tried to take the microphone off the stand. In my nervous frenzy, I couldn't get it off. That was enough to make me explode in a fit of anger. I took the mike stand, threw it down, then dragged it along the edge of the stage. There were 52 lights, and I wanted to break all 52, which I did." -- Johnny Cash talking in 1993 about the night he was asked not to return to the Grand Ole Opry

Around this time Johnny started touring with the Carter Family, who are recognized as the very first Country music stars. That's how he met June Carter. She was married. Johnny was married. That didn't stop them and she wrote this song. The really bizzarre thing is that her mother "Mother Maybelle Carter" (Unlike Johnny, she was adored by the Opry.), and her sisters are singing back up with her. June Carter and Johnny Cash each divorced their spouses and married each other (1967?). I know, it's more than a little sick but you gotta ove those Mariachi horns. This is a recording of a 1968 Grand Ole Opry appearance.  I'm only guessing, but it was probably Mother Maybelle who got the ban lifted.  

It should be noted that a few years after this, Johnny Cash responded to an alter call at a little pentecostal church in Nashville. From what people say about him, after that he was a changed man.  At Stanford in the mid 1990s I saw him turn down an offered drink with these words "Thanks but if I have one drink I won't stop till I've had a hundred."

Thursday, February 21, 2008


I talked to the leader of the Sebia/Kosovo task force at the state department today. It wasn't very encouraging. He tried to assure me that the State Department is dealing with the riots. He didn't appreciate it when I told him we bought the riots by recognizing Kosovo. I told him that "Our policy regarding Serbia and Kosovo stinks". I asked forthe under secretary in charge but he wasn't available.
I also left messages for the President, and both of my Senators.
But because we co not put our trust "in princes and sons of men in whom there is no salvation", I have lit candles for Kosovo and the suffering Orthodox Christians there. Even Anselm and Basil did the prostrations. Basil was just having fun, I think, but Anselm knew it was very important.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Migrant Mother

Maybe this story makes me cry because I am a Californian, and all the places named are familiar to me, one being the place of my birth. Or that my great grandmother is Cherokee. Or that my parents worked as harvesters. Or that my Dad is from Oklahoma. I don't know. But you should read it.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Kosovo To Secede From Serbia

Today is a dark day. Tomorrow will be black. The Orthodox heart of Serbia is torn from her breast. How long before all the churches are destroyed, the holy icons and altars desecrated. Who will protect the Orthodox women; the mothers, widows, and virgins from from the slavering and bloody mouth of the Muslim?
The shame is that "Christian" countries of the west, predominately The United States and The United Kingdom are the powers that pushed the hardest for this "settlement". 
What next? Shall Vienna be surrendred to the Caliphate?  Paris?  London? 
(The painting by Theodore Rallis is titled "The Spoils".  I found it here.)

Saturday Soundtrack: Ain't No Mountain High Enough

Many songs are called love songs but most of them are not really about love - any kind of love. Most are about physical gratification. I think this song might be the best expression of the kind of love called Eros (which is not synonymous with sexual desire) in popular music.

I suppose, that given the content of her songs and the fame she achieved by singing with Marvin Gaye, that it is fitting (if it is not perverse to say a death is fitting) that Tammi Terrel died after collapsing into Marvin Gaye's arms during a stage performance. Marvin never recorded such beautiful music again, and the sentiments expressed in his music became more base as he released such songs as "Let's Get it On" and "Sexual Healing". We can only wonder what his career might have been had Ms. Terrel not died.

Friday, February 15, 2008


My Dad was really big into fishing. When he was a boy, as soon as school was out for the summer my Dad and his parents set up tents and an outdoor kitchen along the banks of a river near their house, and lived there all summer. My grandfather would go to work in lead and zinc mines during the day but would fish all night with my Dad. I didn't hear that story until about six months before my Dad died. When he told me the story I heard the love he had for his dad in his voice. I wish I had heard more stories like that from him.

My Dad used to take me fishing and I was, most or the time, bored out of my mind. I can only think of two times, out of the hundreds of times he took me fishing that I really enjoyed it. I think it always hurt his feelings that I didn't enjoy his favorite pastime. But he took my two oldest sons fishing and camping quite often in the mid and late 1990s. I have pictures of my two oldest sons cathing fish with my Dad, but for various reasons, mainly not knowing what was important, I wasn't on those fishing trips. Oh. Regret is an evil thing. Sorrow for what can not be undone is futile.

