Thursday, March 26, 2015

Did the Enlightenment cause a global decline in violence? (No.)

...2. If there is a decline in violence, it is due to Christianity.

By now, mainstream historians are slowly waking up to the realization that almost everything we like about the Enlightenment, from the rule of law to the scientific method to capitalism, had its roots in the extraordinary civilization of the Middle Ages.

Why is it that we modern persons are so much more squeamish, so much more likely to be stirred by the idea of harm?

One answer might be that our civilization had, for a millennium, at the center of its moral imagination, the battered and broken figure of a slave hanging from a gibbet, condemned to die by all rightful authorities and abandoned by his friends.

And it is worth noting that the increase in squeamishness in the West dates back from the takeover of the Roman Empire by Christianity.

A key indicator of cultural squeamishness is how a society treats children. As the historian O.M. Bakke shows in the tellingly-named book How Children Became People: The Birth of Childhood in Early Christianity, Pagan society considered children as little more than objects, with consequences of — to us post-Christians — astonishing cruelty. The practice of abandoning newborns was widespread and not frowned upon. While most abandoned infants died, those who did not were typically "rescued" into child sex slavery, which was a legal and thriving industry. The sources report that sex with castrated boys, in particular, was considered very titillating, and there are reports of babies castrated to serve that purpose. These were all practices that Christians famously condemned, and Bakke nicely traces how phrases by Jesus holding children up as examples and insisting on care for the "least of these" caused emerging civilization, for the first time in the history of the West, to regard children as full human beings endowed with rights.

Another good indicator of squeamishness is the treatment of slaves. While only by the High Middle Ages was slavery over in the West — the first time in all of human history that a culture had abolished slavery — as soon as Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire rafts of unprecedented laws were passed to reform the institution of slavery, typically "squeamish" laws such as banning sexual relations between slaves and masters, making it illegal to break up slave families, banning the branding of slaves (first on the face, and later anywhere). The first condemnation of slavery as an institution in all of recorded history was made by the Catholic bishop and Church Father Gregory of Nyssa, in strikingly "squeamish" terms, exhorting his congregation to see in their slaves the same image of God that dwells in them, and to free them.

Because human hearts are so hard and crooked, this rise in squeamishness was infuriatingly slow and incomplete (and still is), but if there is one starting point one could name, it would be the rise of Christianity. If the Enlightenment did anything, it was only to accelerate a process that had been ongoing for centuries.

3. The modern age doesn't look so hot when you count abortion.

Abortion is a typical "squeamish" issue, where mere squeamishness leads us astray. It's harder to get squeamish about a "clump of cells" than a live baby, even though there is no conceptual difference between the two. When it comes to disabled children in the womb, we all too often get squeamish in exactly the wrong way: we get squeamish about the pain they will endure, instead of getting squeamish about the idea of snuffing out innocent life. "Care/harm" makes us empathize more with those we recognize as our alter egos, but make us empathize less about those we do not include in our circle of fellowship.

According to the U.S. Abortion Clock there have been 55 million abortions in the United States since abortion was legalized in the U.S., and more than one billion abortions worldwide since 1980. One billion. If abortions are counted as homicides then the modern age sure doesn't look so hot...


I don't agree with his concluding enthusiasm for the Enlightenment, but otherwise this is a truly outstanding piece. Read it all here.

See also this longer and very powerful rebuttal of the new article of Whig orthodoxy.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Carnegie Council: Russia's Orthodox Soft Power (must read)

Abstract

For many analysts the term Russky mir, or Russian World, epitomizes an expansionist and messianic Russian foreign policy, the perverse intersection of the interests of the Russian state and the Russian Orthodox Church.

Little noted is that the term actually means something quite different for each party. For the state it is a tool for expanding Russia's cultural and political influence, while for the Russian Orthodox Church it is a spiritual concept, a reminder that through the baptism of Rus, God consecrated these people to the task of building a Holy Rus.

The close symphonic relationship between the Orthodox Church and state in Russia thus provides Russian foreign policy with a definable moral framework, one that, given its popularity, is likely to continue to shape the country's policies well into the future.


Read the rest here.

