Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry New Calendar Christmas

In the Orthodox world, there are two calendars in use: "Old Calendar" and "New Calendar". New Calendar folks have adjusted the Church calendar by 13 days to bring it line with the secular, or Western calendar. Old Calendar folks have not ... in some cases this resistance has taken the form of a sectarian ideology and in others this resistance is a relatively painless adherence to tradition. The net result is that Old Calendar folk celebrate the Nativity of Christ on January 7th (although they still call it December 25th) and New Calendar folk celebrate Christ's birth on December 25th.

Our parish is one of those that does not celebrate Nativity tomorrow. [Happily, we are Old Calendar without being Old Calendrist.]

However, I can still take joy in the celebration of those who commemorate Christ's birth tomorrow: to my large Orthodox family out there, to my Catholic friends like Les, to my currently blog-less Protestant friends, and to those who celebrate a holiday they do not understand, I wish you a blessed, peaceful, and joyous feast on the morrow.

Merry Christmas, friends. Christ is born.

- V.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

And now, for something completely different

Have you ever thought that maybe, just maybe, your parents' generation is far weirder than it has any reason for being?

Have you ever suspected that perhaps your parents were damaged in some way? That their peculiarities stem from some deep-seated trauma, that their psyches were wounded by a terrible event?

I think I found that event, that trauma. It explains everything unexplainable about the generation that came before. And it is truly, wondrously bizarre.

For your viewing pleasure, One Got Fat, a 15 minute video on bicycle safety.

And don't say I didn't warn you.

- V.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Huckabee Shamelessness

Today I saw an ad by Mike Huckabee.

"Are you about wore [sic] out of all the television commercials you've been seeing? Mostly about politics. I don't blame you. At this time of year sometimes it's nice to pull aside from all of that and just remember that what really matters is a celebration of the birth of Christ, and being with our family and our friends. I hope that you and your family will have a magnificent Christmas season, and on behalf of all of us, God bless and Merry Christmas.

"I'm Mike Huckabee and I approve this message."


Paid for by Huckabee for President, Inc.
Approved by Mike Huckabee


I don't know that it is necessary to point out the blatant hypocrisy in this political ad, but for those who need the guided tour, this is a shameless appeal to the Christian vote. Mike Huckabee in one sympathetic breath criticizes the rest of the presidential candidates for their political commercials, and then proceeds to emphasize that Christmas is about Christ, a statement that warms the heart of any Christian. However, and this is the important part, Huckabee would not be saying any of this if it were not for the fact that he is running for president. This message does not come from him out of the goodness of his heart but out of his presidential campaign, paid for by his campaign organization, and underscored throughout by a reference to his campaign website.

I'm sorry, but this is scandalous.

And I afraid that the Christian community will be as suckered by this cynical ploy as Huckabee thinks they will.


Sunday, December 16, 2007

On Vaccination

Recently vaccination came up in our dialogue. Not surprising, this, as we are the proud parents of little B. It was bound to come up, either as simple acquiescence to the norm, or as a rebellion against that norm.

In the course of our dialogue, I with E. and we with various medical professionals, it became clear to us that we had doubts about vaccination. I believe I have expressed those doubts once before. However, it is not in the nature of the medical trade to heed vague doubts - they challenged us, and that rigorously.

Being somewhat thoughtful people, we realized that neither our nebulous fears nor their impassioned defense was sufficient to carry the day. Emotion is never a good basis for decision-making. I returned to the Internet and began to research vaccines assiduously.

My methodology was simple. I looked up the product monographs for various vaccines, and then I looked up each chemical and biological ingredient that went into the making of these vaccines. Some were clear toxins, and dangerous ones (formalin, for example). Others were simply disquieting ingredients (bovine serum is my favourite).

For some people, what I found is enough to warrant not vaccinating their children. For others, vaccinations are tried and true, and worries over toxins mere paranoia. The purpose of this post is not to debate toxins nor to address concerns over disorders such as autism. What I want to address is the creepy part, the sick-making part, that which is both Twilight Zone and the twisting corruption of Mordor.

