June 6, 2020

Saturday Ramblings 12.28.13

RamblerDid you hear that whooshing sound, iMonks? That was time passing by like lightning. Yes, it is once again time to get a new calendar for the kitchen wall. It is once again time to make resolutions you know you won’t keep past next weekend. It is time to write the wrong year on your checks for the next month. It is time, in other words, for us to Ramble.

Oh joy and delight. The senior duck call maker has been allowed back on his TV show. All is right with the world once again. Troops can stand down. Wall Street will breathe a sigh of great relief. The sun will shine brighter tomorrow. Look, I really don’t give a rat’s rear about that TV show. What bothers me about this whole deal is that people have been so bothered by this whole deal. It’s a freaking TV show. It is not anything like real life, no matter how shaky the camera moves. Real life is found in the homes of your neighbors. Get to know them and forget about duck calls. Got it?

Hollis Phelps at Religion Dispatches wonders if liberal Christians and conservative Christians worship the same God. I wonder how and why we have ever gotten to the place where we have to ask that question.

It is not one world, as St. Paul Harvey would say. Raif Badawi is a blogger in Saudi Arabia. He blogs, or did blog, under the banner Free Saudi Liberals. For daring to express his views, he has been branded apostate and faces the death penalty. Here, I just get raked over the coals verbally for daring to say something radical like, oh, God’s grace is totally free. As I said, it is not one world.

Let’s do a bit of Christmas clean-up, shall we? Here is a very interesting article regarding the history of Christmas in America. Very interesting indeed. I’m not sure I buy it all, but it is interesting.

Then there is the boy in Detroit who, for the past five years, has been handing out Christmas gifts to the homeless. That boy gets it.

Iran’s leaders used Twitter to send Christmas greetings, prompting some to say this was just a PR move on their part. “May Jesus Christ, Prophet of love & peace, bless us all on this day. Wishing Merry #Christmas to those celebrating, esp Iranian Christians” was what they tweeted. Are you buying it?

A Catholic priest in Philadelphia, jailed since 2012 for refusing to remove another priest from ministry after learning that priest had molested a teen, has been set free by an appeals court. Many are understandably upset by this. I wonder how the Vatican will respond to this.

Meanwhile, the pope’s approval ratings are “sky-high.” Ok then. My question for you is this. Should the pope care about approval ratings?

How do you plan to read the Bible in the new year? (You do plan to read the Bible in the new year, right?) Here is a roundup of some of the ways you can divvy up your reading so you don’t miss a verse. I would like to hear what you have found helpful in the past. That will help me to choose a good plan and stick with it.

And what would the year-end be without a good list of stuff from 2013. The BBC compiled this collection of things we didn’t know before this last year. Did we really not know that two percent of Europeans lack the genes for smelly armpits? More to the point, did we really need to know this? Anyway, have fun with these. (And I bet you won’t be able to stop reading them until you get to the end …)

Year-end birthday greetings went out to Mortimer Adler; Stan Lee; Maggie Smith; Edgar Winter; Mary Tyler Moore; Marianne Faithfull; Ted Danson; Michael Nesmith; Andy Summers; Patti Smith; Burton Cummings; J. Edgar Hoover; J.D. Salinger; John Hope Franklin; Jm Bakker; Roger Miller; Van Dyke Parks; Stephen Stills; and Eli Manning.

My favorite composer of my lifetime is Brian Wilson. For his two greatest works of art, Pet Sounds and Smile, he teamed with Van Dyke Parks to come up with songs that, going on 50 years later, are still among the best American tunes ever produced. Here is my favorite, the incredible Surfs Up. Enjoy.


  1. Final Anonymous says

    Not normally a big fan of “told ya so” but the DD non-reality played just as I called it last week: A&E pretend fired the good Christian for his biblical-homosexuality remarks to stir up the good American foot soldiers for Christ, coincidentally in time for a Duck-themed holiday merchandising bonanza, then pretend re-hired him in response to the good hardworking outcry from their most gullible demographic.

    Corporations and politicians, they’re playin’ ya, folks…

    • How about we just chalk it up to stupidity and ignorance and call it a day.

      The whole masterplan orchestrated coordinated conspiracy wizard behind the curtain thing really wears thin. But then again that’s exactly what they want us to think now isn’t it.