All in all this is an unusually sober and nuanced examination of the role, and history, of the Orthodox Church in Russian society and its somewhat complex relationship with the state. In some spots it seems to gloss over some of Russia's decidedly "Real Politik" approach to foreign affairs and the very fair criticism of the gross corruption in the Russian government. But this is definitely not the usual drive by "Putin is Hitler" op-ed and it deserves some careful reading.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Deadly Flu Outbreak in India Kills 2000+

AHMEDABAD, India — Dr. Dinesh Joshi puts on an N95 medical mask and opens the door to the swine-flu ward at Civil Hospital in India’s western state of Gujarat. With 5,000 beds, it is one of the largest hospitals in Asia. The swine-flu ward is at the end of a long corridor, its walls lined with drawings made by schoolchildren on the importance of washing one’s hands after using the toilet, of eating a diet rich in protein and of avoiding public gatherings — all actions that Joshi believes will prevent a worse outbreak of the virus that is currently sweeping the country.

Inside the ward for swine flu ward, labeled by its official medical name, H1N1, 6-year-old Purvi sits on a bed with an IV tube in her nose. Her chances of survival, like those of the 15 or so other patients in the room, are uncertain. In the corner, medical assistants enter details of swine-flu cases into the state and central government database. Across the hall is another room, with the word “Suspect” written on the door in Gujarati, reserved for those who may have the virus.


Read the rest here.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Ransomware: Pay or fight?

Ask security experts what to do when hit with ransomware – the sophisticated malware that infects a device or network, uses military-grade encryption to restrict access, and demands payment for the decryption key – and you'll typically get the same answer: "never pay the ransom."

But for many, that's simply not an option. For example, last November an employee in the Sheriff's Department in Dickinson County, Tenn., accidentally clicked on a malicious ad and exposed the office network to the infamous CryptoWall ransomware. Detective Jeff McCliss told local News Channel 5 that CryptoWall had encrypted "every sort of document you could develop in an investigation," such as witness statements and evidence photos. Even after consulting with the FBI and U.S. military, McCliss told the news station that the only solution was to pay the $500 to the cybercriminals to get their files back.


Read the rest here.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Where God Loves Abortion and Hates Israel

The Presbyterian Church (USA) is the Radio Shack of church denominations. It’s been in free fall for so long that it’s sometimes difficult to believe the church is still around. It makes news only when it makes bad news. This is a church that has long embraced a culture of death by accepting abortion on demand. Indeed, church materials have declared that abortion can even be “an act of faithfulness before God,” and church policy states: “The considered decision of a woman to terminate a pregnancy can be a morally acceptable, though certainly not the only or required, decision.”

This is a church that has long embraced a culture of death by accepting abortion on demand. Indeed, church materials have declared that abortion can even be “an act of faithfulness before God,” and church policy states: “The considered decision of a woman to terminate a pregnancy can be a morally acceptable, though certainly not the only or required, decision.”


Read the rest here.

Not a big fan of Israel's neo-colonialism here, but in all other respects I'd say this article pretty much nails it.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Judge questions whether Obama administration misled him on immigration policy

BROWNSVILLE - - A federal judge here on Thursday raised the specter of sanctions against the U.S. government on Thursday as he gave a tongue-lashing to lawyers for the Obama administration for misleading him about a new immigration program at the center of a national lawsuit.

"You said it's not happening," U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen said, referring to the program. "And like an idiot I believed that."

In January, Justice Department lawyers had assured Hanen that President Barack Obama's directive to shield up to 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation was not being put into effect while a lawsuit filed by 26 states against the administration moved through the courts.

But this month, the U.S. government admitted it granted 108,000 immigrants, who already were protected from deportation, three-year renewals of their deferred status, instead of two years. The three-year deferrals are one aspect of the new program that's under dispute.

In February, Hanen granted the 26 states a preliminary injunction halting the new immigration program, which Obama had put in place through executive action Nov. 20.


Read the rest here.

Fr. Thomas Hopko: The One True Church

 Orthodox Christians claim that the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Chalcedonian Orthodox Church, is the one true Church of Christ. That’s the confession of faith that we make. Of course, we have to say right away that there are members of the Orthodox Church who are relativistic, especially in America, there would be those who could say, “Well, all churches are the same,” and, “no one can claim the truth,” and, “different churches have different things,” so we really shouldn’t be so proud and so arrogant as to say that our church is the only church or the only true church, that we really should not do that. However, that is the teaching.

