Orthodox Christianity and Southern culture: the Ultimate Irony? or the Best of Life! I created this blog as a venue for my cathartic ranting and the occasional spiritually enlightening take on Orthodox Christianity and my experiences and failures within it. Also lots of strange irreverent Southern Humor.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Respectfully Silent, Silent No Longer

Being an outspoken Southerner, and a hothead in general, it has been difficult over the past 2 years to be respectful of certain members of our leadership when they have BEEN THE OPPOSITE of truthful and transparent to the clergy and the laity. I have decided to not comment myself being ignorant and uninformed in general; so I present the only two websites offering commentary on the subject:

Here is the text from their mainpage:

Update: Thanks go out to all those generous people who helped pledge over $20,000 in our first 24 hours. While not enough to throw a party at the Athletic Club, it's a good start. Please spread the word about!

Throughout the ongoing scandal, the members of the OCA have stood quietly by waiting for leadership and action by those managing our church. However, the hierarchy of our beloved church has failed to act, and now is the time for us, together, to pledge our support for change and accountability.

How can we help? By proving that we, the community of the church, are willing to contribute and help rebuild what is left of our beloved church. We ask that all OCA members complete our pledge form. To be clear, we are not taking your money. We are taking your word - a promise to help rebuild the OCA when the conditions of our fundraising effort are met. Those conditions are:

1) The currrent leader of our church, Metropolitan Herman, must step down either by resignation or by termination;
2) All results of the Special Commission will be legally distributed to all dues paying members of the Orthodox Church in America and publicized in its entirety on;
3) All parties implicated by the special commission will receive a just penalty for their parts in any activities against the by-laws of the church; likewise; if the report specifies that any illegal activities ensued, that those responsible parties will be turned over to the proper civil authorities.

The second is OCANEWS.ORG

A more indepth review of all OCA correspondence, information, and disinformation from the scandal.


I hope you all have had a blessed and fruitful Lent and are preparing your hearts for the Feast of Feasts, the celebration of the Ancient of Days become man and dwelt AMONGST US, because He loves us and does not want any distance between us and Him, no scandal, no secrets, no lies, no deception, no leading astray of "little ones" like you and me. Pray for our leaders and our brothers and sisters, to repent and "prepare the way of the Lord". and pray for me, a sinner.


Sunday, October 29, 2006

Actual Mormon Theology (no really)

A Christian group made this hilariously melodramatic short back in the 1970s to debunk the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Celtic Heritage, the Beatitudes, and the nature and culture of war

As I write this, it is the evening of the 5th anniversary of the bombing of the World Trade Center, the bombing of the Pentagon, and the failed attempt to bomb the White House. As I am sure many of you did, I spent the day watching and recounting the memories of Sept 11, 2001. This day is doubly sad for me as it was one of the last days of Cody Dean's life, my mothers' late husband. He was a fan of protestant eschatology and literally hung his head in sadness and disbelief while he watched the events unfold that day. For him, it was the beginning of the end, a war between antichrist and the church (little c). When I think of Sept 11th, 2001 I think of him sitting weakly in his favorite chair, weary, and even more wearied by the day's events and the actions of so called "religious fundamentalists". In his earlier life he was a strong and proud man, half Cheyenne and half Irish, so naturally he loved to kick ass and take names! I share some Irish heritage and I feel that passion well up in me from time to time! As a people, the Celts, Picts, and Scotti loved violence and war and were very brave to defend what was "their land" This trait certainly didn't disappear as they migrated to their new "highlands" in Appalachia. Many of the brave firefighters who died on this day carried that spirit into their job and saved many in New York. I do not assume to understand the actions and ways of great and brave men because in my eyes I am not one. I do understand the response to and the need to respond to evil actions and aggression. What I wonder is this: Did our response to the actions of evil men make the world less evil? Did we repay evil with good? I ask these questions with a five year reflection on the circumstances and do not ask with the kneejerk resonse of the extreme liberal to war and revenge. I ask this question as an orthodox christian, a supposed follower of the beatitudes. (unfortunately not evidenced so well in my life and choices, Lord! Have Mercy!)