When Anselm was born my Dad bought him a fishing pole and some tackle and gave it to him on his first Christmas. And every time my Dad saw Anselm, up until the last couple of visits, he would say, "When I'm feeling better you and me are going fishing." They never went fishing.

Today I took Anselm on his first fishing trip. He fished off the pier at Seacliff Beach. I taught him how to tie on a hook, and how to put the shrimp on the hook. I also taught him how to fish with a jig. He caught some beautiful kelp and two pilings. The second piling ended the day since it took so much line that he didn't have enough left to fish with. He had more fun than I thought he would have, and asked me to take him fishing after church on Sunday.

The pole and tackle my Dad bought Basil is still in the closet. When he is old enough I will take him fishing, too, and tell him about my Dad.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I got the tingles!

I just noticed that next Sunday, February 17 is the Sunday of the Pharisee and the Publican and the the start of the Lenten Triodion. I got so excited it made hair stand up. I love Lent!!!

Kontakion - Tone 4

Let us flee from the pride of the Pharisee!
And learn humility from the Publican's tears!
Let us cry to our Savior,
have mercy on us,
only merciful One!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

An Amazing Sermon by Fr. Thomas Hopko

It is billed as a lecture, but to me it sounds like a sermon - and it is wonderful. It is part two of a series on the Theotokos. Listen to it here. If you want to listen to the whole series click here.

Synodicon of Orthodoxy: Part 6

But now, for a second time, after a short thirty years of harassment, He has delivered us unworthy ones from adversity, redeeming us from those who afflicted us, and establishing the free proclamation of piety, the steadfastness of the worship of icons, and this Festival which brings all of us salvation. For in the icons we see the sufferings of our Master for us - the Cross, the grave, Hades slain and pillaged-the contests of the martyrs, the crowns, that very salvation which our First Prize-giver and Contest-master and Crown-bearer wrought in the midst of the earth. This festival we celebrate today; we rejoice together and are glad with prayers and supplicatory processions, and we cry out with psalms and hymns:

(Shout it 3x)

What God is as great as our God? Thou art our God, who alone worketh wonders.

(Shout it)

For Thou didst put to scorn those who slighted Thy Glory, and didst show forth as cowards and fugitives those who were audacious and impudent against the icons.


a second time: see part two of this series for more detail, but in short, the iconoclasts, after having been put down, had a 30 year ascendancy, during which time they persecuted and afflicted those who kept the True Faith.

redeeming us: This is interesting. It wasn't just rescuing or protecting or defending that was needed. Redemption was needed. Does this imply that the suffering of the Orthodox at the hands of the Iconoclasts was due, at least in part, to the sins of the Orthodox? Do the Orthodox share in the guilt of the Iconoclasts? How might this be so? My guess is through lax morals which weakens a testimony, and by not articulating well the right doctrine concerning Icons.

worship of icons: At first when I saw this I thought, "well that's an unfortunate translation, isn't it?" But on second thought, no it is the right translation. We should not be ashamed of the English language, full of nuance as it is. One of the most beautiful parts of the Church of England's wedding service is when the bride says "with my body I thee worship" and everyone knows that does not mean adoration due only to God. Likewise, with our bodies, in kisses and prostrations we Orthodox worship the Holy Icons, knowing full well that we do not adore paint and wood.

Festival which brings all of us salvation: How does a festival bring us salvation? Bu ensuring that at least once a year an important part of Christian dogma is loudly and unambiguously proclaimed.

For in the icons we see the sufferings of our Master for us - the Cross: Among most American Protestants there is an aversion to showing an image of Jesus on the Cross. When I was a Protestant I never understood it - the cross is historical, Jesus is historical, Jesus on the Cross is historical, but only the first two, and rarely the third is ever portrayed. When I was a boy a common criticism I heard of Roman Catholics was "they show Jesus on the Cross". I heard a variation of it just a few day ago. I tried to explain that Jesus was "slain from the foundation of the world" and that there never was a time when he wasn't on the cross, because he is eternal and unchanging. It is only because we exist in time that we direct our gaze to a place in history and say "Jesus was Crucified 2,000 years ago". But in reality, he is slain once and for all in eternity. Didn't St. John see Jesus in Heaven as as a lamb who was slain? And this explains why He is not crucified again when we celebrate the Holy Mystery every Sunday: We do not kill him again, for we are accessing his eternal Sacrifice, it is as though his blood is the current flowing through the universe and on Sundays we plug into him. The life is in the blood, as Moses wrote.

