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Archive for October, 2004

Single-Issue Voting?

Walking about as I do, in academic settings, when I encounter thoughtful and conservative Christians, I sometimes find them apologetic about their pro-life/anti-abortion stance. They don’t want to be known as “single-issue” voters. Because, among the intelligentsia–who graciously, and for the price of this semester’s tuition, let an ignoramus like me walk among them–single-issue voting is soooooo “simple-minded.”

But thanks to all that has come in the wake of Roe v. Wade, we pro-life/anti-abortion citizens find ourselves confronted with a whole host of issues related to our “single issue.” Touchstone’s Jim Kushiner in yesterday’s “Mere Comments” makes a list of issues guiding his vote:

  • Human embryonic experimentation and research.
  • Human cloning.
  • Euthanasia.
  • Assisted suicide.
  • Defense of marriage as a man-woman institution. With the acceptance of gay-marriage as a constitutional right, public schools eventually will have to accept this redefinition of marriage and teach it. The traditional view will be termed “religious doctrine” and ruled as unsuitable for public schools, and perhaps considered as “hate speech.”
  • The appointment of federal court and Supreme Court justices who respect the sanctity of life and marriage.
  • The appointment of federal court and Supreme Court justices who respect freedom of religion in the public square.
  • Rolling back the activist judicial state that is demonstrably increasingly anti-religious.

So much for single-issue voting. If you’re pro-life/anti-abortion, I would wager the choice is fairly clear.

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The Fatherhood Chronicles LI

My chance to be publicly and unashamedly proud:

Instructional Eucharist

Today’s Eucahrist service was, for me, extremely instructional. I learned absolutely nothing about the liturgy, nothing about the lessons or the Gospel, nothing about ecclesiology. In fact, I learned nothing at all about anything that had to do with the church.

I learned about babies.

So, Clifton and his wife apparently have Susie babysit their daughter Sofie from time to time. Well, I noticed Susie with an absolutely adorable child in the hall outside the chapel today and since I knew she didn’t have any kids I asked whose it was and she told me. I started playing with Sofie, running around with her, and letting her try to pull my face off via my beard. Well then Susie says, “I have to cant (chant) today. Can you take her?” “Of course!” said I, grinning wildly. I love playing with babies. Then I realized I’d be sitting with this 14 month old for over an hour and I have no idea what to do with a child for that long, especially when they can’t run around or be loud. Luckily, I sit next to Jane in chapel, a veteran mom. Susie then came over with a HUGE baby bag and handed it to me. I looked at Jane and said, “Do you know how to use this thing?” Natually, she did, and everything in it too. So, Jane actually took Sofie for the Liturgy of the Word, during which Sofie dissected Jane’s prayer book and hymnal, and I took her for the Liturgy of the Table. More truthfully, she just crawled into my lap. Now, during the service, I learned how to keep a kid quiet when she wants to yell: pretzels. I learned how to keep a kid from squirming in your arms: hymnals with ribbons. And I learned how to not pay attention to a dry sermon and get away with it: play with a kid. Now, this child has obviously been paying attention to her Daddy a lot, because she actually crossed herself when she saw others cross themselves, she grabbed at my cross necklace and kissed it repeatedly, and she kissed the prayer books and hymnals like you would an icon (her father is Orthodox). I was amazed. Simply astonished. Then, she started singing during the sermon. I wanted to join in as I already mentioned that the sermon was boring. After she crawled into my lap, she fooled around a bit more and then wanted to be picked up. I picked her up and held her for a short time before there was a small thud on my shoulder, followed by a quiet snore. The cutie had worn herself out and was asleep before she hit the shoulder. So, I had a sleeping baby in my arms and it was awesome. She slept for the rest of the service, through the singing, through communion, through the dismissal and exit. She even slept through being handed back to Susie. My shoulder hurts still. Kudos to parents who lug kids around all day; you’re way more powerful than I am. I found myself grinning most of the rest of the day amid answering questions that it was not, in fact, my child. No, no, not quite ready for that yet; I still like to be able to give them back! All in all, it was a great service, though I was only vaguely aware it was going on, and a special day.

From Ryan’s Everday Faith.

