Friday, August 29, 2008

Feast of the Beheading of St John the Baptist

What shall we call you, O Prophet? Angel, Apostle or Martyr? An angel, for you lived like the bodiless powers. An apsotle, for you taught the nations. A martyr, for you were beheaded for Christ. Pray to Him that our souls be granted great mercy.

We celebrate the memorial of the beheading of the Forerunner: his head once gushed forth streams of blood upon the platter; now it gushes forth rivers of healings upon the world.

From the Menaion, Great Vespers, 29 August

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

From the Church Fathers

And the second commandment of the Teaching; You shall not commit murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not commit pederasty, you shall not commit fornication, you shall not steal, you shall not practice magic, you shall not practice witchcraft, you shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is born. You shall not covet the things of your neighbor, you shall not swear, you shall not bear false witness, you shall not speak evil, you shall bear no grudge. You shall not be double-minded nor double-tongued, for to be double-tongued is a snare of death. Your speech shall not be false, nor empty, but fulfilled by deed. You shall not be covetous, nor rapacious, nor a hypocrite, nor evil disposed, nor haughty. You shall not take evil counsel against your neighbor. You shall not hate any man; but some you shall reprove, and concerning some you shall pray, and some you shall love more than your own life.

Chapter Two, The Didache (c. 50-120 a.d.)

Therefore brothers, you see how perverse they are and hastening wickedness, who are immature, they seek abortion of the conception before the birth; they are those who tell us, "I do not see that which you say must be believed."

From a Sermon by St Augustine of Hippo

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

St John Chrysostom on Bishops

The soul of a Bishop is for all the world like a vessel in a storm: lashed from every side, by friends, by foes, by one’s own people, by strangers. Does not the Emperor rule the whole world, the Bishop a single city? Yet a Bishop’s anxieties are as much beyond those of the emperor, as the waters of a river simply moved, by the wind are surpassed in agitation by the swelling and raging sea. And why? because in the one case there are many to lend a hand, for all goes on by law and by rule; but in the other there is none of this, nor is there authority to command; but if one be greatly moved, then he is harsh; if the contrary, then he is cold! And in him these opposites must meet, that he may neither be despised, nor be hated. Besides, the very demands of business preoccupy him: how many is he obliged to offend, whether he will or not! How many to be severe with! I speak not otherwise than it is, but as I find it in my own actual experience.

I do not think there are many among Bishops that will be saved, but many more that perish: and the reason is it is an affair that requires a great mind. Many are the exigencies which throw a man out of his natural temper; and he had need have a thousand eyes on all sides. Do you not see what a number of qualifications the Bishop must have? to be apt to teach, patient, holding fast the faithful word in doctrine (see 1 Tim. iii. 2–9; Tit. i. 7–9). What trouble and pains does this require!

And then, others do wrong, and he bears all the blame. To pass over every thing else: if one soul depart unbaptized, does not this subvert all his own prospect of salvation? The loss of one soul carries with it a penalty which no language can represent. For if the salvation of that soul was of such value, that the Son of God became man, and suffered so much, think how sore a punishment must the losing of it bring! And if in this present life he who is cause of another’s destruction is worthy of death, much more in the next world. Do not tell me, that the presbyter is in fault, or the deacon. The guilt of all these comes perforce upon the head of those who ordained them.

Let me mention another instance. It chances, that a bishop has inherited from his predecessor a set of persons of indifferent character. What measures is it proper to take in respect of bygone transgressions (for here are two precipices) so as not to let the offender go unpunished, and not to cause scandal to the rest? Must one’s first step be to cut him off? There is no actual present ground for that. But is it right to let him go unmarked? Yes, say you; for the fault rests with the bishop who ordained him. Well then, must one refuse to ordain him again, and to raise him to a higher degree of the ministry? That would be to publish it to all men that he is a person of indifferent character, and so again one would cause scandal in a different way. But is one to promote him to a higher degree? That is much worse.

If then there were only the responsibility of the office itself for people to run after in the episcopate, none would be so quick to accept it. But as things go, we run after this, just as we do after the dignities of the world. That we may have glory with men, we lose ourselves with God. What profit in such honor? How self-evident its nothingness is! When you covet the episcopal rank, put in the other scale, the account to be rendered after this life. Weigh against it, the happiness of a life free from toil, take into account the different measure of the punishment. I mean that even if you have sinned, but in your own person merely, you will have no such great punishment, nothing like it: but if you have sinned as bishop, you are lost.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Few Interesting Articles

From Life Site News more revelations about Planned Parenthood's ongoing attempts to increase its share of the death business: Planned Parenthood's 'A' Word Campaign Targets Cincinnati Teenagers

Also, a recent article from Center for a Just Society, Trying to Put Lipstick on a Pig

Planned Parenthood has begun to renovate office in our town. They picked a spot hoping to thwart protesters (no parking, small side-walk space, office at the back of a private parking lot, etc) and ultimately claimed that they won't be committing abortions "initially". We're urging a thorough environmental impact study to determine potential dangers to caused by their operations.

