Saturday, December 30, 2006
Beazelbub Makes the Funny Pages
EDITOR'S NOTE: I realize I have entered the Nut Zone. That is, any time you bring up something like the Boogeyman (Antichrist, Hitler, for some - even W) you lose credibility. But, if you're still here, bear with me. One must, at times (sundry and with courage), venture into the NZ to zone in on the Ns.
Here's what Ahmadinejad said:
"I emphatically declare that today's world, more than ever before, longs for just and righteous people with love for all humanity; and above all longs for the perfect righteous human being and the real savior who has been promised to all peoples and who will establish justice, peace and brotherhood on the planet," he said, referring to a Shiite doctrine about a coming apocalypse.
"O, Almighty God, all men and women are your creatures and you have ordained their guidance and salvation. Bestow upon humanity that thirsts for justice, the perfect human being promised to all by you, and make us among his followers and among those who strive for his return and his cause."
At the time I wanted to write about it, say something. Why? Because after Ahmadinejad hailed the coming of the Antichrist, those gathered at the United Nations ... CLAPPED.
Terry Mattingly has finally done what I didn't. Read it here.
A couple excerpts ...
President George W. Bush is addressing the United Nations amid global tensions about nuclear weapons. He closes with evangelical language that expresses his yearning for the triumphant second coming of Jesus Christ and prays that this apocalyptic event will unify the world -- sooner rather than later.
Yet, Ahmadinejad, in his twisted megalomaniacal way, said the equivalent. What exactly was he saying?
"Ahmadinejad is calling upon God to bring about the coming of the 12th Imam who heralds the Apocalypse," noted pundit Andrew Sullivan. "He is also saying that he will 'strive for his return.' It is the most terrifying statement any president of any nation has made to the U.N. We have a dictator on the brink of nukes, striving to accelerate the Apocalypse. ... Paradise beckons."
When you have a group of Muslims heralding the age of the "coming one" and another group, overly-zealous and misguided Christians, encouraging the age of the "coming one" and, hence, the Rapture ... mix in omnipresent media and, oh ... say, a few nukes ...
This guy couldn't have written a better script.
Lord have mercy.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
12/29: Slaughter of the Innocents
When the Magi from the east did not return to Jerusalem from Bethlehem to inform Herod about the newborn King but rather, at the angel's command, returned to their homeland another way, Herod became as enraged as a wild beast and ordered all the children two years old and under in Bethlehem and its surroundings to be killed. This frightening command of the king was carried out to the letter. His soldiers beheaded some of the children with swords, smashed others against stones, trampled others underfoot, and strangled others with their hands. And the cries and wails of the mothers rose to heaven, Lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping for her children (Jeremiah 31:15, Matthew 2:18), as had been prophesied. This crime against the multitude of innocent children was carried out a year after the birth of Christ, at the time when Herod was seeking to find the Divine Child. He asked Zacharias about his son John, so that he might kill him, since he naturally thought that John was the new king. As Zacharias did not turn John over, he was slain in the Temple by order of Herod. St. Simeon the God-receiver would also have been murdered soon after the Presentation in the Temple, had he not already reposed in God. After murdering the children of Bethlehem, Herod turned against the Jewish elders who had revealed to him where the Messiah would be born. He then killed Hyrcanes, the high priest, and the seventy elders of the Sanhedrin. Thus, they who had agreed with Herod that the new Child-king must be killed came to an evil end. After that, Herod murdered his brother, sister, wife and three sons. Finally, God's punishment came to him: he began to tremble, his legs became swollen, the lower part of his body became putrid, and worms came out of the sores; his nose became blocked and an unbearable stench emanated from him. Before his last breath, he remembered that there were many captive Jews in prison, and he ordered that they all be killed so that they would not rejoice in his death. Thus, this terrible ruler gave up his inhuman soul and handed it over to the devil for eternal possession.
The image, worth at least a thousand words, is from James B. Janknegt's Paintings -- a site worth a while, especially those fond of modern (post-modern?) art.
The service was announced in the joint release of the secretaries of the commissions of the two Churches, archpriests Nikolay Balashov and Alexander Lebedev.
The document received by Interfax explained that the Royal Gates ... would be opened on the day when the Act on Canonical Communion is signed for ‘the people of God to fully share the joy of the first common communion of bishops and clergy of the One Russian Church.’
The document would be signed after a short prayer service in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour before the Divine Liturgy.
Two days later, on May 19, the commemoration day of St Job the Much-Suffered, St. Job of Pochaev and the birthday of the holy passion-bearer Emperor Nicholas II, Patriarch Alexy, Metropolitan Laurus, bishops and clergymen of the Russian Church Abroad would celebrate Divine Liturgy in the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Moscow Kremlin.
On 20 May 2007, the seventh Sunday after Easter, Patriarch Alexy, Metropolitan Laurus, bishops and clergymen from Russia and abroad would consecrate the Church of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia in Butovo and celebrate the Divine Liturgy in the newly consecrated church which foundation was laid when Metropolitan Laurus was paying his first official visit to Russia in 2004.
‘By the prayers of the holy new martyrs and confessors of Russia the Lord has blessed the sacred cause of restoring the unity of the Russian Church that had suffered great pain in the twentieth century. We believe that through their heavenly intercession we would complete this cause to the glory of God and the joy of church people,’ the document reads.