We have had our fill of the 2nd beatitude:

(According to the Greek NT)

"Blessed are the ones mourning, for they shall be comforted"

Maybe not enough of the 4th beatitude:

"Blessed are the ones hungering and thirsting for righteousness, for they will be satisfied"

A modern Roman Catholic version says "justice" in the place of "righteousness"

Not a good choice in this modern day of the "just" delivering "justice" !

It could easily be said the the "religious fundamentalists" who enjoy killing us are "thirsting for righteousness" in their religious belief. It is even more easily said if christians ever acted this way towards muslims. Uh oh! Christians have! From the early days of the new testament Christians have murdered Jews and Muslims. So, I ask a simple question, are the actions of the United States, a supposedly "Christian nation" in response to the actions of evil men, do they follow the beatiudes? (I pose the idea as a question not as an assumed fact) Not according to the beatitudes. Especially the last three:

again, from the Greek NT:

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they sons of God will be called."

We did not make peace, we made war.

"Blessed are the ones being persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens."

According to our persecutors, we were not persecuted for righteousness sake' but for "evil deeds and lifestyle"

"Blessed are you when they reproach you and persecute you and speak all kinds of evil against you telling lies because of me. rejoice and be glad, for the reward of you is great in the heavens. For thus they persecuted the prophets before you. "

This beatitude seems ambiguous to my argument and has been the foundation for many a "God kill our enemies" prayer by televangelists with pinkie rings and "big ol' har" everywhere.

Yet we were not persecuted for doing right or for being friends o' Jesus. We were persecuted for being God-less. (It is easy to argue against this point and I am offering it as an idea.)

If we look at the fathers and the great cloud of witnesses, the holy martyrs of our faith, we see individuals and peoples that were in no way part of a nationalistic religion/theocracy and were often its enemies. Saint Lawrence said to his persecutors as they grilled him in a gridiron: "turn me over, i'm done on this side" What a strange fellow. There is no easy answer to this question or the effect and power of these ideas. But one thing is clear whether we like it or not: A majority of our christian ancestors were not nationalistic and were far more persecuted than we were on Sept 11, 2001.

I do not assume to belittle or insult those who suffered because of the actions of a few "evil and desperate men".

I suffered too. I wanted revenge too. I too was glad when my brother was killed.

Did it do any good? Perhaps.

Did the USA avenge itself? Most definitely!

Are we any better off? Don't think so.

Did our actions as a "christian nation" meet the beatitudes definition of a christian? Christ will sit on the ark in the mercy seat and judge us.

Is vengeful killing okay for christians? Never.

Are we a "christian nation"? Perhaps.

Can christians in pursuit of the beatitudes participate in nationalism and war? The author thinks not. Others may disagree. The early church had a rule against it in the early canons but later more "wiser" men abolished it to make way for "progress" and the expanse of "christian nations".

Can we be a christian and kill our brother for any reason?

A question we all should ponder.

I have failed at being a christian. As the Way of the Pilgrim so clearly illustrates:

the pilgrim did not truly love God or neighbor, had no genuine religious belief, and was full of pride and self-love.

We must be totally dependent on God's Mercy and at the same time be totally in pursuit of the Beatitudes.

This seems impossible.

Yet it is the everyday reality of every true christian, which I someday hope to be.


Sunday, June 11, 2006

Pentecost, Kneeling Vespers, Pawpaw Trees, and the 100th anniversary of Charismania

This Sunday we celebrated Pentecost in the orthodox church. Green was the color and religious tradition from Russia calls for beautiful greenery in the church to celebrate, I believe, new life in the Holy Spirit. Our dear Father (not to be confused with Our Dear Leader who resides in North Korea) chose pawpaw trees for the decorative greenery which were very tall and brushed the ceiling of our sanctuary. I thought it was very pleasant addition to our worship. I mention pawpaw trees for obvious reasons because this is a southern christian blog and I am sure more than a few readers have been forced to choke down one of those nasty (in my opinion) pawpaw fruit pies. The adage " anything is good if you add enough sugar to it " doesn't seem to cover pawpaw fruit.! Anyway, I am realy writing this entry to celebrate the end of Paschaltide the "easter" or Paschal season which I beleive is 50 days after the celebration Pascha or the "Feast of Feasts" which of course culminates in the Feast of Pentecost. As you all know the gospel account of Christ walking the earth after his resurrection and fellowshipping with his disciples; after which he ascends to heaven and to his throne. Some great wacky heretics have actually figured out what time Jesus departed the earth according to this website:

7:45am hmmm, it seems to some that Jesus was an early bird!