In several vaccines the [attenuated] virus that is needed to trigger the body's immune system has been propagated in "human diploid cell lines." Further research indicates that the cell lines in question are "WI-38" and "MRC5." Are you baffled by this double-speak? I was. I looked further.

WI-38 and MRC5 refer to two aborted fetuses - babies - whose cells have been used since the 60's and the 70's, respectively, to propagate viruses for our antiviral vaccination programme. Central to this programme are the dTap and MMR vaccines, vaccines that save children from travesties such as polio and rubella... vaccines that make use of these "human diploid cell lines."

Let me make this clearer. With few exceptions, when we save our children from polio or rubella through vaccination, we are profiting from the death of two murdered children. What price health if it is purchased in the blood of innocents?

I still shake with the horror of that initial finding, just a couple months ago. I still boil with anger, with outrage. I still cross myself, crying for our Lord's mercy.

There are ethical alternatives out there, but they are not easily available to Canadians or Americans. However, if you want your child vaccinated, I cannot think how else as a Christian you can do so.

And if you are wondering what WI-38 and MRC5 mean, they are the final indignity heaped on a human person, the replacement of name for a code. Wistar Institute fetal sample no. 38 refers to an unnamed girl presumably aborted in 1961 (source 1 and 2). Medical Research Council strain no. 5 refers to an unnamed boy presumably aborted in 1966 (source 1 and 2). See also this source.

The marvel to me is that I have never heard this before. I have lived all my life in pro-life circles. My grandfather was the secretary of a prominent pro-life organization. And yet no one knows. Is it just that we don't care? Are we hypocritical, publicly decrying the holocaust of the millions of unborn while privately benefiting from the destruction of two of these unborn? Are we just ignorant? Lazy in our research? What is the matter?

The research is easily available. I'm not making this stuff up ... look it up for yourself. And yet no one knows. It was news to our hospital paediatrician, to the pharmacist she asked to persuade us, to our referring paediatrician. It was news to our priest.

I add my voice to the others that are speaking out, that the walls of silence can be breached and the pro-life community can act against this monstrosity.

- V.

[I discovered, while gathering my links to show sources, that Scrivener has addressed this issue already, and done so with considerable eloquence. His post is here.]

Why I Do Not Support Mike Huckabee

Or, a rambling critique of the Christian Right's marriage to neo-conservative Republicans.

A friend of mine recently invited me to join him in voicing support for Mike Huckabee. I didn't ask why he supported Huckabee, but I have a shrewd suspicion. Either a) he supports Huckabee on the grounds that Huckabee's Christianity will make him a moral president, in which case I point him to Ron Paul, a rigorously scrupulous politician with an unblemished voting record, or b) he supports Huckabee because he thinks that Huckabee will bring about change in America. Usually the key issue here is abortion, and the noble Christian desire to repeal Roe vs. Wade.

The problem is that while ending abortion is a truly great aim, something akin to stopping the Nazi slaughterhouses at Auschwitz and elsewhere, Americans live in a secular democracy. By secular, I mean that the United States of America is not a Christian country - Christendom is dead, even if Christ isn't (no thanks to the deicidal tendencies of Nietzsche et al.). By democracy, I mean that the U. S. A. is not ruled by a minority, and if it is, this must be corrected or else lose the democracy.

Why are these points a problem? Because in order for Christian principles (such as opposition to all forms of infanticide) to be instituted on a nation-wide scale, the will of the majority will have to be contravened. In essence, a minority (Christians) would rule.

There is no way around this. The Christian must realize that he has three and only three options. First, prayer for change. Second, peaceful opposition and protest (similar to the protests of King and Gandhi). Third, opposition through violence - whether violence against persons, violence against property, or violence against the will of the majority.

Back to Huckabee.

