Thursday, May 18, 2006

From the Big Brother file...


"I approve."


Congress may make ISPs snoop on you

Comment: This is precisely the shrill "think about the children" type crap that makes my skin crawl. Fear seems to be the magical (and time tested) ingredient all governments (and wannabe Caesars) have used to increase their powers in open societies. If the fear of another well timed "terrorist attack" is just a little too abstract for some, protecting "little Billy and Sally" certainly seems to be a little more concrete. Of course the question people need to be asking is "just how much is freedom worth?" - for if the "big brother" argument for state intrusion into our personal lives is taken to it's logical conclusion, we'd all be alot "safer" if we had cameras everywhere (including in our homes), and tracking devices implanted in everyone from birth. Indeed, why take chances at all - why not simply give everyone a (mandatory!) state funded/supplied daily dose of tranquilizers to keep us all docile and pliable? Dammit, why even live at all; it's simply too "risky"!

People often piously repeat the mantra "freedom comes with a price"...but how seriously do most of us really take this? Typically when the well conditioned masses utter this phrase (or something like it), they have the statist wet-dream of "total war" in mind. Few however, consider the most genuine interpretation of this saying - namely that to have the ability to live, is to in some wise be open to suffering. Just as there is no possibility for greatness in cowards, the joys of liberty come with the price of having to withstand those who will use their freedom in unsavory (and even vile) ways. Of course this doesn't mean we should become impotent and let ourselves be walked all over by sociopaths and leeches - but it does mean that if we are going to be free, we'd better be prepared to deal with the often unpleasant task of withstanding such people. To expect to be handed "good" in this life without offering the necessary "sacrifices" is childish. Only the bully and the coward (who really are only two sides of the same coin) want to be spared this, having the conceit that they can really "have their cake and eat it too."

This is beside the fact that the current regime in Washington has already proven that it does not operate within the rule of law, and is quite keen on "taking a mile" where an inch has been offered. Keep in mind these are the beasts who lump "trade unionists" and "peace activists" with terrorists.

Please God, no!

Uh oh...

...apparently The Da Vinci Code (film) sucks.

And one of it's stars (Sir Ian McKellen) doesn't seem to think much of the material it's based upon either...

"I doubt if people have read 'The Da Vinci Code' more than once. It's like a crossword. Once you've done the crossword you don't rub it out and do it all over again and go onto another one, do you? I don't."

Thursday, March 23, 2006

From the "Religion of Peace" file...

PM calls Karzai to express concern over Christian

Prime Minister Stephen Harper phoned Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai Wednesday to express his concerns about an Afghan man facing a death penalty for converting from Islam to Christianity. ...

Forty-year-old Abdul Rahman has been charged with rejecting Islam under Afghanistan's laws. ...

Rahman was arrested last month after police discovered him in possession of a Bible during questioning over a custody dispute.

Footage of Rahman at last week's hearing shows him leafing through a Bible before saying, "They want to sentence me to death and I accept it, but I am not a deserter and not an infidel. I am a Christian, which means I believe in the Trinity."


Comment: So let me get this straight... billions of dollars were spent overthrowing the Taliban regime in the name of defending "human rights", and in it's place we now have a semi-Islamic regime who actually would even consider prosecuting (and executing!) someone for converting to Christianity? Wow, what an improvement!

At the same time though, these guys (Muslims) are beginning to really test my patience. My fundamental problem with the U.S.'s adventures in the Middle East has always been their stated basis; I frankly believe this ("getting Osama bin Ladin" or "defending human rights" or "confiscating weapons of mass destruction", etc. etc.) has always been a pack of crap. I also have issues with the real reasons the Bush White House has been persuing these campaigns - specifically, the attempt to fulfill long standing neo-conservative goals (most of whom are formr 60's marxists/leftists; all that's changed is their means to achieving government induced utopia, not their utopianism), which they were salivating over well before that fateful day back in 2001.