Also according to these cats The Holy Spirit descended at 1:00pm sharp!

I never knew the Holy Trinity was on school hours!

I don't think or have heard such commentary in the OC but I think such a commentary is right up there with whether the eyes of the Theotokos were green or blue or how many angels could fit on the head of a pin!

As interesting theological questions go I think the guy who came up with the "Jesus takes the early bus" idea must have been a bureaucrat and was probably taking the early bus (or the short bus) when he wrote it!

OK, back on track. THe Feast of Pentecost is followed by the Kneeling Vespers of Pentecost which is served on the evening of Pentecost of course.

I enjoyed the service and I was surprised to hear one of my favorite prayers in the orthodox church: "Into the sea of thy mercy I cast the desperation of my soul" This is one of the first powerful things I remember when I was attending my parish as an inquirer. What powerful words! What sweet medicine for those suffering in the IM OK YOURE OK culture! I'm not OK, there is something seriousy WRONG with me and there is no cure for my own will and its desires. I am desperate! God's mercy does not always make us OK , it consumes our desperation and it becomes lost in a sea with no bottom! I had forgotten that this prayer was in the Kneeling Vespers. The vespers end with kneeling of course and all of us asking for mercy as God sends his Spirit upon us as a church. what a contrast to those in our culture who say they can impart the Holy spirit to you after fulfilling a 123 formula. Some men acquire the Holy Spirit ans some men kneel and pray for God's mercy as God sends the Holy Spirit as a mercy and medicine and a guide to the faithful.

Speaking of the Holy Spirit, this year of 2006 is the 100th anniversary of the Pentecostal/ Charismatic movement that began on Azuza Street in 1906:

My favorite quote from this website is: " Los Angeles was not the only place and time of spiritual renewal, however"

I am thanksful that the pentecostals are "givin props" to the small role the Holy Spirit had prior to 1906! I am glad that Pentecostalism is not the only avenue that God has given to the Holy Spirit! Although it is entertaining to watch somebody with a masters degree bark like a dog or run on the backs of the church pews it is sad that so much spiritual energy is devoted to "manifestations" of the Holy Spirit! I believe, as many others do, that the Holy Spirit was and is always working and never needed a revival or movement or "new revelation of his glory"
As some celebrate the anniversary of a small sect that turned into hundreds of millions of followers worldwide, we orthodox say Lord, Have Mercy! and try and repent so that we can be filled even more with the Holy Spirit.

Some people would say that the modern pentecostal movement and its "manifestations" such a s holy laughter and barking like a dog (in the Spirit, of course) is actually the work of demons. I was in a church in Nashville once where the holy laughter was taking place and surprisingly it only happened while the priest was preaching, which took away from the message and teaching which was actually edifying people instead of entertaining the one person with the holy laughter.

I say "some people say" because I am not well informed enoughto be clear.

Here are some links, though:


Here is a great quote from the same website:

Sometimes Truth makes Love hurt

"You are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth" Jn 8:40

another link:

Anyway, I'm sure I'll get some hate mail for this one! Y'all stay away from the pawpaw pie and try not to bark like a dog when you're filled with the Holy Spirit! Lord have mercy! See, Southerners have always been orthodox; we say Lord have mercy all the time!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

When beards go wrong, the dangers of convertitis

I will try to give relevant information in this blog about the purest of Christianities. My pledge is to keep this blog convertitis free. But you know we don't have pledges or oaths in orthodoxy for good and obvious reasons. Here is a nice article about keeping and improving your Christian faith and avoiding convertitis.

I thought this article was scarily accurate. My convertitis is worse than I thought!

Hidden in plain sight, (with Cerenkov glow)

This blog is a more formal attempt at a serious bloggie for Orthodox Christians, Southerners, those Southerners interested in church history, Southerners interested in a conservative southern Christian faith that does not invlove: polyester, jackboots, nationalism, softball, Pat Robertson ( who, by the way, is one of the best things to happen to "weird" since Micheal Jackson) or having an eagle somehow woven into the art in your church sign or letterhead. Also Southern humor. As you can see I have quickly bypassed the first few ideas and headed straight fot the last one; humor. Anyway back to t he Cerenekov Effect and Orthodox Christianity. I mention the Cerenkov Effect because I attend an Orthodox Church in America parish in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, the Home of Hot Instant Death On a Stick or Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Weapons. It saddens me that some of the dear Christian people I worship with may spend their workday making and improving nuclear weapons. I say may because I am not sure of the job despription of any of the gubment employees I know. Anyway that is a blog entry for another day and it is obvious I don't really know what I am talking about but may God save us from nuclear energy anyway!

