Friday, December 10, 2010

Spinning....

Reference (Just one of many such stories)

So....basically...the Democrats overspent by $857 Billion dollars on the completely unfounded assumption that they would be able to raise taxes to cover it.

Then they try to blame Republicans (who are not yet in control of either house, btw), who are just doing what they have always done.

They do this by assuming that taxes should be raised (read: more of your money should be stolentaken), and then calling anything less than that a "tax cut" and "adding to the deficit".

Does anyone else see the insanity here?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Go-Kart Racing...

Last night, we had a company Christmas party at the Driven Raceway, recently opened here in Fairfield.

We had the facility to ourselves for two hours, and another hour after that where the public was allowed back in.

We had open snack bar and free games (it's also an arcade) the whole time (the public didn't!), and pizza afterward.

This was seriously one of the most awesome times I've had in a long time. :)

The karts go up to 45 mph, and each race is 17 laps. I raced four races, and won them all and I put up a best lap time of 18.959. Ok, so I didn't exactly win the last race, but that was one with the public involved, and I got fourth. I did, however, beat everyone from our company, so I count that as a win, too. :)

Anyway, if you are in Fairfield looking for something to do, Driven Raceway is definitely great fun to consider!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

On the porno-scanners (i.e. the TSA's newest "security measure")

Sooo....there's been a lot of stuff flying around about the new "backscatter" scanning technology the TSA is making mandatory. Ok, not mandatory; but the only alternative is a thorough groping that would get any normal person slapped with a restraining order at best.

Here, in no particular order, are a few ways I've come up with to do "peaceful resistance."

1. As you walk through the security line, just strip naked. Stark naked. When you are inevitably asked what the h*** you're doing, say, "just trying to make this go faster!"

2. Opt for the grope-down, then vocally "enjoy" it. Ham it up.

3. Insist on quid pro quo with the Agent, whether you do the backscatter or the groping.

4. Make lewd comments on the way to the groping room. (I'll leave the particulars up to your imagination.)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Monday, September 13, 2010

On the Soul, Spirit, and Body, death and resurrection

EDIT (9/15/2010 4:08 p.m.): This is a work in progress, and generally paints with a very broad brush.

However, please understand that my modus operandi with this article is to purposely narrow the semantic range of the words "spirit" and "soul" to their (apparent) usage in Gen. 2:7, and to try to understand and/or translate those exact words as used in the rest of Scripture from their meanings to be consistent with this new narrower range.
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My current understanding of the nature of death and the Scriptural (or more accurately, Traditional, of which Scriptural is a part) definitions of the spirit, soul, and body, is as follows:
  1. That the "living soul" is the union of spirit (from God) and body (from dust). (Gen. 2:7)

  2. That death is the separation of that spirit from the that body, resulting in the corruption of said body, and the return of the spirit to God. (Eccl. 12:7)

    (This spirit is what is commonly referred to today as "the soul", which leads to some confusion...thus this essay.)

  3. That the spirit does NOT lose it's individuality — that is, it's identity — upon its return to God. It remains a Person (in the trinitarian sense — a hypostasis), but it is not a "living soul" (a "person" in the sense used in the class on the go CD's — the union of spirit and body), and is unable to perform any acts, because it does not have the body to act through.

  4. That the terms translated as these terms in the Scriptures, particularly "spirit" and "soul" do not always carry the exact meanings given here, so the semantic range shifts (in English for sure, and maybe even in the originals). Therefore "proof texting" is pretty much useless on this topic. Context is key to understanding.

  5. That, for the purposes of this discourse, and limiting the terms to their understandings as described above, "death" is always the separation of the spirit from the body, resulting in the non-being of the "soul" (once again, not the modern "soul" which is more akin to the "spirit" as used here).

    (Side note: Therefore, to speak of the "immortality of the soul", in which "the soul" is taken in it's modern meaning more akin to "spirit" as used in this essay, is a non sequiter. To speak of mortality and immortality at all of necessity involves all parts of man in the discussion: body, soul, and spirit. In other words, to speak of death in reference to only one of these is impossible, since they are interconnected in mysterious and inseparable ways.)

  6. That in the original creation, as in the resurrection, the body created from the dust was maintained incorruptible by the perfect union of the spirit with itself, which spirit was in constant communication with God's own life-giving Spirit (inferred from Gen. 3:8) and was in the state we now refer to as "glorified" (inferred from Gen. 2:25), and was not subject to nature, but rather master of it (Gen. 1:26).

  7. That the fall of man was precisely this: when man cut himself off from God by disobedience to His command, his spirit, being from God, lost it's source of sustenance (that is, God, Who alone "has life in Himself"), and the perfect union of the spirit with the body was disrupted, and "the soul that sinned" died "in that day", as had been warned.

    So then the body is no longer maintained incorruptible, and is now subject to the laws of nature, rather than nature being subject to it, as at the first. (And as a result, all nature itself lost it's direct connection to the life-giving spirit, and was "made subject to corruption" also.)

    Therefore, "death" occurred at the very instant of the fall, but by the mercy and power of God the body was allowed to hold onto the spirit it was given, so that death was not fully manifested in the first Adam for almost 1,000 years after (and a much shorter period now), when the body of the first Adam returned to the dust. (That is to say, naturally -- although death was manifested unnaturally in his offspring through murder. But I digress...)

    I say "by the mercy of God", because this delay allowed man to propagate, and obtain a sort of holding pattern, "under bondage to the elements of the world" (Gal. 4:3), until the coming of the Promised One, even though the individual members of the race each returns to the dust in his own time (and still do so).