      • flatrocker,
        I don’t put stock in grand conspiracy theories, either. Don’t talk to me about the Illuminati or “Who Really Assassinated Kennedy?” or etc.

        But this Duck Dynasty flap isn’t that. If Final Anonymous is correct, then it’s just another example of people manipulating and dissembling to sell stuff to the suckers. And I most definitely believe that happens all the time.

        • I think DD guy’s rant was a carefully orchestrated part of it all, done with his handlers’ blessing, and calculated to hit during the annual War on Xmas tirades…

          • Marketing for certain. My first thought when I heard the news was that ratings must be down for the Ducks. Really, it’s brilliant! But I do hate to see people being played who have no idea they are being played.

            I am also tired of pointing out to Duck D fans that I’m not impressed that they pray at the end of the show. The mafia are mostly good church goers, too, who pray together.

      • In fact, the grand conspiracy theories themselves have been used to move a lot of product, which has made quite a few people a nice living for themselves.

      • Final Anonymous says

        It’s not a conspiracy; it’s modern day marketing and PR tactics, “All publicity is good publicity,” politicians have lived by this for years. Create a conflict, add in social media and the cultural wars, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for success.

        And it’s not a secret in the business world. I’d bet my house some PR middle manager already has the Duck Dynasty fiasco chronology on his resume.

        • I’m sure you are correct. I would add that if you read any modern sociology book on propaganda, they will tell you that the best examples of propaganda principles in the west are to be found in marketing. It is virtually defined as propaganda.

    • I think you’re right, but I don’t watch their show, and I don’t buy their stuff, so, even though I did get drawn into the pointless debate on this site last week, their playing me hasn’t profited them in the least. At least I can console myself with that fact….

      • So….yes Virginia there really is a wizard?

        Oh curses to those diabolical cat herders.

        • See my comment above.

          • Robert, your comment is correct. We live in a world of manipulation.
            However, sometimes it can simply be about ignorance and stupidity and nothing more.

            And as far as A&E goes, even a blind hog can sometimes stumble across an acorn.

          • flatrocker,
            You may be right. Be it caught my attention this morning as I read in my newspaper that A&E would not discipline DD, and as I thought about the comment Final Anonymous posted last week concerning the matter.

  2. “Duck Dynasty” is an Oregonian football dream.

  3. Happy Birthday, Mortimer! Your “How to Read a Book” is still one of the best books out there.
    RE: Reading the Bible, here are my thoughts.
    1) Has to be portable and convenient – my time is limited.
    2) Has to be planned and relatively short – I don’t have the time or skill to come up with my own plan, and I respond better to thinking about smaller portions of Scripture.
    3) I’m not so interested in reading genealogies and Leviticus.

    My solution is an app for my phone that goes through the Episcopalian daily office. Thoughts?

  4. I use the Daily Audio Bible app (www.dailyaudiobible.com, available in iTunes and Android.)

  5. The Iranian government’s Christmas tweets are perfectly in line with Muslim theology — Jesus is a prophet of peace to them. The only thing that surprises me is that they refer to him as Christ, although they don’t accept him as the Anointed One. Maybe they just thought that Christ was his last name.

    • “Al-Masih” – his title in Islam – does mean “the anointed one,”. but the understanding of the title is different than in xtianity.

      You’re absolutely right about the rest, and Jeff – it’s unwise to *ever* speak disparagingly of Marian (Miriam = Mary) around Muslims. They hold her in high honor; she and Jesus (Isa) are both in the Qur’an…

      • Last semester I had two boys from Saudi Arabia living with me. They were very respectful of Jesus and of Christians in general. Neither ever mentioned Mary to me.

        • They might not be as familiar with those passages as some are.

          • Isaac (or possibly Obed) says

            Yeah, those passages aren’t typically front-and-center with the many that only know select passages. But, hey, how many Christians don’t know their bibles either?

            It’s interesting, though, that the Isa Al-Masih passages are some of the earliest in the Qur’an, which has led to a theory which postulates that Islam is rooted in a lost non-Trinitarian Christian heresy, similar to the Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses.

          • It’s a very old “theory.”likely Muhammad, as a merchant, had a good deal of contact with members of various xtian sects. He certainly did know many Jewish people who lived in Arabia – and his tribe were dedicated polytheists prior to the coming of his message.