Then, there's Salvo Magazine's report on the de-masculinization of US boys and men. Girly Men: The Media's Attack on Masculinity

Having done some teaching over the years (junior high level), I can attest that playground activities are often strictly monitored for anything smacking of "rough housing" or other boyish behaviors. But then again, the US is also into over-medicating kids to avoid the unpleasantness of having to deal with kids being kids. I shudder to think what actions would be taken against crop of kids like those of my generation!

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Righteous is the judge, and righteous is the judgement of truth -- then shall every man's deeds be weighed and rewarded according to his merits. In that day, those who worked iniquity will be tormented by regret, and those who labored virtuously will partake of joy in that land... O Lord, grant that I who am inspired by Thy mercy may be freed from the snares of the world so that I might safely enter the harbor of life.

A Spiritual Psalter, p. 131, Ephraim the Syrian

Two from Touchstone

Touchstone Magazine's blog Mere Comments today presents two posts worth pondering. Now having said that, I anticipate that some of your rambling host's readers may have strong opinions regarding one of them. Nonetheless, the argument is worth examination and meditation. The post in question is entitled Where Whores Wear Hats. The second is A Challenge From the First Century. Both posts present topics that are relevant for Christians today.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Balanced Analysis of the Russo-Georgian Conflict

MercatorNet has published an essay by George Friedman, chairman and CEO of Stratfor, a publisher of geopolitical intelligence. The essay originally appeared on the Stratfor website.

The essay, The Russo-Georgian War and the Balance of Power, is a clear and logical analysis of the motives and decisions behind the Russian invasion of Georgia and the US and European response options. It is so worthy of your reading it that I'll not quote it. Go, read!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Requiem for Solzhenitsyn Worthy of Remembrance

Today's First Things On the Square features Robert P. Kraynak reflecting on the legacy of Alexander Solzhenitsyn. It accurately notes the ambivalence in the West towards those who critique not only "the other side" but also the West. Solzhenitsyn was truly a conundrum to the West in just that sense. As Mr Kraynak notes:

It is striking to read the many references to the human soul in Solzhenitsyn’s writings. He says, “Beyond upholding rights, mankind must defend its soul, freeing it for reflection and feeling”; and “the greatness of a people is to be sought not in the blare of trumpets . . . but in the level of its inner development, in its breadth of soul . . . in healing its soul.” He also warned modern people that, because of their belief in progress, “we had forgotten the human soul”; and “the destruction of our souls over three-quarters of a century is the most terrifying thing of all.” In a powerful passage, he denounces communist totalitarianism for corrupting the soul: “Our present system is unique because, over and above its physical and economic constraints, it demands total surrender of our souls . . . to the conscious lie. To this putrefaction of the soul, this spiritual enslavement, human beings who wish to be human cannot consent. When Caesar, having exacted what is Caesar’s, demands still more insistently that we render to him what is God’s—that is a sacrifice we dare not make!”
These are words that tend to frighten the West since they point to the essential need to examine the soul, not just political policy.

Read the entire piece here.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Christianity and Georgia

May our Lord bring peace to this suffering nation!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Prayer Request

Let us all pray for peace in the Republic of Georgia and the suffering Georgian people.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Interesting Report on Christians in Lebanon

The unusual blog Sigmund, Carl and Alfred, has a very interesting article on the plight of Christians in Lebanon entitled The Forgotten Christians of Lebanon.

Consider a few excerpts...

I am not suggesting that all Western involvement in the affairs of the Near and Middle East over the centuries has been detrimental to the region's Christians. Far from it. However, the fact remains that the West's interaction with the Middle East was always designed to serve primarily the West's interests. This includes the Protestant missionary activities of the nineteenth century, which, after failing to make noticeable headway among Muslims, turned their energies to converting the local Christians to the creeds of Europe's great Reformers. Resulting tensions and mutual misunderstandings between the native churches and the newly transplanted Protestants linger to the present.

Meanwhile, the reputed tolerance of Islam, particularly for the "People of the Book," as Jews and Christians are designated, created in reality the dhimmi system of second-class servitude, which, under the guise of toleration, was actually a system of subtle repression and dehumanization leading to gradual liquidation.

Back in the 1970s and '80s it became disgracefully fashionable in Western policy and media circles to put down the Lebanese Christians, particularly the Maronites. These attacks often bordered on outright racism. Similarly today it has become fashionable to lay all the blame for the Bosnian conflict on the shoulders of the Serbs. If the priorities of certain Western governments and their policy planners (Washington included) have dictated that such one-sided obfuscations serve as the basis for ethically dubious policies, the priorities of self-aware and morally critical Christians in these same Western countries ought to be markedly different.

Western apathy. In the hard-nosed world of realpolitik, petroleum-free Lebanon does not amount to much either strategically or economically for a country like the United States. Injecting other human and value-oriented parameters and ingredients into the policy calculus of Washington that would elevate Lebanon on the scale of foreign-policy priorities is in itself an awesome and daunting undertaking requiring prayer and patient hard work.

Read it all here.