Hades slain and pillaged: Our Lord was not content to leave the dead in bondage but "pillaged" hades. He broke down the gates and took the treasure like a Norseman plundering an Irish town.

that very salvation which our First Prize-giver and Contest-master and Crown-bearer wrought in the midst of the earth. : Okay, now I'm getting excited. And so were the bishop at the council. They are just making up titles to heap on Jesus. But notice in their excitement that they stick to the dogma. They don't wallow in falsity. They don't change the teaching of the Apostles. They just find new words to express it.

This festival we celebrate today: Today. We are not in eternity yet. We live according to the Sun and the Moon and the atomic clock. But even limited as we are we still celebrate the salvation of the Lord at the appropriate time.

(Shout it 3x): Translated from Greek to Slavonic to English this was almost impossible to understand. I've retranslated into functionally equivalent English.

What God is as great as our God? Thou art our God, who alone worketh wonders.: words worth shouting three times.

For Thou didst put to scorn those who slighted Thy Glory, and didst show forth as cowards and fugitives those who were audacious and impudent against the icons. : The Iconoclasts were afraid of God's glory, the glory of the Incarnation and the Crucifixion, the Glory of the heir of all things giving up all things for the sake of love. The Iconoclasts lied, saying God was too glorious to be depicted, but it is his self-emptying and his becoming depictible that are his greatest Glory. His greatest act was loving obedience to his Father. That is what undid Satan and that is why Satan invented Iconoclasm.

Monday, February 11, 2008


My wife has not been thrilled with the idea of me hunting turkeys. She was less thrilled when I told her that I am planning a boar hunt for this summer. That was until I told her we shall have to buy aKitchenAid mixer with meat grinder and sausage stuffer attachments. Now she is toally into my new hobby.

Anyone have any good sausage recipes?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

After a long while, we are well.

On thursday of this week I saw that everyone in my family was finally well. As regular readers of this blog know, it has been a very difficult winter of much sickness. But today, for the first time since mid-winter, Athanasia, Basil, Samuel and I were in church together on Sunday. It was very good. After the service we stayed for lunch and then we went to the beach.

Friday, February 08, 2008

This is my soap. I love it. And the label is totally nuts.

Click on the title to watch a cool video about Dr. Bronner's  soap.  I've been using it for years and totally recommend it.  I started out with the liquid but my wife knits these totally cool wash cloth/soap bags so now I use the bars.  I like both.  But for dilution and household cleaning the liquid is best.

Oh. Like, wow, dolphins are so peaceful and spiritual....NOT

Back when I was just starting out in San Francisco's local advertising industry I used to read all locally produced media, including an advert-only magazine called Common Ground. In addition to the ads for yoga classes, natural clothing, crystal therapy, sex seminars (you need a seminar?), and meditation instruction there were always a couple of ads for places like this. Of all the bogus stuff I read in Common Ground this dolphin garbage always disgusted me the most. At least all the other stuff had people learning from people or spirits, beings equal to or greater than themselves. But the elevation of wild animals to a place of teacher of humans was totally offensive to me. Now I wonder how the dolphin worshipers are taking the news that their gods like to kill their own peaceful spiritual offspring and the peaceful spiritual porpoises, too.

Who reports what, and why do they report it?

I have begun a new semester and one of my classes is a media criticism class. That requires me to keep a log of my media use and then do some research on what I log. I'll be posting some of that work here during the semester.


This week I have had hardly any radio listening time, but have done a lot reading on line (also some design magazines). One of the things I've tried to pay attention to is who is reporting what kind of news.

For example, Investors Business Daily seems to report news and publish editorials that run counter to the popular global warming movement. (For example: )

I think there are two ways to view this:
1) IBD is in the hip pocket of the polluters who want to keep selling SUVs and building coal fired power plants.
2) Investors really need to know what the weather is going to be so they can plan for it. I, for one, wouldn't invest in a vinyard in Washington sate if I knew the weather there for the next century was going to be like the Yukon is now. But if global warming is real I, certainly, would make that investment.

