Our Culture, What’s Left of It

Town Hall just published my latest review of Theodore Dalrymple’s “Our Culture, What’s Left of It: The Mandarins and the Masses”

Skydiver’s desperate prayer answered

Here’s something you don’t read everyday.
WorldNetDaily.com

Felt ‘warm embrace’ as he survived spiraling plunge to Earth

A first-time skydiver who survived a 3,500-foot plunge to Earth after his parachute failed to open properly says he experienced extraordinary comfort as he prayed on the way down.

Daniel Levi Cave, speaking from his hospital room in Seattle yesterday, told the “Today” show’s Matt Lauer he made a last-minute plea to God.

“I said, ‘OK, well, I trust you, I believe in you, and if there’s any way, I’d love to see my family again, so help me out here.’
[Read more…]

Today I spent the day…

painting a school for migrant workers in Imokalee, a town about fifty miles east of Naples in the heart of the agricultural district in S. Florida. It’s the area that grows many of the vegetables you eat in winter.

What I learned about the migrant worker situation was that many migrant workers are in the US not because their poverty at home (Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, etc.) is so desperate that stoop labor in US fields is the only way they can live. Rather, the pay they receive is so high compared to their native countries that working for four or five years alllows them to return home and set up businesses. They manage to send home about $250/week to countries where the average yearly wage is $800. After their work in America ends, they take the money to move from poverty into the middle class.

I asked the man in charge of the school and housing for migrant workers if that meant the population changes every four years. He said yes. I was always under the impression that hopelessness and despair drove them northward and they never returned. The poverty does drive them, but they return relatively wealthy. After four or five years of work they go back and don’t return.

The migrants have no insurance (they are counted in the uninsured census we hear about all of the time), but they have access to free medical care in a clinic (a small hospital actually) they can use any time. They stay in homes (some appallingly run down but others adequate for a family) that costs about $250/month. (The organization running this school and housing association has the food growers comprising over 50% of their board of directors. Clearly many of the growers are not the hard-hearted and greedy charlatans they often are portrayed to be.)

Migrant children are allowed free education in US schools, but because the migrant population is so transitory (they move to wherever the work is because they want to earn as much as they can as quickly as possible), their children don’t learn as well as they would if they remained in one place. In recent years, more families stay home while the husband comes up alone to work. (His rent averages $120/month.)

What I learned is that the migrant situation replicates the experience of almost every other immigrant group in America. They come to America because of the opportunity this nation provides for a better life.

There are others points worth pondering as well. For example, despite the tremendous physical hardship the migrant workers endure, many migrant families manage to stay intact. There is usually a Catholic church near the migrant camps that serves the families. It’s a stark contrast to American poverty which is more a function of family breakdown rather than a scarcity of goods and services.

Also, there is something honorable in their work that we can admire.

Anyway, we got the school all painted.

Orthodoxy Today hits first million visitors

Last week Orthodoxy Today reached its million visitor mark.

Book recommendation: The Cube and the Cathedral

I’m reading George Weigel’s The Cube and the Cathedral: Europe, America, and Politics Without God and want to recommend it to anyone trying to understand more deeply the religious underpinnings of culture.

Weigel posits WWI as the point where the cataclysmic dislocation from a Christian to secular atheist of European society occurred. Of course the ideas of secular atheism have antecedents in earlier epochs, but they emerged as part of Christian culture because of the great dislocation. Only when WWI ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall, has it become clear how radical the secularist atheism really is.

I’m only about a third of the way through it but there are quite a few gems in the book. (Missourian, you would like the facts on the decline of European culture; one example: Sweden has a poverty class greater than the US.) One is this: the social structures of secular atheism always work towards the destruction of people. So true when you think of it: abortion, euthanasia, etc. It’s what we call the “culture of death.”

The “Cube” of the title (La Grande Arche de la Defense) serves as counterpoint to the “Cathedral” (Notre Dame) which reflect de-Christianized Europe against a formerly Christian Europe.

Take a loot at the book the next time you are at B&N. (Better yet, order it through the link above and send a couple of quarters my way to help pay for this site.) Many OT readers will like it.

Christ is born! – 2004

The mystery of the Incarnation is expressed this evening in the coming of the Word of God as a little child. Keep Christmas as the Church prescribes it — a celebration from Nativity to Theophany — to penetrate this deep mystery and appropriate it to the measure that God allows. Christ is Born! Glorify Him! God bless all of you. Fr. Hans Jacobse.

New blog: Eastern Orthodox Business Blog

A new blog has started that discusses business and faith from an Orthodox point of view. From the site: This blog’s goal and purpose is to encourage the interaction of business men and women who are Orthodox Christians and who wish to operate their businesses within an Orthodox Christian framework.

Find it here: Eastern Orthodox Christian Business Blog

Swamped with work

I haven’t been able to contribute much lately because I’ve been swamped with work. My parish is growing. We average about 350 people on Sunday and “season” (when the people from the north come down for winter) just started so there will be more. I designing a new webpage for the parish that should be ready for prime time in abut two or three weeks. I just managed to update the main page after a six-day delay. If got my hands full right now, but it should taper off soon. I tune into the discussions though.

One thought. Are the feminists flummoxed by the conviction of Scott Peterson for the murder of his unborn child? Note how silent they are? No doubt the guilty verdict is another example of the “erosion of abortion rights.”

