Archive for March, 2009

Cute They’re Not!

March 30, 2009

And God blessed [Adam and Eve], and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.     Genesis 1:28

It wears a mask so it must be evil

Anything that wears a mask must be up to no good

I’m gonna be doing me some subduing and dominating this week over the *#@!*&# raccoons who’ve taken over my attic and turned it into their own love shack!   I thought they were so cute walking around on my deck, strolling through my yard, little knowing they’d ripped an enormous  hole in the siding under the eaves and built a nest right above the head of my bed.  I have been up since 3 am today and for the past few days, listening to the costly sounds of raccoon love and even confronting them with a flashlight in my attic (they are not afraid of me one little bit – they just sit their glaring at me, like ‘what ya gonna do about it?’).

Believe me I’m a tree hugger; I majored in Wildlife Science in college, and wanted to make a career saving animals – except, I concede, the two masked terrorists that are destroying my house!   I was sorely tempted to have a cop friend send out the SWAT team, but seeing that might be a little overkill, literally, I’ve opted for live trapping.   Updates coming soon.

Beautiful and Scary

March 28, 2009

Alaskan volcano Mount Redoubt is acting up this week, with explosions and 10 mile-high ash clouds.   If you’re not sure of your geography, Mount Redoubt is located in the Chigmit Mountains in the Aleutian range, about 110 miles southwest of Anchorage.   Here is a great slideshow of additional photos taken this week.

Alaska Volcano

The photo below is of the nearby town of Ninilchik and it’s Transfiguration of the Lord Orthodox Church (founded in 1846; the present temple dates from about 1901).  The snow on the ground and roof are covered in dark grey ash.

Orthodoxy has prayers for everyone and everything, so I wonder if there are special prayers or patron saints that protect from volcanic eruptions?   Among the Roman Catholic dedicated saints, the Martyr Januarius (d. 305 AD and also an Orthodox saint) is recognized as a volcanic intercessor.   I’m thinking if I lived close to a force of nature that could obliterate me off the face of the Earth, I’d have to ask for help from every known saint possible!

APTOPIX Alaska Volcano

Technology Is Taking Over

March 25, 2009

The spirit of Botanicalls is not creating a robotic plant. The spirit of Botanicalls is really re-engaging people with nature and getting them to pay attention.

I think I’ve passed over into official old fart status when I see a new gadget or technology and don’t think ‘hey cool’.   What happened to just sticking your finger in the dirt and seeing if the frikkin thing is dry?  $100 dollars saved and I can then go outside in the fresh air and connect with nature for real.   Next thing you know, they’ll be selling Wii nature hikes and Wii birdwatching.

plant

Fasting Shouldn’t Taste This Good

March 25, 2009

You know it’s 4 weeks into Great Lent when people start obsessing about, talking about or blogging about food.  This was my best Lenten supper creation yet this year:  a Vietnamese-style citrus salad with toasted peanuts and toasted coconut and a stir fry of  Thai red chili  paste, tofu and Japanese eggplant.    I shouldn’t brag but it was delicious, especially the salad.   You know you’ve hit on something when the kids go gaga over tofu.  I personally believe there isn’t anything fish sauce can’t make better  (yeah, I know, fish sauce, Lent…I fast, but I didn’t say I was a good faster.)

thai-viet-lenten-supper

Feast of the Annunciation

March 24, 2009

Below is the evolution of the depiction of the Feast of the Annunciation.  Be thankful you don’t have to see the stuff that popped up on a Google images search I did. Cartoons and “artwork” that was too blasphemous and vulgar for me to re-post here.     Some supposed artist is going to have to do some fancy tap dancing at the Last Judgment to try and explain some of their creations.   By the way, the fourth one down (the pink abstract) was painted by actor Vincent Price in about 1964.  He converted to Roman Catholicism when he married his third wife.  Of all the modernist interpretations, his actually captures a true sense of spirituality.  It’s nothing I’d want to see in a church, but as religious art it is beautiful. 

annunciation

 

embroidered_bookbinding_13th_century_annunciation

 

annunciation-2

 

annunciation-vincent-price_1964

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Archbishop Dmitri Announces His Retirement

March 22, 2009

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The faithful of the Diocese of the South of the Orthodox Church in America were shocked today by Archbishop Dmitri Royster’s announcement of his resignation from the active episcopate effective March 31st. 

Vladyka Dmitri has been the only Archbishop many of us have known in the Diocese of the South and we could never have had a more godly example of Christian leadership and pastoral care.   I remember many visits he made to my parish over the last 17 years and what impressed me so many times was the care he took to make every moment of his short visits an opportunity for teaching the faithful.    I won’t also forget his look of sheer enjoyment when we celebrated special events with a mariachi serenade; if there is ever someone who could be described as having a ‘twinkle in their eye’, Vladyka Dmitri always fit the description.

