Posts Tagged ‘Sarah Palin’

Metropolitan Jonah and Mission Statements

December 23, 2008

For you Metropolitan Jonah-philes out there, see a  new interview posted on the Religion News Service.   I kind of wish everyone would let him move on and talk about something other than his surprising election or his similarities with Barack Obama.   He’s a brilliant person and has a lot more to rehash then how he wasn’t expecting the vote, how his bags were barely unpacked, yata yata.   But it sounds like he’s hitting the ground running and really is moving on.  The next few months will be very busy.

The bishops will be meeting on December 29th for a strategic planning session, part of which will include refocusing on the mission of the OCA.  I’m a little “ehh” about the Metropolitan’s idea of summarizing this meeting into a new mission statement.    I’ve never been a fan of these wordy, lofty-goaled bits of organizational fluff.  Look, I’ve managed to function pretty well as an Orthodox Christian without once ever looking for guidance to the OCA’s existing, ho hum mission statement (and actually I never knew we had one until I just looked it up for this link).  In my opinion, these things always say a lot but mean little and once drafted their only function is to decorate letterheads and business cards.  For example, do you think anyone at this company is really reading their mission statement?

The Mission of United Tobacco Company is to function as the vital link between the best tobacco growers in the world and the best manufacturers in the world. We aim to accomplish our mission by focusing on personal service to our customers; rewarding initiative and creativity; promoting the quality of our grower group; responding to social and environmental challenges; and positively impacting our community.

If you want something more “churchy”, how about this inspiring statement from a non-denominational church somewhere in Alaska (name changed to protect the innocent and rudderless):

At Golly Gee Community Church we’re not about “having it all together” or even pretending we do. We’re just a family trying to grow together toward a God who knows us and can help us put all the pieces of this sometimes bizarre world into perspective. We may not have all the answers but we know someone who does. In fact He not only knows the answers…He made up the questions.

All I can say is wow, now that’s powerful and focused.   And no, I did not cut and paste this from a Saturday Night Live skit – this is not Sarah Palin’s Church.  These folks are seriously missing something if the best they can come up with is this ‘let’s all muddle our way together’  mantra.   At least Sarah Palin’s Wasila Bible Church isn’t messing around – they know where they’re going.  I can’t agree on the path these Christians are taking but their clearly worded Core Commitments make me believe they are not too concerned.

Some of our greatest Orthodox saints drafted their own mission statements.  I’d like to see St. Ephraim the Syrian’s words on a business card

The Church is the salt that salts the whole world, preserving it from putridity.

How about the familiar words of St. Cyprian of Carthage

No one can take God as his Father unless he takes the Church as his mother.

This one is pretty popular in Orthodox circles though I don’t know who first came up with it.

The Orthodox Church is evangelical, but not Protestant. It is orthodox, but not Jewish. It is catholic, but not Roman. It isn’t non-denominational – it is pre-denominational. It has believed, taught, preserved, defended and died for the Faith of the Apostles since the Day of Pentecost 2000 years ago.

Whatever the Synod of Bishops comes up with, I believe it will be and should be centered on the Gospels.   There can be no mission statement greater than Christ’s own words.  Not a short, sweet sound bite of scripture;  not a one sentence summary of what the Church is and isn’t.  You need the whole Gospel, and really the whole of Scripture to summarize the Church and it’s mission.   So if you want to understand the longest, most detailed mission statement  ever written, you’re going to have to come and hear the words in the place where they achieve their truest context – the Divine Liturgy of the Church.

The People Have Spoken

November 5, 2008


It’s 2 am here, the polls closed hours ago, but I suspect the partying will go on long into the night for many people.  I picture President Elect Barack Obama sitting in a quiet corner while all the frenzy goes on around him.  He’s calm, reflective and has a slight smile on his face, letting this all soak in.  He is pondering the past and takes a deep breath as he realizes the huge and awesome weight of responsibility that has suddenly settled onto his shoulders.  Inside, I hope he’s jumping up and down and shouting “Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy”, or at least something a little more emotional than his calm, beneficent demeanor has ever shown.   No matter how you voted, you just can’t help but appreciate what this means personally and historically, both for him and this country.

At every Orthodox Divine Liturgy we ask God to grant mercy and hear our petitions for many earthly concerns, including our government.  In the historically monarchial countries where Orthodoxy was formed, these petitions were for the protection of emperors, kings, and czars.  In America, we ask for the same blessing on our president and all elected officials.

“Again we pray for the President of this country, for all civil authorities…”

In response the people affirm the petition by singing “Lord have mercy”.   Now I’ll be honest – my response to this petition for the last eight years has usually been with the tonal emphasis and rolling of eyes that only one from the South can give to that phrase.  I asked a priest once about what it means to pray this petition for a president that you do not support.   He advised me it doesn’t mean you have to sincerely like the person in office or believe in their policies,  but you do have to pray that he or she will make wise decisions.  So for the past eight years it’s been very easy to pray for our president to make good choices in the same way I ask my kids to eat healthy and play nice.  (‘Dubya’ doesn’t seem to listen any better than my 6 year old though.)  I will certainly not be agreeing with President Obama on everything he does, in particular abortion and other socially conservative life issues, but I can say wholeheartedly that if ever a president needed our prayers Obama will have mine.   