I mean, it really is the teaching of the Holy Scripture and certainly of the Councils and certainly of the Holy Fathers and the saints. There would be no doubt at all, absolutely no doubt, that it is really a dogma. I would say that, a kind of a formal, official conviction and teaching in the Eastern Orthodox Church, that the Eastern Orthodox Church and only the Eastern Orthodox Church is really, truly, fully the one Church of Christ.

It is the Church of the Messiah. It is the qahal Israel. It is the assembly of Israel in the Messiah, in Jesus, to which Gentiles like myself may now be included by faith and grace. And that indeed this church is the Church. Certainly it would be a dogma, an absolutely official teaching of the Eastern Orthodox Church, that at baptisms and at the Holy Eucharist, at the Divine Liturgy—and we also do this at the compline service at the daily services in church—we say the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed. And we say it in the singular: not “we” as the Council said it, but “I,” meaning “I accept it, I believe this.”


Read the rest here.

Memory Eternal! Fr. Thomas Hopko

Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko, Dean Emeritus of Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, Crestwood, NY, and noted Orthodox Christian priest, theologian, preacher, and speaker, fell asleep in the Lord on the afternoon of March 18, 2015.

From here.

Amidst Russian Provocations a Nervous Poland Encourages Its Children to Play Soldier

KALISZ, Poland — For evidence of how much President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has jangled nerves and provoked anxiety across Eastern Europe, look no farther than the drill held the other day by the Shooters Association.

The paramilitary group, like more than 100 others in Poland, has experienced a sharp spike in membership since Mr. Putin’s forces began meddling in neighboring Ukraine last year.

Thirty students took an oath to defend Poland at all costs, joining nearly 200 other regional members of the association — young men and women, boys and girls — marching in formation around the perimeter of the dusty high school courtyard here. They crossed Polish Army Boulevard and marched into the center of town, sprawling in four long lines along the edge of St. Joseph’s Square.


Read the rest here.

Russia has legitimate national interests in Ukraine. That cannot be said of Poland, the Baltic States, Sweden and any number of other countries that have reported a disturbing rise in subtle, and sometimes not so subtle provocations by Russia. At least the Poles are being realistic about their national defenses, unlike so many of the older NATO members who seem to be tripping over one another in a mad rush to disarm.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Prayers Please

Dad has taken a turn. I may have to travel on short notice, so blogging might be erratic. Your prayers are deeply appreciated.

Happy St. Patrick's Day


Monday, March 16, 2015

The Democratic Party is facing a Catholic apocalypse

It’s one of the central contradictions of American politics: that there’s no such thing as the “Catholic vote,” yet the Catholics vote still matters.

There’s no “Catholic vote” in terms of Catholics representing an electoral bloc that votes according to what their bishops tell them, or in lockstep with the tenets of their religion. Yet winning Catholic voters has been essential to almost every presidential victory in modern times. And the defection of Catholics voters has played a role in some of the most consequential congressional turnovers in recent history — from 1994 to 2014 — making Catholics the ultimate swing voters. And for Democrats, that could be bad news.

While Catholics have been swing voters since Richard Nixon’s second term, white Catholics are now identifying as Republican by historic margins. According to the most recent polling from the Pew Research Center, 53 percent of white Catholics now favor the GOP, versus 39 percent who favor the Democrats—the largest point spread in the history of the Pew poll. And for the first time, white Catholics are more Republican than the voting group usually considered the ultimate Republicans: white Protestants (a designation that includes both mainline and evangelical Protestants).

These are ominous signs for the Democrats, evincing a new and growing allegiance with the Republican Party that has long-term implications.


Read the rest here.

Former SSPX Bishop Williamson to Consecrate Bishop(s)

Details at Rorate.

Honestly, is there anyone at all who didn't see this coming?

Netanyahu Says No Palestinian State if He Is Re-elected

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said Monday that as long as he is the leader, a Palestinian state would not be established, reversing his support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Mr. Netanyahu made the assertion on the eve of an election in which he is trailing in the polls. He has been campaigning aggressively, appealing to conservatives for support.

