Tuesday, January 4, 2011

About the New Year's Day Egyptian Martyrs

On January 1st, 2011, a bomb went off in the midst of a Coptic Orthodox congregation while they were praying the Divine Liturgy.

21 Christians were martyred. 80 or so were wounded.

There is a lot of anger and distress in many corners of the globe in the wake of this calamity. And I too, though so far distant, have found myself troubled and grieved. My friends, my friends, my Coptic brothers and sisters, I mourn for you.

And yet. And yet.

Here is the answer I needed to hear. The holy "Peace!" spoken to this storm.

In the following video we meet Bishop Mousa (Moses):
  1. From 0:00 to 7:49, we walk with him as he visits some of the many injured men, women, and children. He prays with them, blesses them, and makes them faces (not numbers), people, icons.
  2. From 7:50 to 11:04, he addresses the viewer and speaks words of peace and comfort. God bless him and grant him many years.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ariston: Value in Craftmanship, not Labour

The idea that labor is the "reality" behind value is one of the most profoundly un-Christian and awful ideas of the modern age. Value is found not in the labor, but in craftmanship––excellence, if you will. You want to talk about the sicknesses of modern culture (or post-culture, if we want to follow [Ochlophobist]), but it is impossible to talk about such without recognizing the awful effect of the labor theory of value on human interactions.

Even the idea that it imbues labor with dignity seems suspect to me. Rather, it simply re-doubles the fashion in which human toil––futile as much of it is––is turned into an item manipulable on a ledger.

-Ariston, of The Season of Another Book, commenting here
Simple and profound.

I work in construction, and my work (and my worth) is usually weighed in time, time being a handy way to measure my labour. The money I receive does not take into account how carefully I may have crafted something, nor the research nor the experience that has gone into that crafting. It is strictly a measure of time spent working.

The incentive, naturally, is to do the minimum craftmanship that can possibly be passed off as work, as slowly as will be tolerated. And many of my colleagues have embraced these two tenets wholeheartedly. Doing something well for its own sake will never be rewarded under a model that measures a person by his labour.

Labour itself is not dignified. Dignity and pride are found in work well-done.

Thanks for this, Ariston.


Monday, June 21, 2010

I Wanna Be "Konvertsy Filth" Too

Warning: offensive comments to follow
"In like manner [to Mr. Oliver Herbel], Mr [Terry] Mattingly has no Orthodox formation either. This is no small beer. Many of the recent konvertsy are ordained or begin commenting before they have a chance to acquire the Orthodox mindset. It takes nine months for a child to grow in the womb… you can’t rush it. It is the same with faith. It takes at least five to seven years for it to take root after one’s reception. No one should either begin commenting or go to seminary before this process is complete. Note well that the Renovationists rush people through the system, which means that there are many who are distorted permanently by this… just as children born prematurely often have permanent birth defects or handicaps. You can see this not only in Messrs Herbel and Mattingly, but also in Rod Dreher, Stephen Freeman, Joseph Honeycutt, Frederica Matthewes-Green, “Gavriil”, the “Ochlophobist”, Christopher Orr, “John” of Ad Orientem, and Mark Stokoe. Indeed, there are very few ethnic voices on the Orthodox ‘Net writing in English. Yes… all of the meaty stuff is in Russian, Greek, or Serb. Yes… the stuff written in English is mostly pseudo-Proddie drivel. We have a responsibility to get the grounded point of view out there in English… this site is an attempt to do that."

"[quote from Terry Mattingly] [...] This illustrates how the konvertsy filth think… they are in rebellion against the Church"
--- Stan, aka Barbara-Marie Drezhlo, Voices From Russia
If "konvertsy filth" include Fr. Stephen Freeman, whose posts at Glory to God for All Things are often a source of light for me, Fr. Joseph Honeycutt, who is a priest regardless of my non-enjoyment of his blog, Matushka Frederica Mathewes-Green, whose engagement with pop culture always makes for good reading, Mark Stokoe, who has pushed so hard for accountability within the OCA, respected bloggers Christopher Orr of the Orrologion, Gabriel of Of Information and Belief, and John of Ad Orientem, and my favourite blogger, the Ochlophobist, who alerted me to this abominable post, then all I can say is that I want to be konvertsy filth too. It looks like a fun group* of people to hang with.

*Sadly, I am not familiar with Rod Dreher, Fr. Oliver Herbel, or Terry Mattingly. On the basis of their association with the above, looks like I might like them too.


