Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Turkey Reacts to Patriarch Bartholomew

December 21, 2009

Well, here’s no surprise – Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu doesn’t like what Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has to say about the persecution of Christians in Turkey and their taking up of the Cross.   He “graciously” allowed His Holiness  an opening for apology and back pedaling when he said

We regard the use of the crucifixion simile as extremely unfortunate…. I would like to see this as an undesired slip of the tongue.

If you watched the achingly sad interview you’ll know that every word Patriarch Bartholomew used was carefully and thoughtfully chosen for just the message it conveyed – a passive-aggressive and unreasonable government that unfairly singles out the remnants of a conquered ethnic group that just won’t go away fast enough.  One thing that so affected me about the interview was the poignancy of Patriarch Bartholomew, the leader of the last remaining Byzantine Greeks, trying to preserve the faith in what was once their own country, oppressed by the muslim descendents of what were once faithful Orthodox Christians.  It’s the same feeling you get with the Copts – how galling that they are a minority in their own country, under persecution by those who, centuries before, were once Copts themselves.

60 Minutes also posted a couple of extra videos that further highlight the de-Christianization of Turkey and the land of Palestine.   These two clips reinforce the sadness and thorough way in which Islam has supplanted the Christian faith in the Holy Land and Turkey.  It is not the “truth” of Islam at work, but the Great Deceiver working through the tide of history, conquest and persecution. (By the way, Dr. Maria C. Khoury, seen in the interview in Taybeh, Palestine, is a popular author of children’s books and a tireless supporter of the last remaining Orthodox Christians in the Holy Land.  Pray for her and for the Christians of Taybeh.)  

For an earlier post, click here to go to Patriarch Bartholomew on 60 Minutes

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Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on 60 Minutes

December 18, 2009

This Sunday, December 20th at 7 p.m. EST / 6 p.m. CST, His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew will be interviewed on 60 Minutes about the Church and the difficulties it faces in Turkey.   The short trailer   surprised me and I hope it reflects the tone of the whole segment.  I’ve never heard His Holiness speak so directly about the oppression the Church endures.   Patriarch Bartholomew, aside from being a religious leader, is a well-versed politician.  His politically sensitive words always seem chosen to keep him balanced between drawn knives.  This interview is sure to raise someone’s blood pressure.

While I’m at odds with the Patriarch’s moves to control the American diaspora and his media-fueled elevation to the role of Orthodox “pope”, I still respect him as an Orthodox Patriarch and can certainly understand where he’s coming from on this issue.  This is a fight for the very survival of the Christian faith in one of its oldest communities, and fighting these days is about media presence.

I hope this news story will do some small part to expose the true nature of the Turkish government even while it scrambles to put its best face on for the EU admission process.  What I think is obvious is that the Turkish government and the country’s rising Muslim fanaticism will finish off the Turkish Christian minority in the 21st century if something drastic is not done soon. 

If you’re thinking this is overreaction, how about a plot by Turkish naval personnel to kill a target list of approximately 939 non-muslims and to bomb homes and places of worship.  Or  the Syriac Orthodox priest ordered under threat of death by muslim extremists  to tear down his church’s bell tower as reparation for the Swiss minaret ban.  I’ve got a limit here or I could give you a hundred more examples of threats, attacks, vandalism, and discrimination directed against Christians in Turkey.    

So by all means, European Union, admit Turkey and see what you get.  

The Nobel Peace Prize?

October 9, 2009

APTOPIX Nobel Peace Prize Obama

Was I sleeping the last nine months when President Obama brought peace to the Middle East or finally got us out of Iraq and Afghanistan?   Or was it the democratic revolution in North Korea?  According to Nobel Peace Prize Committee Chairman Thorbjoern Jagland, Obama qualifies for this most prestigious award for accomplishments in the field of peace and justice by making us all feel good.   Speaking at a news conference (during which time the Committee also proposed renaming the Nobel Peace Prize, the Grand Exalted Medal for Wishful Thinking, Great Aspirations and Undelivered Promises), Jagland said

Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future.

Well, hope is a good thing considering the last 8 years of criminal incompetence we’ve been through.  But awarding a Nobel Prize for perceptions and good feelings?   This fact wasn’t lost on Polish activist Lech Walesa, who didn’t just inspire a hope of changing the Communist system of 1980’s Poland, but actually did it in the streets and factories of Gdansk.  Mr. Walesa said in his straight-talking style

So soon?  Too early.  He has no contribution so far. He is still at an early stage.  He is only beginning to act.