Also, who is reporting news the other direction? I mean who are the people behind the the global warming movement. In general they are people I do not trust, but I have to keep that distrust in abeyance because on this issue they might know what they are talking about and investing in that vinyard in Washington might be a smart move. But since, as a class, these people, in my opinion, are not very interested in creating wealth, I have to keep that in mind, too.

Keeping everyone's motives in mind when I read something is not always easy. But Google helps. It took me less than five minutes of searching to discover that IBD is owned by the William O'Neil Company ( and that they are a data and information company that serves institutional investors. And Wikipaedia provides info on the founder and owner of the company ('Neil).

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Horrible Things Republicans Have Said

     My wife, who is a Green (Believe it or not, it is one of the reasons I married her.) called me on the carpet for not listing some bad things said by Republicans in my little quiz about Nazis Democrats and Republicans.  As I said in the comments, I would have but I was tired and it was 2 in the morning.  Well, I am wide awake now and I think I have the ultimate horrible thing said by a Republican (other than Richard Nixon, who was a crypto-marxist).
     In the days following the Al Qaida (may the name be for a curse) attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentegon President Bush urged us to "go to the malls".  On December 20, 2006 he told Americans "to go shopping more."
     Now, he is offering us a $150 Billion "stimulus package", as though we are the Roman mob seeking bread rations.   But more than that, he wants us all to go out to Wal-Mart and Best Buy and "increase consumer spending", as though our houses aren't already full of stuff. As though we don't have better things to do with our money than buy more stuff.
     President Bush wants us to individually spend as much as we can for the common good.  Essentially, President Bush is saying the same thing that the Nazis said in their 25 Point Program: "We are convinvened that a permanent recovery...can only proceed from the foundation of the common good before the individual good."  But it seems to me that spending ourselves into individual poverty is no recipe for common wealth.  
     Rather than spending whatever money comes to us via this Keynsian stimulus package, it would be better for us to use it to pay off debt, or if we have no debt, to invest it in wealth-creating opportunities.
      Now don't get me wrong.  I like tax rebates.  I am totally infavor of redicing taxes.  I whole heartedly say with Milton Freidman, "I faver tax reductions under any circumstances, for any reason, for any excuses, at any time."  But taxcuts are perilous if  we do not at the same time reduce government spending.  For there is only one way for a government to spend money without taxation, and that is by printing money, which causes inflation, and as everyone ought to know, and as Freidman also said, "Inflation is taxation without legislation."  And more dangerous to good order and human life than a population that is highly taxed is the madness of a population who's money is worthless.

In the carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said, "If you don't work you die."
                                                        - from The Gods of The Copybook Headings by Rudyard Kipling

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Greeks Need Our Prayers - Now.

Reuters is reporting on the current state of theGreek Church.  It looks like they are in for a difficult time as the Holy Synod of Greece meets on Feb 7 to elect a new primate.

Drew Cary Does Economics and Media Criticism?

Yeah.  He does.  Check it out.

Super Tuesday Predictions: Update

Oh, well.  We tried.  But we didn't even carry Alaska.  It sure was fun though.  I guess Dr. Paul is going to keep campaigning as long as people give him money, but my part is over.  It was my first time to work in a political campaign.  I'm glad I did it.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Can You Tell the difference between a Republican, a Democrat and a Nazi?

Each of the quotes below is from a high ranking official or an official document of either the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, or the Nazi Party.  Can you tell which is which?

1. “We demand…the prohibition of all speculation in land”

2. “We’re going to take things away from you for the common good”

3. “The other day the oil companies reported the highest profits in the history of the world. I want to take those profits and put them in to a strategic energy fund.”

4. “We are convinced that a permanent recovery…can only proceed on the foundation of ‘the common good before the individual good.’”

5. “The state shall share in the profits of large industries”

6. “Taxes are the dues we pay for the privileges of membership in an organized society.”

7. “Public schools are the foundation of our education system.”

8. “Children … shall be educated at the cost of the state.”

9. “…  the government [should] undertake the obligation of providing citizens with adequate opportunities for employment and earning a living.”

10. “…pregnancy may be interrupted if desired."

11. “A doctor may interrupt a pregnancy when it threatens the life or health of the mother."



