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

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Venerable Melanie the Younger

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Icon of St. Melanie

O Great Mystery – December 30, 2005: Our venerable mother, Melanie, the younger, wife and nun.

I’m not sure why St. Melanie always sticks out in my mind as the feast of the Birth of Christ draws to a close. Perhaps it is because she is a wife and mother before professing monastic vows, or maybe it bugs me that her name is so often mistranslated. Perhaps it just sticks in my mind because I can’t figure out how one should pronounce the mistranslated name and have it not sound strange in English. muh-LANE-yuh? meh-luh-NEE-uh? See her icon? There’s no alpha in her name, so where’s the extra letter coming from?

In any case, St. Melanie, pray for us.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 9:05 pm

«— First Fruits and New Wheels
—» Venerable Melanie the Younger

New Jeep Photos on Flickr

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I have uploaded some new photos of the Jeep I wrote about a few days ago. I’m really pretty stoked, because this is the first vehicle I’ve purchased on my own.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 7:52 pm

«— Christus Natus Est!
—» New Jeep Photos on Flickr

First Fruits and New Wheels

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I just spent fifteen irretrievable minutes of my life reading the Official Kwanzaa Web Site (sic), administered by the professor of Black Studies, Dr. Maulana Karenga. Presumably, he has a Ph.D. in Black Studies or some related field. I think my attitude towards this holiday can be summed up in this injunction from Dr. Karenga:

you should not mix the Kwanzaa holiday or its symbols, values and practice with any other culture. This would violate the principles of Kujichagulia (Self-Determination) and thus violate the integrity of the holiday.

Organic holidays get mixed with all kinds of cultural practices. This is what gives them their organic quality. The above injunction,1991 Jeep Wrangler (stock photo) from the gentleman who made up Kwanzaa forty years ago, reveals why it is still a political statement rather than a “cultural celebration,” one not celebrated by any African American I’ve ever known. I could go on, but my ethnic heritage would probably make such a discourse unseemly in today’s cultural climate.

On a happier theme: I am now in possession of a 1995 Jeep Wrangler. It’s forest green, unlike the stock photo shown here. Momentarily, I will have photos up. I’ll have to use the old camera that sucks or buy a new one, since I’ve apparently lost the Fujifilm that was so cool.

Happy Saint Stephen’s Day to Fr. Stephen Freeman and Karl and anyone else sharing the name of the protodeacon and protomartyr.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 10:38 pm

«— Mormons honor founder’s birth
—» First Fruits and New Wheels

Christus Natus Est!

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This morning, I stumbled out of bed after five hours of sleep and autonomically grabbed a cup of coffee. After finishing that, my parents offerred me a second cup and some breakfast — and then they remembered that I wouldn’t be eating this morning. Umm, oops. So, I took a second cup of coffee for the 1.25 hour trip to Oak Ridge for liturgy and hoped that the canonical dispensation for travellers covered the eucharistic fast, too.

I hope your celebration of the Birth in the Flesh of Our Lord and God and Savior, Jesus Christ, is joyous and bright. Christ is born! Glorify him!

Christ is born, give glory! Christ comes from heaven, go to meet him! Christ is upon earth, be exalted! Sing to the Lord all the earth; and all you peoples raise the hymn with joy, for he has been glorified! —Canon for the Birth of Christ, Ode 1, Irmos. Saint Cosmas. Trans. by Archimandrite Ephrem (Lash)

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Filed under: — Basil @ 5:12 pm

«— Evolution Research Takes Top Honors in Science
—» Christus Natus Est!

Mormons honor founder’s birth

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CNN.com – Mormons honor bicentennial of founder’s birth – Dec 23, 2005

On Friday, December 23, Mormons worldwide celebrated the birth of their church’s founder, Joseph Smith.

In unrelated news, Sunday, December 25, Christians worldwide will celebrate the birth of their church’s founder, Jesus Christ.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 2:10 pm

«— Western Christian Grammar for Students of Orthodoxy
—» Mormons honor founder’s birth

Evolution Research Takes Top Honors in Science

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BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Evolution takes science honours

The top honors awarded by the journal Science have been jointly awarded to “several studies that illuminated the intricate workings of evolution.” Although these honors were awarded the same week that a judge disallowed a pseudo-scientific philosophy from being taught in public school classrooms as science, the journal’s editors affirm that the awards were based on merit, not any desire to make a political point.

Colin Norman, news editor of Science, said the choice was based solely on the merits of the research, not the battle over [Intelligent Design®].

“I suppose if [that debate] influenced us at all, it was in the realisation that scientists tend to take for granted that evolution underpins modern biology,” he told the BBC News website.