    (Basically, this mercy of God denied Death a final victory, so that He Himself could destroy it "in due time" when He "died for the ungodly.")

    However, in all the time that this corrupt body holds onto its spirit, still cut off from God,

    the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. (Gal. 5:17, see also Rom. 7)

  8. That in the coming of the Promised One, God reunited Himself to mankind, (and, conversely, reuninted mankind to Himself). This Man, the second Adam (that is to say, the recreation of the race in, by, through, and to Him), was not merely a body with a spirit from God, but is God Himself (Who is Spirit) united with a body like ours ("made of a woman", Gal. 4:4) to be the God-Man: Jesus.

    (NOTE: For the purposes of this discussion, I have intentionally ignored the distinctions between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, subsuming them all under the title "God").

    And through this God-Man, God once again breaths His Spirit into Mankind (Gal. 4:6). (More on this below.) And so

    And so it is written, 'The first man Adam was made a living soul;' the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. (1 Cor. 15:45)

  9. That the death of this Jesus on His Cross was, like the death of all men, the separation of His Spirit from His body (and it's return to God). But the key difference is that His death was voluntary, and not of necessity (as for other men). This is evident, for as He Himself said,

    ...I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. (John 10:17b, 18)

  10. That because of it's voluntary nature, His death is the trap wherein God caught (and slew) death: He by right took up again that body which He had voluntarily "offered by the eternal Spirit" (Heb. 9:14). But because He was not subject to death, but voluntarily gave Himself over to it, He also was able to take His life back from death, and thereby to destroy death.

    This, incidentally, is the entire purpose of His union with "the likeness of sinful flesh" (Rom. 8:3) (that is to say, unglorified flesh, subject to death) —

    that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. (Heb. 2:20)

    And so

    this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost [that is, to rescue from death] that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. (Heb. 7:24, 25)
    For as He says,
    I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. (Rev. 1:18)

  11. That the "resurrection of the dead" at the end of the age is the reunification of the spirit(s) with the (glorified, incorruptible) body(/ies) -- that is, the body restored to it's pre-fall existence. Christ the firstfruits, and those that are His at His coming.

  12. That the rescue from death occurs for all men, and therefore

    the living God...is the Saviour of all men (1 Tim. 4:10)

    That all will be raised, He Himself testifies:

    Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth. (John 5:28)

  13. But that some who are raised will be raised to "damnation", since they did not obey the Gospel of God before their death. And thus

    [He] is the Saviour of all men, especially of those that believe. (1 Tim. 4:10)

  14. That although all will be raised, some (who still reject and try to flee from Him) will be raised to everlasting torment, and some (who love and obey and rejoice in Him, i.e. "all them also that love His appearing" [2 Tim. 4:8]), everlasting bliss.

  15. That we who believe, repent, and are baptized into Christ are baptized into His death and resurrection, and thereby receive remission of sins and "the earnest of the Spirit" (2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5; Rom. 8:11), Who, if we do not grieve and drive away through a return to unbelief and sin,

    seals us unto the day of redemption, (Eph. 3:30)
    and
    sanctifies us wholly; and preserves our whole spirit and soul and body blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 5:23)
    so that
    be[ing] found in Him...our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto Himself. (Phil. 3:20)

    This is the great hope of all the saints, by which we are saved. (1 Tim. 2:13; Tit. 3:7; 1 Pet. 1:3, 13; 1 John 3:3)

    I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. (Nicene Creed)

On my birthday...

This past Friday (Sept. 10) was my birthday. I did absolutely nothing to celebrate it.

In fact, I was planning to take the day off; but circumstances (and the fact that I had already taken Monday off for Labor Day) dictated that I actually work, and I wound up working harder than the rest of the week combined (not longer, but definitely harder).

Again, I was planning on a little celebration on Saturday, but got caught up in some more work that wasn't supposed to take that long.

What's surprising to me, though, is that by saying this, I'm not complaining. :) I used to really look forward to my birthday; but this year, it was just another day — and I'm OK with that!

I must be growing up or something.

LOL

Monday, August 2, 2010

QOTD: From the Post-Communion prayers...

The Church is revealed to all as a brilliantly lit heaven, leading the faithful in the way of the light. Standing therein we cry aloud: make firm the foundation of this house, Lord.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

On the use of the word "save" and it's derivatives...

I wrote the following in response to a forum discussion, and you can see it there as well. But it reads like a Blog Post, and I needed something to put on here, since it's been a while, so here you go. :)

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I think overall Scriptural use of the term "save" and it's derivatives is not as cut-and-dried as popular theology might have it. Or at least not enough to use it as a technical term in soteriological discussions, without further qualification.

Let me throw these into the pot....

I Cor. 7:14-16 "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now they are holy. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?"

I Tim. 4:16 "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee."

Clearly Paul has the idea that one human can "save" another by converting them. He even speaks of himself as saving people (I Cor. 9:22) "...that I might by all means save some." And again in Romans 11:14: "If by any means I...might save some of them."

James (5:20) has the same idea:

"Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins. "

Jude (1:23) also has this idea: "And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh."

Peter also uses the term, saying that by repentance and baptism (i.e. being converted), one might "save" one's own self (Acts. 2:40). In another place he says that the baptism itself "saves" (I Pet. 3:21), because the conscience is purified by faith, and the convert enters by it into the resurrection.

This is the process whereby God saves a person: upon believing the gospel, and having therefore repented, the convert is baptized into Christ's death, and (by grace through faith working in love) walks in the Spirit -- in newness of life -- shall be (by the operation of God) raised with Him (see Paul: Rom. 6:3, 4 and Col. 2:12). And so Jesus says, "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned."

