He who sings prays twice.
Saint Augustine

«— Further Rehabilitation for Explorer
—» Do I Know My Bishop?

An English Primer for Orthodox Christians

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A great peeve of mine is people (read: Orthodox folk) who pronounce “theology” incorrectly. In English, it is not pronouncedtha̅ ah lə je̅.” It is pronounced “the̅ ah lə je̅.” Yes, the root is the Greek “θεολογια.” However, this is English. The word is “theology,” not “θεολογια.” To paraphrase Jedi Master Yoda: “Translate, or translate not. There is no….” (Not sure what to put in there; perhaps “half-a——ing it” works best.)

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get some other things straight:

  • Theodore
  • Theophany
  • Any other “theo–” word in English

They are all pronounced the same way. Oh, and if I am to call the Mother of God Theotokos, the word is no longer Greek but English, and the pronunciation should be Anglicized — “the̅ o̅ to̅ kəs.” Otherwise, please stop the foolishness and translate it.

See this post correctly. Get Firefox, a standards compliant browser.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 3:58 pm

«— Logged Under “OOPS!”
—» An English Primer for Orthodox Christians

Further Rehabilitation for Explorer

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Thanks to some server-side client checking, I am finding some workable ways around Microsoft’s intentional disregard of web standards. The site should be readable again and somewhat appealing, and the menu sidebar to the left should be reasonably styled. I’m working on the signature .PNG image. Explorer doesn’t support PNG transparency (not even version 6), the blecherous beast. I may be forced to use GIFs. Yes, it’s bad, but so is Explorer. Trade-offs must be made.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 9:31 pm

«— Prayers from the Depths
—» Further Rehabilitation for Explorer

Logged Under “OOPS!”

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I grabbed some screenshots, for posterity. Take note of the URLs in the location field: www.oca.org and oca.org.

www.oca.org at 20:45 24 March 2005: no website is configured at this address

oca.org 20:45 24 March 2005: Photo gallery instead of homepage

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Filed under: — Basil @ 9:08 pm

«— Humility Triumphant
—» Logged Under “OOPS!”

Prayers from the Depths

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Along with the lenten prayer of Saint Ephrem the Syrian, I have been contemplating how accurate the prayer of St. John Damascene is for me:

O master who loves mankind! Is this bed to be my coffin? Or will you enlighten my darkened soul with another day? Behold, my coffin; behold, death looms before me. I fear your judgment, O Lord, and the endless suffering, yet I do not cease my evil ways. I always disappoint you, my Lord God: you, your most pure mother, all the powers of heaven, and my holy guardian angel. Lord, I know that I do not deserve your love; indeed, I deserve every condemnation and suffering. Yet, Lord, save me, whether I want it or not. When you save the righteous, it is no wonder; when you have mercy on the pure, it is no surprise, for they are worthy of your mercy. Dumbfound us with your mercy towards me, a sinner. In this way reveal your love, that my wickedness may not overcome your inexpressible goodness and mercy, and order my life as you will.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 7:16 pm

«— He Said What?
—» Prayers from the Depths

Humility Triumphant

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Extreme Humility: Christ with his hands bound voluntarily, a cross behind him, partially in a graveLet God arise! Let his enemies be scattered! Let those who hate him flee from before his face.

These verses from Psalm 67(68) are called the “paschal verses” because they intersperse the paschal hymns during the Easter services of the Byzantine rite. Eastern Christians associate them above all with Pascha (ie, Easter). However, many Russian prayerbooks also include them as part of the invocation of the holy cross before retiring for sleep. Thus, I came to read them as part of my daily rule of prayer for nearly a year before I shipped off to boot camp a year ago. After a while, I came to a startling realization.

Read the rest of “Humility Triumphant”

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Filed under: — Basil @ 6:52 pm

«— For My Salvation
—» Humility Triumphant

He Said What?

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My jaw dropped. I thought, “I must be reading about another parish. My priest would have never said that!

