When Catholics vote

Thomas Wenski, coadjutor bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Orlando, Orlando Sentinel

October 30, 2004

On Tuesday, we Catholics will join our fellow citizens in exercising the right to vote. Voting is not only a right; it is a duty — for as Scriptures teach us, we are our brother’s keeper, and voting responsibly is one way to promote the common good of our brethren in society. The welfare of our communities depends on the people we entrust with public responsibilities.
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Prophets of Baal

The American Academy of Religion slides toward decadence.

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=40819
The Gay Men’s Issues in Religion Group within the AAR has set for its theme for the program: “Power and Submission, Pain and Pleasure: The Religious Dynamics of Sadomasochism.” It also has another session on the program, half of which is devoted to transgenderism.

Last year, Gagnon says, the group featured a session on the topic: “Love Is a Many Splendored Thing: Varied Views on Polyamory.” (Don’t bother looking up that last word in the dictionary. It’s not there yet. It means having sexual relations with more than one partner at a time.)

About the “Power and Submission” topic, the program explains:

Sadomasochistic or bondage/dominance practice (sometimes also referred to as “leather sexuality”) … offers a particularly potent location for reflecting on gay men’s issues in religion.

One of the papers presented by Justin Tanis of the Metropolitan Community Church, a homosexual “denomination,” if you will, is titled “Ecstatic Communion: The Spiritual Dimensions of Leathersexuality.”

Read the entire article on the World Net Daily website.

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Quotable quotes – Wisdom from 1923

“In the sphere of religion, in particular, the present time is a time of conflict; the great redemptive religion which has always been known as Christianity is battling against a totally diverse type of religious belief, which is only the more destructive of the Christian faith because it makes use of traditional Christian terminology. This modern non-redemptive religion is called ‘modernism’ or ‘liberalism’. Both names are unsatisfactory; the latter, in particular, is question-begging. The movement designated as ‘liberalism’ is regarded as ‘liberal’ only by its friends; to its opponents it seems to involve a narrow ignoring of many relevant facts. And indeed the movement is so various in its manifestations that one may almost despair of finding any common name which will apply to all its forms. But manifold as are the forms in which the movement appears, the root of the movement is one; the many varieties of modern liberal religion are rooted in naturalism — that is, in the denial of any entrance of the creative power of God (as distinguished from the ordinary course of nature) in connection with the origin of Christianity.” J. Gresham Machen (1923)

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Death of Mother Teresa

The world was shocked as just five days after Princess Diana was killed, Mother Teresa died this day, September 5, 1997.

The daughter of an Albanian grocer, she joined an order at age 18 and began working in the slums of Calcutta. She started the Missionaries of Charity, caring for the blind, aged, lepers, crippled, and the dying.

A Nobel Prize recipient, 83-year-old Mother Teresa spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast, February 1994, which was attended by over 3,000 individuals, including the President and Mrs. Clinton and Vice-President Al Gore.
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The Treaty of Paris – September 3, 1783

“In the name of the most holy and undivided Trinity.”

This is how the Treaty of Paris began, which ended the eight-year long American Revolutionary War.

The Treaty continued: “It having pleased the Divine Providence to dispose the heart of…Prince George the Third…to forget all past misunderstandings…between the two countries…”

The Treaty was signed this day by the American leaders Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, the second President, and John Jay, the first Chief Justice, and ends with the phrase: “Done at Paris, this third day of September in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-three.”

From: The American Minute

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Thoughts on Orthodox Stewardship

George Strickland, Ph.D.
http://directionstoorthodoxy.org

Orthodox Christian stewardship is the free and joyous activity of the child of God and God’s family, the Church, in managing all of life and life’s resources for God’s purposes.

SEPTEMBER is a time of year when churches resume many of the activities that may have been put on hold during the summer months. It’s a time when planning turns into implementation. That makes it a perfect time to tap into the rich resources that are found in the talents of members and provide them opportunities to put their time and talents to work in the Lord’s kingdom.

As God’s caretakers, Orthodox stewards should care about the government God has entrusted to them. The Scriptures encourage Christians to respect government authority, obey laws, pay taxes, and be influential for good in the context of responsible citizenship [Matthew 22:21; Romans 13:1; Titus 3:1; 1 Peter 2:13].
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Understanding the religious roots of America

Francis Asbury.

