Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Christmas!

To those following the New Calendar, we wish a joyous Feast of the Nativity!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Reason on Paul Controversy

As a Christian, I hold to ethical principles that strongly influence my political views.

As a priest, and bound by civic legal rules that stifle my First Amendment rights to free speech, I do not represent my political views as in any way reflecting the teachings, opinions, or holding the authority of my Church. Thus, in this my first - and likely only - posting of a distinctly political nature, I speak only for myself and in no way posit an evaluation of religious censure against anyone who disagrees with any inferred opinion that may be attributable to me herein.

As a citizen, I firmly believe in Federalism as exemplified by the Federalist Papers of Hamilton, Madison and Jay, and the US Constitution (as interpreted through the lens of the annals of the Constitutional Convention by James Madison). I am convinced that it is only through upholding the Liberties protected in the Constitution that the US Republic can provide a setting for people of good will to work out their salvation, promote a peaceful, productive and ultimately moral culture, and establish an equitable society for the general welfare of all its citizens.

That said, and having followed the ongoing political debates that form part of the lead up to next year's Federal election in the US, I recommend the following article.

Ron Paul Ugly, Racist Newsletters Not Going Away, But Do They Invalidate His Candidacy?

Incidentally, Reason is typically an interesting and often thought-provoking read.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Chicago Sun-Times Reports on Christian Suffering in Middle East

Today, the Chicago Sun-times reports a rarely stated fact for Christians in the Middle East: Persecution at the hands of Moslem neighbors.

From the report, note the following:
Only in Israel, where religious freedom is honored, have Christians increased, soaring from 34,000 in 1948 to 140,000 today.

Advocates for Islam talk about its history of tolerance, but political, revolutionary Islamism is the driving force in Mideast history today; it has little use for religious freedom. That has Christians literally running for their lives.
Read it all here (and post a comment to let it be known that it is an important issue).

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Professor Glenn on the Tyranny of Public Education

Professor Charles L Glenn of Boston University has contributed a thought-provoking piece over at First Things concerning Secular Education in the United States. It is well worth reading and pondering. Below are a few excerpts.

Most Americans are products of the public school’s 140-year near-monopoly on education, and have an understandable residual loyalty to our current educational settlement; many believe, as advocates of the “myth of the common school” have been arguing since Horace Mann, that only the public school can form citizens. But low test scores and concern over the moral vacuousness of both curriculum and school life dominated by peer culture have shaken faith in the public system. Parents are seeking alternatives, not only in private schools but in charter schools (legally “public” but functionally private), homeschooling, and cyberschools. Even those parents who do not want religion taught in the schools their children attend usually see no problem with other children attending schools whose religious character is preferred by their parents.

America did not always have a rigid educational establishment that claimed religious neutrality. Its rise was propelled by anti-Catholic sentiment, leading to a unified educational system that displaced the patchwork of local arrangements that prevailed in the early republic and that provided a degree of religious pluralism surprising to those raised with the contemporary idea of the separation of church and state. It was common in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries for public funding to be provided to schools that we would now consider “private” and religious, the great majority of them Protestant but some of them Catholic. These denominational arrangements were actually the norm in federally funded schooling for children on Indian reservations until the late nineteenth century.

Our nation needs to confront the loss of faith in public education, a loss fueled both by disappointing international comparisons of test results and by a severing of the rootedness of schools in local communities. Consolidation of school districts, professionalization of educational administration, the unresponsiveness of teachers’ unions to the concerns of parents, and ballooning state and federal requirements, all have led to a loss of confidence in America’s schools.

Read the whole article here.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Long Lost Classic!

I've mentioned this old commercial to people for years, and just when I had despaired finally found it. It still strikes me as one of the most original and humorous ads I've ever seen.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Trotting With Turkeys

Well, I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it. This is pure cinema and natural humor. It's worth a few minutes for the timely chuckle.

Trotting With Turkeys:

Says the webiste: One of our CBS13 photojournalists tracks down some wild turkeys on Thanksgiving and gives chase. Nov. 24, 2011

For those in the States, those from the States, and US citizens everywhere:

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Around the Country in Five Minutes

When Brian DeFrees decided to make a trip around the US, he also decided to document his travels with time-lapse photographs. The results are interesting, inspiring, and 'moving'.