Thanks to FWD from Fr Mark Mancuso.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
AUGUSTINE: Come to Christ
-- St Augustine
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
CONFERENCE: Anglicans - Orthodoxy
DETROIT - In response to numerous enquiries, St. Andrew House Center for Orthodox Christian Studies will host "Faith of Our Fathers: A Colloquium on Orthodoxy for Anglicans" Jan. 29-30 for clergy of the Episcopal Church in the United States, the Anglican Church of Canada, and other churches in the worldwide Anglican Communion. While the colloquium is designed for Anglican clergy, it is also open to Anglican laity, and to clergy and laity from other Christian faiths. Seating is limited, however, and priority will be given to Anglicans on a first-come, first-served basis.
The purpose of the colloquium is educational, according to the Most Rev. Nathaniel, Archbishop of Detroit and the Romanian Episcopate of the Orthodox Church in America, and founder and president of St. Andrew House.
"'Faith of Our Fathers' will be an opportunity to explain who we Orthodox are to our Anglican brethren, and to show our love and concern for them in their time of trial," Archbishop Nathaniel said, referring to doctrinal divisions within the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada, and among the member churches of the worldwide Anglican Communion. "We hope Orthodoxy might be a salve that can help begin a process of healing," he said
Including Archbishop Nathaniel, there will be nine principal speakers at the colloquium. They will compare Orthodox and Anglican theology, liturgy and church order, and the seven who are converts from Anglicanism to Orthodoxy will discuss their personal journeys and offer practical advice for Anglican clergy considering Orthodoxy.
Seven of the speakers are Orthodox priests: the Rev. Dr. Heiromonk Calinic Berger, Hermitage, Pa.; the Very Rev. Gregory Mathewes-Green, Linthicum, Md.; the Rev. James Stephen Freeman, Oak Ridge, Tenn.; the Very Rev. William Olnhausen, Cedarburg, Wis.; the Rev. John Parker, Mount Pleasant, S.C.; the Very Rev. Patrick Henry Reardon, Chicago; and the Very Rev. John Reeves, State College, Pa.
The ninth speaker, Frederica Mathewes-Green, wife of Fr. Gregory Mathewes-Green and a nationally known writer, speaker and radio commentator, is an Orthodox layperson.
Except for Archbishop Nathaniel, who is a convert from Roman Catholicism, and Fr. Berger, who is "cradle Orthodox," all the speakers are converts to Orthodoxy from the Episcopal Church.
The colloquium is expected to attract other Orthodox clergy representing most major Orthodox jurisdictions in North America, including the Most Rev. Job, Archbishop of Chicago and the Diocese of the Midwest of the Orthodox Church in America, and other hierarchs.
The colloquium will be held at St. Paul of the Cross Passionist Retreat Center, 23333 Schoolcraft Road, near the intersection of Interstate 96 and Telegraph Road.
The colloquium will begin with registration at 5:00 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 29 and conclude with a farewell reception at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 30. It will feature a Vespers service on Monday evening at nearby St. Raphael of Brooklyn Orthodox Church in commemoration of the Synaxis of the Ecumenical Teachers and Hierarchs: Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and John Chrysostom.
The registration fee for the conference is $75 per person. It includes meals and refreshments at retreat center. Reservation of a room, either single or double, for Monday night at the retreat center is $75. The deadline for registration is Monday, Jan. 15.
To obtain further information and register for the colloquium, visit http://www.orthodoxdetroit.com/.
For further assistance, contact the colloquium coordinator, David Adrian, at (248) 322-9226 or david dot adrian at adrianassoc dot com
St. Andrew House Center for Orthodox Christian Studies was founded in 2001. Its mission is to promote the Orthodox Christian faith by word and example through formal instruction, worship and good works. It exists to serve the Orthodox clergy and faithful of metropolitan Detroit and to be a symbol of the unity of the faith.
ORTHODOXY: Calling All Anglicans
More Americans Embrace Orthodoxy
Moving on the AP Wire today is THIS STORY.
Dixon was raised an Old Regular Baptist -- an austere faith of the Southern Appalachians about as far from Orthodoxy as possible.
His conversion began when he started learning, as an undergraduate at Marshall University, about the origins of Christianity.
"I just assumed the Bible was always there somehow," he says, laughing. "From 33 A.D., they were reading the King James Version."
Click the above link for the whole article.
5/17/07: Russian Orthodox Church Unity
Patriarch Alexy II and ROCOR Primate Metropolitan Laurus will sign the Act of Canonical Communion on this day, he said.
The signing ceremony is to take place at the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow before a Divine Liturgy service, after which the leaders of the Moscow Patriarchate and the ROCOR will conduct a joint service for the first time in history.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
The New Fruit of the Nativity
This hymn honors the Feast, our struggle, our Mother, and our God. Fashioned from the side of the man, Adam, the mother of all the living, Eve, bore the fruit of death to all mankind. Fashioned within the womb of the woman -- the New Eve -- Mary bears the Fruit of Life to the same.
Brothers and Sisters, Paradise has been opened for all -- the gates of Hell eventually being trampled down by the fruit of her womb, the Son of God. Christ is born, raising the image that fell of old. This Fruit, this Day, the Son of Mary, God in human flesh, is laid in a feeding trough ... to be food for all.
"Christ is Born! Glorify Him!"
The icon, along with a host of wonderful images of the Nativity, was found HERE.
Wishing you all a holy Christmas, good health & many years!
-- Fr Joseph
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Back From ...
Now, as we were: Tar on the heel, back in the saddle ...
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
THE RIGHT AGE: Are You, Is This?
At least that's what one of my seminary profs taught:
"My age is the right age, and it increases annually."
