Monday, December 29, 2008

The Orthodox Answer-man

(This is a revision and expansion of a real, slightly tongue in cheek email posted on an Orthodox discussion list...)

Dear Subdeacon S-P,
There are so many Orthodox people on the internet with agendas these days, I think I need one too! What are my options? Help me find a good one because I'll just end up picking something lame and uninteresting.
Through the prayers of Ven. Melania of Rome, Ven. Chiriacos of Bisericani, New Heiromartyrs Thaddeus Upensky, Archbishop of Tver, Archbishop Velekii Ustiug, commemorated this day, and Barsanuphius, patron saint of me the greatest of sinners and bowing before you in all humility (but not kissing your right hand because you don't have the grace of the priesthood),

Dear xxxx,
Welcome to "Orthodoxy on the Internet"! You obviously have experienced the illumination of internet spirituality and have realized you need help in attaining blogotheosis. However, be forewarned if you are new to this: the only ultimate recognition for your efforts will be to be canonized as a martyr on the www Ortho-sphere. So if you are prepared to lay down your life for an agenda, there are several things you need to consider when picking an Orthodox agenda to give your life to.

F'rinstance, if you are constitutionally lazy you don't want to pick one that requires a lot of research, learning a dead language so no one can argue with you about your translations, or learning even a new language so you can read rare documents about your area of expertise. Also you wouldn't want to enter an area where you have no innate talents, like chanting, if you can't sight read and sing photocopies of 12th century Byzantine notation in dim candle light already. You also need to consider how much spare time you have to go through 1.4 billion google search results to know enough to sound authoritative for at least a few email rounds of arguing with someone who inevitably will have an opposing agenda before you bail out of a discussion in a huff. I would recommend that you have enough esoteric knowledge buried at LEAST past the 40 million search results so no normal Ortho-net person can challenge you readily.

But, the reality is, most newbies to agendas get passionate and excited and start tossing their newfound knowledge into discussion lists before they are well prepared. If you find yourself being Patristics-Tazed by some Ortho-geek out there who takes you on, here is what I teach the "catechumens to Ortho-agendas" as the proper way to extricate yourself from the discussion. You say something like: "This passionate discussion is not good for my soul...The Fathers were obviously illumined by "xxxxx" which I am trying to present to you. I should be praying instead of trying to PROVE my point to the uninitiated who are in bondage to the western phronema and need rational intellectual proof that I am correct. " Then lay low for a few days and post safe stuff like from the Philokalia or put up Youtube links to hidden camera videos of services on Mt. Athos and add smiley face emoticons to as much stuff as you can. This will disarm people and make them less suspicious of you later.

You might also consider that some agendas will make you look smart, some will make you seem pious, but some will just make you look goofy. It is difficult to find one that makes you look smart AND pious without knowing a dead language that only monks used. Piety and goofy are often confused, but as long as you stick with any pious praxis, dress, customs or liturgical prayer forms from an "old country" that is at least pre-1700 you are pretty safe. It is even better if the group you are imitating was oppressed by some "Orthodox emporer" or Patriarch.

A good way to beta- test an agenda is talk passionately about it with a couple visitors and one member of your parish council at coffee hour and watch for their reactions. If the priest comes and talks to you about it, you know you might be on to something. But, you want to google your agenda and see who else is on the bandwagon. If all the websites are in foreign languages, you have a good instant niche among English only converts. If all the websites/blogs/lists are in English, check out the profiles of the owners. If they are former/current members of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), Star Trek Fan Club, or have a picture of Yoda, Sir Gallahad, Batman, or the Sith Warrior as their avatar, you might not want to take up the cause.

Anyway, just some suggestions. Good luck finding an agenda!


The O A-m

Friday, December 26, 2008

Speaking of Jesus...

These videos were made by a church to show people how non-Christians sometimes view Jesus because of the way Christianity is presented. The movie used for the over-dubbed voices is the perfect vehicle. My favorite line: "What in the name of me is going on here?"

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Nativity Thought

I was listening to the Gospel reading this past Sunday, the geneology of Jesus according to Matthew. This week we had all of our kids (and our new grandson) together all at once for Christmas for the first time in ten years. At 56 years and being far enough along to say I can look back on life, the geneology of Jesus took on some human significance for me. In years past in a way they were names, discreet points of reference like dots on history. On Sunday they were people. They had lives, futures, pasts, wives, kids and mundane things like jobs, sins, hopes and dashed dreams. And yet in the mundaneness of life and obliviousness to the working of the providence of God in a picture so big it would not be believed if God Himself told them, their faithfulness, and lack of faithfulness in many cases, brought forth the salvation of the world.

In the hands of God, nothing in our life is therefore insignificant, even to 42 generations hence.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

In the Grand Scheme of Things

It seems like a catastrophe...but its really just an inconvenience.

My desktop computer stopped computing last night while I slept. I got up and went to check my email....No blue screen, no lights, just the fan running. The computer repair guy pronounced the motherboard dead. He told me I can retrieve my documents and files...5 years worth of digital pictures, 7 gigs of research and documents, 125 Our Life in Christ radio programs and 10 finished podcasts for a new program I'm doing for Ancient Faith Radio to be announced soon. So, yay for that. (I do have some backups...I learned SOMETHING from my last crash.)

New computer is being built (actually I have them built because for the most part the ones from the store have way too much stuff I don't use/need, and I get what I need for about 250.00). I just don't look forward to spending my Saturday reloading all my software and re-setting up all my accounts etc. And I have to figure out how retrieve my email address book. I never figured out how to back that up. sigh.

Until then, I have to work from my laptop. I hate the keyboard and its slower than the Cherubic hymn. Waah. Poor me.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Just Plain Cool

I used to be able to juggle three balls. Now I only juggle seven liturgical books at the chanter's stand. But I can still appreciate this

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The War Gets Personal

I received this in an email from a friend who was just deployed to Iraq for the second time.
I've known several people who have done tours there, but Felix's emails need to be syndicated.
So, I'm passing this on to my readers in hopes they will pass it on and perhaps he will find someone who is willing to give him a wider audience than the Ortho-blogosphere. Please keep him and his fellow soldiers in mind while you are giving Thanks tomorrow.