Huckabee is a neo-conservative (1 & 2). Neo-conservatives are happy with a minority ruling the country - themselves. Neo-conservatives (whether Republican like Giuliani or Huckabee or Democrat like Clinton) are the last people we want in power if we wish to preserve our freedoms. Freedoms of assembly, of speech, of religion.

[Tangent. Once upon a time in Germany the German peoples were afraid. They feared Communists and they feared for their economic security. So they gave up their freedoms to instate a minority group (the National Socialist party) that promised them security. They got Hitler and WWII.

The consequences of minority rule are not always so extreme, but they can be. And once the pattern of minority rule is established, it is not easily overturned or relinquished.]

What frightens me is the blind devotion of the Christian Right to neo-conservativism. What frightens me is how eagerly Christians pursue a minority rule, thinking that it will serve their own ends, forgetting that minority rule promises only one thing - the end to the Will of the People.

So, I don't support Huckabee. I think it is great that a [seemingly] practicing Christian is running for president. And were I a neo-conservative, I would probably hope he won the nomination. But I am not a neo-conservative. I am just the guy on the cliff watching the lemmings with the WWJD bracelets carefully and systematically dismantle their freedoms in the name of Christ.


[Edit: Strictly speaking, the U.S. is a republic, not a democracy. The "rule of the people" through elected delegates is tempered by a charter or constitution. However, my point stands that a government is dangerous when it no longer reflects or heeds the values of the populace. In the case of the U.S., a return to representation of the majority from the current neo-conservative hijacking of American governance is accomplished not through an appeal to democratic principles but by a return to a constitution that limits government, the Constitution of the United States.]

Ron Paul

Resuming this blog ...

Let us start with Ron Paul, as is only appropriate, given the day.

Today is December 16, the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, a day on which supporters of presidential hopeful Ron Paul plan to raise record sums in a single 24-hour period.

By record sums, I mean in excess of the 4.2 million they raised on November 5. I mean in excess of the 5 million Paul thinks he may get. I mean they hope to raise serious money, money that will make the world sit up and take notice. Perhaps 10 million. That would do it.

As of 1:12 EST, the Ron Paul campaign passed the 12 million mark that they had desired to reach this quarter. Wouldn't it be wonderful if they hit 22 million?

I hope.

I've mentioned Paul before. Once, I believe.

I've neglected to say much more, on two counts.
A) The topic did not seem sublime enough [see previous post]. I have rejected this reasoning.
B) I'm not American.

It was seeing videos on YouTube, videos made by various Europeans in support of Ron Paul, that I realized that I do have a voice. What I think, and what the rest of the world thinks does matter. The reality is that the United States of America is an empire, and its fingers are in everyone's pie. The reality is that the president of the U.S. wields enormous power for good or ill - perhaps more power than any other human on the planet (depending on whether you believe Bilderberg conspiracy theories or no). The reality is that a warmongering president can bring about profound evil, pain, suffering upon this world. The reality is that I and many others are afraid of what Bush will do next. Preemptive nuclear war on Iran? Maybe not, but the rhetoric was there a mere two weeks ago, to do just that.

The reality is that when you are the biggest boy in the school, self-restraint is the ultimate virtue. What difference is there, in the end, between a bully and a big boy that decides to police the disputes of others? Not much.

Ron Paul is not only the best candidate for America ... he is the best candidate for the world. Not to rule the world, but as an antidote to and a relief from a trigger-happy regime, and as inspiration as to what true liberty means: less tax, less government, less bureaucracy, less oversight and control.


Enough for now.

In the meantime, I offer this snippet - the pro-Paulite perspective of an American Orthodox.



I've been thinking a lot about what to write.

A lot of ideas, some mundane, others thought-provoking, none sublime. And I know that I would prefer to be the man that speaks with the ineffably melodious tongue of the angels and with the clarion cry of the prophet ... alas, despite the name of this blog, I am not modeled after St. John.

Too introspective, this. Too unwilling to fail. Desiring perfection, I achieve nothing.


I think I can only write what I believe, and hope that someone is interested.

- V.