Saturday, January 29, 2011

Saturday Soundtrack: Freaked out by an "older woman"

More than 30 years ago, when I was 9 or 10 years old, there was a girl a couple of years older than me who sang this this to me.  She just walked up to me in front of God, the 4th grade, and everybody, and sang this song, which totally embarrassed me and overwhelmed me.  I mean, what little 4th grade boy is ready to hear words like this from a 6th grade girl?   I could have died!  Especially since I had the world's biggest crush on her and could barely stand to be in her presence.  Later, I figured out that she must have known about my crush on her, and was just teasing me.

Since then I've come to like the song.  Actually, I don't think I ever didn't like the song.  It's by a Floridian named Roland Kent Lavoie, better known as Lobo, and was his biggest hit (#2 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart) in 1972.  I don't think of the song very often, but, for whatever reason, I found my self humming the tune while walking from the train station to my office yesterday.

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Missionary Tale

"Stafeev described in detail how he introduced these two Ahtna to Orthodoxy: "I baptized them at my home. After the baptism I took them to the chapel, showed them icons with images of major feasts, and explained to them the meaning of baptism, the Nativity and other feasts. I also spoke about and showed them the icon depicting martyr Nestor. The old man liked icons so much that he did not want to leave the chapel for a long time. He especially enjoyed looking at the images of the Savior and Kazan Mother of God. After this I treated them with tea and cakes (prianiki). Then the Mednovtsy passionately thanked me for everything, first for the baptism, then for my talk in the chapel and finally for the tea and cakes. Yet, these two savages somehow had already learned quite enough earlier, specifically how to make the sign of the cross and even knew how to recite the prayer 'Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit." We may assume that they had received this rudimentary knowledge of Orthodoxy from their Dena'ina neighbors." (Read the whole thing here.)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

By Birthday List

My birthday is comming up in a few days and my wife asked me to give her a list of things I might like for a birthday present.

Here it is, Sweetie.

1.  A sling for my shotgun
2.  An orange blaze fedora, available at Cabellas (Note:  I do not like camo pattern.  The whole point of the hat is to be seen!)
3.  A plain Zippo lighter (Key word: Plain)
4.  Any of Eikona's CDs.
5.  A tin of Captain Black: White Label
6. A bottle of Royall Lyme cologne
7. An 8" clay pipe
8. A wood handled shower brush
9. A map of Narnia
10. A bottle of Taylor of Bond Street No. 74 Cologne
11.  Some of Bernard Kliban's cat posters for our bedroom
12. Hardcover boxed set Lord of The Rings (I think the boys would enjoy hearing them.)
13. A bottle of Glenmorangie
14. A butter churn
15. A couple of pair of Boy Scout socks (I always have trouble finding the pair I have now.)
16. Several bottle's of St. Peter's Cream Stout

Any one of the above items would be much appreciated.  But don't feel like you have to get me anything.

Monday, January 24, 2011

What is Holy Tradition?

"The Church of Christ determined the truths of the faith, according to the long course of Tradition, through the teachings and canons of the holy Oecumenical Councils, decrees and the Symbol of Faith [The Creed], and with confessions [of Faith] by holy and wonderworking hierarchs such as were made at the many local synods which have been held continuously since the days of old. At these synods the authenticity and genuineness of the holy Orthodox Faith was firmly established, primarily therein where it was attacked by the existing heresies of the time. From the totality of such synods appears the irrevocable and inalterable content of Holy Tradition. This is understood when you examine closely the essence of the following conditions: 
- Do not sanction conceptions that contain inconsistencies amongst themselves or contradictions with the apostolic Tradition and Holy Scripture. (A teaching is to be considered worthy of “Tradition” when it stems from the Saviour or the Holy Apostles and is directly under the influence of the Holy Spirit.) 
- The Tradition is that which has been safeguarded from the Apostolic Church and has an uninterrupted continuity until today. 
- The Tradition is that which is confessed and practiced by the entire universal Orthodox Church. 
- The Tradition is that which is in harmony with the greatest portion of the fathers and ecclesiastical writers. 
When a tradition does not fulfil these stipulations, it cannot be considered true and holy, and consequently cannot be considered admissible or fit to be observed." 

-Elder Cleopas of Romania

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


The Book of Common Prayer (1559) funeral service began with these words:

"Man that is born of woman hath but a short time to live and is full of misery."

I can not help but think our divorce rate would be lower if more marriages in this day began with the same words.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Chicken & Apple Pot

        I've seen many bloggers blog though cook books but it isn't something I've ever attempted.  But this last Christmas I received a cook book, Casseroles: Comforting and Warming Recipe Ideas as a Christmas present from my boss.  So, I thought, "Okay! Let's blog it!"  
        Tonight we made Chicken & Apple Pot.  It isn't the first recipe in the book, but the thirteenth (on page 36).  The reason we chose it for tonight is that we had most of the ingredients on hand.  The boys and I walked over to the market to buy the needed celery, a yellow bell pepper, and chicken stock.  
        Though U.S. law does not allow for the copyrighting of recipes, I won't reproduce the whole thing here.  I'll just say that apples, onion, and chicken were the main ingredients.  It was very sweet (raw brown sugar, apple juice and honey) and very soupy.  Not like what I think of as a casserole at all. I mean, it didn't include any Campbell's cream of mushroom soup!  There was no cheese in it at all!    
        The boys hated it.  Basil would only eat the chicken.  Anselm ate the chicken and a few of the apple slices, but made it clear that he would rather have eaten something else.  Athanasia and I agreed it was good and that we'll make it again, but I felt bad about all the liquid going to waste.  Next time I'll present the casserole on a bed of rice, which will absorb all the liquid and become very very yummy.  