            It’s scarcely surprising (imo) that Islam was/is so strictly monotheistic, yet honors Jesus (Is a) and Mary (Maryam), too. Bbtw, there should be no spaces in the Muslim name for Jesus. I need to work on my Android custom dictionary…

          • Isaac – yes, re. pretty much everyone in the world when it comes to more than cursory knowledge of their own Scriptures!

      • Steve Newell says

        The basic issue is the Islam rejects Jesus Christ as the Son of the Father and part of the Holy Trinity. They reject that salvation only comes through Christ.

        • Muslims reject the Incarnation, the Trinity, and not only the Atonement, but also the belief that Jesus Christ actually died on the cross. They believe he Ascended without actually having died at all.

          So when they say the name “Jesus,” they mean something quite different from what Christians mean.

          • Yes, but understand that a lot of the Qur’anic material about Is a came from the apocryphal Gospels and similar sources. Is a is the only prophet designated as anointed, Muslims believe in the virgin birth, and also believe that he will return at the end of time.

            Their beliefs are not as far off as some might make them out to be… Keep in mind that they are very strict monotheists, and our belief in a Christ who is both human and divine is deeply offensive to them. Besides all that, the theology of the Trinity is baffling and appears – to outsiders, not just Muslims – to advocate belief in 3 gods. I don’t think xtians have exactly helped to clear up the confusion, partly because most of *us*can’t discuss it intelligently. We just don’t have the background. It’s one thing to say “one in 3 persons”; quite another to *explain* it.

          • I have to take issue with “rejecting” the Trinity, etc. As in Judaism, so in Islam, per strict monotheism. It’s blasphemous in both religions for a human to claim to be god.

            If anything, *we’re* the weirdos of the monotheistic tradition. 😉

          • I’m not sure why you object to the use of the word “reject”. They certainly don’t accept them, and these doctrines were in place well before Mohammed was born.

            In addition, whatever its sources, it is very clearly asserted in the Koran that Jesus did not die on the cross. Islam finds the idea that Allah would allow his messenger to die in this way, in a way that involves being accursed by God in the Old Testament, to be a blasphemous insult to Allah.

            This is a huge difference between Islamic and Christian understandings of Jesus Christ.

          • Not in Judaism, and Muhammad had plenty of contact with Jewish people, as recorded in the Qur’an and the Hadith (oral tradition that was collected separately from the Qu’ran and has a very important status in Muslim belief).

            Muhammad was a polytheist prior to his coming to belief in one God. There was no intermediate stage of xtian cathechesis that we know about.

            Islam is “curious” in that it truly honors its own understanding of Jesus (unlike Judaism), but is as strictly monotheistic as Judaism. Like I said elsewhere, xtians are the oddballs of the 3 great monotheistic religions, with an incarnate god, triune God – the works!

          • As for blasphemy, and the sin of “shirk,” yes, I know…

          • Also, I strongly disagree with the Orthodox xtian contention that Islam is some kind of xtian-based heresy.

            It’s an altogether different religion,even though it draws on aspects of both Judaism and xtianity.

            Imo, you can’t reject (in some senses) what you never believed in the 1st place… And yes, Islam’s Isa is not the xtian Jesus, but they share many traits.

          • Besides all that, Muhammad’s revelations were decidedy.. different. And, interestingly, he was illiterate, so others had to write everything down for him. The collation of the Qur’an into its present setup and order of suras (chapters) has a lot to do with that.

            Somewhat counterintuitive (to us), a lot of the earliest material was placed at the; end, not the beginning. There’s no big “reveal” as per Genesis.

          • numo,
            If I reject a job offer, that obviously does not mean that I possessed the job at any time. And for my own part, I reject the idea that Jesus did not die on the cross, and I rejected it, after having considered it, when I read it in the Koran years ago, though I’ve never believed it to begin with. One may intellectually consider and then reject a belief as untrue without ever having assented to it.

            Splitting hairs? I think you’re splitting hairs when it come it comes to defining the word “reject,” as your parenthetical “in some senses” above exhibits, and doing so incorrectly, as it turns out.

          • You know, of course, that some scholars reject the idea that Mohammed was illiterate, just as many scholars reject the traditional attribution of authorship of the books of the Bible?

          • Well, there we differ, and -as is often the case- it’s likely semantics. I think i’m reacting to the 1st comment in this particular discussion + layers and layers and layers of claims that Islam is an evil religion, and that it’s monolithic.