“The Orthodox are big on ethnic festivals,” Rucker noted.

“We look forward to hosting a bluegrass music festival on that hill someday,” he adds enthusiastically.

I guess if you fight passionately for something long enough, even your priest has to buckle under.

There is also an article on Fr. David’s pilgrimage to Orthodoxy.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 4:19 pm

«— What’s Around Me
—» He Said What?

For My Salvation

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In the Orthodox Catholic tradition, marriage is not a sanction for sexual relations. Rather, it is the transfiguration of the relationship between a man and a woman. Sexuality is transfigured from a merely animal act of procreation to a spiritual communion which transfigures husband and wife. The Apostle Paul links the union of a wife with her husband to the union of the Church with Christ. Marriage is not simply a recognition of sexual relations; it is a sacrament. As a sacrament, it is an efficient means of grace by which husband and wife are saved. They are given to each other as the means for the other’s salvation.

With all my heart, I desire marriage as a saving communion. I would say that I need it, but the truth is that I do not. I must admit to myself that I possess everything I need at this moment for my salvation. God has given me everything that I need at this moment to be saved.

Presently this recognition is entirely intellectual. I am not so holy that I actually trust God to give me what I need. I know what I need, so I think, and God is either mistaken or sadistic for witholding what I know myself to need.

Such is the depth of my blasphemy and despair. Ironically, the situation will never change until I accept what God has given me. So I am told.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 9:01 pm

«— St Sophronius
—» For My Salvation

What’s Around Me

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I thought some might like to see what the Groton, Connecticut, area looks like. Here are a few pictures of the area.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 8:52 pm

«— We All Dream, When We’re Younger
—» What’s Around Me

St Sophronius

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When I saw the saint commemorated today, I knew I had seen his name before; this happens often, so I really paid it no mind. Reading the life of St Sophronius of Jerusalem, I realized where I had seen his name. At the end, it mentions in passing that he is a hymnographer. That’s when the light clicked on.

The great blessing of the waters at Theophany is attributed to him.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 5:53 am

«— Accessibility and Usability Forgotten at OCA.org
—» St Sophronius

We All Dream, When We’re Younger

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“We all dream, when we’re younger, / That we will do great things.” Alison Krauss, “Never Got Off the Ground” (Get this song with iTunes)

I was listening to this song earlier. It always reminds me that I left for college with rockstar dreams of getting a music degree. I wanted to be famous, to change the world with my music. College deeply challenged and remolded everything I believed, and I eventually switched to a philosophy degree with a minor in art history. I was again going to change the world, reviving Thomism and establishing that a theology of beauty is as important as truth and goodness.

If when we’re younger we dream of doing great things, when we’re older we dream of what we might do differently if we had the chance. I dream of how I would help my younger self if I could book a flight on a time machine. Ironically, there is nothing I would teach myself, because I still haven’t learned it. I would try to guide myself, at a very critical point, to make better decisions.

Read the rest of “We All Dream, When We’re Younger”

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Filed under: — Basil @ 8:13 pm

«— Interpreting the OCA Advisory
—» We All Dream, When We’re Younger

Accessibility and Usability Forgotten at OCA.org

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The recent redesign of the Orthodox Church in America website represents a step forward only in ease of administration for the webmaster. Any critique will necessarily be skewed with subjective bias, but web design is not entirely a subjective field. On nearly every question of usability and accessibility, the new OCA website fails.

Read the rest of “Accessibility and Usability Forgotten at OCA.org”

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Filed under: — Basil @ 11:36 pm

«— Firefox and Nutscrape
—» Accessibility and Usability Forgotten at OCA.org

Interpreting the OCA Advisory

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In a recent article, I mentioned that the new OCA website was visually borken in Firefox on Macintosh platforms. I also promised a site critique. I still hope to publish an article critiquing the new site, but further exploration of the site has proven that such a critique will be a massive undertaking. Though tempted to despair of the utility of such an exercise, I am undaunted.