One of our Parish Ministry Teams consists of a group of ladies (occasionally a gent), along with a priest, who go together to call on those requesting a visit and/or the recently or terminally ill. On second glance, you must admit, that previous sentence is curiously -- technically poorly -- worded. Without a doubt, we are all terminal! And there's no other occasion that reminds us of this quite like Christmas.
Recently, on one of the Visitation Team's outings, we were accompanied by a little girl. My wife had a doctor's appointment, which (probably due to age) I'd forgotten when scheduling, thus my youngest got to ride around with the Team. I've even gotten to that stage of life where I can join in the conversations about physical ailments, skin blotches, surgeries, creams, vitamins, and the like. In fact, on that day, I mentioned something I recently noticed about myself and one of the ladies said, "Father, it's probably just Ay Gee Eee." It took me a sec -- A.G.E. -- we laughed. This started the swap-a-woe dialogue where we all lamented our various ailments. After a while a four year old voice piped up from the back seat: "I had an ear infection one time!"
Even at an early age, we try to fit in, to find our place.
If you're like me, you're often tempted to wish you'd been born in another age -- one with a little less of this, a bit more of that -- leaning toward Virtue, goodness, Andy & Barney; fleeing today's fickle flash, flesh and flunkies.
But, really. Age plays tricks on you.
For instance, this time of year, there's lots of picture-taking. I've been known to see the most recent photo of myself and think, even say: "Gosh! That doesn't even look like me!" Someone, maybe wife or kids will say: "Yes you do!" I'll study the picture and think to myself, "Boy, I'm old ... fat ... ugly" ... something. Years later I might happen upon the same picture and think: "Wow! Look how good I looked!" Or, I think to myself, "Hmm ... I was skinny, young ... handsome" ... or some such.
Maybe it's just me, but you really can't judge by age. I wouldn't trust pictures either. Watch the national news ... "There's bad news tonight ... the country is bad ... the president is bad ... global warming ... everything is bad (now a word from our sponsor)." The local news ... "A murder today ... a kidnapping too ... a gun at school ... auto accident ... poverty ... (now this)." The internet is certainly no better.
"My age is the right age ... and it increases annually."
This is true, not only for our individual ages, but the age in which we live. God knows what He's about -- which means we are placed right where we're supposed to be. The earth continues to circle a star; thus, that age increases annually.
Ages ago, St Paul wrote:
When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry (Col.3:4-5).
Mind you, he's talking to Christians here!
On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you once walked, when you lived in them. But now put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and foul talk from your mouth (Col.3:6-8).
Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices and have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free man, but Christ is all, and in all (Col.3:9-11).
Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, I confess, it is true ... we are living in the latter days. But when it comes to sin, transgressing the law, prejudices, falling short, and really making a mess of things -- there is nothing new under the sun. It has been so in every age. And, undoubtedly, this side of Paradise, the same shall occur till the end of the age.
In the meantime, this is our time. This time, ever fleeting and often disappointing, is the time that God has given us. It may look better in the rearview mirror or in the crystal ball, yet both are an illusion. The time that we have is now. We, by God's grace, are the light of the world -- in our age, for this age -- because we have entered into that Life which is the Light, none other than the God-Man, Christ the Lord.
Brethren, let us not be conformed to this age. Rather, whatever our age, this is our age to bear witness to the Light -- Who has promised to be with us always ... even until the close of the age.
And, in any age -- at any age -- that's Good News.
Monday, December 18, 2006
O Muslim Town of Bethlehem
"There is no hope for the future of the Christian community," he said. "We don't think things are going to get better. For us, it is finished."
A mosque on one side of Manger Square stands directly opposite the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches, while in the evening the muezzin's call to prayer clashes with the peal of church bells.
Shops selling Santa Claus outfits and mother-of-pearl statuettes of the Virgin Mary have their shutters painted a sun-bleached green – the colour of Islam.
In the Al-Jacir Palace, Bethlehem's only luxury hotel, there is a baubled Christmas tree in reception and a card showing the direction of Mecca in the rooms.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
The Lord knows our condition. He knows it’s not easy. It should go without saying that He, God the Father, knows is ain’t easy. Then again, he knows that in our fallen state we cannot properly appreciate the nature of parenting. Therefore He had to command us: “Honour thy father and thy mother” [Exodus 20:12; 10 Commandments].
When we see our children hurt, failing, humiliated – we can rest assured that God the Father knows what that’s like; God the Son has filled that child’s shoes. When we don’t understand why our children do the things they do, God the Father understands – even me and you. When we’re tempted and struggle and are at our wit’s end, God the Son’s been there before us and will be till the end. In all of these struggles, parents and children alike, we beg God the Holy Spirit to fill us and strengthen us for this long and worthy fight.
O God, our Father, bind together in Thine all-embracing love every family on earth. Banish anger and bitterness with homes, nourish forgiveness and peace. Bestow upon parents wisdom and patience that they may gently exercise the disciplines of love, and call forth from their children their greatest virtue and highest skill. Instill in children such independence and self-respect that they may freely obey their parents and grow in the joys of compansionship. Open the hearts to hear the truth within the words another speaks. Open the eyes to see the example of virtuous parents, open hearts to complete forgiveness and understanding of all things willed by Thee, O Creator and Sustainer of families.
– St Augustine
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Yosef over UMass
Thursday, December 14, 2006
December 14th, 14 Years Ago
This is a pic of me and God's blessings, the women in my life: wife, mom, grandma. The pious practice was for the newly ordained to lay a dozen roses at the shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary -- 'cept, if she was present, to give your mom one from the group. My grandmother being there, she got two. (And, thanks God, she's still with us.)