“I think that anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian state today and evacuate lands, is giving attack grounds to the radical Islam against the state of Israel,” he said in a video interview published on the NRG website. “Anyone who ignores this is sticking his head in the sand. The left does this time and time again. We are realistic and understand.”

Asked if he meant that a Palestinian state would not be established if he were to continue as Israel’s prime minister, Mr. Netanyahu replied: “Correct.”


Read the rest here.

GOP locked in fight over military spending and deficits

WASHINGTON — The congressional push this week to secure the first Republican budget plan in nearly a decade is revealing a chasm between fiscal hawks determined to maintain strict spending caps and defense hawks who are threatening to derail any budget that does not ensure an increase for the military.

“This is a war within the Republican Party,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who has vowed to oppose a final budget that does not ensure more military spending. “You can shade it any way you want, but this is war.”

The divisions will be laid bare Tuesday when congressional leaders unveil blueprints that hew to spending limits imposed by the budget battles of 2011.


Read the rest here.

No more debt. Not one cent!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Megachurch pastor seeks donations for $65M private jet

ATLANTA (AP) — The ministry of a prominent Georgia megachurch pastor and evangelist who teaches that God wants to bless the faithful with earthly riches is seeking donations to buy a luxury jet valued at more than $65 million.

The website of Creflo Dollar Ministries asked people Friday to "Sow your love gift of any amount" to help the ministry buy a Gulfstream G650 airplane. Dollar and his wife, Taffi, are co-pastors of World Changers International Church in College Park, just south of Atlanta.

Dollar is one of the most prominent African-American preachers based around Atlanta who have built successful ministries on the prosperity gospel. Ministers in this tradition often hold up their own wealth as evidence that the teaching works.


Read the rest here.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Where is Vladimir Putin?

Much of the world seems to have become obsessed with speculation on the whereabouts and or condition of Russia's president. Mr. Putin was last seen in public on March 5. Such prolonged absences from public view are unusual for the Russian president, and given the history of the country, it was inevitable that the rumor mill would start going into overdrive. However, the most likely explanation is also one of the more mundane.

There is currently an epidemic of super flue raging in Moscow that has reportedly stricken about half the population. According to public health officials, this particular strain is especially nasty, often leaving its victims completely prostrate for days. (I had a similar experience in December of 2012. A relative with the flue showed up for Christmas dinner and by sunset on Boxing Day I felt like I had been hit by a train. I spent a good four or five days flat on my back and even after that it was several days before I was up to leaving the house.)

So yeah, invoking Occam's Razor my money is on this being a good old fashioned case of the grippe.

Ross Douthat: Who Are Pope Francis’s Critics?

The latest cover of the new New Republic features Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig taking on conservative anxieties about Pope Francis’s possible “radicalism.” The essay isn’t just about the pope; it offers a larger critique of the way that conservatives, Catholic and otherwise, relate to and interpret the human/Western/Christian past. I have a few disagreements with this depiction, and a few critical generalizations I’d make about the liberal tendency in Catholic thinking and debate right now. But I’ll save those for another post; for now I think it would be helpful for the discussion of Catholicism in the Francis era to spend some time distinguishing between the different groups who have doubts, or flirt with having doubts, about this pontificate, because in Bruenig’s account they run together a bit and I think the distinctions are actually enormously important.

Read the rest here.
HT: Rorate Caeli

For the record, I think this is a very thoughtful piece that is well worth the read.

Controversy Follows Islamic Prayer Service in Anglican Church

A Church of England vicar is facing a storm of protest from traditionalist Christians after allowing a Muslim prayer service to be held in his church.

Dozens of Muslims took part in the “Inclusive Mosque” event at St John’s church, Waterloo in central London, in what is thought to have been the first time a full Islamic prayer service has been held within the Church of England.

The vicar, the Rev Canon Giles Goddard, a prominent liberal cleric, joined in the event, reading a passage from the Bible and inviting the congregation to give thanks to “the God that we love, Allah”. 


Read the rest here.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Breaking News: Violence in Ferguson

Multiple sources are reporting gunfire outside the Ferguson Police headquarters where a protest was going on. Unconfirmed reports indicate one or more police officers may have been hit.

