ROUNDUP: Fitzmas II et cetera

Remember Fitzmas carols?!  They’re singing U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s praises again for accusing Rod Blagojevich – remember, innocent till proved guilty, and it’s possible not all us Eastern Orthodox Christians are saints (yet!) – but let’s remember all we got out of him in the Plamegate Treason case was a token conviction of Scooter Libby who took the fall for probably Cheney and many other scum, then walked unconstitutionally.  I have a feeling Blago’s right, and we haven’t seen the end of this, and there’s more to be revealed.  Meanwhile let’s get the Bu’ushists on their way out the West Wing, so they don’t get away with all their High Crimes, and nobody else in the future thinks they will either….

Did you hear about the White Racist vigilantes during Katrina in New Orleans killing poor Blacks escaping the flooding Lower Ninth Ward while cops batted an eye?  Me neither.  (Yeah, OK, it’s Katrina vanden Heuvel from The Nation….)  Sign the petition.

Did you hear Orthodox, former Evangelical bigwig, Frank Schaeffer sounding almost like a progressive conservative?!!!  (What those he calls “conservatives” and “progressives” have in common is Classical Liberalism, as he articulately characterizes without using the term.)  Alright, a pissed one, who forgot in that particular article to take some of the blame himself for driving the Religious Wrong all these years.  (That may be in his new autobiography, thankfully.)  He owes most of us a big honkin’ apology, quite frankly (no pun intended).  But, hell, welcome aboard, Franky, the water’s warm!  Besides, you’re my brother in Christ now, so I have to forgive you.  Do any of us get to retract our mistakes (or any do-overs, to use W’s typically-childish boxball analogy)?

Cheney: If President does something during war, it’s legal.  “Go F*@# yourself,” “Dick”!  Or let your cellmate do that for ya….

Finally, for something completely different(?), “Ten Ways to Make Your Kids More Likeable (and Yourself Too)” or something like that.  Happy Solstice!

Feed everyone

The Orthodox Herald in December pointed to recent statements by the Popes of Rome – John Paul and Benedict* – that we have a moral obligation to provide food and water – “nutrition and hydration” the doctors call it – to patients in a “vegetative state.”  (I guess if babies in the womb are no longer babies in the womb, food and water is merely “medical treatment”….)

But IOTM that what we have is a moral obligation to provide food and water to EVERYONE unable to provide it for themselves!  Whether they’re paralyzed, sick, poor, unemployed, frail, Disabled, children, drought-stricken, plague-stricken, unlucky or unskilled in agriculture, fulltime parents, mentally ill, retarded, insufficiently intelligent, underpaid, whatever.  We have so much wealth…!  And as St. Basil the Great said, Whatever of it we don’t need belongs to the needy.

How about a little human solidarity, love, sharing, generosity, philanthropy (yes, even in your voting and lobbying and taxpaying … unless you can come up with a better way), “consubstantiality,” God-like-ness (Think about “the liberality** of God“!), self-discipline, etc.?

(*–The O.H.’s readership includes Eastern Catholics [“Uniates”] in communion with Rome, traditionally possessing Orthodoxy theology, liturgy, spirituality, etc. … just not part of The Orthodox Church.)

(**–That’s liberality, not liberalism!)

Kosovo II

Lemme make sure I got this straight: Serbs and Albanians go to war inside Serbia, we take the Albanians’ side, bomb Serbia back to the Stone Age, dismember their country … and threaten to hold their government ministers “personally responsible” when their people by the hundreds of thousands don’t take it lying down?  Serb Christians, and Albanian Muslims – some of whom have been implicated in international Islamic terrorism and insurgency IIRC?

What are we gonna do, kidnap them?  “Rendition” them to Poland?  (Romania won’t work this time because they’re Orthodox like the Serbs, and not thrilled with our “Balkanizing” their neighborhood.)  Afghanistan?  Egypt?  Syria?  Israel?

Look, what we’ve done to Serbia in another time would be ACTS OF WAR.  Sure, we have the nukes and bombers (and we have schoolkids write Happy Easter on bombs before dropping them … on Orthodox Easter … while we honor Ramadan and Eid) and NATO and the EU (not looking down your noses at “Old Europe” just now, are ya) … but does might make right?  Excuse bad faith negotiations?  What, was the Treaty of Dayton too difficult?

What was the better solution?  At least trying good faith peace and final status negotiations.

Time/Putin, ‘the rest of the story’

With apologies to Paul Harvey, this commenter on another blog offers useful counterpoint to the Bu’ushist propaganda we’re getting on Russian President Vladimir Putin from Time Magazine and other sources official and (supposedly) unofficial.  Prior commitments delay any analysis I may contribute here myself on Time’s “Person of the Year” edition.

By way of preview (maybe), I don’t wanna channel Samuel Huntington here, but Russia IS different from the Catholic (Latin) and Protestant West, the Rationalized Capitalist West, the earlier-industrialized – and longer-suffering therefrom – West, the Classical Liberal West, etc. … and many Russians like the difference overall!  You know what Russians have always called contiguous land to their west?: EUROPE!  Now, (Western) geologists consider the ethnic heartland of Russia part of the continent of Europe, but Russians have always been conscious of a difference, Westernizing influences of such Western “heroes” as Peter and Catherine “the Great” – equally “Autocrats” with Ivan the Stern (whom the West never fails to call “Terrible”), Nicholas II, and everyone else in-between – notwithstanding.  But seemingly even “neocons” think a little autocracy, pogrom, persecution, purge, repression, national betrayal, apostasy, anti-democracy, etc., in pursuit of Westernization – or at least pro-Americanism – is AOK – just like in newly-Democratic Iraq, newly-Democratic Palestine, newly-Democratic Afghanistan, Democratic Kenya, “Liberalizing” China, the “Republic” of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, formerly-dictatorial Taiwan and South Korea and the Philippines and South Vietnam and Nicaragua and Panama and Argentina and Chile and Brazil and so on and so on and so on.

If there’s no objectivity involved in such allegedly professional analysis, let’s not pretend, but be up-front about our biases, OK?  But then aren’t you playing into the hands of the “post-modernists” who say there’s no objective truth?!!

One thing Russia does have, as they’re reminding us to their chagrin, is Orthodox Christianity, which isn’t afraid of objective truth, unlike their hardline Catholicism and Protestantism and “militant secularism.”  Their own Orthodox heritage, that of the West, generally ended around 1,000 years ago, just as Russia’s began in earnest.  And many of their ancestors hadn’t been Christian long enough to be Orthodox more than a fraction of the time most Russians have been.

