Archive for August, 2009

You hear the one about the zombie who staggered into a bar?

August 18, 2009

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I’m relieved to know that university scientists are spending hard-to-come-by research dollars on projects that actually have practical applications

Yes, folks.  Your concerns about the very real threat of badly dressed, brain-eating undead have been heard by science and are answered in a new, ground-breaking study by Canadian scientists at the University of Ottawa and Carleton University. 

And how do we stop a zombie plague?  Do we triage ill zombie patients, provide them with palliative care?  Do we search for a vaccine to reverse the zombie infection.   Nope.  The scientists’ research found only one sure fire course of action:   “…hit them [the undead] hard and hit them often…It’s imperative that zombies are dealt with quickly or else… we are all in a great deal of trouble.”  And that can only mean zombie decapitation.   Says highly degreed professional, Dr. Neil Ferguson, after performing considerable background research, including marathon screenings of  Night of the Living Dead, 28 Days Later, Vengeance of the Zombies, and Chopper Chicks in Zombie Town:  “My understanding of zombie biology is that if you manage to decapitate a zombie, then it’s dead forever.”

All I can say is, I’m so glad this study wasn’t done at Texas A & M University.  You’d never hear the end of  the bad Aggie jokes this would spawn.   “How can you tell the difference between a zombie and an Aggie’s date at the A & M UT football game?……Braaaainsssss, braaaaainssss.”  

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Metropolitan Philip’s Latest Poke at Orthodox Americans

August 15, 2009

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“Every thing that is right or natural pleads for separation. The blood of the slain, the weeping voice of nature cries, ‘tis time to part.”     Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776

There is a character and spirit which defines America and Americans, that imbues their souls, whether they are 6th generation or newly arrived.  It is a sense of self-determination, fairness and individuality.  Not content to blindly follow, they value the freedom to criticize and analyze without fear of censure or violence.   In our Orthodox ecclesiastical structures we do give up a certain amount of our independence, but it is a willing and sacrificial obedience to the teachings of Christ and his Holy Church.   In return we expect our hierarchs, chosen in concert with the Holy Spirit, to lead us without self-interest, malice or pride. 

Sadly, it now appears that Metropolitan Philip of the Antiochian Archdiocese of America has stooped to extortion and heavy-handed vindictiveness to silence his critics and keep the sheep in line.  

It is absolutely shameful to see a spiritual leader act this way.    Is the Metropolitan willing to harm the Church and its inter-jurisdictional relations by playing tit-for-tat with the lives of poor seminarians who aren’t even involved in this affair?  Is the Metropolitan so afraid that the accusations of Mark Stokoe hit too close to home?   Is Metropolitan Philip willing to continue tarnishing  40 years of leadership with these Old School/Old World tactics?  What he continues to do is act like a petty tyrant lashing out at mosquitoes with a full military assault.  It displays paranoia and overblown pride.  The sheep won’t be quiet much longer.  As I’ve written before, the mood surrounding  the whole mess in the Antiochian leadership has the feeling of revolutionary discontent  to it.   Things will reach a tipping point from which there is no going back.

Metropolitan Philip, learn from the British.  They didn’t fare too much better when faced with American resolve.    (Read Metropolitan Philip’s explanation of the seminarians’ move here and make up your own mind whether this “explanation” sounds reasonable.)

The Search Begins For a New Bishop

August 13, 2009

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The website for the Diocese of the South is reporting the news that Metropolitan Jonah has taken the first big step in the search for a new Bishop for the Diocese.  Metropolitan Jonah has been acting as locum tenens i.e. temporary caretaker (Latin, “one holding a place”) since our beloved Archbishop Dmitri retired in the Spring. 

August 12.   With the blessing of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, Locum Tenens of the Diocese of the South (‘DOS’), an Episcopal Search Committee has been established. The Committee was approved at the recently concluded DOS Assembly in Atlanta.

The Search Committee will consist of the DOS deans and the chancellor of the Diocese. Members of the Committee include, Archpriest Philip Reese, Archpriest Peter Smith, Archpriest Ted Pisarchuk, Priest Stephen Freeman, Priest Marcus Burch, Priest Seraphim Hisph and Archpriest Joseph Fester.

The Episcopal Search Committee is scheduled to hold their first meeting in early September.