Tonight we would fly through Iraq's own sky. The birds of hydraulic oil and steel came in one by one and set down for the real work had yet begun. Our bags were packed hours ago spent the night with us waiting on the airfield below. With our bags were finally loaded, we could muster aboard. These flying buses would transport us to world unknown and very far from home.
We eventually shuffled on board and situated ourselves like sardines in a can. The only difference is sardines weren't often packed with large bags on their lap. The night was bright and the stars above were our only hope of visible light. The air had a bite but I liken it to a baby with no teeth so no damage was done.
With the engines whining and rotors turning for flight, we took off climbing into atmosphere enclosed in darkness and lacking of life. My nerves have always found comfort in this type of flight, which was quick and stealthy because of pilots, like my brother Russ, and the crew members, like my cousin Paul, that make our nation's aviation truly second to none the world has ever known, not now or ever.
As I looked out back of this helicopter in flight in the void that we call night, I saw many things that gave me pause or one my say, insight. The crews feet did dangle from the back of the craft in flight like fingers running the blackest of hair, which you and I know of as the night. I looked in on the trees below. I watched the trees as they slept and stood their ground with centurions of streets lamps staggered all around.
We flew past a pond that looked like God spilled milk on the ground below but sought not to clean it up because it look cool on the ground. It was a night with no moon so there was limited light to assist one to see.
I remarked to myself and I looked ahead and below. I know what the edges of the look like, simply barren and alone. I see a village with life and lights and then I see nothing all in the same fight.
As the miles passed by, I saw a fire raging below. Her dance was long and slow. The show she put on was cast in a memorizing glow but I could not watch long because I was moving very fast and had far to go, eventually I lost sight of her and her translucent glow.
As I've had the privilege to do many times before, I looked Orion in the face and he remember me by name. We exchange looks like someone bumbing into an old friend, who knew you from a different time and place. We nodded our heads and kept to our own direction and pace with the knowledge we see each other because we've yet to finish this life's race.
At night all the worlds seems the same, we all seem to have desires very similar or same. A place to lay our head and those we love in safety. To dream with our belly's full and our hearts content. Most wanting nothing more than a house and place to pass hours of the night in slumbering delight with those we love and to whom we say, "Goodnight."
We eventually landed and I said my goodbye's to Orion, the birds, and the night ever expanding sky. It was at last time for a little work and then off to bed.
Now many of you begin your Thanksgiving day anew, with family and fully belly, packed and tight. I have some food for thought that I want to give to you. It's taken me a week to cook up for you.
Remember, my home is America where I sleep with little fear and much rest. Here I've learned, again, to fall asleep with the sounds of machine gunfire echoing in the distance. I have much to say when I lay my head on my pillow, pray, and say, "Amen."
Thankful I am for the land and people I call home and return I must. My platform is raised because I stand on the shoulders of danger only to see what America is and truly can be. My thoughts are with you as you get together and feast. I encourage you all to love more and be all that God wants you to be.
It's funny but I don't think a life worth living is the one of ease but the one where sacrifices are made. The closer you are to death the more beauty you find in life. A life where mistakes are made and lessons learned. How learning to go without gives value to what you have now or will have. How learning that what we want is not as important as what we seek to give. Well, that's all I have for now. Take care and thanks for what you do.
In Him,
P.S. Have another plate on Thanksgiving for me....go ahead eat that extra cake or pie! I would have....

Friday, November 21, 2008

Everything's Amazing, and No One is Happy

I was following a Sparklett's Water truck on the freeway yesterday. The poster on the back side said "The taste you deserve without the calories!"

Ummmm.... "The taste you deserve"? Who DESERVES taste??? And why?

The sense of of entitlement is one of the latest narcissistic characteristics of an unabashedly self absorbed culture that advertisers are tapping in to. TV, radio and print ads tell you that you deserve a break, pampering, peace of mind, pleasure in unlimited and boundless quantities, to have bill collectors leave you alone, and yes, even water that has flavor and won't make you fat.

Why do you deserve all that? Simple. Just because you exist.

But not really. You don't deserve it, you feel entitled to it. Advertisers are merely schmoozing your self absorption to separate you from your money (I know that's news to many of you... sorry to burst your bubble). But if you're oblivious and narcissistic enough to believe what they are telling you, you deserve to be screwed and they deserve to get your money. The problem is, as much as we have we believe it is normative and whatever more is added quickly becomes what we are entitled to.

Entitlement is its own hell.

The guy in this video puts it all in perspective:
Everything is amazing and no one is happy.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My Wife is Bored

She says it is time for a new post.

Its hard to blog when nothing slaps you in the face like a cold, wet trout of absurdity. I don't really care about politics (What WILL you do if Obama is elected??? a Christian?).

Here's some good curmudgeon quotes about politics that I enjoyed:

"Politcs, noun: Strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles." Ambrose Bierce

"Being in politics is like being a football coach: you have to be smart enough to understand the game and dumb enough to think it is important." Eugene McCarthy

"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedy." Ernest Benn

and my favorite: "Some trust in horses and some in chariots, but we will call on the name of the Lord." some king in the Bible.

The economy is a little more interesting, but I've been self employed through 3 recessions now and have gained weight through all of them. Work has slacked off lately, actually. Christmas might be a little sparse this year, but I still have my internet connection and the light comes on in the refrigerator that has a Sam Adams Cream Stout calling my name. Jesus said "Seek first the kingdom and all these things will be added to you..." Some people I know think that means we kick back and hope money drops out of the sky while I read the Bible, but if we look at the birds of the air, they fly around from dawn to dusk looking for all that food that "God provides" laying all over the ground. If they're hungry enough they'll eat garbage in a Circle K parking lot. I've been hungry enough to mow lawns, dig ditches, build storage shelving in a 150 degree attic for a week, shovel ...well, anyway, if it paid money, I've done it. Pride goes before a fall, but I've learned that lack of pride goes before a meal.

The reality is, if the economy tanks and I lose my house, cars and God forbid, my internet connection and have to move into a trailer park and brush up on "Quieres papas fritas con eso?... Para ir o aqui?" yeah, I could do it and be happy....maybe happier.

Anyway, its late. Nothing earthshattering here, or very interesting. But it is NEW. Much like our government.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I Think I'm Going to Join

I think they are nearly Orthodox...They have cataphatic and apophatic theology, negation, their own liturgical language, experiential relationship with the Deity, transformation of the human person, priesthood, and mysticism. All they are missing is the 8 Tones, Octoechoes, and the 8th Day, but they aren't far from that and apparently very open to the concept .

Say Hebbo! from Torvakian on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Out of the Basement

About six years ago we moved my Father in law in with us when he was dying of progressive supraneural palsy. He was not able to walk up and down steps so we moved into the basement of our house and let him have our master bedroom/bathroom area for his "apartment". His bathroom was right above our bed. We slept in sewage more than once, and had to pull up the carpet in our room. We never replaced it and we just covered our bed with plastic because of the potential for future floods. Gil passed away and I told my wife I'd remodel the master bedroom for her before we moved back in. Unfortunately in the past three years I've taken some big hits financially and money for carpet, a new mattress and bed, moving the closet door, and not to mention the TIME to do it all just wasn't there. But a few months ago I happened on an estate sale and got a magnificent "California-king" 4 poster bed frame and night stands for 400.00. A few weeks ago we found a virtually brand new 1,200.00 mattress on Craig's list for 200.00. I had a job last week at a house where they pulled up nearly new and VERY nice carpet and they gave it to me. And I got paid, AND I had 3 days off. So, I retextured, painted, moved the closet door and rewired the lights, put in 5 inch Victorian baseboard, Bill (my radio buddy) laid the carpet for us, I bought curtains, a new light, bedding, lamps and we moved upstairs Sunday night.

My wife is a saint for living in a ten by twelve brick bare walled room with a concrete floor for so long. Baby, this bed's for you.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Shameless Self Promotion

I recently did an interview with Kevin Allen of "The Illumined Heart" podcast on Ancient Faith Radio. The topic was "lay ministry in the Orthodox Church". From age six as a Roman Catholic, I always believed I would be a priest. Fifty one years later, it hasn't happened either in the Catholic Church, the Episcopal Church (I left before they "discerned me") or the Orthodox Church (I came THIS close...). I did a three year stint as a protestant minister almost 30 years ago, but got fired. So after nearly 40 years as a "lay minister" in various contexts, I figured heck, why not do the interview. Kevin asked some good questions. Its HERE.