So my thesis is proved: that Scripture uses the term "save" rather broadly -- to refer to the whole process of conversion, including the actions and teachings of those converting another; the repentance, faith, baptism, and continual living in the Spirit by the convert him/herself; and the "operation of God" (i.e. grace).

Therefore we see (from the Scriptures) that the process of this salvation is participatory; and not only does the person being saved participate, but also those praying for him, converting him, baptizing him, exhorting him, teaching him, etc (not to mention the operation of God Himself, without which none of the above would have any effect).

(NOTE: This is why we Orthodox offer and participate in the Eucharist "on behalf of all, and for all," and say at the end of Vespers, "Most Holy Theotokos, save us." These are reminders that we are each responsible for our neighbor's salvation, by our prayers, examples, exhortations, etc.)

When this broader definition is understood, the statement of Paul and Silas is rather obvious in it's import. There is no problem affirming that the faith of the one would save the whole household. Not that the merits of the one imputed by his faith would be then imputed to the others by that one's faith, regardless of the others' own faith. But rather that the faith of the one would (or should) be 'contagious,' as it were.

And such is the case, as we see in the following verses: they preached not only to the jailkeeper, but "to all that were in his house." And the jailkeeper "was baptized, he and all his" (italics mine). And he "rejoiced, believing in God with all his house."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

busy...

Don't worry...I haven't forgot about this. I'm just really busy lately.

And I don't really have much to say right now, either. But being busy doesn't help me come up with new stuff in the first place, so...hopefully the two will get fixed at the same time. :)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

QOTD

There’s something in the air out there, a growing realization that the “post-industrial” society probably can’t last. What’s more, people are starting to realize that it doesn’t even really make them happy, that they’re losing touch with many of the activities that make them feel human. This realization is creating a curious junction out there where the self-negating eco-hysterics of the far left meet and exchange ideas with the self-preserving survivalists of the far right. The underlying philosophies differ of course, but both groups seem to be praying for some kind of collapse or zombie apocalypse so that they can quit their crappy, numbing jobs on corporate campuses and start growing their own lettuce after the shit goes down. The left knows that keeping everything local is more practical and sustainable, and the right knows that humans are flawed and someone’s going to have to kill the bastards who want to steal the cauliflower.


From here.

Somewhat (but not too) relevant NOTE: I own the book by Mr. Crawford. :)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

On Who I am, and what I want to Do...Followup

I have a confession to make. I haven't been reading my Bible much this week.

So, I finally had some free time today, and sat down to read my daily Psalms. When I'm following my plan, it goes like this: at least 5 Psalms a day and 1 Proverbs a day. If I have additional time, some part of the Old Testament, usually one of the Prophets. (I typically tend to read the New Testament separately from my planned time.)

If I stick to this plan, it gets me through the Psalms and Proverbs every month. (5 psalms x30 days = all 150 psalms/month. 1 chapter/day in Proverbs = all 31 chapters/month.)

So today being the 26th, 26x5 = 130, so I sat down to read Ps. 126-130.

I love the Scriptures. So often they say exactly what I need to read at the time. And this was the case today.

Earlier this week, I recently came to the monumental conclusion that all I want in life is to be a true and good Husband and (if possible) father — "hearth and home," as my Mom so succinctly put it in a conversation yesterday.

So imagine my joy to have the first thing I read in the Scriptures after this crystallization be the following:

Ps. 126 (LXX)
1An ode of ascents; for Solomon.

Unless the Lord build the house,
Those who build it labor in vain:
Unless the Lord guard the city,
Those who guard it stay awake in vain.
2It is vain for you to rise early,
To awaken from your rest,
You who eat the bread of grief,
When He gives His beloved ones sleep.

3Behold, children are the Lord's inheritance;
The fruit of the womb His reward.
4Like arrows in the hand of a mighty one,
So are the children of those who were outcasts.
5Blessed is the man who shall fulfill his desire with them;
They shall not be ashamed, when they speak to their enemies at the gate.


Ps. 127 (LXX)
1An ode of ascents.

Blessed are all who fear the Lord,
Who walk in His ways.

2You shall eat the fruit of your labor;
You are blessed, and it shall be well with you.
3Your wife shall be like a vine,
Prospering on the sides of your house;
Your children like newly planted olive tress
Around your table.

4Behold, so shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord.

5May the Lord bless you from Zion,
And may you see the good things of Jerusalem
All the days of your life;
6May you see your children's children.
Peace be upon Israel.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

On Who I am, and what I want to Do....

"Color" warning: there are a couple of words in here that some might find taboo, or offensive. I have included them on purpose, and chosen them carefully. If you don't like it, tough. You have been warned. :)
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I recently posted on FaceBook that I "want to be Tom Bombadil". I think that deserves an explanation.

Yesterday, I had a conversation with a very wise friend, who confirmed what several others have told me recently: I need(ed) to figure out who I am and what I want to do with my life.

Now, I know who I am -- I'm a wretch, inexplicably given mercy by God and being led to salvation. This is very bewildering to me.

There are a couple of things I truly regret in my life -- sins against others for which I've since repented in many tears, but which still sting my soul when I ponder them (one very recent, the other half my life ago: you each know who you are). There are a whole lot more things that I've screwed up honestly, and taken a lesson from; so while I may wish they'd turned out differently, I don't REGRET them.

But here's the problem. I'm also a bloody romantic, and dammit if I don't honestly believe that each of us can be, by the grace of Almighty God, a truly good person, and make a difference in someone's life, if given half a chance. And I've got this crazy notion that I'm included in "each of us."