Sunday, September 11, 2011


Réquiem ætérnam dona eis Dómine.
Eternal rest grant them, Lord.

et lux perpétua lúceat eis.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

Requiéscant in pace. Amen.
May they rest in peace. Amen.

Αἰωνία ἡ μνήμη

Вечная память

Friday, August 05, 2011

The Flint Solution

First, my apologies for the lateness in ending the 'quest'. Time has a way of getting away as they say.

Now, on to the answer to the Quest of the World's Greatest Flint:

At the end of Return of the King, Aragorn, Gandalf and company proceed on horseback to the Moranon - the Black Gate - in a feint to draw out Sauron's forces in the hope of making it easier for Frodo and Samwise to make it to Mount Doom.

Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Merry and Pipen ride out to parlay with the Mouth of Sauron, end negotiations, and as the gate opens ride back to the main body of troops. The camera then shows the "Men of West" charging forward to battle the hosts of Mordor. Only, now they are on foot. All the horses have magically disappeared.

Call me lightning, but I didn't notice this until last month. I told my daughter about the flint, and she later noted that the International Movie Data Base includes it in its list of 'mistakes'.

C'est la vie!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Rod Dreher and the Norway Bomber

Rod Dreher speaks to the issue of the Norway terrorist bomber and the media's somewhat biased coverage. It is worth your time to read it. Find it here. Below are a couple of snippets.

...In the rambling document, Breivik calls for a new "crusade" against Islam,
and quotes from the work of journalists and commentators (including, briefly,
me) who have spoken out against Islamic extremism and the refusal of our liberal
institutions -- including the media -- to hold Muslim leaders to account....

...The late Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn, an openly gay hedonist whose
politics were to the left of the Democratic Party's, was routinely denounced in
European and American media as a member of the "far right" because he criticized
Muslim extremists on secular liberal grounds....

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The World's Greatest Flint - Did You Notice It?

Recently I had the pleasure of spending a few quiet evenings watching Lord of the Rings Extended Edition again. Now this is a movie I've seen several times - a favorite - and I was shocked when it suddenly struck me that it features the greatest flint of all time.

The flint in question is at once visual and a basic continuity error in the telling of the story. It is not minor and is not one of those 'hidden in the background' errors (like some one facing one way in one shot and another way in a second shot). I will tell you that once you know what it is you'll slap your head and wonder why you never noticed it before.

As summer is a time that should allow for a bit of fun, I've decided to leave it as a 'quest' for any of you who want to look for it. If you think you know what it is, send me a comment. I moderate comments to avoid trolls (no pun), but I will post any and all serious guesses. If the flint is not guessed by the end of the month, I'll post the answer; if it is guessed, I'll concede the issue in the comments thread and amend this entry.

I'll give one hint - There, not there.

Happy hunting!

PS The flint in question has nothing to do with the attached video, but in the tradition of Fellowship of the Vuvuzelas, I thought you might enjoy it.

(For the uninitiated, a 'flint' is a mistake in continuity or a general error. The terms derives from a Harry Potter character who should have left the school after a certain 'year' but was still there the following 'year'. In some circles, the term has come to be used to indicate mistakes in movies and TV shows.)


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Rupture of Continuity? or a Continuous Rupture?

Sandro Magister recently began a series of contributions by several Italian (and/or Roman) theologians discussing the Second Vatican Council. Last week saw a very interesting addition to the discussion by University of Bologna Professor Enrico Morini. Professor Morini outlines a thesis that the Council did indeed elicit a rupture, but one that sought to re-establish continuity with the Tradition (ecclesial) of the first millennium. I found particularly interesting the professor's views related to collegiality and the question of the filioque.

I leave it you whether you agree with the professor's passing comment about Father John Romanides.

Give it a read here.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

CBN on Constantinople

I can't say that I frequent the CBN website or TV network, however their video on the fall of Constantinople is accurate in its historic detail. While some terms are changed out for Protestants (Christian "service" for "Divine Liturgy", etc.) it is worthy of your time and attention. Several of the page's links are also worth checking.

It's nice to see Protestantism look into some of that Old Time Religion.

View the video itself here, and the full page of features here.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Psychology of Egypt and its Christians

The Middle East Forum offers a startling (because factual and accurate) report on the psychology of Egypt's majority regarding its tiny Coptic Christian minority. The analysis is applicable for much of the Middle East.