            Fwiw, i’ve had Arab Muslim students and many Muslim neighbors, friends and business associates. They were as diverse in their belief and practice as any random group of xtians you could round up on the street corner here.

            I get so weary of people jumping on Muslim beliefs/Islam in general. Am *not* saying you did that. Just wish more folks out there had the chance to get to know some normal Muslim people. Our media stereotypes make everyone out to be a terrorist or Talibani. We don’t ever see Muslim women, except for images of Afghanis shrouded in burqas. Real life for lots of them is hell, but they are *not* representative of *all* Muslim women by any means. I know Saudis who veil here when they go outdoors… And who have a keen interest in Arabic women’s mags and very good taste in clothes. (None of them are rich.) Ditto for Egyptians, Palestinians, Iranians, Turks, women from all over Africa and South Asia (etc.) Some of the most “conservative” in belief are very “liberal” in other ways. And all are many orders of magnitude friendlier than most of us Anglos – close to many Latino cultures in that respect.

            I have yet to meet one Muslim who was not interested in my beliefs, and who did not speak openly about spiritual matters. It’s normal for them, and their openness puts most US xtians to shame.

            The trinity is hard for them to grasp, and i’m slowly beginning to understand why.

            Sorry for rambling; it’s one of my personal betes noir(s).

          • Yes, I am aware of that, but even if he was literate, it was likely in a limited sense, as with many medieval European merchants and craftsmen – who employed truly literate people for correspondence, bookkeeping and more if they could afford it.

          • A p.s. to the literacy thing: maybe Khadija (his 1st wife, and the 1st to believe his message) was the scribe/bookkeeper etc. She certainly comes across as one smart cookie – and intimately acquainted with merchant trading as practiced in that place and time.

            We’ll never know, but I wouldn’t be one bit surprised if it was true. 😉

          • Most of the Muslim people I’ve met in this country were very secularized. I did work very closely in a warehouse setting with a Muslim man of Indian descent, born in Guyana, named Mohammed. He was a family man, had a wonderful sense of humor, and a very strong work ethic. He was extremely devout, taking his prayer rug to a private place in the warehouse to meet his religious obligation to pray five (?) times a day.

            We had many interesting conversations about religion. He gave me an English translation Quran as a gift, and I admired, and even envied, many of the qualities that he had, qualities which could not be separated from his religious beliefs.

            Unfortunately, I also heard him attribute calumnies to the Jewish people, and especially to rabbis, that were straight out of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. About these we had bitter and divisive arguments.

          • Robert F – I understand (about the good things and about the antisemitism, which is widespread in some places, but by no means something that all Muslims believe).

            I have spent my time primarily with women, because that’s how it works with people from many non-Western societies. (Also happens a lot with many xtians outside the US, Canada and northern Europe, for that matter.) So i’ve had a different window into these worlds… The thing is, it’s entirely possible for adult Muslims of both sexes to be deeply religious *and* lead “secular” lives. There are customs, and then there are beliefs/values/ethics. For many immigrants (first generation), the two go together, but even then, some people from, say, Egypt or Syria are very traditional and bound to the old ways, while others are not. It’s entirely possible for a Muslim professional woman to dress in attractive clothing *and* stay true to her values, whether or not she chooses to cover her hair with hijab. And of course, all immigrants’ kids acculturate at light speed – parents are forever struggling to close the gap. (As true for Mexicans and Koreans as it is for people from the Muslim world.)

            I guess I must be a bit out of step with many, in that I know of musicians, visual artists (etc.) from Iran and other parts of the Middle East who reflect on many things in their religion and culture – even the most nonreligious. But there are wheels within wheels: while Iran has a very intolerant regime currently, it also is the birthplace of Sufism (Muslim mysticism) and *that* is open to anyone. Some of the Muslim world’s greatest poets were Persian Sufis, and their work is as renowned today as Shakespeare and Homer are in the Western canon. (I wish Rumi and some of the other great Sufi poets hadn’t fallen into the purview of New Age-y type promoters here, but that’s a whole other topic in itself!)

    • Damaris,
      But aren’t the terms “Christ” and “Messiah” interchangeable in root meaning? And don’t Muslims consider Jesus to be Messiah? I believe they do.