I have also known for quite some time what I want to do with my life. But I never wanted to face it, because, on the surface, it's cheesy. It just comes across as unmanly.

However, my friend was right: I needed to bring it to my conscious mind, accept it, embrace it, and move forward. So, in a fit of soul-searching and crying out to God for help, by His mercy and grace, I have finally done that. I now fully accept what I want to do with my life, cheesy though it may be. I know what is my heart's one desire. And to be honest, I'm quite excited about it. :)

So what's that, Steve?

First, what it's NOT. I do NOT have any aspirations of worldly success, of being rich, of being President (I'm fairly certain I'd be assassinated in the first month), a Bishop, Priest, or any such thing.

I'm not saying these things are wrong, or that I won't do them to the best of my ability if God asks me to do any of them. I'm just saying, these are not my driving goals.

I think the best way to explain it is how I explained it to another friend this morning. When I die (if the Lord doesn't return first), and they plant my body in the ground, there will (hopefully) be something on my headstone. It'll have to be short, and I want it to be true. What do I want it to say?

Here it is: "He was a good Husband." If it has "and father" on there, too, that'll be just fine by me. :)

That's it. That's what I want to do with my life. I want to be the best damn husband I can be, for God's glory, and for the ultimate salvation of those entrusted to me. I want to care for another person, body and soul, with the whole of my being.

So what of my "vocation" or "calling"? That's what I'm saying: my "calling" is to be a husband, true and good.

True, part of that is to be damn good at my job, and to enjoy it -- to advance within the organization (if I work for one, like I do now), or grow my business if I start one, or whatever.

But my driving force is not and will not be my job. It will be my care and love for and rejoicing in my family, or my looking forward to and preparation for that, anyway. And that's all I want.

Hopefully, you see how Tom Bombadil fits that description. He is a character (in Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy) much like Adam was created to be -- and would have become, if he had never fallen. He is the master of his domain -- that area of life he has been given care over, yet no more -- and he has no ambitions for more. He has a strong wife, and he loves her dearly. She reciprocates that love. (He also lets her have fairly free reign over the house.) Also, Tom helps others back on their paths, while not trying to walk their path for them.

Bombadil loves life, and life loves him. In fact, he lives a very Orthodox, sacramental existence. As a consequence, the Ring has no power over him -- it neither makes him invisible nor affects his sight of others, and he does not think of it as of any significance.

So, to bring us full circle: by the power of Christ, Who came to restore us to Paradise ("for us men and for our salvation..."), I want to be (like) Tom Bombadil. I want to enjoy whatever job I have at the moment, and be good at it, all to support being a true and good husband (and, if the Lord wills, father) -- the best I can be. Cheesy? Yep. But I don't care; it's who I am.

I'll do the first part (about the job, and living a sacramental life to the glory of God) while waiting/looking for "the one" who will be entrusted to my care (and to whose care I will be entrusted). And we'll see how it goes.

Pray for me!!!

Monday, June 7, 2010

On the Defeat of Satan...

I just read this article on "Original Sin According to St. Paul," which, in it's conclusion, has these powerful thoughts (emphases in original):

Both Roman scholastics and Protestants are undeniably heretical in their doctrines of grace and ecclesiology simply because they do not see any longer that salvation is only the union of man with the life of God in the body of Christ, where the devil is being ontologically and really destroyed in the life of love. Outside of the life of unity with each other and Christ in the sacramental life of corporate love there is no salvation, because the devil is still ruling the world through the consequences of death and corruption. Extra-sacramental organizations, such as the papacy, cannot be fostered off as the essence of Christianity because they are clearly under the influence of worldly considerations and do not have as their sole aim the life of selfless love. In Western Christianity, the dogmas of the Church have become the object of logical gymnastics in the classrooms of philosophy. What is usually taken as natural human reason is set up as the exponent of revealed theology. The teachings of the Church concerning the Holy Trinity, Christology, and Grace, are no longer the accepted expressions of the continuous and existential experience of the body of Christ, living within the very life of the Holy Trinity through the human nature of Christ, in whose flesh the devil has been destroyed and against whose body (the Church) the gates of death (hades) cannot prevail.
...
The enemy of life and love can be destroyed only when Christians can confidently say, "we are not ignorant of his thoughts." Any theology which cannot define with exactitude the methods and deceptions of the devil is clearly heretical, because such a theology is already deceived by the devil. It is for this reason that the Fathers could assert that heresy is the work of the devil.


Wow. Good stuff. I highly recommend reading the whole thing. So go follow the link above already!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

NOTE: This post is somewhat personal, but it's a personal blog, so what the hay. If you don't want to see the personal side of me, close the tab/window, and wait for my next post(s).

Here goes! *holds breath and dives in*
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I recently wondered (via my status update on Facebook), if I will ever be "normal."

Let me explain. You see, as far as I know, most guys actually know how to be good friends with females their own age, without getting delusions of grandeur and romance about these friendships. By which I mean getting a crush on Every. Single.1 One.2

Most guys. Not me. Uh-uh. No, yours truly has to run his heart through the meat grinder for each one before anything resembling a normal friendship with them happens. *facepalm*

Thankfully, there's usually someone whom I can get to slap me real hard (either literally or metaphorically) and snap me out of it. Not always, though.3 And even when there is, it doesn't always "stick".4 :(

It sneaks up on me, too. By the time I see it coming, it's already here, and it's too late to do anything about it except ride it out, or seek out the person who can best do the slapping mentioned above (the identity of this person changes case-by-case).5

Now, I'm getting better at hiding it (I think), so most of the time they don't even know it. Or if they do, they have the good grace to pretend they don't.6 7 8

Anybody9 got any advice?10 This is really annoying to me.11

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1NB: "Single" here is to be read both ways -- individual, and not married. There seems to be a switch somewhere in my head that turns off this whole problem if I know the friend is married. That's good, I guess, since that would just cause more problems. But I digress.