Monday, September 22, 2008

OK - Twist My Arm

As long as we're on the subject of goofy worship...

THIS is the "Big Puppet Mass" I believe JTKlopcic was referring to. Personally, I think I prefer "The Way's Lawrence Welk Get Down Boogie Moonwalkers" to the old New Age ballet dancers in this one.

THIS is the "Clown Communion" that someone (actually a lot of people, apparently, by the number of them around the altar) thought was a cool idea. At least they were really clowning around and not just coming off as clowns.

Caveat: It would be unfair to lay any of these weirdnesses at the feet of their respective denominations and presume or even imply that these are sanctioned or approved of by everyone in them. It is however, an indication of the spirit of the age that is woven into the fabric of American western Christianity. "Sacred" is in the eye of the beholder, "edifying" is what appeals to the ego and passions, "relevant" is pandering to agendas and postmodern aesthetics, and "Christian" means nothing except what each person sitting in the pew wants it to mean.

Lord have mercy.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Contemporary Worship

Sorry, folks. I had to delete the link because The Way, International must have gotten wind of the traffic to the video and have redirected the link to their home page. I will try to find the original link and repost it in the future. Sly, they are....

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Pop Tarts And the Olympics

With the Olympics winding down and world records falling like oil executive's popularity ratings, we have the potential for some of the most lucrative product endorsement contracts in history on the horizon.

I have heard that Michael Phelps is already endorsing Kellogg's Frosted Flakes, much to the chagrin of the Food Police who suggested he endorse healthier products like steel cut oatmeal ( opposed to perhaps what? lead cut oatmeal, laser cut oatmeal or radioactive waste cut oatmeal?), free range chicken veggie omelettes, or nine grain dry toast with half a cup of black coffee. Kids will go for that. Or perhaps he could convince kids to eat HIS breakfast: Three sandwiches of fried eggs, cheese, lettuce, tomato, fried onions and mayonnaise, add one omelet, a bowl of grits, and three slices of french toast with powdered sugar, then wash down with three chocolate chip pancakes."

I grew up in an era where a "healthy breakfast" meant you drank ALL the milk in the bottom of your bowl of Froot Loops, Cocoa Krispies, or Cap'n Crunch and perhaps had a glass of Tang on the side so you could get your vitamin C like the astronauts. I don't recall childhood obesity being an issue even though our diets allegedly are the cause of present day issue among a generation of kids who are waiting for the Playstation II version of "Kick the Can" or "Hide and Seek".

But, all that aside, I'm still waiting for Kellogg's to contact me for a celebrity endorsement of my favorite breakfast food: Yes,

Of course they might be a little ticked off at me for my previous outrage at the news that they were planning on introducing "healthier Pop Tarts". But at least I'm passionate about their products and that should count for something.

Speaking of "healthy breakfast food"... here is the quintessential good mom making a politically correct, Food Police approved breakfast for her kids... her obese, sugar amped, ADD Tasmanian Devils. Ah, juice.

Maybe Kelloggs can make an "orange juice Pop Tart", or you could put orange juice on your steel cut oatmeal ... that would solve the calorie/sugar problems, right? Guess again.

Frosted flakes? Sugar 12g, Calories 114

Froot Loops? Sugar 13g, Calories 100

Pop Tart Frosted Brown Sugar Cinnamon? Sugar 14 g., Calories 210

Orange juice? Guess....

Calories 122

AND: (Drum roll, please) Grams of sugar 29.5 over twice that of demon cereal or Pop Tarts.

No wonder kids are fat and hyper. It all started with Anita Bryant.

Yep, Tony the Tiger and Michael Phelps, two American heroes! Ahoy Cap'n Crunch! Cocoa Krispies all around! Oh yeah, Sugar Bear is my best friend once again!

So, really, we don't need to pay a whole branch of government salaries to serve us up nutritional propoganda. We don't need PC food websites that point their fingers in their "Hall of Shame" at places like Cinnabon for not disclosing their nutritional information to if ANYONE who eats at these places cares about grams of sugar and fat in a Cinnabon, or a Cheesecake factory dessert, or a Waffle House double pecan waffle with bacon and a Coke (oh extra butter please!)

We just need parents that will unplug the X-Box, kick their kids out the door with an empty orange juice can at dusk and take their cell phones away so they can't text someone and tell them where their friends are hiding. Just think, after a hard night of kick the can, mom won't have to get up extra early to squeeze orange juice, fry eggs, cook oatmeal and toast bread... she can throw a box of Cocoa Krispies and a jar of Tang on the table and go back to bed guilt free.

(Oh by the way...please don't inundate my comment box with nutritional information on processed sugars, red dye #2, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil etc. I have a good wife for that.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Who Am I in the Darkness?

Most of us have "spiritual awakenings" throughout our lives. We all struggle. We all fail. The enormity and depth of understanding of failure is often softened by youth and the illusions of immortality and invulnerability. It seems around middle age when we begin feeling our mortality and we've screwed up enough people with our stupidity and narcissism, a light finally goes on (or more accurately the light goes off) and we confront our darkness. It is in that darkness that God dwells (Psalm 18:11) and we see Him and ourselves most clearly. It is then that repentance becomes not an act, but an obsession.

I rarely cross post other people's stuff, but Anastasia's poem is worthy.

Zaccheus Cried Himself to Sleep that Night

When you begin to understand
(begin, because you never can, fully)
how hugely you have damaged and deformed yourself,
how deeply you have wounded others,

when you get a true glimpse
of the aching beauty you have missed,
the True Love you have scorned,
and trashed what is most to be cherished,

when you truly know the reality
of how ugly are the pleasures you grasp,
and how ruinous, and hateful,

and when you see, right there,
immediately next to your heart,
forgiveness, healing, a new start, real life,
all yours for the taking,

that’s when the tears come,
in a flood, all by themselves, guaranteed.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Reponsible Dog Ownership (PG-13)

This is Peanut.

This is Nonuts.

If only you knew when you followed my wife, Duke and Maggie home from the dog park that day. Sorry, boy...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Afraid of the Silence

I hate horror films, but that’s another rant.

One of the tricks to horror films is dead silence before someone dies horrifically with an orchestral diminished chord blaring over the panicked screams of the victim.

It’s no wonder we fear silence. If we hear it, something dies.

I work in construction. Job sites often have radios blasting heavy metal, some shock jock with his laughing chick sidekick, hip hop…anything frenetic to spur the pace of a pieceworker’s day or distract from the existential pain of another hour of the rest of one’s life.

I also work in people’s homes, mostly VERY nice homes. Most of them are wired for sound and video in every room. I’ve seen TV’s in bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms. I once built an entertainment center in a master bedroom that had a centerpiece for a 52” TV (back when that was the biggest available) and nine smaller TV’s surrounding it so the people could watch several channels at once in bed. When I work in someone’s home the people always ask me, “Do you want some music? How about a CD…what do you like? Do you want me to turn on the TV for you?”