Here is an except:

Al-Awwa further charged that Egypt's security forces cannot enter the monasteries to investigate for weapons—an amazing assertion, considering that Coptic monasteries are not only at the mercy of the state, but are easy prey to Islamist and Bedouin attacks, with monks tortured and crucifixes spat upon. When the monks of an ancient desert monastery in Egypt tried to erect a fence to keep the Bedouin raiders out, the military destroyed it and opened fire on the monks, while shouting "Allahu Akbar!"
Read it here.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mattingly on Fundamentalism

Terry Mattingly always provides thoughtful and insightful comments, and this week's submission,"Define fundamentalist, please", is no exception. Below is one excerpt to tease you along to read the full text.

The problem is that religious authorities — the voices journalists quote — keep pinning this label on others. Thus, one expert’s “evangelical” is another’s “fundamentalist.” For “progressive” Catholics, in other words, Pope Benedict XVI is a “fundamentalist” on sexuality.

Anyone who expects scholars to stand strong and defend a basic, historic definition will be disappointed. As philosopher Alvin Plantinga of the University of Notre Dame once quipped, among academics “fundamentalist” has become a “term of abuse or disapprobation” that most often resembles the casual semi-curse, “sumbitch.”
I expect brother Mattingly will be offering more on this topic in the future.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Of Gandalf and Darwin

Salvo Magazine has a very interesting and thought provoking discussion entitled, Gandalf on Mars: What Bleeping Codes Say About Intelligent Design by Richard W. Steven. It is rational, entertaining, and persuasive. Give it a go! (Its even got Turing machines!)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Of Trolleys and Trains


Consider the following thought experiment:

A trolley (a tram or a streetcar) is running out of control down a track. In its path are five people who have been tied to the track by a mad philosopher. Fortunately, you could flip a switch, which will lead the trolley down a different track to safety. Unfortunately, there is a single person tied to that track. Should you flip the switch or do nothing?

Of course, while one can argue either way, consider this one:

As before, a trolley is hurtling down a track towards five people. You are on a bridge under which it will pass, and you can stop it by dropping a heavy weight in front of it. As it happens, there is a very fat man next to you - your only way to stop the trolley is to push him over the bridge and onto the track, killing him to save five. Should you proceed?

Now go to MercatorNet and read A Streetcar Named Moral Confusion by Zac Alstin.

And while you're there, also check out Tactical Intimidation by Matthew J. Franck.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Joyous Pascha to all!

Καλή Ανάσταση!

جيد القيامة

المسيح قام

Христос воскрес

Christ is risen!

Friday, April 08, 2011

Where there is no Elijah...

A beautiful story as told by Leonard Fein at the Jewish Daily Forward.

Here is a story of the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of Hasidism, a story my mother, herself an eighth-generation descendant of the Besht, told me:

It happened that a disciple of the Besht came one day to the master and said: “I don’t understand. Every year, we have a wonderful Seder, we do everything we have been instructed to do, and every year, we open the door for Elijah — and he never arrives. How can this be? I feel we are spurned.”

The Besht considered his disciple’s complaint, and then told him to load a wagon with food, wine, matzos and also clothes and gifts for the children, and travel to a certain hut in a nearby village and spend the first two days of Pesach with the destitute family that lived there; it was there that he would certainly see Elijah.

The Hasid followed the Besht’s instructions punctiliously, and the next morning he arrived at the dilapidated hut in the nearby village. He was greeted warmly, his gifts were accepted with tears of gratitude, and that night, the entire family — mother, father, five children, along with their surprise guest, celebrated Pesach together.

Yet when the door was opened for Elijah — no Elijah.

Bitterly disappointed, the Hasid returned to the Besht and told him what had happened — and, more important, what had not happened. The Besht explained that Elijah must have been delayed, but that at Pesach time next year, the Hasid would surely encounter him. So he must at the time of the holiday return to the hut, once again with a wagon filled with food and gifts — but this time, before knocking on the door, he must first eavesdrop on the goings-on within the hut.

The Hasid did as told, putting his ear to the door before knocking. He heard the mother’s lament: “We have no food for the holiday. Nothing. How can we celebrate?” And he heard the father’s reply: “Not to worry! Don’t you remember that last year, Elijah came with all that we needed, and gifts for the children as well? Have faith; he will surely come on time once more.”