2In turn, of course. Usually not all at the same time, although that did happen once — 'twas a very confusing time for me, let me tell ya!

3When there isn't one, the crush wears off; but it takes a whole lot longer. On the other hand, it usually doesn't hurt (me) as much, either. Kind of 6-of-one, 1/2-dozen-of-the-other, I guess.

4Thus this post.

5You'd think I'd have learned by now! But what am I supposed to do — stop making female friends? I'm pretty sure that's not it.

6For those of you who might be reading this who fall into the "knew it, but pretended you didn't" category — a huge thank you.

7Incidentally, it's the ones that don't know or pretend they don't know, who actually wind up being normal friends later, and usually really good ones. Ironic, ain't it? Sucks for me, though. (Actually, it's good in the long run, but the getting there burns something fierce.)

8Some who have noticed and didn't like it have "back-channeled" their discomfort to me through friends. That's always appreciated. Although every time this happens, I've been over it, or coming out the other end; so they've been behind the curve. Oh well.

9Male or female, any age, married or single — I'm taking all perspectives.

10I've disabled comments here, for this post, just because it's kind of personal, and I feel like I should. So if you've got advice, call me, text me, PM me on FB, send a carrier pigeon, smoke signals, sky writing...something.

11And I imagine it's pretty annoying to the ladies, too.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Found it! (Finally!)

Eureka! Eureka! Eureka!

No, I'm not running naked down the streets of old Syracuse.

Why so excited, Steve? Call it a little thing, but it always bothered me when Paul writes in Romans 3:10, "As it is written," and proceeds with a litany of accusations against the world that, with the exception of the rest of verse 10, is not found as a single passage anywhere in the Bible, yet it seems like he's quoting a single passage.

For eight verses, Paul is quoting Old Testament Scripture. But where is it found?

Some Bibles have references in the margins. Most Bibles reference the following verses, and have Paul bouncing all over the Scripture. Go ahead, look them up and compare. I'll wait.

Rom. 3:10b-12Ps. 14:1b-3
Rom. 3:13aPs. 5:9
Rom. 3:13bPs. 140:3
Rom. 3:14Ps. 10:7
Rom. 3:15-17Is. 59:7, 8
Rom. 3:18Ps. 36:1


You're back. Ok, that's a fairly decent compilation. So that solves the "where's it written?" question.1

Sort of. It's always bothered me that he treats this as one passage of scripture. In every other place where he compiles scripture together, he puts a divider between the quotes, such as "and again" (Rom. 15: 9-12; I Cor. 3:19, 20; Heb. 1:5, 6; 2:12, 13; 10:30), or "and in another place," (Heb. 5:5, 6).

So why not here? It's always struck me as though Paul is quoting from one passage. But since I couldn't find this as one passage anywhere, I figured, "Oh well, I guess not."

Now, I recently got hold of an English translation of the Septuagint (hereinafter referred to as LXX), which is well known to be the actual Scriptures used by the Greek-writing apostles for quoting Old Testament Scriptures, most of the time verbatim.

I've been reading my daily Psalms out of this translation this month. Since yesterday was the 3rd, I was reading Ps. 11-15, in the LXX numbering (it's off by one starting halfway through 9, since the LXX combines Ps. 9 & 10. For consistency, I will use the Hebrew numbering for this post, even when referring to the LXX. So, put that way, I was reading Ps. 12-16.)

I noticed that 14:3 is much longer than I was expecting! In fact, as I read it, I thought I had switched over to Rom. 3:10ff for a second. It was the whole passage, almost verbatim! Just to be sure, I checked my KJV (closest Hebrew translation Bible to hand), and sure enough, v.3 ends at "[there is] none that doeth good, no, not one." And v.4 reads just like the LXX v.4, so it's not like it's just that the verse numbering is different (as is the case in some passages).

(Now, it wasn't an exact match in English. Very close, but not precise.

But don't worry; just to be sure, I checked the actual underlying Greek of both passages, and it is, in fact, word-for-word2. And it's all one passage, just like I always got the impression it should have been. :) )

So what's my point?

Clearly, the Greek translators added these verses (or at the least compiled them into the Psalm from the other places listed above), some 300 years before Paul wrote Romans. The kicker is that Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, accepted this editing/adding as inspired Scripture.3

1) Therefore, those who would throw out, as not "inspired by God", the "additions" in the LXX to various Old Testament books, and the so-called "extra" books, have no ground for doing so, because, as Paul demonstrates by actual use,

2) the "All Scripture" he's got in mind in 2 Tim. 3:16 includes the "additions" in question, and he definitively says that this "all Scripture" is "inspired of God."

3) Those who object to the so-called "apocrypha" on doctrinal grounds, would do well to remember that

    a) these are included in the very same LXX that Paul says is "inspired", and "[is] profitable for doctrine...",
    b) and, therefore, we ought to judge our doctrine by those books, and not those books by our doctrine.

4) Furthermore, those who claim to practice "Sola Scriptura", would do well to include "all Scripture" in that claim, including the "additions" that they so blithely threw out during the Reformation, just because they didn't agree with their preconceived dogmas (see point 3 above).

