Saturday, February 27, 2010

Saturdays in Lent

On Saturdays in Great Lent we are supposed to visit the graves of our ancestors and pray for them. Today we visit my parents grave.

Into thy hands, 0 Lord, I commend the souls of thy servants Billy and Helen, and beseech thee to grant them rest in the place of thy rest, where all thy blessed Saints repose, and where the light of thy countenance shineth forever. And I beseech thee also to grant that our present lives may be godly, sober, and blame-less, that, we too may be made worthy to enter into thy heavenly Kingdom with those we love but see no Ion~r: for thou art the Resurrection, and the Life, and the Repose of thy departed servants, 0 Christ our God, and unto thee we ascribe glory: to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Reading and Ideas

After coming Home from Blue and Gold last night I tucked into my last bit of school work for the week. It took all night and I didn't get to bed until a quarter of 5 this morning, but I got it done and turned in before the deadline.

Athanasia, Anselm Samuel, and Basil Wenceslas got up at 7 to get ready for church. Our family was cooking for the parish. Thankfully, Athanasia got most of it done before she went to bed last night. I was in no shape to go to church so I stayed home with Basil. I kept him home because there was no way she could manage them both and put the meal together. I really really hoped he would go back to bed for a couple of hours but no way. He was up and when a little boy is up everyone in the house is up. So, I struggled though till my wife came home after church and I went to bed.

After waking many hours later I spent a little time with my family but they were really into watching the movie Because of Winn-Dixie on the the computer. I had read the book and enjoyed it very much. I wasn't very interested in seeing the movie. So, I went to Barnes & Noble and looked around.

When I was in my teens and twenties I used to love reading the journals. Tikkun, Commentary, Oxford American, Policy Review, Foreign Affairs, Liberty, Zyzzyva, First Things, Harvard Business Review. I would disappear into those pages for hours. But tonight, after picking up and leafing through several of them, it dawned on me that I knew what was going to be said between their covers before I even picked them up. It was all very predictable. And now I wonder, is that just part of being forty-one years old? Do I know everything about the world of ideas there is to know?

Now, it seems to me, I have spent enough time in this world. I know what is has to say. Its best ideas are spent. Its words are lacking. How much more I love the words I read as a boy, when I read a chapter of the Bible every day. The Psalms never get old, and though I know many of them by heart they are never predictable. The prophets are always surprising. The Gospels, where I meet Jesus, are always new and exciting. The Lord is good.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Blue and Gold

Tonight was the Blue and Gold Banquet. We celebrated 100 years of scouting in America. Athanasia made a cake and brought home the prize.

The cake was six packages of Ghirardhilli brownie mix with an extra package of chocolate chips and an extra package of toasted walnuts. The pine trees, scouts, and tents were made of sugar cookie. The frosting was cream cheese frosting on the brownie. Frosting on the cookies was royal icing. The river was lined with chocolate pebbles. They really look like pebbles. It's freaky. About 1/4 of it was et and we brought it home. Must get it out of the house. Will drop it off for my nephew's children tomorrow.

The Cake

Anselm Samuel with the trophy

Now the boys are asleep, Athanasia is preparing food for the parish tomorrow, and I am about to launch into school work.

Monday, February 15, 2010


I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. Luke 15.18,19

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us: but if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1.8,9

Dearly beloved brethren, the Scripture moveth us in sundry places to acknowledge and confess our manifold sins and wickedness; and that we should not dissemble nor cloak them before the face of almighty God our heavenly Father; but confess them with an humble, lowly, penitent and obedient heart; to the end that we may obtain forgiveness of the same by his infinite goodness and mercy.

— From The Order for Evening Prayer, BCP, 1662

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Start of Lent

Earlier tonight was the start of Lent. Beautiful. Tiring but joyful. Also, tonight I began training (after the priests blessing) to become a reader in the Orthodox Church. I must admit I am surprised both by how many books are involved and how much is not written down.

Happy St. Valentine's Day

The Flower Crowned Skull of St. Valentine

Friday, February 12, 2010

Stocks worth considering

My investing goal is to be able to take care of my wife when we are too old to work. Mostly, I look for companies with little debt, a history of paying dividends, strong brands. I also like to understand the business; who customers are, what the products are, sales cycle, etc. Below are the stocks I currently hold.





MGIC and AAV are gambles. They do not fit into my regular strategy. But it is worth noting that they are foreign companies. I own them, in part, as a hedge against devaluation of the American dollar. Also, together, AAV and MGIC represent less than 20% my stock holdings. As I said, they are gambles. So far they are winning. But it bothers me that I don't know why. I probably will sell them in the next few months and and put my "winnings" into something I am more comfortable with.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Unexpected

(Some details in the following story have been changed to protect the innocent.)