At this point I feel I can disclose how I voted, and why my support of Barack Obama has been so divided.  This year has tested everything I thought I believed in about politics and my political positions.   For one, I have found myself acknowledging that I am more of a Crunchy Con than I thought.  But, I have never supported W and his cronies (is detest too strong a word?).  I believe in the depth of my soul the Iraq War is wrong and I believe Bush will leave office in 2 months still retaining the blind arrogance and self-delusion that he has been right about everything.  And yet, I have had reservations about Obama’s experience and age (at least I did until McCain the Bush Clone chose Sarah Palin).  I have no doubts now after seeing his obvious talent for rallying support and inspiring people to believe in something.   But rather my biggest remaining stumbling block has been his position on abortion and life issues.    So as I stood in that electronic voting booth on Halloween, I just didn’t know what to do.  I filled in all my choices but left the presidential box unchecked.  That red light kept flashing, ‘Vote, Vote, Vote…’  and all the months of indecision came down to one push of the button – vote conscience or vote politics.   I said a prayer and quickly pressed the button before I could change my mind, and just like that I had not cast a vote for either candidate. 

A wasted vote some would say.  But this time I felt I had to follow my conscience on the issue of abortion.  Did I have such an ethical urge four years or eight years ago?  No.  I’d like to think it’s because I have become more conscientious as a voter and as an Orthodox Christian.  Was it fear of the unknown and closet bigotry?   I pray to God it wasn’t.  But passing on the vote wasn’t something I’d considered before I read Rod Dreher’s views on the subject and realized it is an option, not a cop out.   There’s no political analyst out there who’s suddenly panicked because TinaG in Texas chose not to choose.  But God knows.   I just wonder if my principals would have been so cherished in a tightly contested race.  In Texas my choice to not vote had less consequence than in some battleground states, so thank you Lord for not testing me that much!

Let us all pray that the next four years will be a blessing on this country.  Let us pray for our new President and the many difficult decisions and burdens that come with this office.  Let us pray for peace and security and the safe return home of our troops.  And let us pray that our new President’s heart and mind will be enlightened towards the unborn and the evilness of abortion.   Lord have mercy.

Why is Sarah Palin Evil?

September 24, 2008


Does this threaten democracy?

Does this threaten democracy?

What poses the greatest threat to global peace, the basic meaning of the U.S. Constitution, the national economy and the environment?  If your gut reaction was to say George W. Bush you were wrong (well, at least not for the sake of this poll).  The correct answer is Sarah Palin’s womb.  Yes, her womanly parts.  Her very fertility has become a source of mockery, and because she followed a God-given commandment to exercise that fertility, some folks would have you believe she must be fatally flawed as a modern woman and a potential leader.

My whole rant started this weekend when I watched a few minutes of Bill Maher on HBO and he referred to Sarah Palin’s family as “that polygamous compound”.  What an ass.  Then I turned on Saturday Night Live and got really pissed off when their idea of humor was to link Todd Palin and incest, as if their daughter’s problems were this nation’s warped remake of the movie Knocked Up.  Totally, over-the-line asses. 
I’ll be honest; I’m a conflicted Democrat with Crunchy Con leanings.  I don’t think she’s even as qualified as Obama (which isn’t saying much) and I do believe she’d gladly follow McCain into a second Cold War or a Third World War with the whole Middle East.  If someone could only find me a pro-life Democrat for president, I’d be happy.  Given my feelings though, I actually like Sarah Palin as a wife and mother, and as a truer image of what a “feminist” should be than anything out there right now.  She has ridden a populist tsunami precisely because she reflects who the real American feminists are.  They aren’t NOW and NARAL supporters.  They don’t need graduate degrees in women’s studies to know the real meaning of feminity.  They are hard-working, average women who buy their designer clothes at Target, and they believe the true meaning of choice is how you choose to respect life at all its stages:  pre-born, adult, elderly and dying.  Feminism is not the right to be the same as a man, but to be valued for your gender uniqueness – and that includes your role as a mother.  Unless you’re called to a religious or celibate life, God didn’t give you special parts for ornamentation or to fund your OB-GYN’s 401(k) with annual exams of aging, unused equipment.
So how did we get to the point where large families are ridiculed or marketed as freak shows for cable TV?  There are a lot of factors – better health care, legalized abortion, market economics, the development of reliable birth control, yata, yata, yata and just the plain old self-centerdness of a culture that wants it all and has forgotten that the only enduring thing you leave behind is your descendents.  The national fertility rate steadily declined for decades until reaching a 1.7 child per family low point in the 70’s and 80’s according to National Institute of Health Statistics and the U.S. Census.  That had increased to 2.1 by 2006, but that is only a fraction over the replacement value for total births.   Thank goodness for the countless godly families, both Catholic, Orthodox, Evangelical and others, who traditionally put into effect the phrase “be fruitful and multiply”.  (If you want an instruction on the blessings and importance of children to a marriage, read the Orthodox Church’s marriage Service, where no less than seven prayers and intercessions are made for the bearing of children.)  In these faith groups, family sizes of five or more were common just a generation ago.  And, anectdotally, there seems to be an increasing trend across America, towards familes of three or more as reminders to the rest of us that large is not weird, no matter what Bill Maher says.    

Grant them of the fruit of their bodies, fair children, concord of soul and body. Exalt them like the cedars of Lebanon, like a luxuriant vine. Give them offspring in number like unto full ears of grain; so that, having enough of all things, they may abound in every work that is good and acceptable unto Thee. Let them see their children’s children, like olive shoots around their table; so that, finding favor in Thy sight, they may shine like the stars of heaven, in Thee our God. For unto Thee are due all glory, honor, and worship: to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages.   

                              From the Orthodox Marriage Service