300,000 miles on horseback, from the Atlantic to the Appalachians, from Maine to the Gulf of Mexico, for forty-five years, he spread the gospel.

This was Francis Asbury, Methodist Circuit riding preacher who was born this day, August 20, 1745.

When the Revolution started, he refused to return to England:

“I can by no means agree to leave such a field for gathering souls to Christ as we have in America.”

He befriended Richard Bassett, a signer of the Constitution, who converted, freed his slaves and paid them as hired labor.
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New DNC religion adviser resigns, opposed “Under God” in pledge

Aug 5, 2004
By Staff (Baptist Press)

WASHINGTON (BP)–The Democratic Party’s new religion adviser has resigned after less than two weeks at the post.

Brenda Bartella Peterson, the Democrats’ senior adviser for religious outreach, announced Aug. 4 she was leaving the job because it was “no longer possible for me to do my job effectively,” Religion News Service reported. Peterson resigned after the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights criticized her hiring in news releases on three consecutive days. In one ofits releases, the Catholic League reported Peterson signed on to a friend-of-the-court brief in support of an atheists attempt to remove the words “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that Michael Newdow of California did not have legal standing to represent his daughter in the case.
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Evangelicals Urge Bush to Do More for Sudan

Alan Cooperman, Washington Post Staff Writer, Tuesday, August 3, 2004; Page A13

Thirty-five evangelical Christian leaders have signed a letter urging President Bush to provide massive humanitarian aid and consider sending U.S. troops to stop what they called the “genocide” taking place in the Darfur region of Sudan.

The Aug. 1 letter marks a shift in focus for the evangelical movement, which previously was interested primarily in halting violence against Christians in southern Sudan. The victims in Darfur, a western province, are mostly Muslim.
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Prayer by Archbishop Demetrios at the Democratic Convention

Delivered in Boston, Wednesday evening, July 28, 2004.

Let us bow our heads to the Lord.

Heavenly King, Maker of all things and Father of all humanity, we bow our heads before you in deepest gratitude for the countless blessings which You bestow continually upon our great nation.

We thank You for the bounties of our land, for the stability of our society, and for the diversity of our American people. And above all, we thank You for the inestimable gift of freedom and for the glorious ideals of human dignity, equality, and justice for all, which have been inspired by Your grace.
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Quote – Kathleen Parker

“A secular world that ratifies homosexual marriage would provide a legal foundation that would open the floodgates to civil litigation against religious leaders, institutions and worshipers. In such an environment, churches might be sued for declining to provide their sanctuaries for gay marriages, for example. Ministers could be sued for hate speech for giving a sermon on moral behavior. Churches that protest homosexual unions could face revocation of their tax exemption status. The delicate balance between church and state…is teetering on a high ledge at this moment.

It’s ironic that those who oppose churches’ involvement in state concerns nonetheless have no compunction when it comes to the state dictating what churches can do. Even nonreligious folk should be concerned. Either we believe in separation of church and state or we don’t, but you can’t have it both ways.

The July 12 debate is really a discussion about ‘cloture’ — the process by which the Senate puts a time limit on filibuster, thereby allowing a bill to be voted on. In this case, 60 senators have to vote in favor of cloture for the Federal Marriage Amendment, defining marriage as between one man and one woman, to go to the floor for a full vote. Many senators prefer to delay voting rather than make their position public before the November election. But advocates for the amendment predict that November may be too late, that if President George W. Bush loses re-election, the amendment will be dead and marriage as we know it will be history.”

–Kathleen Parker

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Religious ‘Progressives’ Mobilize for Political Action

Note how the self-professed Christian liberals are mobilizing support for abortion, gay marriage, and other planks in the secularist platform.
Wednesday, Jun. 23, 2004
The Christian Post

“Round up the usual suspects, ” ordered Captain Louis Renaud, the Vichy police chief played by Claude Rains in the movie classic, Casablanca. Those famous words apply to the “Faith and Progressive Policy” conference held June 9 by the Center for American Progress. When it comes to religious liberals, most of the usual suspects seemed to gather for this major event in Washington–and they all had plenty to say.