However this is not to say I've ever been impressed with how the Muslim world "does business." While there are certain aspects of Islam (like it's basic insistance upon modesty, public expression of religious belief, etc.) which are of themselves laudable, the truth is that these and the "brighter points" one will find in Islamic history are all things the Islamic world absorbed from elsewhere. The high Islamic philosophy/mysticism of the early middle ages owes infinitely more to the influence of Eastern Christian monasticism and pagan Hellenic philosophy than it ever could to Mohammed. More to the point, this "brighter side" of Islam has not survived, but only exists in a much maligned (by Muslims) periphery; Al-Farabi, Avicenna, Averroes, Rumi, etc. are either utterly ignored now or regarded by Muslims as heterodox (whether after their lifetimes, or in the case of Averroes, while still living). You don't need to look hard to find popular screeds amongst Sunni Muslims against "Sufism", which now is practiced only by a few who call themselves Muslims, and only outside of the big Islamist states.

Ultimately I believe Islam to be a demonic caricture of Christianity; it takes pretty much all of the claims of the Church (exclusive path to salvation, the final revelation of God, catholicity/universality, etc.) and applies them to a perverted theology and soteriology, and further, spreads them with an iron fist wherever it feels it can get away with it.

Were the American campaigns in the Middle East truly "neo-Crusades", I'd actually be much more sympathetic, since it's quite clear that the Mohammedans are not capable of living in "pluralistic" world, and have a nasty habit of brutalizing those who don't believe as they do whenever they get the chance. True, Christians of all stripes have themselves been guilty of this too - but the key difference being, such violent intolerance does not characterize essentially Christian behaviour (and this becomes clear if one actually studies the history of Christendom), and only becomes possible if one goes out of their way to ignore our Lord Jesus Christ. So basically, Christians behaving in this manner is contrary to even the simplest reading of the Gospels. OTOH., Islamist violence (both now and in the past) is an essential element of their creed; it was practiced and encouraged by the founder of their religion, and is enshrined in their "bible" (the Qur'an.)




Canadian, British peace hostages freed in Iraq

Two Canadian aid workers and a British colleague held hostage in Iraq for nearly four months were freed Thursday during a military operation led by multinational forces. ...

"I'm delighted that now we have a happy ending to this terrible ordeal for Norman Kember, for his family, for the Canadian hostages, and for their families as well,'' said Straw.

One of the four men taken hostage in November was killed. The body of American Tom Fox was found in Baghdad earlier this month.

"There's one last, very sad point, which is that there were four hostages captured originally, including one, an American, Mr. Fox, and it's a matter of great sorrow to everybody that he was killed a little while ago," said Straw. ...

The three freed aid workers are all members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams. ...

The four aid workers were kidnapped at gunpoint on Nov. 26 by a group calling itself the Swords of Righteousness Brigades. ...


Comment: The thing I find most obnoxious about the above situation, is that the four men who were abducted (of whom one was murdered by the abducters) were in Iraq precisely because they oppose the war and wanted to help the Iraqi people in various charitable capacities. Also, these folks were not "700 Club" style evangelicals; my understanding is that they're all from fairly mainline (and liberal) Protestant denominations, and while I don't doubt their seriousness, obviously don't believe in the necessity of prosyletism to "save the souls" of Muslims. Yet, this is the "thanks" they get from these Islamist jerks, for simply trying to "help the locals out."

It's long been my observation, that most old world Muslims are losers. I don't mean this in the glib way a snotty teenager would, or even as some kind of put down of Islam itself. Rather, I mean it in a very simple and practical way; these people not only do not know how to advance their cause, they go out of their way to sabotage themselves. They seem to do their best to piss all over those who are sympathetic to their grievances, breed ill will where it was not present previously, and force people who would like to help them on the basis of normal human compassion (and even give them some justice in areas where they really have been wronged, like in Palestine) to instead assume a distant, even militantly defensive posture toward them.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Isaac "Chef" Hayes quits 'South Park'

Soul singer Isaac Hayes, who voices the suave, ladies man Chef on the hit animated satire South Park, has quit the show over its continual ridiculing of religion.