Well, at least President Obama now has something to shoot for.  If I were given a big fancy medal for contributions I’d not yet made, wouldn’t you think I’d kick it into high gear?  No pressure Mr. President.  You’re just in the unenviable position of being the young, untested race horse who’s name’s been engraved on the winner’s cup before the starting gun has even gone off.

Year of the Bible

May 22, 2009

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You know American society has gotten off the track when it takes a politician to propose a government-sanctioned recognition of the Bible and it’s place in American history.  Oh wait…flashback to the good ol’ days of New Wave music, the Cold War and the Moral Majority, and you’ve got the Year of the Bible 1983.  Apparently it’s been so long since we’ve had a Year of the Bible that Americans have forgotten how important the scriptures are. 

President Ronald Reagan first thought America ought to honor it’s debt to the Good Book, and as quick as you could say “Gorbie, the bombs are on the way”, Proclamation 5018 was signed.    I was 21 at the time and you know, I don’t recall 1983 as the year America en masse became a devoutly Christian nation again.  Churchgoers still went to church; Americans who already read their Bibles were doubly grateful to God for something they already knew was special to them, and all the rest –  the atheists, Democrats, the Church-Staters, got themselves in a hot-and-bother that lasted about as long as a music video hit on MTV.   When the new year rolled around again, people were more aware of the irony that, in the midst of the Cold War and fears of nuclear holocaust, it was also the year of George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four

I don’t want to argue that appreciating the Holy Bible is unimportant, because as an Orthodox Christian I think it is the unique and God-given written tradition of the Christian faith and the written revelation of God’s salvation of mankind.   I challenge someone to show me a greater devotion to and veneration of the Bible than is found in the Orthodox Church.   Our services are primarily composed of the scriptures.  We sing them, we pray them, we hear them preached.   We venerate, we kiss, we bless ourselves with the Gospel book itself as the written icon of Christ, the Logos or Incarnate  Word of God.    The Christian faith, ergo, the Bible,  is the foundation of traditional American society and Western democracy.   But as America struggles with recession, joblessness, and heavy-handed political correctness in an increasingly secular, liberal and pluralistic society, I think the general feeling is that this is a pretty ho-hum piece of legislation.   Oh, the Right is going to push this as a return to the glory principles of God-fearing America; the Left is going to get all riled up with anti-Christian brain bashing, and the sum effect is going to be a big ‘who cares’.    Efforts like this rarely seem to make much of a difference.   We already set aside whole months for cholesterol education, camping safety, dental hygiene, gay and lesbian history, and even procrastination (December).   The only one I seem to be honoring to its fullest is Procrastination Month.

My “appreciation” of the Bible and it’s place in American society is in my freedom to attend Church, to evangelize for what I believe is the True Faith, to speak or blog about my beliefs, and criticize or comment about whomever and whatever I want.   I believe in

The Holy Scripture [as] the domain of Wisdom, Word and Spirit, of God in the Trinity: in it He clearly manifests Himself: ‘The Words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life,’ (St. John 6:63) said the Lord…In Holy Scriptures we see God face to face, and ourselves as we are. Man, know thy self through them, and walk always as in the presence of God.

                                  St. John of Kronstadt (My Life in Christ: Part 1)

The Holy Bible is more than a political tool (though funny how it gets used as one all the time).  The great early 20th Century Serbian Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich states in his Prologue From Ochrid, what the Bible clearly is and what it means for mankind:

The word of God is food for the soul. The word of God is both strength and light for the soul…. All the saints emphasized the necessity of reading the Holy Scriptures. St. Seraphim of Sarov says: ‘The soul must keep itself nourished with the word of God; because the word of God is, as St. Gregory the Theologian says, the bread of angels that feeds the soul that is hungry for God. Most of all we must read the New Testament and the Psalms. The understanding is enlightened by these. It is a very good thing to read the word of God in solitude, and to read the entire Bible with understanding. God gives a man His mercy for undertaking this exercise more than for other good deeds, and He fills him with the gift of comprehension. When a man nourishes his soul with the word of God, then he is filled with the understanding of good and evil.

 Can I suggest that instead of creating some hokey year of the Bible, why not spend the next year reading it instead

 

Greyson’s Law Headed for Senate Committee

April 27, 2009

greyson

The Morris Family’s unrelenting determination and faith have brought them one step closer to ensuring newborns in Texas receive the best possible future.  Greyson’s Law, now being considered in both the Texas House (Bill 1795) and the Senate (Senate Bill 1720) would mandate  more comprehensive medical screening for every newborn in Texas.  Currently in Texas, only 27 diseases are on the screening profile although the American College of Medical Genetics recommends testing for 54 treatable disorders; Greyson’s Law would raise that to 47, at a minimum of cost to the State of Texas.   This won’t put us at the forefront of progressiveness, but I think most Texans would agree we just can’t accept being ‘fair to middlin’ anymore on issues of public health.  