Edit: I have since read Ad Orientem's excellent treatment of Stan/Vara's vitriol:
However, [...] there are circumstances where silence is not a moral option. There is a danger of scandal in permitting someone who, in one of those truly delicious ironies in life, has been suspended from the Holy Mysteries by the Russian Church to pass herself off on the web as a reputable source for anything relating to Orthodoxy. I can not imagine what any non-Orthodox inquirer would think if they stumbled on that site. Had I seen it in the early stages of my journey to Orthodoxy, I am fairly sure it would have stopped me cold in my tracks.
So there you have it. Voices From Russia features the bigoted, vitriolic non-Orthodox writings of an American man passing himself off as a Russian, Orthodox woman.

Big Dairy/Wisconsin vs. Organic "Raw Milk" Farmer

The State of Wisconsin is persecuting ("prosecuting" by another name) raw milk dairy farmer, Vernon Herschberger.

From The Ochlophobist:

You can buy a pack of carcinogen filled menthol cigs in WI. You can purchase meat that came from animals living in the worst of infection laden environments and processed in facilities that are full of an apocalyptic amount of pathogens (facilities rarely bothered much by regulators until after folks get sick). You can buy 199 proof liquor. You can purchase powdered milk from China that has God knows what in it. But you are not supposed to buy raw milk from Vernon Hershberger. Why? Because Vernon Hershberger is not a corporation who writes the regulations which the government adopts for his industry. He is a threat to such corporations.

See also here, where Ochlophobist revisits the issue.


Evolution is Good for You

Or is it?

Starting point for a conversation...

I was recently reading a friend's Facebook page, and someone made the comment that they had found the theory of evolution not to be detrimental to their faith, but affirming.

I am on a similar journey, where I find the notion of theistic evolution, or if you will, Creation through time, Creation as a process, to be more helpful to my faith as a Christian than not. And the converse is true: I find Creationism as argued in the public fora to be distinctly unhelpful.

Where do my blogosphere friends stand on this one?

Inquiring minds want to know...


Sunday, June 6, 2010

How to Fix the Oil Spill

I don't know how to fix an oil spill. At least, not the technological ins and outs of the business.

But I know enough about spills in general to know the following:

1. You turn off the taps.
2. You minimize the damage.
3. You clean up as soon as possible.

Turning off the taps

They say that only BP (and similar deep sea operators) has the expertise to shut down the well. I have no reason to disbelieve this - they are the only ones with the incentive to create the technology to get down there in the first place.

Back in early May BP began drilling relief wells to shut the well down far below sea bottom. Apparently this process, if successful, will take until August. In the meantime, they have held the world breathless as they have attempted to shut the well off where pipe ends and sea begins, to little avail.

I can't say I can fault the approach here.

Minimizing the damage

Here is where my big question mark comes in.

Are buoys, booms, and skimmers so effective? Why is BP conducting a massive chemical experiment [dispersants] in mid-ocean? Why isn't BP trying alternative methods for taking the oil out of the water? And what on earth happened to using microbes to eat the oil?

This last question really bothers me. I see a proven technique which is not being used, for no apparent reason. Toxic dispersants are being used... Nuclear bombing has been suggested... Why not use microbes?

And why is it that the same ineffective tools and strategies used 30 years ago are still used today? No, actually, I think I know this one. $$ There is no money to be had in researching clean-up.

Cleaning up as soon as possible

Again, I can't fault anyone here. As soon as tar made landfall, dedicated workers and volunteers began picking up tar balls and washing off birds. But their work is a hopeless work of Sisyphus unless the oil stops flowing... unless methods are found to collect (or devour) the oil mid-ocean.

- V.

When it is time to commune ...

(Nothing heavy today. Just a reaction.)

When my priest comes through the Royal Doors, chalice in hand, he usually says something like this:

I invite all Orthodox to partake of the Holy Eucharist,
Provided they have prepared themselves
Through prayer,
They have fasted if they are able,
And they have confessed as it was needed.

Those visiting from a different parish are also invited to attend,
Provided they have prepared themselves
According to the expectations of their home parish,
According to the rule of their spiritual father.

Today I thought a bit more about this than is my wont. The first bit is your standard (non-ROCOR, non-Serbian) approach to confession, fasting & communion - the expectation of frequent communion with a heavy dollop of mercy for individuals.

The second bit, however, struck me as it has never struck me before. I like the humility there, the humility that says "I won't override your spiritual father".
I won't claim a better knowledge of what is needful for your salvation.
I will respect the paternal relationship you have with your spiritual father.
He will be greater; I will be less.

- V.