Comment: While I'd like to give Mr.Hayes the benefit of the doubt, I think the creators of the show have a point when they observe that his "sudden case of religious sensitivity" only arose after the show lampooned Isaac's own religion, Scientology.

P.S. If you're interested in seeing the "offending episode" on Scientology, you can view it online in at these links (Real Player Format or .AVI), hosted by the Operation Clambake website.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Questions/puzzlings about Angels

Different Status/Tests of Different Ranks?

I was reading this morning that apparently at one time, St.Augustine entertained the idea that there were two basic classes amongst the Angels - those who were "created in glory" and who never fell, and those of lesser orders for whom it was possible to fall. Of them, some did, and some did not. He eventually dropped this position. I'd be curious to hear from anyone who knows more than I do about this topic, because depending upon what is within legitimate Orthodox opinion, the following may or may not be easier to explain...

"The Sons of God" of Genesis Chapter 6

I'm curious about what is "kosher" within the realm of Orthodoxy on this subject, since there are Fathers who put different spins on this. For example, a number of the early Fathers held the opinion that at least some of the fallen angels fell during the period just before the Great Deluge, being guilty of fornication with women (this is based upon a literal interpretation of Genesis chapter 6.) Personally, I find it difficult to not see the story told in Genesis 6 as being anything but a case of heavenly beings coming down to earth and doing unclean things with mortal women, and begetting monstrous children as a result. This was also fairly common belief in pre-Rabbinic Judaism (as the inter-testament writings make fairly apparent).

It would also seem to imply (if true) the possibility that there are angels who could still fall. This seems strange, but it may possibly explain St.Paul's words in 1st Corinthians chapter 11. While he is discussing the issue of women covering their heads while praying, he says...

"That is why a woman ought to have a veil on her head, because of the angels." (1st Corinthians 11:10)

If this isn't the sense of this verse, then I'm at a loss how to explain it. Again, I'm soliciting the opinions of others on this one.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

(Yawn)...

Paul McCartney and his wife make a stink about Canadian seal hunt

Scrappy Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams faced off against rock legend-turned-animal rights crusader Paul McCartney during a heated debate on Canada's annual seal hunt Friday night, accusing the former Beatle and his wife of being gravely misinformed.

"First of all, the information that hasn't been given is that 90 per cent of these seals are killed by bullets, they are not all clubbed," Williams said in a debate that aired on CNN's Larry King Live, as Heather Mills McCartney shook her head in apparent disbelief.

...

"If you take the McCartneys' arguments to the extreme that they are willing to go, there will be no beef slaughter, there will be no pork slaughter, there will be no chicken slaughter, there will be no fish in restaurants, there will be no eggs, there will be no milk for children," Williams said.

...

Meanwhile, Newfoundland musician Alan Doyle of Great Big Sea added his voice to the hunt debate saying the McCartneys' photo op on the ice is misleading and unfair.

"There has not been a cute and cuddly baby seal hunt in a long, long time," Doyle said in a journal entry from the group's current tour, pointing out that Canada has banned the killing of newborn, whitecoat pups.

"Older harp seals are what the sealers are after, but I'll bet these much uglier dudes won't make the final photo."

The McCartneys have garnered two days of intense media attention for their protest of the hunt.

The couple frolicked with harp seal pups on a Gulf of St. Lawrence ice floe Thursday as a throng of photographers recorded the event.


Comment: Besides the obvious dishonesty of posing with cute/cuddly critters who are not even legal prey in Canada, the Premier of Newfoundland was correct - to be consistant, you'd have to outlaw all animal slaughter to be consistant. If anything, I'd go so far as to say these wild seals have much better lives (well, at least when they're not being eaten alive by killer whales) than animals raised on modern factory farms.