“No thanks.”

“Really?... Are you SURE? Its no trouble… here’s the media center, this is how…”

“No, really… thank you anyway.”

“Ohhhh Kayy…but if you want, here it is.”


Then they wander around the house like they are lost, not knowing if they should turn on the TV or stereo anyway. Eventually they find a place to watch TV or play a radio…anything to break the silence. I can literally say, I’ve only had one client in 26 years who said they were glad to finally meet someone who loved quiet as much as they did. Their house was always silent.

I’ve worked with people who cannot endure silence. It has been a rare employee who can work wordlessly, quietly without having to fill the silence with chatter, humming, singing or earphones pounding something into their heads.

Why? If we encounter silence, intuitively we know something will die. Silence is the precursor to encounter. And we are afraid.

Let me say here: No, I’m not a monk-a-bee, I don't stand in my closet full of icons, burning incense and mumbling the Jesus Prayer on a rope the length of jumper cables. Yes, I enjoy music, all kinds. I’ve seen ZZ Top, Cowboy Junkies, Phoenix Symphony, Eric Clapton, Kitaro, Pinchas Zuckerman, Arlo Guthrie, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Led Zeppelin, Yoyo Ma…I love chant, James Brown and Hank Williams. I go to NBA basketball games...well, you get the idea. But many years ago, I set my heart to learn to live comfortably without distractions and noise, and I prefer it above even beautiful sound.

What happens in silence? It is a descent into a place where we have no familiar landmarks, no baubles, bright lights and kaleidoscopic fracturing of reality to hold our attention. We walk into a foggy, still, silent landscape and open a creaking gate that leads to a bleak house that has not been tended for years… it is our inner self. And like all horror movies, what is encountered within can only be preceded by silence.

But what lies within? Yes, the demons. Our self created demons, our twisted perceptions, our vain hopes of escaping unharmed, our panicked reactions to reality, our inattention to signs of impending doom, our lusts and passions, like failing flashlights, that give us irrational courage to enter into dark rooms and descend into black basements. The audience hears the silence, but we don’t. If we attend to it, fear grips us because we know something is about to leap on us and drag us screaming into hell.

But there is always something more in the bleak house: Redemption. Within the house always lies the path out, the tools to overcome, an epiphany, a strength within that rises up and conquers the demons and in the end, the silence opens to the daylight, the world now seen as a sign of salvation, the casting down of the powers of darkness…sounds are now a comfort and peace. Silence no longer is foreboding, it is joy.

God waits within, in the bleak house we have neglected, wherein lies all our demons. The path to encountering both is silence. And we must encounter both to break out into the Light.

(And a nod of thanks to James the Thickheaded's much more articulate post and my daughter who just returned from the Antiochian Village and encountered stillness.)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Fathers and Daughters

Something far more mystical and glorious than the mysterious red rocks and harrowing skies of a summer storm over the desert is the mystery of love and family. These are two daughters who were out on the town with their elderly, failing Fathers. The pictures tell it all.

This one slowly shuffled to his pace and he held her arm as they negotiated the puddles and curbs and rough sidewalks of Jerome.

This daughter sat and chatted with her Father as he dripped strawberry ice cream down his chin, over his hands and onto the sidewalk. He couldn't lick it faster than the sun ate it.

This Was Worth the Trip

Sedona is a couple hour drive from my house. Wifey and I took a weekend vacation and caught a rare Arizona rainstorm while driving around. Photographers wait for lighting like this for ages. This was taken from the side of the road near dusk with my cheap digital camera. (I didn't upload the 5 MB version of this shot here so its a little less impressive). Sedona is one of the top destinations in the world and has a reputation for being a spiritual "new age vortex". This is why (click the image for a full screen view).

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Clients from Hell

I went to a house today to do some "punch list items". A "punch list" are things that need to be fixed or completed at the end of a project, usually flagged by the owner before or immediately after they move in. This was probably my dozenth trip to the house to do the "final punch list" as a favor to the architect/builder who is an old friend of mine because he cannot get the original subcontractors to return to do the lists any more. The owners put little pieces of blue tape on everything wrong with the house. The first time I went it looked like blue chicken pox. After hours of "fixing things", we get called back a few days later and there is MORE blue tape the next time, not less. This switch plate got "blue taped" today...

I could not figure out what the tape was for. I pondered the switches. I looked at the edges to see if there was a gap in the drywall around it that needed caulking or painting. I checked it for cracks or black smudges and fingerprints. Then it dawned on me.

I thought, "No...not that.....that's not possible."

I looked at the outlet below it. "No....that can't be."

I went out into the hallway and looked at the hall light switch. ""

I walked down the hall to the next bedroom and looked inside the doorway at the light switches. I looked at the outlets. My face went blank as a beggar's plate. "NO!"

I ran down the hallway looking at every switch and outlet, my face twisting in horror at the sight of the truth dawning on me.


But it was the truth... THIS is what I saw everywhere I went

...yes, EVERY screw in the house was aligned at twelve o' clock. The upper right hand screw on the blue taped switch plate was at one o'clock.

I fixed it.

There will be more blue tape tomorrow.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Easy Personality Test

I think it was Dave Barry who said something like, if you want to really know someone just watch how they treat waiters and waitresses. It doesn't matter if the waiters are good or bad, there is a dynamic of human interaction between diner and waiter that reveals the true character of someone.

This is a cheap and easy personality test. If you are dating someone, if you want to know what a potential employee/employer is like, if you want to REALLY know your boss or even your priest (or any spiritual relation), take them to a decent restaurant when it is fairly busy. Then just watch them interact with the wait staff.

Are they polite?
Do they speak to them like human beings?
Are they condescending or rude?
Are they demanding, self absorbed, or act like yours is the only table in the restaurant?
Do they criticize them?
Do they make allowances or adjust their expectations for how busy they are?
Are they complimentary of small services or attentiveness?
Do they say "Please" and "Thank you"?
Do they smile or joke with them or treat them like "servants"?
At any time are you embarrassed by how they speak or act toward the waiter?
And finally, how do they tip? Do they tip with grace or law? (Personally, I tip 25-30%. Jesus says if we are constrained to go one mile go two, give your coat and your cloak. If the service is lousy, tip like Christ crucified: with grace and mercy for the sinner.)

I've been to restaurants with a LOT of people in my life. Dates, friends, employees, employers, priests, monks, abbots and bishops. And this is a fact, the true measure of a person is revealed at a restaurant table. You will know in one hour whether a person is humble, and regards himself as the servant of all or if she or he is an arrogant, self centered egoist. Over the years I've lingered behind to apologize for my table-mate's behavior, I've slipped additional money under my plate to make up a cheap tip or as a propitiation for the rudeness of my friends and, it is sad to say, even clergy at my table.

The measure of a person is how they treat those "beneath" them, one time encounters with someone who has no meaning or purpose except to serve a desire of the flesh. Jesus may as well have said, "By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you have love for waiters."