I’m sure there’s going to be lots of idle speculation, rumors and blatthering from the peanut gallery.  The priests that have been selected are well-known and respected, not just for their administrative skills, but for their spirituality and love of the Church.  

The best we can do is to pray for them and the hard work they’re undertaking.  Filling the shoes of Archbishop Dmitri is going to be difficult but with the guidance of the Holy Spirit I believe they will find worthy candidates. 

Troy Polamalu On Faith, Family (and Football)

August 11, 2009

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Without a question, my greatest wish would be for [my son] to understand the spiritual struggle and to be a pious Orthodox Christian.

Amen Troy. 

It’s a human weakness to feel a vicarious pride in the accomplishments of our children.  From Day One we’re always looking for signs of excellence and, more often than not, the measure of our children’s progress is made against other children and their parents.  It’s selfish and self-centered, and some would say it’s just a result of Darwinian natural selection.  But how many of us parents, Orthodox or of any Christian faith, measure our children’s success in terms of their relationship with Christ and their faithfulness to his Holy Church?  And when our children graduate from high school and go out into the world, will we also measure our success as parents by their careers and income or by their devotion to prayer and an active church life?

I so feel Troy Polomalu’s desire for his son to be a pious Orthodox Christian.  It is the only burning desire I have for my own two sons.  When I first became a parent I agonized over raising children with a spouse that was and remains completely closed off to the Orthodox faith.   For so many years I’ve felt like a windbreak in a howling gale, protecting the tiny flame of faith I’ve tried to catch in my children.   As long as I’m nurturing that flame I have hope, but the scary part is when you realize that you’ll have to stand up and move away.  Whether or not that flame continues to burn is dependent to some degree on the fuel you fed the flame with, but I think the harder part of letting go is accepting your children’s own free will and openess to the Holy Spirit.   Sadly, some may want to light new fires of their own or even let their flame die out.   I worry that despite all my efforts, my kids may do just that, and then what?  Will I accept their choices or rage against their free will?   Parenting is surely a cross in its own way.

Do not miss reading the rest of Troy Polomalu’s interview with Pittsburgh Magazine.  Every Orthodox parent in America needs to read this interview and take to heart a commitment to the spiritual lives of our children.   There is an eternity of consequence at stake here.  Football may be a game but the salvation of our children (and ourselves) is not. 

Summer Doldrums

August 6, 2009

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Why the light posting the last two weeks?  Well, I guess you’d call it the summer doldrums.  The South Texas, hot-as-hell, bone dry, dead and dying summer doldrums to be exact. 

I’m a firm believer that snow is very clearly mentioned as one of God’s biblical curses; that any Christmas I can’t celebrate in shorts and Birks is too cold; and Seasonal Affective Disorder is plain medical proof that not enough sun is gonna kill ya.  But come on now!   Enough is enough even for me.

If you’ve been ignoring the news lately, you wouldn’t know that since June 1st, San Antonio has busted 40 days of temps 100 degrees or higher with no real measureable rain.  (We’re actually about 28 inches short on rainfall since January 2008)   It’s so hot that when it cools down at night to 90 or 91 (by about 10 pm), I put on my sweat pants.  It’s so hot, my car’s outside thermometer reads 133 degrees in the grocery store parking lot.   And, it’s so hot, I was web-surfing today through the real estate listings in Alaska, fantasizing about relocating somewhere with green grass and other living things.  (Rod Dreher actually got me thinking about Alaska since he’s lecturing at the Eagle River Institute this week and posting really annoying things  about the beautiful weather.   Smarty pants – ya gotta get on that plane sometime Rod and Dallas is juuuust waiting for ya!)

If you’re planning on a little trip to SA this month, be prepared, ’cause August is traditionally our hottest month.   But it’s true that once you hit 102 or 103, temps higher than that just don’t feel too much worse.   Try and tell this to the tourists I see on the river boats cruising down the San Antonio Riverwalk everyday.  They have a grim look that says “why am I spending $250 per day on a hotel room in the ante-chamber of Hell?”   On the other hand, the street preachers are making a powerful impact expounding on the fire and brimstone of Revelations.   The wages of sin never seemed so manifestly real as they do in the Texas Summer of 2009.