I will say this for now: Orthodoxy’s role in a country is no more to stand up for Westernization / Americanism – what they sometimes call Snickerization (Russ. snickerizatsiya, similar to other cultures’ Disneyfication, etc.) – than for anything else other than The Truth, The Faith, The Common Good as they, limited human beings, see it, experientially guided by the All-Holy Spirit of God, One of the Trinity.  And many Russians have had quite enough of Western innovations – the Filioque, Papal supremacy, Uniatism, philosophizing, high-falutin intelligentsia of the West’s left OR right, Marxism, industrial slavery, Communism (aka “militant atheism”), the constant threat of American nuclear annihilation known as the (First) Cold War, Rationalized Capitalism, “militant secularism,” the current Second Cold War(?), etc etc etc.

Maybe I really am starting to become Orthodox, because I read Putin quotes and know what he’s talking about or hinting at, when it’s clear over their heads!  Maybe they should consult Orthodox when covering or analyzing Orthodox countries, cultures, histories, leaders, persons … and The Church itself of course!!!

Almsgiving IS charity

Though our “puritans” of today probably won’t take it from the Pope of Rome!  Not only is it good for the needy and objectively a good idea, but a good spiritual discipine, encouraging detachment from things, and actual “participation in the Divine Life” (as the Good Book says, I think in an Epistle of St. Peter) – which may be why the Lord said, “It is more blest to give than to receive.”  Which is why Rationalized Capitalism and Trickle-down/Voodoo Economics is the exact opposite of Christianity … not to mention very bad for you, eternally speaking!

Almsgiving is the soul of charity!

Israel: a Mideastern country?

Has Israel become a Middle Eastern country?

I think we’re used to thinking of it as a sort of European / American island in that region, kind of a Jewish / semi-Anglophone version of the former French Lebanon.  But has it turned more into a Jewish version of, say, Syria, or Egypt?

Christians are certainly freer to be Christians in (secular) Ba’athist Syria, as they were in (secular) Ba’athist Iraq, than they are in Israel, or (Islamist) Bu’ushist Iraq for that matter.  But even generally, Israel’s treatment of dissidents, ‘liberals,’ peaceniks, or even Reform Jews, nevermind the overwhelming majority of law-abiding Arabs in Israel Proper and the West Bank (Gaza is clearly currently a special case, though even there, they’re way excessive), is really wanting.  “Democratic island”?  Sure, there are elections, and discos, and newspapers, and kibbutzim, and multiple political parties (in this last sense more democratic than America).  But not so much on human rights after all: ask Mordechai Vanunu.  [That’s Vanunu, not Sununu!]  Speaking of him, Israel is the only clear and present nuclear weapons danger in the region (besides the Bush regime), and (like the Bush regime) has frequently threatened to attack Iran (admittedly, no poster-child).  Conventionally, Israel has frequently invaded or attacked Lebanon, occupying its southern portion for a generation, accomplishing nothing while doing so.  And it has shown consistent bad faith in its relationship with the incipient Palestinian State, and with the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem (Greek-ruled, but traditionally predominantly-Palestinian in makeup), the Mother Church of Christians.

Rogue state?  Typical bully, if a formerly abused bully?

In the end, very like many other Mideastern countries?

Huckabee crossed a picket line; Late night shows

…even if he doesn’t want to admit it.  When he went in a back door to appear on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno to avoid “crossing a picket line,” he either didn’t know or didn’t care that you don’t have to physically walk through a barricade of striking workers to “cross a picket line.”  All you have to do is help a struck workplace perform struck work.  IIUC, Leno, who is himself a Writers’ Guild member and theoretically still on strike, believes as long as he ad-libs and doesn’t “write,” he’s not scabbing himself.  But IIUC, the Guild – who are supposed to be his authority in such matters – disagrees, and was indeed picketing the taping of his show.  (If the Guild kicks Jay out, he’d be barred from writing for his own show!)  If Huckabee really supports the writers, he should’ve foregone the temptation to make political hay by going on Jay’s first new show since the strike began, on the eve of the Iowa straw poll.  But he either doesn’t understand, or doesn’t really care.

Catholic theologian David Tracy and sociologist Andrew Greeley have a theory that might explain Rev. Huck’s behavior.  They say Protestants have a congenital difficulty comprehending analogy – the idea that something is like something else – rooted in their Biblicism and centuries-long opposition to Latin-Rite Catholic material “sacramentalism.”  Thus, Huck wouldn’t have understood that the taboo against “crossing a picket line” isn’t necessarily literal.  It has nothing to do with a face-to-face challenge to the picketers on-duty at that moment, and everything to do with the total aim of the job action by all the employees.

Then again, maybe it’s just because he’s a Republican … which may be the same thing.  Greeley tells the one about the two old Irish-American ladies in Chicago: One says, “I hear Alderman O’Leary has become a Republican.”  The other replies, “Ridiculous!  Wasn’t I after seeing him in church just last Sunday?!”  😉

Of course, Leno calls himself a Catholic of some kind….  Conan O’Brien and Carson Daly, too.  (Daly even majored in Theology at Loyola Marymount … calling into question the Jesuit education available there!!)  So I guess we should boycott them and their advertisers!?  (I must confess that, last night, eating at a turnpike service area, their two TVs were blaring Fox News and O’Brien/Daly. Tough choice. I went with the latter, for which may God have Mercy on me! In Orthodoxy, we seek forgiveness even in a dilemma, rather than seek to justify ourselves before God – before Whom no creature can justify himself. But I saw it as the lesser of two evils!)

Catholic Dave Letterman* did the right thing, reaching an “interim agreement” with the Guild on behalf of himself and Craig Ferguson (aka Worldwide Pants Inc.), before returning to production.

(*–As Dave told fellow Catholic Ray Romano a year or two ago, “I have a season ticket, but I don’t make it to all the games.”)

U.S. liberals’ progressive conservatism(!)

To hear “conservative” politicians and “pundits,” we try to get government to help the needy, sick, and disabled, as a way of buying their votes, that is, bribing them.  Same with labor and workplace rules for workers and unions … public education for kids(?) and the teachers’ unions … a little more social justice, for city people’s, women’s, people of color’s, immigrants’, and gay people’s votes … reduced censorship and looser broadcast content guidelines for, well, pornographers’ and bohemians’ and atheists’ votes, I guess … Evolution and equality and compassion in said public schools, for, I dunno, Unitarians’, “social engineers’,” and wimps’ votes? … environmentalism for the treehuggers’, EarthFirsters’, and eco-terrorists’ votes … “well-regulated” firearms control for the “jack-booted thug” vote I guess? … and peace, for the huge Muslim vote in this country!