Participants included, among others, James Forbes, senior minister of the Riverside Church in New York City; Bob Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches USA; C. Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance; Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, president of Chicago Theological Seminary; Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; and Jim Wallis, founder of the Sojourners Community and Sojourners magazine. Actually, this conference was a reunion of sorts for the theological left, and it must have been fascinating to observe.
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Orthodoxy in DIXIE

Father Joseph Huneycutt http://www.orthodoxnews.netfirms.com/126/Orthodoxy%20in%20DIXIE.htm

I’m a Southerner. I was born and reared a Southern Baptist; educated as an Episcopalian, and converted to Orthodox Christianity a decade ago. Since then, I’ve been struggling to be Orthodox. As a missionary priest, I’ve also struggled to bring others to Orthodoxy in the South. More than anything, I’ve learned that I have a lot to learn. I’ve also concluded that Orthodoxy, in its plethora of jurisdictions, will have to learn some things, appreciate some things, about Southern Culture before ever being truly successful in bringing Southerners to the Faith.

I was reared in a small town near Charlotte, North Carolina. Growing up, I never met a Jew, much less a Muslim. Lutherans were rare enough in my hometown, much less Roman Catholics. Basically, we were Baptists and Methodists, blacks and whites. I’d never even heard of Orthodox Christianity until I was on my way to the Episcopal seminary in the 1980’s. Come to think of it, I’ll bet most folks in my hometown still have never heard of Orthodoxy.

No Orthodox jurisdiction ever sent missionaries to the South. Most Converts have stumbled upon the Faith only after many years of searching. If this were different, perhaps more progress would be apparent in bridging the gap between East and South. Like St Innocent who helped convert the natives of Alaska by “Incarnating” their native faith thereby bringing them to Christ, would that someone had intentionally helped the South to grow out of its native Protestantism into the fullness of the Christian Faith. Instead, many of the “ethnic churches” resemble Protestant churches with icons and the assimilation, at least with church practices, has moved away from traditional Orthodox practice toward Protestant norms. Such a vacuum allows Converts to flounder toward the Kingdom while accumulating various practices from the smorgasbord of Orthodoxy in America. It also lends itself to parish and/or jurisdiction hopping in hopes of finding the fittest vessel, the most correct iconography, the willing guru, etc.

I have heard that the seminaries in Russia are bursting with future priests. We have a priest shortage in America, they may soon have a glut in Russia. It wouldn’t surprise me if they sent some of those men to this country to evangelize. That would certainly wake us from our jurisdictional squabbling and anti-Christian stupor! Maybe our constant judging and nitpicking would be tempered by some honest to goodness evangelism?

Face it, the smorgasbord of Orthodox jurisdictions makes absolutely no sense to most Converts. Finding the True Faith is encumbered by also finding a dozen administrative bodies claiming to be really it! I was once told by a monk “All monks are in communion with each other.” Though said in jest, very much like a tightly knit ethnic community which fellowships within its own ethnic world, the same can be said of Converts — the majority of which are in the South.

We Southerners have many weaknesses. Paramount is our ingratiating spirit. We deliberately set out to gain others’ favour by winsome actions. Hopelessly people-pleasing we are! Being “cut from this cloth,” we also have a weakness for taking a man at his word. If you tell us that you’re going to do something, more often than not, we expect you’ll do it. If you don’t, there’s a good chance that you’ll lose our trust, permanently. This behaviour will differ between Southerners and Southerners and Southerners and Outsiders. Like any ethnic group, we trust our own a while longer. Yet, to a Southerner, duplicity appears rampant in American Orthodoxy. Arabs, Russians, and other cultures are accustomed to hubris and other blustering within daily discourse. In the South, we expect it of politicians. We discourage it in decent folks. Integrity, in the South, is expected of church leaders. Having found the True Faith we’re confused by contradictory words and actions which often emanate from the various jurisdictional hierarchs.

When I first became Orthodox in the Antiochian jurisdiction, someone suggested that I read a book entitled “The Arab Mind” to get a sense of my newly adopted church culture. The book claimed that, in Arabic, the root word for eloquence and exaggeration is the same. An Arab may exaggerate to show machismo. For instance, a man may shout across a street corner to another “I hate you.” The other man replies, “I not only hate you, I’m going to kill you!” The man retorts “I’m going to kill you and your family!” Etc. These same men may later be found sharing a friendly meal together. Words fail me in describing how this same dialogue might have ended in the South. Put it this way, funeral processions still stall traffic in these parts.