In the end though, windbags like McCartney, Pamela Anderson and the rest of the "bored and privileged" PETA goons would be a lot more credible in my eyes if they started every one one of their "humane treatment" campaigns with a stop at the local "Planned Parenthood" clinic - raise a stink there, and perhaps throw a little red paint on the abortionists' cars.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Strange yet true

(courtesy of the Octopodial Chrome weblog)

Black and White Twins!


...Which one of these kids is doing her own thing?
Can you tell, before my song is done? Can you guess which kid...

To be rich and famous

Don't let anyone tell you that it's all fun and games being rich and famous...err.. uh, no, cancel that.

Free stuff Hollyweirdos get at the Oscars

Thursday, March 02, 2006

I thought this was worth saving.

(What follows is a posting I made over at the "Catholic Answers Forum" with regard to a link someone posted. The link led to a Roman Catholic apologetics website, with all sorts of "proof texts" which supposedly justified the innovative and divisive teachings of Catholicism regarding the Papacy. Some spelling errors on my part have been fixed.)




(this text caption was written by a Roman Catholic at the C.A. Msg. Forum)

Roman Catholic... All Christian Churches where loyal to the successor of Peter at least at one time.

Check the quotes out here:
http://www.catholic.com/library/church_papacy.asp


It would be far too time consuming to go through each citation, so I will simply take one of the documents listed at that address and give some examples of what I mean.

Peter's Successors

This list is itself a very tangled web of things which either need to be given a historical context, or the citations are used in such a way as to misrepresent the intentions of their authors.

First, some history...

St.Constantine issued the Edict of Milan in 313 A.D., which legalized Christianity. Afterward, he showered the Church with all sorts of privileges. He also moved the Imperial capital from Rome to the previously minor city of Byzantium which was renamed "Constantinople" and "Nova Roma" or "New Rome." This created some uneasiness for the Bishop of Elder Rome.

This anxiety became much more pronounced however, after the Second Ecumenical Council, whose third canon clearly states that the See of Constantinople was to have the "second rank" on the basis of being the "New Rome", with the obvious implication in it's wording that Old Rome's pre-eminance was in some wise conditioned by it's being the Imperial City at one time. The Council of Constantinople was called in 381 while Damasus was Pope, hence the timing of this passage is quite understandable...

"Likewise it is decreed: . . . [W]e have considered that it ought to be announced that . . . the holy Roman Church has been placed at the forefront not by the conciliar decisions of other churches, but has received the primacy by the evangelic voice of our Lord and Savior, who says: 'You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it; and I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you shall have bound on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you shall have loosed on earth shall be loosed in heaven' [Matt. 16:18-19]. The first see [today], therefore, is that of Peter the apostle, that of the Roman Church, which has neither stain nor blemish nor anything like it" (Decree of Damasus 3 [A.D. 382]).


This decree is quite a departure from older statements both within Italy and abroad about Rome's honour and privileges, as will be shown later.

Pope Damasus' words here, sadly, are a case of "Church politics". Rome obviously was not unique in involving itself in such affairs - this has always been a temptation within the Orthodox Church, as jurisdictional shoving matches still exist to this day...so this is nothing unique. It's fallen human nature at work.

Rome for a very long time refused to acknowledge or approve of the third canon. Yet, this didn't seem to phase anyone else in the Church, as it was received everywhere else. However, Rome did eventually recognize this canon - centuries later, during the Crusades, when it was able to install a Latin Bishop in the See of Constantinople in the year 1215 A.D. (said canon was also recognized yet again by Rome during the re-union attempt at the Council of Ferrara-Florence in A.D. 1439) IOW., when it suited Rome's purposes, the canon was recognized (however long after the rest of Christendom acknowledged it's force.)

What is most curious about Damasus' decree is not simply what it asserts, but what it fails to mention - this is the first time the Roman Church's honour is asserted solely on the basis of a "Petrine" connection - no connection is made to St.Paul who was at least as important to the founding of the Church in Rome. You even see this change within the relatively limited selection of "proof texts" chosen by the author of the tract. Another change was from emphazing the importance of the Roman Church, and instead conferring this upon the person of the Bishop of Rome himself - as if he was in some kind of unique dynasty, specially empowered by providence.