They talk as if we’ve all devoured the Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital, the Quran, Gustavo Gutierrez and Chairman Mao and Madalyn Murray O’Hair, all ‘baddies’ like that.  We’re all free-loving, swinging, acid-dropping, rock-and-roll-listening(!), non-breeding stereotypes from the ’60s – just like they sound!

With my own life’s study and observation, I think the large number of native-born Americans – I don’t have alot of in-depth exposure to Americans born elsewhere at this time – being American (small-R) republicans, *are* somewhat ‘ideological,’ very much attached to the words of this country’s individual liberties, to the vote (preferably free and clean and counted correctly – How hard is that?!), to the Constitution of 1787 as amended and generally as interpreted, and to our accustomed, historical/evolved form of Rationalized Capitalism.  I also think the large number of them, being what might be called center-left in social ethics(!), or such awful terms like ‘caring’ or ‘sensitive’ or ‘polite,’ also believe this status quo isn’t perfect yet, has generally been getting better through the labor of alot of people in our society over the years, and can always be tweaked and improved: “Our best days are yet to come.”  We care about the Common Good, generally for those worse-off than ourselves in this country and abroad, even those different from ourselves.  On a personal basis we are the most philanthropic in the world (though as I’ve said, that may be in part because morally we have to be, since per population or economy, our government is not; in any case, it’s not enough to meet the need and the Common Good).  We generally support fairness especially to those worse-off, even some extra help if they really need it and we can give it.  Our biggest problem is such a disconnect with our government that we always feel overtaxed, but when we’re correctly informed, we’re often even ready to adjust our stances in politics, economics, ecology, society, etc., not because we “flipflop,” but because we discover we didn’t know as much as we thought we did about this or that situation.  It’s a big country, after all, and an even bigger world!

Therefore, when our critics and (supposed) ‘betters’ accuse us of mere cynical angling for power for power’s sake, such charges are patently false.  We don’t wage “class war,” though some of us seek to *end* the one being waged against us!  And we certainly didn’t make up Global Warming because we thought it’d put us back in power, but we espouse doing what we can about it because we just don’t want the planet to FRY as much over the next couple thousand years!!!  I don’t want to engage in potentially false gainsaying, but in the era of Karl Rove, it seems our critics doth protest too much!

In fact, IOTM that the large number of native-born Americans display qualities of progressive conservatism or Red Toryism, of a kind not entirely unlike what I’m constantly discussing in this blog!  Obviously relatively few have studied the British, Canadian, and Australian constitutions and legal and political systems, or other comparative government, or consider themselves Monarchists at this time, or explicit critics so much of Classical Liberalism or Modernity, or, obviously, Orthodox Christians.  But this is only to be expected in an environment of over two centuries of school and media brainwashing.  But the large number of native-born Americans show signs of convinceability, if the truth, the facts, the history and the causes of things, can be gotten out to them, and they can be reminded to think carefully before they vote or lobby, and to remember that what unites us is far greater than whatever may be perceived as dividing us.  Their real ‘conservatism’ manifests itself as it is able, in a country where we exiled or suppressed our true Classical Conservatism, and where heartless, brainless, even unFaithful and traitorous actions masquerade under the name of “conservatism” today.  Actually, as I recently read someone else suggest, we are the ones, in the absence of any other relatively-viable alternative at this time, seeking to ‘conserve’ what good there may be from the republic as described above, while our critics and ‘betters’ defy the agreed Constitution, undermine its interpretation, neuter Congress and the States, and risk “World War 3” several times over, in the last few years alone.

Which is why I blog.

OTOH, our critics are the ones who show signs of blind faith in innovative, false, artificial, unrealistic, inhumane, lethal, unChristian, Classically Liberal and Modernist ideologies … of hypocrisy, cynical manipulation, divisiveness, and incivility … of sinister agenda on behalf of a minority of vested interests … of moral and ethical corruption … of military, foreign policy, fiscal, and intelligence-management malfeasance, misfeasance, and/or nonfeasance … of lost Sovereignty over our own and other countries’ created corporations … of “voodoo economics” which basically are the single biggest cause of most of our people’s real material problems for the whole last generation, such as increased hunger and homelessness, falling wages and health-care coverage and assistance to the needy, rampant profiteering and offshoring instead of the promised reinvestment of corporate and wealthy tax giveaways, etc.

Obit: First Nations “Picasso,” shaman

Norval Morrisseau, Ojibwa (aka Chippewa) from northern Ontario (which has been called Canada’s Alaska – and no, that’s not really redundant!! 🙂 ).  Sounds fascinating (NY Times link will break w/o $$$) … but this even more so.*  Do yourself a favour and Google himImages too, of course!

(*–Although note that the form of Christianity that devastated his people’s culture was Roman Catholic; Orthodoxy doesn’t treat evangelized peoples like that [the Church doesn’t, anyway…], witness the Alaska Native Orthodox! [LA Times archive fee required for this article]  Why did Catholicism have to destroy Native cultures of the Americas, when it didn’t destroy Irish culture, for instance?  Catholicism became Irish.  Why couldn’t it become Ojibway??)

Yes, even humor about Orthodoxy!

From OrthodoXCircle’s “Traditional” group – a little mean-spirited actually – not the humor group! (with some editing and rude comments by yours truly):

You Might Be An ‘Orthodox Fundamentalist’ IF…

10) Your parish church-school curriculum consists of: The Rudder.

9) You’ve not shaved in years, but are spending your child’s inheritance on hair conditioner.

{Actually I’ve let my beard go, though not for religious reasons; it’s still quite a mess and often literally a pain!!!}

8) Your church services are longer than the Super Bowl, but shorter than “Roots.”

7) You save toenail clippings in hopes of … well … you know … glorification.

6) Your daughter can play with Barbies as long as they’re wrapped in DuckTape, clothed in black, and referred to as “Barbara the Ballyhoo” (in Slavonic).

{Sorry, I almost got this one….}

5) Your priest wears a cassock all the time. (Mainly because even the “Big & Tall” clothes no longer fit him.)