Lord have mercy.

Islamic State Obliterates 10th Century Monastery

The Islamic State (Isis) has blown up a 10th century Chaldean Catholic church north of Mosul and bulldozed a nearby graveyard, according to sources.

Nineveh Yakou , Assyrian Archaeologist and Director of Cultural Heritage and Indigenous Affairs at A Demand for Action, exclusively told IBTimes UK that the Mar Gorgis or George (St George or Markourkas) monastery has been "wiped out" by IS militants.

The building, located on the Ba'werah neighbourhood on a hill north of Mosul on the other side of the Tigris river, was founded by the Assyrian Church of the East on the 10th century but rebuilt as a seminary by the Chaldean Catholic Church in 1846.


Read the rest here.

Another Illustration On The Limits of Liberal Tolerance

In their zeal to protect students from any comments or opinions that may hurt their feelings, many professors [in this case at Marquette University] have created “safe spaces” in their classrooms—controlling all conversations in an effort to ensure that no one is ever offended …[Professor Cheryl Abbate]  made it clear that the classroom was not a [place for students doubting] the value of same-sex “marriage.” Such conversations had to be held in secret so as not to offend others … One student in the class decided to pursue this issue with Abbate after class … The student said: “I have to be completely honest with you, I don’t agree with gay marriage …”  Professor Abbate replied: “Ok, there are some opinions that are not appropriate, that are harmful.”

When the student replied: “If I choose to challenge this, it’s my right as an American citizen,” Abbate responded: “Well, actually you don’t have a right in this class … to make homophobic comments, racist comments, sexist comments … I can tell you right now, in this class homophobic comments, racist comments and sexist comments will not be tolerated. If you don’t like that you are more than free to drop this class.”


Read the rest here.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Orthodox Church is just a cultish knockoff of Catholicism

Who would have thought it?

Leave your comments there.

Standards

An excerpt from the 1891 entrance examination for Cornell University has been posted online (pages 15-17).  (HT: T-19) See also the full entrance exam from 1889 here. (Thanks to a blog reader via email.)

It seems to me that the state of education in this country is largely a product of the egalitarian idiocy that has become predominant in the post World War II era. People wonder why a college education is not worth what a high school education was a half century ago. Standards have fallen so dramatically that it is shocking. In those days if you didn't know the material you were not passed from one grade to the next, and you were not graduated from high school. Of course back then it was not presumed that everyone had a “right” to go to college, or that everyone should. As a general rule, dolts and the otherwise functionally illiterate were not admitted to college.

This may also go hand in hand with the disparagement of honest labor that while not requiring a college education, is not for novices or the unskilled. Once upon a time, being a plumber, electrician, carpenter etc would have been regarded as an honorable and good paying job worthy of some respect. For the record, they still pay pretty well, often better than jobs requiring a four year degree. But today, too many college students seem to look down their nose at that kind of work as being only for those who couldn't cut it. When in fact only a very small percentage of those with supposedly advanced degrees could pass the entrance exam linked above.

The real problem with egalitarianism is that it rarely seems to involve pulling one group of people, or standards, up. It always seems to involve pulling people and standards down.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Journeys

Life is not for the faint of heart. It is a journey with lots of pitfalls, and speed-bumps. And sometimes there are detours. Anyone who has ever made the difficult decision to change their ecclesial affiliation will understand the many special challenges that come with that choice. It can be even more difficult when the switch is from one confession to another that is in the minds of many, so very similar.

And then there are the doubts. I'm not sure if I've ever met a convert to Orthodoxy who hasn't been plagued by them at least occasionally. I certainly have. If your lucky, you work your way through them. If not, you might end up hitting a speed bump or taking one of the aforementioned detours. It happens. One can never judge because each of us wrestles with the demons in our own way. The temptations to this or that sin, passion, or doubt may be different for each of us, but we all fight the same battle. In the end we can only pray and then do what we think is right, as God gives us the light to discern right from wrong and beg God's mercy when we fall.

Tonight, I have been given a very powerful and humbling reminder of that courtesy of Owen White for which I am deeply grateful.

In 1997 Hillary Clinton's staff bought her a book....