As I plan what I will write, I was pointed to an “advisory” from the OCA webmaster. Does this make sense to you? “We broke your links to our site. Stop whining and fix your website. We’re more important than you.”

Typical scenario 1: An inquirer looking for information about the Orthodox Church types in “orthodox church history america” in Google. After looking at the top few links which inaccurately skew the history of American Orthodoxy toward Hellenic Orthodoxy, he goes to click links to the OCA website that look promising. What does he get? A very unhelpful default IIS 404 page. The OCA webmaster’s answer to this inquirer? “Stop whining and fix your links.” Right. He’ll probably just get his information from the Greeks or the Antiochians. If he’s persistent, he’ll look at other pages that link to the same two pages on the OCA website. And he’ll keep getting the same 404 errors.

Typical scencario 2: A faithful Orthodox Christian uses the OCA’s daily readings and hymns in her daily rule of prayer. Using her handy bookmarklet to get today’s readings, she finds the default 404 page. Not only unhelpful, it interrupts her spiritual exercises, breaking her concentration and forcing her to find out what’s gone wrong. The OCA webmaster’s response to this Orthodox pilgrim? “Stop whining and fix your links.” That’s beyond inexcusable.

Will Google spider again and update its links? Of course. Will other websites change their broken links? Some will, many will not. “I am the OCA.org webmaster! Change your links before me, for I am….” Let me be the first to assure you, you are deluded.

These ladies are laughing at you: 3 ladies smiling around a laptopA while ago I also wrote about “The Biggest Design Mistakes of 2004.” This is the top mistake: Believing People Care About You and Your Website.

Write these two sentences where you can see them as you’re working on your computer:

  1. The only reason my web site exists is to solve my customers’ problems.
  2. What problems does the page I’m looking at solve?

Nobody cares about you or your site. Really. What visitors care about is getting their problems solved.

Why is that number one? Because it’s the most important part. The site is not about the webmaster, it’s about the users. Piss off your users, and at best your website will be irrelevant.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 6:28 pm

«— New and Unimproved
—» Interpreting the OCA Advisory

Firefox and Nutscrape

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How Stuff Works is featuring an article on Firefox explaining some of its superior features such as extensions and pop-up blocking.

Also in Firefox news, Netscape 8 beta was released today. Screenshots reveal a hideously unusable interface. Unsurprisingly, it is only being released on Windows platforms. Mac users don’t go for blecherous interfaces. (Well, sometimes they do; but they’re spoiled by the goodness of the Mac interface, so it’s less likely.)

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Filed under: — Basil @ 12:00 am

«— With All My Voice
—» Firefox and Nutscrape

New and Unimproved

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Web shot of OCA.org Yesterday, the Orthodox Church in America broke its website. The page displays poorly in Firefox, Mozilla and Netscape, whose shared rendering engine makes up 25% percent of the browser market according to W3 Schools. Old links, such as the link to my home parish’s information and the bookmarklets I use every day, have been broken.

When you redesign a site, your first priority should be that your existing users continue to have a positive user experience. This means creating redirects for moved pages and testing your new design against a wide variety of browsers. A redesign that alienated 25% of your users would get you fired in any corporation that valued its web presence (or at least moved to a position in customer service). I see no reason to be kinder simply because this is a non-profit. In fact, since this is my church, I feel obligated to be forthright.

I will perform a more thorough site critique later, but early impressions are highly unfavorable.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 7:48 am

«— Creation, Part VI: Conclusion
—» New and Unimproved

With All My Voice

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With all my voice I cry to the Lord, with all my voice I entreat the Lord for mercy.

Each day I trek as the cold, New England winter wind rips across my face. Every day I cross nearly the breadth of the base knowing that this day shall be like the previous. The answer shall be the same. I hope for some letter, from you, from her, from someone dear. Every day, the same. Emptiness.

Well, not every day. Sometimes I get a bill.

Look to my right and see: I have no friends. There is nowhere to run, no one to care for my soul.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 11:03 pm