4) Birkenstock is the only proper name — not ending in “us,” “os,” or “es”– not subject to suspicion.

{What, they’re “CrunchyCons”???}

3) Your favorite theologian’s name is: “Reader __________.”

2) You believe hair brushes, combs, tweezers, and mirrors are for sissies.

{That’s just scary!}

And, the number one sign that you might be an “Orthodox Fundamentalist” is …

1) There are no chairs in your home; you haven’t sat in years!


Top Ten Signs You Might Be an Orthodox Christian Fundaminimalist:

10) During the three-day Sts. Peter & Paul Fast (New Calendar), you did without meat (only).

9) Sunday’s Divine Liturgy lasts longer than the Nightly News but shorter than “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”

8) When it comes to Confession, you believe: “All may, some should, none must.”

7) You think Antidoron is for the birds (literally), not to mention the non-Orthodox.

6) You’ve seen your priest vested with cuffs around bare wrists because he’s wearing a short-sleeve shirt underneath his rasson.

{And what did they wear under them in the old days exactly?!!!}

5) You ask questions like, “What’s a cassock?,” and, “Why is she wearing one?”

4) Your bishop eats meat. On Friday. During fasting periods.

3) You’ve seen your priest swimming. In a crowded pool. In a Speedo.

2) Your priest wears a Rolex. At the Altar. Over the cuffs.

And, the number one indication that you might be a fundaminimalist:

1) Your priest’s wife goes by the title, “Reader ______ .”

“Human rights” groups, Bushie-backed govts, and Orthodoxy

A brief, insightful – and therefore unheard-of! – 4-year-old article by the Eastern Orthodox Moscow Patriarchate’s Fr. Vsevolod Chaplin, analyzes certain aspects of international “religious-freedom” activism.  (See highlighted “Helsinki” and “anti-Orthodox” text near bottom of this page.)

Such groups’ endorsement of “free market religion” places them in a global minority, and calls into question their understanding of the role of religion in a society – even their realization that religion HAS a role in society, and not just in individuals’ ‘private life.’  Or even Protestantism’s very PUBLIC role in U.S. life….

Of course, that presumes they’re trying to be sincere, and not simply advancing the U.S. global agenda in every way imaginable… and some unimaginable!  After all, their zeroing-in on Orthodoxy not only in the Former Soviet Union but also the Former Yugoslavia in other “reports” I’ve browsed, betrays a definite pro-Washington, pro-“globalization,” pro-Rationalized-Capitalism, anti-Orthodox, anti-Christian bias.

Back atcha, Condi!

There isn’t a single thing Rice says about Putin, the Kremlin, and Russia, that can’t be said about BushCheney, the White House, and America under their rule today.  Is it possible she was actually speaking tongue-in-cheek?!!!  But no, Repugs have no humor, or self-critique/self-consciousness – just like two-year-olds.

(Nevermind talking to the anti-Orthodox Helsinki group.  How about if Putin’s foreign minister meets with ‘liberal’ and anti-Protestant groups here, and talks about Repug politics?!!!  At least we’re pretty sure Putin is stepping down as President when his term ends; Bush?)

Holiday Blues = Low Testosterone?

This AOL article claims human (male – with sperm counts – but also I presume female, as she points out) testosterone, linked to sexual desire, peaks in November and early December, suggesting Fall is our traditional mating season, if Homo sapiens sapiens ever had one.*

But I have to wonder also if Holiday Blues then, or post-Holiday Blues, aren’t related to a decrease in T, and not just to Christmas/ Hanukkah/ solstice-related disappointments, shorter days (in the Northern Hemisphere at least), bad diets, etc.  Even “Seasonal” Affective Disorder!

For that matter, do people in the Southern Hemisphere even get this?  Yes, they say they get S.A.D., but in June-July.  So we Northerners get it on top of the Holidays, mate!  But do they get the lowered T then too?

(*–Certainly a number of old calendars started in Fall – Celtic Samhain, Jewish Rosh haShanah, Orthodox Ecclesiastical New Year.  Some Orthodox Christians say Creation was created in September; as some Russians say, apples ripen then – as in the Garden of Eden’s traditional forbidden fruit!! – at least in the Northern Hemisphere.  [Actually, the Scriptures don’t say “apple,” just “fruit”!])

Fight Global Warming, Peak Oil, and Obesity: Eat less!

(Those of us who are able, that is.)

Drink less non-human animal milk, too.  (Unless you need what’s in it, like calcium, and can’t find it anywhere else.)

See, factory farming on land – cows, pigs, chickens, etc. – may be America’s Number One source of Greenhouse Gases.  Factory farming in water – many seafoods – is a very bad scene for other reasons: diseases, unhygienic, pollution, etc.  But demand for flesh-foods of all kinds is going through the roof, with big parts of the Third World (China, India, etc.) now ‘coming online’ in that regard.  And many natural fisheries are already in danger of being ‘fished out.’  Hence, we need to eat less of all flesh foods.

But substituting plant foods is problematic because the recent “Green Revolution” was mainly wrought by petro-fertilizers, and they’re going the way of the dinosaurs, so more plants is not an option.  And I think letting GMOs out into the planetary gene pool – eg, to increase crop yields or selected nutrients that way – is way too big a threat without knowing the long-term and even very-long-term consequences; we’ve only got one planet folks!  (For now.)*  And increasing arable land by burning forest adds carbon dioxide and other Greenhouse Gases to the atmosphere, and takes away trees that help remove these gases from the atmosphere.

Hence, eat less of everything if we can.

Obviously people with eating disorders who don’t eat enough, or with malnutrition or simply true hunger (vs. psychologically-induced pseudo-hunger) or certain health problems, or perhaps who are elderly and/or frail, etc., shouldn’t worry about this.  But the rest of us, especially the 2/3 of Americans who are overweight (Canadians and Brits are up there too), could use this for extra motivation, if overeating is a problem.

Also, let’s not stop partying, people!  But is every meal a party? every supper?  Not where I come from!!!

