20120206 A Pregnant Creation, Mail Call, and Islam

Podcast Notes

Homily on Zacchaeus et al. (due to the delay in recording, this was bumped by a Homily on the Publican and the Pharisee)

Mail Bag

  • What should I do if there are no regular Orthodox services in my area?
  • What are the most healthy expressions of sexuality?  (note on recent decision to ban indoor prostitution here, and on movies like “The Scarlet Road”).  How much is this culturally determined?  Is there a difference between extra-marital sex between gays or lesbians or straights?  Between different sex acts?
  • What are your thoughts on the court ban on the school prayer banner in Cranston RI?

  First, here is the text of the banner:

     Our Heavenly Father,
     Grant us each day the desire to do our best,
     To grow mentally and morally as well as physically,
     To be kind and helpful to our classmates and teachers,
     To be honest with ourselves as well as with others,
     Help us to be good sports and smile when we lose as well as when we win,
     Teach us the value of true friendship,
     Help us always to conduct ourselves so as to bring credit to Cranston High School West.

This court decision had led to a lot of discussion here in Rhode Island, especially in New England.  Especially among clergy.  Me?  I’m pretty ambivalent.  Given all the drek that our schools are teaching, does it do more harm or good for prayers to hang in schools?  Does it lead to conflation of authority in the minds of students?  What if a “Christian prayer” is one of many from various traditions?

My good friend, an Orthodox priest here calls for diversity rather than atheism in the schools.  I think he is confusing atheism with secularism, but he has a good point.  The RICC executive director came out in support of diversity, and applauds the decision (without any seeming cognitive dissonance).  If we join my friend in seeing atheism as a religion, then taking it down is wrong.

What do you think?

Me?  I don’t trust the government to do much at all right, and I certainly don’t trust it to represent religious authority to children.  But then again, I am willing to homeschool my kids and dig deep to send them to Christian schools (BTW, school prayer was what led to the creation of such a great system of Catholic schools in the first place – and if there had been as many Orthodox as Catholics (but still in the minority), we would have done the same).

I have said many times that a growing government cannot help but infringe on Orthodox morality.  The government is, by Constitution, secular.  This means that when it tries to help people, it can only really do so using a lowest-common-denominator humanist morality.  If you drew a Venn Diagram, you would see quite a bit of overlap between humanist and Orthodox morality (murder is wrong, stealing is wrong, we should help people when we can), but as the government does more (and as our society becomes less and less “Christ-haunted”), it inevitably moves out of the union of the two sets and enacts policies that are at odds with Orthodox (and thus BY DEFINITION harmful to society).

This leads us to another question that came up – “Did you see our bishops’ statement on the HHS ruling requiring everyone to provide free contraception?” Yes, I did.  Here it is.  This may seem trivial, but it is a sign of more to come.  On this earth, when it comes to government, there is no ideal solution.  But I am convinced that the government that does the least is the least likely to bugger things up.  The nanny state isn’t just a nuisance, it is dangerous.  It’s messing up what should be its core competencies (public goods like defense, protection of the market, transportation, and education) and finding new things to mess up.  God save us from a heterodox government that thinks it knows what is best for us and has the power to enforce it!  [and by the way, I would feel the same – perhaps even more so – if the majority of voters were Orthodox and/or our leaders were Orthodox.  There is too much fuzziheadedness even among the Orthodox for a big government solution to work.  Take Russia – the close cooperation between the government and the Church in the 19th century nearly led to its bankruptcy there, and its support of Russian imperialism certainly undermined its legitimacy elsewhere.  While the Moscow Church has distanced itself a bit from the Russian government of late, could you imagine if silly ideas like the “PYCCKUU MIP” had the force of law?  Symphonia is a beautiful idea, but let the symphonia do as little as possible and empower the grass-roots parishes, secondary organizations, and citizens flourish!]

  • Seems like some of you were upset that I was speaking ill of our servicemen and women (my response to the video of a few Marines urinating on Taliban corpses).  I stand by what I said: they are some of the best we have to offer, but they are still just us.  And they are us under a lot of pressure (and worse).  Physical combat, they can handle.  They are brave and efficient.  But spiritual combat?  Look around you – how capable are we of meeting even the “normal” temptations/assaults that come against us here at home?  We aren’t.  And it’s a lot harder there.  Why are suicides so high among war veterans?  Our best and brightest, and we are using them up, sacrificing them to what?  To bring peace to Afghanistan?  To bring stability to the Middle East?  And because our armed forces are so good, we keep using it again and again.  The good idea fairy keeps waving her wand and our young men and women are suffering for it.  And without any clear sign that it is worth it.  Again I ask – what is this sacrifice for?  Is it like with the Azteks, designed to keep the Sun on its regular course?  Is it like with Rachel’s children, silenced so that we can have sex apart for responsibility?  Unlike those two examples, at least our men and women go voluntarily – but does that excuse us for using them like this?  We’ve got a lot to answer for.  I have no doubt that we can do better than this.

Before I go to our last piece of mail, we really need to pay the bills.  So here is a word from a sponsor (warning, satire!):

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  • Which is a great setup for my answer to the next question: what happened to the paranormal?  What about transhumanism?  Three main narratives I want to present:  
    • The radical tranhumanists
    • The Enochian fundamentalists
    • The paradigm of holistic health (body, mind, and soul; aka Orthodoxy)
  • Today let me talk share a brief summary of each.  Later, when there is time (and if you are still interested), I’ll develop them more for you.
  • As for the paranormal, I’m still actively researching etc.  Just need to put my thoughts together.  I’ll start adding more to the news segment (next show, hopefully).
And now for our segment:  Prepping with Pawlo!
  • Prepping is all about making it through the Cross, being ready to that you can make it through whatever the world throws at you.  The most authentic Cross is the Xpect.  Last week, I talked to you about the first letter of Xpest, the “K”, for Kommunity.  It’s not about going it alone, but about being part of a community that can work together through easy and hard times.  No Robinson Crusoe bug outs.  If you try to do everything on your own, not only will you fail, you will not be able to exercise your gift.  Even small communities allow people to specialize.  Sure, there are common skills that everyone should have – but you should also be an expert in something useful, something beautiful, something that will make the community a better place.  Yes, Kapitalism also starts with K – work hard and your community will thrive.  
  • This week, I want to talk about the “R” in Kpest: responsibility.  You have to know that you are the one that needs to get things done.  If you see something broken, fix it.  If somethings can be done better, make it happen.  This goes for your preps, too.  If you are in debt, get out.  If you don’t have money saved for an emergency – both in the bank and in the cookie jar – then start saving.  If you don’t have a good supply of water saved, stop throwing away your empty containers, fill them with water, and store them.  If you don’t have a good supply of food set aside, start buying an extra of everything that keeps each time you go shopping.  In tough economic times, this is what grown-ups do: they make sure they can do what needs to get done even if they lose their jobs, get sick, or the grid goes down.  Community is important, it will only be healthy if it is comprised of prepared individuals looking out for one another.  Community doesn’t mean relying on others to do the kinds of thing everyone should be doing as a matter of course.  So that’s the K and P of the Cross – the way to survive the worst.