“The arguments about [ID] just made us a little bit more aware of it.”

Mr Norman said he hoped the choice would send a message to scientists and the public: “Evolution is not just something that scientists study as an esoteric enterprise,” he explained.

“It has very important implications for public health and for our understanding of who we are.”

For example, by studying the differences between the human and chimpanzee genome, scientists may be able to pin down the genetic basis for many diseases. And studying the behaviour of the 1918 flu virus could help us combat the next avian influenza pandemic.

Why would studying the 1918 flu virus be listed under evolution?

Viruses and bacteria evolve at a much higher rate than more devoloped organisms. The diseases of today are not the same diseases faced by scientists a century ago. The 1918 flu virus had to be recreated because it doesn’t exist any longer. It is extinct, its descendants already some new species of influenza. Studying the evolution of diseases helps us to learn how to fight them.

It fascinates me that the BBC article refers to the shared subject of these studies as “the intricate workings of evolution.” Evolution is intricate, complex, and only barely understood. Wouldn’t the existence of such a complex and sophisticated mechanism for generating complex forms of life from simpler ones itself be an indication of a design, a signature of an intelligence beyond the realm of the scientific?

Indeed. Call the ID folks. Tell them we want the phrase “intelligent design” back. They’re welcome to use “thinly veiled creationism” instead.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 1:47 pm

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—» Evolution Research Takes Top Honors in Science

Western Christian Grammar for Students of Orthodoxy

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Paige’s Page: Twelve Things You Shouldn’t Worry About

When I was learning Latin, there was a great book to which I still turn when I can’t remember what kind of thing a past perfect participle is: English Grammar for Students of Latin. What it did was help me get a handle on Latin grammar by showing me similar constructions in English, even when there wasn’t always an exact equivalent.

Brochures comparing Orthodoxy to non-Orthodox groups do the same thing. Everyone comes in speaking their own spiritual grammar; learning the faith is like learning a new grammar. Sometimes there are equivalents, and sometimes an entirely foreign construction needs to be learned. Not every language text uses pictograms. If that learning style worked universally, then every language text likely would, because that’s what would sell books the best.

Assuming everyone is an atheist is a quick way to be labelled as patronizing.

Protestants do, indeed, define themselves against each other. An article someone at work shared with me argued that the “born again movement” was a heresy and that God does not love everyone. Now, I knew from the moment I started reading it that it was mostly Calvinist garbage, but when he started mentioning “the Arminian heresy” and spending most of his energy refuting it, I was certain. Arminians (that is, Wesleyans of all sorts — Methodists, Nazarenes, Wesleyans, Salvationists) do the same thing to Reformers (Presbyterians and Baptists, mostly); they just don’t always call each other by name. When someone is arguing over the formula “once saved, always saved,” this is exactly what they’re doing. Just without names.

I agree that comparison isn’t always helpful. Jordan Bajis’ book took comparison to Western Christianity to the extreme, and I find it to be impossible to read as a result of its polemicism. But others find it to be the best thing they’ve ever read. I think everyone’s learning style is going to be different; as long as they get the grammar right, who cares?

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Filed under: — Basil @ 9:27 pm

«— Calculating Christmas
—» Western Christian Grammar for Students of Orthodoxy

GetReligion: Chaplains and Prayer

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GetReligion: December 22, 2005

I’m still tracking down where the issue is here. I can’t believe that Chap. Klingenschmitt is being told how to conduct services. Although Protestant chaplains have a broader demographic — they minister to all Protestant servicemen in theory — they’re still Christians, as are the services they conduct. I imagine this issue is about how to pray in public, which I’m still not sure where I would fall on such a question. It doesn’t offend me so much to have to listen to a Buddhist or a Muslim pray to some god other than the Holy Trinity, but I know other servicemen who have more delicate sensibilities on this matter. They feel like perhaps they’re being forced to pray along with the person, so I can’t say I blame the Chaplain’s Corps for having policies about religious specificity in place.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 1:55 pm

«— Christmas Memories
—» GetReligion: Chaplains and Prayer

Calculating Christmas

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Touchstone Archives: Calculating Christmas

This is appearing in several places, because an AP article on it ran about a year ago. Mollie Ziegler at Get Religion links to a North County Times archive of the AP piece by Richard Ostling. Father John Whiteford links to a World Magazine article from December 10, 2005. However, they all reference the above article by William Tighe from 2003, published in Touchstone Magazine. Tighe is an Associate Professor of History at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and a faculty advisor to the Catholic Campus Ministry. He is also a member of St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Church in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Tighe’s thesis is that the date of December 25 for commemorating Christ’s Birth in the Flesh was set relative to the extant date for the Annunciation, March 25, and that the celebration of the solus invictus, the invincible sun, was established by the Roman Emperor Aurelian as a competing festival. Obviously, this thesis turns the prevailing theory on its head.