A few weeks ago Athanasia and I were having a beautiful brunch with some friends and friends of friends at a place up in Napa. One of the couples turned out to be a former pastor of mine and his wife. He knew we had lived in San Francisco and asked if we had ever attended a certain famous Protestant church. As it so happened we had attended that church, and was shocked and saddened when we confirmed what he had heard about it. Then he asked how we became Orthodox. I told him and he told us about his experience in eastern Europe as a short-term evangelical missionary, and how he wished he had been more sensitive to the Orthodox Christians there. He was very full of regret.

After our time together I began to feel kind of bad about something. When a Protestant asks me "Why did you become Orthodox?" it is really hard to answer that in away that doesn't sound like "because Protestantism is wrong and Orthodoxy is right", especially when I only have 5 or 10 minutes to answer, and am experiencing some of the best food and drink ever. (Say what you will, the Ramos Gin Fizz is the best way to have your eggs in the morning.) So, for a couple of weeks I've been feeling bad about pretty much telling my former pastor,to his face, that he is wrong.

A couple of days ago, while waiting to talk to a loan officer about financing on a tri-plex, who should walk past me but that same former pastor of mine? We greeted each other and I took the opportunity to say, "I'm glad we ran into each other. I've really been feeling bad about what I said the other morning. It's hard to answer that question you asked in a way that isn't insulting to you. I'm sorry and I want you to know that there is nothing in my heart but thanksgiving for my Protestant up-bringing..."

Here he interrupted me and said," Oh! No, no, no. You didn't offend me at all, and besides, Protestantism isn't the destination. It's just the stepping stone to where you are now. I didn't say this the other morning, but the main reason I resigned from my position at the church is that I just didn't believe what they believe anymore. I would be sitting in the leaders meetings and be asking myself, 'are we even a valid church body?' And you can't be a pastor of a church if you have doubts like that."

I was astounded. I said, "No, no you can't. You really have to be on the same page as the other leaders.

"Yes, yes you do. Well, the people in the pews don't. They can go to church Sunday after Sunday for years and not really know what about the doctrinal...

"Right. The average church goer doesn't know about the doctrinal positions. No one takes out the Statement of Faith and preaches..."

"Right. But in the leadership doctrine is very important, and... Well, I really have to run. I'm glad we ran into each other. Pray for me."

"I will. I do."

And with that he walked past me and out the door of the bank.

Only later did I realize he was holding a book the whole time we were talking. I think it was Adversus Haereses by St. Irenaeus of Lyons.

Is my former pastor becoming Orthodox? Roman Catholic? I am amazed by the whole thing.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Pentecostals and Orthodox

I've mentioned on this blog once before that I think the Pentecostals, at least most of them, will become Orthodox, that the similarities in experience and theological emphasis will bring them together. It seems that I am not the first person to think of this. I totally want to read this book.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Opening Paragraph

One of the professors I have in my M.S.(environmental planning) program is asking the class to answer this question. Is Garret Hardin's "The Tragedy of the Commons" still valid today?

I haven't completed the answer (Short version of my answer: It isn't valid today, it wasn't validin 1968.), I'm only on the third paragraph, but this this is the rough draft of the opening paragraph.

I have to admit that when I think of Garret Hardin I am reminded of a character in J.R.R. Tolkein's novel, "The Return of the King". In that book there was a great villain, an existential enemy of persons of good will called Sauron. Sauron, like most tyrants, I suppose; like, for instance, Orwell's Big Brother sought the enslavement and corruption of those who resisted his will. Failing that, he would settle for their deaths. I am not suggesting Hardin is that important. He is no Sauron. He is no Big Brother. Hardin is not the prime enemy of humanity. He is merely another slave, though a willing one, of that enemy. He is like the man who stood at the Black Gate of Mordor and called himself "the Mouth of Sauron". In much the same way as "The Mouth of Sauron" spoke for Sauron, or like Goebbels spoke for Hitler, Hardin was a wicked and corrupted being speaking for the ancient enemy. His version of mercy, like his master's, was to let malnourished people starve to death, thus fulfilling the words of King Solomon the Wise "the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel". And like all servants of that enemy, he met an ignominious and evil end: Self-murder. But he did not merely kill himself. He perverted that love promised and hoped for in marriage into a pact for mutual-destruction. So, when I consider anything written or spoken by Hardin, when I evaluate his arguments, I keep in mind who's mouthpiece he is, that he advocated death, that he ended his life like Judas, that he destroyed the image of love.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

When all the communicants have received...

...Let our mouth be filled with Thy praise, O Lord,that we may hymn Thy glory, for Thou hast vouchsafed us to partake of Thy holy, divine, immortal, and life-creating Mysteries. Keep us in Thy holiness that we may meditate on Thy righteousness all the day long. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. (From the Divine Liturgy)

Monday, February 01, 2010


“The Words of God, if pronounced by rote and not heard, have no resonance in the actions of those who merely speak them. But, if they are pronounced and put into action, they have the power to dispel demons and help people build God’s dwelling in their hearts and make progress in works of righteousness.” ~ St. Maximus the Confessor

Cities make people smarter and richer