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Life, Death and Love

"Every willful desire for death is directed toward peace, not toward nonexistence. Although a man erroneously believes that he will not exist after death, nevertheless by nature, he desires to be at peace; that is, he desires to be in a higher degree." St. Augustine on the psychology of suicide. Thanks to Fr. Gregory for the quote from St. Augustine.

I'm posting the final two chapters of my unpublished manuscript, "Life, Death and Love" (most of the rest is available in the side bar of my blog) in response to St. Augustine's observation about the deeper and spiritual motivation for suicide. I have spent most of my adolescence and adulthood with an undercurrent of longing for death. Like many human beings, I've had suicidal thoughts situationally intensified. There is indeed an element of escapism in fantasy about death self inflicted, but as Augustine points out, it is ultimately a desire for peace, to BE at a higher degree. That higher degree is ultimately realized in love, and as St. Paul confesses, the desire to depart is often conflicted with the need to stay. (Phil. 2)

CHAPTER 14 The Gospel According to Romeo and Juliet

“Ah. dear Juliet, why art thou yet so fair? Shall I believe that unsubstantial death is amorous; and that the lean abhorred monster keeps thee here in dark to be his paramour? For fear of that I still will stay with thee, and never depart from this palace of dim night again: here, here will I remain (here with worms that are thy chambermaids; 0, will I set up my everlasting rest; and shake the yoke of inauspicious stars from this world wearied flesh.) Eyes, look your last! Arms, take your last embrace! and lips, a the doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss a dateless bargain to engrossing death! Come bitter conduct, come, unsavory guide! Thou desperate pilot, now at once run on the dashing rocks thy sea-sick weary bark! Here's to my love! 0 true apothecary! Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die." Romeo

"What's here? a cup, clos'd in my true love's hand? Poison, I see, hath been his timeless end: 0, churl! drink all, and leave no friendly drop to help me after? I will kiss thy lips; haply some poison yet doth hang on them, to make me die with a restorative. Thy lips are warm! Yea, noise! then I'll be brief - 0 happy dagger this is thy sheath, thet'e rest and let me die." Juliet

"We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us ... the one who does not love does not know God, for God is love." St. John

Romeo and Juliet. Love and death. I am the incurable romantic; I am drawn to death because I am drawn to God.

I wish to die because I am desperately in love with my Beloved. This is the heartbreaking joy of passion, it is the Divine Romance.

All lovers know that love bids us die for the sake of our beloved. This is the beautiful tragedy of love. The romantic amalgam of love and death is the highest, the simplest and most profound of all mysteries held tenaciously by the human heart. This is Truth: Death is the final witness to the true depth of passion of the lover for the beloved. It is not when, at the end of the story, the lovers finally make love that touches our very souls. The most captivating and romantic of all endings is when two lovers willingly and gladly die for the sake of eternity in one another's arms. Death for the sake of love is simply the gospel according to Romeo and Juliet. Death is embraced by lovers because they know in death they will shed all the limits of the world and hindrances of this flesh and be ushered into the final and complete union of their hearts. In death for the sake of love there is a trust as deep as their love that there will be a resurrection of the two as one, inseparable, complete and eternally bound. This is Truth, eternal, inescapable.

The heart of love knows that love and death are indeed a single substance. There has never been a lover who has not sworn he would forsake his very life for his beloved; every lover offers to his beloved his willingness to die for the sake of his love, for the sake of her love, as evidence of the passion in his heart. Love lays down its life for the beloved, sometimes in a single act, more often in acts done singlemindedly over the years for the sake of the beloved. Whether a life is sacrificed in a moment or over a lifetime, it is laid down for the sake of possessing the heart and soul of the beloved, it is gladly and willingly given to the one desired above all others.

But it is when we hear of two lovers choosing the moment, the single act with hope for some eternal certainty of one another's presence that our hearts are touched in a place that is sometimes too fearful and holy for even ourselves to enter and seek its blessing. Our reasonable, calculating minds will tell us the lovers' suicide pact was a waste of life, an eternal mistake, an unthinking and terribly short sighted solution to traverse the barriers of loving in a world that seems hostile to passion. In our world-bounded humanity we resist touching the holy sorrow deep within us that envies them. We try to reason away the inexorable logic of love that, in our hearts, understands the reasonings of the heart broken by the desire for unhindered union with the beloved. We do this perhaps because in our humanity we fear death, and sometimes truly fear love more than death; but somewhere deep in our humanity we know death for the sake of love is what life is truly about, that it is an anchor of hope cast into eternity itself. If we will, and we must, set aside our fears and open wide the door to the mystery of love and death we will find the One to whom both love and death belong, in whose image we are created, whose nature we share. The door opens to the very dwelling place of our eternal Lover, God who gladly died for the sake of becoming one with us, his beloved, for all eternity.

This is, thus far the end of my pilgrimage in my search for the meaning of my desire for death. I can go no further or deeper than the very love of God himself. This is the place I rest, this is where I am content to dwell for now: My desire for death is a witness to the very passion of God that has won my heart and mind and soul and strength. It is a manifestation of my desire dwell forever in the heart of my Beloved; in death alone can I truly know the depth of love that loves to death.

In death alone I know that in love there is resurrection, that the love I share with my Beloved is stronger than death, a flame of passion many waters cannot quench. In death alone I know life is a burden gladly shed for the sake of eternity with my Beloved; all that keeps us apart, all our adversaries, the limitations of my flesh and heart are rendered powerless by death. In death sought for the sake of the Beloved, love alone is sovereign, our true union is consummated, finally and completely, and we will never be lost to one another again.

CHAPTER 15 “…and boy gets girl."

"Let us rejoice and be glad and give glory to him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and his bride has made herself ready. Come, and I shall show you the Bride of the Lamb. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, and made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. 'And I heard a loud voice say, 'Behold, the very presence of God is with his people, and he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying or pain: the first things have passed away. ' " The Revelation of St. John

This is the whole of The Book. It is a story of love, surely, but of a love like all true loves, one that suffers greatly for the sake of finally and eternally possessing the beloved. It is the divine romance, the story of God's passionate pursuit of his beloved through Hell and high water to have her for himself. And the heart of sorrows is the heart touched by this True Love, it is the heart that longs for the ending of the story.

The Revelation of John is at the end of the story, an epilogue of sorts, told in images of such high definition cataclysmic, epic proportions with surround sound, that the mesage cannot be missed if we will stand back from the screen instead of standing with our noses to it. It is simply a retelling of The Love Story in ghastly and beautifully awesome images in case we did not understand when it was told in the terrifying human drama in which it actually happened: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy and girl both suffer greatly, insurmountable odds are overcome, boy gets girl in the end and they live happily ever after.

And this is the end of the matter for the heart of sorrows, the One bruised and beaten by and for the sake of Love. This all lovers know, to this all lovers will say it is so and Amen: In the end, in love, nothing, but nothing, matters except the presence of our beloved. If that presence is ours we at once lose everything and possess all creation. This is Truth: When I finally sit in the presence of my beloved, embraced in her unconditional passion and love for me all the pain and sorrows of the joining of our hearts, the hell of the fear of rejection, all my longings for her in her absence, all of my doubts about her love, all of the darkness of being abandoned by her because of doubts and fears, all of our unbelief, lack of faith, all of it is consumed, all is swallowed up in our love. None of it matters, none of it is of any consequence, none of it is even remembered, all the first things have passed away, all things are new in her present embrace. There is now only my beloved; no belief or unbelief, no fear, no doubts, no past, no future, no sense of the passing of the present moment, only the two now one in a mystery and the eternal sense that it is now as it was intended from the beginning. For that moment love reigns supreme, the world, the two of us, God himself and all his creation is a seamless tapestry; everything is woven together by the bright threads of romance and passion. This is the final and best mystery, the hope to which all we know about human and divine love, and that to which John finally points us.