1. Nazi – the “Twenty Five Point Program” Feb 24, 1920

2. Democratic – Hillary Clinton speaking at a Democratic fundraiser in San Francisco, June 2004

3. Democratic – Hillary Clinton speaking to the winter meeting of the Democratic Leadership Conference, 2007

4. Nazi – the “Twenty Five Point Program” Feb 24, 1920

5. Nazi – the “Twenty Five Point Program” Feb 24, 1920

6. Democratic – Platform of the King County (Washington State) Democratic Party, May 23, 2006

7. Democratic – Platform of the King County (Washington State) Democratic Party, May 23, 2006

8. Nazi – the “Twenty Five Point Program” Feb 24, 1920

9. Nazi – the “Twenty Five Point Program” Feb 24, 1920

10. Nazi - Reichskommisar Kaltenbrunner, in an order to the SS and the SD dated June 9, 1943

11. Nazi - German Penal Code, 1933

Monday, February 04, 2008

Super Tuesday Delegate Prediction

Who will win which states?
Ron Paul shall place first in Alaska and West Virginia. (Did you know he won the most degates in Maine?  I bet you didn't hear that on the news.)
Romny shall place first in Massachusetts, Utah and Colorado
Huckabee shall place first in Arkansas, Tennessee and Georgia
McCain shall place first in all other states (although my precint is overwhelmingly for Romney)

I predict minimum delegate wins as follows:
Ron Paul shall win no fewer than 30 
Romney shall win no fewer than 300 (taking a sizable chunk of California's  173 delegates)
Huckabee shall win no fewer than 150 
McCain shall take no fewer than 450

On Wednesday morning (when I shall review my predictions) we will not know who the nominee is going to be.  I am hoping that we won't know until the last day of the convention.

In other news today, February 4 is my birthday.  I am 39.  My wife made a pecan pie for me.

Working the Phones

So I'm calling all the Republicans in my precinct today; trying to get them to vote for Ron Paul.  I've called about 40 people so far, and I've had pretty good response.  One guy has agreed to vote for him and another asked me to call him back tonight to talk about it some more.  Now here is what is interesting:  There are only 87 Republicans in my precinct.   This means that, probably, this pricinct will go to whichever candidate gets 20 votes.  That is amazing to me.  So few people have so much power.  And these are just ordinary joes like me.  This is a great country.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Yurts for Christ

I am constantly looking at better housing options for my family. One of the things I have been considering for us is is a yurt. But then I read this:

30' Diameter Yurt - 706 square feet and 13' tall in the center (13'11" with taller wall option). This size is most often chosen by families or couples who will make the yurt their primary home or live in it while they build a traitional or straw bale home. It is also a popular size for a "come one, come all" friends and family retreat and can even function as a mini-conference center seating up to sixty people. Takes 2-3 days for five people to erect. Could be squeezed into a weekend by studying the set up instructions and having a very dedicated, hardworking group of friends!

and thought, hmmm. Throw up an Iconostatsis and you have yourself a nice inexspensive temple for a mission.

A potential problem with using it as a dwelling is where to put the icons in a house with no corners?

There is never enough cow bell.

Getting a job as a protestant pastor

I have a friend who is a seminary grad and has been on the pastoral staff of several churches but always as a part-timer. He wants to be full-time but is having trouble landing a full time position. This is the advice I gave him. I'm interested in reading your comments, especially the comments of any protestant readers.


Dear X,

I want to help you market yourself to churches. Let me ask you some questions:

What kind of marketing materials do you have?
- A pator's resume should be like a small book that includes an essay explaining how you were converted and what you believe (this is especially important for independent churches who don't have the denomination acting as a screen to filter out the riff raff), what your style of ministry is (a story about how you actually impacted someones life is a must in this section), a brief explanation of what you studied in seminary and how it helps you be an effective minister, and should include a CD of a recent sermon. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT: Churches hate it when a pastor only stays for a couple of years, so you need to say somewhere in there that you plan on staying at the church that calls you for the rest of your life and becoming an integral part of the comunity, that you look forward to marrying the babies you dedicate there.

- Have you sat down with AT&T to build a simple 3 or 4 page website? This is important and you should make sure it is found by all the major search engines. The website should have pictures of you in the pulpit, working on a car with a young man, sitting and talking with an old man, doing a wedding, carrying something for a woman and playing football with a group of kids. Of course, all the stuff that is in your resume should be on the website, but in different words. This should be a single purpose website. The Purpose: Provide more information about you to churches looking for a pastor.
- Have you placed a classified ad in Crhristianity Today and its sister publications?