Make again: Yes
Serve to company: Probably not
Difficuly level:  If you can skin chicken and core apples this is an easy dish to make. 

Friday, January 07, 2011

9 Ways Your Parish Can Serve and Become A More Integrated Part of the Local Community

It is very easy for an Orthodox parish to be invisible in a community, especially if the parish is set back in a quiet residential district, or is a commuter parish.  Our services are not exactly seeker friendly (even educated Christians from other churches have difficulty following what's going on in our services), nor should they be.  And for most of us, our one big community outreach event each year is a fundraiser where we invite the non-Orthodox to buy ethnic food and help pay our bills.  I'm not criticizing parish festivals.  I went to two last year and had a lot of fun.  I'm just saying that I don't think they are the best way to serve the communities where our parishes are located.  So, here is a list of things I think we can do that, I think, are completely selfless, serve the people who live around us, build the reputation of the Church, and provide a way for people to become acquainted with us.

1.  Host a Cub Scout, Boy Scout, or American Heritage Girl unit.  About all they need from the parish is a room big enough for 100 people to meet once a month.  The kids in your parish will probably be part of the unit, the non-church families will become aquainted with the parish, and begin to view it as an important part of their lives.  They might even begin to follow Jesus because of their exposure to you.

2.  Host a flu-shot clinic in the parish hall.  Because of the proximity of flu season to "The Holiday Season" have schedules of Nativity services available.

3.  Are there homless people in the neighborhood?  Send a deacon around on Sunday morning to invite them to coffee hour.  Thy probably won't come to a service but I bet they'll come to the parish hall for a free cup of coffee and some food.  And, eventually, they might start comming to services.

4.  Let the county government know the parish hall is available for use as a polling place.  Again, have information about the parish available.  Maybe even have someone from the clergy available to answer any questions.

5. Most of our parishes have pretty nice kitchens that are only used once a week.  Maybe, and I don't know the health laws so this might not fly, ask local under-employed chefs if they would be interested in using our kitchens for cooking classes.

6. Make our space available for kids to go after school and do homework. (There might be liability issues with this, though, so I'd talk to a lawyer before doing this one.) Maybe, parishoners could volunteer to be tutors.

7.  There is also my plan for evangelism. (It might or might not be God's plan, also, I've yet to try it myself.)

8.  Does your parish have a parking lot?  FARMERS MARKET!  This is especially handy in urban areas where there might not be good crocery stores.  Added benefit: The parish can have a booth, too!  Sell baklava and pierog every week not just once a year!

9.  Does your parish have bells?  Offer a bell ringing class to the people in your neighborhood.  I bet every kid within 6 blocks comes to learn how to ring them. What an opportunity!  Not only does this give the parish and the surrounding people a chance to get to know each other, but it can help diffuse the conflict that sometimes surrounds our ringing of the bells.

Money by Religion in America

1. I was surprised to see Orthodox Christiansare so rich.  It hasn't been my experience in the parishes I attend. Must be the other jursidictions.

2. Not surprised by the Jews' wealth.

3. At first I was surprised by the Hindu wealth, but when I thought about it I realized every Hindu I know is a software devolper, car dealer, gold merchant, or real estate investor.  I think their wealth in this country is a function of our immigration policies.

4. Not surprised by Evangelical Christians lack of wealth.  Despite the visibility of a few dozen rich mega-churches and their leaders the vast majority of the Evangelical churches are tiny (fewer then 50 attendees) and poor.

5.  I am shocked by the Mormon numbers.  I had always thought of them as rich.

Larger picture is here.

Enchanted April

Back in 1992 I saw a film that can only be described as beautiful.  I just saw it again tonight.  The story of four unalike, except that they are unhappy, English women who do not know each other yet decide to rent and share a seaside Italian castle for a month is, as improbable as it seems, almost completely uncontrived. 

I should be ashamed of myself if I ruined the movie for you by relating the story here but there are some things about the movie I love.  Perhaps the most lovely is how providence uses an intended evil to prevent another evil, and thereby sets straight the paths for several people.  

A smaller thing about the movie, but utterly delightful is the character of the oldest of the four women.  She delivers many overstuffed but perfectly fitting lines.  Once, when one of the younger women remarks on seeing a dead writer this old woman says, "I hope you're not in the habit of seeing dead people, no matter how distinguished. It's not in the best of taste."  On another occasion, when one of the women is talking about sleeping arrangements when her husband and another guest are going to arrive, she says, "In my day husbands were take very seriously. They were seen as the surest defense against sin."  I'm not sure that last line is a very healthy view for women to take of men, but it is, certainly, a reputation husbands should attempt to earn, don't you think?

Though a romance, this movie does not lose sight of the suffering in this world.  Other movies from about this same time, I have in mind Belle Epoque and Much Ado About Nothing, attempt to capture a similar feeling of rural Mediterranean happiness but fail. The former fails by glorifying evil, suggesting it has no undesireable consequenes.  The later film though cinimatically and musically beautiful, almost completey ignores the presence of evil in the world, suggesting it is overcome by a few songs and an arial shot of a vinyard.  The suffering of war, the lonliness of widowhood, the destructiveness of adultery, the undermining of marriage by insidious demands of carreer and class are all acknowledged in Enchanted April.  But the joy in the film is not overcome by these evils.   If you have an opportunity to see this very good film, I think you better had.