This is the eternal moment I long for most desperately. To rest in the arms of my True Beloved, to sit in the presence of His divine passion for my heart and soul, to be lost in Him, to be one with Him, finally and completely. It is then that I know all of life with its tears and desperations, hopelessness and fears and sorrows will be swallowed up in His holy and fearless love. It is then I will know that I am, but it is truly more than knowing: I will be, yes I will BE my Beloved's and He will be mine.

"Arise my darling, my beautiful one. For behold the winter is past, the rain is over and gone, the flowers have appeared in the land. Who is this that grows like the dawn, as beautiful as the full moon, as pure as the sun? I am my beloved's and his desire is for me. Come my beloved, let us go out into the country. Let us spend the night in the villages. Let us rise early and go to the vineyard, let us see whether the vine has budded and its blossoms have opened, and whether the pomegranates have bloomed. There I will give you my love."

"The Spirit and the Bride say come…"

Monday, June 23, 2008

Finally! Orthodox Ketchup

I was taking a picture of the ketchup tonight and my daughter said, “Didn’t you already blog about ketchup? I said, “Yes, but Heinz was worldly ketchup, this is ORTHODOX ketchup.” She looked at the label and said, “Ohhh yeah… we say something like that at Church, huh?”

Yes we do. It is the words to a hymn sung mainly during the Lenten season during communion service of the Presanctified Liturgy:

O, taste and see.

O, taste and see that the Lord is good,

That the Lord is good.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

It is interesting that this hymn is the core of the Presanctified communion during the Lenten season, a season of fasting. The Presanctified liturgy is the midweek communion to sustain us through our Lenten discipline which is intended to wean us from our worldly attachments and our inner passions and lusts. Our fallen nature craves food, we eat for taste and pleasure, our passions seek sensory experience, titillation and gratification (the sooner the better).

The ironic beauty of this Lenten hymn, in the midst of the fight to disarm the powers of pleasure and passions, it is about pleasure, it is about gratification and sensory experience. It is about the whole human person experiencing God, the eternal Manna for which we were created to eat and enjoy.

2 Peter 1:3 says God has called us to His own glory and virtue and goes on to list the attributes of "true knowledge of Jesus Christ": moral excellence, knowledge, self control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love.

In the end, the only path to belief is to taste. Intellectual arguments can only list and discuss the ingredients, and perhaps convince someone that the Divine Condiment is good to eat. Until we squeeze It out of the bottle and put It on the French fries and eat It we have no Ketchup in us.

We can be convinced intellectually of the attributes of a Good God. We can discuss and theorize about the goodness of God without ever tasting God. But until we live in the goodness that we were created to experience as the icon of Christ , taste and experience the pleasures of holiness in our bodily existence, we cannot truly “see” how good the Lord is.

Taste and believe.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I Am My Dad

At some point in our adult life we should realize that we are our parents. A man is his father and a woman is her mother. Even if you despised them and swore you'd never be like them, you are in more ways than you think.

My dad and I didn't have a lot in common as I was growing up. I was an artist, religious (even as a pre-schooler), scared of a thrown baseball and not athletic by any stretch of any man's imagination, a pacifist, hippie, writer and musician. My dad was agnostic, a football player in high school, joined the Navy, was a Boy Scout Master, read "Guns and Ammo", was a hunter and fisher. He ridiculed my long hair, my religion, my girlfriends and my politics (I registered as a concientious objector to the Vietnam War). I ran away from home to avoid having to get a haircut on the eve of my high school graduation. My mother found me and told me to come home, my father would leave me alone. "Father and Son" was my anthem. In short, I wasn't my dad.

We had a cordial but strained relationship for the next few years. I went to college to become a preacher. I know it was difficult for him to introduce me to his friends. One year when I was in my late twenties, I decided I'd go deer hunting with him to try to bridge our gap. He lent me a .308 British infantry rifle that weighed welll... more than anyone would want to carry all day. I think it was calculated to humiliate me in front of his friends. I ended up being the only one in the party to shoot a deer, and I think he was truly proud of me that day. A couple years later, at age 51 he had his first heart attack. As they wheeled him into the operating room for his bypass, he squeezed my hand and said, "Pray for me."

But to digress...It was a ten hour drive to the hunting area. Along the way I saw my dad in some new light. It wasn't quite "revelations" because I knew these things, but I guess I just never really took them in. Along the highway we stopped at gas stations, little grocery marts and a small diner. Everywhere we stopped the people greeted him by name, and he them. My dad shot the breeze with them and they caught up on a year's worth of history in ten or fifteen minutes. He spoke to the new people working at the places as if he'd known them from childhood. He knew waitresses, cashiers, cooks, gas station attendants, forest rangers... and they knew him. He was the quintessential "Good Old Boy". But I knew that, I just never saw it as a virtue until then. Several years later, one of my employees said to me at the end of a day, "Do you know everyone on earth and does everyone know you?" It dawned on me, I was my dad.

Over the next two decades, the realization that I am my dad has become more and more profoundly real. Even my kids have pointed out to me I have the gift of "good old boy gab" he has, I actually have some mechanical abilities I never knew I had until I was forced to use them to raise my family, I avoid conflicts and give people the benefit of a doubt like he does, I let people take advantage of me and give too much sometimes, I stick up for the underdog and make excuses for people's shortcomings and failures, I'll help you even if I had other plans and not say anything, I avoid asking for help if I need it, I talk a mean game but let offenses slide, I bear my pains and sorrows in silence and solitude, I collect stuff and never throw anything away but will give it to you if you need it, my hands are beginning to shake like his do, I even sleep in a chair like he does, hands folded over my belly. Over the last two decades, I've realized I've been blessed to be like my dad.

He is living on borrowed time after two bypass operations and a stent inserted in his heart. He has an artery that is inoperable and waiting to close up for good. I'm blessed to be able to tell him I'm glad I'm his son. I know he's glad too. I never would have thought we'd be like this, but here we are... Father and son, two generations of Good Old Boys, on his front porch last weekend. I'll miss this when its gone.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

I've Always Suspected This...

The quiz confirmed it. But don't tell anyone my secret identity, OK? Thanks.

Your results:
You are Superman

Green Lantern
Iron Man
Wonder Woman
The Flash
You are mild-mannered, good,
strong and you love to help others.

Click here to take the "Which Superhero am I?" quiz...