I’m no scholar, but my interest in liturgics and liturgical theology has led me to read rather widely about the development of liturgical practices in the patristic era. Tighe’s thesis seems quite solid and consonant with my knowledge of the liturgical developments of this era.

Hat tip: Father Joseph Huneycutt at OrthoDixie

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Filed under: — Basil @ 12:53 pm

«— Adult stem cell researchers find ‘fusion hope’
—» Calculating Christmas

Christmas Memories

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JOSHUA 24:15: Winter Solstice

Joshua blogs about celebrating the winter solstice by singing carols and remembering Christmas past. One of my best memories of Christmas takes place at Father Joseph’s Christmas party on the Sunday following Christmas. His family celebrates the season with equal helpings of European atmosphere and genuine family traditions that could come from nowhere but middle America — such as reading The Best Christmas Pagaent Ever every year. I had hoped last year to spend a great deal of my Christmas leave with his family, specifically his eldest daughter, to the point of even buying plane tickets to and from Indianapolis. That turned out to be premature of me, and friends in Kentucky drove three hours to retrieve me and get me back to Indy.

I just spent the weekend with my parish family at Saint Athanasius parish in Kentucky, and I miss them dearly. Read the rest of “Christmas Memories”

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Filed under: — Basil @ 11:21 pm

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—» Christmas Memories

Adult stem cell researchers find ‘fusion hope’

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BBC NEWS | Health | Adult stem cells ‘fusion hope’

“But I am not sure how useful it is to spend time on this, when other sources such as embryonic stem cells have the potential for much more.

“It has to be remembered this is coming out of the US, there is a political agenda.”

I suppose assuming unborn babies are merely tissue has no political implications.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 10:27 pm

«— On the Move, Aye
—» Adult stem cell researchers find ‘fusion hope’

Excerpted Feeds are Evil

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Excerpted Feeds are Evil at Binary Bonsai

I hate excerpted feeds. If you’re only showing me part of your post, most of the time I’m not reading it unless it piques my interest. The worst offender is Ortho-Dixie. I always want to read his posts, so only getting an excerpt is just a huge waste of my time.

However, some of the commenters on the bit-post above have good points. Perhaps there’s a way to have both excerpts and full feeds? Maybe a WordPress plugin or something?

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Filed under: — Basil @ 2:45 pm

«— The Help of Mariners
—» Excerpted Feeds are Evil

On the Move, Aye

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Aslan is on the move – Thu, December 08, 2005 – WorldTimZone

Timothy is back, and with a brand new look! Perhaps tonight two sons of Adam and two daughters of Eve will sit upon the thrones at Cair Paravel. We’ll see. I doubt that The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe will outsell King Kong, but I’m not sure it really matters. Of course, if it does do better than the giant ape…

Aslan is indeed on the move.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 7:53 am

«— Lexington Church Closed for the Holiday
—» On the Move, Aye

The Help of Mariners

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an icon of St Nicholas coming to the aid of sailors in perilSaint Nicholas: Sailor’s Friend

Today, I celebrated Saint Nicholas Day by driving to and from Connecticut for some sonar training (incidentally, at my old haunt: Naval Submarine School in Groton). The link above tells one very common story of Saint Nicholas coming to the aid of sailors during his lifetime. Such stories could be mulitplied and are not limited to his lifetime, of course.

This icon, entitled, “Nicholas, Help of Mariners,” has a special meaning for me, and not only because I am a sailor and a submariner myself. When I first arrived at boot camp — recruit training at Great Lakes, Illinois — it was a very difficult transition. Upon first attending the Divine Liturgy two weeks after my arrival, this icon greeted me from the analogion just inside the door of the Eastern Orthodox chapel. As I walked in and bowed before this image of the holy Nicholas coming to the rescue of imperiled sailors, I nearly wept; my eyes were fairly moist for most of the service. If someone wants to be in my graces forever, that icon is near the top of my wishlist for Christmas.

Among the many Christians who remembered the holy Nicholas today: Get Religion and Joshua.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 9:05 pm

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—» The Help of Mariners

Lexington Church Closed for the Holiday

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GetReligion: December 5, 2005

Southland Christian Church near Lexington is joining several evangelical megachurches across the country in canceling services for the holiday, which this year falls on a Sunday. Officials at the church, where about 7,000 people worship each week, said the move is designed to allow staff members and volunteers to spend the holiday with their families.

You can’t make this s—— up, folks.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 7:43 pm