So ends the story, save for its moral: Hillel taught, “Where there is no man, be thou a man.” The Besht, through this story, taught, “Where there is no Elijah, be thou Elijah.” Bring closer the redemption.

A beautiful sentiment!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Pastor, the Pulpit and "the Word"

Risque? O yes!
To the point? You bet!
Orthodox message? I believe so, actually....

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Axios! and many years to Bishop Svyatoslav (Shevchuk), reportedly elected Supreme Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church cf. Джерело публікації:

The Kyiv Post reports the following:

New head of Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church elected
Today at 17:00 Interfax-Ukraine The new head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) was elected on Thursday by the Synod of Bishops, but his name is not to be disclosed until his candidacy is confirmed by the Vatican, a source close to the UGCC has told Interfax-Ukraine.

It was reported that on Thursday, participants in the electoral synod of the UGCC had conducted a vote under a simplified scheme, according to which the head of the church is elected by a simple majority vote. The first three days of the election produced no result, as two thirds of the vote was required for a victory.

The bishop elected as head of the UGCC, after confirmation from Rome, will take a vow to faithfully carry out his duties. He will take office after the enthronement, which, according to the Web site of the UGCC, is to be held in Kyiv on March 27.

Forty church bishops participated in the synod.

The election of a new head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church was set after the Pope in February 2011 accepted the resignation of Cardinal Lubomir Husar as UGCC head, on health grounds.

Also, see

Ukrainian Catholic Bishops already elected a new head of UGCC


On the fourth day of the Electoral Synod of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church bishops made ​​a choice, unoffical source informed RISU. However, there is no official confirmation of elections from the Vatican yet, and name of new head of UGCC is not disclosed. Now bishops are waiting for a response from the Apostolic See.

Source RISU

And if you read Ukrainian, check out this site.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Please, Dear God,

have mercy on the people of Japan, all the suffering people in the Middle East, and all your sinful servants throughout this corrupt world.

Through the prayers of the Theotokos and the Martyrs Evdokia, Antonia, the Martyrs Nestor, Tribimos, and the Holy Agapios of Batopedeia, Martyrii of Zelenetski, and Domnina the female Monastic. Amen, kai Amen.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Upside-Down Religion

Check out the offering by David Warren over at Real Clear Religion. It's entitled, We Have an Upside-Down Religion. I won't even quote it; I'll just say, Read it.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

A Child's Voice is Silenced in Tripoli (and on Rutledge) as Planned

Where is the outrage?
Where is the shame at the continued slaughter?
Can we really pretend to be righteous
when innocents die,
murdered by those
who claim authority
and blasphemous right?

What has happened to our consciences
that we bray at the suffering of animals,
yet turn a blind eye to a massacre
taking place here in our sight?

How can we lay ourselves down
to hypocritical sleep
while blood stains the ground
and angels weep?

They cry out to God for help
and we, who claim to be His children,
refuse to hear
the dirge that will one day haunt our memory
and condemn us for complacency
for ever more.

And on that day we will mourn,
O yes, and bewail our inaction
laid naked as sin unto ages.

Let prayer be the start of our work,
not the excuse for our inaction.

Friday, March 04, 2011

What Politics Too Often is in the US

funny pictures - Politics: n - frum Greek
see more Lolcats and funny pictures, and check out our Hipster Kitty lolz!

Especially apropos during tax season.

Which reminds me, if it's tax season why can't we shoot them?

Monday, February 28, 2011

Trouble in Egypt (for Christians)

The Assyrian International News Agency posts this story:

Egyptian Armed Forces Fire At Christian Monasteries, 19 Injured

(AINA) -- For the second time in as many days, Egyptian armed force stormed the 5th century old St. Bishoy monastery in Wadi el-Natroun, 110 kilometers from Cairo. Live ammunition was fired, wounding two monks and six Coptic monastery workers. Several sources confirmed the army's use of RPG ammunition. Four people have been arrested including three monks and a Coptic lawyer who was at the monastery investigating yesterday's army attack.