Saturday, May 24, 2008


I love to cook. Here is my latest Mexican food meat experiment: carne asada fajitas (barbeque meat and veggies) which is a cheap cut of meat marinated then cooked and served up with tortillas and vegetables. (OK... here's an old Mexican food joke first: The Mexicans have really snowed the American public with their cuisine. Its really not all that hard. What's a taco: tortilla, meat and veggies. Burrito: tortilla, meat and veggies. Tostada: tortilla, meat and veggies. Chimichanga: tortilla, meat and veggies. Fajitas: tortillas, meat and veggies. Enchiladas.... well, you get the idea.)

Anyway, here's the fajita recipe, you'll need... guess what: meat, tortillas and vegetables.
Get a cheap cut of meat (flat iron steak works but it is getting popular and expensive. London broil or any meat about an inch thick works too... actually this marinade is really good with chicken and any white fish too).

Squeeze two oranges, one lime together. Add two cloves of fresh garlic minced, a half a poblano (or anaheim) chile diced small, or some canned green chiles if fresh chiles aren't available), half a teaspoon of cumin, half a teaspoon of chili powder, half a teaspoon of paprika, a handful of chopped fresh cilantro (or a heaping tablespoon of dried). Mix together in a shallow cake pan, then put the meat in it and cover with plastic wrap. (Or you can put it all in a gallon ziplock bag). Put in the fridge and marinate for at least 24 hours. To cook: Barbeque to medium rare. Or, fry in a HOT cast iron skillet: get the skillet hot enough to "dance" a drop of water, then put a dash of oil and then the meat, and sear both sides. Remove from cooking method and thin slice in strips for fajitas.

To prepare vegetables: coarse slice onions, zuchini, bell peppers and mushrooms. Heat a skillet with a little oil then add vegetables. Spice with half teaspoon of each of cumin, garlic salt, chili powder and paprika. Stir together then squeeze a lime into the skillet, stir and cover and steam until cooked but still firm (about 5 minutes).

Serve meat and veggies on separate platters (people put their own fajitas together) with large flour tortillas, dishes of warmed up refried beans, fresh cilantro, sour cream, salsa, grated cheddar/jack cheese and fresh tomatoes.


Saturday, May 17, 2008

What I Do in My Spare Time

About five years ago at the request of a priest who knew I was in construction, I visited St. Paisius Monastery to help build a laundry facility for the Sisters. We finished it over the course of two months of weekends and dubbed it "Hagia Laundria", which made the Sisters laugh, which is a no-no. They asked me if I would consider helping them with their next building project, a room addition for more bedrooms for the Sisters who had been living in 4 by 8 foot un-airconditioned "sketes" (sheds) around the property. I agreed. They handed me a drawing of the floor plan drawn by a volunteer architect. There were no architectural or structural specs, no blueprints, no electrical, plumbing or mechanical plans. Over the next year of weekends I worked and coordinated an ever dwindling crew of volunteers and local contractors who filled in when we couldn't find someone who could donate time and materials, and we played it by ear, making up every detail as we went. We took the roof off the garage, gutted the garage and breezeway, then added a second story, 8 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms a foyer and a workshop/office area. These are a few pictures of the construction.

Here we have removed the roof of the garage and I'm showing Mother Abbess Michaila how to use a framing nailer to make floor joists.

This is the front of the garage, the roof is gone, the floor is framed, and the walls are going up.

This is Sister Anastasia, who is meek, all of 5'5" and 100 lbs WITH a 300 knot prayer rope in her hand (of course its hard to guess exactly with them in habits...) driving the SkyTrak putting the trusses on the roof with precision. The framing carpenters were quite humbled and impressed to say the least.
This is our "roof celebration" when the last truss was set.

This is me framing and sheetrocking the apse windows in the Sister's rooms.

This is the finished building.

But that's all done. I went to the Monastery this past week to begin the interior work on the new Church. For the past two years they have been putting up walls and recently started the roof structure. I'll be doing the interior design and building the domes, ceilings, arches and apses. (Again, with no blueprints. ) This is the interior of the Church.

These are some pictures of the work I started this past week in the two small side chapels. This is the existing roof structure with the altar apse in the front. I'm going to frame an arched ceiling under the steel trusses. You can see the shape of the ceiling we finally landed on after 3 hours of trial and error on the front wall.
This is Sister Anastasia again, standing steel studs in the apse framing for me.

This is the partially finished ceiling structure. The radius track is up, all the dimensions are calculated and I will leave filling in the dozens of studs for the Sisters to complete over the week I am gone.

I know there are people all over the world who would love to have the privilege of doing something like this. It is quite humbling to be able to participate in building a monastery and a Church, to say the least. At the end of a 12-14 hour day there is a deep peace in the exhaustion of the flesh. And God willing my flesh will last long enough to finish the project; and at the end of it all my funeral will be in this Church and I'll be buried in the Monastery cemetery where Mother Abbess said my grave will be tended by the grateful Sisters until Jesus comes again. What more can one ask?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

"Best of..." This Blog

I find new blogs all the time that I'll visit and bookmark. Some of them have been around a while and my challenge is finding time to fish around their archives for "good stuff". Well, for newbies to this blog I thought I'd make a short list of posts that I think reflect best the kind of stuff you're going to find here. I'm an Orthodox convert, but this isn't a "convert blog" where everything I post is about "my journey". It is about my life and what I think about stuff from sex education to Pop Tarts, to modern marriage. So for those who don't know me yet, this is me.

This is me.

Growing Old Together

I Am My Dad

First Kiss

My Father in Law's Disease

Does God Have a Wonderful Plan for Your Life?

Childhood Betrayal
and the PODCAST version

Daddies and Daughters

Eavesdropping on a Private Conversation

Homeless, Hungry, God Bless
and the PODCAST version

Transitions: Construction to Office Cubicle

The Moo the Turtle's BLOG

The Tree of Life (Photograph)

"Healthy Pop Tart" Heresy

On Capital Punishment
The extended 8 PODCAST series begins at Part One

Love and Death

On Turtle Relationships

God Damned Circle of Life
and the PODCAST version


Walter and Gil Dying

Abandoned By God (PODCAST)


On Asceticism

Pitiful Appeal Chain Letter

What I do for a Living

Responsible Dog Ownership

Orthodoxy and Homosexuality

Marital Intimacy in the New Millenium

Easy Personality Test
and the PODCAST version

Virginia Tech Mass Murderer

Blog Envy

When the Wife Comes Home from Vacation

How to Close a Door
and the PODCAST version

Building St. John Mission's Church Building

Orthograph Archive

Well, that's about it. Welcome to my life. Thanks for dropping by.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Kate Walsh on Sex Education


From Newsbusters

On Friday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Julie Chen teased her upcoming interview with "Gray’s Anatomy" actress Kate Walsh on sex education: "She is one of the hottest actresses in Hollywood today due to her roles on "Gray's Anatomy" and "Private Practice," but she's also passionate about sex education for American teens, and she took her campaign to Capitol Hill. We're going to ask her why this issue is so important." ... Walsh, who is a board member for Planned Parenthood, said during the interview:

"…there just needs to be a comprehensive sex education program, and we can't be relying on, you know, private foundations, or parents, or, you know, teens' peers, to be educating each other. We really do need government help on this. It's, you know, it's a shame to me that we spend money educating our kids on, you know, history, math, science, and English literature, and we -- we can't educate them sexually. And, you know, and it's proof in these -- in these statistics (20% of girls ages 14-19 have STDs). It's just shameful to me that in our country that these young women are being infected because they honestly just don't have the information. Abstinence is one -- abstinence is one aspect of sex education, but it is not the complete aspect. And to expect, I think, everybody to remain abstinent is just -- it's like asking them not to grow. It's like we don't ask people to not try out for sports. We don't ask people to stop learning. It's just a natural human process, and we need to be educating people. If abstinence-only did work, we wouldn't be seeing these kind of statistics. We wouldn't be seeing these young women suffering like this."