Contrary to outsiders’ perceptions, Southerners do not put on airs. Though we may be hospitable, friendly, and civil, what you see is what you get. If we share openly with you, it means we trust you. Once you break that trust, it may be irreparable. All are welcomed here. Yet, we are easily offended. If offended, the offending party will be cut off till reparation. Our people-pleasing nature lends itself to over-sensitivity. It just comes with the territory. In the South, admiration comes easy, respect is earned over time.

Like all those outside Paradise, Southerners gossip. In a region where being idle is considered a virtue, idle talk ain’t far behind! I don’t mean the kind of vindictive gossip popularized by Soap Operas and other media. (Though we have that too.) Rather, Southerners carry on conversations in a way that others might view as gossiping. And, God help us, at times it is. Yet, often this is a manner of couching subjects within an engaging tale. It’s the way we talk around here.

Southerners are self-effacing. We can take criticism if it’s properly couched in civility and/or humour. For us, if direct confrontation is necessary, things have already gone too far! Sometimes our neighbors to the North skip all the niceties and cut right to the chase. (Northern aggression continues.) And, since all the Orthodox jurisdictions hail from a different culture with the “home offices” up North, this element of cultural war persists within church dynamics. Brutal honesty is not only unwelcome but most often rejected in the South.

Before attending my first gathering of Clergy and Church Wardens in the Russian Church, I was asked about the nature and agenda of the meeting. I said, “Well, they’ll probably argue and yell at each other for a few hours and then we’ll have lunch. After lunch, they’ll argue and yell some more then we’ll kiss each other goodbye and go home.” I’m no prophet, but boy was I ever on the mark with that prediction! In such a setting you can recognize the Southerner — he’s the one with his mouth shut. If asked, were he honest, he’d say “I think you all are crazy.” But, “don’t ask, don’t tell” has always been policy where I’m from. Being slightly dishonest in the name of civility is considered a virtue.

You yell at a Southerner and it may have eternal consequences. When we speak, all that’s required of you is to listen politely until it’s your turn. We don’t take kindly yelling, interruption, jeering, or public ridicule. We may not break bread with you until there’s resolution. You don’t have to agree, mind you. But, you must behave in such a way that assures civil discussion and debate. It may be that we take things personally. But, we operate on the assumption that you do to. Therefore, quite selfishly, the Golden Rule applies no matter what your rank or station.

Northerners are most often defined by their family’s nation of origin. This type of identification is foreign to the South. Here, folks are identified by their family name and/or their religious affiliation. I’ve often heard Northerners speak of someone as being Italian, Ukrainian, German, etc. Along with this description is the implied religion of those being described (Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, etc). This is not the case in the South. Here, folks are defined by their religion: Baptist, Episcopalian, Methodist, Charismatic. So it is that Northern Orthodox are often amazed that Christians would intentionally convert to Eastern Orthodoxy. What an idea! Can you convert from Italian to German?

Folks in the rural South usually attend the church nearest their home. In the country, you’ll find mostly Baptists, Methodists, and Pentecostals. Towns will have Presbyterian and Episcopalian churches. And, here and there, you’ll find Lutheran pockets and an occasional Roman Catholic church. Latins and Lutherans may have a bit of a drive or live within a “family burb.” However, Presbyterian and especially Episcopalian churches are populated with many who have “worked their way up” to that denomination. Your particular brand of Christianity may be a status symbol in the South.

Unfortunately, viewed from such binoculars, Orthodoxy can seem a step down. Forgive me, but to a proper Episcopalian, Orthodoxy can seem down right barbaric!

When expected, don’t be surprised if a Southerner shows up early and leaves late. We don’t understand “Orthodox People Time.” If you tell a Southerner that something starts at 6:00 pm, he’ll most likely arrive at 5:45. We don’t want to miss a thing! We’re not only unaccustomed to the Orthodox habit of being late, we find it rude and uncivilized. Also, Southerners usually don’t leave without saying Goodbye, many times. This process of departing may take 30 minutes or better.