His back is turned and still the personality shines forth! This is Fr Darwin Kirby talking to my wife. His gift to me that night (those who know him know that it may have been "recycled" :) was a large coffee table book of Rumanian iconography. May his memory be eternal!
Finally, the excellent preacher and mentor (now here), Fr Andrew Sloane, the homilist at my ordination, visiting with Sheila Douglas.
May God rest her soul with the Saints in Light: Memory eternal!
"The soul that is attached to anything however much good there may be in it, will not arrive at the liberty of divine union. For whether it be a strong wire rope or a slender and delicate thread that holds the bird, it matters not, if it really holds it fast; for, until the cord be broken the bird cannot fly."
-- St John of the Cross
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
One Flew Under the Christmas Tree!
-- Frederica Mathewes-Green
“Fr Joseph Huneycutt's book is reminiscent of John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, in that it details the pitfalls, traps and snares that so easily entrap those who set out to travel the narrow Way. Likewise, he points out the underlying spiritual maladies of the soul and how to avoid the various pitfalls. Many may be able to point out the problems one encounters, even giving them a name. But to identify a problem, i.e., a spiritual malady, is not the same thing as being able to cure it. Overcoming the problem is a different matter entirely. Thanks be to God he offers helpful pastoral counsel to those who must guide others in this difficult path.”
+ MARK, Bishop of Toledo and the Diocese of the Midwest
"We have found the Pearl of Great Price," could be a subtitle to this gem, One Flew Over the Onion Dome. It is a precious collection of heart-beats reflecting the various facets of the same pilgrimage that St Paul made when called by Christ on the road to Damascus: scrutiny and doubt from Cradles, heart-wrenching rejection by family and friends, periodic re-consideration while zealously bearing fruit in the Lord, delight in the "coming home," humble acknowledgment of the gift received. "My story is not much different from the host of other stories of Americans converting to Eastern Orthodox Christianity," confesses Fr Joseph Huneycutt. Although each story has a thread common to the others, each one is singular because it is the life-searching quest of a unique soul longing for "in the present age the knowledge of the truth and in the future age, everlasting life.
This is a must read for Cradles who might need to re-appreciate the Truth, for Seekers who have found the way but must patiently walk it while waiting for that blessed life which is to come and especially for hierarchs under whose omophorions the Good Shepherd has led these sheep for pastoring and who will be called to account for their eternal well-being."
+ NATHANIEL, Archbishop of Detroit
“In recent years Orthodox churches in America have received a multitude of Converts from a variety of different backgrounds. Many books have been published to tell the story of individual and group conversions. In the pages of One Flew Over the Onion Dome, the reader will find a reasoned explanation, formed through both personal experience and observation, that tells not only stories but provides a much needed guide for the clergy called to form and pastor these various Converts.”
-- The Very Rev. Dr. Chad Hatfield, Dean St. Herman Seminary, Kodiak, Alaska -- Newly elected Provost of St Vladimir's Seminary
“This book is like a map for the new Convert, which shows where the pits and dead ends are and, most importantly, how to find the treasure. For clergy, it will be a helpful tool in diagnosing common convert ailments before they become spiritually terminal.”
-- Fr. John Whiteford, author of Sola Scriptura and a Priest of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad
To purchase, click the book's cover.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Wonder of Woman
She went to the kitchen to make sandwiches for the next day's lunches. Rinsed out the popcorn bowls, took meat out of the freezer for supper the following evening, put spoons and bowls on the table and started the co ffee pot for brewing the next morning.
She then put some wet clothes in the dryer, put a load of clothes into the washer, ironed a shirt and secured a loose button. She picked up the game pieces left on the table, put the phone back on the charger and put the telephone book into the drawer.
She watered the plants, emptied a wastebasket and hung up a towel to dry.
She yawned and stretched and headed for the bedroom. She stopped by the desk and wrote a note to the teacher, counted out some cash for the field trip, and pulled a text book out from hiding under the chair.
She signed a birthday card for a friend, addressed and stamped the envelope and wrote a quick note for the grocery store. She put both near her purse.
Mom then washed her face with 3 in 1 cleanser, put on her Night solution & age fighting moisturizer, brushed and flossed her teeth and filed her nails.
Dad called out, "I thought you were going to bed."
"I'm on my way," she said.
She put some water into the dog's dish and put the cat outside, then made sure the doors were locked and the patio light was on.
She looked in on each of the kids and turned out their bedside lamps and TV's, hung up a shirt, threw some dirty socks into the hamper, and had a brief conversation with the one up still doing homework.
In her own room, she set the alarm; laid out clothing for the next day, straightened up the shoe rack. She added three things to her 6 most important things to do list. She said her prayers, and visualized the accomplishment of her goals.
About that time, Dad turned off the TV and announced to no one in particular. "I'm going to bed."
And he did ... without another thought.
Edited from a FWD from Ron Ford.
By the bye, more forming.
Former Lutheran pastor chronicles THE journey -- hat tip to former Prot BP.
"If the world has not come to its end, it has approached a major turn in history, equal in importance to the turn from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. It will exact from us a spiritual upsurge, we shall have to rise to a new height of vision, to a new level of life where our physical nature will not be cursed as in the Middle Ages, but, even more importantly, our spiritual being will not be trampled upon as in the Modern era. This ascension will be similar to climbing onto the next anthropologic stage. No one on earth has any other way left but -- upward."
Who wrote this?
Former Prot pastor & St George parishioner has the answer.
And, coming full circle on this entry, here's a former feminist on a former virgin.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Gee Are Two Kay
(2) What do you think is the most important religion story right now that you think the mainstream media just don’t get?