Back to more interesting stuff. The aformentioned "Cerenkov Effect" is the effect of radioactive decay in the form of light traveling at 186,000 mph impacting water molecules and producing a eerie blue spectrum best seen in a nuclear reactor cooling tank or shortly before your death or both. I have never seen this effect in the flesh but I have seen pics which I will attach to his article a s soon as I find that button.

Enough about nucular energy , as our president says, and more about about the Christian faith, its many facets, its many fractures, and the New Southern Man. The fact remains that I only attend church in Oak Ridge and I rarely socialize there because of the 45min drive both ways from my humble abode. There are many fine people in my parish I've never spent time with because of "war capitalism" and the price of oil! As far as parishes go, I have a good one filled with intelligent professionals and families. 95% of the orthodox in my parish are converts from protestantism, charismania, catholicism, and the baptist experience.

I within myself am a mix of episcopalian, charismaniac, and old catholic. I discovered the orthodox faith in Jesus Christ while studying the early church structure esp. Tertullian and Ireneaus. I was at one time and avid reader of Hippolytus the "antipope", ( you gotta be one bad dude to be the antipope, man) the Didache, Phillip Schaff, and many heretical pamphlets and books by a company called Scroll Publishing (who was trying to reinvent the early church whilst rejecting two-thirds of Christian Orthodoxy) . I tried my best to either find or recreate the liturgical, eucharistic early church within the Charismatic Anglican Church or later through the Pseudo-O ld Catholic denomination I was a member of. I was in Holy Orders in the last Old Catholic church I attended before my chrismation into the Orthodox Church, which was vibrant and active all along in the South yet hidden in plain sight from me. .

I am very much a spiritual vagabond and ragamuffin as Manning has accurately stated. As a Southerner the Christian faith has had a deep effect on me both good and bad I think. I am a Christian twentysomething and I am a christian by choice and not by Southern cultural enforcement. I despised church services as a boy and I sought hedonistic endeavor above all else and did not believe in God as living person more so as an ideal. That all changed when I got "saved " when I was 17 in an independent charismatic church and was healed instanly from many troubles. That was a beginning of a strange and unusual and very rewarding journey to the Orthodox Church in America.

My typical, educated Southern family looks at my conversion to orthodoxy

( sidebar: I don't like to say "my conversion to orthodoxy" I didn't become a Mormon or something! I just believe what was revealed to me by the Holy Spirit more deeply and without division or pollution. I think becoming orthodox is much like being blind yet feeling the sun on your face, you can describe the sun but you've never seen it, and then one day you gain vision and can see how beautiful everything is, because of the light of the sun, and you realize the sun too is beautiful. And then you meet the one who made the sun , Who is Beauty, and you start to spend time with those who have had the same realization. sorry for the rambling)

as something qaint and humorous but not appropriate for everyday much like a small dog taking a large crap. My family just nods and says "that's interesting" so that I will spare them from any serious endeavor into Christian Theology, Sprituality, or History. I count myelf blessed to have said loving family regardless of their views of orthodox christianity. In their defense I was a member of 4 denominations in 8 years which makes you look like a psychopath. That is also the rollercoaster adventure that is the Chrisitan life. In closing I will say with clarity and without ramblings that I had and have a hunger for knowing God in the fullness that He allows. Even though I did my best to tune out the the Book of Common Prayer in my youth the episcopal liturgy says these four things of which the Priest was supposed to choose one to read and My wise old priest always said all four:

From the book of Common Prayer:

Come unto me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. Matthew 11: 28

God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, to the end that all believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

This is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be received, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. 1 Timothy 1: 15

If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the perect offering for our sins, and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:1-2

THe first and the last of the these scriptures are the only thing that really got through in my youth at church. But they are what we all seek: Rest and Peace.