What a shocking day but not unexpected.  The demands of serving in the episcopacy without a break for forty years would wear anyone out.  God grant you peace and serenity in your well-deserved retirement Vladyka.  We can only hope that you’ll have time to keep writing and instructing us in the Orthodox faith.

Lovely

March 20, 2009

toothless1

My 7 year old looks like a Mountain Dew meth addict.  Guess he’ll be keeping his mouth closed for picture day at school.  He lost two teeth in 24 hours.  I forgot the dollar under his pillow last night, so when he lost the other tooth this evening, we explained to him the Tooth Fairy knew the other one was going to come out and she just figured to roll it into one trip. 

These two really hurt and bled a lot.  He bawled so badly this evening  my husband felt really sorry for him and slipped me a $10 to put under his pillow.  I’m ready to pull some of my own teeth to make that kind of money!

Little League Needs A Stimulus Check

March 17, 2009

Let’s forget about the sucky economy  and who can or can’t afford to buy a new luxury car this year; the unsightly women foregoing their nail jobs and highlights, or the companies dropping the corporate deer lease.  This crisis is finally hitting home when kids can’t play Little League  baseball.

I imagine this news story reflects a reality that is affecting all childrens’ sports programs, after school activities, camping, fishing and scouting programs.  Not to mention the ripple down effect on the stores that sell athletic goods, uniforms, and equipment, or the motels and restaurants that fill up for out-of-town league play or field trips. 

This issue is close to my heart because both my boys have played Little League baseball for years.  I love the family-friendly, quality league we play with, McAllister Park Little League.  This from someone who was not particularly into competitive sports.  I’ve totally come around now that I see how important it is for children to be exposed to the good side of sports and sportsmanship, and strong, encouraging, adult role models.  A coach isn’t just teaching you how to hit a ball or swing a bat; he or she is teaching you what it means to be a responsible adult.

My oldest in Spring 2008

My oldest last Spring 2008

Yesterday was the opening day of the spring  season and my husband and I shuttled my 7 year old to practice then spent the rest of the evening watching my 9 year old’s game.  We chatted with friends under blue skies that faded to deep twilight; a beautiful Spring evening that had the smell of fresh grass and raked sand.  Bats flitted against the lights, deer came out to feed in the new grass at the edge of the fields and Killdeer wheeled low over the outfield and called to their mates.  And every  now and then the ‘chink’ of ball and metal bat and the excited calls and hoots of proud parents.

I see the positive effects of team sports and family involvement at least four days a week and I’m really angry and disappointed that so many kids are going to be deprived of this experience.  I hate to see our kids paying the price for the grown ups’ mismanagement of the economy, but there are so many culprits it’s hard to know who to be mad at.   How do you explain to your child they can’t be in Girl Scouts or play soccer because the failing banks and stock market have affected your take home pay and you can’t afford it?  That life has changed from one school year to the next and the money for family activities just isn’t there anymore?

I can relate to these parents.  Playing ball this year was a conscious choice but not an easy one.    The recession has cut into our income like everyone else, even though we’re fortunate to be in an area that has a low cost of living and a good job base.  We’ve had to make so many cuts and compromises I’m feeling pretty shocked by the whole thing (not to mention sinfully selfish, materialistic and put out with the change in my economic status).  I can totally understand why parents in other sinking areas of the country are being forced to make these hard decisions.  Our out-of-pocket expenses this season for registration fees, new uniforms, cleats, and batting practice hit $475 for two kids.  That’s three weeks of groceries, two electric bills, four months of DSL/phone service or half a mortgage payment. 

So next time you worry about overweight kids who don’t exercise enough or support school budgets that gut physical education programs, and curse the kids who are out tagging fences and burning stuff, remember there was an alternative.  In the long run it’s a lot more expensive for all of us to house and feed that kid in juvenile detention or state prison than it is to support sports programs and after school activities. 

Lesson Learned:  Try your best at all times

Lesson Learned: Try your best at all times

Shame on You Angel Food Ministries

March 9, 2009

angel-food-header-050308

What a sad story  to emerge from what, up to now, had appeared to be a successful and well-run Christian food aid program. 

Georgia-based Angel Food Ministries, founded more than 10 years ago by the Rev. Joseph Wingo and his wife, may have fallen to the same temptation that has crept up on so many other well-meaning  organizations and their founders.    It stands to reason that if Mr. Do Good works hard all day, well, he ought to be able to relax in a big house and buy his wife some nice jewelry and give his kids and relatives entitlement jobs as well.   And then when the law steps in, you end up with three possible explanations for what went wrong: 

1)  It’s a conspiracy.  Doubtful since I’ve always maintained the average organization or government for that matter, is just not smart enough or organized enough to pull it off.  