Are you contacting the denominational overseers? Do they have your resume?

Is your seminary's alumni association a resource for you?

Have you considered being Baptst? There are more baptist churches in the USA than any other kind, and they run the gammut in size and style.

Are you applying to small churches (which most churches are)? You need to remember that most pastors are way overqualified for the work they are doing and are looking for a move up into larger churches. The competition for those large (100 families and up) churches is tremendous. When my Dad was the overseer for Florida he had 30 churches. 2 of them had about 500 people. The rest between 5 and 100 people. Almost no one wanted the pulpits in the smaller churches when they opened up, but when one of the 500 + churches opened up telephone calls and resumes started coming in from all over the country. Are you keeping in mind that you only need 10 tithers to have an income?

Are you willing to accept a full-time position as an assistant pastor in a large church? If so, are you contacting the senior pastors in those large churches? Here are two lists. The 100 fastest growing churches in the US and the 100 largest churches in the US.


Saturday, February 02, 2008

A Blog Worth Reading

I'd like to point out a blog to you that you might not be aware of. It is a beautiful collection of beautful words and beautiful images. Original writing is rare on this blog. What you will find there is a large quantity of wisdom filled texts and thought provoking and, often, tear provoking paintings. Please visit this blog and be filled with love.

Dance to the Music: A Saturday Soundtrack Post

I first remember hearing this song while riding in my brother Mark's car. I was 7 and he was 16. He was taking me from our house to his highschool where there was a carnival. I was too afraid to ride on the zipper but I really enjoyed the cotton candy.

If you are wondering what ever happend to Sly and the Family Stone, well, the same thing that happened to so many famous musicians. He put his money up his nose.

Presentation of Christ (AKA Candlemas AKA Groundhog Day) - Part 4: The Groundhog

This bit about the Groundhog has taken the most time for two reasons: A lot has been written and most of it is speculative. Nevertheless, here are the facts I am comfortable lableing as such.

1. The Groundhog coming out of its hole is derived from a pre-Christian germanic belief that bears came out of their dens on February 2nd for exactly the same reason groundhogs come out of their burrows on Feb 2nd: To check on the weather.

2. The coincidence of the Feast of the Presentation and the pagan weather prediction celebration are exactly that, coincidental. Some modern pagans and anti-Roman Catholic polemicists have tried to claim that the date of the Christian feast was chosen to deliberatly supplant the pagan ritual, and that the candles/light emphasis arose out of the pagan customs. But I think history shows that is not true. For onething, the hibernating animal weather prediction aspectofthe day did not exist in the East where the Presentation Feast was first celebrated. Additionally, I think that the fidelity to having the Feast of the Presentation fall on the 40th day after the Nativity of our Lord is sufficient explanation for the February 2 date, besides, with every single day of the Christian year commemorating something or someone it is impossible for the Christian calendar not to have overlap with the pagan calendar.

3. Without dogmatizing the weather predicting activities of the day it seems that the Church in the west (which was still Orthodox) simply did what we always do, adopt whatever pagan practices are not in comflict with the Gospel and use them as evangelism tools. This is exactly what St. Pope Gregory told missionaries to do. It is what St. Paul did at at Mars Hill with the altar to the unknown god. It is what the missionaries in Alaska did with totem poles and spirit houses. Thus we have the western European poems about light, weather and Candlemas.

So what happened in the United States? Why do so many peopleknow about Ground hog day but not about the Feast of the Presentation? Well, it seems the Pennsylvanians dropped the ball. And the earliest written reference to the ground hog is in the diary of James Morris of Morgantown, Penn.

February 4, 1841 — "...Last Tuesday, the 2nd, was Candlemas day, the day on which, according to the Germans, the Groundhog peeps out of his winter quarters and if he sees his shadow he pops back for another six weeks nap, but if the day be cloudy he remains out, as the weather is to be moderate." And that might have been all there was to the groundhog tradition if it had not been for men of commerce who decided to try and to some money off of this folk custom, similar to the way the New York Hisorical Society and the New York advertising industry did with Christmas.