"Email for Dummies"

Sometimes it's so like shooting fish in a barrel that it's just not fair.

UCLA Debates Role of Jews on Campus

LOS ANGELES — It seemed like routine business for the student council at the University of California, Los Angeles: confirming the nomination of Rachel Beyda, a second-year economics major who wants to be a lawyer someday, to the council’s Judicial Board.

Until it came time for questions.

“Given that you are a Jewish student and very active in the Jewish community,” Fabienne Roth, a member of the Undergraduate Students Association Council, began, looking at Ms. Beyda at the other end of the room, “how do you see yourself being able to maintain an unbiased view?”

For the next 40 minutes, after Ms. Beyda was dispatched from the room, the council tangled in a debate about whether her faith and affiliation with Jewish organizations, including her sorority and Hillel, a popular student group, meant she would be biased in dealing with sensitive governance questions that come before the board, which is the campus equivalent of the Supreme Court.

The discussion, recorded in written minutes and captured on video, seemed to echo the kind of questions, prejudices and tropes — particularly about divided loyalties — that have plagued Jews across the globe for centuries, students and Jewish leaders said.


Read the rest here.

Things are getting very very bad on our campuses.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

ISIS 'bulldozed' ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud

(CNN)ISIS has again destroyed cultural treasures, this time bulldozing the site of the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud in northern Iraq, state-run media said Thursday.

The extent of the destruction wasn't immediately revealed, according to Iraq's state broadcaster Iraqiya TV, which cited the Ministry of Antiquities and Tourism.

Nimrud was a city in the Assyrian kingdom, which flourished between 900 B.C. and 612 B.C. The archaeological site is located south of Mosul in northern Iraq.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Fr Peter Heers on Secularism, Church, and Family Life



Don't be intimidated by the video length. The lecture is about 50 minutes. The rest is Q&A.

Another Scandal in the Finnish Orthodox Church

Helsinki: Orthodox Metropolitan Ambrosius of Helsinki of the Finnish Orthodox Church invited Female Evangelical Lutheran bishop Irja Askola to Altar with him during Clergy ordination at the Sunday Divine Liturgy. This has sparked much controversy. He also ordered the Deacons to pray for the Lutheran woman bishop during litany. This has angered several Orthodox faithful. Archbishop Leo- Primate of the Finnish Orthodox Church has condemned the incident and has asked Metropolitan to clarify the issue before considering any measures against him. Major Finnish newspapers have reported the incident. Archbishop Leo have released an official statement on the controversial incident which is available at the official website of the Finnish Church.

From here.
More links can be found at the referring website.

Anaxios!

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

A Defiant Alabama Supreme Court Tells Feds to Mind Their Own Business on Gay Marriage

The Alabama Supreme Court ordered a halt Tuesday to same-sex marriages in the state despite a U.S. Supreme Court order allowing them to proceed. The ruling capped a wild month of confusion and resistance in Alabama following a January decision by a U.S. district court invalidating Alabama’s ban on gay marriage. 

The Alabama justices were defiant. “As it has done for approximately two centuries,” the court said, “Alabama law allows for ‘marriage’ between only one man and one woman.” Alabama judges have a duty “not to issue any marriage license contrary to this law. Nothing in the United States Constitution alters or overrides this duty.”

Read the rest here

First Church Dedicated to Tsar Nicholas II and His Family Opens in Moscow

The construction of a church in honour of Tsar Nicholas II and his family has been completed in Moscow. 

The ground breaking and initial construction began three years ago, in March of 2012. On March 8, 2013 the Head of the Russian Imperial House, HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna visited the site of the new church during an official visit to Moscow. The grand duchess lit a candle in memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs, and then took the time to speak and have tea with local parishers.

The first liturgy was held on July 17, 2014 in a temporary chapel situated immediately adjacent to the site of the main church. Since that time, regular worship and liturgies continued to be held in the temporary chapel. 

A temporary iconostasis has now been installed in the church. The final phase of construction, which includes finishing touches on the church’s facades, and landscaping will be carried in the Spring. A church bell is currently being made in the Tutaev plant.

The church is part of an ambitious plan by the Russian Orthodox Church to construct 200 new churches in the nation’s capital.