(3) What is the story that you’ll be watching carefully in the next year or two?
(4) Why is it important to understand the role of religion in our world today?
(5) What’s the funniest, most ironic twist that you’ve seen in a religion news story lately?
So whaddya think?
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Hoping to forget our mortality.
The other night, thanks to the good will of Christian friends, my family and I attended a performance of Handel's Messiah. I totally forgot whatever ailed me. Handel'll do that to you. But, with all weighty respect to Handel, the credit should actually be lain at the feet of Virtue. It is rare, this side of paradise, for us to seek that "forgetting of mortality" in Virtue. We most certainly seek it in Vice ...
Tree, Snake ... Round One.
Your day, yesterday, today ... To be continued.
As one priest said, "We sin because we die." Think about it. Isn't it because we know the eventuality, but don't know the time, that we rush forward to cram so much into so little. And what does it leave us but full of remorse and empty of charity?
On the other hand, there are times when (planned or otherwise) the "hoping to forget mortality" is wrapped in beauty and appears a sacrifice pleasing to the Good God. That must be what Handel meant when, upon completion of Messiah, he said: "I did see all heaven open before me and the great God Himself."
My recent experience was enhanced by the performers: 150 male & female high school students, dressed in black formals, looking elegant and mannered. Momentarily, void of hip-hop, saggin pants (and worse), I saw sanity, dare I say hope, return.
It's one thing to shun beauty. It's another to be just plain ugly. Our world, home to death and decay, longs for the beauty of Virtue. For whatever vices Handel may have suffered, his masterpiece remains a symbol of beauty, hope and good cheer.
St Paul writes: "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things" (Philippians 4:8).
With beauty reflecting Virtue, it is possible to forget our mortality all the while remembering that the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
RIP ... The Big D.B.
Doughboy was buried in a lightly greased coffin. Dozens of celebrities turned out to pay their respects, including Mrs. Butterworth, Hungry Jack, The California Raisins, Betty Crocker, the Hostess Twinkies, and Captain Crunch.
The grave site was piled high with flours.
Aunt Jemimah delivered the eulogy and lovingly described Doughboy as a man who never knew how much he was kneaded.
Doughboy rose quickly in show business, but his later life was filled with turnovers. He was not considered a very smart cookie, wasting much of his dough on half-baked schemes. Despite being a little flaky at times he still was a crusty old man and was considered a positive roll model for millions.
Doughboy is survived by his wife Play Dough, two children, John Dough and Jane Dough, plus they had one in the oven. He is also survived by his Elderly father, Pop Tart.
The funeral was held at 3:50 for about 20 minutes.
HT: Blog reg, Doug.
I know, I know, this has been around the Net for a while. It's a groaner ... but, if you've read this far, I hope you enjoyed it anyway. :)
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Crescent Rolls, Hot Cross Buns and
Give that gal a burqa!
According to the Layman, Rev. Beth Sentell, one of co-pastors of the merged congregation, "said two considerations influenced their decision to sell the church plant to the Islamic Society. First was the amount of money offered, second was the opportunity to engage in interfiath dialogue and friendship." She and her husband, Dr. Web Sentell, "plan to invite the Islamic congregation and its imam to a church supper where the imam will field questions. Dr. Sentell said, 'We worship the same God.'" Co-pastor J. Daniel Hignight was asked "if he would ever seek to lead a member of the Islamic Society to Jesus Christ." He replied, "I don't feel a particular need to convert them to Christianity."
Further define asinine H E R E.
HT The Layman & MereComments
SANTA: Real or Memorex?
The following edited repost is from a couple years back ...
Back in 1997 our daughter came home from day care and informed us that her class wasn't doing just one Christmas that year. Rather, they were going to be celebrating many holidays. Upon further inquiry we found that her class, she was 3 at the time, was going to be studying Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa -- never mind that there were no practitioners of either of the latter faith traditions in her day care class. We reacted by pulling her out of day care. [The good news is she was home schooled from that point until 4th grade.]
When she was coming of "Santa age," we decided that, though it was the practice of our families, we weren't going to do the Santa thing. Besides, back then we were in the Russian Church Abroad, therefore on the "old calendar," and it didn't make much since. To complicate matters further, our parish was named St Nicholas and we already had a "visit" with presents from our patron each year on his Feast, December 6/19.
Back in 2002, when my son was 4, we were doing last minute shopping in the mall on December 23rd. As we rested by a fountain, he saw the Mall Santa at a distance and said, "Dad, can I go talk to him?" "Basil, I thought you didn't believe in Santa," I replied. He said, "Dad, I don't. I just wanna go talk to him." I told him to look at how long the line was and reminded him that we didn't have much time and were just sitting there waiting on mom and the girls. When the said party arrived, I no sooner exchanged news with them -- a mere moment, mind you -- when someone asked, "Where's Basil?" Immediately my eyes shot toward the great line of people and, sure enough, there near the back of the 50 people or so was a little four year old boy. So, we let him. I went and waited with him. "No," I told them, "we don't want a picture." He eventually got to sit on the old man's lap. That's about the time their camera/computer equipment broke. As they worked to repair it -- for about 20 minutes -- Basil sat right there and talked to Santa. No harm done, everyone went home satisfied, except maybe the old man.
The following year, on the eve of St Nicholas Feast, we were having Vespers in the church. Basil was serving in the altar and he asked if I thought St Nicholas had visited St John's [fellowship hall] Building yet. Having replied that I did not know, and though freezing rain and sleet was falling, he asked if he could go check. I'll never forget the sight of my 5 year old son eagerly and expectantly running up the stairs through inclement weather to peer into a building to see if a Saint had yet visited with presents.