And let’s not cold-turkey it and drive ourselves crazy and set ourselves up for failure.  Perhaps a good program to start with/build up to (in the beginning) is the Orthodox Church’s “fasting” schedule.  (That’s “abstaining,” for you Catholics and High Church Protestants.)  Most Wednesdays and Fridays of the year, the 40 days before Christmas, the 40 days before Holy Week, Holy Week itself, the period between Pentecost and the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul (June 29), the first half of August, and a few other “fast” days throughout the year.  (Old Calendar or New Calendar.)  Before I became Orthodox, but was considering it, I was told I shouldn’t try to fast; spiritually it wasn’t a good idea.  But I see no reason why people not currently considering Orthodoxy couldn’t adopt some or all of its fasting practices as a simple eating program.  Like I’ve said, Orthodox “ascesis” may turn out to be a great idea for the whole human race and the earth!  Fortunately or unfortunately, the decentralized structure of the Orthodox Church means there is not in every sense a uniform practice of fasting.  I could point you to websites that might seem to conflict, or in going overboard in describing the strictest forms of the fast may discourage and demoralize.  What you might want to do is consult an Orthodox parish near you; I’m sure they’d be glad to help!

(*–An experimental community should move to a bubble-enclosed island and mess around with GMOs for a few centuries to make sure they’re safe.  I mean it.  Otherwise, we could f— ourselves for good!)

Emblem for Anglicanism?

Again is a U.S. Orthodox Christian monthly mostly aimed at would-be and recent converts to Orthodoxy from Protestantism.  Its roots are in the former Evangelical Orthodox who joined the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America en masse beginning in 1987, as recounted in the book Becoming Orthodox.  Increasing ‘official’ “liberalism” in the Episcopal Church and Church of England are sending a number of their “conservatives” towards Orthodoxy… one thing I’m sure this particular issue is talking about.  I try to read Again occasionally, but find it mostly ‘too Protestant’ and uncritically (big-R) Republican for my Roman-Catholic-formed tastes, “progressive conservatism,” and Orthodox aspirations.

Be that as it may, as an Irishman I’ve had mixed feelings observing the use of the Celtic cross by Anglicans, in churches, in cemeteries, etc.  Is this like when they put on kilts, after outlawing them and other evidences of Highland life and culture for so long in Scotland?  Or like when White Americans “play Indian” after wiping out as many of us and our cultures as they could?

Meat-eating causes Global Warming? (Got milk? That too!)

So said the head of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals on TV the other day: factory-farming of livestock is a major cause of greenhouse gases, with them farting and burping and pooping so much.*

(My apologies to that lawyer-kid, although in fairness, what we’re talking about here is not “natural processes,” but the astronomical increase in livestock by humanity in recent centuries, now even in the Third World as it too “modernizes” and eats lots more meat.)

In addition, she pointed out that the fires from burning away forest for pasture and farming to feed the beasts, and in so doing taking away trees that remove carbon dioxide from the air, compound the effect.  And of course, it takes alot more crops to produce meat than to feed humans directly with the crops.

Turns out last November the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO [not Schwarz!!]) reported on this.  The animals’ poor diets are part of the problem, and that can be improved with positive benefit GW-wise, but it sure looks like “prosperity” will outstrip those efforts easily:

“With increased prosperity, people are consuming more meat and dairy products every year, the report notes. Global meat production is projected to more than double from 229 million tonnes in 1999/2001 to 465 million tonnes in 2050, while milk output is set to climb from 580 to 1043 million tonnes.

The global livestock sector is growing faster than any other agricultural sub-sector. It provides livelihoods to about 1.3 billion people and contributes about 40 per cent to global agricultural output. For many poor farmers in developing countries livestock are also a source of renewable energy for draft and an essential source of organic fertilizer for their crops.”  [Emphasis added.]

Oh, yeah, dairy products too: milk, butter, cheese, casein, yogurt, (sodium) caseinate, lactose, etc etc etc.

But what’s clear is that once again, we “prosperous” of the world consuming all that meat and dairy, are screwing the whole planet, especially the poorest.  But of course, if we consume less meat and dairy, some real people (Screw corporations!) will get less money and thus be harmed.  Therefore what’s needed is a coordinated campaign to consume less meat and dairy, AND “economic conversion” help for the real people harmed thereby.

Makes me think of an idea from recent(?) Catholic and Orthodox fasting/abstaining practice, like for Lent/the Great Fast: The money you “save” from giving up meat (and for Orthodox, dairy also), you don’t bank, but do something better with – traditionally, give to the poor or charity; how about a more direct connection to the real people who make the stuff?!

It can be done.  I don’t eat alot of meat, and I’ve been lactose-intolerant since my religious-inspired vegan stint in the ’90s.  Many flavored soymilks actually taste better than cow’s milk now, and apparently lots of people are foregoing cheese on their pizzas or Mexican food already because of the fat content, so you won’t stick out as much as you/I did even a few years ago!  They’re even fortifying some soymilks with calcium (and other nutrients it lacks), and there are other sources for calcium too.

As for milk for human babies… and even their daddies**…!  For that matter, apparently it’s even possible for many women to “induce lactation” without a recent pregnancy or birth, so they could donate their milk to interested families, reducing human use of cow’s milk even further.  And doing so is real natural birth control, during lactation and for two months to two years after stopping… sure to appeal to many!

(*–This choice of words will bring the kiddies running!!)

(**–As far as I’ve looked into the “adult nursing relationship” concept – by reading only! – the common idea that the partner has to suckle 6-8 times per day around the clock doesn’t seem necessary, as long as the other times the lactating woman expresses instead [to keep the milk flowing]. ISTM the extra milk can be donated, used in cooking – what about cheesemaking? [After all, “Blessed are the cheesemakers“!] – or simply discarded.  NB: Breast milk does contain lactose, so if you’re lactose-intolerant, you might need to see if you can do something about that. The guys quoted on the first page of this PDF seem to think it’s easy, though their research is ten years old, so if it worked you’d think we’d have heard more about it since then, eh? I’d try it, for nothing else but the sake of my next relationship or marriage, but dairy stinks to me since I went off it, like, even fresh milk smells sour to me – not much motivation there!)

Men’s Fertility Kits

WARNING ADULT CONTENT:

Maybe I don’t get out enough, but I just saw in a drugstore (Do we even call them drugstores anymore?!!!) a home kit for determining if you produce at least 20 million sperm per milliliter (That’s cubic centimeter or “cc,” for those of us who grew up before the metric system!) of semen, considered by someone the “minimum fertility standard.”  (I am not making this up.)  It also includes two non-spermicidal condoms, I guess for guys who consider masturbation wrong or undesirable, so they can catch a semen sample during intercourse.

Honestly, I didn’t know we could count ’em without a microscope!  “One… two… three… 20,000,000….”  Just might’ve cured my insomnia!

