Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Things I Do for Money...

This is one of my recent projects. We're building 22 foot high walls in a warehouse. This is us sheetrocking part of the wall. Twelve foot sheetrock weighs about 125 pounds a sheet. It is a lot heavier at 55 than it was when I was 35 for some reason.

This is what Thomas (my helper) and I did today....The elevator control room needed a thirteen foot high one hour fire rated ceiling installed (two layers of 5/8" sheetrock on 16" centered metal framing.) We had two step ladders and an extention ladder in a 10 by 7 foot room that had 8 square feet of floor left showing due to transformers, hydraulic controllers, electrical panels etc.. That is Thomas standing on a ladder set on top of one of the control boxes. In the room there are 6 electrical panels, an air conditioner, the hydraulic controller with the open front that is two feet inside the door (note the warning sign...Thanks, Sparky!). To get up and down off of the control boxes and put ladders on top of them, then to frame and sheetrock the ceiling over the open panel, we had to set up an extention ladder 6 inches in front of the open panel and be careful to not back into it on the way up and down while carrying tools and sheetrock. We hung the ceiling in four foot by four foot sheets because there were so many pipes and conduits running through the room we couldn't get full pieces of drywall up in between them. As we say in construction: "This is why I make the BIG money!"
(This is Thomas measuring for the next piece of drywall to go up.)

Monday, February 04, 2008

Reading Lossky

This is an excerpt from Vladimir Lossky's "The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church", the very first "Orthodox" book I ever read, which I found in the library at the Episcopal Church I was attending fifteen years ago. It had been checked out once in fifteen years. I still have it checked out.

"Here there appears an idea which one never finds in Dionysius, and which draws a line of demarcation between Christian mysticism and mystical philosophy of the neo-platonists. If Plotinus rejects the attributes proper to being in seeking to attain to God, it is not, as with Dionysius, on account of the absolute unknowability of God: and unknowability obscured by all which can be known in creatures. It is because in the realm of being, even at its highest levels, is necessary multiple: it has not the absolute simplicity of the One. The God of Plotinus is not incomprehensible by nature. If we can neither comprehend the One by discursive reason nor by intellectual intuition, it is because the soul, when it grasps and object by reason, falls away from unity and is not absolutely one." p. 30

As a priest once commented when I mentioned I was using Lossky's stuff for radio program material, "Well, Lossky lost me."

I recommend "The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church" as a primer on the foundations of Orthodox theology. However, it IS a deep wade, a slow, frustrating read and something you probably will revisit several times as you get more "Orthodoxy" under your belt.

Here are my "Instructions for Reading Lossky"

Do not attempt to read Lossky under the influence of any medications, while operating heavy machinery, after a heavy meal or Vigil, or just before bedtime. Keep a large dictionary closeby. Reading out loud and very slowly helps. As with any exercise program or lifting heavy objects, do not attempt to lift too much at once... two to three sentences at a time to begin, then add short adjectival phrases and subordinate clauses as you get comfortable. You will find doing several reps (repetitions) of the same sentence will be necessary in the beginning to build up your stamina. Above all, cool down after Lossky with something light, like Gregory of Nyssa or Alexander Schmemman. If you experience brain strain, take three Motrin, and consult a spiritual father if the pain persists after 3 days.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Where Memes Go to Die

I've recently been "tagged" with a meme.

Just in case someone has been living under a blog rock, a meme (from what I've been told) is kind of like a "flattering nod/chain letter/networking tool/fun thing to get to know people" blogging game. Someone starts something like "Name the last five sauces you've spilled on your shirt in a restaurant, and the relationship to the person you were trying to impress..." and then "tags" other people who have blogs, who are then asked to tag other people, who are then asked to tag their blogging friends.

Unfortunately, the Orthodox blogosphere is a small town. So, if you are like me and kind of like an Amway "downline", by the time a meme gets to my blog, 93% of the Orthodox bloggers that I read (and there are only a few from what I see in other people's links) have been tagged. The other 7% of Orthodox blogs are written by folks who were probably the kids who used to sit on the benches at recess and play chess instead of tag, red rover or dodge ball... their blogs are just not "fun" places and a meme on their blog would be like singing "Up From the Grave He Arose" during the Paschal liturgy. So they are meme-resisitant by nature. Anyway, what that boils down to is my blog is kind of like the elephant graveyard, meme's tend to migrate here to die. Like all things, there is a finite number of human beings on earth to tag with anything. Its like Amway: what happens when everyone in the world is a downline?

So, here's the meme that I've been tagged with by a couple friends:

1. Pick up the nearest book ( of at least 123 pages). ("No cheating" was added by someone, probably so our inclination to either want to look smart, or humble or literate and peruse our library for an appropriate book that would present a good facade would be avoided).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.

I didn't cheat, but on the other hand I was tempted to cheat...I wish I could have reached for something less pretentious sounding than Vladimir Lossky, like maybe Mad Magazine's 50 Years of Don Martin. But, since I've been working on our latest radio program series on "Essence and Energies" this was the closest book to my research desk.

So here is page 123 of "The Vision of God" by Vladimir Lossky.
In the state of union we know God at a higher level than intelligence- "nous"- for the simple reason that we do not know Him at all. We have here the entry into darkness (skotos), an entry concealed by the abundant light through which God makes Himself known in His beings. Knowledge is limited to what exists; now, as the cause of all being, God does not exist, or rather He is superior to all oppositions between being and non-being.

And welcome to the Meme Graveyard.