The Church of the Holy Royal Martyrs is situated at 6th Novopodmoskovny lane. d.7., in the northwest suburbs of Moscow, it can accommodate up to 200 worshipers. 
 

Monday, March 02, 2015

Hostis Humani Generis

Islamic State brutes fed a distraught woman searching for her kidnapped son some meat and rice – and then told her she had just eaten her son, according to a British man who joined the fight against ISIS.

From here.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Memory Eternal! Tragic News From Boston

Word is spreading that Fr. Matthew Baker of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis was killed in a weather related car accident tonight. Thank God his children were not injured.

In a blessed repose, grant, O Lord, eternal rest unto Thy departed servant Matthew and make his memory to be eternal!

Details.

The Triumph of Orthodoxy


The Service of Great Vespers and the Synodikon of Orthodoxy including the anathemas of the Seventh Great and Holy Ecumenical Council against Iconoclasm and all heresies.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Are we alone? Do we want to know?

It was near Green Bank, W.Va., in 1960 that a young radio astronomer named Frank Drake conducted the first extensive search for alien civilizations in deep space. He aimed the 85-foot dish of a radio telescope at two nearby, sun-like stars, tuning to a frequency he thought an alien civilization might use for interstellar communication.

But the stars had nothing to say.

So began SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, a form of astronomical inquiry that has captured the imaginations of people around the planet but has so far failed to detect a single “hello.” Pick your explanation: They’re not there; they’re too far away; they’re insular and aloof; they’re zoned out on computer games; they’re watching us in mild bemusement and wondering when we’ll grow up.

Now some SETI researchers are pushing a more aggressive agenda: Instead of just listening, we would transmit messages, targeting newly discovered planets orbiting distant stars. Through “active SETI,” we’d boldly announce our presence and try to get the conversation started.

Naturally this is controversial, because of . . . well, the Klingons. The bad aliens.


Read the rest here.

Actually it's not the Klingons I'm worried about. You can reason with Klingons. Klingons aren't usually genocidal in their conquests. I'm more concerned with... the Borg.

On a serious note, this is actually a legitimate concern. Let's assume for the sake of argument that we are not the only intelligent species in the universe. This seems pretty likely when you think about it. And let's further assume ad argumentum that one or more species have unlocked the secret to interstellar space travel. This proposition is much more problematic since it would require that most everything we think we know about the laws of physics is wrong. But again for the sake of discussion...

Anyone who is capable of hopping from one solar system to another is going to be so far beyond us in technological development, that we might as well still be living in caves. Add to this the extremely unlikely proposition that we are the only intelligent and predatorially aggressive species around and well... you get the picture.

At the very least I think this deserves some discussion at higher levels and some consensus before we start posting interstellar coming out announcements. What these people are doing is rather akin to sending out an invitation to everyone on the block to a party at your place, except you're not the only one who lives there, AND you don't know any of the neighbors. These "scientists" seem to be assuming that we are living in a high quality neighborhood, maybe the Upper East Side of the Milkyway. When in fact we might be living in the galactic projects of Spanish Harlem.

In short, I'd like to know a little more about the neighbors before we invite them over for dinner. If for no other reason than to be sure that we aren't likely to end up as the main course.

Russian Orthodox Church on the Discipline for Receiving Holy Communion

On February 3 2015 (NS) the Holy Synod approved the below linked document which lays out the current discipline for the reception of the Holy Mysteries of the Altar by the lay faithful. The executive summary is that it cautiously encourages the faithful to commune more frequently than the old custom of once or twice a year, while reiterating the necessity of approaching the chalice with great reverence. This means observing the pre-communion fasts, recent confession and prayerful participation in the services of the church. Details of which may be found in the document

To many the discipline described in the document may seem somewhat strict and it may not fully reflect the practice in their own parish, diocese or jurisdiction. Your mileage will vary. The final authority on participation in the Holy Sacraments is your spiritual father (confessor) under the authority of your bishop.

The document may be read here.
HT: An anonymous blog reader

Friday, February 27, 2015

Behold Islam


For those who may have missed it, ISIS was kind enough to record their destruction of the museum in Mosul and its priceless collection of antiquities.