Actually, what constructive purpose could be served by knowing?  OK, maybe then you’d know you should adopt.  There’s nothing I know of that can boost sperm count, is there?  (Maybe Mountain Dew! “Obey your thirst!” Actually, this is the exact opposite of the Urban Legend… or maybe we can start a new one! You guys OWE ME!!!)  Or get a sperm donor?: ooh, that’s pretty personal for a would-be father.

Or become a monk… it’s a great way to be saved, I hear, honestly – why not focus on it, eh?

I guess it’s only fair, what with home-based pregnancy kits and all.  Take some of the pressure off the woman: after all, it may not be her fault.  Although as one writer in the NY Times Magazine recently shared with us (link may require free registration), it’s possible to put sperm and ovum right next to each other in a petri dish, and still have nothing happen.  (Like many dates! Whatever that means….)  Apparently Desmond Morris was right: some sperm are dumb and some are dumber… or at least have different jobs.  OR maybe the writer’s husband’s sperm didn’t want to cheat on her.  OR maybe it was God’s Will (I say this in all seriousness).  It’s OK: apparently they eventually managed to conceive the traditional way, ie, with alcoholic lubrication!  (It’s in her book title. OK, actually, it’s not. I imagined it. Though I haven’t read the book, so who knows?)

(NB: By “alcoholic lubrication,” I definitely was NOT recommending using any form of alcohol on one’s genitals, or those of one’s partner.  As Frank McCourt’s first love would tell us had she lived, it’s quite painful.  I was merely humourously referring to the oft-joked-about tendency of intoxication to lead to risky behaviour: “HIGH = HIGH RISK”: risk of AIDS, risk of other sexually-transmitted diseases with or without symptoms, risk of pregnancy, risk of ending-up with someone you don’t want to end up with, etc etc etc.  Remember this.)

Where did all these “Founding Fathers” come from, anyway?

According to Wikipedia, which is sometimes right(!): 

In the late 17th and early 18th Centuries, many younger* sons of English aristocrats specifically chose to leave England for Virginia in the Colonies. Many of the early Virginians who were plantation owners were such younger sons who had left England fortuneless due to primogeniture laws. These Founding Fathers of the United States of America were nearly universally descended from the landed gentry of England, with many being descended from English Kings of the late 14th and early 15th Centuries, especially through the numerous offspring of Edward III of England.

(*–ie, non-inheriting)

Would I be a total Marxist if I didn’t fail to perceive lasting class-consciousness among most of these Founders… and their (so to speak) ‘heirs’???!  [Although they had royal and noble and knightly ancestors, they were not themselves – they ‘fell out of the tree,’ so to speak, at least under English law and custom.]

So what’s wrong with that?  I’m a Monarchist, after all, a Classical Conservative?  Only this: of the handful of mistakes King George III’s advisers/administrators (ie, ministers, politicians) made with regard to these Colonies, one of the biggest was in not supplying us more largely with men and women who were “honourable” or “noble.”  Occasional Crown officials of these Colonies had been knighted, sent here, and left when they completed their service.  As to the future Canada, Nova Scotia warranted a whole bunch of Baronets, a kind of hereditary knighthood, and some of them are still in existence.  And at least one Baronetcy was granted in the Province of New York, to a French-and-Indian War hero whose son moved to Canada as a Loyalist after the Revolution, and whose line of Baronets continues to this day.  But that seems to be all!  As I’ve recently said, if we are deprived of the honorable and the noble, we will be ruled by the dishonorable and the ignoble.  Sure, American textbooks of European history are filled with the misbehaviors of such men and women, but think about this: Out of the tens of thousands of knights and nobles in Europe, we only hear about a handful negatively.  Most were probably no more sinful than you or I.  But they could be prevailed upon, like the Monarch her/himself, with extra persuasion not applicable to you or me: They were “honored” and “noble,” so one could urge them, ‘Hey, live up to it!’  (Talk about “role models”!)  They had public duties and position, a family heritage, training and preparation, Christian/religous  social ethics to live by quite publicly.  They were rulers, regulated by a system and somebody definite, the Monarch; *we* have rulers who regulate themselves, which means not at all!  As I also recently said, at least in Orthodox Christianity, the Tsar of Russia all the way into the 20th century was exhorted by the Church to be moral, to do justice, to show mercy, to do the right thing, and despite Western propaganda to the contrary, usually did his best in a difficult job.  (Remember, Russia was the most diverse, largest landmass of its day – from Poland to Alaska!)

OTOH if our rulers here in America are just about a “contractual, commercial republic,” one whose design even pretends to rely on competing selfishness to limit abuse (like that’s ever worked, especially lately!), how can you morally urge anything on them?!  Instead, we hear just enough Horatio Alger-type stories to try to make us emulate them.  No thanks!  We can do better!  Lots of people do better!

“Canadians fought their wars of independence against the U.S.”

Think about it: 1776, 1812….

From Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor as quoted here: “Since Canadians fought their wars of independence against the United States, it is logical that we should feel a strong suspicion of the mercantilist Whiggery which won the American Revolution.”

That’s a different way of looking at it for us below the 49th Parallel!

(NB: The article and website to which the linked article links seems to reflect more the historical, elitist, Ontario Orangeist,* ‘bootstraps’ Red Toryism, which also had less respect for individual liberties than I propose as an American Red Tory.  The thing is, many internet discussions of Red Toryism cover this old-fashioned, elitist perspective, though it is far from dominant in RTism since, say, WW2.  But this is why it took me so long to find a good discussion of it, though brief… and the need to write my own!)

(*–Ironically, one of the RT philosophical stalwarts these days has been an Anglo-Catholic – even arguably Anglo-Orthodox – Ron Dart!)

Assorted Monarchy, etc., reflections

If everybody’s sovereign, nobody’s sovereign, and nobody’s subject, so those who can, will do whatever they wish, to whomever they wish.

For Christians, the Christian God is sovereign (hence the title “Lord”) over all Creation, and human sovereigns serve subject to Him, accountable to Him.

The Monarchy in England/Britain was always among the people, representing the Sovereignty of the people, the Nation.  They weren’t “angels in the form of men,” and they weren’t perfect, but they were part of a system.