      • It’ a d different understanding of the word “anointed” that’s tripping you up,Robert. (See my comment up thread on his Islamic title,etc.)

        • Nothing tripping me up, I understand that Muslims define the word “Messiah” differently than Christians do. I’m just saying that, based on their own understanding, and since the words “Messiah” and “Christ” can be defined in ways that make them interchangeable, the Iranian government could use the title “Christ” of Jesus without either contradicting their own beliefs or not knowing what their talking about, contra Damaris’ comment above.

          • I think that’s splitting hairs, though – the bigger point is that the government actually acknowledged the holiday and beliefs of xtians.

            Iran has a long, long history of persecuting members of the Bahai faith, which began there. *far* worse than any mistreatment of xtians, in the long and short run, again. There are also some low-profile Zoroastrian communities who’ve had a rough time, too – but the Bahai have had it worst of all.

          • Btw, i’ve got some replies to you that are currently stuck in moderation. They’ll appear a bit up thread once released from the great and powerful spam filter. 😉

  6. I use the Mission St. Claire morning/evening office.


    Also, I’m finding that Bible reading as a discipline is becoming less and less useful.

    • Isaac (or possibly Obed) says

      I’ve been using some of the various Daily Office Lectionaries from the Book of Common Prayer for my readings over the years. The current Episcopalian BCP has a 2-year cycle that I used a few years ago. I worked with the 1662 English BCP’s version after that. For the last couple of years I had been using one proposed for ACNA by Fr. Michael Fry, as it actually included the whole bible (as well as a decent chunk of the Apocrypha)! Unlike Fr. Fry’s proposed lectionary, the BCP Daily Office lectionaries have never quite met their stated goal from over 400 years ago of providing public reading of the whole of the Scriptures through the course of the year. The one I’m using this liturgical year is actually the worst of the bunch in that regards (the 1928 American BCP’s lectionary as revised in 1945). However, I’ve just been hired on as an assisting priest at a parish where the rector is using it, and I thought it’d be cool for us (and the deacon) to be reading the same stuff for the first year of our ministry together.

      Plus, as Tom said, I’m not finding it as useful a discipline as I used to, so not hitting all of it next year is OK with me.

    • I find your comment interesting, Tom. It not only mirrors my experience, but that of many that I have talked to. I think the basic root is this – the Bible is not magic. Just reading it doesn’t magically “do” something. There are portions to meditate on that can change your thinking, and there are portions that need to be lived out. But at the end of the day, Christianity was never an “intellectual” religion – it is something that must be lived out. A strict Bible reading discipline means nothing if one is an a-hole.

  7. If disagreeing in our understanding of what constitutes obedience to Christ, or even if being mistaken about what constitutes obedience to Christ, means that we are worshiping different gods from others who either have it right or have it wrong, then we are all in very big trouble. And if so, then way too much depends on us “getting it right” for Christianity to be the religion of grace.

  8. Err, make that Maria.m (or Maryam). Android is doing weird things to my spelling…

  9. Agree or disagree, I think Hollis Phelps raises some very good points, though i’m not sure that his liberal vs. conservative labels work very well. Again, though, I can see why he’s using them…

  10. Re. the CNN article, the writer definitely did his homework. New England was a bastion of Grinchiness for a long, long time, but in other places Episcopalians celebrated all 12 days of the season (mid-Atlantic colonies + VA, for example).

    I’ve no doubt whatsoever that the Xmas that some people so passionately defend is largely a post-WWII, ad agency creation.

    • Driven by movies like “Miracle on 34th Street,”which was basically a feature-lenght ad for Macy’s… (Don’t get me wrong; it’s charming in small doses,but still…)

  11. Isaac (or possibly Obed) says

    #57 on the things we learned last year: “Scientists still don’t really know how bicycles work.” That’s great! I read the article, and it’s fascinating. It never occurred to me to ask how they work, it’s always just been a given that they do!

    • Forget bicycles; I’m still trying to figure out how grace works,

      “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.” (Romans 11.6)

      It appears that the idea of grace is so incomprehensible to us that it will take an eternity to comprehend it,

      “…so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2.7)

    • We KNOW how bicycles work. What we don’t know is exactly how people keep them upright. And it’s so simple that most 4 year old kids can learn it in less than an hour. (If they don’t mind a few falls along the way.)

      But I don’t think we can yet program a computer/robot to keep a bicycle upright and moving via a pedal system.