On Tuesday, April 21st the first committee hearing for HB 1795 was held in front of the House Public Health Services Committee, and Bill and Nicole Morris were there  to ‘put a face’ on the cost of inadequate newborn screening.  It is Greyson’s beautiful face that has, unfortunately, become the image of children loved and lost to genetic illnesses.

While House Bill 1795 is now under consideration, the identical, companion bill in the Senate, Bill 1720, is now also set for its first hearing  tomorrow,  April 28th, before the Health and Human Services Committee.   It is vital that members of the Committee understand the widespread support this bill is gaining among the public and why it is so important that it be favorably considered on Tuesday.   A well-informed and well-attended Committee meeting will be a huge boost to the eventual passage of Greyson’s Law.  I am encouraging everyone to contact the members of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and let them know how you feel about Greyson’s Law.  Committee members can be contacted by a very easy to fill-out email form at the links below: 

Committee Chair, Senator Jane Nelson, District 12

Vice Chair, Senator Bob Deuell, District 2

Member, Senator Joan Huffman, District 17

Member, Senator Robert Nichols, District 3

Member, Senator Dan Patrick, District 7

Member,  Senator Eliot Shapleigh, District 29

Member, Senator Carlos Uresti, District 9

Member, Senator Royce West, District 23

Member, Senator Judith Zaffirini, District 31

To learn more about Greyson Morris and his amazing life, visit Bill and Nicole’sblogs or go to Hunter’s Hopefor samples of emails (right hand links section) you can send to both the House and Senate Committees to encourage them to vote for Greyson’s Law.  It’s easy and it won’t take long for you to make an impact.   (15 minutes – that’s all it took for me to email each of the Senate Committee members at the links above.   That’s 3 games of Snood;  that’s time better spent than watching You Tube videos or reading silly blogs)

Obama’s Field Trip to Hagia Sophia

April 7, 2009

Come along this week on the official Obama tour of Hagia Sophia – the greatest cathedral the world has ever seen.   (Bet no one bothered to ask the Ecumenical Patriarch if he wanted to go along for the bus ride.)   Wouldn’t you love to have heard the #*%! spin they put on the Fall of Constantinople and the wonderful way in which they’ve respected the rights and religious freedom of their Orthodox subjects.  It has been reported that  President Obama mentioned to the Prime Minister Erdogan that it would be a nice reflection of Turkey’s readiness for EU membership if they allowed the re-opening of the Halki Theological School .  (Isn’t he like the third US President to bring this up?)

Mr. President - as you can see, we respect our Orthodox minority - they can come to visit here anytime they want.

"Mr. President - as you can see, we respect our Orthodox minority - they can visit here anytime they want. As long as they don't pray."

"Look there Mr. President, that is the exact spot where the infidel Patriarch was butchered in 1453."

"The gift shop is right over there Mr. President. We have a nice selection of commemorative prayer rugs and t-shirts. My personal favorite is the one that says 'Keeping it real since 1453'.

"Well, Mr. President, how do you like what we've done with the place?"

"Well, Mr. President, how do you like what we've done with the place?"

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

Remember The Holy Innocents

December 29, 2008

holyinnocents

Today the Orthodox Church honors the Holy Innocents.  Please remember the 14,000 baby and toddler boys killed by order of King Herod 2000 years ago, and the thousands of children that will die this very day from the hands of abortionists.   And if you must argue the difference between living babies and ‘fetuses’, than you won’t believe the unborn have no less humanity and value than the children that died by the sword in their mothers’ arms.

Mumbai Terror Attacks

November 27, 2008

g-081126-cvr-fire-220p_grid-6x3

I’d love to see a day go by that wasn’t defined by evil and hatred.  The news is reporting wide-scale attacks and bombings against hotels and a train station in Mumbai, India, and the taking of many hostages.  This world is truly going crazy. 

Whoa, I Think I’ve Gone Blind

November 6, 2008

obama_victory_unicorn

This is just too weird for comment, but I thought I’d pass it on as we see a new school of political iconography pop up.   Those Che Obama posters aren’t looking too bad now are they?  (By the way, this picture was from the front page of an online Belgian newspaper, so blame it on European sensibilities.)