Southern culture is, at least, as relevant as other forms of ethnicity — whether “Orthodox” or not. We Converts appreciate the foods and festivities of our adopted culture. But, must we discard our norms and ways and replace them with those of traditionally Orthodox lands? Fund raising’s fine, but what about tithing? Lamb’s good, but so is pork barbecue. Pascha and kollich is festive, but that first bite of pecan pie is just as heavenly. Can such Southern gatherings as Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, family reunions, BBQs, and oyster roasts be “baptized” into Orthodoxy? It’s too early to tell. Orthodoxy is new to the South. And it’s yet to be seen whether the two can melt into one God-pleasing flavor.

Converts have lots of extended family and friends that remain Protestant. Thus, most find themselves in awkward situations. Wednesdays and Fridays may not be as difficult to negotiate as is the Peter & Paul Fast or fasting for Easter and Christmas. I baptized a man who, for years, had hosted the family pig-picking on July 4th. Of course, that’s often a fast day. But that was his one big family obligation. I remember a couple that I’d chrismated and had moved away. The next major fast to come along, I called to see how they were doing. They, in jest I suppose, replied “Oh, we’re doing fine. We’re just eating over at our [non-Orthodox] friends’ each evening!”

The pendulum may swing otherwise. You’ve seen them: the “Orthodox Taliban.” The man grows long hair and beard, forgets how to smile. The woman covers herself from head to toe — her modesty smothers her dignity. They both stop bathing. There’s no visible joy in their life. Their wrists are covered with wool knots. They eat only broccoli; tofu is reserved for feast days. They begin shopping for a home — preferably a tent or a lean-to — out in the woods, sans the burden of electricity. These things may not be harmful in and of themselves. Yet oftentimes, when Converts confuse such “asceticism” with Orthodoxy, it can have dire results.

Through Catechism, reading of the Fathers, and other instruction, Converts fashion an ideal Orthodoxy toward which to struggle. Then, they might get to know some of the “Cradle Orthodox” only to be turned off. This can develop into a dichotomy leading to judgmentalism, Pharisee-ism, and a sort of Convert-Superior-Orthodoxy which is, needless to say, far from the ideal! We must all struggle toward the ideal in humility. Thanks to the lackadaisical piety of some Cradles, this can present a great challenge. To the eyes of the beginner, many Cradles seem lax in piety, dress, service attendance, fasting, and Orthodox zeal versus ethnic identity. These can be a great temptation.

So, what’s a Southern Orthodox Convert to do? Assimilation with the Protestant milieu is not an option. Been there, was that. Christianity plus icons and Typicon is not the answer. Why bother?

Becoming a dirt-eating-tree-hugging Druid is not the way. I mean, really. Then again, these options are all alive and “well” within the Church. And that may be okay, as far as God’s concerned, but it comes close to grits without salt for a Southerner.

Thanks to the War Between the States and Reconstruction, Southerners have a strong distrust of outside authority. As the saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” There’s an underdog thread that binds us together. Yet when asked to perform a task by those in authority, one can bet it shall be done. We are teachable. However, all things must be in accord with proper respect. Our experience teaches that there’s virtue in losing when done graciously. Nevertheless, we have strong suspicions regarding authority. Those in positions of Orthodox leadership would do well to familiarize themselves with the norms of Southern behaviour and expectations. After all, if you are serious about evangelizing another land, which the South definitely is, you would do no less!

This is not to say that the South should secede from the ethnic Orthodoxy of the North. Rather, Southern Orthodoxy should be allowed to flourish with its own personality and character with proper hierarchical oversight. Any community that can appreciate this and encourage Southerners toward the Kingdom within their own Southern culture will do well in making solid Converts to the Faith in Dixie.

Father Joseph Huneycutt is pastor of St Raphael Orthodox Church in Hendersonville, NC and is the author of the “blog” titled, “Orthodixie.”

Visit him at http://southern-orthodoxy.blogspot.com/

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Reagan on Religious Liberty, 1985

Remarks of President Ronald Reagan at 1985 Conference on Religious Liberty
June 9, 2004
http://www.ird-renew.org/Home/Home.cfm?ID=906&c=28

The following speech was given by President Ronald Reagan at an April 1985 conference that was co-sponsored by the State Department and the Institute on Religion & Democracy, the National Association of Evangelicals, the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, and the Jacque Maritain Center at Notre Dame. In his address, the President addressed the importance of international religious freedom. Even after the fall of communism, his remarks on religious liberty continue to be relevant. [Read more…]

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