Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
Benjamin Franklin

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Army Priest

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Army Priest

I found this blog of a US Army chaplain, Priest George Hill. His first post is a very long testimony describing his pilgrimage to the Orthodox Church and subsequently to the priesthood and the chaplaincy. I highly recommend it.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 3:59 pm

«— Pilgrimage
—» Army Priest

Orthodox Blog Aggregator

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most recent | orthodoxblogs.com

This is a new Orthodox Blog Aggregator. The webmaster is still working out the kinks: Atom feeds give his aggregator scripts problems. However, there are beta sites that pull in Atom feeds correctly.

Hat tip to Journeyman James.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 1:23 pm

«— Do Follow Those Links!
—» Orthodox Blog Aggregator

Pilgrimage

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Today, I visited Saint Tikhon Monastery for the annual pilgrimage, which this year celebrated the centennial of this, the first and oldest Orthodox monastery in North America. The atmosphere was festive and bright and faithful, clergy and monastics from throughout the Orthodox Church in America and other Orthodox churches attended to praise God for the witness of 100 years of monks. The hierarchical Divine Liturgy was celebrated by the entire Synod of Bishops, a rare occasion and, frankly, the reason I attended.

I was happy to see Fr. Marc from New Skete in attendance. I caught up with him after the Liturgy, and he surprised me by remembering me after all these years. (After I reminded him that I visited in 1999 and once had long hair and a beard, he said, “How is the Navy going for you?” Wow.)

I venerated the relics of St. Alexis Toth, one of the many saints from North America. He led many parishes from the Unia back to communion with the Church.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 3:05 am

«— Church as Life
—» Pilgrimage

Do Follow Those Links!

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Dofollow plugin for WordPress | Semiologic

Yes, I am a vain egotist. I was ego-googling tonight for “basil” and realized I was no longer even in the top forty pages! Even a search for “kevin basil” revealed problems: My main webserver — kevinbasil.com, which has only static information on it — was the first link, whereas my blog has always been the top site in the past. The blog was demoted two or three spots in PageRank. I was surprised and started pondering why this might be. The answer irritates me to the point of breathing fire.

Read the rest of “Do Follow Those Links!”

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Filed under: — Basil @ 2:16 am

«— On the Everlasting Punishment of Offense
—» Do Follow Those Links!

Church as Life

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Who is Jesus, Anyway? | Kevin Basil

I was looking for spam comments the other day, and this thread popped onto my radar again. I would have put it aside without another thought, except the analogy of the Church as a cross of wood that splinters, embedding itself into the flesh of the world and picking up pus and infection, always disturbs me. It inspired me to examine why I find it so wrong-headed.

Read the rest of “Church as Life”

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Filed under: — Basil @ 7:20 am

«— Happy Anniversary to Me
—» Church as Life

On the Everlasting Punishment of Offense

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Morning Coffee on the Sex Offender Registry

What constitutional rights do convicts retain once they have paid their debt to society? Do they ever pay their debt to society, or is it licit to punish them until the end of their natural life, even if their sentence was only a certain number of years in prison? Is it possible to repent, or is one forever a thief, a pedophile, a rapist?

Discuss.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 7:46 pm

«— Heavenly Music
—» On the Everlasting Punishment of Offense

Happy Anniversary to Me

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I seem to have missed the anniversary of this blog by a few days. May 17, 2002, is the dateline on the first post. There is another with the name “first post,” but it’s actually the second post by number. Hehe.

It’s interesting to me that my first post was an argument about date format with a user interaction designer who does date and time conversion for IBM Lotus Sametime, a web conferencing and instant messaging platform. In any case, I use day-month-year almost exclusively now, since I’m in the military.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 3:15 pm

«— More on Creation
—» Happy Anniversary to Me

Heavenly Music

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I have received the CD of Fr. Sergei Glagolev’s chants which I blogged about earlier. I am very pleased with it, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

The the structure of the melodies follows the rhythms of English language, but the harmonies involve subtle dissonance. This brings to mind similarities to Arvo Pärt or John Tavener. The music is for liturgical celebration, so the pieces are much more straightforward than Tavener, whose work is primarily written for choral performance and only inspired by liturgy. Pärt’s compositions are sometimes long as well, but he also writes for liturgical celebrations, so the comparison is more apt.