[Note: I should clarify. I have not yet been chrismated in the Orthodox Church. I'm merely an Orthodox wannabe at this point.]

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Autumnal Longings

About a month ago it was the autumnal equinox, the first day of autumn. At that time, the crisp, cool mornings of fall had not yet begun. Since then finally the leaves begin to fall. Autumnal things have begun to happen. School has started again. Football is in full swing. Labor Day has come and gone. Halloween is on its way. We rarely get above mid-sixties now (though we had a 75 degree day Saturday). I have to wear a jacket when I leave for work in the mornings, and on the way home.

Autum is by far my favorite season of the year, and always at this time of year, I am one big mass of longing.

It’s difficult to articulate what I’m longing for. Autumn isn’t really a destination, like winter and summer are. It’s not even the beginning that Spring is. Autumn, alone of all the seasons, seems inherently transitory. It is always on the way from summer’s long, lazy heat to the frozen eternity of winter’s cold. In autumn, one cannot even yet look forward to spring’s promises. If spring promises the life of summer, and winter is life’s end, then autumn must be a lot like dying. No longer living as one has, not yet dead, one is merely stretched and in-between.

And so, for whatever reason, autumn gives rise to inwardly slowing down, to making place for serious thought and contemplation. It is an occasion to go deeper than one has yet gone, a chance to rectify lost opportunities. It is a call to repentance, to the seeking of forgiveness and the giving of it.

There are temptations in autumn. To get lost in nostalgia and fail to attend to the present moment, to fail to watch and pray as the night gathers. The dull ache of transition can become addictive and one can fail to move on. It is easy to sit wrapped in a quilt and sip hot cider, harder to rise and light the vigil lamp and to pray.

There is a happy sorrow to autumn. In the dying signified by the falling of leaves, one nonetheless sees red, orange and yellow beauty. It does not make death beautiful, but gives promise of the beauty that lies in the triumph over death. The enemy cannot hide the truth. The soggy mass of leaves rot and decay. But as they do, they sing of the golden realities that await us.

The sunny days of autumn are strangely beautiful. The light gives its hint of fading glory, as the sun’s slant strikes the earth just so. We know the days grow shorter, the opportunities fewer. But the sunsets are more golden, and the harsh summer heat is softer, more welcome. We cannot bear the direct sight of glory, and autumn reminds us of this. We are bent creatures, and it is God’s mercy that we see the slanted rays which hide more than they reveal. But reveal they do. And such revelations give us a promise that burns like a coal in our breast.

Autumn calls us home. Families gather for feasts and holy days. Ties are strengthened and renewed. Each year testifies to the encroaching of time and death. But testifies, too, to the bonds which in Christ are indissoluble.

Maybe for these and other reasons, autumn is my favorite season.

Pray for me a sinner.

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More Answers to Prayer

St. John the Wonderworker, Bishop of Shanghai and San Francisco, and spiritual father to one of my own patrons, Father Seraphim of Platina, continues to intercede powerfully for the Healy family.

As I’ve noted in an earlier post, I’ve taken on asking St. John to pray for me that I would always be able to adequately provide for my family, including being aware of possible honorable sources of income outside what I’m currently doing, as well as that God would just make things happen. Well, St. John’s prayers have again been answered.
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The Fatherhood Chronicles L

Catechizing Sofie

As a new father (only fourteen months under my belt), I am learning things I never knew before. There’s the Third Law of Wet Wipes which states that the actual number of wet wipes needed to clean a bottom after a poopy diaper will be in proportionately inverse ratio to the actual number of wet wipes on hand. Along with this is Sofie’s corollary which notes that when attempting to retrieve said wet wipe for said cleaning mission that said wet wipe will have either fallen back into the wet wipe dispenser and is no longer retrievable or will be impossible to retrieve from said dispenser because it has firmly lodged in the dispensing hole leaving the bottom cleaning person (usually daddy) to no other recourse than to swing the wet wipe and dispenser wildly about one’s head as one attempts to dislodge the wet wipe while also ensuring that the poop-bespattered bottom does not make contact with items of clothing, the changing table pad, or the baby’s other clean body parts.