With regard to St.Cyprian (who is cited in the tract), anyone remotely familiar with his life and thought (and with the Council in Carthage he presided over, which concilliarly rebuked Pope Stephen for his meddling in North African Church affairs) should realize that this cannot be interpreted as an apologia for exaggerated Papal claims. This, like many of the other passages on the page in question (and others like them) are a case of people reading things into what various Fathers have said without even realizing what they've done. For many Roman Catholics, any reference to St.Peter or his importance is taken to automatically apply to the Pope - even when there is nothing in the text they're citing to warrant this interpretation.

The reality is that for the Fathers in general, St.Peter is viewed as the "type" of the Priesthood (specifically the Episcopate, which is simply the fullness of the Priesthood). All Bishops are understood by them to be "in Peter", since they are all pastors of souls. St.Peter was the first to receive the promise of the Priesthood (though in truth, all of the Apostles in fact received this power together), and he was the first to lead the infant Church of Jerusalem. He was the first to preach publicly in Christ's Name, and the first to work miracles. He was very likely also the first to preside at the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, and the first to "do" what Christ had enjoined upon all of the Apostles. Ultimately, this was all because he was the first to confess the Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, even if he was quite likely not (at the time) fully aware of the deep significance of the words which he had uttered (which our Lord said were given to St.Peter by God the Father, as a revelation, and were not a result of his own intuition.)

All Bishops do this, and indeed when diocese' began to grow large enough so as to be divided up into "parishes" led by Presbyters acting on behalf of their Bishop, so they did as well. And this is why so many Fathers will break into praise of St.Peter and consideration of his significance outside of any discussion of the Pope of Elder Rome.

That after the time of Pope Damasus you'll find Latin Christians who prop up the authority of their Patriarch with similar rhetoric (ex. St.Jerome) should not be surprising - in many ways it is reminiscent of the embarrassing "I'll out-Pope-you!" stuff you see time to time (esp. in the first millennia when this shoving match was going on) about the Ecumenical Patriarch being the "successor of St.Andrew 'the first called'", since it was a common belief that the Church in Byzantium was founded by the Apostle St.Andrew. While all of this nonsense was a source of contention and bickering, all was well so long as it stayed on that level. Unfortunately, toward the close of the first millennia this tolerable status quo was shattered, when the Popes began going well beyond bombastic attempts to shore up their canonical rights with floral references to St.Peter, and began to outright teach that they did in fact have immediate and universal jurisdiction throughout all of Christendom. This did not simply go well beyond any of the canons relating to Rome's rights which everyone agreed to, but even against what one could even imagine being entertained by Popes like Damasus or St.Gregory who were obviously very intent on not being "shoved to the side" by the Patriarch of the Imperial City.

Indeed such ideas are utterly contrary to the thought of St.Gregory the Great. When the Patriarch of Constantinople received the title "Ecumenical Patriarch", it was translated into Latin as "Patriarcha Universalis" or "Universal Patriarch". This incensed the saintly Pope not because he was thinking "hey, that's my schtick!" but rather because he rejected such an office as even being possible. While this was all a misunderstanding due to a misleading translation, St.Gregory's thoughts on the topic are 100% Orthodox. In his letter to then Ecumenical Patriarch St.John the Faster, he writes...

"Consider, I pray thee, that in this rash presumption the peace of the whole Church is disturbed, and that [the title of Ecumenical Patriarch] is in contradiction to the grace that is poured out on all in common; in which grace doubtless thou thyself wilt have power to grow so far as thou determinist with thyself to do so. And thou wilt become by so much the greater as thou restrainest thyself from the usurpation of a proud and foolish title: and thou wilt make advance in proportion as thou are not bent on arrogation by derogation of thy brethren...

