Election Day 2008, Prayer for America

Orthodox Prayer BookNov. 4, 2008

Almighty God, the Father of mercies, Lord of all Creation, and Spring of all comfort, hear our prayers, come to our defense, and deliver us from the dangers and evil that besets us and threatens to enslave us and our children. Oh Master, Jesus Christ, we beseech You to save this land and have mercy on Your people, for the days are dark and our hearts are troubled.

We believe Lord, that all trials of life are under Your care and that all things work for the good of those who love You. Take away from us fear, anxiety, and distress. Help us to face and endure these difficult and dangerous times with faith, courage, and wisdom. Grant that these trials may bring us closer to You for You are our rock and refuge, our comfort and hope, our delight and joy. We trust in Your love and compassion. For unto Thee are due all glory, honor, and worship: to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen. [Read more…]

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Our Blog Was Hacked, We Know Who Did It

Our Blog was hacked on Tuesday, Jan 29, 2008 at approximately 19:29:06. The criminal who did this erased the entire database (including all online backups) of stories, posts, and comments and deleted all the user accounts, including all administrator access. Luckily, our provider uses monitoring software on its servers and we were able to capture and restore some key information about this perpetrator. (PS – He’s not a conservative.)

We were also able to restore our Blog database as of January 24, 2008 from our off-site server backups. Over the next few days we will re-add some of the more important stories that were posted here.

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Thanking Our Veterans

Veterans Day

Human Events | Margaret Hunter | Nov. 12, 2007

“If you enjoy your freedom, thank a vet.” I read this and can barely hold back the tears. I feel that, because I am a military wife and I know exactly what it means.

It is Veterans Day, and for so many, it is just another long weekend, a day off from work. It is Veterans Day. On this day our every thought should be remembering those who so bravely fought for the very freedom we enjoy. For every American, this day should be about educating ourselves and others on why we celebrate this national holiday. On this day we express gratitude to those who continue to give up their every comfort and leave their family homes to protect the country we and they hold so dear. The men and women in uniform — past and present — are the reason why America is and always will be known as the greatest nation on earth.

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Announcing the American Orthodox Institute

The project I’ve been working on the last three years was unveiled yesterday. It’s called the American Orthodox Institute (AOI) and has this mission: The American Orthodox Institute is a research and educational organization that engages the cultural issues of the day within the Orthodox Christian moral tradition. Take a look at the AOI website to get a clearer idea of contributers, advisors, and such. Note our journal, “The Clarion Review” (new website for Clarion in the works), which has been receiving praise and press in Europe. My latest article, “Orthodox Leadership in a Brave New World” is also included. The opening was a collaboration between AOI and Conciliar Media Ministries.

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Talked to Terri Schiavo’s lawyer today

I heard Terry Schiavo’s lawyer today at a small meeting. We ended up talking privately for about twenty minutes about a host of topics. A very bright and engaging man. He had some very interesting points such as the different ways the American and non-American press reported her death, what her death was like (he escorted Mrs. Schindler when she visited Terry as she lay dying), why he took the case, evidence that Terry was not in a vegetative state (testimony not allowed in the record), and more. I’ll post my notes tonight if I have time.

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Back from Wilma’s wrath — sort of

Wilma unleashed its fury Monday night cutting a swath through southern Florida leaving a considerable amount of damage in its wake. Naples got hit hard, particularly downtown as well as points south. The forecasts were relatively accurate and most people were prepared before it arrived. The winds blew all night long and well into the next day. They started abating around noon. Then the temperature dropped (a gift given that all the power was out; after Charlie we sweltered for days), and the sky cleared. No rains.

I sustained little damage on my house, mostly because it was built after Andrew hit Florida causing a massive revamp in building codes. Trees are uprooted all over the place but by today all roads are clear except in the hardest hit areas. Stop lights were ripped from their posts but everyone is a bit more civilized in the hardship and traffic moved smoothly overall. Some of the major intersections still have police officers but other areas are already fixed. Power is being restored except in the hardest hit areas (mine came back this morning), but phone service except for cell phones is still down in many areas. (I’m writing this at a coffee and sandwich place with free wi-fi.)
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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.’
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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