But this is not about poopy diapers. Rather, there’s something else I’ve learned, something so awesome and mysterious, so humbling, that one can’t help but say it in a whisper: Children are naturally religious.
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Father Seraphim Books

Yesterday, I received in the mail the four books I’d ordered from St. Herman Press, all by my patron, Father Seraphim Rose:

The Soul After Death
The Place of Blessed Augustine in the Orthodox Church
God’s Revelation to the Human Heart
Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future

I’ve read all these before (see list below), having checked them out from the libraries at the seminary or Loyola, but got some birthday money last month, and had just enough to order these four books and pay for shipping, so I decided to add them to my home collection. (They’re also all in newer editions than the ones I’ve read, so they have extra material I’d like to read, too.)

Although Blessed Seraphim’s list of authored books is relatively finite, as can be seen from the list below, his list of translated books is relatively larger. What makes these translated books valuable is not just the translation of previously unavailable texts, but Father Seraphim’s godly-wise introductions.

A case in point. I’m currently re-reading the out-of-print Vita Patrum: The Life of the Fathers, a translation of a portion of a work by St. Gregory of Tours (historian of the Franks). (By the way, it is currently in revision and soon to be republished under the title Western Orthodox Roots.) The first one-hundred-fifty pages are a detailed introduction by Father Seraphim on monasticism in fifth and sixth century Gaul, and its relevance to modern Orthodox Christianity. Clearly, Father Seraphim’s introductions are important works in their own right.

In any case, I remember reading the books listed above, particularly Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future and The Soul After Death, and being a bit mystified by them. Keep in mind that this was early on in my intensive investigations into Orthodoxy. On the one hand, much of what they said I could definitely agree with. The dangers of occultism and the lifting up of religious experience over dogma. The necessity of sobriety about one’s own death. But there were other teachings of ancient Christianity that struck me as, well, frankly, weird. Prelest, or spiritual delusion, and the necessity to focus on religious struggle. The reality behind the metaphor of the toll-houses.

But recently I reread Father Seraphim’s Nihilism, as I commuted on the bus. I also remember my first experience with this book, and coming at it from a philosophical perspective. I thought, “Father Seraphim doesn’t understand the philosophers he’s criticizing.” But now I’ve got more than a year of Divine Liturgies under my belt, and something like a discipline of daily prayer. I also am more grounded in my academic discipline. So when I came to Nihilism again, I thought, “Man, Blessed Seraphim is dead on.”

It was partly as a result of that experience that motivated me to go ahead and purchase these books so I can more receptively take in the godly insights of this saint.

So, although I should have dutifully plowed through “Observing Reason” in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit on the commute this morning, instead I pulled out God’s Revelation to the Human Heart and read the first section. I was almost in tears. (I’m very emotional of late. What’s up with that?) Father Seraphim indeed spoke the truth, a truth he both knew personally and struggled through suffering to know.

Blessed Seraphim, our father in the faith, pray for us.
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The Fatherhood Chronicles XLIX

The following are some photos from our trip a week and a half ago to Goebbert’s Pumpkin Farms.

SofieMommaChickens

Here’s momma and Sofie looking at the chickens. Sofie was particularly enamoured of the lightning-quick chicks.

SofieDaddyLlamas

Me and Sofie with llamas. Sofie liked the llamas best of all. She likes big dogs–Jeff and Catherine’s Sydney, Mitch and Denise’s Zack–so I wonder if she thought they were unusually large dogs.

SofieMilkCow2

Yep. That’s Sofie grabbing a teat. A fake one, to be sure. But we have another picture (not as good quality) that shows her squatted down both hands grabbing rubber teats and trying to milk. You go little farmgirl!

SofiePumpkins

Sofie in the midst of a bunch of pumpkins.

SofiePumpkinRoad

This one makes me tear up especially. Sofie’s getting independent, which means she’s going to spend the next several years walking away from me. Sigh. It’s necessary, I know, so that she can walk right back. But the walking away still doesn’t feel all that good.

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Playing Mr. Mom

I scheduled a vacation day today last week. I felt it would be good to have a whole day to spend grading final exams and final papers. But then reality stepped in.