There seem to be two distinct types of pieces: Those in which the congregation is expected to sing along, and those in which it is not. For example, the Cherubic hymn, whose function in the liturgy is to cover a very long prayer by the priest and evoke a sense of unity with the angelic powers, uses long, willowy rhythms and is heavy on the dissonance. The melody is difficult to discern. The communicated effect is, “Listen, don’t try to sing along.”

On the other hand, many pieces are more singable and seem to invite the assembly to sing along. For example, several communion hymns (koinonika) have been included. The koinonikon is a psalm verse, such as “Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the highest” or “The righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance; he shall not fear evil tidings,” which praise God with either a theme from the day, or the theme of communion, or both. Fr. Sergei’s koinonika settings make use of easily distinguished melodies, much more consonant harmonies, and quick rhythms which mimic the effect of spoken English. The increased singability of these pieces invites the assembled faithful to join in.

My one gripe — and it is pretty distracting in an otherwise exceptional compilation — is the use of the Slavonic pronunciation of “Alleluia”: ah leh loo EEEEEE ah. Quite grating and distracting in a CD where everything else is in English.

However, I am very pleased on the whole, and I am happy to further commend this collection to your listening pleasure.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 11:45 am

«— On Freedom in Christ
—» Heavenly Music

More on Creation

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On the Appearance: Bishop Alexander (Mileant) of Buenos Aires and South America, Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia
This tract discusses the reconciliation of orthodox faith with current scientific theory. Although I could quibble with its literality on a few points, it strongly confirms the orthodoxy of my views on this disputed subject. It makes especially clear that creating a false dilemma between science and faith is uncalled for and can lead to apostasy. The appendix on error in the patristic writings alone is an excellent resource:

Indeed, although many Holy Fathers were highly educated people, neither theology nor the natural sciences of their time had yet reached full maturity. Therefore one ought not to take every thought expressed by one Holy Father or another to be the Church’s teaching — especially in questions of science, which was then at a rudimentary stage. The Church is only error-free in its catholic conscientiousness, its concillarity.

And, further on:

Of great significance in the Holy Fathers’ experience is that they never opposed contemporary scientific data with their views. And here they left us a valuable lesson: it is reasonable to use the revelations of science — insofar as they may help us to gain a deeper understand of some facets of the universe. But one should do so with caution, taking into account the limits of the human intellect and the instability of scientific theories.

The Six Dawns: Dr. Alexdandre Kalomiros
Even more unnecessarily literal than his grace Bishop Alexander above; however, Dr. Kalomiros outlines a reconciliation of the Genesis account with science in a similar manner. May be helpful for some.
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Filed under: — Basil @ 7:49 pm

«— David Bradshaw Highlighted on Pontifications
—» More on Creation

On Freedom in Christ

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Christ is risen! What follows is a Scriptural reflection on freedom in Christ, which often needs to be reframed for converts to Orthodoxy from other Christian traditions. What does this freedom mean? Is it freedom from sin and death? Is it freedom from legalism? Do the Orthodox even know what freedom in Christ is?

It does mean freedom from sin and death, certainly, as “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling death by death, and upon those in the grave bestowing life!” (Paschal troparion-hymn) The law of death, according to many Greek fathers, is the law of sin; we pervert our natural tendency to move towards God because we fear death. Our mortality is the mechanism by which we all inherit original sin. Christ’s Pasch frees us from death and from the power of sin, and we are free indeed.

However, as St. Paul notes, we are not freed to commit more sin. Read the rest of “On Freedom in Christ”

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Filed under: — Basil @ 4:30 pm

«— Irritating
—» On Freedom in Christ

David Bradshaw Highlighted on Pontifications

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Pontifications » David Bradshaw on Differences between East and West

University of Kentucky professor of philosophy and occasional visitor to St Athanasius parish (being a member at another parish in Lexington), David Bradshaw is an articulate voice for Orthodoxy in philosophy. I commend to you his paper (PDF) on different approaches to God within Christianity.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 11:46 am

«— Lay Aside All Earthly Cares…
—» David Bradshaw Highlighted on Pontifications

Irritating

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404 error on OCA.org via Google ImagesI know I’ve blogged about this before, but I keep running into it:

Here is a random situation. I would like an icon of the Descent into Hell (ie, the Resurrection) for my desktop image. I search for some vital keywords on Google Images, and several of the pages returned have oca.org in the URL. Every single one of these links is broken.