In the American Constitution what we have is less a system where different branches, divided branches, and levels of government, check each other’s abuses, than a CABAL – ‘I scratch your back, you scratch mine.’  (At least in Britain acts of government need the Sovereign’s assent, somebody who can say NO to the cabal.  If government acts needed “the sovereign’s” assent here, we’d all get to vote on every government measure – which of course would be inefficient.)  But this may be how the “Founding Fathers” and “Framers” intended it, wealthy White planters and traders – CABAL – that they were.  Certainly no President of the Executive Branch has ever been removed from office – have we really finally “found angels in the form of men to govern us”?!!! – and no State has ever stood in the way of Federal abuses.  (Though I’m not against the Federal government blocking State abuses, as happened not infrequently in the second half of the 20th century.)  Deals between the Houses of Congress and the Executive Branch go on all the time, and the politicization of the Supreme Court and the rest of the Federal Bench has become legendary.

“In a republic the people reign, they do not rule.”  Who rules?  Our cabalistas, the influential persons connected with our all-but-sovereign corporations, our ignoble rich, the pseudo-educated “neocons,” the big media barons, and the power-mad, hypocritical leaders of conservative Evangelical and Fundamentalist sects… as well as all who truly follow or emulate any of these.

If government excludes Nobles, then the ignoble will predominate!

“Law” used to be a combination of judicial precedent/”wisdom of the court,” legal and political custom, tradition, faith, morality, learned analysis, justice, solidarity, ‘what should be,’ the needs of society, as well as the interplay among Monarchy, Royal advisers and generals, governmental Administrators, Church Hierarchy (bishops and abbots), Lay Nobility, and elected Representatives of the Commons; etc.  Now it’s whatever a short-sighted, selfish, activist, falsely-influential minority from day to day says it is.  Such false democratism needs to be balanced by other things.

There is no “people of the United States” outside the non-legally-binding Preamble to the Constitution of 1787.  There are only the peoples of the Several States.

Maybe the Monarchy Party should change its name to the Crown-and-People Party!

Restoring the representation of State legislative houses in the U.S. Senate would restore the dignity of the U.S. House of Representatives and of the States, and provide more check on the Executive Branch.  But no statewide campaigning or “non-binding” elections should be allowed, so Senators truly represent the States as States again, as bodies politic, ie, their legislative chambers, and not campaign contributors/bribers.

Then we institute full public campaign financing for the House of Representatives, to remove their beholdenness to contributors/bribers also.

Either House of Congress should be able to Impeach, requiring the other House to try its Impeachments.  The present model is based on the UK Parliament, where the Commons impeaches, and the Lords, who traditionally include a judicial function, try impeachments; but the U.S. Senate has never had a judicial function otherwise.  (Of course now in the UK, where they look fixed to remove the Law Lords from Parliament into a new Supreme Court, this distinction between even the Houses of Parliament would cease to exist, giving even less reason for it in America.)

Responsible Government (ie, “parliamentary”) needs limitations on it to mitigate the occasional phenomenon of virtual “elective dictatorship.”

There are more guns per capita in Canada than in the U.S.  Why do more Americans than Canadians shoot each other, or die of accidental gunshot wounds?

It’s easier to prevail upon the morality, wisdom, etc., of one Monarch, than of 218 (or 290) out of 435 members of the House of Representatives, 51 (or 60, or 67) out of 100 Senators, one President, and five out of nine Supreme Court Justices.  On the other hand, it’s easier to suborn the latter than the former, especially if she is unbribeable and not subject to electoral politics.

The Founders and Framers were two-faced.  When it served their purposes, they treated the King of Great Britain as an absolute despot when even in the late 18th century he was limited by his Council and relations with Parliament; yet they treated many Colonial governors as limited by their Councils, when they were ultimately answerable only to London.  So why didn’t they give the President a Council?  They gave him more power than the Kings of England had since the Reformation!  They didn’t even limit him to two terms!!

Was Communist Albania history’s first “atheistic state”… or was (small-R) republican America?!

The ethnic nationalism that grips Orthodox Churches has to be overcome.  Maybe Victoria Clark has it right after all: ‘Phyletism vs. Hesychasm,’ ie, Tribalism vs. inclusive, pan-Orthodox repentance and humility and prayer and faithfulness and communion (koinonia).  OCs in the West aren’t supposed to be so distinguished by immigrant background, nor Orthodox countries in ‘the East’ by pseudo-religious flag-waving, nor their hierarchies by whining and prostrating to the West.  Of course, these phenomena are common in the West too – in fact they’ve been furthered by the West for two centuries – but that’s not my Church, mine by choice is Orthodoxy.

Commandments to humanity at Creation?

In the Book of Genesis, God tells humanity to “be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion.”  Some “Christians” use this as religious cover to dismiss concern about the apparent ability of the planet to sustain many more human beings [or at least, many more First-World human beings!!!], and to destroy the environment.  But it occurs to me that these commands were given before the Fall.  After the Fall, humanity’s chief concern is different: to reunite with God in His Uncreated Energies/Activities.

Traditionally more than a few Orthodox have tried to collaborate with God through monasticism, ie, a lifestyle of NOT multiplying, and of using as little of the earth as possible.  Even practicing Orthodox laity try to include some of this asceticism in their lives, including abstaining from marital relations most Wednesdays and Fridays, during the four Fasting Periods (“lents”) of the year, several other prescribed days each year, any nights before and after receiving Communion… as well as the fast-related dietary self-restrictions during these periods, and in the weeks leading up to the Great Fast (ie, Great Lent, or just Lent, the pre-Pascha/Easter fast).  I believe many of these practices persist among Eastern Catholics, and some of them persisted among Latins (Catholics of Western Rite) before the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, and among many older Latins even afterward – though since the ’60s they have all retained the practices of fast and abstinence on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent, and some bishops seem to want to bring back the year-round “fish on Fridays” practice.

Furthermore, a number of Protestant groups embrace what might be called a certain neo-asceticism, such as Amish, Mennonites, some Quakers, some individual liberal mainstream Protestants, and even some “conservative” Protestants, under the rubric of “How ought a Christian to live?”  Some pacifists extend their ethic to “simple living,” or at least advocating it, in the spirit of 1700s New Jersey Quaker John Woolman, who sought to remove from his life anything containing “the seeds of war,” including profiting from slave labor and foreign trade in unnecessary clothing accessories.  (In fact, he predicted the U.S. Civil War.)

As I have reflected previously, greater asceticism may be the lifestyle of the next two thousand years, as we face Global Warming, Peak Oil, and the other coming difficulties – lest we destroy ourselves even before the Lord returns in Glory!  Though as He said, ‘Don’t go around moping, unwashed, in ratty clothes, but smile, clean up, dress adequately’ (more or less!).  For Orthodox, asceticism is the privilege of collaborating with God in this world, and becoming more God-like (NOT “god-like”)!