(2) These people are dumb as proverbial stumps who can’t  learn from the downfall of the last public figure who felt donors wouldn’t mind funding their chamapagne and caviar lifestyle; or

(3) The perpetrators simply think they’re too smart to get caught.  The Jim Bakers and the Benny Hinns all thought they could pull it off too.  Yes, even the leaders of the Orthodox Church in America managed to hide their mismanagement pretty well.  But time, office gossip and the moral conscience of a few good people always win in the end.

For years Angel Food Ministries’ reputation seemed impeccable, and the results of the ministry were to be seen in the thousands of people across the South and Southwest who managed to stretch their monthly meals with the quality foods  distributed by hundreds of associated churches.   My own parish believed in the Angel Food Ministry and we tried very hard last year to become a distributor, but were not accepted due to the close proximity of other church partners.  There’d be a lot of panic right now if we had hungry people at the door and not a lot of answers for them.

Now it would seem that the sins of  greed and inhumanity that placed so many people in the food lines to begin with are about to cut off this badly-needed source of aid.  It’s unconscionable that a Christian minister’s sins hurt so many people who are hurting already.  Spokemen for the ministry say the investigation will not stop food distribution but I just don’t see how they can make that claim.   What wholesaler will sell to them now?  How are the bills getting paid?  And as the economy collapses, who is going to step up to feed all these people?  This is a bad time for dishonesty and fraud, but bad times can bring out both the best and the worst in people.   Shame on you Rev. Wingo and God bless those who keep fighting for the hungry in America.

I believe the vision of Angel Food Ministries is godly but the  organization is going to have to face the music, and God willing it will come through better for it in the end.  In all fairness though, please visit their website and make up your own mind. 

Has the Antiochian Archdiocese Jumped the Shark?

March 6, 2009

simpsons13x17-gump_roast-jumpingtheshark

Did you feel the earth move on February 24, 2009?   

The jolt you felt was the seismic shift under the fragile ground of American Orthodox unity, thanks it would seem, to the  the machinations of the Patriarch of Antioch and the Self-Ruled  Antiochian Archdiocese of North America.  With the issuance of  this decision  by the Holy Synod of Antioch, the Self-Ruled Archdiocese has effectively become a ‘sole-ruled’ diocese under the leadership of Metropolitan Phillip.  The Bishops of the Archdiocese have been demoted to Auxilliary Bishops, and what they are left with in the way of real leadership for their individual dioceses has yet to be defined.  (You’ll note this decision affects all Bishops – worldwide!)

I’ll admit I’m pretty ignorant of the ecclesiastical structure of the Antiochian Archdiocese, Orthodox canon law or ecclesiastical politics.  I’m just a lay person whose opinions are based solely on common sense and the smell test.  For what it’s worth, this decree stinks to high heaven.  It has left me with a feeling of  hopelessness and futility over the promises made 15 years ago at the Antiochian Village.   

Strangely, this trampling of ecclesiastical order has re-affirmed and strengthened my belief in the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church in America and its new leadership.  For all it’s own scandal and dysfunction, there is at least a clear and coherent hierarchy in which each Archbishop knows his role, his responsibilities and his limitations under Metropolitan Jonah.  Will these newly made auxiliary bishops have the the normal freedoms of our OCA Archbishops to plant missions, ordain clergy,  investigate and administer discipline, or any of the normal administrative roles expected of a Bishop? 

Link here to read Metropolitan Phillip’s explanation  for this coup, which sounds more like a paranoid overreaction to the successes and forward thinking of his own Bishops than any kind of heroic rescue of the Archdiocese from a vague threat to its unity.  If he wanted unity for the AAOA, this certainly isn’t going to do it.

What does this all mean in the long run for Orthodoxy in  America?  I pray it doesn’t lead to schism and outright rebellion.  The world is a hard place to understand right now without our Church adding to the grief.   But, as history goes for other events, it might be that the backlash from laity and clergy will in the end lead to more independence for the Church in this country.   Make no mistake – I’m not advocating this – it’s purely speculation.  However, the establishment of so many Antiochian mission parishes over the last decade, their progressive and successful evangelization efforts, the rise of Orthodox internet media and to some extent, the election of Metropolitan Jonah, are all factors that could lead many American Orthodox Christians to stand up and say ‘we aren’t going to take these kinds of slap downs from the old country any more’.    Isn’t that how the American Revolution started?   Change comes when a people’s tolerance reaches the tipping point amid an awakening sense of self-determination. 

Ehh, but what do I know?