If ever I wanted to purchase a clue-by-four, it’s now.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 7:17 pm

«— New! Improved?
—» Irritating

Lay Aside All Earthly Cares…

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…but only after you purchase this CD:
Lay Aside All Earthly Cares: Liturgica.com Product Information

The description of this CD appeared in my inbox, and I was immediately consumed with GHI Syndrome, whose symptoms are restless agitation until the object of anticipation is acquired. Gotta Have It Syndrome is no laughing matter and can lead to more serious maladies if not treated immediately.

Fr. Sergei Glagolev has become well known in American Orthodox liturgical music circles for his ongoing work in the area of composing liturgical music for celebration in English. This recording by Cappella Romana, and under the auspices of PSALM (the Pan-Orthodox Society for the Advancement of Liturgical Music) captures much of his recent work. Includes complete liner notes with hymn text in English, and an essay “Some Personal Thoughts on the Composition of Liturgical Music” by Fr. Glagolev.

And now you begin to feel the twitching in your muscles; you are considering whether you can avoid visiting the Product Information.

Review By: Benjamin Williams
Fr. Glagolev has long been a teacher, musician and a proponent of the composition of liturgical music in English. The works on this CD can be considered seminal in the liturgical repertoire of American Orthodoxy. Drawing upon a variety of stylistic idioms, from Russian znamenny and common chant, to Byzantine chant and the works of Chesnokov and Gretchaninoff, Fr. Sergei Glagolev creates choral settings that employ the sound and cadence of the English language as their starting point, yet capture and remain true to the historic musical tradition of the faith. This recording was the result of great effort on the part of Dr. Vladimir Morosan of PSALM, Fr. Sergei himself, and Cappella Romana, and was made possible by a grant from the Virginia H. Farah Foundation. It is a worthy undertaking, a beautiful presentation, and with its high quality is hopefully the beginning of a new tradition of liturgical composition in English within the Orthodox churches.

The Product Information page includes some excerpts in MP3 format. They are truly beautiful; I can hardly wait until it arrives in my mailbox.

And now I have infected you, dear reader, with GHI. Happy hunting.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 11:51 pm

«— Of Vintage and the Virgin
—» Lay Aside All Earthly Cares…

New! Improved?

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New does not always mean improved. (I learned that from Aristotle, Aquinas, and Orthodoxy.) First, the obvious complaints: Search will return. So will the blogroll.

Beyond that, I’m open for feedback. What works, what doesn’t? I’m especially looking for comments from Windows users, since my access to that platform is limited.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 5:48 pm

«— Scopes Redux
—» New! Improved?

Of Vintage and the Virgin

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OCA – Scripture Readings – May 9, 2005

There are two things that stand out to me about today’s Gospel every time I read it.

First, this is the last time we see the Lord’s mother speaking in Scripture. Her last words to us are, “Whatever he tells you, do it.” We first hear the Virgin’s voice in the writing of the evangelist St Luke. After expressing her wonder at learning that she will be a mother without the usual means of impregnation, she quietly and humbly submits to God’s will, “Ecce ancilla domini fiat mihi secundum verbum — Behold, the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be unto me according to your word.”

By way of two separate evangelists writing with two distinct purposes, we learn the first and last thing about being Christians from the exemplar of our faith: Submission to God’s word and will as his humble servants and handmaids, and faithful execution of his commands.

Second — need it even be said? — our Lord’s first miracle was turning dirty water into the finest wine possible. Look closely at the story: The master of the ceremony explains that most people bring out the good wine first and save the cheap wine until people can’t tell the difference anymore — that is to say, when they’re getting drunk.

Our Lord always brings out the finest vintage when we think we can expect no more than the cheap wine we have.

Today’s Dynamis also focuses on today’s reading as the foundation of marriage as a Christian sacrament.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 6:49 am