The Constitution of the Tsar

The Russian Empire is usually portrayed, even by Russian monarchists, as authoritarian.  But not according to this anonymous writer:

Western writers do not understand Orthodox monarchy. And because America rebelled against the King of England; Americans in particular have no sympathy for the idea of Monarchy. Indeed, it is almost a sacred tradition {in America} to applaud any nation that “comes to its senses” and overthrows its king! The Tsars of Russia are viewed in this same man-centered rather than God-centered light.

But; in Orthodox Russia there once existed a society composed not of “church and state” (such as existed in medieval Europe) but of “government and priesthood”-a holy commonwealth. The Tsar was never placed outside the Church or “above the law,” but always within the Church and subject to the law of Christ. He was very much the “servant of the Gospel”: he was required to live by it and rule by it in order to be worthy of the blessings of God upon himself, his family, and his nation. Such a righteous Father to his people was the last Tsar, Nicholas II.

New Pope reverses old Pope’s stance on Indians

Benedict XVI, visiting Brazil, said the Americas’ Indigenous Peoples had been “silently longing for Christianity” – “anonymous Catholics” no doubt! – when Catholic Spain brought it with the sword.  I guess he was already working in the Vatican when ‘Indian’ became ‘cool’ in his native Germany in the last ten-fifteen years!

(By contrast, Alaska Natives embraced Orthodoxy without force when it was offered them freely, first by Russian *lay* fur hunters, later by Russian priest- and monk-missionaries.  Furthermore, they retained it even after Russian [lay] fur-hunting companies basically enslaved their men and exploited many of their girls and women – retained it, in part, because the clergy, Church, and Tsar defended them and helped them.  Retained it so faithfully that, after American companies, Protestant-dominated, arrived to make them wage-slaves, the Yankees complained because the Natives needed off for so many Orthodox feast-days!  Retained it so faithfully that one little-educated Kodiak Islander named Peter laid down his life when the same Spanish in California – probably at the San Gabriel Mission near L.A. – tortured him to death for refusing to convert to Catholicism: died showing them his Orthodox baptismal cross.  He is now venerated as New-Martyr St. Peter the Aleut.  To this day a majority of Alaska Natives remain Orthodox Christians… it has been their “traditional religion” for up to 300 or so years – completely voluntarily.  And unlike most of the history of the Latin faith among Natives of the Americas, Alaskan Orthodox have made the faith their own, from early years adding their own hymns and chant-styles to the Orthodox Liturgy and traditional practice, when for years Catholic Indians were required to silently watch the Mass performed far in front of them, or sing Gregorian chant.)

Monarchism

in American Charles Coulombe (though he’s too Blue for this Red Tory!), a couple brief, interesting articles:

  • The Monarchy in Australia,” written before the republic referendum, mostly regarding the ‘orthodox’ forms of religions, and monarchy.  I note especially (and with apology to Pacific Islanders), “For in the end, the greatest argument in the world on the issue at hand remains this: these United States are the most powerful nation in the world, and they are a republic. It matters not that, save ourselves {sic!} and Switzerland, the world’s republics sway giddily between chaos and despotism. In the face of all reason and logic, and even though it is generally understood rather than stated, here is the heart of the matter. Really though, it is a sort of Cargo Cult approach to politics. Instead of building an imitation airstrip so that phantom cargo planes bearing goods will come, the Keatingites would build an imitation republic, sure that ‘nationhood’ whatever that may be, will follow.”
  • and “In Defense of Monarchy,” a general USA-eye-view survey of the question.  Although given the abuses of some if not many U.S. Presidents – especially the (alleged) incumbent – I’m not so sure I want even a good king or queen regnant to have as much power as they!  What’s painfully clear from the last six years is that the mere “power of the purse,” even the power of impeachment and removal, are not sufficient checks on corruption and authoritarianism.  But he goes over some familiar territory – including all the great ironies – in unique ways!  I note especially, One of the major roles of the monarch is as ultimate guardian of the law….  It has rarely happened in this century, but on several occasions, where prime ministers have tried illegally to hold on to power, or to void their respective constitutions, such as in 1930s Italy, the sovereign or his representative has acted decisively to maintain the rule of law. In other cases, where the political classes have been unanimous in their support of or opposition to a measure against the interests of the people, such as in 1990s Thailand, the sovereign has raised his voice, when no one else could speak….  If anything, if the institution is ever to regain its effectiveness, kings must begin to act in regard to politicians not as if they were the chosen servants of the people of legend and tale, but what they are: the governing caste, whose interests frequently run counter to those of the folk from whose votes they claim to derive legitimacy.”  I also didn’t know Washington kept post-Communist, Orthodox Romania, Bulgaria, and Yugoslavia from restoring their monarchies.  Shameful internal interference in societies Americans don’t understand!

Has the Easter Bunny left the North Pole yet?

Just kidding.  Christ is Risen!  Indeed, He is Risen!

Unanswered Prayers???—In my extensive research o…

Unanswered Prayers???—In my extensive research only Orthodox Christianity knows what’s up with “unanswered prayers.” Orthodox petitions to God in their fullest and best form say things like “grant their saving petitions” (for other people) or “which conduce to salvation” or “worldly and spiritual goods” and so forth.

The first concern of Orthodox Christianity is “the salvation of our souls and bodies.” That is, that God the Trinity–the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit–may “have mercy on us and save us,” restore us to harmony with Him, to God-like-ness, to the way He made us originally (Adam and Eve) and still intends for us–soul and body–here and now or at least in the hereafter. So this is kept in mind whenever Orthodox use the above petition-formulae. It’s not just gimme, gimme, gimme; it’s, “I’d like this perceived good, Lord, but most of all, Thy salvation, so Thou callest the shots!”

Another point is placing the expressed concern of the petition under God’s care and administration, as our entire life should be, versus being a control-freak: “Got this problem, Lord, take care of it, OK? It’s under Your protection anyway, and You know best.” Like the old Quaker once said, “I’m not always of my own opinion!”

Finally, the “answer” may be in a form you’re not looking for, or it may become clearer years later. As St. Paul said, “Consider that God’s patience is directed toward your salvation.”

Any of these points can be expressed in a repressive way. My experience of Orthodoxy is different from that, because it’s so different from and alien to Western Christianity, and so much better, if you give it a chance. “Come and see!”