Sunday, September 18, 2005

Radio Angst

I've been doing a local Orthodox radio show every Sunday afternoon for almost 7 years. A local priest started it and I was a guest on his show when a group of us converted. After the show he asked if I would do the show every other week to give him a break. I ended up doing it about 48 weeks a year. His parish dropped their support a year ago and I found some priests who said they'd take up the pastoral direction and a part of the financial support, I'd have to raise the rest. We signed a contract, and seamlessly began a new program which was more in line with the vision I originally had for it. We put up a new website and the show took off beyond our wildest hopes.

That began the worst year of my life in Orthodoxy. There is no way to blog all that has happened without scandalizing someone, so I won't.

My Bishop who is aware of all of the wierdness and has been in the middle of some of it says ignore it all...if you weren't doing something no one would talk about you, keep focussed, don't quit. Its hard. But, I was trained for this when I was the ministry in the church of Christ. I recall an elder's meeting where the Youth Minister and I asked for a cost of living raise once. Elder J.D. looked at us and said, "Everyone knows preachers are a necessary evil, we have to hire you because we couldn't have a church without ya'll. But everyone knows the only reason someone is a preacher is they can't do anything else and make a real living. So you are lucky to be getting what you are getting." That was just one meeting. I took almost 20 years of that kind of stuff from him. So, yeah, I came into Orthodoxy with a thick callous. I have a high tolerance for pain when it comes to doing what I believe in. The only thing I can honestly say is I did everything I have done with blessings from priests and bishops and with spiritual guidance and advice. I've been obedient. All else is in the hands of God.

The upshot of the past 13 months for the purpose of this post is merely this: we couldn't raise enough money to keep the radio show on the air locally. By the time our contract was coming due to be renewed we were over 4,000.00 in arrears and counting to the tune of 325.00 a week. I just couldn't keep up with keeping the show afloat on my own any more. (My court thing with my business ended up costing me over 7,000. so far.) So after 7 years, I decided to call it quits...locally. That was a hard decision. But the facts were we had little local support and a lot of controversy, the website has grown exponentially, and we just can't seem to pick winning numbers in the Lotto... :)

Through the extreme generosity of our internet listeners and a local person, we've been able to pay off our debt. That allowed me to buy a small studio set up to put in my basement office and begin recording programs for our program website, and for Ancient Faith Radio and Incarnation Broadcast Network

So, we're still "on the air". Now I have this studio and new software and I have to learn how to use it all in my spare time. I'm a tech-dunce. So we're going to record, and as I figure it out the quality of production might get better, but for now its just two guys in my basement talking about stuff into a microphone. Not elegant, not broadcast quality, but its a new beginning.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

What Happened??

I have about 15 minutes before I have to leave for Vespers...what happened to the last couple weeks?? I get up at 5:00, I go to bed about 11 or later sometimes. You'd think in that many hours in a day, I'd have time to "blog" SOMETHING. sigh....

I guess the fast foward version is setting up a new computer and network... THAT was a huge chunk of hours for this tech-dunce. Did you know that Windows 2000 and XP can't talk to each other? Sheesh...XP can even talk to '98 and ME... but can it talk to the OS I have... of course not.
I also set up a recording studio in my basement in order to continue broadcasting our radio program on the internet. That was the motivation for a new computer with more RAM and faster processing. Oops... gotta run. Vespers time! Later.....

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Vanity, Vanity, All is Vanity

I'm supposed to be leading Reader's Typika right now for our Mission, but I'm staying home with my father in law who has diahhrea. Its just not compassionate to make him sit in a dirty Depends for 4 hours because his daughter and son in law are the Reader and chanter/choir director and can't change several times him during the service. My wife carries the bulk of the musical responsibilities and we have someone who can intone "Lord have mercy" and read Psalms just fine, even without a black robe on.

So... I know I'm not a monk. I know I live in the world. I know we are to be "in the world but not of it". I visit the monasteries quite a bit, I know there are no mirrors. Last week I stood in front of the mirror and re-invented myself with a shave and a haircut. Now to maintain it, I have to stand in front of a mirror much longer than I used to. What's the problem? IS there a problem? Am I creating one, or by being aware of the fact that there could be a problem I have in fact avoided it actually being one? Where is the intersection of image/world/culture and vanity?