5) Finally, to those who are "KJV Only", even if you don't agree with some of these conclusions, remember that, at the very least, your KJV is missing a good chunk of fully inspired Scripture out of Ps. 14:3. I'm just sayin'. :)

Anyway, it's late, and I need to get to bed ("for he giveth his beloved sleep!")

'Nite.
--------------------------
1We take into consideration that Paul combines the phrase
The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, [and] seek God.
with the obvious "and didn't find any" conclusion, and then (for parallelism, one would assume?) just says,
There is none that understandeth,
there is none that seeketh after God.

If this is merely a compilation, Paul appears to take similar liberties with the other verses, particularly Isaiah 59: 7, 8.

2Except for the parallelism adjustment from Ps. 14:2 to Rom. 3:11, mentioned in Footnote 1, which is, apparently, a separate issue.

3Some might say, "Then is the Book of Enoch also to be considered Holy Scripture, based on Jude 14?" Perhaps. But this is not clear. In my opinion, "no", since Jude does not use the introductory phrase, "it is written," which seems to me to be the key indicator that the writer (or speaker, viz. Jesus in Matt. 4) is about to quote what he considers to be inspired, Holy Scripture.

On the one hand, if merely quoting from an "extra-biblical" source puts said source into the "inspired" category, then the heathen Greek poets Epimenides (Acts 17:28, Titus 1:12) and Menander (1 Cor. 15:33) would also have to be considered inspired.

On the other hand, that Jude is relying on the book of Enoch as valid prophecy could mean that Jude considered the book of Enoch to be inspired.

So, when "it is written" is not used, it's not nearly as clear of an issue.

QOTD: On Living the Scriptures

From here.

St. Paul, writing to the Corinthians (2 Cor. 3:3) …”you are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.” This gives a new meaning to the “New Testament Church.” Now we can see that it means the Church which is the “New Testament,” and this same New Testament continues to be read in the Churches who have preserved that same faith.

It is simply not enough to study the Scriptures. We must become the Scriptures so that all might read Christ in our heart and know the Truth of the gospel. Talk about the gospel will not save the world. Only the gospel enfleshed in human lives can be said to constitute preaching. This is what Christians are ordained (Baptized) to do.

Friday, April 9, 2010

QOTD...

From Apostolic Observation, by Fr. Patrick Reardon.

[I]t is fundamental to the Christian faith that we are not saved by an idea, not even a religious and moral idea, but by God's direct intrusion into our history.


This is the quote I originally started this post for, but here's the next paragraph, which, to me, is just awesome!

This affirmation, we contend, pertains to the very essence of the Christian faith as expressed in its earliest formulation by St. Peter: "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." This is the event by which human history acquires significance and every human life receives the offer of salvation.


'Nough said.

Random life update...

I've posted a lot on theological issues, and a couple of times on political issues. But I haven't really posted much on my life.

A conversation with some (relatively new, but fairly awesome) friends recently has put it in my mind to write a short (by necessity) biography of my life so far. So that's in the works.

But for this post, I just wanted to give a quick rundown of some things I've enjoyed recently. Here they are, in whatever order popped into my head at the moment. :)

I very much enjoyed Becoming Orthodox, by Fr. Peter Gillquist.

A couple of weeks ago, I went with a group from church to the Holy Virgin Cathedral in San Francisco for their Annual Lenten Retreat.

I'm currently reading Changes, by Jim Butcher. It's pretty good so far!

I need to get together with some friends for "powder therapy" (read: fun at the shooting range) again soon. :)

I'm currently (like, as I type) listening to Ancient Faith Radio streaming live. I've also been enjoying the podcast collections Our Life in Christ and At the Intersection of East and West immensely.

I'm going through "Lent withdrawal." I've only been to one church service after Sunday this week, and I feel like someone used to eating three meals a day who is now forced to subsist on one (albeit large) meal every other day. I can't wait (although I'm gonna have to) until tomorrow night! (Vespers service.)

I'm going to a friend's birthday party tonight.

Well, that's it for now. I'm going to lunch. :-D

Christ is Risen!

Excuses, Excuses....

It has been nearly two months since I posted anything on here. Here are my excuses. :)

  1. I have been extremely busy, especially with Lent.

  2. I have several posts in the works (drafts), but I've not had the time to finish them.

  3. Hey, I'm posting now, am I not? LOL

  4. I'm exploring a much richer, deeper, older tradition of the church than the one I have, until recently, participated in; and the more I learn the less I know. Or at least, the more there is on which I feel I'm being completely arrogant to render an opinion.



I sincerely hope that problem #4 never goes away, although I do hope it diminishes somewhat.

I will still continue to post, but please just take the posts for what they are: my opinion, at the moment. There are certainly some things that are "written in stone," as it were. But not nearly everything I write or say.

Ok, enough for now. Back to work for Steve. :)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Complementarianism...Why?

I just finished reading this post, entitled "Why women cannot be head pastors", by C. Michael Patton, whose insights I usually find spot on.

However, I must disagree with his argument on this one, for the simple reason that it's not rooted in anything but a generalization, as several of the egalitarians, and a couple of the complementarians even, have pointed out in the comments (to his post, not this one — as of the time of writing at least).

I am a complementarian as well, and as such it pains me to see this kind of argument being offered, because of it's weakness. Since it comes from someone who normally offers great insights, my fear is that people will get the impression, as one commenter did, that this is the best complementarians have to offer.


EDIT 2/16/2010 10:33PM PST: Mr. Patton has clarified that he was not making an argument for complementarianism, but rather speculating on God's reason for the design, assuming it's true. However, I believe this post speaks to that as well.