Meet With Keith Simmons, the USAID Mission Director for Serbia and Montenegro

Monday, November 15, 2004 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 pm
St. Sava’s Serbian Orthodox Cathedral Hall
15 West 25th
New York, NY 10024

Mr Simmons would like to meet to begin an exploratory exchange of information regarding how best to work jointly n behalf of economic stability and prosperity within Serbia and Montenegro. It is in this context that he very much welcomes the opportunity to meet with members of the US-based Diaspora.
[Read more…]

Two book reviews posted

For those of you who might have missed it, I posted two book reviews on the main page.

The first is one I wrote on “War Against the Weak” about the eugenics movement at the beginning of the last century that ultimately contributed to Hitler’s Final Solution.

The second is written by Chris Banescu, webmaster of OrthodoxNet.com, on the book “Intellectual Morons” which examines why some intellectuals fall for stupid (really stupid) and sometimes destructive ideas.

Secularism and the moral tradition

I just finished an article for Again magazine on Orthodoxy Christianity and the public square. They asked four or five authors to contribute articles on this theme, and it promises to be an interesting issue. Again is repositioning itself for a larger audience and wants to move into examing current issues from an Orthodox Christian perspective. They’ve totally revamped the visuals as well. It looks very promising.

I met the new editor, Doug Cramer, in New York at Clergy Laity who was representing Conciliar Press in the exhibit area. He’s a bright and engaging person. We ended up leaving the Congress for an hour and had coffee on the street somewhere to talk about the magazine and more. Nothing like sitting on the sidewalk talking and drinking coffee. It’s great.

Anyway, you never really know where a piece will end when you start out, but I devoted over half of it to a discussion about secularism vs. the Christian moral tradition, ie: the culture war. As I was discussing that theme here, I was also working on the article. One feeds the other I think. My final conclusion, not definitively proven but explained well enough to be compelling I think, is that secularism in the end is a Christian heresy.

Unfortunately I can’t post it until it is published which will be in September sometime.

Overall the week has been great and also liturgically full. Paraklesis on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evening. Vespers of the Transfiguration last night, and Liturgy this morning. I always like this day, particularly the relationship between the Transfiguration and the ancient Jewish Holy Day of the Feast of Booths. The Transfiguration of course occurred on the feast which is why Peter wanted to construct a booth.

By the way, the only place in Matthew where the Greek word describing the light of glory of Christ occurs again is in the description of the garment of the angel that sat on the stone after the resurrection.

I’m also busy working on building up the infrastructure of the parish. I am fortunate in that a professor of patristics just joined the parish who will be teaching at the new Catholic college (Ave Maria) being built nearby. He will help me with adult education. Today another family came by with four children from 5 to 16 years old. They moved here last week. I’m told that during “season” (the time when all northerners come back down south) attendance exceeds 400 people or so. It’s going to be busy.

We need a new web page. GOA internet services has a new program called web-builder, a point and click operation of sorts that lets you pull together a pretty decent looking site in half-a-day or so. I could build one, but I just don’t have enough time for it. I could get someone to build it, but it would take a whole lot of time explaining how I want it done. I just might try the point and click.

They also have a new service called bulletin builder. Basically you download a preformatted bulletin with all the relevant info already included — scripture readings, apolytikia, kontakia, everything . Nice. We’ll switch to that too.

It rained almost all week. Usually when it rains here is drives down hard but ends in an hour or two and then the sun comes back out. This week it rained for hours, and there were almost entire days with no sun. My car ended up getting soaked. It turns out a seal along the floor somewhere was never installed and will all the puddles water worker its way up. I ended up with almost a half inch of water on the floor. I took the car in Monday and got it back today. They ended up resealing the area in the body shop and replacing all the carpeting. Fortunately it was all on warranty. I even got a loaner. All in all, the hassle factor was minimal.

Chris Banescu article on Acton website

Chris Banescu, sometimes contributor to this site and webmaster of Orthodoxnet.com, had his article “A Hard Lesson for Home Schools” published on the Acton website.

Moving to Naples on Thursday.

The movers come tommorow, Wednesday we drive to Naples. I start officially on July 1.

Naples

It looks like I have my work cut out for me. My new parish has 214 families, averages 25-30 chrismations a year, has a notable number of Albanian immigrants, and projects rapid growth. During “season” (September to May) the parish is full so in a year or two we may have to move to two liturgies. Fortunately four retired priests live here also and help serve every Sunday.

It also has a beautiful Church recently built. (See pictures here: St. Katherine’s Greek Orthodox Church.) It’s quite a change from the storefront Church I pastored in Atlanta, but where two or three are gathered in the name of Christ, Christ is among them. The commission to preach the Gospel of Christ and the ministry derived from that commission is the same where ever one serves.
[Read more…]

Moving to a new parish

Some of you may have noticed my postings on the main page have been intermittent, I disappear for several days and then reappear, etc. It’s because I’ve been tied up with a lot of extra work closing out my ministry in Atlanta in order to start a new work at another parish.

On July 1, I start serving St. Katherine’s Greek Orthodox Church in Naples, Florida. I am going there next Monday to find a place to live, returning late in the week to serve my final liturgy in my present parish, and then moving my belongings on the Monday following. I will pop in and out as time permits. (All told I will spend 30 hours in the car in a 7 day period. Not as grueling as last summer though, when I travelled 1300 miles in one day. My car broke down in northeast Georgia. I lived in southern Florida. I got a rental while the car was being fixed and when it was ready for pick up I drove the 625 miles up and the 625 miles back in one day. I left at five in the morning and got home at 11:30 that evening. This was 100 miles farther than the distance from Minneapolis to New York City.)

My wife, daughter, and I like sun and water. Heat is better than cold we say, and growing up in Minnesota we know the difference. I served the Fort Myers parish for four years so we know the area well and look forward to returning to it. Palm trees are cool too.