      I suspect that article is contracting the paragraph explanation into a simple sentence. 🙂

    • And the biblicists haven’t jumped on this to ridicule science and show how the Bible had the answer all along? Perhaps Psalm 91:11, i.e. bicycles are held up by angels.

  12. For years, the world turned a blind eye as Christmas occupied more and more weeks in November that had been the homeland of Thanksgiving for generations. Turkey settlements were bulldozed to make room for more elves, pilgrims and Indians were forced through the daily indignity of checkpoints. But although Christmas was defying the Roman Rite peace accord of 1962 that had limited the territory of Christmas to the four weeks of Advent and 12 days after, we said nothing. So Christmas set its expansionist dreams even higher, and invaded October without warning and without provocation. Reindeer and wreaths and trees hit the shelves and crowded out the witches, skeletons, and zombies that had been living there peaceably for so long. Magic spells and scare tactics were no match for the superior, US-funded Christmas air force.

    We had to fight back, and so the war on Christmas began. But we must never let the cuteness of the elves or the twinkle in St. Nick’s eye blind us to the truth: that Christmas was the aggressor, that Christmas started this war…

  13. Of course the God of liberals and the God of conservatives is one and the same, because God is one, before whom both sides must one day give an account.

    The problem begins when faith is defined by social or political issues – left or right. Both sides have at times cast God as a cruel, heartless deity crushing those who don’t support a particular ideology while showing kindness, grace, and mercy to those who tow the political line. The ideology becomes “god”, i.e. an idol. Even then, the idol worshiped by militant conservatives and liberals alike is one of power and greed.

    American Christians could learn a lot from studying the religious wars of England, where the religious faithful, be it John Bunyan or Bishop Jeremy Taylor, were persecuted under each faction, depending which seized power at the time – John Bunyan under the high-church authorities and Jeremy Taylor under the round-heads.

    The true church is invisible, neither represented by the liberal nor conservative militant ideological complexes.

  14. Anyway, unless the tweeter Christmas greeting that the Iranian government issued presages change in its treatment of religious minorities, it means nothing except propaganda. Only time will tell, but I’m not betting on any positive change, although the appearance of change is much more likely.

    • *If* a significant number of reformists gain seats in their next election, there might indeed be real change.

      Until then, I remain as skeptical as you, if (perhaps) for slightly different reasons. (But that’s only because we both seem to be on the same page, bur focusing on different ‘graphs, or something along those lines. 🙂 )

  15. Marcus Johnson says

    At least the Iranian government did not wish Christians a “Happy Holidays.” That would really condemn them in the collective mind of all Christendom, putting in the same category as retail salespeople, colleges and universities, people who are just trying to say something nice in passing…

  16. Jeff, you might take a look at our parish’s bible reading plan using the Septuagint, and therefore inclusive of the text in Catholic bibles. Go to http://www.saintseraphim.com/ and find the download files in the right column. One little Adobe icon has no text next to it; click on that, and you will access a .pdf file for a booklet one of the parishioners put together, with the scripture listings and helpful articles.

    Numo, St John of Damascus wrote about Islam being a heresy. He lived in the Levant around 700, and was an official in the Muslim government of Damascus – therefore, pretty smart, and well-placed. If the records of his life are factual, he would know whereof he spoke. He’s at least worth hearing out. I’d be interested in your assessment of the article under orthodoxwiki (dot) org (fslash) Islam.

    One thing people need to know about Orthodox writings is that, even though the writer may be exceptionally highly esteemed, saintly, and worthy of attention, the only official Orthodox dogma or pronouncement is that which is found in the Liturgy and services of the church. All else is opinion. It may be very highly regarded opinion – and may actually be correct – but it is viewed as opinion, and though one should pay attention, especially to a consensus of such people, it is not obligatory for belief. And even that which is found in the services is often highly typological and not to be viewed in a literalistic manner. This is difficult for people who really need to have every tiny thing nailed down. Some come to Orthodoxy expecting this, and are disappointed. It’s a very different way of looking at things than in the western churches.


    • Yes, i’m familiar with his POV, but he had his own biases.

      Besides, it’s not as if people were sent from Antioch or Damascus to catechize the people in Arabia Deserta …

      • Just skimmed some of the text (again), and will reiterate that I believe his understanding and interpretation of more than a few things was off and sounds more like hearsay than fact.