To begin, everyone has to be something, even a monk who doesn't shave or cut his hair at all.
That in itself is an "image" within a certain culture that just happens to be tied to the Church. I know priests and laymen that have adopted the monkish look as part of their "Orthodoxy". I know the traditions vary regarding priests' hairstyles and beardedness and the topic of clerical facial hair becomes an instant flame war on some discussion lists. I recall seeing two priests comparing pony tails and discussing the "bad hair days" when the pony tails didn't quite hang right because they were works in progress. Hmmmm...I thought, gee, if you can't really be unvain I guess you can at least try to look like the people who aren't. After all, image is everything, right? sigh....of course not every priest with a beard and pony tail primp and condition it with Paul Mitchell products. Its harder to flame someone's inner thoughts than an outward appearance, after all hair is just hair, right? Its ego PLUS hair that gets us. Ego plus anything, actually.

OK, I know I'm rambling here. Anyway, so I'm finally getting in touch with my inner Charlie Chan-ness. I'd say Jet Li, but at my age, with my gut, its more like "Biplane Li". Its not that I was ever ashamed of it, but it just wasn't something on the surface. I could even watch movies that portrayed Chinese people in stereotyical roles and not be offended for myself or the Chinese culture... nor am I about to become a Chonky "Jesse Jackson" looking under every adjective and noun for racial slurs. But race is an interesting thing. It is a reality. SHOULD we celebrate our racial heritages? Can we do that without walling ourselves off? Is politicized and mandated multi-culturalism just another liberal plot to stick the Rainbow up our collective ummmmm.....
Or is politicized melting pot uniformity-ism just another conservative plot to keep non-English speaking people from burning up our tax dollars? Those things are way beyond me. All I want to do is find a place in my head for what and who I am connected to a much larger community that stretches back thousands of years and intergrate that into where, who and what I am now.
Its not about living in the past, or in my head in some illusion or comic book version of a culture I've only encountered on a non-verbal basis. My mother never sat down with me and said "This is how WE do this... or this is the Chinese attitude toward that..." Although when I read about the culture and talk to people, I can see I was raised wellll... Chinese, insofar as my mother reflected the culture she was raised in after they immigrated to Hawaii when she was a child.
I know I unconciously passed some of that along to my kids, albeit now watered down and obscured by the fact of being Chonky and first generation American born.

I also have two adopted racially mixed kids. My daughter, whose birth mother told us she slept with a Mexican man, I recently figured out is actually Navajo. I met her "twin sister of different mothers" at a McDonald's in Gallup New Mexico last year. My son, whose birth mother also claimed a Mexican stud... well, he passes for Greek, Arabic, Mulato, and Mexican. We know this from his girlfriend's parent's reactions to him. They both look like "my kids". Well, except for the fact my son is 6'5"...if they look at me with suprise, and I just tell them he gets his height from his mother. ehhhhh.... I have no idea where this thought was going....

So, back to the original point, or search for a point. I think it was "Everyone has to be something". No matter if we cut our hair or not, style it or not, we are engaging our culture, be it ethnic, religious, or business by how we groom ourselves. Something as simple as what we do with our God given hair we are making a statment. How that statement intersects with the bigger statement of our lives is the issue. Is Christ manifest, not because of or in spite of, but within my racial and cultural heritage? Do dreds, or Fu-manchu's, or pony tails, or beards or smooth faces make a Christian? Of course not. Can they be baptized? Absolutely, my hair went into the water with me, if I recall correctly. So all that's left really is me. Yeah, I'm vain. Heck, I have a blog, for crying out loud. Yeah, I like it when people say "I like your new look". But I liked it when people liked my old looks. And of course there's people who don't like any of them. Whatever. I don't live and breathe by my critics or fans, ultimately. I live and breathe in Christ who made me Chonky. How do I praise and glorify Him FOR what I am, and IN what I am?
That is the issue.