So what do I have to offer better? Well, in this case not I, but the Eastern Orthodox Church. (One might hope they would, since they are about at patriarchal a hierarchy as one will find anywhere!) I am particularly enthusiastic about this explanation, because it is not rooted in opinion, or subjectivity. It is an argument from theology, clearly backed by Scripture.

As a preface, I offer the following:
  • This is a long post; but if you hang in there to the end, I think you'll find it rewarding.
  • The following quotes come from the book, The Faith: An Orthodox Catechism, by Mr. Clark Carlton, a convert to Orthodoxy, previously Southern Baptist. In particular, they come from the Special Study entitled "God and Gender", found at the end of the chapter "The Mystery of Love."
  • The running commentary is mine. :)
  • All emphases are in the original, unless otherwise noted.

Ok, now that that's done, let's get started.

Few issues are as explosive in our society as those involving gender and religion.

Well, we're off to a good and obvious start. :) Moving on...

The Orthodox Christian addresses these issues within the framework of the Church's self-understanding as the Bride of Christ. Whether the issue at hand is "inclusive language," the role of women in the Church, or homosexual desire, the answer lies in the great mystery: Christ and the Church.

Well, that's a new angle! No, seriously, I'd never seen anyone come at it from this angle before. And to lump having women pastors together with homosexuality? Well, this is either going to be really good or really rubbish. Let's find out...

The peoples of the ancient world frequently worshipped[sic] female deities, accepted priestesses, and thought nothing of homosexual behavior. Israel, however, stood alone in rejecting all of these practices. The reason for this lies in God's revelation of Himself as being radically distinct from His creation.

We have said that the world was created ex nihilo [this was covered in an earlier chapter]. Between the being of God and the being of the world there is an irreducible gulf. The world is not God, has never been God, and will never be God. The fact that God has united creation to Himself in the Incarnation in no way destroys the distinction between the Uncreated and the created. In Christ we participate in the uncreated grace of God, becoming by that grace what He is by nature, yet we never cease being creatures; our created nature is never transformed into the divine nature.

Ok, he's saying is that there is a huge difference between us and God. While it is true that through Christ we are partakers of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4), we have not been, are not, and never will be "transformed into the divine nature." That is to say, none of us will ever "have life in himself" (John 5:26); we will always be created, contingent beings. This is the the difference between God and His Creation.

Once again, I'm encouraged by the obvious nature of his propositions. Hopefully, he'll keep it up...

This difference between God and the world is expressed iconically by the disexuality of human nature. In the Divine Scriptures, God is always represented by the male and creation by the female.

STOP!!! Or rather, don't stop. Reading that is. Before you point out that female imagery is sometimes used to refer to God (e.g. "as a mother hen", and others), etc. — don't worry: he's getting to that.

Remember, he said at the beginning of the study that this is in relation to the Church's "self-understanding as the Bride of Christ." This becomes immediately apparent with the next sentence.

God is the Bridegroom, and the world — or more precisely, the Church, which is the world recreated in Christ — is the Bride.

Go back and read that sentence again, since it is foundational to the whole argument. Got it? Ok, let's keep going.

Here's the part where he caveats about the female imagery:

God, of course, is neither male nor female; He is beyond all such created concepts. Nevertheless, He has given us certain images and concepts whereby we have come to know Him. Though these concepts can never fully describe or define the indescribable God, we are nonetheless bound by them.

It is true that the Scriptures occasionally use female imagery in regard to God. For example Christ said of Jerusalem: O Jerusalem, Jerusalem . . . how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chicken under her wings, and ye would not (Matthew 23:27). This is, however, a simile. Christ called God "Father," not "Mother." Christ is the "Son" of God, not the "Daughter" of God.

Now is where it start really getting powerful. However, he commits a whole paragraph to "inclusive" language. This paragraph is well-written, but not apropos to the discussion at hand, so I'll skip it. Moving on, we find:

From this [i.e. the iconic relationship of God/male and Creation/female] it should be evident why it is impossible for the Church to have priestesses [or female pastors]. The male, because he is a creature, can represent God only iconically. The female, however, is creation. The Church is essentially female.

Even though it's in the middle of a paragraph, I'll pause for you to re-read that last sentence, and absorb it.

Ok, ready to continue?

If, therefore, the priest — who is the image of Christ the Bridegroom — is a female, then what happens to the male principle? ...[T]he distinction between Creator and creation is destroyed, and a new religion is born.

Wait, what?

"[T]he priest...is the image of Christ"? Since when? Phrased this way, this statement seems to espouse a distinctively non-Protestant doctrine. Well, let me explain. First off, for those of you worried that he is advocating popish dogma — he is not. In the Orthodox tradition, the priest is not viewed as the "vicar" of Christ — that doctrine is (rightly) viewed as a Roman heresy.

But as I said, the statement, when phrased this way, can be confusing to the non-Orthodox. Let me elucidate:

Even in Protestant circles, the pastor is viewed as the under-shepherd to the One Shepherd. In the same manner, the pastor, as the visible leader of the assembly, is viewed as "head" (distinctly lowercase "h") of the church (distinctly lowercase "c") he leads.

So is the priest/pastor Christ? No. Most emphatically not. But does his role in the service mirror and symbolize that of Christ? Yes. I have heard many times in various Baptist churches that in Heaven, the departed saints are "doing church" at the same time we are, and Christ Himself is the Pastor. (This is also a very Orthodox teaching, even if the Baptists do not realize it. :))

The logical implication, if they would care to think about it, is that the pastor in the earthly church service is the "placeholder" for Christ in the heavenly one. He is "image", however imperfect, of the One Head of the Church.