        Besides, starting off by calling Muslims the forerunners of the Antichrist is a dead giveaway re. where his sympathies lie…

        Please understand that I think some of his writing on other topics is top-notch, but here he sounds like Luther on the Turks.

      • And some of what he so ridiculously inaccurate – it would be laughable if not so clearly prejudiced, and it definitely is the!

        • Err, “that.”

        • Thanks – no argument with you. Some of St John’s poetry and prayer have made it into the Services, most notably the service for the dead (Panikhida in Russian), and some other places too. Again, what doesn’t make into the Services/Liturgy is viewed as (pious) opinion, not dogma.


  17. It looks like one of my earlier comments
    Has been gobbled up by the moderation machine. When I tried to repost, I received a message stating I had already posted the comment, so it must be in there somewhere…then again, it probably merciful on everyone else not having to see it. :-/

  18. In a world that seems to bristle (at the very least) against Christian truth, it should at least be a red flag that the Pope is as popular as he is.

    • Why?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Pick one:
        1) Apostasy — Pleasing to the World and Flesh, at enmity with GAWD.
        2) Antichrist — “Who is like unto The Beast”?
        3) Romanism — “NO POPERY!”
        4) All of the above.

    • I think the “red flag” is in the faces of those who THINK they know The Gospel—who actually don’t and have been flogging “another gospel”. This pope is a banner bearer of the Good News for real. Me myself having sucked the tit of Protestantism all my life find this Papist Francis to be a wind of good will from the Spirit of God.

      • Agreed, Tom. I tossed the link to Pope Francis’ Christmas message to several folks at my (Protestant) church to see if they’d be able to look past his Catholic trappings and see his message as God/Spirit-inspired (as I believe it to be). To my pleasant surprise, several of them responded in a very positive manner!

  19. Marcus Johnson says

    Aside from having some bragging rights in our respective small groups and church communities, I find little value in setting a goal of reading the entire Bible in a year (I think it can be done in a month or less, but it really depends on how much free time one has). A perfectly laudable goal, to be sure, but if the goal is spiritual formation, reading the Bible in a year would accomplish that in the same way that reading the DSM-V would make someone a psychologist. When I was a teacher, I saw plenty of students read giant volumes of text, yet were no closer to understanding the material read than they were when they first started. Maybe reading the Bible shouldn’t be the New Year’s resolution; studying to understand it should.

    Personally, I set a goal for myself of depth, rather than breadth, in my reading for the upcoming year. I’ve read over the books of the Major and Minor Prophets, for example, but I haven’t really understood the deeper meaning behind all of them, or why they are all necessary for inclusion in the canon. Seems a more reliable goal than just reading it alone.

    • For the most part, the “deeper” meaning of the Prophets is their subversion of everything that went before. However, to get that means knowing in depth the history and arguments and attitudes of everything that came before them.

      Please excuse me if I seem tautological–I’ve just consumed two glasses of wine.

    • Yep, I’m not sure I see the value of reading the whole Bible in a year, either. It’s difficult for me to imagine a person soaking much in via that approach. After years of struggling and maintaining any sort of daily Bible devotional, several years ago felt led to approach the Bible in a much more meditative and patient manner. I began to read a particular section until I “got something out of it.” I’ve stayed in the same 10-15 verses for over a week sometimes, waiting for an A-HA moment that told me I could move on. I’ve found that to be a very rich and deep approach.

  20. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    Oh joy and delight. The senior duck call maker has been allowed back on his TV show. All is right with the world once again. Troops can stand down.

    And Christian Culture Warriors can go on to their next Urgent Righteous Cause.
    Wartime Mobilization without end, Amen.

  21. I use the annual bible reading plan from bibleinayear.org. They e-mail a daily reading so I can read it on my phone. There’s a few bible versions available and several different plans. It’s the only plan I’ve been able to stick to for an entire year.

  22. I’m waiting to see if the new conservatively-correct bible translation will have an annual indoctrination…I mean reading plan.

  23. MelissatheRagamuffin says

    I like the idea of a two year reading plan, but I don’t like the idea of waiting a year (or more) to get to the new Testament.

  24. It seems obvious that the Pope doesn’t give a hoot about approval ratings; let’s pray for him, he can have a powerful influence for Christ since he is so popular.