A week later we found ourselves traveling to visit my father on, as we said as kids, "Christmas Eve eve," December 23rd [or as some friends call it: "Christmas Adam" (as in, Adam comes before Eve)]. Our dinner was interrupted by the headlights of a car's arrival. "Who's that?" I asked. My dad said, "I don't know. Basil, go to the door." I was a little uncomfortable with my son being sent to answer a strange door ... when in walked the best looking Santa I had ever seen. I swear to you for a moment I was a kid again. A grown man had a "Miracle on 34th Street" moment. I almost wept. This Santa knew all about my kids. He knew their names -- all our names -- and family trivia. He had wonderful answers to their questions about Rudolph and the other reindeer. His white hair & beard, costume, red cheeks, twinkling eyes ... all came together to make me feel like a cad for ever doubting. When finally he approached me he said, "Howdy cuz" with a wink and a smile. Danged if I wasn't just plain confused from that point on.
[Later in the evening, after Santa's exit, my dad explained to me that the man was indeed a cousin of mine who played Santa during the season.]
Okay, so I'm a hypocrite. At least, given what I'm about to say, some might accuse me of such. Those who know me know I ain't much on Halloween. I never was much on Halloween, even as a kid. It seemed a bit odd to me that perfectly normal devil-hating church folks would go all out, once a year, to root for the other side. But, that's just me.
Then, I'm hip on Santa.
You see, I SAW Santa. Really, I did! Back when I was young. This is one of those impossible memories. Here's the way my mind -- you know, the REAL mind where anything's possible -- tells it ...
I was asleep on the couch, having dozed off out in the den on Christmas Eve. The only "vision" I had was of his back -- red outfit, white trim -- as he passed by my sleeping self. The most unbelievable part of the memory is: I went back to sleep.
Why is this impossible? Well, I never fell asleep on the couch, staying through the night, on Christmas Eve. I mean, what? I wake up and there are all the presents (before the time)? My parents would actually leave me there? On Christmas Eve?
Notice the proofs given do not include: Santa don't exist. Nope.
I know, I know. I'm an Orthodox priest and there's others of my stripe -- even my pal, Frederica -- who hold a contrary view of the man. But try as I might, I can't ... I won't, I say! ... let go.
I still have a visceral reaction when I see a "good Santa" -- you know, the ones with a real beard, real gut, real red cheeks, real joy. You know, real. I can't help it. It gives me hope. I become a kid again. The kid with memories that, I guess, can't be proved. You know, real memories.
I did go through a period, don't we all, where I tried to be anti-Santa. Then God allowed me to start a Mission named St Nicholas. Well, dang. Ain't that the way? I ended up giving in. I've repented. But even during that rebellion, if ever I saw a "good one," I knew -- hypocrite or no -- I knew!
I hate the shopping. I hate the frivolous debt. I hate supporting Communist China. I hate the extended commercial season. I hate the styles, the driving, the lack of sleep, the over nourishment.
But I cannot help but be touched by the magic. Somewhere along the line, every year, it touches me. No, no, no. I don't mean Santa magic. He's just an image of it. No. I mean the magic that makes steeples look brighter, loved ones look lovelier, hearts seem bigger, and homes seem warmer. I mean the magic that makes the impossible possible.
At this point, even I am wondering ... okay, ain't it time you said something about Jesus?
Well, I don't know how to say this without sounding hokey but, forgive me ... here goes ... to my mind at least, I just did.
As a Patriarch once said, "[Christmas] ... the day when God bent down and kissed the earth." And somewhere along the line, in the midst of the madness of the season, we are confronted with another question: What am I to do about it? May we, like Our Lady, the Shepherds, the Maji, and all the Saints before us answer the question. Our answer, our conviction -- our confession -- is a prerequisite for our worship.
Venite, adoramus Dominum!
Here's hoping that you and yours all become like kids again -- and soon.
Oh, and St Nicholas?
-- Pray to God for us!
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
St Nicholas ... the Movie
Since religious films have been such a hot topic at Orthodixie lately, and since the beloved saint's feast is upon us, I thought I might send this your way. This film about St. Nicholas is currently in production. I caught wind of this by way of a friend ... who knows someone working on the film. He says it might be out in time for next Christmas. I'm curious to see how accurate it is to Tradition, and if they include St. Nicholas' smack-down of Arius. :)
St. Nicholas, pray for us!
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
THE NATIVITY STORY: More or Less
I should mention that I rarely go to see movies -- can probably count on two hands the ones I've seen in theatres in as many years. Yet, as most of you know, I did read New Line Cinema's movie script for The Nativity Story and (happily) found it much less than I feared it would be. In other words, in that regard, "thin" is good.
Whether I go see it or not is yet to be seen.
I have, however, the same reaction Fr Stephen wrote about (click that first link) when I hear Orthodox Christians listening to "contemporary Christian" music with its Pop-Prot theology or, worse yet, mushy love songs to Jesus.
But if someone were coming off of the mind-numbing-animalistic-angst of Hip Hop, I would say that Contemporary Christian Music was a change for the better (even the God-pleasing!)
Fr Stephen ends bemoaning the fear that this movie might be the only experience of the Nativity that some have this year. Pity. But, gobs better than none.
Hollywood could have done a lot worse; and movie choices for those that go are certainly thinner still.
I still believe Joseph was an old man ... no matter what the movie's maker says. In my opinion, his opting for the Prot Myth is like choosing Contemporary Christian Music over The Messiah.
Who Was St Joseph the Betrothed?