Sofie got sick. She has a mild cold, which has her feeling poorly, but hasn’t diminished her energy and enthusiasm too much. Pretty much the only difference is the snot faucet attached to her face, and the extra hugs and kisses she gives–she knows she’s feeling bad and wants bunches of lovin’ from momma and daddy.

I did get the final exams graded, but still have the papers to do. But those probably won’t be touched till tonight. You see, it’s a Mr. Mom day. Anna has seized the day with my being home and has left for a lunch date with a fellow children’s author. I’m solo till she gets home.

It ain’t too bad. I blessed Sofie with the cross today, and a little later she pointed to the icons and made kissing sounds. So we venerated the Theotokos and Jesus. She’s learning to make the sign of the cross, though it’s usually either the vertical motion or the horizontal. But she’s starting to put it together. She puts her fingers together just like daddy and the other people at Church. That just amazes me: that she would notice such a detail as that.

Lunch went okay, though she is now proceeding to take all my books off the shelves–for the third time this morning. And all the toys are coming out of the toy box, off the shelves and out from other places. Once these get cleaned up this will be the fourth time. But she’s dressed in her purple jogging suit. She’s so dang cute there ain’t no way I can get angry at her.

How do mommas handle these sorts of things? I don’t know if I’m a typical dad or not, but I’m looking for order and discipline. From a fourteen-month old. Yep. I’m in a fantasy world.

Today ain’t too bad, but I do have to say this: There’s a song on the radio with a chorus that runs:

Well
Pampers melt in a Maytag dryer
Crayons go up one drawer higher
Rewind Barney for the fifteenth time
Breakfast six, naps at nine
There’s bubble gum in the baby’s hair
Sweet potatoes in my lazy chair
Been crazy all day long and it’s only Monday
Mr. Mom

Today, I am sympathetic to those words. But it’s the final bridge out that really expresses what I feel today:

Balancin’ checkbooks, juggling bills
Thought there was nothing to it
Baby, now I know how you feel
What I don’t know is how you do it
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The Incarnation and the Church

The Incarnation is not only the dogmatic center from which the spokes of the Trinity, union with God, and the Resurrection extend, but it is the doctrinal foundation of the Church as well. In fact, I do not think it too hyperbolic to state that ecclesiology is Christology. What we believe about the Church is, and ought to be, a reflection of our belief about Christ. And because the Incarnation is the foundation of our soteriology, what we believe about the Church will also reflect what we believe it means to be saved. That is to say, the doctrines about salvation and the Church are essentially linked to one another, in and through the dogma of the Incarnation.
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Well, all the punditry (radio, web, news programs) is really getting to me today. Not the pugilistic atmosphere itself, mind you. After all, politics is a full-body contact sport. But the endless illogical bloviations and outright falsehoods. That’s right, even though all the world believed Saddam had WMDs, since Bush acted on what everyone else believed, he lied–er, I mean, intentionally misled the world, who, now say they never believed Iraq had WMDs. I would flunk any freshmen in my logic class who tried that stunt. Oh, and don’t forget: we can trust the U.N.’s assessment on Iraqi WMDs, since just about the entire anti-Bush Eurocrat crowd was on the bogus Oil-for-Food take. (Was that what Kedwards meant by global test?) Logic!

So, in moments like these, I turn to Monty Python to soothe my troubled mind. Today, I consoled myself with the logic lession contained in “How Do You Tell a Witch” (scroll down to scene five):

MONKS: [chanting] Pie Iesu domine, dona eis requiem.
[bonk]
Pie Iesu domine,…
[bonk]
…dona eis requiem.
[bonk]
Pie Iesu domine,…
[bonk]
…dona eis requiem.
CROWD: A witch! A witch! [bonk] A witch! A witch!
MONKS: [chanting] Pie Iesu domine…
CROWD: A witch! A witch! A witch! A witch! We’ve found a witch! A witch! A witch! A witch! A witch! We’ve got a witch! A witch! A witch! Burn her! Burn her! Burn her! We’ve found a witch! We’ve found a witch! A witch! A witch! A witch!
VILLAGER #1: We have found a witch. May we burn her?
CROWD: Burn her! Burn! Burn her! Burn her!
BEDEVERE: How do you know she is a witch?
VILLAGER #2: She looks like one.
(more…)

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