"Certainly Peter, the first of the apostles, himself a member of the holy and universal Church, Paul, Andrew, John-what were they but heads of particular communities? And yet all were members under one Head... "...the prelates of this Apostolic See, which by the providence of God I serve, had the honor offered them of being called universal by the venerable Council of Chalcedon. But yet not one of them has ever wished to be called by such a title, or seized upon this ill-advised name, lest if, in virtue of the rank of the pontificate he took to himself the glory of singularity, he might seem to have denied it to all his brethren..."(Book V, Epistle XVIII)


To the Patriarchs Eugolios and Anastasius (of Alexandria and Antioch respectively) he wrote...

"This name of Universality was offered by the Holy Synod of Chalcedon to the pontiff of the apostolic see which by the Providence of God I serve. But no one of my predecessors has ever consented to use this so profane a title since, forsooth, if one Patriarch is called Universal, the name of Patriarch in the case of the rest is derogated. But far be this from the mind of a Christian that any on should wish to seize for himself that whereby he might seem in the least degree to lessen the honor of his brethren..." (Book V: Epistle XLIII)


And most strikingly, he wrote the following to the Emperor on this topic (it really bothered him that much!)...

"Now I confidently say that whosoever calls himself, or desires to be called, Universal Priest, is in his elation the precursor of Antichrist, because he proudly puts himself above all others." (Book VII: Epistle XXXIII)


This says nothing of course, of the further powers later Popes would claim for themselves over the centuries (after the schism), which would have been utterly unimaginable to anyone - the "power of the two swords", that the Pope is superior to even Ecumenical Councils and can be "judged by no one", or that the Pope could be "personally infallible". Such notions would have simply made St.Gregory the Great weep.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Well, at least they're consistant!

Sex Pistols snub "Rock and Roll Hall of Shame"

"(KP International) - One of the most influential punk bands of all time, the Sex Pistols, is being inducted into the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 13. One slight snag however: they refuse to attend. ..."

"Mr.Furley" has passed away. :-(

Monday, February 27, 2006

A humbling thought

Despite my misgivings about the "Western Rite within Orthodoxy", I have to admit something did occur to me last night at work which did give me pause - whatever my opinion on the matter, the fact is that the Western Rite parishes of the Antiochian Archdiocese (and the Holy Synod which oversees them) are in communion with my Church (OCA). Thus while I may have certain problems with how this is being carried out, I am speaking about real Priests, real Sacraments, and real Orthodox Christians.

In consideration of this, and the fact Great Lent is soon going to be upon us, I'm going to simply ask the forgiveness of my Western-Rite brethren for needlessly offending them, and remove the "offending" posting from this weblog.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

"Thought Police" = Bad News

What's Next -- Jailing Flat Earth Fans? - By Rabbi Daniel Lapin

"Austria has just sentenced an eccentric, obsessed historian to jail for three years because he expressed his opinion that Auschwitz didn't have gas chambers. David Irving violated Austria's law which provides for up to ten years imprisonment for Holocaust deniers. It is ironic that many of the people cheering this suppression of free speech in Austria are the same people decrying Moslem attempts to do the same in Denmark."

Comment: I'm always a little annoyed when I hear about states who have no enforceable laws on blasphemy against Christ and His Saints enacting laws prosecuting matters which are undoubtedly within the realm of legitimate historical inquiry. If you're interested in forming your own opinion on David Irving's work, visit his publisher's official website here, where a number of his books (whole and uncensored) are available in .PDF (Adobe Acrobat) format.

I'm hoping this will go somewhere.

South Dakota state Senate passes bill to ban nearly all abortions

"PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - Legislation meant to prompt a national legal battle targeting the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, was approved Wednesday by the South Dakota Senate, moving the bill a step closer to final passage."

Comment: If this truly re-opens the debate on abortion in the United States, I think that is a good thing. I think one of the problems has been precisely that there has been no real, open debate on this subject - just two groups spinning their wheels in opposite directions, with one group ("pro-choicers") having the issue ceded to them back in the early 70's.

Saw this coming...