1) Carpenter: “Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary?” (Matthew 13:55a).
2) Husband of Mary: “… Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ” (Matthew 1:16).
3) A Just Man and Guardian of Jesus: “… and her husband Joseph, being a just man” (Matthew 1:19a); “When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife, but knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus” (Matthew 1:24-25).
1) Patron Saint: of the Universal Church; of the fight against Communism; of Workers, and of various countries and regions
2) Chaste Spouse of the Virgin: Tradition unclear, Jesus “brothers and sisters” believed to be cousins (or, the Orthodox position is also acceptable); believed to be chaste entire time wed to the Virgin
3) Upside-down Realtor: Though officially frowned upon by the Church, many religious goods manufacturers, retailers, and realtors place stock in the burying of a statue of St Joseph upside-down, and asking his intercessions, toward selling a house
1- Widower & father: Jesus’ “brothers and sisters” were actually steps, children of Joseph’s previous marriage
2- Elderly When Chosen as Guardian: According to tradition (apocryphal writings), Joseph was chosen among others, due to a heavenly sign involving his staff, to be the guardian of the Virgin and the Lord
3- Betrothed of Mary: Along with Catholics, Orthodox believe Joseph was chaste -- did not consummate marriage with the Virgin -- during their life together
1- Family provider & guardian
2- Of the House of David
3- A righteous man
By the way, Mom - if you're reading this, you know what a vivid imagination I have. (For the rest of you: wink, wink).
My friend, Walt, and I moved out to Southern California in the fall of 1983. My plan was to become filthy rich and adorably famous. Walt just wanted to be a waiter. He fulfilled his goal; I did not.
Anyway. His sister had a condo for sale that wasn’t moving and we lived there free of charge. We were both right out of college and owned, well, nothing. Nothing that is, but a huge collection of record albums, a powerful stereo, a decent TV, and some clothes. The condo was unfurnished so we bought two school room napping mats to sleep on. We had no refrigerator; couldn’t afford to have the gas line hooked up – thus, only cold water.
But what did we care? We were striving to live our dreams in Southern California. We were young, stupid, and glorious. We had decided not to find jobs until after about 3 weeks of vacation. (See what I mean?) So we did the touristy things, the beachy things, Hollywood, Malibu, Big Sur, Disney ...
After about a week, we ran out of money.
We both ended up working at Movie Land Wax Museum in Buena Park. Food services ... You know, where all the other soon-to-be-famous people worked.
It would be our first Christmas away from home. A long way away from home. Our families were none too happy about it. We didn’t give it much thought. Both of us were happily agnostic, quasi-new age and complacent. We were sort of looking forward to not being part of that Season Which Must Be Obeyed.
And so we existed ... on Peanut Butter, Löwenbräu, Macaroni & Cheese, and as many free meals as we were able at scarf at work.
In case you’re wondering, I wanted to get into writing for radio and television. My entry stage was to be Stand Up comedy. My dad looked for me, or so he said, each week on Star Search. But that’s a story for another time ...
Christmas approached. Walt and I volunteered to work all the days everyone else was taking off. It was Christmas, but our life was to remain unchanged. Gifts. We were opposed to it all.
Until December 22, 1983.
That was the day a coworker asked if I needed a bed.
The condo had two bedrooms upstairs that, except for the closets, were completely empty. My roommate and I both slept downstairs on those kindergarten mats because (remember young & stupid) that’s where the TV was.
“Yes!” Of course I could use a bed!
I'd decided not to tell Walt ‘cause I knew he’d be jealous. To my surprise he said, “Guess what? I’m getting a bed!” Turns out he’d had the same offer from someone else that same day.
So it was that we arranged a pal with a truck to carry us to get our gifts on December 23rd. On the way to our destinations we passed some discarded furniture in another neighborhood. There was a big black couch ... heave ho! And a nice old recliner ... got that, too.
In one night our Orange County condo ended up with somewhere to sit downstairs and somewhere to sleep upstairs!
We thought it couldn’t get any better.
Christmas Day. The doorbell rang. It was one of our obnoxious neighbors. I say this because he was always the one wanting someone to move their car, turn down the stereo, etc. We had sufficient evidence that he didn’t care for us. Yet he cared enough about his wife to have surprised her with a new refrigerator for Christmas. He wanted to know if we would be interested in their old one.
Christmas 1983, two Southern boys in their twenties sat smoking clove cigarettes and sipping Brandy -- humming fridge in the background, holiday TV in the foreground -- on free furniture in a free condo in Southern California.
Though a far cry from normal, and nowhere near family traditions, in a very, very strange way
it was almost like being home.
Addendum: Fr Michael Nasser, formerly of Antiochian Village, now with Project Mexico, visited St George earlier this year. When I asked him where he was from, he said California. I asked where in California? When he said near LA. I asked where? When he said Orange County. I said I used to live in Beuna Park. When he found out that I'd worked in food/entertainment services at Movie Land Wax Museum, he asked what year? When I told him I'd left there in February of 1984, he said if I'd held on a couple months longer I'd have been present at his senior prom!
Small world. (We were both kinda glad we'd not met 20 some years ago :)
Glory to God for all things!
Monday, December 04, 2006
What's Really Happening in the Nativity?