The first "official" Groundhog Day was February 2nd, 1886; proclaimed such in the newspaper The Punxsutawney Spirit: "Today is groundhog day and up to the time of going to press the beast has not seen its shadow." It is this newspaper that named the groundhog Punxsutawney Phil. (Interestingly, a group of strangly dressed men in the eastern part of pennsylvania claims to have been first , but their first year of celebration was in 1908.)

So has has Groundhog Day boosted commerce? It has in Punxsutawney: in 1997 (the only year for which I could find a number) more than 30,000 people went there to watch Phil come out of his hole.

Happy Feast Day! And if you go to church today, please, light a candle for my family.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Transportation Woes on the Vigil of the Feast.

I should have left the house 90 minutes before the start of service, because on a Friday night it can take a 1/2 hour to find a place to park in the area of Union Street and the Polk Gulch. But I was late. I only left 70 minutes before the start of the service. Then we had stop-and-go traffic on the Bayshore Freeway all the way from Mountain View to San Mateo. At that point I only had 20 minutes to get to church. Then I heard on the radio that a truck was stalled on the Bay Bridge and trafic was backed up all the way to the Stick. I just turned around and came home. Yes i am bummed. The boys and I aregoing to watch Boys Town while my wife does homework.

While we are at it, let's stop this silly business of honoring our parents.

Some members of the indoctrinating class have decided that it is wrong for schools to teach children to be patriotic. Well, what else is to be expected of people who are paid to think? Read the whole disgusting thing here.

Presentation of Christ (AKA Candlemas AKA Groundhog Day) - Part 3: So, What’s Up With All The Candles?

As with most things pertaining to the Church we have only to look at the texts of the services to understand why candles are important on the Feast of the Presentation. First, there is the Gospel wherein St. Simeon says:

“Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel."

Additionaly there is the Troparion of the Feast which says:
“Rejoice, O Virgin Theotokos, full of grace!
From you shone the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God.
Enlightening those who sat in darkness!
Rejoice, and be glad, O righteous elder;
You accepted in your arms the Redeemer of our souls,
Who grants us the Resurrection.”

Jesus is not just any old light, he is the shining Sun of Righteousness, and his radiance doesn’t just bring attention to himself but brings light to those lost in darkness.

Then thn of course, there are other texts, historical texts to consider. The first reference to this feast is in the account of a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in the early years of the fourth century. The pilgrim was a nun named Egeria (or maybe Silvia) and she saw the procession and heard a sermon on the event of the Presentation as recorded in St. Luke’s Gospel. (Interestingly, because the Nativity of Christ was celebrated on January 6th in Jerusalem at that time, the feast of the Presentation was celebrated on February 14. Egeria is an invaluable source for information on the liturgical practices of the early Church.)

As Archbishop Jacobus de Voragine of Genoa wrote in 1275, “Jesu Christ is called peace, health, light and joy. Peace, because that he is our moyen and our advocate; health, for he is our redeemer; light, for he is our informer; and glory, for he is our governor. This feast is called Candlemas, and is made in remembrance of the offering (e.g. Jesus) that our Lady offered in the temple as said is, and every each beareth this day a candle of wax burning, which representeth our Lord Jesu Christ. Like as the candle burning hath three things in it, that is to wit, the wax, the wick, and the fire, right so be three things in Jesu Christ, that is the body, the soul and the godhead.”

So that answers part of the question about candles; the “why do we light candles on this day?” question. But it doesn’t answer the “Why do we bless all the candles for the year on this day?” question. Well, to the best of my knowledge there is nothing written down that tells us why. But I think a little deduction might be helpful. In the northern hemisphere, when are bees most active? In the warm months. Spring summer, and autumn is when the bees are out gathering nectar, making homey, and expanding their hives. It makes sense that after Christmas, in the coldest part of winter, when the hives population is much reduced, and the bees are lethargic and have completed their wax making for the year, that this is when beekeepers would melt the wax and make candles. So, what better time to bring hundreds and thousands of pounds of candles into churches to bless them than the time when the beekeepers have finished most of their candlemaking and when everyone in the church is going to be holding lit candles?

By the way, the name of this feast in French is the very gorgeous and sensuous Chandeleur.

I promise, I will get to the groundhogs and weather before the end of the Fest on Sunday. Its just that there is so much information and I haven’t been able to separate the facts from opinions and guesses.

In case you are wondering about the photos in this post, the top one is from an Orthodox Church in Baghdad. The lower one is of the candlemaker at Holy Trinity in Nashville, Tennessee.