OK… I’ve never seen Gray’s Anatomy. I’ve never seen Private Practice. I wouldn’t know Kate Walsh from J-Lo if she stood naked in front of me. I have no clue who this person is or what makes her, you know, HOT…at least for today.

It seems like we have a strange idea of what qualifies a person to, you know, speak authoritatively on an issue. The “hotter” you are, apparently the more respect you command. If you are, you know, the star of TWO hit shows, maybe that means you think with BOTH sides of your brain. In fairness, I will grant that the fact that she does work in television it means she can read, and perhaps has read some stuff about this topic.

Fine. Enough ad hominem cheap shots. The real concern is in the assumptions that don’t even lay beneath the surface of what she is espousing here. Let me just take her comments in order of appearance:

“…and we can't be relying on, you know, private foundations, or parents, or, you know, teens' peers, to be educating each other. We really do need government help on this.”

The government educating our children about sex? What can the government say about sex to ANYONE, much less a teenager? Even if it WANTED to, it cannot say anything based on morality or religion. It cannot offer a theological explanation of the sacredness of the body, the sanctity of sexuality, the holiness and beauty of virginity, the spiritual/psychological damage of premarital/extramarital sex, the objectivity of the human being in the image of God and all that means. All the government can say with its own self imposed post modern restrictions is, “Hey kids, these are the polite names of your parts. This is how they fit together if you are male and female. This is where they go if you're homosexual. You decide what’s best for yourself, but here’s some information about disease and here’s some free condoms. Be careful out there. But if you’re not, we have a government program that will pay you for not listening to us.” So now kids have “information” from the government.

Information. Information is the savior of the western world. If anyone does anything stupid it is generally because of “lack of information”. The American mantra is, if we just had more education, more information, more booklets, more videos, more commercials, more warning labels people would stop doing stupid things. “Education” is the key to Utopia. In Kate’s Hollywood world, kids armed with information will stop doing self destructive things. And then as “educated” adults they will continue to act responsibly. Right. That is why we have so many single mothers with multiple kids by various fathers, men who impregnate anything that offers the chance for an orgasm, people who hand out STDs to virtual strangers like Halloween candy. They may not have a government DVD, but its not like they have no clue where those kids come from, why those women keep getting pregnant and wanting child support, and where all those warts and blisters on their genitals came from. What information the government can supply can only inform and warn. It cannot and does not form a person to care about self worth, self preservation, self control for the sake of future joy, concern for the soul of another and the meaning of love as opposed to situational passion.

Kate goes on to say, “…abstinence is one aspect of sex education, but it is not the complete aspect. And to expect, I think, everybody to remain abstinent is just -- it's like asking them not to grow. ”

I agree, that abstinence is just one aspect of sex education. However, the “other aspects” that she brings out here need to be unpacked. To ask someone to remain abstinent is asking them to “not grow”? Kate…tell me, grow into WHAT? What is it that a human being can grow into that REQUIRES premarital sex as a teenager (or even as an adult)? What aspect of the heart, soul and psyche of the human being is stunted and weakened for not having sex as a teenager? What bit of self knowledge, what revelation will come that will enlighten and illumine a teenager who “makes love” with someone when they have one year of experience (more or less) knowing what “love” is? What emotional and spiritual maturity comes with knowing how to give someone a blow job? What growth takes place when a girl finds out she’s a sperm depository for guys who say anything to get in their pants even if it takes them months? What great epiphany comes when a teenager discovers that sex won’t keep a boyfriend or girlfriend? What maturity comes with having to explain to your current boyfriend about the guys before? What does a boy grow into who has “governmentally informed” sex with “informed” girlfriends? Have you ever visited a dog park? Been around a pig pen? Ask any man who was 16 what his imagination was about. To be a slave to hormones, feelings, passions, or just plain fun is “growth”? To hook up with anyone who will provide an orgasm is “growth”? Or even to give in to the biological urge based on “loving feelings”, it is de-evolution to the level of dogs, not growth as a human being gifted with reason, rationality, and a heart and soul connected mysteriously to the act of sex. We do not “grow” from having sex. We grow up then have sex as grown ups who know who we are, what people are, what relationships need, and where our sexuality fits in the big picture of what it means to be a human being and not a dog in heat.

Kate goes on to say, “…. It's like we don't ask people to not try out for sports….. It's just a natural human process, and we need to be educating people.” Oh, Kate. So, sex is like professional sports, only natural. It’s just a game people play, scream a little, bump around and sweat a little, score some points, then go home. In the end its just touch football with an orgasm instead of a touchdown. Its all about how “good” you were in bed, or under the dining room table or whatever. You sound like the Boston Medical Group appeal to men’s fragile sexual egos: “Get examined today, perform tonight!” So how many men have you tried out? What is your criteria for a “first string” sex partner? Would you settle from someone coming off the bench if you’re REALLY horny? How many guys think of you as their starting quarterback? Do you know how many think you are second string? How much education do you need to learn to do like a superstar what is “natural”? Dogs don’t need education to do what is natural, except when they are trying to slam dunk on your leg, but then all you have to do is kick them. Don’t you, somewhere in the depth of your soul, find this the slightest bit DE-humanizing? You are a human being reduced to a performer of sex acts, and how well your human pretzel performance matches up with his internet porn queen fantasies determines how “deep” your relationship is going to get. You try out, and if your partner is as vapid, inhuman and soulless as you are, depending on how skillfully you drive his hot rod, you may or may not get invited to sit on the “pole position” at the next race. Does it ever occur to you that you are being used for a cheap thrill (or even an expensive one…since you are really “hot”, I’m sure you’re not cheap anymore). Do you ever feel hollow using someone else for a good performance. Do you ever feel heartless when you discard a human being because your orgasm wasn’t a Cosmo screamer? Or did it occur to you that maybe he really didn’t care about yours because he got his anyway.

Kate finishes, “We wouldn't be seeing these young women suffering like this (referring to having an STD).” Given the choice, I think I’d rather suffer with an STD than suffer the ultimate loneliness and dehumanization of the mechanistic soullessness of Kate’s philosophy of sex. I’d rather sleep with one woman for my entire life than try out for the team with a dozen like her. I’d rather spend a lifetime learning to have decent sex with someone I know loves me and will care about me when our bodies fail and our bed is for sleeping, than try to please someone who tomorrow will spread her legs for someone who looks just a little hotter than me. In the nights she spends alone and she lays in bed staring at the ceiling (or even when she’s staring at the ceiling with some new rookie on top of her who isn’t making the team), I wonder what really goes on in the dark empty corners of her heart? STD’s can be cured and you can still become a human being. I don’t know how you can cure not having a human soul.