Christ was like a man “who perceived a weak person carried away by a raging current. He knows that he himself will be sucked up by the whirlpool, wounded and lacerated by the rocks, swept away by the water. But pity for this man in danger stimulates him. He does not hesitate to throw himself into the current.” He enters, therefore, without reservations into the flow of duration. But in order to save the one who is drowning, he must “jump” from on high, that is to say, he must bring us the integrity of our own nature. It is very much a necessity that he not be born of a mortal man who is subject to the “passions” but that he bring us that nature that is antecedent to the “passions” (which, indeed, as we know, are linked in a mysterious way to sin). It is equally necessary that Mary should be a virgin, so that in this pure relationship the prodigy of the burning bush might be fulfilled: unity without blemish. It is a "new birth", a "new order of nature", finally a "new creation", the "beginning of the world". It is, in the final analysis, the "day when the true man is created ... he who is in the image and likeness of God".
-- Taken from Presence and Thought - An Essay on the Religious Philosophy of Gregory of Nyssa by Hans Urs von Balthasar, (pp.135-136).
Sunday, December 03, 2006
VIRTUE: He Said, She Said
-- St. Tikhon of Zadonsk
Thanks to FWD from Fr Josiah Trenham.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Tatum, Texas B.C. (Before Cold)
Friday, December 01, 2006
Under Turkish Guns, Christians Roar
You can read the whole article by Joshua Treviño HERE.
If nothing else, read the ending ...
Bartholomew ascends to the iconostasis and welcomes Benedict in Greek. Benedict, aware of the cameras surrounding him, replies in English. We must, he says, recall Europe to its Christian heritage before it is too late -- and we must do it together. Then they emerge into the cold sunlight of a cold day. They ascend to a balcony overlooking the courtyard where we gather in expectation. They speak briefly. And then, they clasp hands, Pope and Patriarch, smile and raise their arms together. Tears come to my eyes, and I am shocked to see several media personnel crying openly. For an instant, the Church is one. For a shadow of a second, the dreams of Christendom are again real. Under the Turkish guns, the Christians roar.
Thanks to FWD from Fr Miguel Grave De Peralta.
REVIEW: The Nativity Story
Since the movie's out today, I'm re-posting this script review. Scroll down to the bottom for a link to Frederica Mathewes-Green's movie review.
It’s Hollywood not Tradition; and, after all, it’s just a movie. But having had the opportunity to read the script for New Line Cinema’s The Nativity Story, I can honestly say: It’s pretty good. Really! I enjoyed it.
Earlier reports of the movie could lead one to believe that Hollywood was tinkering with the glorious story of the birth of Christ. For example, the Hollywood Reporter stated that The Nativity Story was "to be told with a strong female perspective" (March 17, 2006). One reviewer, who mentions a Catholic upbringing, praises the script as "a reverent recounting of the biblical story that also added an insightful socio-political dimension to the world Mary would have been brought up in."
Given these reports, I expected something entirely different from the Gospel accounts of the birth of the Saviour. Yet, Christianity Today claimed it was faithful to the Gospels, and then I received the public relations blurb:
The Nativity Story is based on the greatest story ever told. But as familiar as audiences may be with the story, they have never seen it on the big screen. This is the first time in over 50 years that a biblical story has been released by a major motion picture studio. The filmmakers ... are Christian and New Line Cinema sincerely wants to make a film that is historically and biblically accurate. To that end, numerous Catholic and Protestant experts and scholars have read the script and are acting as consultants on this film.
Having read the script, I'm apt to say: If you are looking for holiday entertainment that’s family friendly with a virtuous message, you won’t be disappointed. If you are hoping to see unadulterated Eastern Orthodox Tradition on the silver screen, something essentially catechetical, you’ll have to wait a little longer.
Other than a few timeline discrepancies, the main thing that jumps out at an Orthodox Christian is the age of St Joseph the Betrothed. In New Line Cinema’s The Nativity Story, he’s portrayed as a handsome young 20-something. But, think about it: How else would Hollywood portray the intended beaux of the beautiful young maiden from Galilee?
We all know St Joseph was old, right? He was a widower with children, a man of means, by the time he became the guardian of our Lord. This is the tradition of the Church.
Yet, the fact that the movie includes characters portraying the parents of the Theotokos, Joachim and Anna, shows that the writers were not ignorant to Church Tradition. However, look at any icon and you’ll see: Joachim and Anna are old. They are portrayed differently on the big screen; the script lists Joachim as 45, Anna as 34. The Bible doesn’t specify their age, nor name Mary’s parents. So, what’s the big deal?
Well, the same source within Tradition that provides the names of the Virgin Mary’s parents also mentions the advanced age and station of Joseph, the story of Mary’s birth, mention of Joseph being a widower with children, Jesus’ being born in a cave, the entry of Mary into the Temple, the murder of the Righteous Zacharias in the Temple gates -- and more. This is all found within the same ancient document that attests to the perpetual virginity of Mary: The Protoevangelium of James.
This is important with regard to this movie because the filmmakers have selected information from this ancient source that was helpful in making a Hollywood film. They have also disregarded that which would betray bias toward any particular "Christmas tradition" -- even more so what we Orthodox call Tradition.
Yet, it is obvious by movie’s end that there’s hope that this movie will have mass appeal. Making a movie that only made sense to Orthodox Christians would not serve Hollywood’s purpose nor, most likely, would it get produced.
Again, it’s Hollywood not Tradition; and, after all, it’s just a movie. But, even if in small ways (such as naming the Virgin’s parents) the masses are being introduced to portions of the ancient Church Tradition, that’s a good thing.
What’s good and paramount for Christians, Orthodox or not, at least as far as this movie is concerned, is that Jesus is proclaimed as the Saviour. It’s not every day that the masses hear such good news -- especially coming out of Hollywood.
The Nativity Story opens in theatres December 1st.
Frederica's take on the flick ... HERE.