Most Protestants will better understand this when stated symbolically, instead of iconographically; but the concept is the same.

Putting this understanding back into Orthodox parlance, we get, "the priest...is the image of Christ the Bridgegroom."

Now that we've got that under our belt, let's continue. I'll back up a little to get us back in the flow:

If the priest[/pastor]...is a female...the distinction between Creator and creation is destroyed, and a new religion is born. Actually, it is an old religion that is reborn — the religion of pantheism, which Israel and the Church rejected.

The last two paragraphs of the Study apply the argument against homosexuality, and so are not relevant to this discussion (although they are, IMHO, brilliant in their own right).

So we see from this that the Church understands herself as inherently female. To have a female head of the assembly, or even a plurality of heads which included some females, would destroy the imagery that is so clear in the Bible, actually recreating ancient paganism in it's place.

I would like to point out, from Scripture, some additional supports to this argument.

First, the apostle Paul's exhortation to the Ephesians (5:22ff) clearly spells out this understanding of the Church as inherently female. It also applies this imagery to the marriage relationship.

For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church...

(This, by the way, is one reason [among others] why homosexuality is wrong, and homosexual "marriage" also: it destroys this imagery. But I digress.)

It is to this relationship and imagery that Paul is referring in his letter to Timothy, which is the passage mentioned by Mr. Patton in his blog post: 1 Tim. 2:11-15.

Paul's support for his instruction is not that women are not able to be aggressive in confronting heresy. One could, I suppose, make the argument that, since Adam was not deceived, and Eve was, men are somehow better at spotting heresy.

But "one" would be wrong; Adam did not confront the heresy at all, but rather actively succumbed to it. He just did it with his eyes wide open.

Paul's statement that the woman "was in the transgression" is not to say that Adam was not. In fact, "death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression," (Rom. 5:14, emphasis mine).

Rather, he is pointing to two things: first, the headship of the husband ("For Adam was first formed, then Eve."), which we have already asserted, and secondly, the headship of the second Adam (Christ [1 Cor. 15:22, 45]) over the second Eve (the Church).

How so?

The first Adam actively transgressed, and the first Eve "being deceived was [also] in the transgression." But the second Adam never transgressed. And if the second Eve looks to her Head for direction, (as the first Eve did not) and not to the other created beings and things (as the first Eve did), she will not be deceived, and will not transgress.

This understanding is also the crux of Paul's argument in 1 Cor. 11:2-10. But this post is already too long, so I will leave that one for now. ("Whoso readeth, let him understand.")

So, to borrow a phrase from Solomon: "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter," which I believe I have shown to be fully supported by Scripture.

For an assembly to set up a female leader for itself is for that church to to blur the distinction of God and His creation; or rather, to obliterate it! Even worse, they deny the imagery of Christ/male/head-Church/female/body, and also lose the visual reminder of their protection in Christ, the Reality to Whom the image points.

And that is why I believe we ought not have women pastors — not because men are more aggressive.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Song I started the day with..

I absolutely love this song! I sang it this morning, and could not contain the joy and gladness that the Holy Spirit wrought in me by it.

God's Perfect Lamb
by Ron Hamilton

God spoke to Israel, "Bring Me a sacrifice,
Morning and evening, ev'ry day.
Offer a spotless lamb, without a blemish.
This is the command you must obey."

Daily the lambs were brought. Daily the blood was shed,
Laid on the altar built by man.
Then at the perfect time, God said to Israel,
"I will now provide the perfect Lamb."

At God's appointed time, Jesus, Messiah, came
To make the sacrifice for all sin.
No longer bring a lamb, Jesus has paid the price,
Clap your hands and let your psalms begin!

CHORUS:
Sing Hallelujah! Praise to Jehovah!
Worship the God of Abraham!
Sing Hallelujah! Praise to Jehovah!
Once for all is slain God's perfect Lamb!

If you've heard the song, you know it has an "Israeli" feel to the tune, and it's quite easy to get to clapping. (And appropriate as well, since it is a joyful song!)

By the end of the last chorus, clapping is exactly what I was doing; when I realized this, I was immediately reminded of the Psalmist's exultation:
O clap your hands, all ye people;
shout unto God with the voice of triumph. (Ps. 47:1)

The joy is not just that He was the perfect sacrifice for sins. Indeed, that would be terrible news indeed if He simply died and that was it! The true magnificence is that He is not still on the altar — the Sacrifice is eternally sufficient. God has raised Him up again!

Now we see Him crowned with glory and honor — He Who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death...that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man. (Heb. 2:9)

Indeed,
God is gone up with a shout,
{YHWH} with the voice of a trumpet.

Satan could not bind Him;
no Grave could hold Him;
for death hath no power over Life!
Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death — that is, the devil — and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. (Heb. 2:14, 15)

The JOY is in His Life! The Psalmist distinctly links JOY with the Resurrection of our Lord, and His presence both in this life and in the life to come, when he sings:
Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth:
my flesh also shall rest in hope.
For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell;
neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

Thou wilt show me the path of life:
in thy presence is fulness of joy;
at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
(Ps. 16:10, 11)

Truly,
Blessed (happy) are all they that put their trust in him! (Ps. 2:12b

AMEN and AMEN!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Before the Throne of God Above
by Charitie L. Bancroft

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea.
A great high Priest whose Name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart.
I know that while in Heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.

Behold Him there the risen Lamb,
My perfect spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I AM,
The King of glory and of grace,
One in Himself I cannot die.
My soul is purchased by His blood,
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ my Savior and my God!