Monk Aksios Ava Bishoy told activist Nader Shoukry of Freecopts the armed forces stormed the main entrance gate to the monastery in the morning using five tanks, armored vehicles and a bulldozer to demolish the fence built by the monastery last month to protect themselves and the monastery from the lawlessness which prevailed in Egypt during the January 25 Uprising.

"When we tried to address them, the army fired live bullets, wounding Father Feltaows in the leg and Father Barnabas in the abdomen," said Monk Ava Bishoy. "Six Coptic workers in the monastery were also injured, some with serious injuries to the chest."

For the rest of this important story, click here.

Also see the interview with Pope Shenouda recently included by our friend Josephus over at Byzantine Texas.

Incidentally, AINA should be added to your regular reading (as should Byzantine Texas) for more in-depth coverage of the treatment of Christians in many places in the Middle East.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Egypt and the turning point of history.

Over the last couple of weeks we've been following the growing turmoil in Egypt. There are many questions: What is happening? Where is it all going? What does it all mean?

There is also a question about what led to its eruption.

For live coverage, Al Jazeera has an English language web cast available here.

Israel's Haaritz News service has produced a thought provoking deliberation about the place of the Egyptian revolution in the context of the broader Middle Eastern history and the decay of Western hegemony. It is available here under the title "The Arab revolution and Western decline". It is well worth a slow and careful reading.

Of great concern is the fate of Egypt's Christian community, particularly the Coptic Christian community, as events continue to unfold.

The Copts, after all, are the original indigenous population of Egypt, still remembering the old Egyptian language, and having the only other Pope historically recognized by title other than the Patriarch of Rome.

Prayers should be offered for the Egyptians and other Middle Eastern nations currently experiencing the tidal wave of change and uncertainty as events transpire.

Prayers for the non-Moslem population of the region should also be offered as the Copts and other Christians and religious minorities have much to hope for and much to fear as today drifts into a tomorrow that no human hand has yet written. For too many centuries these populations have lived the second-class citizen status that is little more than slavery by another name.

St Mark, St Cyril, St Antony and all Desert Fathers pray for us.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Harsanyi Reconsiders Abortion

Over at, David Harsanyi has contributed a piece encouraging a re-examination of the question of abortion. It is entitled Abortion, Religion, and Science. His basic thesis is that one should honestly look at the science as well as the religious issues involved. I have often made the pro-life argument solely on the basis of biology, genetics, and logic. The debate Mr Harsanyi proposes should be taken up on all sides as the impact on the Abortuary Business could be significant.

Here is a snippet to encourage you to read it:
Does life really begin on the say-so of a single person—even the mother? Does her position or mental state change what a fetus is or is not? That kind of elastic calculation grinds against reason. Even our intuitive reaction to motherhood agrees. As Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who is an ob-gyn, once explained, "people ask an expectant mother how her baby is doing. They do not ask how her fetus is doing, or her blob of tissue, or her parasite."
Read the article here.

Friday, January 14, 2011

New Movie based on Internet Reality Star

(Having myself come from the land far far away, I just had to show support for a fellow Tarheal. Remember Pete the Pistol-packing Possum from Who Framed Roger Rabbit?)

Friday, January 07, 2011

The Myth of a Myth: Complete Update

Patheos presents the first of a promised four article series by James Hannam examining secularist arguments that Jesus Christ never existed. The series is entitled Is Jesus Christ a Myth? Regarding his purpose, Professor Hannahm says

In this four-part series, it is not my intention to study the minutiae of the various arguments. Instead, I will focus on three central contentions often advanced in discussions about Jesus. These are 1) the lack of secular references, which I cover in this installment; 2) the alleged similarities to paganism, which I deal with next; and 3) the silence of St. Paul. Finally, in the fourth part, I will bring all these arguments together to show how ideas similar to those that deny Jesus' existence can be used on practically any ancient historical figure. With this in mind I set out to "prove" that Hannibal never existed.
The first installment argues from a logical and rigorous common sense perspective; something too little seen or appreciated in this politically correct (i.e. Intellectually Censored) age. It's reasoning is concise, and it is not overly long - worthy of the time spent reading it. I, for one, will be looking forward to future installments.

Read it here.

UPDATE: And here is part two.

2nd UPDATE: Here is part three.

3rd UPDATE: Here is part four.

PS, Happy Christmas to all following the New Calendar.

PPS, Christ is born! Glorify Him! to those following the Old Calendar.